Monday, October 17, 2016

Sage and Apple Fritters (SRC)

Sage and apple fritters - gluten and dairy free - from

There are some food combinations that just work - think peanut butter and chocolate, tomato and basil, lemon and blueberries to name just a few.

Well, you can now officially add sage, apple and maple syrup to that list.

Because WOW. So yummy!

This isn't my invention, though. Credit must go to Helen from Casa Costello, whose blog I was assigned for this month's Secret Recipe Club.

Helen had my blog back in May and made my Thumbprint cookies, and I remember then flicking through her recipes and looking forward to getting her blog sometime.

Helen is from the UK and mum to 3 girls. She is a self-described 'massive foodie' and has been working with food and cakes since she was since 16.

Speaking of cakes, Helen is also a fantastic cake decorator and shares lots of her creations on her #BakeoftheWeek challenge. My boys particularly liked this Police Car Cake. Gorgeous isn't it?

When it came to choosing a recipe I took ages to decide, but I knew I wanted something pretty simple and of course, it had to be gluten and dairy free (or easy to convert). I loved the sound of Helen's Walnut and honey granola and Scrambled eggs with style. And this Lemon Frangipane Pie looks fabulous.

In the end though these Apple fritters with sage were calling my name. I've never used sage in this way before. Typically I only use it in stuffing at Christmas time. Which probably explains why it was so hard to find at the shops right now, no one else uses it much either!

My husband eventually found a little pot of sage that Mr 7 immediately took outside and replanted into a bigger pot. It's still very young but we got enough off it for this recipe and 2 perfect little leaves for garnish.

Sage and apple fritters - gluten and dairy free - from

I've always loved fritters, especially tuna and corn fritters, but the rest of family doesn't share my same level of enthusiasm.

That may have changed with this recipe!

Apple, sage and maple syrup are a match made in heaven.

I made only a few changes to the recipe to suit our way of eating - using gluten free flour, non-dairy milk and frying in coconut oil. I also reduced the sugar and am glad I did because between the apples and maple syrup I found them very sweet!

Sage and apple fritters - gluten and dairy free - from

All 3 of my boys loved these and were literally licking their plates clean. Mr fussy-5 even ate an extra sage leaf (covered with maple syrup) and declared it 'really yummy.' So huge for him to eat something green voluntarily even if he did have to smother it in syrup!

These would be perfect for a weekend brunch and will definitely be on the menu at our place again.

Sage and Apple Fritters
Adapted from Apple fritters with and without sage

2 large red apples
125g gluten free plain flour
1 ts baking powder
1/2 ts salt
1/2 ts cinnamon
2 ts rapadura sugar (or sweetener of choice)
150ml rice milk
1 large egg
6 sage leaves
coconut oil for frying

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar.

Peel the apples and chop into very small pieces. Add them to the dry ingredients and toss to combine.

In a small jug beat together the milk and egg together then pour into the flour and apples and mix well. Finely chop the sage leaves and stir through.

Melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large heavy-based frypan over medium heat.

Dollop in spoonfuls of mixture and flatten out into pancake shapes.

Cook until gold brown then flip and cook on the other side until cooked through.

Remove and place on a rack while you cook the remaining fritters.

Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Makes 10 fritters.

Thanks for a great recipe Helen! I will definitely be making these again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Gluten and dairy free Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce -

I definitely have a tendency to procrastinate.

If it seems too hard or it will take too long, it slips right to the bottom of my to-do list (possibly never to be seen again!)

Anything I've read about procrastination says that you need to do the hard stuff first.

Basically, if there is anything you're avoiding, just get up and do it first thing - it will be over and done with and set you up to have a really productive day.

Take this post for example.

I made this Sticky Date Pudding for our Christmas in July party. Yep July. And it's now the middle of October.

I'm not sure why it's been so hard to post lately but today I am taking my own advice and I'm just gonna do it!

So, sticky date pudding. A bit of a classic and a little retro. But things are a classic for a reason and a dessert that tastes this good never really goes out of style.

Sweet, sticky, decadent, and packed with warming spices and a good splash of brandy. Perfect for cold weather (it was just a pity the cold snap had ended and it was 28 degrees that day in July!).

Often when you go gluten and dairy free you can feel like you're missing out. Ingredients can't always be substituted one-for-one and I can tell you, I've had some spectacular failures. Think pizza bases as hard as cement or muffins that taste like cardboard. It's so frustrating! Not to mention a big waste of ingredients and money.

This sticky date pudding is definitely special occasion fare - and for a special occasion you want something that works.

I actually made 2 different versions of sticky date pudding, baking one in the oven (this one pictured) and steaming one in a pudding bowl in the slow cooker. I wasn't sure which technique would work the best, but in the end, they both did!

