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Thursday, 24 March 2016

A breakfast slice...



I truly believe breakfast is the most essential meal of the day, which is why I go to a lot of effort in planning and preparing food that will carry hubby and I through to lunchtime. 
Many days my husband is so busy at work that he won't get time for a lunch break until 2 or 3pm so having a nourishing and sustaining meal at 7am is essential.

This week I played around with an old recipe we enjoyed back when the kids were little, but this time I eliminated wheat, sugar and dairy, replacing them with home pressed apple juice and healthy wholegrain oats.

Ingredients:

2 cups wholegrain oats
1 1/2 cups sultanas or raisins
3/4 cup coconut
3 grated apples (skin included)
2 1/2 cups apple juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
grated rind of one lemon
1/4 cup coconut oil


Method:

Place the oats in a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds to break them down a little.
In a large bowl add the oats, apple juice, sultanas, grated apple, lemon rind and coconut. 
Mix well, cover with clingwrap and let soak for about 6 hours.
  (I do this in the morning and bake it later in the afternoon)

 After the soaking time mix the coconut oil, cinnamon and the egg into the mixture.
Pour into a lined slice tray and bake for 40 minutes at 180C (375F)

 Let cool and cut into slices.

Serve with fresh fruit and a smoothie for a very satisfying and delicious brekky!


IDEA: this is also yummy served warm with custard and berries for a dessert...actually, I'd even have it this way for breakfast in winter. ;-)

If you'd like to download and print the recipe to add to your personal recipe file it's right HERE.

Enjoy!


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Pear & Cranberry Loaf - GF/DF...



This is a firm family favourite at our house because it's tasty without being sickly sweet, and it's gluten and dairy free which means my husband can eat it as often as he likes without getting an upset tummy.

Ingredients:

5 canned pear halves, strained of juice
2 eggs
grated rind of one orange (or lemon if you prefer)
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup dessicated coconut (finely grated coconut, not coconut flour)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 grated carrot
1 teaspoon baking powder

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C or 375F

Blitz the pears, eggs, rind and oil in a blender.
Mix the almond meal, coconut and baking powder in a bowl.
Stir through the cranberries.
Pour in the blended pears/eggs/rind/oil and mix well.
Stir through the grated carrot.

Line a loaf tin with baking paper (my tin measures 4.5 inches x 10 inches) and pour in the loaf mix.
You can sprinkle flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds across the top, which is what I usually do.

Bake for 40 minutes.
Use the paper edges to carefully lift the loaf out of the tin, and place on a cooling rack - don't turn the loaf upside down to remove as the loaf may break before it cools. 
After 5 minutes carefully slide off the baking paper and leave the loaf to cool completely before serving.

If you'd like to save and print the recipe download the pdf here.


You can replace the pears with apple sauce, pureed bananas or tinned apricots, but keep the volume to about 3/4 cup.
Replace the cranberries with raisins, dates, dried apricots, sour cherries...be creative. 
The grated carrot helps bind the mix together, and you could use parsnip or fresh beetroot instead, but don't use zucchini because the water content is too high.

Enjoy!



Monday, 8 February 2016

A day in the kitchen and a recipe...

On Saturday I set up my iPad on the kitchen bench and watched THIS documentary while I prepared lunch and some snacks to include in my husband's work lunchbox during the week ahead.
It certainly gave me much to consider after a number of similar docos we'd watched recently.

I had already spent a few hours on Saturday morning re-acquainting myself with recipes I used to make as well as re-visiting Kemi Nekpavil's raw food site, a place I haunted back in 2014 for healthy meal ideas. Sometimes you need to go back to find your way forward again, right?

There were new recipes added to her page so after checking what we had in the fridge I decided to make her Loaded Coleslaw with Maple Mustard Dressing and serve it with lamb cutlets for lunch. The only change I made was to use rocket (arugula) instead of spinach leaves as I like to use what I have on hand in my pantry and fridge if possible. It was YUMMY!


Funny how you make one thing and suddenly you're wanting to make a lot more!

Again raiding the pantry and the fridge for what was on hand I made a Mango & Lime Mousse which was served with fresh raspberries and blackberries for dessert that night and breakfast the next day...



...a fresh batch of Protein Balls...


...a gluten free / dairy free / sugar free Pear and Cranberry Cake...



...and a batch of gluten free and dairy free Almond & Amaranth Rock Cakes.


While preparing the food I was drinking from my huge water bottle and already feeling like I had taken back some of the self-control I'd lost when introducing sugar back into our diet early last year.
Yay.
 
