At the recent Food Preparation Intensive Retreat we held in Byron Bay, a favourite night time game was something we’ve called “Upgrade Your Recipes”. Our lovely ladies were given a selection of recipes, torn from recent food and cooking magazines, and asked to work as a group to help take the recipe to a new level. Not only did we all learn a thing or two, it was really fun and very inspiring!
It is easy to get caught up in your standard cooking portfolio, and it is even easier to fall into a habit of making the same meals over and over again. When looking for inspiration there are plenty of awesome cooking shows, books and magazines available that display tantalising pictures of delectable looking food. The only catch is that the majority of these amazing looking dishes are not going to do amazing things for your health!
Our activity was therefore an exercise for the imagination, as well as for the benefit of our health. It is something that can be done with almost any recipe, sometimes to the extreme (changing many ingredients for healthier alternatives), or even in a slight way. Either will take the recipe you have chosen to a new level of health.
For example, one of our ladies got an amazing looking triple layer chocolate mousse cake. It was full of wheat flour, butter, sugar, cream, eggs and chocolate. It had a chocolate biscuit base, followed by a layer of white chocolate mousse, then milk chocolate mousse. Using the idea and flavours as inspiration, our ladies managed to change this allergen filled, fattening, artery clogging, junk food cake into a healthy, nourishing, scrummy treat you could happily enjoy any time of the day!
Chocolate biscuit base- swapped for a raw cake base made from nuts, raw cacao, fresh dates, and a little Celtic salt. Blend and press down into a pan.
White chocolate mousse layer- swapped for a white chocolate inspired cashew cream layer made from soaked cashews, vanilla, coconut oil, fresh coconut flesh, coconut palm sugar syrup, Celtic salt and some lucuma powder. Spread onto the biscuit base and freeze.
Milk chocolate mousse layer- a healthy chocolate mousse was made from fresh avocado, raw cacao, coconut oil, fresh dates and a banana. Take the frozen cake out and add this layer. Freeze again. Cut with a sharp, hot knife to see the layers. Enjoy!
Can you believe it? A beautiful triple layer decedent dessert free from wheat, dairy, eggs and cane sugar? Amazing!
Another example was a minced meat lasagne with wheat pasta sheets, cream and butter in the white sauce, minced pork and sugar in the tomato sauce. Having just created the most delicious Bolognese style raw sauce that day, the ladies were soon swapping out store bought packet sauce for their healthy raw version, the pasta for very thin slices of zucchini, the minced meat for a delicious seed and nut pate they had made the day before, and the white sauce for a savoury cashew cheese. Yum!
Not every recipe could be adapted to 100% raw or 100% healthy, but as we found, it was easy to improve on the ingredients. We swapped vegetable oil for coconut oil, table salt for Celtic or Himalayan salt, sugar for coconut palm sugar, or honey, increased the vegetable component and decreased the meat.
As an uninspired cook myself, I really found it exciting and inspiring to open any food magazine and see how I could make the recipes healthier but still delicious! See how you go!