So I will be keeping that in mind and I have a feeling the steamed version will make an appearance at our Christmas Eve dinner along with some cinnamon coconut ice cream. My mouth is watering already!

Ok yes, there is a LOT of sugar here, but for Christmas (or Christmas in July) I have no problem with it. In saying that though, I am planning on experimenting a bit more and seeing how it goes with most or even all of the sugar taken out and with just the dates for sweetness.

Gluten and dairy free sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce -

Gluten and Dairy Free Sticky Date Pudding

200g pitted dried dates
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup very hot water
2 ts bicarb soda
2/3 cup coconut sugar
60g coconut oil, melted
3 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
170g gluten free flour
2 1/2 ts baking powder
1/4 ts salt
1 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts ground ginger

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees fan-forced.

Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper and set aside (I used a pyrex loaf pan).

Roughly chop the dates and place in a heatproof bowl. Add the brandy and the hot water and leave to stand for 10 minutes or until the dates have softened. Once soft, mash the dates and water together and stir in the bicarb soda.

To this mixture, add the coconut oil, eggs and vanilla and mix together until very well combined.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger with a whisk.

Pour the date and egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until the top springs back and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Suitable for freezing.

Serve with butterscotch sauce for an indulgent dessert.

Dairy free Butterscotch Sauce - from

This sauce was truly a revelation. I admit it's been many years since I had a real butterscotch sauce but this dairy free version was amazing. So rich and creamy. It would be perfect over coconut ice cream with a sprinkle of crushed nuts. Yum!

Dairy-free Butterscotch Sauce

1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
2 ts vanilla extract
1/4 ts sea salt
1/2 ts cream of tartar

Place all ingredients except cream of tartar into a medium pot and bring to the boil. Add the cream of tartar and stir until completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil for 5 minutes or until it reaches 110 degrees Celsius / 230 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Pour immediately into a clear glass jar. Allow to cool to luke warm before serving (it is like molten lava once it is cooked so don't lick the spoon or stick your finger in for a taste - it will burn you!!!)

Pour over warm pudding just before serving.

Are you a procrastinator like me? 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Coconut Flour Pancakes (SRC)

Coconut flour pancakes - free from grains, dairy and refined sugar - from

It's Secret Recipe Club time!

For those who don't know, each month SRC members are assigned a blog in secret from which to choose and prepare a recipe. Then we all post on the same day and have fun working out who had who!

This month I was assigned the blog Dessert Before Dinner by Stephanie. Stephanie recently moved to LA with her husband and cat and she loves making bread and ice cream. Just like me she used to make lots of desserts but after she got married she focussed more on main meals and 'real food.' Stephanie had my blog for SRC last month so it was fun to have a look around her site this month!

Here are just a few of her recipes that caught my eye:

Lemon Caper Quinoa Patties, Coconut Flour Pancakes, Apple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Coconut Milk Kanten, Coconut Flour Cake with Fudge Frosting, and Cinnamon Lime Panna Cotta just to name a few!

Given that I am off both gluten and dairy at the moment, and have a pantry full of coconut products, I had to go with Stephanie's coconut flour pancakes.

I make pancakes at least once a week for the kids, and sometimes for my lunch as a treat while I'm studying. I have made coconut flour pancakes before but this recipe was a little different, using dried coconut and some spices.

Stephanie says the recipe serves 2 for breakfast, but I got just 4 perfect little pancakes from the mixture which would be a hearty serve for 1 around here!

These were reminiscent of the oatmeal pancakes I've made for brunch previously, with the shredded coconut giving a similar chewy texture to the oats. So if you are newly off gluten and want something substantial for breakfast, these pancakes not only taste great they will keep you full until lunchtime.

Coconut flour pancakes - free from grains, dairy and refined sugar - from

Coconut Flour Pancakes
Recipe from: Dessert Before Dinner

2 eggs
2 tbs milk (almond or coconut would be good)
1 ts honey
2 tbs coconut flour
2 tbs shredded coconut
1/8 ts bicarb soda
1/8 ts cinnamon
1/8 ts nutmeg

Heat up a frypan over medium heat.

In a small bowl mix together the eggs, milk, honey, bicarb and spices. Add the coconut flour and shredded coconut and mix until just combined.

Grease the pan with a little coconut oil and dollop in 4 spoonfuls of mixture, flattening each out into a pancake.

Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Serve with maple syrup and strawberries.

Thanks for a great recipe Stephanie!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What I learnt about self-care this Winter ...

So things have been a little quiet on the blog front this past month or so.

I haven't spoken about it much but my health hasn't been great this Winter - I've been really run down and catching every bug going around. When you add that onto looking after 3 kids and studying well, things have definitely gotten on top of me.

