Saturday, July 23, 2016
What a week! I don't normally post on a Saturday but after attempting to write up this post for days now is my first chance! Mr 2 has been home from daycare this week with some sort of virus that caused conjunctivitis and just as it started to clear he broke out in spots. Before having children I had no idea there were so many illnesses that caused spots! Being the third child we didn't even take him to the doctor (he's completely fine now by the way).
Anyway between having a clingy and sick 2 year old hanging off me, and trying to complete two whole subjects before the September school holidays, I haven't had a whole lot of spare time.
So this week, yet again, bliss balls saved my life.
I have made a ton of different bliss balls over the past few years, but it was actually only once I had my third baby that I really appreciated them. When Mr 2 was very little I used to make a batch of bliss balls every week and had them stashed in the freezer for a quick breakfast, a mid-afternoon pick me up or a late night snack while feeding.
This week there quite a few times when I was hungry but didn't want to make anything from scratch, so I grabbed 2 of these from the freezer and was completely satisfied.
These ones are a little different in that I have specifically chosen ingredients to suit my health at the moment. There is no gluten, nuts or refined sugar and they have an extra boost of superfoods. Think antioxidants from the raw cacao, zinc from the pumpkin seeds, calcium from the tahini, fibre and essential minerals from the dates, good fat from the coconut, along with the amino acids, minerals and hormone balancing properties of maca.
Oh, and they're totally delicious!
As with anything containing chia seeds, make sure you check your teeth before venturing out in public!
Superfood Bliss Balls
Recipe by me
2 tbs (20 g) raw cacao
1 tbs (15 g) maca powder
1/4 cup (40g) chia seeds
1 cup (150g) pumpkin seeds
1 cup (65g) desiccated coconut
40 g tahini
1/4 tsp sea salt
80 g semi-dried dates
30 g coconut oil
zest of one orange
Place all ingredients into the food processor and blitz until the mixture clumps together (Thermomix 20 seconds / speed 6).
With damp hands, roll spoonfuls of mixture into balls.
Makes about 20
Store in the fridge or freezer.
What's your go-to snack?
Monday, July 18, 2016
And just like that it's Secret Recipe Club time again! Each month members are assigned a blog in secret to peruse and choose a recipe from, then we all reveal our posts at the same time. It's a lot of fun and I always look forward to reveal day.
This has been an interesting month for me, in terms of food, as I have decided to cut out gluten for at least 4 weeks to see if it helps my energy levels and thyroid symptoms. After just the first few days I noticed my brain-fog lifting and I'm nowhere near as tired as I have been, so it seems like the experiment is working. On the one hand, yay! On the other hand, no more decent bread?? :(
Anyway, being temporarily gluten-free meant I had to look more closely at the recipes on my chosen blog for the month, which is Our Table for Seven by Erin.
As you can tell by the name of her blog, Erin has a lot of mouths to feed! Erin says she only really got into cooking and baking when her eldest son developed some picky eating habits and she wanted to make the foods he would eat a bit healthier. Erin, I hear you! I have the same issues with my Mr 5.
I decided I wanted something sweet and simple this month and found loads of recipes to choose from that I could easily adapt to gluten and dairy free. Like this Flourless Chocolate Cake that looks so rich and decadent, these Walnut and Maple Syrup muffins and this Simple Homemade Caramel Corn which I am planning on taking to a Christmas in July party next weekend!
But when I saw these Coconut Oil and Sea Salt Brownie Cookies the search was over. We love our coconut oil in this house (in fact we love it so much I buy it in huge 5kg tubs!). It tastes amazing and it's a brilliant substitute for butter in baking.
So these cookies were in a word, AMAZING. The mixture was so rich and chocolatey and I couldn't stop sneaking little tastes as it rested in the fridge. Once they came out of the oven my boys were hovering and couldn't wait to try them. They were fascinated by the salt on top (which according to Heston Blumenthal helps balance out the bitterness in dark chocolate in case you were wondering).
I made very minor changes to the recipe, swapping out the flour for gluten free varieties, reducing the sugar slightly and using chopped dark chocolate instead of chocolate chips.
I've only included the Thermomix instructions here but it can easily be converted to stove top (you really just need to melt the coconut oil in a saucepan then mix everything else together) or just check the original recipe for Erin's instructions.
Coconut Oil and Sea Salt Brownie Cookies
Gluten and Dairy free
Adapted from Our Table for Seven
1/2 cup (100g) coconut oil
2/3 cup (130g) coconut sugar
3/4 cup (120g) buckwheat flour
1/4 cup (40g) gluten-free plain flour
3/4 cup (80g) raw cacao powder
1 ts vanilla extract
1/2 ts sea salt (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
1 ts bicarb soda (baking soda)
1 tbs very hot water
150g dairy-free dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Lindt 85%)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
Melt the coconut oil (TMX 2 minutes / 50 degrees / SP 2). Add the coconut sugar and beat for 20 seconds / SP 4. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again for 20 seconds / SP 4. Mix the bicarb soda and hot water together and add to the mixture (4 secs / SP ).
In a small bowl whisk together the flours, cacao and salt.
Add to the egg mixture and mix for 10 seconds / SP 4.
Add the chopped chocolate and mix for 6 secs / REVERSE / SP 3.
Place the bowl into the fridge for 15 minutes to allow the mixture to firm up.
Roll spoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on the prepared trays. Flatten the tops very slightly then sprinkle with extra salt.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Leave on the trays to cool for 5 minutes before carefully placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.
