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High-Fibre Muesli Bars

I have a new baby nephew!  He’s very cute (as babies tend to be) and everyone is besotted and spending a lot of time gazing at him, taking photos, and generally coo-ing in his direction.  What is it about babies that makes everyone go a bit nutty?

In trying to help out my brother’s family, I baked a few meals to pop in the freezer and a few little treats to go in school lunchboxes, for bub’s four older siblings.  One such treat included these muesli bars (granola bars if you’re in the U.S.) that I modified from a recipe found at  http://superhealthykids.com/.  I have to confess, I made the munchkins a batch and then, unwisely, made myself some.  I am not good at stopping at one treat – I will generally convince myself that I can have just one more, and just one more…and so on.  I am a bit binge-y these days.  I am consuming my emotions in vast quantities.  Which translates to having no willpower whatsoever and basically just shoving food into my face, regardless of how large my thighs are getting or whether I can do up my pants.

At any rate, these muesli bars are quite delicious and super simple to make.  I was looking for something I could give the kids that was nut-free (because their school has a ban on foods containing nuts due to the rise in allergies) and this fit the bill.  Coconut is not a true nut (it’s considered a fruit, technically) so isn’t on the banned list (but do check to see if it’s ok with your school and allergy-prone kiddiwinks).  You should also check to see that the seeds used are not from a plant which also processes nuts.

I added flax meal to the original recipe to incorporate some extra fibre.  You could easily add some chopped dried fruit, dessicated coconut etc.   Choc chips would be nice too 🙂

 

Ingredients
  • 2 cup – quick oats, dry
  • 2/3 cup – raw caster sugar
  • 1 cup – flour, wholemeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon – bicarb soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon – baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon – cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon – salt
  • 1 teaspoon – vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup – honey
  • 2 tablespoon – coconut oil, melted if it has turned solid
  • 1/4 cup – sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup – pumpkin seed kernels
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients and press into rectangular pan, (mine was 32cm x 23cm) lined with baking paper. The mixture will be really dry, kinda like crumble mixture.  That’s ok – that’s how it should be.  Trust me.
  2. Press mixture right to edges of pan.  Flatten with a fork.
  3. Bake at 160 degrees celsius for 20 minutes or until edges are browned. Take out and before it cools, score lightly into bars (mine made 15).  This makes it MUCH easier to break them into bars later.  Otherwise you just have a crumbly bunch of, well, crumbs, everywhere.
  4. Once completely cool, break or cut into bars and store them in an airtight container.

Ta-da!  Easy-peasy.

Superhealthykids.com has lots of simple, tasty, healthy recipes to try.  Check them out!

Thanks for dropping by.  Have an awesome week 🙂

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Easy Lemon Delicious

Lemon Self-Flagellation Pudding. When you’re sad and hating yourself for being a not very good human being, cook a guilt-laden dessert for yourself and shove it in your gob. Salty tears and a scoop of remorse add a little savoury note.

It’s been a rough week.  I hurt someone’s feelings and I feel terrible about it.  I’ve apologised and I think they’ve forgiven me but I can’t get the yuckiness out of my brain.

 I’ve had to say goodbye to people this week, a dear friend lost her beloved four-legged best friend, I’m anxious and tired, and everything seems tricky and hard.

Feeling miserable and sad and not liking myself very much, I turned to food.  Because that’s what I do.  I have been trying so hard to be good but last night was NOT the time to be disciplined.  So, baking was on the agenda.  The fat and sugar-laden agenda.

I had some lemons that were beckoning me (they’re fruit – that’s healthy, right?) and I was not looking to create anything too difficult or taxing on my limited energy.  I wanted comfort food.  I wanted sweet, lemony, saucy comfort food.  So I made a Lemon Delicious Self-Saucing Pudding.  And then ate pretty much all of it.  Hating myself with every bite. Crying over the bowl as I stood at the kitchen counter.

I use this recipe from Best Recipes.com – it’s easy and fool-proof and takes no time at all to whip up and devour.  Which is good if you want to bake it and eat it in record time so there’s no evidence of your bad adulting left behind. Unless of course your brother comes home and catches you, standing in your PJs, sobbing into a steaming hot baking dish, your face smeared with lemon sauce and cake crumbs.

Lemon Delicious (Self-Saucing Pudding)

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon rind grated
  • 2 tbs butter melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon rind grated
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180C.
Sift the flour and pinch of salt together.
Add sugar and grated lemon rind, mixing well. Stir in melted butter, vanilla and milk.
Turn into a greased, ovenproof dish with deep sides.

Sauce: Sprinkle mixture with the sugar and lemon rind.
Combine boiling water and lemon juice and carefully pour over the mixture in the dish.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tears optional 🙂

 

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Super Simple Banana Bread

My workplace has a “health and wellness” program, that includes providing the staff with a box of fruit each week (to encourage us to eat healthily and not rely on the coffee van for cakes, muffins and sweets).  Inevitably, there is some fruit left at the end of each week, especially now that we have a lot less staff to eat it all.  So, I have been taking the leftovers home and making various baked goods with it.  I can’t stand the waste otherwise.  It might as well get eaten and not just thrown in the bin, right?

