A Healthy and Delicious Mother’s Day Spread

afternoon teaHave your Mum round for tea and healthy treats this Sunday.

DIY Herbal Tea
Make your own herbal tea blend with some of your mum’s favourite flavours. Some ideas include mint leaves and lavender, tarragon with sliced orange or thyme with apple and ginger. Steep your chosen blend of ingredients in boiling water for five minutes.

Cacao Bliss Balls
Measure out half a cup each of dates, apricots, cashews, almonds and boiling water. Soak the fruit in the water for a few minutes until soft and then blend it with the nuts, half the soaking water and three tablespoons of raw cacao powder. Roll into bite-sized balls and dredge in shredded coconut.

Lettuce cups and spring rolls
Fresh spring rolls are tasty and are even healthier when wrapped with fresh green lettuce leaves such as cos or iceberg. They can be filled with just about anything, but a lovely combination is fresh salmon or prawns paired with crispy julienned vegetables, plenty of fresh herbs and a flavoursome Asian-style dressing.

Aperol Spritz
If you’re going for an alcoholic beverage, why not do it like the Italians do? The Aperol Spritz makes a refreshing change to champagne and is lower in alcohol. Fill a white wine glass with ice and a slice of orange. Top with three parts Prosecco or other sparkling wine, two parts Aperol and one part soda water.

Skin-Loving Smoothies

 

smoothie picSmoothies are the ultimate convenience food – easy to make, portable and, usually, quite nutritious. But not all smoothies are created equal when it comes to our skin health, with some high in sugar and other potentially inflammatory ingredients.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to add skin-loving ingredients in our smoothies and skip the stuff that isn’t so great. Here are some ideas:

 

Add Vitamins
Vitamins A, C and E are the holy trinity of skincare vitamins, thanks to their ability to fight the free radicals that contribute to premature aging and other skin damage. Adding foods which contain these to your smoothies is one of the easiest ways to get healthy, glowing skin.

  • Vitamin A: Foods rich in carotenoids which the body converts to vitamin A include dark leafy greens, carrots and some tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and melon. Go easy on the latter as they can be high in sugar.
  • Vitamin C: Choose kiwifruit or dark berries for a low-sugar option, dark leafy greens, or a whole organic lemon; leaving the skin on for the maximum vitamin hit.
  • Vitamin E: Excellent sources of this skin-loving vitamin to add to your smoothie include almond butter, avocado, sunflower seeds and, again, those dark leafy greens.

Add Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 is an excellent inflammation-fighter and inflammation is linked to many skin problems from redness to sensitivity and premature aging. Add these “good fats” to your smoothie with a sprinkle of flaxseeds or a glug of quality flaxseed oil, some blended walnuts or a handful of chia seeds.

Find a Skin-Loving Substitute
The all-important texture of your smoothie is often down to any liquid and thickening ingredients you add. Some of these, like fresh juice, milk and sugary fruits like bananas are okay in small amounts, but are easy to overdo when it comes to a guzzling a delicious smoothie! Try using filtered water or coconut water instead of juice, homemade almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and oats or chia seeds for the thickening effect of banana. All these will add to the skincare benefits of your smoothie.

Skip the Sweetener
Smoothies with a fruit element often don’t need added sweeteners like honey. Try leaving them out and train your tastebuds to adapt! If you do need a little bit of sweetness, add a medjool date to the blender. These do contain natural sugar but they have lots of other nutrients too.

Easy Christmas Brunch Ideas

image1-6In the middle of a New Zealand summer, sitting down to a traditional Christmas lunch doesn’t always appeal.

Brunch on the other hand, is lighter, brighter and easier to prepare, and is often just as delicious. Here are some ideas that are easy to execute but look and taste fantastic:

 

Parfaits Layer your favourite fruit, greek yoghurt and muesli or toasted nuts in a glass. Garnish with anything from macerated berries to cacao nibs, toasted coconut flakes or a simple homemade fruit syrup.

Bruschetta Toast your favourite sourdough or brioche bread and pile on toppings generously. Try mashed avocado or peas with goats cheese and a poached egg; or pears gently fried in honey and butter on ricotta and sprinkled with cinnamon.

Pastries Frozen croissants are available at many bakeries and good supermarkets and are such a treat fresh from the oven. Serve with herbed creme fraiche and salmon or scrambled eggs and slow roasted tomatoes.

Frittata Make a large and rustic frittata with egg, cream, cheese and plenty of fresh herbs. Add in strips of bacon, smoked fish or seasonal veggies like asparagus and serve in wedges with a dollop of homemade relish.