Thank you for a wonderful month, Erin! I so enjoyed getting to know you and your family :)
Friday, July 15, 2016
Not too many years ago I was baking regularly and going through a staggering amount of sugar. Rather than beat myself up about that I choose to see that just by making it myself I was avoiding all the artificial additives you find in processed versions of desserts.
After quitting sugar and when food intolerances became an issue for the boys and me, I was worried I wouldn't be able to bake anymore, or at least not anything that other people would enjoy. While I've had quite a few flops I am now at a point where I can quite easily convert a recipe to be free of wheat or gluten, dairy and refined sugar without any drama.
And the results can be spectacular!
You know how you always have a soft spot for the sweets from your childhood? For me it's custard - think vanilla slice, custard tart or just plain custard with sliced bananas. So with that in mind I decided to create my own version - something that would be free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar, something that would be sweet and luscious and feel a bit special.
I had the opportunity to bake it when we had family over for morning tea during the school holidays and I had some time to play in the kitchen. I find a slice is always a crowd-pleaser and it's certainly easy to do a big tray of something and slice it up to feed everyone.
We all LOVED this slice. Perfect for morning or afternoon tea, but special enough for dessert.
Wholefood Banana Custard Slice (Gluten and Dairy Free)
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tbs coconut sugar
150g melted butter
400ml coconut cream
300ml rice milk
4 egg yolks
2 tbs arrowroot flour
125g rice malt syrup
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (save the bean for something else)
2 tbs gelatine (I use Great Lakes - the red one)
3 bananas, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20 x 30 cm slice tray with baking paper and set aside.
To make the base, mix all ingredients together (TMX - 6 secs / SP 4), then tip into the prepared tin and press in firmly with your hands or the back of a large spoon.
Bake for 15-20 minutes - when done it will be evenly golden brown and still a little soft, it will firm up as it cools.
Remove from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack to cool completely.
While the base is cooking, start to prepare the custard.
If you're using the Thermomix, place all custard ingredients into the bowl and cook for 9 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 4.
No thermomix? Place the coconut cream, milk and vanilla into a medium pan over medium heat until it starts to steam. Meanwhile, use a whisk to beat together the egg yolks, arrowroot and syrup until smooth. When the milk is steaming pour it over the egg mixture and whisk together. Place a few tablespoons of the mixture into a small bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine and stir to dissolve. Pour all the custard mixture back into the pan, add the gelatine mixture and cook over low heat until it starts to thicken, stirring constantly with a large spoon or spatula. This could take 20 minutes so be patient!
Leave the custard to cool for 10 minutes before pouring over the cooked base, then place in the fridge to chill until set (at least 4-6 hours or overnight).
Just before serving, slice the bananas into thin rounds and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon juice and toss gently to combine, making sure all the banana gets the juice. The lemon stops the banana going brown but also adds a lovely flavour.
Using the baking paper on each side as a handle, carefully lift the slice out of the tin and place onto a serving board. Gently slide the paper off and discard.
Layer on the banana pieces and dust the top generously with nutmeg.
Cut into 12-16 pieces and enjoy!
What was your favourite childhood sweet treat?
Thursday, July 7, 2016
We're coming to the end of 2 weeks school holidays here and while I've been baking up a storm I've taken a bit of a break from blogging. I do have a slew of awesome recipes lined up for the next few weeks though!
Having all 3 of my boys for 2 weeks has been wonderful and they've been very willing guinea pigs for my baking experiments. Some hits, some misses ... but they've devoured the lot!
This recipe was an unexpected hit with my boys - they LOVED it! I had a couple of beetroots leftover at the end of the week and rather than make juice or a beetroot dip as I normally would I decided to make something sweet.
As you know I love boosting the nutrition of my baked goods by using spelt instead of wheat, adding nuts and seeds and of course, adding vegetables. Carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato and zucchini all work brilliantly. I wondered if the earthy flavour of the beetroot would be too much for the kids but I needn't have worried, they just saw it as a chocolate cake and each had seconds, and then thirds!
The boys had theirs with butter and then the next day I had a piece toasted and topped with my homemade roasted strawberry chia jam. SO delicious.
You can increase the chocolate flavour by replacing 1/4 cup of the white spelt flour with 1/4 cup raw cacao powder.
Wheat-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Beetroot Cake
120g coconut oil
80g dark chocolate (Green and Black's 70%)
2 beetroots, finely grated (mine was 286g peeled)
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1 cup white spelt flour
1/2 cup wholemeal spelt flour
3 ts baking powder
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper and set aside.
In a small pan, melt the coconut oil and chocolate together over low heat, stirring until it is smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Place the coconut sugar, flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir with a whisk until well mixed.
Pour in the cooled chocolate mixture, grated beetroot and eggs, and fold together with a spatula until just combined.
Thermomix - roughly chop the beetroot then grate for 4-5 seconds / SP 6. Tip out the beetroot into a small bowl and scrape down the sides well. Add the chocolate and chop for a few seconds / SP 6-7. Add the coconut oil and melt for 3 minutes / 37 degrees / SP 3. Add the coconut sugar, flours, baking powder and salt, followed by the beetroot and eggs. Mix for 10 seconds / REV / SP 3. Scrape down the sides and repeat if needed.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed and a skewer comes out clean.
Leave in the tin to cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Have you tried hiding vegetables in cakes and muffins? Do you have a favourite recipe you could share? I'm always looking for inspiration!