The Sweet Meadow


The secret to a good smoothie bowl

recipes, foodAishe Besim

I'm not even sure when or how I first discovered smoothie bowls, but ever since I started making them for breakfast, it's been love at first bite (see what I did there).

Before then, I was generally drinking a green juice or fruit-based smoothie for breakfast. While I'm still very much a fan of a liquid-based breakfast, I didn't like the feeling of constantly consuming my food on the go, either as I was driving to work or while I was sitting at my desk. 

I'm a big believer in eating (and living, for that matter) mindfully. Mindful eating is a concept deeply rooted in Buddhist teachings, with the aim to reconnect us with the experience of eating and enjoying our food.  This means eating slower, chewing our food properly, refraining from using technology while we're eating, and connecting with the story behind our food - who grew this? How far did it travel to get here? 

Studies have shown that mindful eaters tend to have a lower body weight, a greater sense of wellbeing, and fewer symptoms of eating disorders. All strong reasons for me to start committing to appreciating and respecting the food I'm eating. I found that making smoothie bowls for breakfast meant that I physically had to sit down and take the time to eat properly, rather than gulp it down on the go. 

How do you make a good smoothie bowl? Keep reading for my tips. 

  • Use dense fruit. To ensure the smoothie bowl 'base' is thick enough to support a variety of toppings, it's best to use fruit that has a lower water content, such as bananas, mangoes, dates, persimmons, or blueberries. Fruit like watermelon, apples and oranges are best suited to juices.
  • Frozen fruit is your friend. Mixing fresh fruit with frozen for the base of the smoothie bowl will help give the base extra thickness too. I like combining frozen bananas with fresh dates, or fresh bananas with frozen berries.
  • Add some crunch. To avoid the feeling of eating 'baby food' as my dad says, I like adding a gluten-free 'cereal' to the smoothie bowl. I love the taste of Loving Earth's Buckini range, although Table of Plenty and Honest to Goodness also have good vegan options. 
  • Fruit is king. Adding bite-sized fruits like strawberries, raspberries, figs or passionfruit to the top of the smoothie bowl provides some extra (natural) sweetness and colour (if you're in the business of photographing your food. Weird, but I know a few people who do...;)). Another tip - strawberries look better in photos if you leave the green top leaves on! 
  • Experiment with flavours. I've gotten into the habit of adding natural peanut butter to my smoothie bowls (probably half a tablespoon). I love the saltiness it adds, although other flavours like vanilla powder, cinnamon, cacao  or maca powder are also on high rotation. Play around and see what flavours you like. 

You'll soon realise the possibilities are endless. Get on the smoothie bowl train!

Vitamin Green

recipes, foodAishe Besim

I must confess - I'm not a fan of multivitamins. I actually think they make people lazy.

Instead of making an effort to eat a variety of foods that are high in different vitamins and minerals, they stick with the same kind of diet and then supplement this with a tablet. Skip the manufactured product and just get it from the source!

I firmly believe drinking a green juice or smoothie regularly is a natural form of multivitamin. I was first introduced to the concept of green juices by my naturopath Greg Munro from Natremed, long before I'd even thought about becoming vegan. Greg had just watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and was educating me on the benefits of drinking a green juice most days. 

Green vegetables have more valuable nutrients than any other food group on the planet. They build your internal system and strengthen your blood. They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, protein, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are also loaded with folic acid and chlorophyll and purify the blood, prevent diseases, improve circulation, strengthen your immune system and boost your energy levels. 

There's literally hundreds of green drink recipes available online, but ever since finding Kimberly Synder's Glowing Green Smoothie recipe I've been hooked. Scroll down for my tweaked recipe. 

Makes about 1 litre

1 x large bunch of spinach
Handful of kale leaves, stems removed (throw them in the compost)
2 x stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 a large cucumber, chopped
2 x granny smith apples, chopped

2 x frozen bananas, chopped
Handful of fresh herbs (I like parsley or basil depending on the season)
Juice of one lemon

1. Pass the freshly washed juice ingredients through a juicer (cold-pressed is best, although I'm still using my old school Breville Juice Fountain, so use whatever you can afford!). I tend to add some cucumber or apple as I'm juicing the spinach or kale, to help the leaves pass through the juicer. This should extract anywhere between 500 - 700ml of liquid, depending on the size of the apples and cucumber. Add water if there's less than 500ml of juice extracted. 

2. Pour the juice into a blender and add the chopped frozen bananas, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Blitz until smooth. If you're not keen on frozen bananas, substitute for frozen pineapple or frozen mango. Definitely include the fruit though, it's a natural sweetener and removes the need to add stevia, honey or some other sweetener. 

If you have a good quality cold-pressed juicer you could probably store this in the fridge for up to two days, although I drink mine immediately as my breakfast.

Using a juicer and a blender makes a lot of mess in the kitchen, but I find it gives me the best consistency. If you have a top of the range blender like a Vitamix, Thermomix or Blendtec, feel free to skip the juicer and just use the blender. I'd still blend the green vegetables together first before adding the apples and banana. 

Get juicing!

Silverbeet is a good alternative if you don't have kale or spinach. 

Silverbeet is a good alternative if you don't have kale or spinach. 

Top Deck that's better than Cadbury

recipes, foodAishe Besim

I'm definitely a sweet tooth. I knew if I was ever going to last as a vegan long term I needed to learn how to master the art of vegan desserts. 

I love how simple and filling vegan desserts are – there are no lame filler ingredients,  like flour, baking soda and sugar. Every single component is a whole food, special and delicious on its own. 

This slice is one of my favourites. An ode to the much loved caramel slice, I like to mix up the taste of dark chocolate on the top with some creamy white chocolate. Heaven in my mouth!

Vegan | Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Processed Sugar Free
Makes 6 Slices

3/4 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup Loving Earth Caramelised Buckinis
8 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I'm obsessed with this brand)
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
*Recipe for the caramel layer is part of a recipe found in the Hippie Lane app

80g Loving Earth Creamy Coconut Chocolate
80g Sweet William White Dairy Free Chocolate

1. To make base, blitz almonds in a food processor until they have reduced to small pieces. Add the remainder of the base ingredients and process for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is combined and sticky. 
2. Press base into a tin lined with baking paper and store in freezer.
3. To make the caramel layer, add all ingredients into a small saucepan and combine over low heat. Stir until sauce is glossy and smooth.
4. Spread the caramel over the prepared base and place in the fridge to set. 
5. For the chocolate layer, melt the two different chocolate blocks separately. I do it the old school way with a double-boiler over the stovetop because I'm not a fan of microwaves, but they would be a lot quicker. 
6. Pour the melted chocolate into opposite ends of the tin and then gently move the tin around until the chocolate meets in the centre. Use a knife to create swirls. Freeze to set.
7. Remove from freezer at least 20 minutes before serving.