Serve any of these with fruit smoothies or sparkling wine and plenty of fresh coffee.

 

 

Three Refreshing Summer Drinks

Summer DrinksEnjoying a cool, refreshing drink on a summer day is one of life’s true pleasures.

Here are three recipes for delicious summer drinks to try at home.

Lemon-Mint Sparkler
Make a simple sugar syrup and while it’s still warm steep with plenty of lemon zest and mint. Strain  and refrigerate (it keeps for up to two weeks.) To serve, pour over ice and top up with soda water. Add a dash of white rum or bourbon for an alcoholic version. 

Blackberry Fizz
Puree blackberries and sugar to create a smooth paste. Strain and pour into the bottom of a glass with a measure of gin or a splash of elderflower cordial, and top with soda.

Iced Tea
We’re big tea drinkers in the Evolu office and the best way to serve it on a hot day is over ice. There are some important things to remember when making iced tea – use filtered water, make sure the initial brew is strong and let the tea cool fully before you put it in the fridge so it doesn’t go cloudy. Here are some unexpected combinations to try:

Chamomile tea, lemon and jasmine flowers topped with apple juice
Green tea, lemon and pureed mango
Hibiscus tea, lemon and ginger sugar syrup
Earl grey tea, orange zest and a slice of orange

 

 

 

Not Your Average Christmas Gift Guide

Xmas Gift Guide FlowersHave you ever been stuck at the mall on Christmas Eve frantically buying gifts you’re not completely happy with? Or been on the receiving end of an unsuitable gift that you wish you hadn’t been bought?

While Christmas is a joyful occasion, gift giving can also be stressful and wasteful. Here are some ideas for gifts that are easy to give and are sure to be gratefully received.

  • Food delivery subscriptions

From small local co-ops to slick larger scale operations, having delicious fresh food delivered to you door is both a treat and a time-saver. If the person you’re buying for loves trying new recipes My Food Bag has legions of fans. If they’re interested in organic produce but don’t have the space or time to grown their own, services like Vege Box offer a range of different fruit and vegetable boxes for different needs. Or, if buying locally made goods that support the community is important, Ooooby has a range of locally grown produce and other artisan grocery items.

  • Complete meal deliveries

If you want to go one step further and give the recipient time off from cooking altogether, there are some excellent meal delivery services around. Angel Delivery will deliver anything from a deluxe three-course meal with appetisers to a whole week’s worth of chilled and frozen dinners and lunches almost anywhere in New Zealand. Or, if the recipient loves healthy, nutritious raw and organic food, Little Bird Organics offers one, three or five day meal plans and cleanses that can be picked up or delivered around the Auckland area.

  • A flower subscription

What could be better than receiving a new bunch of flowers on the doorstep every month or week? Many florists offer subscription services that can be tailored to suit. Christchurch’s Charmed Flowers deliver buckets of fresh, seasonal blooms for people who like to arrange their own or Bloom Social offers beautiful bouquets – and a scented candle subscription service too!

  • Your time

An inexpensive option that’s just as rewarding is to offer your services to someone who needs them. Help them build a vege patch, set up a simple website or Facebook page, mow their lawns for a couple of months or look after their kids for an evening while they go out for dinner. Helping others in these ways is something we often mean to do but our busy lives get in the way. But if it’s a Christmas gift, it’s a promise you have to deliver on!

Starting A Veggie Garden

image1-18If you’ve always fancied growing your own vegetables, now is the perfect time to get started.

Mid-late spring is the traditional time for growing things like tomatoes, beans, zucchinis, cucumbers and capsicums, along with greens and herbs.

Here are a few tips for first-time gardeners:

  • Start small. Begin by growing a selection of easy-care vegetables that mature quickly. With your first successful harvest, you’ll be hooked.
  • The basic requirements are sunlight, soil and water. With sunlight, generally the more the better. Most soil will support vegetables with a little organic compost mixed in, although heavy clay will require mulch or sand to be added to encourage drainage and aeration. And vegetables like plenty of water. They prefer to have good soak and then be allowed to dry out a little, rather than have more frequent light watering.
  • If space is an issue, plant containers of your favourite mixed salad greens, herbs and cherry tomatoes for an instant and delicious summer salad.
  • Some plants also require support to grow, like beans and tomatoes. Vertical planting is a great space saver too.
  • Don’t plant everything in one weekend or it will be ready all at once. Spread the planting out over several weeks and you’ll have a continuous, even supply.
  • If you can, plant your veges in raised beds. They are easier to look after and mean the plants can access layers of nutrient rich soil much easier.
  • And at some stage you’ll probably have to think about controlling snails, slugs and insects like aphids and white fly. There are lots of options to deal with these, but don’t immediately reach for the toxic chemicals at the garden centre. Try deterrents such as copper strips or gritty eggshells around the stems of plants for slugs and snails, and homemade insect sprays with chilli and garlic for insects. And don’t rush to fix the first sighting of a pest – healthy plants can cope with being nibbled at here and there.

