Sunday, 26 June 2011

Kumara Hummus

I do love hummus. And it's so quick and easy to make hummus at home. Naturally home made hummus tastes much better than store bought.

Recently I found a fabulous blog post about variations on hummus, including the fabulously interesting kumara hummus. And I knew I had to make it sometime soon. I took inspiration from this recipe, and naturally fiddled with it a bit.

Kumara is delicious, and a fabulous low GI superfood. I've been trying kumara in a few new and different ways recently, and enjoying it very much. I commonly use it as a mashed vegie for dinner, but sometimes you want to try something new with an old favourite, or combine two trusted old friends.

Ras el hanout is another wonderful, aromatic spice blend. I have a wonderful pot of it that I bought in Melbourne last time I visited.

Kumara Hummus

450gm kumara
300gm chick peas
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsp ras el hanout
2 tblsp peanut butter
2 tblsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tblsp olive oil + an extra slurp if needed for texture
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel kumara, and chop into even sized pieces. Microwave until tender (about 8-10 minutes).

Combine cooked kumara, chickpeas, garlic, ras al hanout, peanut butter, lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings in a food processor. Blend until desired texture. I like mine quite smooth, and not chunky.

I learnt to use peanut butter instead of tahini in my hummus last year. Nigella Lawson taught me. The peanut butter ratio I used here was probably a bit high, it almost came through as a separate taste. I was a bit distracted when I was making this, and had put more in than I wanted to before I quite realised. Plus my chickpeas didn't cook up into as much as I was expecting.

Because it's winter here and rather chilly at the minute I tried to think of some new ways to use hummus rather than just with crudites. Thus the evolution of the kumara hummus, roasted capsicum and ham pizza! Sadly no picture exists of this original treat. We have pizza and movie night every Friday night, and it made quite a nice change from the usual pizza toppings I use.

I was very excited to find these German crackers on a recent excursion to Sydney. I had originally seen them on a Chocolate and Zucchini post about peacamole. I was saving them for a special occasion, and naturally hoping to make my poiscamole to enjoy them with. Life, and kumara hummus intervened.

I can live with that.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, 18 June 2011


Chestnuts are definitely a new adventure for me. They're low GI (54). Well, crushed, uncooked chestnut kernels are. I'm all for the low GI concept- by why test the raw product when they're almost always eaten cooked? Makes no sense to me.

I've eaten the very occasional chestnut product. But only really in the past year or two, when curiosity began to take over. And then they generally probably weren't all that healthy, or low GI.

Well, this chestnut yoghurt in Paris could well have been.

More like a mousse in texture, it was fabulous

But the Mont Blancs at Angelina's probably weren't

Very good for the disposition though
And I'd certainly never tried applying any heat to a chestnut in the safety of my own home. It seemed like a rather complicated thing to do. After all they can explode:

I didn't certainly want exploding chestnuts all over the house. Luck was with me, and I found a brochure put out by the chestnut growers, explaining how to cook the little blighters, without risk of explosion. I mustn't be the only nervous nellie about cooking chestnuts! I took advice from my facebook brains trust too. 

Only 3 steps. Cut. Cook. Peel. I could probably do this. Still I found the brochure a bit light on details. When you haven't cut a chestnut before, you don't really know what cutting the inner skin feels like. I was planning to try a few different methods of cooking, but it turned out that I hadn't bought enough to fully experiment. So I decided to microwave them. 

My glossy brochure just said to microwave on high for 2-3 minutes in a covered container (to reduce mess in case of explosion I imagine). But it didn't say whether to put water in or not. So I tried 4 in my microwave steamer without water. Not a good idea!

Hard nubbins of inedible chestnut, and showing the furry inner layer of the shell

I could peel them easily enough- another danger my brains trust had alerted me to. But the insides were hard, inedible nubbins of chestnut. So I tried two with water in the steamer- and success! They were edible. I got rather carried away and steamed my remaining chestnuts in several batches. Which was fine to cook them, but the peeling took a toll. They do become harder to peel as they cool, and I learnt that chestnut peel jamming up under your finger nails is a rather exquisite torture.

