Australia’s “Health” Food Scene; Naturally Good

So-called health foods are an ever rising term that is used to describe basically anything that is made from somewhat natural ingredients, with perhaps a Certified Organic label, and usually a host of free-from claims such as “dairy free wheat free fructose free” and many others. With the rising trend of gluten free diet, even some milk cartons now tout they don’t contain gluten (if they did, we should be worried). Sometimes it can be rather confusing trying to figure out what is good for you and what not so much, and I suppose it is better to eat an all natural bar rather than a mars bar, even though it contains 3 different sugars in addition to the sugars from the dried fruit it includes.

I’ve frequented countless health food stores since coming to Australia. This weekend I visited the largest natural and organic products trade show in the Southern hemisphere, Naturally Good Expo, to see what’s up in the field in Down Under, and if they’d come up with something new and interesting. What I found out was that Aussies, too, like their coconut water and all things “paleo”. I don’t think a snack bar that is based on dried fruit is what they ate in the paleolithic area, but who am I to judge. If you sell it as paleo, it sells. Talking about snack bars, I encountered a company who uses indigenous Australian wild herbs in their snack bars. Yes, the base is the usual date and almonds, but at least they are trying to make something new. Kudos for that! Another interesting exhibitor was a company making cricket flour, which I think should become a big thing in the next few years. The crickets don’t even taste that bad, to be honest.

Kakadu plum and other indigenous Aussie coolness in a palatable form.
Kakadu plum and other indigenous Aussie coolness in a palatable form.

I got upgraded as a VIP guest at the expo, so I got to much on some donuts in the lounge while sipping on a gel-like juice with chia seeds (chia still going strong!). Noshu donuts were actually a pleasant clean eat treat: baked, all natural gluten-free and sugar free donuts that are low carb, have 150 kcals each, have a decent texture and also taste pretty delicious. Some might wonder how this equation can possibly equal good taste and texture, but one must not except a Dunkin’ Donuts kind of mouthfeel with these babies. Omnom.

These donuts. Epic.
These donuts. Epic.

Besides the regular date bars and other treats (Aussies love their granolas!), protein powders were well represented. In addition to the regular whey and “vegan” protein (usually combo of pea and rice), the combo of protein and greens is popular. Naturally Good was definitely an interesting expo to visit, and even though it was way smaller than the trade shows I’ve previously visited, it had some interesting lectures and it was easy to talk to people. One highlight of the show was definitely lazertag game at the networking cocktail event. Best networking activity possible, specially for the wellness industry!

 

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THE cake

Usually, if “everyone” else is doing something, I try to swim against the current – or at least I don’t admit that I am one of “them”. In this case, (I typoed cake) my defense is that I was happily here in Hong Kong, flippin’ my pancakes just like no one’s business, and then it started to appear in my Facebook stream and blogs all over Finland. I don’t know about the rest of the world, and sharing is caring – especially when it comes to all things yum-yum good. Therefore, I am proud to present you: the ridiculously simple, versatile, (and healthy) Protein Pancake! It has been a while since I posted about food, but I’d say this was worth the wait.

So…to the cake.

Banana pancake, by Dita Margarita
Banana pancake, by Dita Margarita

Ingredients
– 2 eggs (or egg white and one whole egg, or 2 whites and one whole, however and which color you like)
– Banana (preferably ripe, dotted and smushy)
– Coconut oil or butter for frying (or any other oil you wish to use)

That’s it. You mash the banana and whisk (or blend) it with the eggs. How ever lumpy you like it, go for it. Fry on medium heat, flip and munch away!

But…that’s not all. With this simple base, you can go beyond bananas! My imagination has led to the following conclusions for successful additions:
– Oats. You can either roast them on the pan for a nuttier, crunchier consistency, or let them soak in the base mix for a while before frying
– Nuts (cashew, dry roasted peanuts). Roast, and crunch on top of the pancake before flipping
Chocolate chips cocoa nibs. Nuff said.
– Grated ginger. Gives a nice fresh touch
– Cinnamon powder/vanilla or cacao, to smoothen out the banana flavor
– Powder. Your preferred protein powder, herb blend or cordyceps would boost this baby to a new level
– Coconut/almond flour for thicker pancakes: I haven’t tried, but I saw someone did it and apparently it worked since it was worth a blog post
– Chia seeds/quinoa, again for the mouth feel (and added nutrients)

And what comes to toppings….well, use your imagination. I’ll give just few personal favorites: baked fruit pieces (apples, pear), honey (erhm, nut butter…).

This pancake makes a great breakfast, lunch, dinner, post-workout treat or a midnight snack, and seriously, I have yet to discover what could be easier to make. Since I am not a big fan of banana, I will try substitutions for that: maybe avocado or over-ripe papaya would work. And I’ll promise to try my best to get a good picture of the pancakes before eating them.

Have you heard of this miracle before? What is your favorite combo?