Saturday, 31 August 2013

Friday's kitchen adventures!

What a day Friday was in the kitchen.
I put all my sewing work aside and immersed myself in cooking, baking, and food preparation for the weekend ahead. Truly, I was in a blissful state of heart.
Breakfast was a bowl of my sprouted buckwheat granola, which is fast running out...
I served it with strawberries and soy milk...
...and then soaked a fresh batch of buckwheat kernels to sprout.
I also soaked some medium grain rice in some warm water and whey for a baked rice pudding on Saturday night.

The rye sour dough starter I began a few days ago was ready for me to turn it into bread...
Years ago I used to make bread completely by hand every day, but after surgery on my a finger in 2010 I've never had the same level of sustained strength to knead for twenty minutes. However, I still start my dough by hand when making sour dough bread because I need to 'feel' the dough in order to be satisfied with my ingredients - I don't measure anything you see! 
When I'm pleased with the consistency I put the dough in my bread maker for kneading and the first rise.

After that first rise I take the dough out and give it a quick knead before shaping it for the second rise, and adding a few slashes across the top for the bread to 'spread out and up'...
30 minutes later the bread was ready for the oven. It's always warm in the tropics so bread rises very quickly...
 I used my hot stone for the baking, and 40 minutes later this delicious loaf was ready!

The Labne cheese I made the day before was lavishly spread across slices for our lunch - yum!

Next on my recipe list was homemade orange and passionfruit jelly. No sugar; just orange juice, strained passionfruit, a little water, and gelatine. The perfect dessert...

With strawberries at their peak in the tropics at the end of winter I've been buying punnets for $1.50 and using them in smoothies and freshly cut in cereals for breakfast. It's been a while since I've made jam so those strawberries became apple & strawberry jam!

My husband and I are cutting back on the amount of sugar in our diet so I used only one third of the sugar used in most recipes. The grated apple, and teaspoon of lemon juice gave the jam enough natural pectin, so the only ingredients were 250g chopped strawberries, two small organic apples (grated), 1/3 cup of rapadura sugar, one tablespoon of water, and a teaspoon of lemon juice. My husband raved about the flavours! "It's can taste the fruit instead of sugar..."

I found a new store to get organic supplies, 'Sprout', so after lunch I went for a look and came home with a box of goodies to cook with. I used the organic flour and some buttermilk as the base to make pikelets for afternoon tea...
 ...which we served with that lovely jam!
In preparation for dinner I made a marinade of lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, oregano and olive oil. As we were having lamb skewers I rubbed the marinade through chopped pieces of lamb and set them aside in the fridge. The lemon juice breaks down the lamb if left for a few hours and apart from cooking faster the meat is incredibly soft...

I also made a new hummus recipe from HERE.
5 minute Chilli & Lime Hummus... well as Tzatziki using the yoghurt I made earlier in the week.

My last bit of prep was to soak dried fruit in a cup of Prince of Wales tea, ready to be baked into an Irish Tea Cake on Saturday morning.

 For dinner I skewered the lamb chunks and fried them in a lightly greased frypan, before serving alongside a tossed green salad with an olive oil and orange juice dressing. 
I served the hummus and the Tzatziki on the side with a slice of the sour dough bread.
(Sorry, forgot to take a photo of it!)

Some things I'm doing in the kitchen these days...

1. using only 1/3 - 1/2 of the sugar quantity listed in recipes
2. eating smaller servings
3.  looking at what I have already in the pantry and fridge to use before purchasing more food
4. thinking seasonally, and like with the strawberries that are cheap and at their peak, choosing recipes that make the most of what's local and ripe right now
5. planning ahead, and doing some food prep before bed each night if things need to soak
6. brushing up on my health studies to remind me why we, as a family, need this

 Things I have noticed...

1. we eat less naturally because the food I make is not loaded with refined ingredients or an overload of sugar, and therefore it's more nutritionally hearty
2. the less sugar we eat the less we desire it (and we are huge lolly and chocolate lovers!)
3. we're drinking less coffee
4. we are saving $$'s
5. sleep is far more restful
6. cravings have gone 
7. our digestive systems are working really well

I won't be posting again until Monday as I avoid the computer on Sunday. 
I hope you have a restful and refreshing weekend. :-)




Friday, 30 August 2013

Thursday fare...

