Mini Coconut Brown Rice Puddings with Fig

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Before a few months ago, I had never eaten a fig. Fresh, dried or otherwise, this fruit always seemed to elude me. I had never seen it in a grocery store until recently and at the occasional time I saw it on a menu, I would ignore it in favour of fruits like pear or apple – safe and delicious! However, I was forced to finally try figs when I went out for breakfast with the BF one day to a hip, little backyard cafe called Cafe Komodo. The fruit from the “pancakes with fruit” I ordered turned out to be dried figs, served with cute pikelet-sized pancakes, maple syrup and a small scoop of ice cream. Granted, it wasn’t the healthiest breakfast I had that week but the dried figs were a perfect addition and from then on, I decided to give figs a fighting chance!

Unfortunately, fresh figs are pretty uncommon in my local grocery stores, so when I found a packet in Woolworths I had to snap it up! I thought my first time trying a fresh fig would be amazing. It was bland and boring! I’m not one to waste though, so I set about discovering all the ways I might cook up the six pint-sized figs before they shrivelled up and died.

So here’s a simple dessert recipe using only a few ingredients! I adapted the recipe from [http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2011/08/recipe-gluten-free-fig-gateau-de-riz.html] – I swapped the brown sugar for rice malt syrup as I am trying to reduce my fructose intake and I used silicon moulds to bake the puddings in for portion control. I also used a steamed sachet of brown rice which only took 90 seconds to steam in the microwave. This takes all the hassle out of cooking rice on the stove if you’re in a hurry! This recipe would probably work with quinoa and chia added in to the rice as well. Overall, these mini desserts are low in fat, sugars and GI and so make a perfect treat for the health-conscious. They are not terribly sweet so I would suggest drizzling a bit of rice malt syrup over them to serve. Hope you enjoy!

Mini Coconut Brown Rice Puddings with Fig (makes 7 small puddings)

Ingredients

1/2 can of full-cream coconut milk

250g cooked brown rice (I used Sunrice Organic Brown Rice Steamed Rice Sachet)

2 eggs

1 tbsp rice malt syrup

2 small figs, sliced into 7

Directions

1. Steam your rice in the microwave if using a rice sachet. Otherwise, just put your cooked brown rice in a bowl.

2. In another bowl, mix the coconut milk, eggs and rice malt syrup until well combined.

3. Pour milk mixture over cooked rice and stir.

4. Pour rice batter into 7 silicon moulds (sit the moulds in a muffin tray) and top each with slice of fig.

5. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180 C until golden brown. Let the puddings cool down slightly and set a little in the tray.

6. Eat hot from the moulds if you like or let the puddings cool down completely and slip off the moulds, pop the puddings on a plate and drizzle with rice malt syrup to serve. Enjoy!

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Coconut Cashew Maca Balls

Continuing on my current Maca obsession, here is my recipe for an easy dessert or snack for those with a sweet tooth! They are nutty, mousse-y balls of goodness!

ImageCoconut Cashew Maca Balls (makes 12)

Ingredients

2 cups unsalted cashews

2 tbsp maca powder

1 tbsp organic cocoa powder

1 tsp organic vanilla

1 tbsp honey or agave

1 tsp ground cinammon

1/3 cup almond milk

Shredded coconut to coat

Method

  1. In a food processor, blend cashews until they turn into a sticky flour. Add cocoa and maca and blend through.
  2. Put cashew mix into a bowl and add vanilla, honey, cinnamon and milk and mix until you get a smooth paste.
  3. This is the bit that gets messy! Take a small amount of the mixture in your hands and roll it quickly into a ball. Drop the ball onto a plate of shredded coconut and roll it around until it is fully coated. Repeat to make 12 balls in total.
  4. Pop them in the fridge or freezer to cool and then eat!

The Coconut Oil Debate

ERMAGHERD! IT'S COCONUT!

ERMAGHERD! IT’S COCONUT!

Lately everyone seems to be going nuts for coconuts! Oil, water, flour – if it’s possible to make a coconut version of something, they’ve done it. Sales of coconut oil have gone through the roof as the latest coconut craze sweeps the world. However, there’s still no consensus on whether the stuff is actually good for you or not. On one side of the fence there’s the people preaching about all the health benefits of coconut oil while on the other side there’s nutritionists and dietitians warning of its dangers. In fact, the Heart Foundation and the Dietitian’s Association of Australia recommend “avoiding coconut oil due to its high saturated fat content”. Who do we believe? The people who use the product and assure its safe use over thousands of years or the people who study the science of food?

As a nutrition student, I have to say it’s easy to be biased and follow the advice of the dietitians. According to them, saturated fat in high amounts can lead to an increase in bad cholesterol, a decrease in good cholesterol, and consequently more potential for heart disease and stroke. Since coconut oil is made up of mostly saturated fat (92%), it is understandable that nutritionists and dietitians worldwide are anti-coconut oil and believe it is detrimental to our health. However, it’s possible that everything we have learnt in Dietetics is wrong. The “facts” of nutrition are always in constant flux due to evolving research so it can be hard to figure out what to believe. I decided to do a quick pros and cons list on what I know to be true.

PROS:

  • Extra virgin coconut oil is unrefined, so it does not undergo the heating processes that can convert the saturated fats to their super nasty alter ego, trans fat (this is the type of fat which is correlated with heart disease and is found mostly in processed foods).
  • It has a high smoke point so it is good for use in cooking.
  • It has a pleasant taste that is desirable for some recipes.

CONS:

  • Coconut oil is made up of 92% saturated fat. Saturated fat is correlated with an increase in LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Cheaper coconut oils may be refined and therefore trans fats may be produced in the process.
  • The unrefined oils are expensive. On average, coconut oil sells for $2.32 per 100ml. Other oils sell, on average, for $0.66 cents or less per 100ml [based on results from BananaBlue.com]. Why the crazy price? I believe the retail price of products are dependent on their demand, and demand is greater for products with the greatest hype. Today it’s coconut oil, a year ago it was Acai berries, remember? When retailers hit on a trend, they know they can sell the product for a trillion dollars and get away with it. There are other healthy oils, like olive oil, which are cheaper and have proven health benefits also.

I’m sure there are probably a few more points I could add but at the end of the day, it comes back to this – fat makes you fat. No matter what type of fat you eat, if youΒ Β eat too much of it, you will gain weight. We know obesity is one of the leading risk factors for a whole range of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. On top of that, over-consumption of fat can raise your cholesterol levels and can clog your arteries. The key is moderation. In my opinion, Β if you are going to use coconut oil, use it sparingly, and try to choose extra virgin as it is less processed. As an addition to a healthy meal or overall diet, I see no problem with coconut oil. But, if you intend to consume it in larger amounts, like any type of fat, it can lead to weight gain and possibly increase cholesterol levels. Do I use coconut oil? No. But I choose to avoid it simply because I do not eat a clean diet 100% of the time and there’s no reason for me to add to the saturated fat levels in my diet by choosing a high fat oil. On top of that, it’s kind of insanely priced and there are plenty of other healthy oil options I can choose from that fit into my budget.

Use what works for you! Any type of fat should be consumed in moderation. Those who are about to embark on a diet should consult their doctor or a nutritionist/dietitian who will be able to discuss what foods are appropriate for you πŸ™‚