Although I'm currently overseas (sitting in a cafe in Vancouver writing this on my laptop - yes, I've become one of those bloggers), today's guest recipe comes from a fellow Melbournian; the very talented and inspiring lady behind the @playfulplatefuls Instagram page.
Emily is a 25-year-old ICU nurse who is passionate about REAL healthy eating; not the idea of health that is forced upon people, particularly young women, by the media. A woman after my own heart.
After drooling over numerous food posts on her Instagram page, I asked Emily to share a bit about herself and, of course, her recipe for this Raw Ginger + Mesquite Slice with Lemon Icing (which I made myself and devoured in record time!).
So, over to you Emily:
I first came to the realisation that I needed to drastically change to my diet and lifestyle in mid 2013, when I was halfway though my graduate nursing year. Since adolescence, up until that point I had fallen for a belief forced upon so many young girls: that good health is achieved by eating bland, low-calorie food, particularly when coupled with a body-punishing workout routine. While this mantra had never yielded positive results for my wellbeing, with the addition of full-time work in a stressful profession, living away from home in an unfamiliar city and crazy work hours, it was proving to be disastrous. I was exhausted and utterly exasperated, feelings which soon led to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Despite literally running myself into the ground with excessive exercise, my weight gradually ballooned. I constantly had digestive problems and global muscular and back pain. The stress of the year up until that point had meant that I stopped menstruating and had to be prescribed the pill by my GP. Basically, in my pursuit of health I had become very unhealthy.
Like Lilian, a key initial driving force behind my diet and lifestyle overhaul was Sarah Wilson’s book, ‘I Quit Sugar’. I had actually read about her eating philosophy years prior in a magazine article, and like so many of her misinformed detractors my reaction was something along the lines of, ‘OMG that’s crazy, your body NEEDS sugar!’ Tisk, tisk. (I see that Lilian has already clarified this fallacy in the ‘About’ section of her blog). Fatefully however, when I picked up and began to thumb through Sarah’s book in a bookstore in 2013 – perhaps it was my aching back, or the fact I had just lived through my second dose of flu for that Winter, or maybe that I had just absent minded inhaled half a block of Cadbury chocolate – something finally clicked. After buying it I read it cover to cover and was an instant convert. In addition to the scientific way in which she presented the case for a diet free of sugar and processed foods, there was something that really resonated with me about Sarah’s journey of healing after I myself had felt so lost and more than a little bruised after so many years of punishing my own body. Almost overnight food and the act of eating became about replenishment, nourishment and enjoyment, not restriction and meanness.
My Instagram account, @playfulplatefuls came a little later at the beginning of 2014 when I had first relocated to Melbourne. After feeling extremely excited to be moving back to my home city after spending so many years away, I found myself suddenly stunned by how lonely an experience it was in reality proving to be. These feelings were confounded by the fact that I was heartbroken over an unhealthy relationship that had come to an inevitable but very sudden and painful end. As a way of keeping myself occupied (and also to perhaps disinhibit myself from slamming down a tub of ice cream every night) I decided to start documenting what I was eating. As my photography and cooking skills went from completely rudimentary to …whatever you could class them now, I began to enjoy the process more and more. 2014 was truly one of the most transformative years of my life, and while it’s hard to explain I feel that the commitment to a gentle and holistic approach to nutrition and health fostered by my humble Instagram account helped me to increase my confidence and focus and hence weather its challenges.
Consequently, in 2015 these positive personal changes have trickled out other aspects of my life, allowing me to start writing again (my passion growing up), to learn a little French (my new year’s resolution for the past five years) and to take up pilates (also a long-standing New Year’s resolution). I’m not perfect, my life isn’t perfect, but I feel better than I have done in many years because I am now opening myself up to a range of experiences I have previously been too scared to try. I really do believe that when it comes to a good life, taking care of your mind, body and soul through a positive and healthy diet and lifestyle is where it all begins.
Treating yourself is an important part of a healthy diet, and while I occasionally enjoy junk food, for the most part I believe that everyday indulgences can easily be both delicious and wholesome. The recipe below is an example of everything I love about healthy treats; simple ingredients, strong flavour and nourishment. The inclusion of ground ginger and lack of fructose and gluten also makes anti-inflammatory, which is something that I consider to be key to a healthy diet given the role inflammation plays in chronic illness. Anyway, here ‘tis:
RAW GINGER AND MESQUITE SLICE WITH LEMON ICING
2/3 cup pecans
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 cup cashews, soaked
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoon rice malt syrup
3 teaspoon mesquite powder
2 teaspoon ground all spice
2 tablespoon coconut paste, melted (or coconut oil if you can’t get it)
3 tablespoon coconut cream
juice of 1 lemon
1.5 tablespoon rice malt syrup
Pinch sea salt
Place pecans in food processor and blend until a chunky mix forms. Pour into a mixing bowl and add oil, stirring until evenly covered. Press evenly into a silicon bread pan (this is what I like to use) and place in the freezer.
Add ingredients for Ginger Layer into clean food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Pour over base layer and place pan back into freezer. Allow to set for about thirty minutes or so.
Combine Lemon Icing ingredients in bowl and pour over Ginger Layer. Allow to set in freezer for at least 24 hours. Decorate as you wish with nuts, spices or raw chocolate drizzle. Store in freezer and allow to defrost for approximately 30 minutes before serving.
A big thank you to Emily for generously sharing her experience and recipe! Check out Emily's Instagram page @playfulplatefuls for more of her recipes and inspiration.