Not much to show from Thursday as I was in 'waste not, want not' mode, and used up our leftovers.

Breakfast was the remaining soaked flour scones I made on Wednesday, but this time I toasted them under the griller. Served with a kiwi fruit, and fresh coffee, they were even tastier than when freshly baked!

No-one was home for lunch as my husband had to travel up north for the day, my 19yo daughter met with friends (it was her day off work), and I had a long list of errands to run.
I opted for half a 'chicken & salad wholegrain wrap' with a coconut water from the food court at our local shopping centre between errand destinations.
Dinner was a repeat of the night before: brown rice vegetable pilaf with 1/2 a piece of salmon.

My labne cheese has worked a treat!
 After turning their noses up at it, I convinced my husband and daughter to try some on a cracker. Surprise, surprise, they asked for more!
This will be the base of Friday's lunch, smeared on my 'hopefully' successful fresh sour dough bread. I'm going to make some more and roll into little balls dusted in spices and preserve them in olive oil like the photo below. I was inspired by THIS recipe.... 

I collected a good amount of whey from making the labne, so it's stored in the fridge for adding to the soaking liquid used in my flours, grains and nuts in coming weeks. 

This was the sour dough starter on Thursday morning...
 By Thursday afternoon it had doubled, so it was time to mix up my bread dough and leave it to rise overnight - one bonus of living in the tropics is that this rarely fails! I'll bake it Friday morning and all going well we'll enjoy it with the labne cheese for lunch. 
I'll keep you posted...


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Wednesday's fare...

Planning ahead...
On Tuesday night before bed I made some preparations for Wednesday.
A new sour dough starter using organic rye flour...

Brown rice and almonds soaked in water and lemon juice; new recipe for yoghurt in the easiyo container; plain flour soaking in yoghurt and whey...

Wednesday morning and I finished the soaked oats from the day before with my remaining blueberries and unsweetened almond milk. Served with a freshly ground and brewed black coffee...
 Just like the day before, I was once again busy in my sewing room all morning, so I forgot about food until my husband reminded me to eat. We are in the tropics and it's incredibly hot in the sewing room when the afternoon sun hits my window so I do all my sewing prep and design sketching between 8-12 every day, leaving the kitchen fun for afternoons.

The flour I'd soaked was ready for baking into orange and raisin scones, so after being stored unopened in it's box for over two years I finally used my baking stone to cook them on!
I love the rustic flavour...

These scones are very different to my usual fluffy white fare; these are incredibly hearty and tasty so just one served with some butter and organic honey filled me up quickly.  I finished lunch with some freshly sliced pineapple.

Mid afternoon I made an almond milk smoothie with 1/2 banana, one passionfruit, a tablespoon of sugar free protein powder, and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg across the top.
Nutmeg is one of my comfort foods, reminding me of my Nana who raised me and liberally scattered nutmeg across all her milk puddings...

More prep...
The new recipe for yoghurt my friend Ruth shared with me was fantastic! 
From the one litre of yoghurt I poured half into a cheesecloth lined sieve to make labne - a soft cheese. A few hours later I already had 1/2 cup of whey drained off and there was a lovely cream cheese consistency evident. It should be perfect later today!
I'll be able to use the whey for soaking my seeds, nuts and grains. 

The evening meal..
I strained and rinsed the soaked brown rice and almonds to make a vegetable Pilaf...
...and chopped a few cups of leek, carrot, celery, asparagus, and snow peas.
I also prepared chopped coriander and parsley to stir through before serving.

45 minutes later my Pilaf was ready...
...served it with a small piece of crispy skin salmon!

This meal was quite seriously the yummiest one I've made in months. I'm so glad I have plenty leftover for dinner on Thursday! I originally learned the recipe when doing the Nourished Kitchen online course in 2009.
I love going back over those classes because it reminds me 'why' I choose to eat better.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

On the Tuesday table...

As I shared yesterday, Tuesday began with the soaked oats for breakfast...

I was busy in my sewing room all morning so totally forgot about morning tea. By lunch I was famished, and enjoyed a bowl of cous cous salad with chicken and lemon...

Pattern writing all afternoon, so picked up my mental energy with a smoothie about 3pm...
Blueberries, unsweetened almond milk, raw cacao, maca powder, and 1/2 teaspoon honey - and at the last minute I threw in some passionfruit. My 'plan' also includes using what is on hand and not letting fresh foods go to waste...

