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up to all sorts

It’s been so great discovering this little world of healthy food enthusiasts… it’s really inspired my kitchen creations.  I used to get in a lot of ‘food ruts’ – eating the same sort of things day in, day out.

BORING.

Nowadays, I get so excited to create new recipes, or try other blogger’s recipes.

Actually, reading blogs of any description has really got my creativity cranking.  I’m having so much fun just making STUFF.  For some reason, I have a lot more focus these days.  Maybe it’s because the time I have to get a little project completed is usually pretty short.  Either when Misty’s sleeping or after dinner is about it… not like ‘back in the day’ before child where I just had too much time on my hands to know what to do with.

I made this washable snack bag as I am so sick of using plastic snap lock bags for Misty’s snacks when we are out and about.  So much plastic.  This is great as it is a light vinyl-you can wipe it out, or chuck it through the washing machine.

I can’t help defacing things, even with a sewing machine.  Angry apple.

I’m always wanting new and different non dairy milk ideas… I’ve made home made almond, coconut and brown rice milks.  They were all good, but not great if you know what I mean.  Store bought almond milk is not that flash here down under, and it’s super expensive so not really worth it.  Home made coconut milk is good for cooking, but not so tasty in coffee or tea (which I drink a LOT of).  I actually mix my home made coconut milk with Dr Bronner’s amazing soap and use it as shampoo.  It really is wicked knickers stuff.

I stumbled across the idea of tahini milk while reading Gena’s blog.  Awesome.  Tahini is one of my favourite things, and I love mixing it into soy milk with a touch of agave and cinnamon already.  I whipped up the recipe and it was love at first sip.  Great on it’s own, or over cereal.

I had about a half cup of this recipe left over (the barley)  I chucked it in the freezer, not wanting to waste it.  After returning from Sydney to an empty fridge, I pulled it out to feed my hungry beast.  I was being a lazy Mama and didn’t want to spoon feed it to Misty, and was bored so I decided to bake it into something.

Baked Barley Fridge Scrape:

  • 1/2C this recipe
  • 1T ground flax seed mixed with 3T water to make a flax egg
  • 1/8t baking soda
  • 1/16t baking powder
  • 5t coconut flour (I reckon chickpea flour would work well too, the texture might be a little different, but would be good)
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Spoon into a lined baking tray (a mini muffin pan would be great but I don’t have one, so I used a tiny loaf pan – 10cm in length)
  3. Bake for 30 minutes at 170 degrees C.
  4. Turn off oven, take the bake out of the pan and flip onto a cooling rack upside down.
  5. Put back into oven (which is turned off) and let the bottom dry out a bit until the oven had cooled down completely.

Seemed to go down a treat.  Fruit, flaxy and easy to hang on to – no Mama spoony needed.

Anything new/creative/fun you’ve made or discovered recently?