I may have mentioned before that I've also been having some thyroid problems. Now I never had even an inkling of a thyroid issue until after having baby number 3. Post-partum thyroiditis is apparently really common but it's been tricky for me to manage.

I've been absolutely freezing this Winter (feeling cold is one of the symptoms) and have piled on about 6kg which is incredibly frustrating as I'm eating well and haven't had to think about my weight at all for a couple of years.

Hypothyroidism (or underactive thyroid) which is what I have, can also greatly impact on mood and anxiety levels so on top of feeling cold and fat I've also been feeling pretty down. Sounds like fun hey?

After hibernating for a while, I decided I had to make some changes.

Clearly what I was doing wasn't working.

And isn't that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

You may have heard the phrase 'self-care' bandied about a lot recently. For me it used to conjure up images of going to a spa for a massage or lighting candles. All good things but nothing I have the time for. Nothing that lights me up, so to speak.

A few months ago I stumbled across a book by Doreen Virtue called 'Don't Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle' and I read it, captivated. Because that is exactly what I have lost - sparkle. I have been feeling dulled down, tired, overwhelmed and uninspired. No wonder my health has been slowly going down the toilet.

Reading that book made me aware of all the drama I was allowing in my life. So getting rid of that was the first step I took.

1. Drama detox

Now anyone who knows me might be surprised that I consider myself addicted to drama. Outwardly I'm a pretty calm and quiet person. But my god, the drama that goes on in my head sometimes!

After taking a good hard look at just where my energy goes I could instantly see how much time and energy I was wasting on drama - the shows I watched on TV were full of crime, violence and stressful situations, reading the news online, getting caught up in the rush and busy-ness of life and allowing all of that to affect my mood and my sleep.

What I did - switched off the TV, removed all the programs I had set to record on the DVR, removed the bookmarks to news sites on my laptop, removed Facebook from my phone, found a classical music station on the car radio.

How I felt - removing all these stressful influences has had a major impact on my mood. I feel lighter and happier and, bonus, I have so much more time. Extra bonus the kids have been really enjoying listening to classical music!

2. Meditation

I've always been so resistant to meditation. But as they say, the things we resist the most, are usually the things we need the most. And so it was here too.

Meditation has been absolutely the greatest gift to myself these past few months. Setting aside just a little bit of time each day to relax, be still and clear my mind. Forget sitting cross-legged on the side of a mountain and chanting - meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for a few seconds ... and instantly reaping the benefits.

My favourite tool for meditation is the Insight Timer app. It is completely free and gives you access to thousands of guided meditations. You can also meditate to music or just choose some background music and set the timer. Try a few and you will find the style that suits you best. I do a quick 5-minute meditation as soon as I wake up to set the tone for the day and then as soon as Mr 2 goes down for his nap in the middle of the day, I lie down too and take 20 minutes for myself. And no matter how tempting it is to rush around and get a few things done as soon as he goes to bed, I've learnt from experience that if I don't take the time straight away, it may not happen.

What I did - committed to least 5 minutes of meditation every day

How I felt - AMAZING. I now crave that peace and stillness and I can draw on those feelings when things get crazy. Which, with 3 young kids, is pretty often!

3. Diet

Ok so I can't talk about improving my health without talking about diet.

As you know I am all about whole foods so I didn't have to cut out any junk, I just had to become more mindful with my eating and do some experimenting.

Some big triggers for thyroid health seem to be gluten, dairy and sugar. Which makes sense as they are all inflammatory and can impact on gut health.

The dairy and sugar were easy (ish) to remove but after 6 weeks now without gluten, I can say with absolute certainty that it's helping. I actually felt positive changes within a few days - more energy, less brain fog, less bloating.

So while I don't have celiac (I've had both blood tests and a biopsy to rule it out) it seems my body simply works better without gluten. I will be writing a post about going gluten free soon so I won't go into too much detail here.

The other side to diet is mindfulness - actually listening to what your body needs and then thinking about what to eat.

What I did - eating 3 proper meals each day rather than grazing or finishing the kids leftovers. Increasing the amount of veggies, especially greens. Sticking to 2 pieces of fruit per day. Drinking lots of water and herbal tea throughout the day.

How I felt - unsurprisingly I am feeling a bit better!

4. Sleep

I am not someone who functions well without sleep. Luckily I was blessed with kids that are good sleepers (please don't hate me!) and we are well past the baby stage anyway.

I need 8 hours sleep every night without fail. The easiest way to work out the right bedtime is to simply count back 8 hours from when your alarm goes off. Mine goes off at 5.30am which means lights out at 9.30pm.

The next thing is to think about how you are spending that last hour before bed and avoiding screen time if you can.

