Friday, May 31, 2013

Recipe for Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Vegan Chocolate Mousse
Looking at these four ingredients in isolation, it would never have occurred to me that combined, they would form the most delicious, silken smooth recipe for vegan chocolate mousse, which is virtually guilt free.

There are a couple of super foods in there, namely avocado and cacao.  From my research for this story, it appears cacao was renamed by the British as cocoa in typical imperial style.  Apparently they  found the indigenous name pronounced kak-ow difficult to say. Well happily, they discovered what the south Americans had anecdotally known for years. This cacao bean is a fabulous elixir for life.  It has been somewhat bastardised by the addition of the sugars and fats you find in commercially produced chocolate, but mixed with the right ingredients, it can be a great way to treat yourself, virtually guilt free.

Cacao has the effect of lowering blood pressure, which has now been considered more important for cardiovascular health than cholesterol levels.

It helps to balance blood sugar and is also high in fibre.  It has over 600 antioxidants as compared to blueberries, a well known superfood, which contain just over 20.  Frankly, it appears you would be healthier eating cacao than not.  Who knew eating so decadently could be this good for you.

Just make sure you don't substitute in drinking chocolate, with all its added preservatives and sugar.  Just get the raw cacao powder.  I picked mine up at Harris Farm, so it's pretty easy to find.

This vegan chocolate mousse recipe, is one from Kim McKosker, of Four Ingredients fame.  Kim is the most successful cook book seller in Australia, over the last 10 years, having sold 6.7 million copies of her 4 ingredients series.  What a genius this lady is and so very nice and friendly with it.  A lady who called me 'delightfully inquisitive' on her face book page, will always be a friend of mine and I plan to have a much better look at some of her recipes after trying several of them out at the cook off and being really impressed with the result.

Myself, Kim and Anne from Domesblissity
And the one that impressed me the absolute most, was this fabulous vegan Chocolate Mousse.

Recipe for Vegan Chocolate Mousse
2 ripe avocados
1 large ripe banana (the riper, the sweeter, so this is important)
1 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
Almond flakes for dressing (so it's no longer a 4 ingredient recipe, but these added a nice textural crunch)

Put all  the ingredients, except the almonds, into a blender or food processor and whiz until smooth.  Make sure all banana and avocado chunks are smoothed out.

Pipe or spoon into glasses. 
Top with toasted almond flakes and a drizzle of maple syrup (I didn't bother with the drizzle)
You could also serve with fresh berries.

These do not need chilling before serving, but are fine to store in the fridge if required.

You only need a small portion, as it is decadently rich, so I piped mine into shot glasses.  This would be lovely as a dessert at a Summer drinks party served on trays in shot glasses with tiny spoons.  You can double the recipe too.

It would also make a lovely vegan chocolate cake frosting as well.

If you would like to put on a heart healthy dinner party, here's an easy and delicious main course to go with this fabulous dessert.

I have a new 'Pin It' Function.  Just hover over the photo and click on the Pin icon for any shot.

Have a lovely weekend beach dwellers.

If you would like to win a break in the country this school holidays, I am giving away one family pass to Taronga Western Plain Zoo Dubbo here.
Read more ...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beach House Design and Style

There's alot of beach house style on Sydney's Northern Beaches and I went walking the other day to see what is out there in my area.  To say it lifted my spirits would be an understatement.  Come on in and see what I found.  There is so much inspiration in these lovely homes, I think I will be referring back here many times, if I am ever lucky enough to build a beach house from scratch.  Oh the possibilities.

Love these garage doors (left) and the symmetry (right)

New made to look established and old made to look cute

A sweet beach cottage

My absolute favourite style of beach house.  Loads of sandstone and my favourite colour scheme

This house over looks this park and Pittwater

Two different styles of front verandah, a must in an Australian Beach House

I love the half weatherboard half cement board look in a beach house top left

Lots of decking and balustrades

I love this colour scheme in a beach house 
Filming of Home and Away in my area.

Sandstone and wrought iron fence
Some interesting fence styles for a beach house
I hope your eyes aren't hurting.

Until next time Beach Dwellers

Oh and if you are in need of a break in the country this school holidays, I am giving away one family pass to Taronga Western Plain Zoo Dubbo here.

