26 November 2010


Have you noticed a little green leafed offering on the extra’s table over the past few weeks? Chances are you may have been intrigued, picked up a bunch to inspect it and been a little put off by the somewhat light furry or bristle texture of the leaves. That bunch of rough textured greens is called Amaranth and it is DELICIOUS and SO nutritious.
When our whole foods, organic journey delved a little deeper a few years back, I was amazed when I started reading about this somewhat ‘super green’ and ‘super grain’. Whilst running probably (and I guess this is individual view) but probably a close second to quinoea in terms of a vegetarian super offering, amaranth is really a power house of nutrition.

At the moment at FIG, we have the amaranth greens, which can be used fresh in salads (don’t be discouraged by the rougher texture of the leaves, it really is not at all noticeable as you eat them), lightly steamed, or used in any number of creative ways for vegetarian dishes. Amaranth greens have a higher nutritional content than spinach! Certain strains of Amaranth are actually considered WEEDS! Can you believe it. As one source says “If the weeds in your garden turn out to be the ubiquitous green amaranth, give thanks to Mother Nature and make the best of it” - Asian online recipes
Whilst we have been enjoying the greens through FIG, most people are probably more familiar with Amaranth as a grain, and whilst it is referred to as a grain, the amaranth grain is actually a seed. You can sprout the seed as you would an alfalfa seed and enjoy a nutritious little protein boost from this versatile gift from nature. Many people are also probably used to seeing amaranth as a puffed cereal offering in natural health stored. Whilst FIG doesn’t take the position of telling folk what they should or shouldn’t eat, we do like to keep the flow of information that we find interesting, open to the FIG community. So if you are used to eating amaranth seed as a puffed cereal, then you may want to consider some of the researched dangers of eating puffed cereals.

But aside from the puffed offerings, amaranth is available in many forms; greens, seed and amaranth flour. Of course if you have your own grain mill at home, the best way to have the freshest and most nutritious flour is to obtain the seed and then grind the seed through your mill to obtain fresh, nutrient rich flour. Unfortunately due to the way flour nowadays is milled, stored, transported etc, it quite often arrives in our homes devoid of much goodness at all, and has quite often turned rancid if it has not been processed to remove the oils, if it has then we are receiving a refined flour product which as mentioned above is devoid of it’s full potential nutrient density... But that’s a whole other issue for a whole other day. If you are interested in this point - you may like to read the ‘Whole Grains’ section of Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. There is also some basic information about this issue on Health Banquet.

Back to amaranth flour. You can buy amaranth flour at the store, and if you do not have a grain mill, then to obtain the flour already ground is the next best option to use this nutritious seed as a flour. If you are interested in bringing a grain mill to your kitchen, then Skippy Grain Mills offer really beautiful mills. We use the Billy 100 in or kitchen and I would definitely recommend it to other folk interested in a grain mill for their family. It has served us very well and continues to do so. Amaranth Flour is a wonderful gluten free flour that can be successfully used in many baking applications. Amaranth flour also has 8 times the iron that wheat flour has.
We actually grow some amaranth ourselves last year and it was such a pleasure to have in the garden. Continuous pick greens with a delicious looking pink/red tinge to them. They produced on and on through the summer and when they finally went to seed we bagged up the seed heads and have them hanging, collecting the seed. We will use some of the seed and replant some more - although I have noticed little baby amaranth plants springing form the earth in the space they were growing last year, already!

However you enjoy amaranth; greens or seed; freshly ground or sprouted; raw, baked or steamed - one thing is for sure, your body will sing with the nutrient boost this gift from nature offers.

References; wikipedia, ripe organics, asian online recipes, nourished magazine


Nothing sings Summer quite like the arrival of berry’s in every shape and size. When you see the extra’s table filled with red delicious berries, you know that Summer is just a heartbeat away. I love the sweet, delicious taste of all the Summer berries. They are scrumptious on their own and are so versatile in such a plethora of recipes; raw, cooked, frozen, stewed, baked... however you have your berries and whatever your favourite berry recipe is, I’m sure it’s something we all long for in the Summer months.

I’ve been longing for the berries of Summer to try some of the amazing raw food recipes I see that are filled with berries of every kind. However, even though I brought home TWO punnets of both strawberries AND boysenberries (yes, that equals FOUR punnets of berrys!) the other day - NONE made it into any recipe creations. All were eaten and enjoyed, fresh, just as is. All in about 48hours as well! We discovered a wonderful taste treat. I love how the flavour type of one food can enhance the flavour type of another food when eaten successively. Previously we have done this with californian dates and nuts - mostly walnuts and pecans. Eating the date first brings out the sweetness of the pecan or walnut, really changing the typical flavour we experience from these nuts. We discovered the other day, that to eat 3-4 boysenberries with their sharp, tart flavour and then to follow it with one of those juicy little strawberries - OH MY GOODNESS! The strawberry is SO sweet - it actually tasted like one of those strawberry and cream lollies! Beautiful!

