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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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Green Bean and Corn Succotash

During the Easter weekend, I spent time with family which, of course, means the over-consumption of food.  Not wanting to contribute to the fat-fest that is Easter (and thus contribute to the size of my thighs) I decided to make some slightly healthier (but also tasty) options for our family gathering.  I quickly made a Tuna Loaf , which everyone always enjoys and, if there’s leftovers, can be eaten the next day and freezes well too.

I then thought about making a salad.  Now, I eat salad pretty much every single day.  Which can get a little bit dull, to be honest.  I didn’t want to make the usual lettuce-cucumber-tomato scenario, so I went with this yummy Green Bean and Corn Succotash.  My ex Mother-in-Law used to make this for me whenever we got together for a family event.  It is fresh and vibrant and so colourful.  This isn’t her exact recipe – I haven’t been able to find her original one (which I put somewhere very safe and now, well, you can guess the rest) but it is pretty close and I reckon, with some tweaking, one day I might replicate hers exactly.  In the meantime, I will enjoy some delicious trial and error 🙂

This recipe, below, is adapted from Celebratemag.com

Ingredients

350g green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 small red onion, diced

3 cups corn kernels (fresh, or frozen, drained and cooled)

1/2 red capsicum, diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: parsley, basil, or cilantro

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar (start with 1/2 tsp, then add other half if you think it needs it!)

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook green beans in boiling, salted water until bright green and barely tender, 2 minutes. Plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain well on paper towels.
  2. Sauté diced onions until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, in the 2 tbs olive oil. Transfer to a large bowl, and let cool.
  3. Add corn, beans, capsicum and herbs to onions, tossing to combine;
  4. In a small jar, combine remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, and pepper; cover and shake to blend. Dressing can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature.
  5. Just before serving, cover, and shake dressing jars to blend; drizzle on salads.

Voila!  Yummy, healthy and a bit of a change from a boring green salad.

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Thank you for popping in 🙂

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Savoury Porridge

I am trying to improve myself this year. I have failed miserably for most of 2016 (mostly because, through one thing or another, I’ve been a bit miserable, to be honest!) and haven’t really achieved anything. I’m sleeping badly (or not at all), I’m eating badly (or, again, not at all) and exercise has completely left the building – or, at least, it would have done if hadn’t just collapsed into a lazy lump on the couch. Basically, I have fallen in to a bit of a slump. A schlump, if you will. It’s not good, and I know it.

One thing I have been relying on too much is sugar. I went for years not having much sugar at all and now I have not only fallen off the wagon but completely lost sight of it as it hurtles away, possibly with a wheel missing and the rest of it on fire. I worry about getting diabetes and weight gain and other health issues that the sweet little demon causes. So I need to stop. And really stop – no cheating, missy!

I’m never going to be one of those people who avoids sugar altogether – let’s just be realistic here for a moment – but I should try and cut down and limit it to a healthy amount. So it’s more of a treat than a daily indulgence.

One thing I have always found a bit difficult, in regards to avoiding sugar, is the whole breakfast scenario. I love cereal – I could eat it for every meal. Give me a bowl of muesli and I am a happy girl. Cheerios? Yep – love ’em! (but have recently weaned myself off them). I eat porridge a lot too and try to add as little sugar as possible, but it’s still SUGAR. I could have toast for breakfast or an egg, but I don’t want to have those things everyday. In the old days I would have happily scarfed down a bowl of baked beans, but I can’t have them regularly now, because of my kidneys.

So, what’s a girl to do? She tries savoury porridge, that’s what she, um, do. And, let me tell you, it’s delicious. Satisfying and warming and yummy. Easy to make and you can make a batch and then reheat it later, or the next day. I actually look forward to getting up in the morning now. Well, sort of. Porridge can only work so many miracles, after all.

Savoury Porridge is a bit trendy at the moment, but that’s ok. It might be nice for me to be on trend for once, and I think this particular option might be one I stick with for a while, because it’s versatile and adaptable and doesn’t require me to have a whole bunch of ingredients on hand. I can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner and not feel guilty about it at any time of day. If I want to amp up the decadent factor, I can add cheese or something fancy like truffle oil (note to self : buy truffle oil!) or I can leave it plain and not muck about with it too much.  A poached egg on top is divine
(as is anything topped with a poached egg, to be fair).

The recipe I am using here is Mark Bittman‘s Savoury Oatmeal with Scallions and Soy Sauce from Serious Eats.  Ok, so we call scallions spring onions over here and we say porridge instead of oatmeal…big deal.   Still tastes yummo-licious.  Give it a try – it really does make a nice change and it is healthy and super quick to make, even if you’re like me and hopeless in the mornings.  I added some flakes of nori to my porridge, but you can leave that out if you like.  It just adds some extra umami flavour and interest.