On Sunday I decided to go through my recipe files with fresh eyes before planning this week's menu and shopping list. 
The past few months I've had an on again/off again relationship with a mystery virus that some days leaves me feeling as though I've walked into a double decker bus.
At first it surprised me because it came out of the blue and for three days I was unable to do much at all, then I bounced back for a few more days before succumbing to this extreme lethargy and pain all over again, and again.

I do believe that 'we are what we eat' and had to admit to myself and my husband that my (lovesick) re-acquaintance over the past 9 months with wheat, sugar and dairy had not only made me feel yuk and caused me to gain quite a few kilos, but it had also reduced the amount of healthy fresh food choices each day because I was filling up on the not-so-healthy-stuff.
Sadly this meant less good stuff being made for him as well.

I saw my doctor last week and had a wide screen of blood tests taken (to do with my Hashimotos management, high blood pressure and the new mystery illness) but I'm not sitting back to wait for the results before returning to a fresher food plan. This weekend was a time of reflection on what truly matters in regards to mine and my husband's health, energy and vitality. 
You see, he also has the auto-immune disease Hashimotos and he too has been struggling to find energy;  energy we had a year ago when we were careful with our menu and dietary requirements.

My business, Elefantz Designs, has taken more time from me that I should have allowed, and that in turn caused me to make shortcuts with our health via what I served on a plate - but you can't borrow from Peter to pay Paul and somewhere along the line payment must be made. For us this is no more obvious than in our health.
Onward and upward, I say. 
Fresh is best, and it's my responsibility to work with our bodies and give the best nourishment we can afford whilst also attending to our current need to recover from the bad choices of the last nine months.

I thought you may like to try my recipe for Almond & Amaranth Rock Cakes?
This has been tweaked and re-tested for about two years and has now reached its Goldilocks moment because it's 'just right'.


Preheat oven to 190C (375F)

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut (or spelt flour if you can tolerate a bit of gluten)
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/3 cup rapadura sugar OR coconut palm sugar OR zylitol
grated rind of one lemon or one orange
I cup of dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins, dates - your choice)
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1 egg
1/4 cup of almond milk

Method:

Into a large bowl add the almond meal, amaranth flour, dessicated coconut, baking powder, lemon rind and coconut oil.
Use your fingertips to mix the ingredients until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Add the dried fruit and mix in.
Beat the egg and almond milk together with a fork.
Make a well in the centre of your dry mix and pour in the wet mix.
Mix the ingredients together until combined.

Place heaped tablespoons of the mix on a greased tray and flatten slightly with the back of your spoon.
Bake for 14-15 minutes.

Makes around 24 rock cakes.

 
These little rock cakes freeze very well, so if you have gluten free friends you could make a batch and store in the freezer for unexpected coffee dates!

Download the recipe HERE if you'd like to keep a copy in your recipe folder.

So tell me, what dietary changes do you need to make this year?

hugs



Saturday, 23 January 2016

Is there anything more versatile than a lemon?

I may struggle with using yellow in my designs, and you might require a great deal of patience to find yellow in my home decorating, but I guarantee you'll always find a bowl of lemons on the kitchen bench or in my fridge.

I use lemons in all our fresh juices, and I grate the zest into most of my sweet bakes and quite often in stews and soups. Tangy lemons are my kitchen staple, and if I have less than four on hand they'll be the first bag of produce in my basket next grocery day. 

We're pretty health conscious at home so I alter or create recipes to suit that plan on a daily basis, but this doesn't mean we forgo our old family favourites or comfort foods - it just means we only enjoy them occasionally. I think when you only have those 'oldies but goodies' sporadically you slowly savour every spoonful with delightful pleasure, and for me it's especially good when that comfort food treat is loaded with lemon!

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago.
Darling daughter Blossom arrived for Sunday dinner with her beloved and I surprised her with a lemon meringue pie for dessert. She knew about the corned beef and mash main course (her request) but squealed with delight at what would follow afterwards. No matter that she's almost 22, her little girl happiness at eating mama's food has never waned so my heart was filled to bursting all over again.

We thought you might like the recipe?
It's very easy, really. 


BASE:

Crush a packet of plain sweet biscuits/cookies (such as Ginger Nuts, Nice, McVitties or Graham crackers depending where you are in the world) to a breadcrumb consistency in a food processor.

Melt 1/3 cup of butter and mix through the biscuit crumbs.
Press the crumb mix into the base of a pie plate - oval, round or square, it doesn't matter.
Pop it in the fridge while you make the filling.