Five Fabulous Vegetarian Meals

image1-9

If you’re interested in adding some healthy meat-free recipes to your repertoire, here are the links to five fabulous vegetarian meal ideas from some of our favourite food bloggers. Get inspired!

Green Kitchen Stories’ Dal Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
A warming, hearty and flavourful dish that works for a main or a side.

Thug Kitchen’s Coconut Curry Soup
A spicy, creamy noodle soup (mind the explicit language!)

Pretty Damn Good For You’s Pea and Goat’s Cheese Cauliflower Risotto
A tasty grain-free risotto that substitutes cauliflower for rice.

Smitten Kitchen’s Potato, Spring Onion and Kale Cakes
A golden, crispy fritter, perfect for lunch or a light dinner.

Helmsley and Helmsley’s Spicy Buckwheat Noodles with Tamarind Sauce
A flavourful noodle stir fry with plenty of fresh veges.

Three Easy Recipes

yogurt-763373_1280If you’re looking to make some positive changes in your diet, upping your vegetable intake, reducing processed foods and looking for healthy alternatives to dairy or gluten can all be beneficial. These three recipe ideas are all healthy, delicious and unbelievably easy:

Zoodles Julienned ribbons of zucchini are a low carb, gluten free, nutrient-packed alternative to spaghetti. Using a spiralizer is quick and easy but they can be expensive, so we recommend starting with a cheaper hand-held julienne peeler instead. You can always invest in a spiralizer later on if you want to make zoodles more regularly.

Raw zoodles only need a quick sauté in a pan – they go soggy if you overcook them. Toss through your favourite home made tomato pasta sauce or pesto, or serve them in soups or under fish or your favourite meat.

Coconut Yoghurt A delicious dairy-free yoghurt that’s great for gut health.

1 can of coconut cream
3 probiotic capsules or equivalent in powder
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

Warm a can of coconut cream in a saucepan until lukewarm. Pour into a sterilized glass jar and stir in probiotic powder and sweetener. Seal the jar and put it in a warm place for 12 – 24 hours, then store in the fridge to thicken. Different brands of coconut cream will have different results, sometimes a bit of experimentation is needed.

Cashew nut cheese This savoury dairy-free cheese is creamy and delicious.

1 cup raw organic cashews, presoaked
¼ cup water (adjust depending on preferred consistency)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp nutritional (or savoury) yeast
Juice of one lemon or lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. The cheese will be very soft at first, but pour it into a glass jar and keep it in the fridge and it will firm up after a while. If you’d like some additional flavour, you can always add tahini, shallots, garlic or chives. Spread it on crackers, toss it through pasta or zoodles or just eat it straight out of the jar!

The Power of Tea

TeaSome days, it seems like the Evolu office runs on tea. No other drink is quite as soothing, restorative and refreshing – and it certainly helps us power through those busy times!

Here we share some of our favourite teas and why we love them so much:


Lemon and Ginger:
Lemon and ginger tea is drunk daily in the Evolu office. Not only do these two ingredients taste great together, but they also both contain immunity-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C. Sarah, our marketing assistant, says it’s a delicious alternative to caffeine-based drinks. Ginger is also excellent for calming nausea and aiding digestion.

Lemon Verbena: Kati’s favourite hand-picked tea, Lemon Verbena, is very easy to grow. “My mother used to grow and dry it, so there was always some in a jar in the pantry,” she says. “It’s fantastic for digestion and cleansing the system.”

Green: Full of antioxidants called polyphenols, green tea is another Evolu favourite. Usually a coffee drinker, territory manager Joanne has noticed increased energy levels since she has been drinking a blend of green tea and citrus. Social media editor Katie swears by Genmaicha, a Japanese green tea blended with roasted rice. “Green tea can be quite bitter but the roasted rice gives this tea a smooth and toasty flavour. It sounds unusual but it’s divine!”

Peppermint: Amanda, another of our territory managers, enjoys a refreshing cup of peppermint tea. Excellent for digestion, it is also cleansing and immunity-boosting. And being from southern USA, she is also a big fan of iced tea in the summer. Any flavour will do!