Archive for July, 2011

An addition to the post “Nut Butter Flapjacks”: Peanut Butter version

Thanks to an almond butter fanatic called Heather, I was introduced to the delight of baking flapjacks/granola bars without using butter or margarines; not to the intent of making them lower fat, just to the intent of using whole-food plant fats, ie nuts. The recipes are here, and I can highly recommend them.

However, some of the ingredients may be kind of costly; macadamias for example, or maple syrup. While you can make any kind of nut butter, using less expensive nuts (unroasted almonds to name one kind), the other thing is that you need a food processor, and not everyone has one.

Here is a delicious variation for all you peanut butter lovers that I got from a book called The Yoga CookBook. I cannot remember their actual quantities, but these are mine. The best option would be 100%-nothing-else-but roasted-peanuts-butter.  Failing that, the next best thing would be a no added sugar or salt version like Whole Earth.

  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter  (100g)
  • a scant 1/2cup of honey (100g)
  • 1/4 cup of wholewheat flour
  • 1  1/2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Melt the peanut butter and honey in a pan, stir in all other ingredients. These quantities are good for a smallish tin like this:

Watch them and take them out the minute they have a light golden brown edge.In my oven it took literally 5-7 minutes at 180 degrees.  Obviously like all flapjacks they are a little soft when out of the oven but they are fine when cool, honestly. If you overcook them they will be horribly dry.  These are really good!

Law of the Universe 2

There are many laws of the universe, and not all of them are in the science books. I wrote about one law which I have a particular love and gratitude for in this post, relating it to food choice,  Like I say in that post, because it is a universal law, it can work in many spheres of our lives, and I simply applied it to healthy food choice, because that is what this blog is about.

Here is another Law of the universe which I know to be real. By way of introduction…. I read this amazing book called “Potatoes not Prozac“. The author, who has a PhD in the area of study of the affects of sugar on brain chemistry, apologised for the title. She said it was a shameless way of getting some attention for the book and is not meant as an insensitive reference to the use of anti-depressants.

 The book discusses people who are sugar dependent, who “can’t NOT eat it”  and the brain chemistry of  what the author calls sugar sensitivity. Some parts are quite scientific, but she insists that it is important to understand how it becomes so habit-forming and how the cravings are perpetuated.

Anyway, if you want to learn more, read the book, it is a fascinating, and dare I say, empowering read. She developed a program to help people who were addicted to sugary foods, to slowly come off them, to the point of being completely free of all sugars and white carbohydrates. Programs of course are not The One True Path, but are just one way of applying principles. In her case she bases her program on the findings of her research; in any case, she has helped hundreds of people to break some very addictive eating patterns.

The point for today is that she eventually named her program “Radiant Recovery” Sounds a little cheesey to you? Why did she choose that name? She said it was after she received so many letters of people thanking her, and exclaiming how they felt that their whole life had been changed; they began to believe in themselves more, have a greater vision of where they wanted their life to go, relationships improved, minds felt enlightened.One girl said ” I thought I was changing my diet, I had no idea I was getting my life back.”

 These are some of the blessings for your inner self when you overcome food addictions and start to eat clean: Hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge, greater mental clarity of which direction to take, a greater desire to live healthier and better in other area of your lives, a greater enthusiasm for early rising, a greater understanding, not understanding of “hard facts” from the material world, but equally real (though less visible) knowledge about you and your potential, earth, heaven, your life here, what you can become; in short, an inner jiggliness that comes for a love and gratitude for all that is good, true and beautiful.

 I hasten to add- and I don’t need to, because it’s blindingly obvious,  that our inner levels of joy and enlightenment are not only dependent on nutrition, of course not! But the “fuel” is so very key! Body and soul are connected in a special and wonderful way. It is a truth that can sound far-fetched and almost ridiculous until you experience it to a greater or lesser extent, but then, you know! Of course, knowing something does not always mean you live in harmony with it at all times, but you know…and when you get off track, you try to return to that which you know.

Why would we limit the health of our inner self and say “we have enough”?  Even if you feel totally happy and inspired, could it be that there is more for you? How much are we missing out on? I know that I for one, live far below my possibilities and privileges. Like I said, there are many factors that govern inner guidance and peace, and one might say that the food we eat is the very least of all of these. And yet! Cleaner food, cleaner body, clearer spiritual conduits for inspiration. Food for thought, no pun intended.

Have a wonderful day!

McHealthy chocolate spread

McHealthy, as in MacHealthy, as in Macadamia Nut Healthy Chocolate spread: CHILD APPROVED! (in my house anyway 🙂 )

I know Macadamia nuts are a little pricey, though if you look around you will find places that they are more affordable than others. Currently Tesco charge £2 for 100g of unroasted mac. nuts, and in Asda they cost  £2.72 for 150grams which works out a little better. Everywhere else I have seen they are a little untouchable. Yes, a little expensive, but so worth it for a bit of whole-food decadence. (I have also found that as you stop buying certain items at the supermarket, that you have all this extra budget leftover for things like…macadamia nuts, extra melons, extra berries, more organic produce, and so on.)

