Chocolate-mousse cake with secret ingredient.

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This is an amazing cake. It’s so rich you only need the smallest sliver to be satisfied. It’s actually fairly healthy, with no refined grains or sugar (though it does contain a good few dates, which are high in fructose). The secret ingredient is avocado! The avocado gives the cake a lovely thick mousiness. I got the recipe here. Here’s my version:

Ingredients: 

For the cake: 

  • 1 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 cup date paste (soak dates 30 mins then blend in food processor until smooth)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the icing: 

  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup warm water

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Method: 

For the cake: 

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C. 
  2. Line springform pan with foil so that nothing can leak through.
  3. Coat pan with melted coconut oil.
  4. In food processor, add avocados and date paste and blend until well combined and creamy.
  5. Add eggs and process unti smooth.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well incorporated.
  7. Pour cake batter into springform pan and bake in oven for about 30 minutes, until top appears darker all over. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  8. Turn the oven off, crack door open and leave cake to cool for an hour or two before transferring to fridge to cool completely (at least 8 hours).

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For the icing: 

  1. In food processor, add all ingredients except cocoa powder and process until well combined. 
  2. Add cocoa powder, about 1/4 cup at a time, and process until smooth and creamy.
  3. Take cake out of fridge and place upside down on a serving plate.
  4. Pour icing in middle of cake and spread it gently all over cake.

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Just look at that texture. It’s the best!

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How I wash my hair.

Not with shampoo. Not with conditioner. Not with soap.

I use baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

It’s a bit weird, I know. Very crunchy.  It’s one of the reasons my brother calls me a hippy.

The thing is, it works.

I’ve never had nicer looking hair. It lasts a lot longer between washes (4-ish days), when I used shampoo I had to do it every second day. I got my hair cut a week ago after almost a year of no trims, and I had hardly any split ends!

Apart from working well, it’s cheap and involves no nasty chemicals.

I store my baking soda in a shaker container in the shower. Whenever I want to wash my hair I pour about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar into a plastic jug I keep in the bathroom. Sometimes I add a few drops of lavender essential oil for a nicer smell.

Shampoo (baking soda): 

  1. First, I wet my hair and comb it through so there are no tangles.
  2. Then I shake about 3 tablespoons of baking soda into my palm. I sprinkle a little water onto it to make a paste.
  3. Then I rub the paste into my hair and scrub really well for a few minutes.
  4. When my hair feels nice and clean, I rinse my hair and comb it again.

Conditioner (vinegar): 

  1. Hold the jug with apple cider vinegar under the shower and fill with water. 
  2. Pour apple cider vinegar/water mixture over hair.
  3. Leave in for a few minutes.
  4. Comb hair, then rinse out.

I’ve never noticed a vinegar-ey smell after my hair dries, so don’t let the thought of having stinky hair put you off. I do sometimes miss the nice scent of shampoo, and sometimes I miss the fluffy lather of shampoo. But  I don’t miss the oiliness or lankness of how my hair used to be. I’ve been doing this for about 2 years now and I’m never going back to normal shampoo!

Check out these sites for more information about the no poo method of hair care:

 

Healthy(er) chocolates.

Here’s a recipe for some easy homemade chocolates. These are heaps healthier than supermarket chocolates, as they only have 4 ingredients (none of which are hard to pronounce), not much fructose, and lots of raw cacao powder and butter. Apart from being healthy, they taste great too!

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Ingredients: 

  • 120 grams cacao butter
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup rice malt syrup
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • flaky sea salt, to sprinkle on top

Method: 

  1. Gently melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a simmering pan of water. 
  2. Whisk all other ingredients into bowl (except flaky sea salt).
  3. Pour into about 16 small silicone cupcake cups and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  4. Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.
  5. Pop chocolate out of the cups and enjoy!
  6. Store in the fridge or freezer, or they’ll melt.

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I got this recipe from Oh She Glows, which has heaps of great healthy recipes (though I’m not a vegan).

Haircut.

The other night, I cut my husband’s hair. It hadn’t been cut for maybe 6 months.

He went from looking something like this:

(well, maybe not quite so long)

To something like this:

(with a bit less styling going on, but notice he still has a bit of a beard)

I really don’t mind whether he has short hair or longer hair. Lots of people start nagging at him to cut it when it gets like the top picture. I’ve come to learn that nagging him about his hair just makes him want to keep it long. So I don’t.

Roasted pumpkin soup.

It’s starting to cool down and feel more like autumn here. Perfect weather for soup. Pumpkin soup is one of my favourites. I’ve recently discovered the secret to making it best. Roast the veggies first! Here’s what I do:

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 large pumpkin
  • 1 large sweet potato (just cause it was sitting there)
  • 2-3 brown onions
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • small knob of ginger
  • olive oil
  • chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • salt and pepper

Method: 

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Chop up vegetables into similar size chunks and place on roasting pan with olive oil. 
  3. Roast vegetables in oven until cooked, about 1 hour.
  4. Place vegetables into large saucepan and add some stock.
  5. Use stick blender until a lovely orange liquid mush is formed. Keep blending and adding enough stock until you reach the consistency you like.
  6. Add spices and blend a bit more, then serve.