Today I am linked up here
Transformation Thursday
Feathered Nest Friday
Show and Tell Friday
Weekend Wrap Up
Sundae Scoop
Say G'Day Saturday
Sunday Showcase
Metamorphosis Monday
Inspire Me Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday
Read more ...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Family Pass Giveaway

Have you given any thought to where you might go in the next school holidays?  Yes Australian Beach Dwellers, it's only a few short weeks away.  

Winter is a fantastic time to visit Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.  They didn't coin that fabulous song "Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" for nothing. During Winter, the animals are much more active during the day, so there is lots to see and do at this time of year.

There are animal feeding schedules, which you can view and where you can hear a talk about the animals.

It's a great temperature to work up a sweat on your bike.  You can hire one if you don't want to take your own.

And there are some fabulous accommodation options, so you can stay overnight at the zoo to enjoy the fabulous night time animal encounters program.  There is the  beautifully appointed Zoofari Lodge.

Zoofari Main House Living Room

The Zoofari Main House Dining Room

A Zoofari Lodge Guest room

The fire pit

There is also a brand new camping option at the Billabong Camp, which consists of 25 permanent campsites situated around a picturesque billabong in the zoo's Australian wildlife area.  How much fun would the kids have charging around there with some new friends?  Staying in the camp has a range of inclusions over and above the accommodation.  There is a light refreshment upon arrival, dinner, super and a buffet breakfast, two days admission to the zoo and an exciting range of animal encounters and guided tours where you will see Australian and Asian animals.  The tariff also includes a 10% discount at the Zoo shop, Bakhita's Cafe and any further Animal Encounters you book. 

My four year old is in love with animals and says she is going to be a vet, so looking at these gorgeous animals up close, was so exciting for her.

There were loads of families travelling by bike or you can drive your car, walk or hire a vehicle similar to a golf cart.  It is very safe with the maximum vehicle speed limit at 10km

There are various cafe outlets throughout the zoo 

and plenty of spots to have your picnic.

But the absolute highlight for me was these cheeky monkeys.  Mum, Dad and a baby Siamang

Boy did they put on a show.

They can expand their throats like this and the make the loudest noise.  We were just lucky to be there when they did it.

And this little baby was just the cutest little darling and we were very lucky to see him and all the love his parents gave him.

Since our trip to Taronga Western Plains Zoo a month ago, a white baby rhino has been born and is now on show to visitors.  There is always something new to see......animals being animals and all.

We were a month too soon, so this is not the baby
This was one cool dude

And I'd like to know this guy's secret.  About 130 years old and still going strong.  I'd like to know what is in the water on the Galapagos Islands, that make these beautiful turtles enjoy such longevity.

If you are looking for a fabulous way to entertain the kids for a couple of days in the next school holidays think about a trip out to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.  We also went to the Old Dubbo Gaol, which was fabulous, so there is plenty to see and do on a  mini break to the Mid West.

Today I am giving away a family pass to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.  It is for entry to the zoo for 2 adults and 2 children.
To validate your entry here's what you need to do

Follow Desire Empire on one or more of the following platforms:
Google Friends Connect (over in my side bar)

Leave a  separate comment for each follow, even if you have for some time.

Sharing this to each of your social media platforms or giving it a Google + will constitute another entry.  Leave me a separate comment for each share.  

And good luck

This giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all of you who entered.  The winner is Rachel Kriss-Newell.  Congratulations Rachel.  I shall be in touch with details shortly.

Giveaway Terms and Conditions
You MUST enter the giveaway on this BLOG by leaving a comment here. You do not need to have a Blogger account.  Just sign in as anonymous and leave an email address.
This competition is open to anyone.  It is up to the winner to provide their own transport to Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo. And their own accommodation, whilst there.
The prize is a family pass to Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo, for 2 adults and 2 children.  It is for zoo entry only, for one day and is valid for use up to 12 months from the date of the ticket's issue.
This competition is open from now until  11 June 2013 12pm Australian EST.
The winner will be announced on this blog, Face Book and Twitter and I will contact you, as long as you have left a valid means.  The winner will have 7 days to respond, otherwise the prize will be redrawn.
Although I was not paid to write this post, I did receive a family pass to Taronga Western Plains Zoo free of charge. 