Stages of chestnut peeling
 Enquiring minds need to know more about unfamiliar ingredients so I cut one in half. And was strangely unsettled. I had flashbacks to my student years, and time spent in the pathology lab.

Cerebellum anyone?

Still, in the end the effort paid off. And I was left with enough chestnut meat to make my soup. Which was the reason for the whole exercise. In my inexperienced hands, with a bit of wastage, the 500 gm I bought, ended up giving me about 240 gm.

And as a happy byproduct of all this chestnutting today I remembered a secret stash in the pantry. A treasure brought home from France last year. Happily still in date! Although I'm probably back in the non-low GI chestnut product here.

French chestnut honey pearls- they're delicious!

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Beetroot and Apple Juice

I love beetroot, and never seem to cook or eat it often enough.  I can't seem to find a GI rating for fresh beetroot, only that for tinned beetroot! (64, which is medium). Are we that awful that we eat more tinned beetroot than fresh? Probably. 

Vegetable juice has a rating of 43. I'm not sure what is meant by vegetable juice though. Probably a carrot or tomato based juice. Neither of which I particularly like. Apple juice is low GI (40).

Beetroot is said to be low in carbohydrate, so the glycaemic load is low for typical servings. It is just such a marvelous colour that it must be chock full of nutrients. I just feel so virtuous eating it, and now drinking it. 

I've been buying the occasional bottle of this delicious Sunraysia Beetroot and Apple Juice for a few months now. We don't normally keep juice in the house. But as I don't drink tea or coffee, sometimes you need a bit of a break from water. 

Beware. The nice looking blueberry juice is not in the same league as the beetroot and apple juice at all. The beetroot and apple is just juice. The blueberry juice is just 18% juice, and the rest water and sugar. I wasn't expecting that. Tasty and all of course, but not quite as good for us. 

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Durian is low GI- but who really cares?

After all, durian isn't edible anyway.

That makes it no GI really. On formal testing durian has a low GI rating of 49.

Some misguided folks apparently refer to durian as the "king of fruits".

I was very excited to try this on my trip to Singapore last year. I had heard so much about it. But whatever you've heard can never prepare you for the smell of fresh durian.

Once you've smelt it you completely understand to your core why it's banned on trains and buses.

So how does it smell? It smells most like burnt vomit. Hard to get away from that fact. But it does. You can tell that there is a fruit stall around the corner, as you can smell that unmistakeable stench from that far.

Despite this smell that attacks the back of your throat I was still keen to try it. I thought that it would be most safe to try in icecream form. That durian icecream would be dilute enough, that it would be ok.

But it's not. I tried to like it, but I just couldn't do it. I only managed to nibble the icecream down to the start of the wafer. Couldn't do it any more. And I paid for it for hours later. Each time  you breathe out you can smell burnt vomit all over again.

Buying the icecream was fascinating in itself though. I bought it from a cart seller. The lady got a block of your desired flavour out of her freezer, and wielding a massive knife she cut a slice with great precision.

Not a great picture, but you get the idea

Durian, try this low GI treat at your own peril.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad is a wonderful treat at any time of year. A delicious, filling breakfast. A healthy desert. A great snack. It's always slightly different depending on what fruits are available at the time of year. 

A near perfect fruit salad-pear, fig, raspberry, blueberry. Heaven. 

The GI ratings of individual fruits can be tricky to remember, but you can make some generalities.

Temperate fruits tend to be ok. Orchard fruits, citrus and berries.

Apple (38)
Apricot (34)
Blueberries (53)
Grapefruit (25)
Grapes (53)
Kiwifruit (53)
Nectarine (43)
Orange (42)
Peaches (42)
Pear (38)
Plums (39)
Raspberries- although untested, have little or no carbs. YAY I think they might be my absolute favourite fruit!
Strawberries (40)

Fig yoghurt completes it

Tropical fruits are more problematic, with just 2 being low GI.

Mango (51) Although mango is a very close second.
Banana (52)

Other tropical fruits have higher GI values, but that doesn't mean you can put some in a fruit salad.

Pineapple (59)
Paw paw (56)
Rockmelon/cantaloupe (88) is this the reason it's my favourite melon?
Watermelon (76)

The GI of figs hasn't been done, but dried figs are medium GI 61.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.