Now for the strawberry tech info... The other day I was intrigued by a passing comment by someone I had just met at a gathering. This person is from Germany and has an Anthroposophical background. In our conversation, this person mentioned to me how traditional Anthroposophical folk will not eat strawberries as they are seen as a seductive fruit, with the seeds on the outside. This got me searching the internet for more information on this - I found it really interesting. I could definitely see how the fruit could have this kind of energy associated with it, as it definitely is a very alluring fruit which has long been associated with love and romance. Strawberries with Champagne and a wee piece of chocolate probably feature in the congratulations basket of most honeymoon suites around the world. The three most romantic associated food and drink items! Whilst I couldn’t find any information about this particular point of reference with Anthroposophy, I was interested with the information I did find about the facts of strawberries. Strawberries, by botanists are most often not even classified as a ‘berry’ because of the fact that they do not contain their seeds on the inside like other berries. However, what some folk view as the seeds on the outside of the berry, are in fact not actual seeds. Those little yellow dots on the outside are the actual fruit! There are over 200 of these on every strawberry. Inside each of these ‘fruits’ is a little seed. Wikipedia has a great microscope image of these fruits showing the seed inside. What we normally think of as the strawberry fruit is actually a swollen stem, like a rose hip. The MadSci network has some interesting information on this as well as some great strawberry facts and trivia on Pick Your Own.
Too much thought? That’s what I’m thinking... I just like to enjoy one of the best fruits of Summer - the strawberry, even if it’s not a fruit itself and even if it’s not a berry and AH.... too much thinking - I think I’ll just enjoy them without thinking about whether I’m eating a fruit or a berry or a seed or a stem......

Cumin Roasted Wedges

A friend recently mentioned to me that they picked up a great little recipe from the Weight Watchers book - Cumin Dusted Roast Wedges. This recipe was verbally passed to me, so if anyone has a reference book and page I can quote, please do leave it in the comments section. But the recipe, if you can even call it that is so simple - 1 step really with 1 ingredient... Does that even qualify as a recipe?

• Cut up washed potatoes, skin on, into thick wedges.

• Pop in a bag or dish and dust in Cumin. Shake around to evenly coat wedges.

• You can either bake them on a tray with a little olive oil or you can grill them on the BBQ.

We grilled ours on the BBQ with some fresh salmon fillets and served w. steamed vegetables drizzled in a healthy oil, sprinkled w. gamasio - DELICIOUS!

A snapshot of Beulah

We were privileged to be shown around the property of Beulah one recent the weekend by the very passionate farmer and owner of the property, Bill. Bill has this energy of genuine concern and mindfulness that surrounds him. He speaks with such passion about what he does and the food he grows for our families. It is obvious that in every piece of produce that comes out of Beulah, a small piece of Bill’s heart and soul is in the essence of that fruit or vegetable. It fills me with such intense appreciation to know that there is someone like Bill, growing our food - who is genuinely concerned about what he is putting on my family’s meal plates. One day, as we sat eating at our meal table, I said, “We are so blessed to have farmers who grow our food for us” and our child responded with “and so lucky to have people to grow this beautiful food without chemicals”. Hear Hear!

Bill showed us around his farm, the outdoor growing spaces, the greenhouse and the orchards. Our tour led down to the pristine water source of the farm where the children were delighted to scoop their hands in and be able to drink right from that refreshing source. Bill spoke to us about his background. Coming 5 years ago from a trade background, with no farming knowledge or experience he poses the question “If I can grow food like this, how can folk who have lived in the soil their whole lives not do the same”. Bill goes on to say that organic farming is so much more than just not spraying. It’s about living in harmony with the land, respecting the soil, reading the signs, listening to the messages that Mother Nature openly shares with those who will listen. When Bill stands there and with the most loving gesture waves his hand to the ground, he says “God put the grass there for a reason, to keep the soil moist and protected - you spray, you loose all of that - then the problems start...” As he trails off from this sentence, Bill shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head in dismay and confusion as to why people would do this. I nearly wept tears of such extreme respect when I stood there is Bill’s presence and heard how he speaks with such love and understanding about how natural, farming can and should be. He has an amazing ability to generate this extreme reverence in us for the gifts of nature that we are blessed to receive.
It was wonderful to hear Bill share his experiences, learnings, suggestions and ideas with us. He was not at all guarded about techniques he uses and openly shared many, many suggestions with the group who frantically tried to scribble down each piece of organic growing advice as the next one flowed in Bill’s words.
We left the property with a deeper level of appreciation for where our food comes from and an amazing respect for the folk like Bill who consciously grow nutritious food to feed, heal and grow our bodies every single day. I love the final lines from Food Inc and it seems appropriate to close this article with those words; that we make three main votes every day on what kind of food we want produced. Whenever we run a food item through a supermarket scanner, we vote, one way or another - which way do you choose to vote?

Organic Eating Out

If you make the decision to eat only organic foods, then your options for eating out can be quite limited. There are a few places on the Coast that serve ‘conscious food’; free range eggs, Lilydale chicken, organic milk and cream etc etc. But still, eating at some of these places can be difficult when you want an entirely organic meal.

We were very impressed to hear that a local Organic store was now serving ORGANIC bacon and egg rolls with organic coffee on a Saturday morning (the organic coffee, hot chocolate and chai is available every day!). There are other items on the menu as well such as corn fritters, sausage rolls and from this Saturday, the plan is to have a BBQ available as well with ORGANIC meat and salads. With the corn fritters and sausage rolls, you would need to check that everything is organic in these pieces. I think the corn fritters are mostly organic ingredients and I know the sausage rolls are all organic filling, but have a conventional pastry on the outside. BUT - the great thing is that there is a FULLY ORGANIC OPTION! Generally, the bacon and egg rolls are served with conventional nitrate free bacon, but all you need do is ask for ORGANIC bacon as you order and this is happily done for you. There is a small $2 charge for the Organic bacon substitute, but DEFINITELY worth it, they are DELICIOUS! Organic roll, organic butter, organic bacon, Lisa Edward’s eggs, organic tomato sauce AH! Yes, ladies and gentlemen it appears Ooomph Fresh at East Gosford is setting a standard for organic food café offerings on the Coast.

If you would like to find out more about the latest organic café offerings at Ooomph then you can call and speak with the very vibrant character, Andrew on 4321 1133.

I just received the following information in an email from Andrew and thought I would share it with anyone interested. Darren will also be there at Andrew's on Saturday with his Organic Seedlings!