What’s your favourite soup recipe? How do you make pumpkin soup? Do you agree that roasting is the best way to do it?

Chocolate-avocado mousse.

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I love chocolate. And I love chocolate mousse. I have a great recipe with lots of eggs, cream, chocolate, sugar, and butter. I’m also trying to be healthy and not eat too much sugar. So I thought I’d try a mousse recipe with avocado in it. I used this recipe, but altered it a bit.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 3/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 250 ml chilled coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Method: 

  1. Mix all ingredients in food processor until smooth. 
  2. Place in fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. Enjoy with strawberries!

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Next time I make this, I think I’ll add an egg or too, to give it an even fluffier consistency. But for something reasonably healthy, it tastes great!

You are beautiful.

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty hired a criminal sketch artist to draw women as they see themselves and as others see them. The difference is staggering! (Watch the video below.) Dove says:

“Women are their own worst beauty critics. In fact, only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.”

It’s so easy to have a poor body image in our society, where the ideal standards of beauty are so unrealistic and unattainable. This was a great reminder for me to be happy with who God made me.

You are beautiful!

House painting.

We bought a house earlier this year, and are now working on renovating it before we move in. It was a big mess when we bought it, with junk left all through the house and yard.

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We’ve done lots of cleaning, pulling up floor, knocking down an illegal extension, jackhammering up tiles and redoing the bathroom. It’s been pretty hectic. And now we’ve started painting.

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Choosing a paint colour is hard. We took heaps of cards home and umm-ed and ahh-ed about which shade we liked best. We wanted something light and bright, without being too stark. Who knew there were so many shades of white out there!

We ended up choosing the colour “spiritual”. It was a lot darker than I expected at first, but now I love it!

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Now on to choosing tiles and carpet and floorboards… Hopefully we can be moved in by the end of May.

Lemon tart.

I recently posted about making lemon slice. It was pretty much my favourite lemon thing I’d ever made. Well I’ve surpassed the slice, and have beaten it with the best lemon tart ever. There are lots of steps, but if I can make it, it can’t be too hard. And it’s just as good as the one from the cafe. Wow.

Ingredients: 

Pastry: 

  • 300g plain flour
  • 150g butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg for the egg wash

Filling: 

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 5 lemons
  • 300ml double cream
  • 390g castor sugar
  • 9 large eggs(!)
  • 1 large egg yolk

Method: 

Pastry: 

  1. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, butter and salt on low speed until it becomes sand like in texture (2-3 minutes).
  2. In the meantime, combine the icing sugar and egg yolks in small bowl.
  3. Add the vanilla seeds and lemon zest to the egg yolk mixture and then add to the bowl in the mixer and continue to mix on low speed until fully combined and a very soft dough has formed (3-5 minutes).
  4. Mould the dough into a flat rectangle and wrap it in cling wrap before placing in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  5. Roll the pastry between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 2mm, then place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC. Line a 26cm tart tin with the pastry making sure to press it into the edges and leaving the pastry hanging over the edge.
  7. Take a sheet of baking paper and scrunch it up several times to eliminate any sharp edges. Prick the dough with a fork all over the surface. Place the baking paper on top and add enough coins (I used rice) to fill the casing ¼ of the way up. Place in the preheated oven to bake for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
  8. In the meantime, mix some of the leftover dough with an egg using a hand blender.
  9. After 20 minutes, remove the baking paper and coins and, using a pastry brush, brush the entire surface of the tart with the dough and egg mixture. This ‘liquid pastry’ will ensure that any holes will be sealed. Return the tart to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
  10. Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Filling: 

  1. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 120ºC. Place the baked pastry case in the oven to warm up.
  2. Put all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix together using a spatula. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and allow to warm up until the temperature reaches 60ºC. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug. With a spoon, remove the bubbles from the surface of the liquid.
  3. Slide the oven rack out a bit, then pour the mixture into the warm pastry case inside the oven. Fill the case to the top, slide the rack carefully back in, and bake the tart for about 25 minutes or until the temperature of the filling reaches 70ºC. Allow to cool completely to room temperature.
  4. Just before serving, trim the overhanging pastry by running a sharp knife round the top of the tart tin and discard.

Here’s a picture of my finished tart, such a lovely bright yellow!

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I did have a few mishaps making this tart. I wasn’t very good at moulding the pastry to the tin – it was a bit frozen and I broke it. Then my patched up job wasn’t as strong as it could have been, so the overhanging edges fell off onto the tray below and burned, and the leftover edges burned too. Then, when I was filling the pastry case with the filling mixture, half the lemon mixture spilled out onto the open oven door and the tray below. Despite all of this, it turned out beautifully!

Here’s where I got the recipe.