Pre-heat the oven to 180c (375f)

 FILLING:

Beat together for 1 minute -
3 egg yolks (no whites)
1 400g can condensed milk
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

MERINGUE:

Beat 3 egg whites until they are stiff and can hold their shape.
Gradually pour in 1/2 cup castor sugar, a spoonful at a time, whilst still beating.
When all the sugar has been incorporated into the egg white and the meringue is white and glossy, it's ready for the final step.

BAKE:

Remove the prepared biscuit base from the fridge.
Pour the filling over the biscuit base, then spread the meringue across the top.
Bake in the middle of the oven for about 6-8 minutes.
As soon as the meringue peaks show a golden brown colour it's time to remove your pie from the oven.

Leave to cool and set in the fridge for around 3-4 hours.
Enjoy!

If you'd like to download this recipe and print or save you will find it HERE.

hugs


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Spelt Bread...

Just before dawn, barefoot I stand on the kitchen floor and lean forward to take in the view of lush green palm trees through the window above our sink. It's a pose so natural to me. 
The kitchen sink is where I go to centre my homemaker heart most days, and if you'd like to follow along with my gentle domestic life on an almost daily basis head over here to my Elefantz blog. This year I'm celebrating...


But blog, Cooked Simply With Love, is about the food side of my life. 
Good food, cooked simply, with LOVE.

  I'm excited about sharing the food ideas and recipes I've been playing with in 2016, and I thought the best way to start this year was with a staple we all love, bread.


Hubby and I can't tolerate wheat in diet. He gets the runs, and I clog up like you wouldn't believe. 
For the longest time we thought it was a gluten intolerance as that's one possible side effect when you have Hashimotos (we both have it), but after experimenting with low gluten grains like rye and spelt we were able to pinpoint wheat as our nemesis.

Spelt is an ancient grain, a wheat relative before the time of genetically modified grain.
It 'spreads' or 'flows' more than wheat so needs to be baked in a tin to keep it growing 'up' and not so much 'out' as the yeast does it's work.

On the other hand, it makes excellent focaccia because  it spreads so well.

I've tried a few recipes since New Year and found an adaptation of Paul Hollywood's Spelt Bread to be the best.

 I made the dough in my breadmaker, left it to rise for an hour, then popped it out and kneaded for a few more minutes on the lightly floured kitchen bench before shaping for the bread tin.
An hour to rise and into the oven it went for 30 minutes. 
We live in the tropics so bread rises very fast here - in a cooler climate you can leave spelt bread to rise for 2 to 3 hours before baking.

I made this loaf last night and after it cooled I left the bread wrapped in a tea towel overnight before slicing in.

It cut like a dream.
We had some toasted for brekky today...


...with crunchy peanut butter, bananas, and local honey.



I don't like bananas on their own, but I love them served like this!


 Paul's recipe doesn't have any seeds or olive oil in the mix, but I like to add my own tweaks - and they worked a treat for a very tasty loaf.


WHOLEGRAIN SPELT BREAD RECIPE:

In the breadmaker (or in a bowl if you're making your bread by hand) place in this order:

300ml of tepid water
30g butter
10g (2 teaspoons) instant yeast
10g (2 teaspoons) salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
500g spelt flour
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

 Use the 'dough' setting on your breadmaker, or knead by hand for 20 minutes as spelt requires more kneading than wheat.

After the first rise punch the dough down, knead for a minute or two, shape and place in the bread tin. 
Place the tin inside a large plastic bag, making sure the top of the bag won't touch the bread dough.
Leave to rise until doubled in size.

Set the oven to 200C (fan forced) or 220C for a regular oven.

Place a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven a few minutes before you pop your bread in as this will steam the oven and give you a fabulous crust.

Dust the top of your risen bread dough with a little flour and use scissors to cut a few slashes over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. 
Remove the bread from the tin and tap the bottom - it will sound hollow if it's cooked.
Leave to cool. 
Enjoy!

Download this recipe HERE if you'd like to print and add to your recipes folder.

 Next time I'll share the recipe for our family favourite - Focacci!

hugs


Sunday, 29 November 2015

A healthy creamy dressing...


We live in the tropics so you can understand why a lot of salads are prepared in my kitchen each week.
There's so many fantastic salad ingredients year round that I'm not often stumped on creating a recipe, but I do like to investigate new dressings because that's where I need help with flavour combining.

Recently I bought the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook and there is a Tahini Dressing recipe inside that I took inspiration from. After tweaking to suit our taste buds I was almost drinking the stuff through a straw! 

Creamy, tangy, spicy and morish - I am rather liberal with it on my lunch...


Want to try it?

You will need:

1/2 cup hulled tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoons (20ml) of Braggs Liquid Aminos
pinch of cayenne pepper

 Mix all of these together in your blender (I use my Nutri Bullet) and enjoy!