Ingredients

1 Cup Rolled Oats
2 Cups Water
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Chopped Spring Onion + 1 Teaspoon Chopped for Garnish
Sprinkle of Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Nori Flakes

Combine oats, water and salt in a medium saucepan.
Bring to boil and then turn down to low.
Cook until water almost absorbed.
Turn off heat, add spring onions and soy sauce (and nori flakes if adding).

Serve with extra spring  onion as garnish.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Muesli Biscuits

I am a bit of a cereal nut.  I loves me some cereal, any time of day or night.  It is a good standby when the cupboard is otherwise bare and you need something to eat, whether it be for dinner or lunch or, obviously, breakfast.  This week I thought I would branch out of my usual Cheerios or porridge routine and get some muesli.  I chose a low fat one, thinking it would at least be less likely to adhere directly to my thighs.  Alas, it probably contained enough sugar to give half the world diabetes and actually didn’t taste all that good.  So, what to do with a box of muesli you don’t actually want to eat?  Make cookies out of it, of course.  Everything is better if it is cookie-shaped, after all.

So, here is a simple recipe for using up that crummy muesli you don’t like.  I gave these to my little nephews and nieces on the weekend and they gobbled them up.  To be fair, they are not the fussiest of eaters but, still, they ate these happily – even the little one (who is two and very, very aware of what she does and DOES NOT like).

Muesli Biscuits

3 cups muesli
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons flax seed meal (optional)
100g butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180 C

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix butter, honey and egg together until combined.

Mix dry and wet ingredients together.  Set aside for 10 minutes or so.

Roll spoonfuls of mixture together into golfball-sized balls.

Place on baking paper-lined trays and flatten slightly.

Bake for 15-20 mins.  If you have used two trays, swap them around midway through cooking so they bake evenly.

Cool for 10 mins then transfer to a wire rack.
If you like, drizzle with a little bit of lemon icing (or leave plain).

That’s pretty much it.  They’re not beauty queens, these bikkies, but they taste alright and they’re a good fibre-rich treat to pop in lunch boxes etc.  You can almost pretend they’re healthy.  Sort of.  And at least you haven’t wasted your muesli! 🙂

Happy Munching x

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Strawberry Ricotta Sweet Treat

Strawberry Ricotta Sweet Treat

Today the temperatures in Perth soared to well over 44 degrees celsius – that’s over 100F in the old money – and everyone just about melted.  Plants wilted and died, pets panted and everyone stayed indoors as much as possible.  I don’t mind the heat but even I was a tad uncomfortable today.  Didn’t stop me going out like a madman and heading for the shops though.  I needed beads and jewellery supplies and also needed to get my invitations for my birthday bash printed.  I probably could have waited until a cooler day but hey, where would the fun be in that?  Besides, the roads were quiet, as sensible, less heat-tolerant people stayed home.

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This afternoon I had a talk with hubby (soon to be ex hubby I suppose – hate saying that but have to come to terms with it) and it made me feel so much better about things.  Not because we are going to get back together – we’re not – and not because I think deep down he still loves me – he doesn’t – but because I stood up for myself and told him how much he had hurt me.  I made him apologise to me.  I don’t care if the apology was sincere or not – I just needed to hear it; its sincerity is irrelevant to me at this point.  I needed to show him that, hurt and damaged as I am, I’m not beaten.  I deserve better and expect it for myself from now on. He’s not a bad guy and I don’t wish him any harm, I really don’t (although I was glad to see he had put on weight – which is nasty of me but I think I’m allowed at least one smug moment).  I want him to be happy and to figure out who he is.  I just don’t need to be around while he does it. So, I feel that, in the end, I am stronger than
I thought and maybe I can get through this and come out the other end smiling and resilient.  Maybe.

So, this evening, feeling the need for a sweet treat and not wanting to completely destroy my diet, I rummaged around in the fridge and cupboard to see what I could rustle up.  I purposely keep my fridge pretty bare so that I am not tempted by easy (i.e. fattening) foods and it was pretty slim pickings in there.  I did, however, have some leftover low-fat ricotta, one sad little English muffin, some maple syrup and a punnet of frozen strawberries (I froze a batch of them last time I went shopping – they go off so quickly and I don’t like to waste them so I froze them after eating the best ones, thinking I could use the others in smoothies or whatever and it didn’t matter if they were a bit over-ripe).

