food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Choc-orange-ginger truffles – gluten & dairy free

choc trufflesI whipped up these delightful sweet treats several weekends ago. (My! How time flies!) I really do have a soft spot for chocolate and these are a great way to indulge my craving without any dairy or a large amount of added sugar. Plus the flavours are to die for!

Orange, ginger, cardamom, almond, cashew, hazelnut. They were all made to be blended with chocolate.

Luckily, these little truffles are also rich enough that you can’t eat too many in one sitting. And they are best shared with friends after dinner.

“What are the Traditional Chinese Medicine functions attributed to cardamom and ginger?”, I hear you ask. All is revealed here.

Choc-orange-ginger truffle recipe

Ingredients

  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 50g raw cashews
  • 50g hazelnut flour
  • 100g dried pitted dates
  • juice of one orange (about 3 tablespoons)
  • grated zest of one orange
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods, ground
  • Uncrystallised ‘naked‘ ginger, cut into small pieces (1/2cm²)
  • Additional hazelnut meal and dessicated coconut for rolling

Method

  1. Add almonds and cashews to food processor and blend until ground. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add dates to food processor and blend until they resemble a paste. Add dates to nut mix.
  3. To nut and date mix, add orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, cocoa and ground cardamom. Mix into a thick paste. Add hazelnut meal gradually to make mixture a good consistency for rolling.
  4. Take two plates and to one add desiccated coconut, and to the other add hazelnut meal. These will be for rolling the truffles in.
  5. Take a heaped teaspoonful of mixture and roll into a ball. Insert a piece of ginger into the middle of each ball and roll until smooth on the outside. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used. Then roll each ball in either coconut or hazelnut meal.
  6. Chill until ready to serve.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

Diet, food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Cardamom coconut cake – gluten & dairy-free

cardamom coconut cakeLast weekend I made two after dinner sweets to follow a main course of several curries. I wanted the desserts to continue the fragrant spicy theme of the meal.

This cake was met with approval and so the recipe had to be shared. It has delicate spice and the perfect level of moisture due to the addition of coconut milk. The original recipe is here. I adapted it slightly to make it dairy-free, lower in sugar and to also make it with home made sweetened coconut as this ingredient is not easily found in Brisbane, Australia. I created my own cardamom glaze for decoration.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cardamom is considered to be warming, pungent and slightly bitter. Cardamom is an excellent digestive stimulant. It is sometimes termed the “Queen of the Spices” and is probably best known for its use in curries but can also be added to cakes and biscuits. For more on cardamom and my two other favourite warming spices click here. Here’s a rosewater, cardamom and pistachio shortbread recipe and another for cardamom cookies. Did I mention that I LOVE cardamom?

Cardamom coconut cake

Ingredients for cake

  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom (this can be increased to taste)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (shaken well before measuring)
  • 5 tablespoons of dairy-free butter alternative (or butter if you tolerate dairy)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup prepared sugar/stevia blend (equivalent to two cups sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons rum
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened shredded coconut (made by mixing 35g shredded coconut with 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of hot water – allow to sit for 10 minutes before using.)

Ingredients for glaze

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a few pinches of ground cardamom, to taste
  • extra shredded coconut for decoration

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a Bundt cake tin.
  3. In a small bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom together. Set aside.
  4. Melt butter into coconut milk in a saucepan over low heat. Set aside.
  5. With a mixer, beat eggs and sugar until pale, thick and doubled in size.  Add vanilla and rum.
  6. Add flour to the egg mix beating slowly until mixed through.
  7. Add shredded coconut and sweetened coconut and mix.
  8. Lastly, add coconut milk and mix through until mixture is smooth.
  9. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 1 hour or until cooked through (passing the skewer test).
  10. Leave in pan for 10 minutes before placing on a cooling rack.
  11. Glaze cake (to make glaze: sift icing sugar into a small bowl, add vanilla and cardamom, then add a little water at a time until glaze is the desired consistency to drizzle on the cake) and finish by sprinkling shredded coconut on top.
  12. Serve with strawberries or the fruit of your choice.
cardamom coconut cake
This time with seasonal stone fruit

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Three of my favourite spices for winter warming

spices webI don’t like being cold and I’ll admit it, I spend most of winter looking forward to spring. Yes, even in the Brisbane winter. There are many ways we can keep warm in winter – and choosing the right foods is one of them. Here are three of my favourite flavours to spice up my life in winter. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we describe each substance by its temperature, flavour and action in the body – some foods have a warming or hot action on the body.