We used this to spread on wholewheat pancakes; the idea was to droozle it over the pancakes and raspberries but it came out a little thick for droozling. It would also be a good dipping sauce for a fruit fondue.

Thinned down with a milk alternative it could be a sauce for banana softserve ice cream, though you may have to add more sweetness/cocoa. (Note: in a regular sized food processor you would probably have to double up) It simply consists of:

  • 50g macadamia nuts, whizzed until buttery in your mini chopper (2-3 minutes approximately) and then add:
  • 3 teaspoons honey or liquid sweetener of choice (maple syrup,rice syrup, agave nectar, whatever you use)
  • 2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and whizz until smooth and creamy consistency.

Spread, eat, and rejoice.

Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread

Hooray! A banana bread with no animal fats and NO refined sugar! This is not a banana CAKE, that is very sweet, but it has a subtle natural sweetness. If you like a sweeter touch, spread it with something, we had it with nut butter and a smearing (or smidgin if you prefer…or indeed, a droozle) of honey.

 Thank you very much One Frugal Foodie blogger a.k.a  Alisa Fleming for this recipe, which is being re-posted with her permission.  Alisa founded   www.godairyfree.org  and has a book of delicious dairy-free recipes which you can purchase here (on Amazon; I am not getting any money from any affiliates scheme by the way. I hear the book is great! She has 67 reviews on the US Amazon and 66 are 5 stars, 1 is 4 star) Her original post and recipe is on her blog “One Frugal Foodie” here.

Notes:

  • This is a vegan recipe, it does not use eggs. It is bound with omega-3-rich ground  golden linseeds aka flax seeds, which are available in most large supermarkets and all health food stores. (Of course, if you are not bothered, go ahead and use 1-2 eggs. I used flax seeds here.)
  • Of course, you need your bananas very speckledy and sweet. 3-4, depending on the size. Once mashed they should be about 2 measuring cups full.
  • If you wanted it sweeter by adding some maple syrup or honey for example, I am not sure if you would need to tweak the liquid. I am not much of a baker. If you return to the original recipe link above, the author is really good at responding. I would have thought a couple of Tablespoons of liquid sweetener wouldn’t alter the texture or cooking time much. 

Come, let us bake then.

Pre-heat oven t0 175 C  and grease a  9×5 loaf tin. (I lined it just in case)

Wet ingredients.  Stir, and leave to sit:

  • 2 tablespoons of flax seeds, ground in a spice mill or similar
  • 1/2 cup of milk alternative  (soy, rice, almond, oat etc)

Dry ingredients SIEVE THE FOLLOWING:

  • 2 cups of wholewheat flour (or half wholewheat, half oat)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (not baking powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To your wet ingredients, add:

  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil 
  • 2 cups of mashed, very ripe banana. (3-4 bananas) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract if desired.

Mix well, and then add your dry ingredients. Mix till incorporated but do not over mix.

Pour into your prepared tin, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and resilient to the touch. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Almost burnt, but not. Phew.

And just because it was Friday, and I decided to push my personal proverbial boat out as far as my sugar free banana bread was concerned, I made some macadamia “icing”  by whizzing up 50 grams of mac. nuts until buttery in my mini chopper, and adding 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of honey.Oh MY, it was good. I drizzled away joyfully, and the leftovers, we spread on the sliced bread the next day.The bread seemed to get moister as the days passed, rather than drier (well, only 2 days passed, and it was eatn, but I did notice a difference)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks again to Alisa Fleming, and I do hope you enjoy this recipe.

 

P.S. Oh, did I mention I made this especially for my baked-goods-adoring-sometime-sugar-avoiding-love, and he looked at it sheepishly and said “Sorry, I ate so much pizza while you were out shopping that I almost want to vomit, can I try it tomorrow?”  Seriously. What’s a girl to do?

I am safe to say this, because he never reads my blog. (I know. Shocking. )

(“If you build it, they will come”)…or.. If you grow it, they will eat?

I haven’t planted much this year. I don’t have much room anyway but I try to container plant on my patio, but you know, there is the sandpit aswell, and it gets crowded.  I have noticed though…..kids take such a thrill in growing things and they actually seem more keen to eat veggies because they have grown them!

The first year we grew cherry tomatoes, we grew a really sweet orange variety; the girls both like tomatoes anyway, but it made me smile…the first day we ate some (wow- they were sooo sweet and flavoursome!) Amelia wrote in her diary “Today we at sum tumatos and they wer beter than choklit.”  🙂 

Last year , Amelia again, who is none tooo keen on cucumber (to say the least) carried our first cucumber around the house triumphantly for hours, before I could cut it. She announced she didn’t like cucumber but she would defintely eat some of this one “because it’s OURS”.

They “HATE” onion and garlic but you should have seen their face when I told them that it was one of our onions in the dish they were eating. Smiles all round.

I saw it at my friends house aswell; her four year old son was pulling french beans off the plant and just chomping on them raw. I said “Wow! How does that work?!”  and she replied “You just grow stuff, year after year, and they end up enjoying them. He didn’t use to like them”.