Apart from the incredible taste, the ingredients pack a health punch.

Tahini is made from crushed sesame seeds and these are some of its key health benefits:

* rich in minerals such as lecithin, magnesium, potassium, iron and phosphorous.
* aids in liver detoxification
* one of nature's best sources of calcium
* high in vitamin E and many of the B vitamins
* high alkaline (easy digestion)
* higher protein than most nuts...

Apple Cider Vinegar will:

* lower blood sugar levels
* help with weight loss
* improve the symptoms of diabetes...

Braggs Liquid Aminos tastes similar to soy sauce but it:

* is low in salt
* contains 16 amino acids
* is gluten free
* is linked to lower rates of certain cancers and osteoporosis
* may lessen hot flushes during menopause

Good stuff, right?
But the best thing about this dressing is that it tastes as good as its health benefits, and that is important because if food tastes unpalatable my husband will not give it a second audition. 

I've just received this new copy of a favourite old homemaking book in the mail so I may indulge with salad and tahini dressing lunches all next week whilst enjoying daily reading breaks...



Hope you have a tasty week too!



Monday, 23 November 2015

Chilli Jam, and some thoughts...

I watch a lot of health documentaries, study the latest nutritional information, and carefully dig through natural health/healing claims for substance because many years ago I read this in Ezekiel 47:12...

"Along the bank of the river...will grow all kinds of trees used for food...their fruit will be for food and their leaves for medicine." (also read Revelation 22:2)  

...and as one who believes God speaks to us both spiritually and practically through His Word I took this very seriously with regards to how I could look after the physical body and improve the health of my family.

There are numerous Scriptures that tell us of dietary advantages using certain foods. Here are a few examples...

"Behold I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food." (Genesis 1:29)

"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants I gave you everything." (Genesis 9:3)
"Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil that he may recover" (Isaiah 38:21)

"You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man's heart" (Psalm 104:14-15)

"Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples..." (Song of Solomon 2:5)

"No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." (1 Timothy 5:23)

"...take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and emmer, and put them into a single vessel and make your bread from them." (Ezekiel 4:9)

And don't forget the story of Daniel and his robust health on a diet of vegetables and water. (Daniel 1:8-16) "And at the end of ten days their countenance appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies."

I don't follow any one of the popular 21st Century diets such as Paleo, Raw Vegan, Low-Carb, I Quit Sugar, Grain Brain etc, but I do believe the abundance of refined and genetically modified foods produced for human consumption in the western world scarcely resembles those described in God's Word as being good for us, so I am slowly and methodically re-educating myself in what constitutes a natural healthy diet "for me and mine".

Some of the important keys -

* choosing ingredients in their most natural state
* foods as free from pesticides as possible
* locally grown in-season
*eating with restraint and not gluttony
* only buying what we need and using it all 
 * writing a weekly menu plan to avoid over spending and wastage

As the months pass I shall update you on how this is coming along in our home. I'm a realist so for sure it won't all flow as smoothly as it could, but the important thing is to keep learning, keep making better choices and let those good changes replace my bad habits.
It also helps to seek the Lord each day, and ask for His guidance. After all this body is His temple and He knows it way better than me.  
(1 Corinthians 6:19)



This Chilli Jam is my husband's favourite savoury topping on macadamia crumbed chicken, or spread across toast with cheese and avocado.
I'm sure it's the subtle hints of cardamom, star anise and caraway which make it so delicious because  spices and herbs are wonderful for bringing added flavour to most recipes.

I first tasted it with eggs, bacon and sweet potato fritters at the Paleo Cafe here in Townsville, so I bought their cookbook to make it at home.
The only tweak made in my version was to omit the water, add a teaspoon of caraway seeds, and cook all day in the slow cooker to intensify the flavours.

Ingredients:

2 red capsicums, seeded and finely chopped...


One red onion finely diced...


As much dried (or fresh) chilli as you like...


2 star anise
the seeds from 3 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon caraway seeds...


150ml  (5 oz) organic apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup raw untreated honey 



 Cooking:

Place everything in your slow cooker on 'high' for one hour.
Turn down to low and simmer all day (or all night).




Remove the jam from your slow cooker and pour into a saucepan if it seems too liquid.
Bring to the boil and stir for a few minutes until the chilli jam thickens.
Remove from heat and cool before storing in an airtight container in your fridge.

Alternatively, if you have no slow cooker - simmer the raw mix in a covered saucepan on your stove top for one hour. Stir frequently.
Remove the lid and cook until it gets that 'jammy' consistency.

Enjoy!




hugs