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birthday cake bender

I’ve been experimenting with ideas for what I’m going to use for Misty and Mopsy’s 1st birthday cake.  I’m probably going to cop flack for it, but I’m sticking to my guns and am going to make a healthy (yet hopefully delicious) birthday treat for the kidlets.   People seem to think I’m weird for usually skipping the usual white sugar, butter, cream based desserts.
  1. I don’t really dig heavy cream, especially whipped cream, I never have… just find it too full on.
  2. White sugar and me ain’t mates.  If I want a break out, or break down (sugar hangover = depressed Lou) a sugar overload will give it to me, toot sweet.
  3. Yes, they may be delicious, but traditional desserts make me feel like crap.  What’s wrong with creating something that is both delicious plus actually nutritionally beneficial?
It always makes me feel uncomfortable saying, ‘no thanks,’ to dessert.  I’m not trying to be rude, I’m sure it’s delicious, but I just don’t want the consequences.  Of course, every now and then I will indulge but a few moments of deliciousness on the tongue doesn’t really make the after effects worth it for me.  I think I just have to get used to people rolling their eyes at me or questioning my eating habits.
How do you deal with people questioning your eating habits?  I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences.
I’m a really sensitive person, and I hate feeling like I’m offending someone… saying ‘no thanks,’ to a food offering always makes me uncomfortable, like I’m doing something wrong.
Back to the job at hand – the cake.
Or rather, some sort of brownie-type thing. Not really sure what I’m going for here.  I know I want something different from the usual dry sponge with sugar-loaded frosting that is some obscene fluro colour, all covered with 10 tonnes of lollies.  Crack for kids?  Most definitely.
The first trial was pretty good, considering I was fumbling around in the dark with the recipe.  I had a heap of brown rice flour on hand, so decided that would be good.  Also, if anyone has a gluten sensitivity, it’s always nice to oblige.   I know I don’t want too much sugar, so bananas are my go-to ingredient for adding sweetness and moisture.  I decided I want to use this as an icing (frosting) amd this folded through for some delicious chunk action:
It’s not chocolate.  Close, but no cigar.  It’s tahini chocolate.
  • 1T tahini
  • 1T agave or brown rice syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2t coconut oil
  • 2t cacao powder (or regular cocoa)
  1. Mix everything together, pour into a plastic container or mould lined with glad wrap and freeze.
  2. Easy.
This is more like a truffle than chocolate; it doesn’t go solid – it reminds me of the cookie chunks in cookies and cream ice cream.  Now that’s always a good thing.  It’s really good crumbled over hot oats, or folded through banana soft serve ice cream.
I left it out of trial #2, because I think I’m going to use it as a decoration, rather than in the cake itself.  Trial #1 was good, but not quite there – it was a little too gummy; needed a little more dry in the mix.  I added in some coconut flour and cacao, and something pretty darn yummo was the result.
Woah.  Woah.  I can’t believe this doesn’t have any sugar, butter or anything bad in it.  The texture is amazing (I love coconut flour).  It doesn’t look very pretty as is,  but just you wait until I have gone to town with decorating.  It is fudgy, dense, sweet and really filling.  It’s like a cake, but a bar at the same time, if you get my drift?  With the tahini chocolate folded through it as well would be crazy crazy good.  I’m amazed, I’ve acheived the exact texture of these guys:
I eat these a lot, especially when I’m out and about and need something to tide me over.  They used to make a vegan chocolate version which was incredible… then they took it away from me.  Ha ha! I have recreated it without even trying… the similarity is uncanny.
I’m really really happy with the result of my kitchen play time – Misty approves too.  These bars are excellent for kids – they hold together enough for your little one to grab onto and nosh away at leisure, yet they are still soft enough for a gummy wonder to be included in the feasting.
I promise I will post recipe after the party – I just want to see/hear the reaction from the unknowing party goers first.

no sugar no bake buckwheat na na bites

Another day, another sugar free recipe.
Cutting out sugar is no big deal for me; I don’t eat a lot of the refined stuff anyway – my sweetness tends to appear in the form of honey, agave, molasses or rice syrup.  For the next 10 days however, I will be relying on simply fruit for a bit of the sweet stuff.  My taste buds have been reprogrammed over a period of time to appreciate the sweetness that comes naturally from fruit, vegetables and whole grains (I sound like such a geek).  I do understand why people struggle so much with cutting back on sugar though – it is snuck into EVERYTHING these days, no wonder as a population we are addicted to the stuff.
Just don’t even think about asking me to give up salt.  That is one white powder that I AM addicted to.  Hey, a girl has gotta have a vice right?  Right?  I’m doing well on the sugar, let’s just focus on that.
Bananas are awesome.  Such a great baking “tool” – they add sweetness, moisture and nutrition to any creation.  I use them a lot to cut down on added sugar, butter or oil in recipes.  This recipe is ridiculously easy – it requires just mixing and freezing so I don’t want to hear any excuses.
Buckwheat na na Bites
(Wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, egg free.  Vegan.  They could be raw if you used sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat groats, raw almond meal or oats.  Just sayin’).
  • 1/2C almond meal
  • 1/4C roasted buckwheat groats, ground into flour (or sub in 1/4C oatmeal)
  • 1/4t sea salt
  • 1T ground flax
  • 1/2C raisins
  • 1/2t ground cinnamon
  • 1/3C pureed banana (basically 1 medium banana, mashed up)
  • 2t nut butter
  • 1t coconut oil

Combine first 7 ingredients and set aside for 10 minutes or so.

