Quinoa ‘Rice’ Pudding

Serves 2

Vegan; no gluten, dairy, egg, cane sugar; with options for soy

My daughter grew up as I did with a fondness for homemade rice pudding. More recently, my baby granddaughter tried this dessert quinoa-style and gave her approval. Versions of rice pudding are found in most cuisines. Possibly first developing in Persia, it was mentioned by the Romans, Confucius, Shakespeare and the Buddhist sutras. Sometimes different grains were used but the principle was the same.

This version is just as sweet and delicious as one using white rice and highly refined sugar. Quinoa is high in protein and along with dried fruit and cinnamon creates a relationship between parts that helps regulate blood sugar. Any left-overs make a great breakfast served hot or cold. Read more

(You’ll-never-go-back-to-commercial) HUMMUS

Makes 1½ cups

Vegan; no gluten, dairy or nightshades

Express yourself. Make this once, and thereafter you can concoct variations at speed by rough visual measure. This has wonderful contrasting textures, freshness and flavours that make commercial versions seem pallid. Just put everything into the processor; whiz until well mixed but chunky; serve or chill.

Traditionally hummus is made with chickpeas. These can be used here, but cannellini beans give a softer result. Find these at the supermarket cooked and in tins such as the Ceres organic range. Any cooked bean or lentil could be used. Usually lemon juice is employed as the culinary acid (helping with piquancy and blood sugar regulation), but white wine vinegar provides a sharper tang. Read more

The Demon Drink You Give to Children

Picture yourself seated at the dining table and devouring one kilo bag of sugar. New Zealanders average even more added sugar than this each week.

Auckland University Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences hosted a two day symposium: Sugary Drink Free Pacific by 2030? Rarely have I heard esteemed scientists so vehement in their views. Endocrinologist Robert Lustig (his expose on sugar has over 4 million views on YouTube) said, “Sugar is the alcohol of the child”. He explained how this food is processed differently than other fuels, which leads to fatty liver. Dr Richard Johnson, kidney disease specialist, diagrammed how sugar lowers ATP production – our key vitality provider. He employed a verb used with caution in science, “Fructose causes metabolic syndrome”. This cluster of markers is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, kidney disease and dementiaRead more

Chocolate Nut Fudge

About 50 tiny pieces

Vegan; no gluten, dairy, soy, cane sugar – or cooking required

Really, really good. The results are gourmet while the skill level required is primary school. Two colleagues – Linda Outhwaite and Jamie Smith – inspired me with their versions of this super simple and luscious confection. The high cocoa density adds a caffeinated thrill – as well as ample magnesium, calcium, iron and antioxidants. Among the latter are phenols linked with lowering high blood pressure. Some studies show this effect is negated if the chocolate includes milk, which seems to impede absorption. One type of phenol is flavonoids including (yes, another sub-category) epicatechins. These score impressively on the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score. This is used to assess how much power an antioxidant has for preventing destruction from free radicals. In excess free radicals are involved with premature ageing and disease. Read more

Blood Sugar Levels: Your #1 Key to Weight, Mood and Vitality

BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS: Your #1 Key to Weight, Mood and Vitality – and the Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Hormone Related Problems ©  

Your survival depends on cells receiving fuel in the form of just the right amount of glucose or blood sugar. It is the job of the hormone insulin to courier this into cells. The Brain is your most glucose hungry organ and the first to feel its lack. All carbohydrates – from vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains or legumes – eventually get broken down into glucose. What differs is the speed at which they do this.

Individual foods have been measured in this regard and placed on a scale called the Glycemic Index or GI. Carbohydrate foods that are slow to break down – such as Legumes (dried peas, beans and lentils; see TIPS), nuts, seeds, most vegetables and fruits, plus hearty, crunchy wholegrain products – are termed low GI. Those that digest rapidly into glucose such as Sugar, most white rice, and finely milled bread, baking and cereals (of one highly refined, uniform texture) are high GI.

Eating too many high GI carbs at a meal stimulates a surge of excessive glucose. The pancreas then produces and releases more insulin as extra courier vans. Over time though, high levels of insulin are life threatening and the cells start to refuse it entrance. But by becoming resistant to insulin they are also unable to access its critical glucose fuel. Read more

Israeli Chermoula (sort of like pesto) with Chermoula Stuffed Vegetables and Quinoa ‘Tabbouleh’ with Chermoula

Makes about 1 cup of chermoula
Vegan and Paleo; no gluten, dairy, egg, soy or other legumes, potato or tomato

No wonder the people of the Mediterranean have such great health statistics – as well as so many diners eager for their classic dishes.

Chermoula is an Arabic word used to describe a North African fresh herb, lemon, olive, nut and spice mixture used as a marinade or topping for fish, meat or vegetables. My hearty version was inspired by reading the sigh-inducing and internationally popular cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. The book is also a touching memoir by these two men who lived in the western and eastern parts of the city and met later in London. These districts have been embattled with each other, but the authors say the food and hospitality practices, culturally unify them.  Read more