Enjoy this tantalising yet brief introduction to my top three favourite warming spices and how you can use them in your diet:

  • Cardamom: warming, pungent and slightly bitter. Cardamom is an excellent digestive stimulant. It is sometimes termed the “Queen of the Spices” and is probably best known for its use in curries but can also be added to cakes and biscuits. The pods can be chewed on as a breath sweetener. There is a restaurant I like to have breakfast at that makes a wonderful tomato relish with bursts of cardamom pods in it. Cardamom even pops up in gin and some liqueurs.
  • Cinnamon: hot and sweet. Again this spice is excellent for the digestive system and great for the common cold accompanied by runny noses and chills. Once again this is an excellent spice to be used in curries. It is also wonderful in porridge, pickles, chutneys and smoothies (adds some warm energy to a cold drink). It is a delicious addition to stewed fruits. In baking it teams well with apples and bananas in muffins, slices and cakes. There is a schnapps called Goldschläger based on cinnamon and several spirits and liqueurs that also take advantage of the wonderful flavour of cinnamon.
  • Ginger: warm (fresh) and hot (dried), pungent and slightly sweet. Ginger is one of the great digestive herbs. It is well known for calming a nauseous stomach. This spice is versatile – fresh, it can be used it in curries, stir fry, congee, dumplings, spring rolls or almost any Asian style dish. Pickled, it is an excellent accompaniment to sushi. I love to snack on crystallised (or nude) ginger in trail mix when I go hiking. It is also a lovely addition to biscuits and cakes, including as a decoration on icing. And for a real treat, I can’t go past dark chocolate coated ginger. Dried ginger can be added to baking and in curries. I occasionally add just a sprinkle to my rice porridge. Ginger is also made into wine, beer and ale.

These spices can be combined with black tea to make chai (spiced) tea which is a comforting hot drink for a cold day, although, each spice could be used on its own as a herbal tea. Mulled wine is another way to combine these spices to make a warming red wine beverage. Of course, it should only be consumed in moderation. I have a nice recipe for cardamom and ginger biscuits here.

What are your favourite winter warmers?

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

Diet, food, food allergy, health, recipe

A treat to settle a sick tummy: cardamom & ginger biscuits

cardamom biscuitsIn recent weeks, I have been visiting a sick relative in hospital.

Aside from having some nasty infections, she was suffering from nausea and vomiting related to codeine, and other digestive upsets from antibiotic treatment.

To brighten her days there, and give her a slightly therapeutic treat, I made some cardamom cookies for her.

I altered the original recipe by using a 50:50 mix of dried, ground ginger and cardamom.  The biscuits were also made with almond meal (instead of cashews), upping their protein content for someone who wasn’t eating much at all at that point in time.  The cookies are sweetened with honey and rolled ever so gently in some icing sugar.  There is no egg, soy, gluten or dairy in these so they should be kind to most people with weak digestion.

She loved the cookies, the nausea subsided and I’m happy to report that she is now back at home, enjoying her blossoming garden and home-cooked meals.

Cardamom and ginger biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raw almonds, blended into a fine meal
  • ½ cup butter or dairy-free alternative
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • ½ cup icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Beat butter, honey, vanilla extract and lemon zest together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour, cardamom and ginger, stir well.
  4. Add almond meal and mix well.
  5. Roll mixture into teaspoon size balls and place on lined baking tray.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then while still warm, roll each biscuit in icing sugar.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.