As we've recently decided to avoid food waste (more than usual), my husband and daughter finished off the cous cous salad with chicken and lemon for dinner, served with some home made garlic sour dough.
I had a small jug of leftover oat pancake mix from Sunday's breakfast in the fridge, so that was my dinner.
I still had a handful of thawed blueberries leftover from my afternoon smoothie and added them to the oat pancake mix.
A kiwi fruit, some light butter and sugar free maple syrup, and my final meal of the day was complete.

I have decided that we'll gradually use up our pantry and refrigerator stores over the next month, to save money and food waste, before restocking with less variety and more basic healthful items.

I think we have an overabundance of variety which has made all of us too picky with what we eat. Less choices and simplifying our store cupboard may help bring some balance to that problem. I won't know until I try it.

The oat pancakes are very simple to make - low carb, wheat free, and great for when you need to use up an abundance of eggs!

Pour 1 cup of rolled oats into a food processor, and using the S blade, whizz them until you have a flour consistency.
Add 7 egg whites (* or 1 cup from a carton of egg whites), 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, a 250g tub of low fat ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese), and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. You can also add a teaspoon of stevia powder if you like your pancakes a little sweet.

Blitz the mix for about 30 seconds, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Use olive oil spray to keep the oat pancakes low in fat, and cook as you would normal pancakes.

Normally I serve mine with a large spoon of plain fat free Greek yoghurt and berries, but as I had no spare yoghurt at dinner last night I splurged on a spoon of butter instead. I really prefer the yoghurt, so before bed I prepared a fresh batch for the rest of the week.

The splurge yesterday was chocolate. Our daughter bought a large box for my husband and I as a gift, and I admit to indulging on a half dozen at supper. They're all gone now, so so no more temptation!


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Schedules and habits...

Why haven't I been posting here?
Well, I was pretty overwhelmed last month, which is one of the reasons I went away on my own for a few days (see previous blog post).

The thing that has made the most sense to me in the past few weeks has been my lack of scheduling and organisation. 
I home-schooled for twelve years, and I was *very* scheduled and organised. It's exactly how I like to be; the way I function at my best. But when I began designing I didn't plan much at was a roller coaster ride through unknown territory and I was hanging on by my teeth because it really took off quicker than I'd dreamed and just never slowed down long enough for me to stand back and really assess how it fit with my no-longer-homeschooling life.

If you're in to craft, you can see the household binder cover I made a few weeks ago (it has a tutorial too) HERE...

Making this was an important first step to getting some routine and planning into my business life as well as my health and home life.

My 'aha' moment was to remember that I am unique, and I need to work to 'how I function best'.
If I am working with me, and not against me, then there is a smoother flow.

The same applies to food. 
I know what I like - what I love!
I know that if I play around with a dietary regime for good health that I can only stick to for a few months then inevitably I set myself up for failure in the long term because I won't love it...I'll gradually drift back to where I was before.

That's why its been so long between blog posts.
I had to work through this, pray through it, be analytical and wise...I had to add my own likes and dislikes into the equation. If I am going to finally kick the 18 kilos of excess weight off my little 5'1" (154cm) frame, then I have to be able to do it permanently, with a food and exercise plan that I *love*, a plan that isn't a diet but a way of life.

A blog reader asked if I could share a typical foodie week with her via my blog, so she could see what I eat over a 7 day period.
I'm going to start that today, because without her knowing it, the idea will help me look at my weekly menu with a clear overall view...and I need that.

So today I'll share my breakfast.

I soaked sunflower seeds overnight in a bowl of filtered water with a squeeze of lemon juice. 

I also soaked oats with a grated apple (skin on), some raisins, a squeeze of lemon juice, and unsweetened almond milk overnight as well.

Finally, I defrosted some raspberries and blueberries overnight in a bowl inside the fridge.

I served my breakfast with a little more unsweetened almond milk...

This is really, really simple and only took me 3 or 4 minutes before bed last night to prepare for this morning's feast. I genuinely love this kind of food and scratch my head as to why I bow to convenience more often than I ought. Probably because I don't make those 3 or 4 minute prep times before I hit the sack each night.
But the plan is in place and the routine begun.

There was enough of everything for two breakfasts, so I'll be having the same tomorrow.
Now to soak some rice for dinner...