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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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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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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.

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Cauliflower and Feta Fritters

Everyone is so into cauliflower right now.  It seems everywhere I look there’s cauliflower rice, pizza bases made with cauliflower, and cauliflower mash to replace the good old potato variety.  I have a slight issue with this humble brassica – it gives me tummy ache – and I have to be very careful about eating it.  Sometimes I can have it and it causes no problems but, other times, it KILLS ME and leaves me writhing about in agony wishing for death.  It’s not pretty.
That said, I have been craving some cauliflower action for the last few weeks and thought I would give it a gentle try.  My renal diet is so restrictive and I am always looking for fruit and veg alternatives to give me some variety.  So, I made these fritters.  I was bad and fried them (I never fry anything) because the batter was fairly wet, but I used only a spray of oil.  They cooked super quickly and were easy to flip etc.  Very tasty indeed.  And only a slight tummy ache afterwards (note to self : give up on cauliflower!) which was totally worth it, and may not have even been related…  Try them for yourself – you could substitute any vegies into the basic batter mix, which is what I’m going to do next time for a more
pain-free meal! 🙂

Cauliflower & Feta Fritters

Ingredients

salt & pepper
olive oil
1 head cauliflower, trimmed into small florets

2 eggs
½ cup wholemeal flour
¼ cup milk
1/2 cup crumbed feta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp dried parsley

Method

Spread the florets of cauliflower out on a baking tray.  Drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper (don’t go overboard with the salt – the feta has plenty in it). Bake in oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, until cauliflower is starting to char and become soft.  Remove from oven and allow to cool down.  Tip onto a chopping board and roughly chop.

Combine other ingredients in a large bowl and add cauliflower to form a batter. Mix well.

Heat a fry pan and spray with a little cooking oil.  Drop  spoonfuls of mixture onto fry pan and fry on both sides until firm and golden brown (this takes only a few minutes).  Place on kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil and repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with wedges of lime or some salsa or anything you like!  This recipe makes about 12 small-medium fritters.

Enjoy!

PS If you happen to be photographing your culinary efforts, I strongly recommend paying close attention to what you’re doing.  This way, you don’t trip over and throw the entire plate of fritters all over your freshly-mopped floor, like I did.  You wouldn’t know it from the photo, but my fritters were thrown far and wide across my lounge room in a spectacular display of clumsiness.  See?  It’s the cauliflower…it hates me 🙂

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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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Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

I am supposed to be on a diet.  Turns out I am not very good at this.  I am better at the “Eat Everything in Sight and then Eat Dessert” diet.  You may be familiar with it.  I think it is well known and quite popular.

Tonight I gave up entirely whilst trying to think of something to make for dinner.  Halfway between deciding whether I should have salad or steamed vegetables, I decided to make muffins.  As you do.  Lemon Ricotta Muffins.  Because I had leftover ricotta and some lemons.  I did not not need to make them.  I shouldn’t be eating them.  But, dammit, I started making them and then one thing led to another and, well, you know.  I took a photo but it’s not great.  Bad lighting and a general air of couldn’t-be-bothered.  You’ll just have to trust me.

So here’s my recipe.  I basically looked at recipes and then combined different ones together, based on what I had in terms of ingredients.  I wasn’t sure if it would even turn out, but they are actually quite light and fluffy and yummy and lemony.  I’m not really selling this, am I?  They’re nice, anyway and just the thing for this freezing cold Winter night, with a cup of tea, and MasterChef on the telly.  I can worry about diets tomorrow.

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Lemon Ricotta Muffins

2 cups Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Bicarb
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 cup Caster Sugar
1 cup Smooth Ricotta
1/2 cup Sunflower Oil
Zest of 2 Lemons
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Lemon Juice

Method

Whisk wet ingredients together in a large bowl until combined.

Sift dry ingredients over this mixture and fold in until just combined.

Half fill greased muffin tins (I used medium sized ones) and bake at 180 degrees Celcius for approx 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes and then pop out on to a baking rack to cool completely.  Dust with icing sugar if desired and serve!  Nice served warm with a little bit of lemon curd.

Enjoy! 🙂