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Beet, Choc and Blueberry Loaf with Vanilla Ricotta Icing

I have a thing for beetroot but unfortunately my husband doesn't. I like to use it many different ways just to see if I can convince him. I have grated it through salads, roasted with some of his faves (think sweet potato and zucchini) and blended it with Greek yoghurt to make a dip. After all that, he STILL doesn't like beetroot....SO, I thought I would make him a cake. Everyone likes cake right?

There are many recipes around for beetroot cake but this is my interpretation. Do you think my husband liked it? 

NOPE....he didn't. But I hope your family likes it just as much as I did.

This recipe is gluten free for those requiring a gluten free diet and packs in the goodness through the beets, blueberries and ricotta.

Ingredients - Serves  12

2 Large beetroots, grated raw with skin

3 Eggs

 1 Teaspoon vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste

 ¼ Teaspoon of salt

 1 ½ Cups ground almond meal

¼ Cup of cocoa powder

¼ Cup olive oil

¼ Cup honey

1 Cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or substitute for raspberries)

1 Teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan forced.

Combine raw beetroot, eggs, vanilla, ground almonds, cocoa powder, honey, oil and baking powder into a large bowl.

Fold through ¾ cup of the blueberries.

Spoon mixture into a paper lined loaf tin.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove from the oven and cool for approximately 15-20 minutes in the tin then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool.

Zesty Ricotta Icing


250g Low fat ricotta

2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract/essence

Zest of a lemon

Lemon juice from ¼ of a lemon – or to taste


While the loaf is cooling, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and spread over the loaf.

Top with remaining berries and some lemon zest if desired.

food and your immune system

We know that food is complex and supplementation cannot beat the real thing - there are so many chinks in the chain that we just don't know about! This is why it is always important to think ‘food first’ when optimising your diet for health and wellbeing.

Although Spring is here, everyone appears to be feeling tired and “run down” as we approach the end of 2014. I am also starting to see more athletes as they prepare for their seasons ahead, a time that takes a toll on the immune system. So lets take a look at my favourite foods to help your immune system function at its best!

Eat fermented dairy foods
Fermented dairy products contain live bacteria, which also boost immune health. Try and think ‘food first’ by choosing yoghurts, fermented milk drinks (such as Yakult and Kefir) and kimchi.

Kimchi has been making an appearance on various social media pages in recent times but many people don’t really know what it is, or what to do with it. Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish that is made from fermented cabbage. You can buy it from most Asian supermarkets or find a recipe online to make your own.

Enjoy yoghurt as a healthy snack, add fermented milks to smoothies, add kimchi to almost anything including, soups, stir-fries, fried rice, casseroles or salads.

If you experience a lactose intolerance you may see an improvement in your symptoms when you regularly consume cultured dairy products.

Eat garlic
Garlic has been hailed an immune boosting superstar for centuries due to its sulphuric compounds that have been seen to reduce bacteria and infection.

Although we haven’t seen these results in well-designed clinical trials in humans just yet, laboratory results are promising. It is important to note that garlic tablets will not offer the same effects of the sulphuric compounds in garlic and it is believed that these benefits are highest in raw garlic, as heating can reduce this antibiotic effects.

My family remedy for a cold is a garlic, lemon and honey drink but if you can’t stomach it, add garlic to stir-fries and casseroles, roast in the oven with other vegetables and rub on toast when making bruschetta.

Eat different coloured fruits and vegetables everyday
It may sound boring in a world of fad diets, supplements and the next super food, but eating messages for all things health always come back down to our fruit and veggies.

Your immune system requires carbohydrates and various micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, folate and selenium to maintain its function. Fruit and veggies will supply your body with these in a low kilojoule package to help maintain a healthy weight. To get the most out of your produce, you need to think colour! There are over 400 pigments in our fresh fruit and veggies with each offering different health benefits, including immune support.

Vitamin C won't prevent a cold from occurring, but may help to reduce the duration of a cold and the severity of your symptoms. Fruits and veggies containing red, orange, green and purple pigments are often high in vitamin C. I tend to take a vitamin C supplement when I have a cold to try and help reduce the duration and symptoms. 


Enjoy fruits with an orange pigment such as oranges or mandarins as a healthy snack or dessert, start a meal with a vegetable soup made on a tomato base, start the day with a smoothie made with your favourite vitamin C containing fruit or greens such as berries, kale or spinach.

Eat almonds and chickpeas

Almonds and chickpeas contain immune boosting zinc along with other health improving properties.

Enjoy a satiating snack of roasted almonds, add almonds to your favourite muesli and roast chickpeas with spices for a flavoursome and crunchy snack.

Eat eggs, lean meats and poultry
By eating eggs, lean meats and poultry you can take in iron in a more bio-available way compared with non-animal sources. Iron supports healthy red blood cells and a strong immune system. Red meat and poultry also contain zinc for immunity and protein to help maintain muscle mass and strength.

Include red meat in your main meal (no more than three times a week), enjoy poached eggs with avocado on grainy toast for a satiating breakfast or make a vegetarian frittata for an easy immune supporting meal.