This week I had a few bananas that were overripe and needed using, so I made banana bread for my brother to take to his workplace for morning tea.  From one workplace to another – I don’t care who eats it, as long as someone does!

Here is my very easy-to-make, simple banana bread recipe.  It takes no time at all to whip up and is very flavourful, even if you only have a couple of small bananas to put in to it.  It slices nicely and is equally good served at room temperature, or toasted up and spread with a little butter.  Keeps well and can be frozen.

Super Simple Banana Bread

2-3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten lightly

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana, sugar, vanilla essence and melted butter.  Add the beaten egg and mix well.  Add the sifted flour and salt.  Stir until combined.  The mixture will be quite thick.

Put the batter in a loaf tin, lined with baking paper (or sprayed with non-stick spray, depending on the non-stick-ness of your tin!) and bake at 180 C for approx 30-50 minutes.
(NB : I have found that this cake takes very different amounts of time to bake depending on the amount of banana in it and whether or not you have a decent oven!
Check it after 30 mins, but be prepared that it may take longer).

Have a look every now and then to make sure it is not burning – it has a fairly high sugar content – cake is ready when it is just firm to the touch.  Allow to cool slightly in tin and turn out onto a rack.  Serve sliced, warm, with butter if you like.

That’s it – told you it was simple 🙂  It’s kind of a no-fail recipe and a good one to have in your arsenal of “what can I bake for afternoon tea/unannounced guests/school bake sale?” ideas.  Everybody likes banana bread, right?

Thanks for stopping by x

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Salted Butterscotch Cookies

Tonight, I was craving cookies.  This is not uncommon for me, which is why I do not keep them in the house.  Otherwise I would be eating them all the time.  But, tonight, I NEEDED a cookie.  Or several cookies.  Ok, a whole batch of cookies.  These little beauties satisfied that need and took no time at all to make.  Even less time to eat.

The secret is to use salted butter – this definitely gives them that extra little edge.  I usually bake with unsalted butter (I have to watch my sodium intake because of my kidneys) but these cookies really need that little savoury kick.  Trust me.  The golden syrup is also essential – don’t leave it out or substitute it with honey or some such nonsense.  It must be golden syrup to get that real butterscotch flavour.  You wouldn’t think that one little tablespoon would make a difference, but it really does.

I think these would make excellent ice cream sandwiches.  Just imagine some peanut butter gelato or a nice scoop of vanilla in between two of these – heaven!

SALTED BUTTERSCOTCH COOKIES

125g salted butter, softened
1 tbs golden syrup
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 1/4 cup self-raising flour, sifted

Cream sugar, butter and golden syrup until well combined.  Add sifted flour and mix to form a dough (you might need to mix the final bit of flour through with your hands).

Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into small balls and place onto a baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake at 180 c for approx 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly.

Let them cool on a wire rack.

Demolish.

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Salted Butterscotch Cookies

Happy Munching! 🙂

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How to Measure Christmas

Christmas Day is just around the corner.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come up this year.  I probably say that every year, but this last twelve months has whizzed by, and so much has happened.  It’s been such a strange, disturbing year, with a lot of loss and grief for so many people.  I don’t know about you, but I am praying for a much kinder 2017.

My Mum is currently suffering with a nasty cough/virus and it makes me very anxious.  I can’t bear for her to be ill.  She is always so healthy and I sometimes forget she is a senior now, and small illnesses can be potentially dangerous.  Also, being sick at Christmas sucks!  I know she feels miserable and concerned and also annoyed that she can’t do a lot – she hates neglecting her garden and other chores.  I just worry incessantly, especially as I am not just around the corner but 30 minutes drive away, and I can’t keep a close eye on her.  Luckily, my best friend’s Mum is just around the corner – in fact, she is taking Mum to the doctor’s this morning (I would have done but had no one to cover me at work). Hopefully she will get some antibiotics (even though she hates taking them, she admits she probably needs some this time) and be on the mend soon.  We’re meant to be spending Christmas Eve with my brother and his family, but I don’t know if she will be well enough at this stage 😦

It’s funny how, in the lead up to Christmas, you think about all the things you would like, and hope that Santa obliges.  This year, I just want my Mum to be well, and for us all to have a nice, peaceful, stress-free time together, with no dramas.

This week, I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done in record time.  I have less people to buy for this year, for one reason or another, and it made it much easier.  I made a few gifts too, which meant less spending (always a good thing) and less stress (a very good thing).  I also decided not to do the fancy wrapping I always do, which usually ends up with me stressed out of my brain and wrapping gifts every night until midnight, making sure they all fit a “theme” and all look decorative and pretty.  Not this year.  I used store-bought wrapping paper and did nothing fancier than tying them with string.  I didn’t even use matching tags!  *gasps*  It just made everything so much easier and quicker and reduced my stress by about a million percent.  I am wrapped and done, ahead of time.