My night time ritual always includes a cup of tea, washing my face and putting on some beautiful smelling moisturiser and reading in bed for about half an hour before I turn out the light. If I do all these things then it is much easier to fall asleep and I don't feel like a total zombie the next day.

What I did - committed to a night time ritual and a set bedtime.

How I felt - While I still have some days when I need a nap in the afternoon (fatigue goes hand in hand with a dodgy thyroid), getting enough sleep at night makes everything feel easier.

5. Personal growth

Removing some negative stressful influences in my life has freed up some time and some space - which I have filled with books, music and podcasts. I am completely addicted to podcasts!

My favourites at the moment are:
My favourite times to listen to podcasts and audio books are when I'm cleaning, or stacking the dishwasher or parked waiting to pick up the kids from school. Basically anytime I have a few minutes. I've subscribed to them through the podcasts app on my ipad so they are loaded up and always ready to go.

What I did - filled my free time with positive, informative and uplifting books, music and podcasts.

How I felt - inspired to do more, learn more, create more and connect more

So after all that, what did I learn about self-care this Winter?

It's essential. It makes a massive difference. And there's no one right way to do it.

What does self-care mean to you?

~ Susan

Monday, August 15, 2016

Peanut Butter Loaf (SRC)

Gluten free peanut butter loaf cake - from

It's Secret Recipe Club time again! Is it just me or does it seem like each month is going by faster and faster these days? For those counting there are only 4 more SRC reveals until Christmas!!

Anyway, for those who are new here, every month SRC members are assigned a blog in secret to choose a recipe from, then we all post on the same day. Today is reveal day for group C.

This month I was assigned Our Eating Habits by Jamie - a Disney-obsessed, Christmas-loving mother of 3 from Calgary. Jamie actually had my blog last month so it was extra fun looking through hers this month. Jamie also homeschools her kids which I find so fascinating because that's pretty rare here in Australia. She has also posted loads of restaurant reviews which I had a look through even though I am on the other side of the world!

Jamie has so many recipes to choose from that she has divided her recipe index into 2 categories - cooking and baking. I started making a list of possible recipes but it got a little out of hand so I will share just a few that caught my eye.

Firstly, my kids would go crazy for Spaghetti Tacos, this Sweet Shepherd's Pie is a great twist on a classic, I'm always looking for interesting vegetable side dishes and the Broccoli with Asian Garlic Sauce and Cumin Honey Carrots sound delicious, and lastly Kung Pao Chicken which I've never seen on a menu here but it always seems to feature on American TV shows for some reason.

I moved over to the baking section and bookmarked these Molasses Muffins. Then I noticed Jamie has not one, but two recipes for peanut butter loaf - Amish Peanut Butter Loaf and Peanut Butter Loaf. I've never heard of this before but we love our peanut butter around here so I had to give it a try!

Basically this is exactly what it sounds like, a loaf cake made with peanut butter. If you love peanuts and peanut butter, this loaf is for you!

Peanut butter loaf - gluten and dairy free - from

I'm still doing my gluten-free experiment so I made it gluten free and swapped out the sugar for rice malt syrup as well. I also added a scattering of peanuts over the the top for some extra crunch.

Peanut butter loaf with strawberry jam - gluten and dairy free - from

This was a huge hit with my boys! Seriously, my husband missed out completely because it was completely devoured for afternoon tea before he got home. I used my own blend of gluten free flour and it made a moist, chewy loaf with a crispy crust. So delicious! I was imagining it would be amazing toasted but it didn't last long enough for me to find out! Guess I will just have to make it again.

Peanut butter loaf with strawberry jam - gluten and dairy free - from

We usually buy freshly ground natural peanut butter but we only had peanuts in the pantry so I made my own peanut butter for this recipe. I used the Thermomix but any high powered blender or food processor will work. If you are using regular peanut butter you might want to adjust the amount of sugar or salt you use in the loaf.

Homemade Peanut Butter

160g roasted natural peanuts
15g coconut oil

Place the peanuts into the Thermomix bowl and chop 15 seconds / SP 8. Scrape down the sides, add the coconut oil and process for 6 seconds / SP 6. Makes exactly 2/3 cup needed for this recipe.

Peanut Butter Loaf - Gluten, Dairy and Fructose Free
Adapted from here and here

2/3 cup natural peanut butter
110g rice malt syrup
1 cup rice milk
2 cups gluten free plain flour
1 tbs gluten free baking powder
1/4 ts sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees F. Grease and line a standard loaf pan with baking paper and set aside.

Beat together the peanut butter, syrup and milk until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and fold through until well combined.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack before serving sliced with strawberry jam.

Thank you for a great recipe, Jamie - this one is a keeper!

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