Add in nut butter and coconut oil (melted).  Mix well.

Roll teaspoons of dough into balls and then flatten with a fork.  Place on a lined baking tray.

Freeze.

The banana flavour comes through nice and strong which I love… having been without bananas for months due to Cyclone Yasi which devastated the banana crops of Queensland, I welcome back affordable bananas with open arms.  It got to the point that a single banana was costing around $3 earlier in the year, yeesh.

I’ve been here.  It wasn’t as big as I was expecting.  Disappointing.

Misty is also digging the addition of banana in his diet – he enjoys them cut into rounds with a dollop of almond butter, and a sprinkling of cinnamon.  These cookies are baby friendly, but they do contain nuts, so be aware of any sensitivities to these.  Tahini would work in the place of nut butter.  The raisins could also be a choking hazard for younger babies.  You can omit, or simply chop finely before adding to mix.

I think frozen raisins are my new favourite thing.  Little chewy nuggets of sweetie yum yum.  I won’t tell you what Viper said they looked like.  Stupid Viper.

Lord of the Bars

So, you’ve seen the movie.

I only remember the first one.  The other 2 are a bit of a sleepy daze… I think I fell into a sugar-induced coma after eating too many lollies.  I don’t really dig the fantasy genre.  Or science fiction.  Viper loves both.  We make it work; it can’t always be rose petals and sweet guitar serenades (particularly as he can only play 3 songs on the guitar, which he repeats and repeats and repeats, ah bless).

At least now, if someone has no idea about New Zealand, you can just say “Lord of the Rings,” and they will know what you are talking about.

The movie does look nice, but the real New Zealand is better:

Green is good.  Makes me happy.

I reckon this tree is older than Yoda.

Tiny man or huge rock?  You decide.

Way better than the movie.

According to Viper, to explore this wild and unspoilt land, you need much sustenance to fuel your intrepid journey.  He likens the satisfying power of this next recipe to that of “Hobbit-food” whatever that may be.   See the movie, now eat the bar.

Oaty Fruity Filler Bar:

My slightly more interesting version of these Friendly Fruit Bars – again, these would be very suitable for kiddies, just omit nuts if you are giving them to a baby/toddler (choking risk).

This recipe is kind of fool-proof.  You can make it how you like it.  Super fruity?  Blend extra fruit and have a nice thick fruit filling layer.  Like it a tad nutty?  Just add more nuts, it’s really that simple.  Don’t be afraid to play around – I would call myself an intuitive cook (just a fancy way of saying that I can’t stick to a recipe) Mistakes are good in the kitchen – it gives you the opportunity to work out a different flavour combination, method or technique.  Learn by DOING.