Whilst looking for gifts for my Mum, I pretty much followed the list she had given me (an Ian Rankin book, some gardening stuff, a Michael Buble CD, pyjamas) but I always like to get her some other little extras too, so she has some surprises.  I found this set of measuring cups in an op-shop and thought she might like them.  They look vintage (although I suspect they are not) and I liked the little Wintery scene on them, which I thought would also make them ideal for Christmas decorating, if Mum didn’t want to use them as actual measuring cups.  I just thought they were sweet.  And at $5.00 for the three, I wasn’t exactly breaking the bank.

I hope she likes them, and is well enough to enjoy all of her presents.
That’s all I want for Christmas.

Best wishes to you all.  Stay well and take care of each other x

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Strawberry Muffins

We’re having a little lunch at work this week to sort-of-farewell my library volunteer who is taking some time off to manage some family issues for the next couple of months.  She’s the loveliest person ever and always spoils me with home-cooked meals (which make me feel very guilty but not so guilty that I don’t go home and gobble them up, ha ha) and helps me out in the library and basically supports me more than she knows.  I didn’t know what to bring and didn’t have a lot of ingredients in my pantry to make anything very exciting so I did a quick panicked look through my cookbooks to find something I could bake.  I had some strawberries in the fridge that were a bit past it but still fine to eat so I wanted to incorporate them.

I ended up finding this recipe at Food.com and it worked a treat.  I adapted it slightly, but it was so easy and the muffins are very tasty.  I’m not actually a huge muffin fan, but I wolfed down a few of these – purely as a taste-testing exercise, you understand.  They were delicious.  And they’re a one-bowl wonder which is always good.  No butter to beat or anything fiddly or fussy.  A good standby recipe to have when you’ve got people coming over and have nothing to serve them.  This recipe took less than 30 minutes – from making to baking and then eating.  So quick!  This would be a good recipe for kids (and first-time cooks) to have a  go at.  You could substitute any fruit in the recipe so give them a try with raspberries or blueberries, apple or even pineapple.

Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

1 2/3 cup strawberries, chopped
2 eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1 1/2 cup plain flour
2 tbs milk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180 c
  2. Put a paper baking cup in each of 12 regular-size muffin cups, or grease just the bottoms of 12 muffin cups.
  3. Slightly smash strawberries in large bowl, using fork.
  4. Stir in sugar, oil and eggs and milk until mixed.
  5. Stir in other ingredients just until moistened.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  7. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown or toothpick poked in center comes out clean.
  8. Sprinkle with a little bit of sugar, if desired
  9. Cool 5 minutes.
  10. Makes 12 muffins.

Enjoy! (Best eaten the day you make them)

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Tuna Loaf

As I have stated before, I am a bad vegetarian.  For 90% of the time, I eat a vegetarian diet.  But then for the other 10%, all hell breaks loose and I eat fish. I don’t feel good about it and I don’t make any excuses for it, other than the fact I have a really restrictive renal diet and so can’t eat all the proteins a vego would normally have in large quantities eg chickpeas, lentils, baked beans, nuts etc.

So I eat fish sometimes.  Which makes me a pescatarian I suppose.  Sorry, fishies.

Which brings us to today’s recipe, Tuna Loaf.  Not the most appetising of titles, I agree, but the proof is in the pudding, right?  Or, in this case, the loaf.  Tuna Pudding sounds even more gross, so let’s stick with loaf.  It’s an easy-to-make, cheap and delicious dish that tastes just as nice cold the next day.  It’s got a lovely, slightly crispy outer edge and it’s soft and moist in the centre.  The little pieces of gherkin add extra crunch and sweetness.  You can also make it with tinned salmon, which is really yummy (but I can’t have salmon so I have to stick to it’s poorer cousin, the humble tuna).  Try and always buy the sustainably fished tuna if you can.  Make up for some of that pesky pescatarian guilt!

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Tuna Loaf 

Ingredients

425g tin of tuna in springwater, drained
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 spring onions, chopped fairly finely
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons tomato sauce plus extra for glazing
1/2 cup chopped gherkins
Salt and Pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees C.

Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Mix all ingredients together.

Press into the tin and press down with a fork.  Squirt or brush some tomato sauce over the top – in a fancy pattern or just haphazardly, I won’t judge.

Bake for approx 35- 40 minutes until top is golden and loaf feels firm.

Cut in to slices to serve.

Voila!

If you’re smart, you will argue for the end piece because it is crunchier and tastier and just the best bit.  You made it, you get first dibs.  It’s like a law or something.

Enjoy with a side salad or whatever vegies you like.  As I said, it’s nice cold too, and perfect for lunchboxes as it holds its shape quite well.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

PS  Yes, that is a ‘Moby Dick” plate in the photo.