Today I am linked up here
Read more ...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sous Vide Cooking for a Healthier Heart

Learning how to cook Sous Vide Style for a Healthier Heart
If this blog post saves just one life, well then it will be worth it.  There are loads of reminders from bloggers to their readers about having their girly cancer checks done, but have you thought about something that is the biggest killer of women in Australia?  Heart disease and your heart health.  Yep that's right, heart disease kills three times more Australian woman than breast cancer each year.  So next time you go for a pap smear and breast check, ask the doctor to check your blood pressure and order a blood test to check your cholesterol levels  and for diabetes as well.  It may just save your life.  

I love a blogging event where some of my favourite things come together.  Cooking, eating, meeting new  people and learning about how to live a healthier life and lose weight at the same time.

Bret Deverall from the Sydney Cooking School in Neutral Bay, educated us about how to cook food which is heart friendly and the method which fascinated me was sous vide, pronounced 'soo veed' , a French style of cooking, which means 'under vacuum'.  It is a technique in which vacuum sealed food is immersed in water and cooked at a low temperature for a longer period.  The result is a beautifully moist and tender piece of meat, the likes of which I have not seen or tasted before in a chicken breast.  There is for some reason, little chance of over cooking the food.  So this style of cooking is great for entertaining, as you can leave it in the water for a longer period and it will not change the result.

Choice of fillings, asparagus, baby spinach, roast capsicum, pumpkin or eggplant, carmelised onion and reduced fat ricotta, carrot, celery, green beans

If you are serious about improving your heart health, trying this simple and reduced fat method of cooking would be a great way to start.
First lay out a 30cm /12inch piece of tin foil and then place the same size piece of cling film over the foil.

Hanging out with Mademoiselle Slimalicious Tina Gray dot Me and Louisa from My Midlife Mayhem for dinner was fun too.
You can add flavour to your chicken, by grating lime zest and adding dried herbs, such as smoked praprika or sumac and dried basil over the cling foil.  Spread evenly over your cling film, so the chicken comes out with a beautifully flavoured crust.  

On a board, slice a long slice through the side of the breast, not all the way though.  Open the breast and if need be, slice  further to allow for even rolling. Place the open chicken breast on your cling film.  Place your fillings down the middle of the breast, being careful not to over fill it. Allow one chicken breast per person.

I used roasted eggplant, capsicum and pumpkin, baby spinach and reduced fat ricotta cheese to fill my chicken roll.

Once your filling is in place, all you need to do is roll up your chicken breast tightly. Make sure it is well coated with the zest and herbs.  Pull your breast roll to the bottom of your packaging and roll it up tightly like a bon bon by twisting it tightly at both ends.  

Immerse in a pot of water just under simmering and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from the water and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  After resting trim the ends of your roll, unwrap it and slice with a sharp knife to from medallions.  Make sure the join of your roll is facing downwards when slicing, to avoid it coming apart as you slice it.

This was absolutely delicious, moist, tender and made by me.........I am very much looking forward to repeating this in the Beach House kitchen, with my new found cooking vigour.

If for some reason, you leave the package in the water for longer, it will not change the result.  Apparently it can be left in the water for hours and it will still come out beautifully moist and tender.

This would have to be the most tender and moist chicken breast I have ever eaten.  It was very impressive and easy too.
Served with a beautiful, but simple green salad of leaves, pear and cherry tomatoes, dressed with an olive oil vinaigrette, you have a beautiful heart healthy meal.

Dessert was a light and delicious affair of red wine jelly fruit mold garnished with chocolate mint, something else I have never seen.  Absolutely stunning.

I was a guest of the Heart Foundation, who are keen to get the message out there to girls like us, that heart disease is a big health problem for women. It kills 3 times as many women as breast cancer and almost as many women die of  heart attacks as men.  90% of women have at least one risk factor and 50% have two or three.

There are two main non modifiable risks: 
family history

But there are also modifiable risks.

If you have any of these modifiable risk factors in your life, you are also at risk of a heart attack, so think about getting yourself checked out and trying to change them where possible.
High total blood cholesterol
High Blood Pressure 
Being physically inactive
Being overweight
Depression, social isolation and a lack of quality social support.

The government also pays for a comprehensive check up with your GP for women 45 and over.  I've had mine and it highlighted a few issues, which I am now working on.

 Remember heart disease is not just an old man's disease.  God forbid, you or I could be next.
Read more ...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...