Long story short, I mixed a little bit of syrup into the ricotta with a bit of cinnamon, spread it over the toasted English muffin and topped it with the frozen strawberries (which were delicious – they might be my new favourite thing!) and drizzled the whole lot with maple syrup to finish.  Oh yummy!  Tasted so delish and was reasonably healthy, satisfied my sweet cravings and didn’t leave me feeling guilty the way I would have done if I had given in and picked up some ice cream from Baskin Robbins (’cause you know that’s what I was thinking of doing).  It was cooling and sweet and super tasty.  Perfect!  A nice change and something I will make again if I desperately need something dessert-like in a pinch.  Try it yourself 🙂

 Please excuse bad photo – it was late at night and I had no decent lighting – had to take the shot inside the fridge and the strawberries kept keeling over – they were very uncooperative!  🙂

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Stay cool everyone (on this side of the globe – everyone else try and stay warm!) 🙂

Bran Muffins

Bran Muffins

Hubby and I were invited to a pot-luck breakfast this weekend.  I didn’t end up attending but did send hubby off with a batch of healthy bran muffins to add to his contribution of apple pancakes.  These muffins are super easy to make and I’m calling them “healthy” because they don’t have a lot of fat in them (well, fat in terms of oil or butter…you can make your own calculations as to how much fat is in the other ingredients!) and contain tonnes of fibre.  I’m not supposed to eat a lot of whole grains (another wonderful restriction my renal problem has forced on me) but the rest of you should gobble these up with abandon.  They’d be a handy snack to take to work or eat on the bus on the way to work.  I think they’re tasty enough that kiddies would eat them – they’re a good substitute for cupcakes or other treats.  Serve them as is or nice and warm with a bit of butter if you so wish.  There’s lots of sugar in these (in the form of golden syrup) so no need to add honey or jam.

 

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Bran Muffins

2 Cups Wheat Bran
1/2 Cup Plain Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Bicarb
1/2 Cup Golden Syrup
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk

Place wheat bran into a large mixing bowl. Sift other dry ingredients on top of the bran and then mix through.  Warm the golden syrup over a low heat in a small saucepan (or in a bowl in the microwave) until it becomes runny.  Take off heat and mix in egg and milk until thoroughly combined.  Add to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Mixture will be quite runny and wet – that’s ok!  Spoon or pour into prepared muffin tins or patty pans.  Bake at 200 C for approximately 12-15 minutes.  Muffins should be just firm in the middle and golden in colour.  Because of the high sugar content, they can burn so keep an eye on them.

Serve warm with butter or leave to cool and eat whenever!  Keep them in an airtight container to stop them drying out.  They freeze well though so keep a batch in the freezer for unexpected midnight hunger pangs!

Hope you enjoy them – they really are very easy to make, don’t have lots of ingredients and taste yummy.  Give them a try 🙂

 

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Make your own Muesli Bars

Make your own Muesli Bars

Before I begin this recipe, I should warn you, the pictures ain’t pretty.  I always start these projects at some ridiculous time of night when lighting is bad and, well, my skills as a photographer fail me.  So you’ll have to squint your eyes and make believe they look gorgeous. And anyway, who ever saw a pretty muesli bar (or granola bar as they call them in the States.  I think)?

Muesli Bar Recipe

 

Now, muesli bars, however you make them, are hardly what you’d call a healthy treat.  Sure, the food companies who make them like to market them as healthy, but really, who are they kidding?  They have fat and sugar and lots of other things in them that nature probably didn’t intend for us to eat.  The best you can do, I figure,  is to try and find the ones with the least amount of preservatives and nasty chemicals.  So, ideally, make your own, so you know what’s going in them.  Here’s an easy recipe you can make in no time and add whatever tasty ingredients you like to the basic mix.  There’s lots of energy in these bars so they’re good for kids on the go!

200g Dairy free spread (I used a sunflower-oil margarine)

100g Maple Syrup

100g Soft brown sugar

325g Porridge oats (I actually use a mixture of multigrain quick oats & regular rolled oats)

 

1. Melt the margarine with the sugar and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over a low heat, until sugar is dissolved.

2. Stir in the oats until all combined.

3. Press into a shallow baking tin (lined with baking paper) and bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes.  Leave to cool for 5 minutes then mark into squares or “bars”.  Leave to cool completely in tin and then break up into your pre-cut pieces.  Store in an air tight container.

For variety you can add dried fruit or nuts, coconut or chocolate chips to the mix.  Or, if you’re feeling decadent, coat the bottom in chocolate, or drizzle some over the top…maybe sprinkle on some sesame seeds…depends on how healthy/unhealthy you wanna be!

Enjoy!

 

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