A healthy lifestyle and interpretations of what’s healthy or not have always been madly debated. Whether it is a vegetarian, vegan, Paleo or raw diet you are following, I think we can all agree that a wholesome balanced diet helps most people to feel nourished, fit and healthy. But trust me, even my head starts to spin sometimes when I get caught up in the social media craze that tells me that my life should be dominated by green smoothies, detox plans, sprouting and meal prep. But then I wonder is this what we really need to live a healthier more balanced life? Don’t we need easy habits and recipes that integrate into an active and busy schedule and still allow enough time to spend with family and friends? So I was thinking how can we step out of this spinning health carousel and make realistic steps towards getting more unprocessed wholefoods into our body?
The good news is: it’s all about the small things that really make a difference. The little steps that don’t force you to turn your life upside down and which you can easily include into your eating and work routine without costing you hours of preparation time. But in saying that, we can only create change (and you guessed it) by changing things up! And in fact, no one has turned into a health wizard within a day. So let me equip you with an easy tool set to help you to replace your usual highly processed (often sugar-laden with preservatives and additives) supermarket staples with much better wholefood choices to create wholesome dishes that nourish your body without a day full of meal prep. So let’s dig into it shall we?
Some hacks have been adopted by the fantastic Megan May and Ceres Wholefoods. I have been admiring her relentless efforts to consume more raw plant based foods for years now and if you are ever in Auckland make sure you check out one of her Little Bird cafes!
Hack No. 1: Instant Nut Milk
This is a hack by Megan and it still amazes me until today that I didn’t come up with it myself as it is so easy. It happens to me quite often that I run out of nut milk every so often. Or you cannot be bothered to make your own nut milk. If you still have some nut butter around here is your solution. Create your instant nut milk by blending 1 tablespoon of any nut butter with 250ml water! It’s so perfect as you can make it as you need it. Get creative, try a peanut butter milk for example or add some dates or bananas for a sweeter milk.
Hack No. 2: Instant Coconut Milk
Most canned coconut milks contain a long list of preservatives and additives. Move around that by making your own creamy coconut milk in under a minute by blending 1 tablespoon of desiccated with 250ml water. Use it for desserts, soups, curries or your sugarfree matcha frappe (see recipe below).
Hack No. 3: Instant Dessert: Nut Butter Filled Dates
Make these ahead and store them in a sealed box in your freezer, so you are all ready when the sweet tooth kicks in. I love to use big Medjool dates, fill them with nut butter (mostly peanut butter but any nut butter works) and sprinkle I with melted chocolate. If I feel super fancy I add in a salted pretzel too before adding the PB filling. Make a small cut on the side of the date to create a pocket, stuff with 1 tsp nut butter, sprinkle with chocolate and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Hack No. 4: Instant Crackers
Ok, these are not really instant BUT they only need 3 ingredients. The main ingredient is ground flaxseed boosting with Omega-3 fats and helping with digestion. But in general I add whatever I have in my pantry like oats, sunflower seeds or even nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor. Ingredients for a whole tray include 3 cups ground linseed/flaxseed + 2 cups water + salt and pepper + 1/2 cup of your favorite herbs. Mix all ingredients in a bowl letting the mixture soak for 5 minutes. Spread on a lined baking tray and bake for 45 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.
Hack No. 5: Overnight Vegan Soft Cheese
Not super instant but the cheese sets basically overnight or if you are in a hurry you could eat it straight away but it won’t be a thick. With the Mediterranean herbs it tastes like Italian summer!
Ingredients (for 1 soft cheese with 10 cm diameter): 100g cashews + 50g macadamias (both pre-soaked in warm water for 1h) + 4 tbsp lemon juice + 4 tsp nutritional yeast + 3 tsp pineapple juice + 1 fresh garlic clove + 1 tsp smoked salt + 1 handful dried olives + tbsp rosemary (plus chopped dried tomatoes + herbs to roll cheese in)
Add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Fill into a lined ramekin. If you have time store in the fridge overnight to set and turn it over the next day and roll in dried herbs.
Hack No. 6: The Ultimate Mayonnaise
This is THE perfect sauce dressing, dip, salads or even with a big bowls of veggies or on top of baked potato. It’s super creamy, satisfying and turns every boring sandwich or salad into a satisfying meal. Add a dash of kala namak salt for some extra egg flavor. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and process until creamy and smooth.
Ingredients: handful of cashews +2 tbsp lemon juice +4 tbsp nutritional yeast +1/2 garlic clove + dash of salt & pepper + handful basil leaves + 2 dates pitted + 1/2 tsp kala namak salt (optional but amazing)
Hack No. 7: Instant Sugarfree Matcha Frappe
You love to pick up your morning energy boosting matcha frappe on the way to the office? Don’t waste any more time and money to stand in line at the coffee shop! Pop some leftover nut milk into ice cube containers and add the below ingredients to make a kick ass sugarfree matcha frappe! Add some cinnamon and turmeric for the extra health boost.
Add the following ingredients into your high speed blender and blend for 30 seconds: 3 dates + 1 tsp good quality matcha (ceremonial grade) + 1/4 tsp wheatgrass powder + 1/4 tsp turmeric + 1 tsp cinnamon + 3/4 cup water + 1 cup oat milk.
Hack No. 8: Instant Cake Crust
Family or friends call in for a coffee unexpectedly? This is literally a no-effort-cake-crust that your blender or food processor will whip up for you while you make yourself a big cup of coffee. It requires mainly 2 ingredients and you can add a dash of salt and vanilla but this is totally optional. Add some fruits and coconut cream to literally create a 5 minute cream and fruit pie. Add the below ingredients into your high speed blender or food processor and mix until a dough-like consistency forms. Add a bit of water if the dough is too dry to shape. Press into your lined baking tin.
Ingredients for 18cm round cake tin: 1/2 cup raw nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts) + 6 medjool dates + pinch of salt and vanilla