  • 1/2C dried fruit
  • 1C whole oats
  • 4T apple puree
  • 1T cinnamon (I’m crazy for the stuff, feel free to use less)
  • 1/4C walnuts
  • 1/2t sea salt
  • 1/2t baking powder
  • 1/2t vanilla extract (optional)
Chose your dried fruit.  I went with what I had on hand (no, really?) apricots, prunes, fig.  Admittedly, not the most attractive when blended (see evidence further down) but tasty nonetheless.
Blend
Scrape out blended fruit “paste” and set aside.
I always blend the fruit first, as you don’t need to be too picky cleaning out the food processor – any bits of fruit left will just be blended back in the the oats (mmm fruity oaty).
Pulse your oats, apple, cinnamon, salt, vanilla and baking powder in a food processor.  The finished texture is up to you; a few oats left a bit chunky is nice for texture.  You could blend 3/4C oats, and fold in 1/4 cup of whole oats if you want, that’s the beauty of it, play around.
Spread half of your oaty mix into a lined baking tray.  Push down firmly.  Spread over your fruit paste.
Sprinkle over nuts.
Spread over remaining oaty mix, push the whole lot down firmly.  As it is a pretty crumbly mixute, I just sprinkle over the rest of the oaty mix, and kind of squash it together.  It doesn’t matter if you have gaps or holes – this is not a fussy appearance-driven bar, it’s all about taste.  This is what I like to call “rustic” food (this was a trick used in the cafe I used to work at – if something wasn’t perfect looking, we would just call it “rustic” – covers a multitude of sins).
Bake at 180 degrees celcius for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven.
This recipe was made in a 20cm by 10cm loaf pan.
I think Gollum is angry, ‘cos I won’t give him any of MY “precious” bars.  Ha.

a not so dangerous dinner

The kitchen is quite a dangerous place.  Sharp blades, steam, hot plates, gas – really, it’s not the best place for an accident-prone, impatient, careless, and dangerously silly person like myself.   Over the years I have sustained many injuries from my experiments.  The top of the blender popping off as I was blending up boiling hot soup (let it cool down first, Lou – I’m so impatient) was a particularly good one.  Burns are not fun.  Porridge (oatmeal) burns are the worst, it’s so gluey that it sticks to your skin and just keeps on burning.  Great.

My finger tips will never be the same.  Bits chopped off, multiple singes from using them to turn stuff on the hot plate (tongs, Lou, tongs) it’s all part and parcel.  One bonus nowadays is that my hands are kind of de-sensitised, so I can just shove them into the oven with reckless abandon.  Makes me look so tough.

I think it was Anthony Bourdain (man I love that dude) that said the sign of a cook was ugly hands – it was his mission as an aspiring chef to get that knarled and disfigured look which equates to kitchen kudos.

I didn’t even notice that I sliced the top off my finger this morning as I was hacking up a bit of beef for Boosty’s weekly meals.  All the red stuff over my shopping list was a little clue.  Gross.

I’m not the most careful cook – my technique, although fast is not exactly “safe.”  My Mum would always cringe watching me use a knife.

What’s been your worst cooking related injury?

Seeing HEAB‘s post on homemade apple and sweet potato purees, I remembered I had some of each in the fridge that needed using up.  Misty doesn’t really dig the whole ‘puree’ thing – he’s an independent man, and likes to feed himself.  Balls seem to be the way to go (and get good distance as a tasty chaser for Boosty).

Having purees on hand is kind of useful – they  add a certain something (yeah, the M word) to baking, extra flavour to sauces and soups, and are great mixed in with cereal or yoghurt.  If you have too much, just freeze and use at your leisure, what could be easier?  I also think eating pureed food is quite comforting in a ‘reverting back to childhood’ kinda way.  Maybe that’s just me.

I’m still on my sweet potato kick, so made these to involve Misty in the madness.

Misty’s Millet Munchies

(Gluten free, nut free, egg free, dairy free, soy free, vegan)

  • 1/4C sweet potato puree
  • 1/4C apple puree (or just use all sweet potato)
  • 1/4C millet
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon and ginger (approx 1/8t of each)
  • 1/2C water
  • 1/2C rice milk
  • 2T ground flax
  • Sesame seeds for coating (substitute with wheat germ, coconut, quinoa flakes, whatever you have).
  1. Combine everything except ground flax in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and wait until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed (around 20 minutes, it may be longer).
  3. Turn off heat and stir in flax seed.  Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, and let the flax work it’s magic.
  4. Roll into balls, and coat in sesame seeds.
Bake at 150 degrees C for 15 minutes, roll balls over and continue cooking for another 10-15.  Turn off oven, leaving balls inside as it cools down for 10 minutes or so – just so they firm up a little more.  Use your judgement; every oven is different.

No injuries were sustained in the making of these balls.