Eat healthy carbohydrates
This is particularly important for those who exercise regularly. Although the benefits of exercise greatly outweigh any negatives that may occur, we know that exercise can suppress the immune system and produce stress hormones. Eating appropriate amounts of carbohydrate has been shown to reduce this response. This does not mean you need to carb load in order to fight the winter cold, but enjoy good quality carbohydrates in portion sizes appropriate for your exercise levels.


Enjoy healthy carbohydrates such as milk, yoghurt and fruits for snacks and add legumes and grains such as quinoa, barley and faro as part of your main meal.

By including some of these foods as part of your immune supporting diet you may dodge the dreaded lurgy – or at least reduce the time it takes to recover.


Healthy school snacks

Are you in the process of getting your kids ready to go back to school?

No doubt you are busy getting books, bags and shoes organised...but what about healthy lunch box and after school snacks?

Kids require adequate fuel to get them through a busy and active day at school. They also require nutrients to optimise their growth and development. Snacks are a fantastic opportunity to help meet these requirements, but one of the most common questions I get asked is: “What makes a healthy snack?”

Foods coming from our core food groups almost always make a healthy snack. This includes fruit, vegetables, dairy, grain foods and lean meats and alternatives. If these foods are presented in a minimally processed way, they are one step closer to a healthy snack.

I think one of the most important aspects to consider when organising healthy snacks for kids is to make them interesting and fun. Getting them involved in the preparation process and asking them what they like and what they think is healthy also helps ensure that they don’t swap, or throw out their intended healthy snacks.

Lets take a look at how we can use our core food groups in an appealing way to minimise the number of packaged or processed snacks for kids. Not only will this help to improve your child’s health, but reduce your family’s carbon footprint.

1.  Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetable based snacks can provide fibre, water, phytochemicals and a range of vitamins and minerals. Snacks may include:

  • Frozen fruit such as frozen berries mixed through natural yoghurt
  • Small portions of dried apricots mixed with cubes of cheese or seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Tinned fruit in natural juices
  • Savoury wholemeal flour or quinoa muffins with grated vegetables
  • Corn fritters
  • Fruit salad OR
  • Veggie sticks with a nutritious dip such as hommous or tazziki – why not make your own?

2.  Dairy foods

Dairy based snacks can help to provide protein, low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins and zinc. Snacks may include:

  • A container holding a mix of cherry bocconcini and cherry tomatoes
  • Tubs of natural, Greek or flavoured yoghurt –freeze tubs of yoghurt (or small containers of yoghurt) before putting in your child’s lunch box to keep them cold
  • Small portions of flavoured or plain milk (including soy milk) OR
  • A slice of low fat cheddar cheese on wholegrain crisp breads.

3.  Lean meats and alternatives

Lean meat and alterative based snacks provide protein, iron, zinc and B12. Snacks may include:

  • Roasted chickpeas (a nice replacement for chips) – roast canned chickpeas with a sprinkle of paprika and cumin for about one hour on ~150 degrees (fan forced oven)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Felafels
  • Tinned bean mixes and fish OR
  • Mini vegetable frittatas.

4.  Grain foods

Grain foods will provide fibre, carbohydrate, B vitamins, zinc, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Snacks may include:

  • Wholemeal lavish bread with a nutritious dip such as beetroot
  • Wholemeal savoury or fruit pikelets
  • Dried cereal such as weetbix biscuits topped with cheese and a thin scrape of vegemite or peanut butter.

Choosing a healthy muesli bar

I often get asked about choosing healthy muesli bars, which can be a great convenient snack, especially for active kids.

My recommendations are to always try and choose the muesli bar that is highest in fibre, lowest in sodium and lowest in saturated fat per 100g. Most will have a little bit of added sugar to increase the palatability of the product without displacing key nutrients, however some bars marketed at children can have way too much sugar than required.

Unfortunately, reading sugar on the nutrition information panel is not always the best indication of a healthier option as the presence of natural sugars such as fruit or yoghurt will be listed under ‘sugars’ on the nutrition information panel. These natural sources of sugar are nutrient dense.

The ingredients list can help you identify added sugars. Look for sucrose, cane sugar, raw sugar, dextrose, glucose, honey, brown sugar, malt syrup, fructose, lactose, molasses, barley malt and caramel. If one of these ingredients is high on the list, this means that there is likely a large quantity of it in the product.

More infomration on this can be found here.

After school snacks

Feeding hungry kids after school can be challenging, especially when trying to find something that is fun, nutritious and easy to prepare. Try:

  • Mini ‘pizzas’ with wholegrain English muffins topped with ‘no added salt’ tomato paste (or homemade tomato sauce), tomato, pineapple and cheese and placed under the grill
  • Freezing any left over fruit to make smoothies – use frozen fruit such as as banana and strawberries and blend with yoghurt and milk
  • Celery filled with your child’s favourite nut butter and a sprinkle of sultanas
  • Baked bean filled toasties OR
  • A platter filled with cubed cheddar cheese, sushi, rice crackers, lavish bread, dried fruit and a nutritious dip.