So there we have it. There may be something in it. I think it’s a bit of a spiritual thing, hippy though that may sound. It connects kids to the earth and the source of their food and they start to feel the mother earth love  🙂  For real.  I think I will plant curly kale next year  🙂

Wilted Kale and Avocado salad

You know how they say you should try to eat one of the cruciferous veggies every day? They have been shown to be some of the richest in potent cancer-fighting compounds of all the veggies!

I used to think “How on earth?” I mean, who likes those mean dark green leafy things? And cabbage is nice smothered in mayo I guess, and broccoli is okay, but you cannot eat it every day….”  I don’t actually consciously try to eat these every day…..but since I totally fell in love with eating mainly plants, I eat them a lot more often than I did…and when you up your intake of leaves and vegetables,  and learn different ways to love them, you will probably find you do eat some cruciferous veggies most days.

Kale actually binds with bile acids and accompanies “bad” cholesterol out of the body. That’s what I have been told in several places, and I believe it, because leafy greens are so kick-butt-fantastic! Kale possesses this ability whether raw or cooked, though it seems that when steamed, it binds with the acids in greater quantity. Having said that, when raw, none of the active anti-oxidant compounds or enzymes have been dminished or destroyed by the cooking. In short, balance is good. Eat it both ways, if you wish 🙂 But honestly, it is so good like this!

Okay, I’ll try to be quick. A wilted kale salad is raw kale that has had a nice salty/acidic marinade massaged into it, and left. The leaves wilt down and become more tender.  The acidic element can be vinegar or lemon juice…Don’t forget some salt. It helps the softening of the cell walls.

My favourite Kale and Avocado Salad Ever (one version of it, anyway)

  • 2 very big handfuls of curly kale (thick stems removed)

Massage in, with clean hands:  A good splash of balsamic vinegar, and the juice of a small flavoursome orange. Sea salt, a couple of good pinches. Then add:

  • 2-3 sundried tomatoes, snipped into pieces
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes, chopped into pieces
  • red onion, diced

Leave to wilt down, though really, it’s not necessary as such. If you are in a hurry, make sure your kale is finely chopped, and your marinade well massaged in, and you are good to go. Your final piece, to be added just before serving (so it doesn’t go a horrible, unappetising brown) is:

  • A small avocado, diced (or mashed)

 

 

 

 

Oh my goodness, this is so delicious.

Of course, this is just a salad, so substitute, add or take away whatever you like….but make sure you have an acidic/salty element for your kale leaves, and may I suggest that the avocado is Not Optional, just because it’s so darned tasty, and so good for you. But mainly because it’s tasty.

So how about it? A different topping for your jacket potato, or just as is….Eat leaves, and feel the love.

Bombay Buckwheaties

I found some buckwheat at the back of the cupboard. Obviously I bought it; I just don’t know why I did, as I have never eaten it, and I was not sure what to do with it.

If I was a gardener… and it was autumn…. and I had big empty vegetable plots…I could have planted it as a “green manure”. You sow it all over your beds over winter, and it kind of harvests and fixes nitrogen in your soil, and the spring plants benefit greatly. But wait…let me see… no, no and no, to all of the above. Perhaps one day 🙂

As I was in sprouting mode, I sprouted some…… and….. it was gross. But in case (after that introduction) anyone ever wants to sprout it, the instructions are below.  So anyway, facing this large mug of icky sprouts, I had an idea. I dehydrated them into a Bombay Mix, and, oh yes, it was good. I am trying to save some for my husband but it’s really moreish.

Buckwheat Bombay Mix

  • 1 1/2 cups of baby buckwheat sprouts (see below)
  • 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup date paste or liquid sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 tablespoon soft coconut oil OR  alternative oil plus 1/8 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • If you like spiciness, add something hotter….

Mix well, and dehydrate until crunchy, or failing that, bake at 180 C until golden and toasty. (How many minutes, I do not know, as I dried mine) Another way to dehydrate these is to mix with liquid sweetener like honey, and other nuts, seeds and flavourings of choice, for a granola. (Buckwheat is not related to wheat, and is gluten-free.)

One cup of buckwheat contains over 80mg of magnesium. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow while lowering blood pressure. Rutin and other flavonoid compounds  in buckwheat help maintain blood flow, keep platelets from clotting excessively and protect LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from free radical oxidation into potentially harmful cholesterol build-ups. All these actions help to protect against heart disease.

Wonderful!

 

Sprouting Buckwheat

  • Soak your buckwheat groats overnight.
  • Rinse very well. When soaked, buckwheat groats go kind of slimey. This is totally normal, and all you have to do is rinse and rinse in a sieve until the water runs clear.
  • Once completely clean, drain off all water, and leave your groats, covered.
  • By evening you should see tiny tails emerging; it is very quick to sprout. However, you could rinse very well, and leave one more “cycle”- i.e overnight.
  • In the morning, rinse again, and spread out between paper towel to dry thoroughly. You can refridgerate in a tupperware, or use immediately.

 

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