Organic CocoBerry Mini Muffins – Gluten, Dairy & Guilt Free

The world has gone nuts for coconuts. Coconut oil for salad dressing, coconut flesh as ice cream, the list goes on. Here in Australia, the organic/raw/super healthy way of eating is fairly new. Not new new but it hasn’t quite taken off as it has in Europe and America. Over the last few years, I have grazed with this way of eating but not quite taken a big chunk of it by dedicating our whole life to it. The other day when when my three year old asked for a snack (probably the upteenth time that day) I realised I have been giving a mixture of healthy (rice crackers) and not so healthy (processed cheese) when I could take control, put in extra effort and make it all as healthy as possible. So I felt guilty.

The next day at the grocery store, I decided to buy ingredients to make guilt free snacks for Ava that she can eat without anyone feeling guilty about it. I was looking for spelt flour as she had had it in quiches and quite liked it. But instead I found something more exciting… Organic Road Coconut flour (I love it when you can find organic at the supermarket).

Armed with the mighty coconut flour and a new found confidence, I googled several recipes that incorporated these assets. Many of the ones I found were either too complicated or time consuming. With a toddler and a baby, I do not have the luxury of time. So I constructed my own recipe, made them dairy free, and named these CocoBerry Muffins.

I don’t usually brag about my cooking, but husband and daughter chowed them down.. And I was so pleasantly humbled when a few of my friends (some of them super health nuts) asked for the recipe after seeing the photos on FaceBook. So here it is, I hope it works for you and your family. It is certainly a great feeling being able to offer my daughter such a guilt free, homemade snack!

CocoBerry Muffins
(Makes about 9 cupcake sized muffins)

Preheat oven to 175’C
Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases or pre-cut square baking paper

1/2c organic coconut flour
1/4tsp baking powder
Sprinkle of sea salt

1/3c melted organic coco oil or olive oil
1/2c maple syrup/honey (couldn’t decide so I mixed the two!)
4 eggs at room temperature
1tbs rice milk
1tbs vanilla extract

1c chopped fresh strawberries

Mix together the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients.
Mix really well, in either a stand or hand mixer.
Fold in strawberries and divide into cases.

Bake for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Smells amazing even before it went in the oven!

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Sprinkles are optional!

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Going down the Organic Road

LoveS

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The “I’m No Longer Pregnant” Diet

I’ve never been one to follow a diet. Umm not.. that’s not totally true.. Who hasn’t at one point in their life? Whether it is eating to lose weight, to gain weight or to detox, we all have made food choices that were right (or wrong) for us at that point in time.

The last “real diet” I was on ended in my late teens. Back then, in the middle of squeezing excess oil out of my french fry and sipping diet tea (read mild laxative) as I awkwardly walk around the supermarket, my hormones finally stabilized and I was becoming a real life grown up woman. After a couple of years recovering from all this I found a love affair with good food. No more Big Macs per se, hello pan seared salmon on a bed of truffle risotto with a side of crunchy green beans and glass of Pinot. Truth be told, I had replaced junk food with a somewhat lesser evil – rich, creamy, real food.. and a teeny bit of alcohol!

Thankfully my body adapted well to this lifestyle of eating. Having good food at a fine dining restaurant inspired me to eat better at home. Welcoming my 20s meant welcoming a lighter, more nutritionally educated me. I have since managed to stick to this lighter weight which is around 13kg less than at my heaviest.

During both pregnancies, I put on ” the maximum healthy gain” of 14-16kg. During my first, I did everything right – kept my fruit and fibre intake, saying no to tea, and since I do not eat red meat, I kept my protein and iron intake regularly. And I had no appetite for wine months after I gave birth. If you read one of my previous posts, I was also dedicated to my pilates.

Surprisingly, I was not so strict with myself this time round. I was extremely relaxed with everything and barely exercised. Although the same craving for chocolate was there, the weight gain was the same. So why do I feel like I need to go on a diet now?

Brownie vs Organic Produce

Brownie vs Organic Produce

I believe letting ourselves go once in a blue moon is great as long as your mindset is set true to your intentions. The fact that I was so relaxed during my second pregnancy set a precedence of relaxed eating. The past several months I had subconsciously conditioned my mind into thinking it was okay to eat as I pleased as I was pregnant. This mindset has obviously been carried forward post-birth. As I was not strict with myself, perhaps I am now feeling the guilt and need to fit back into my skinny jeans. But the “I’m no longer pregnant” diet is more of a mantra than a physical need to starve myself. I love food too much for that! But when I crave a caramel slice or reach out for a second serve of pasta.. I remind myself that “I’m no longer pregnant” and I’ll cut down my serving. I must say.. so far it is working a treat (no pun intended). I even have my husband say it to me when I’m feeling swayed toward my pregnancy days.

Life is meant to be enjoyed, no matter how hectic it gets. For me, food is meant to be enjoyed.. just have the naughty treats in moderation! There will be no more Snickers ice cream for me for now. I’m not craving it, I don’t need it and I’m sure it will still be around when I’m ready for some.

Now to work on toning my mummy tummy…

LoveS

Pregnancy craving #3: Coconut

This is hands down the easiest and yummiest loaf you will ever make. EVER! If you have an easier loaf recipe, please share!

Sticky Pear and Coconut Loaf

1 ripe pear, peeled and sliced into chunks
1c desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
1c white sugar (I tend to take a little bit out when baking for my toddler)
1c self raising flour, sifted
1 1/2c milk

Preheat oven to 170C.

Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.

Mix coconut, sugar and flour in a large bowl.
Pour in the milk and stir until well combined.
Gently fold the pear into the mixture and transfer into prepared pan.
Sprinkle with extra coconut.
Give the pan a couple of taps on kitchen bench and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

This loaf is beautiful served as is with a cup of tea, or with a spread of butter for extra naughtiness.

LoveS

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Pregnancy Craving #2 : GINGER

Well this is a craving I would welcome anytime! I certainly did not have ginger cravings with pregnancy number one.. definitely could not be better! As we all know, ginger has a myriad of health and pregnancy benefits. Ginger is a good fighter of nausea and morning sickness, and is a proven remedy for upset tummies. Ginger also contain zinc to assist in blood flow and improve skin clarity.

I tend to use ginger in soup broths, add some to my home made dumplings, or finely shred them into a stir fry. So full of flavour and goodness!

Here are some easy ginger recipes. They are all packed with protein, fiber and really nailed my craving! Pregnant or not, do give them a go!

Ginger Tea

Add a thick slice of peeled ginger to a drinking cup of fresh boiled water. Let it brew for a few minutes (depending on how strong you like it). If you wish, add a squirt of honey and/or lemon for a natural way to combat colds and flu!

Ginger and Honey Chicken Stir-Fry

200g sliced chicken breast
100g sugar snap peas
100g cauliflower florettes
Vegetable oil
1 finely diced onion
1 clove garlic
5cm piece of finely shredded ginger

Sauce:
50ml honey
2tsp sesame oil
1Tbs dark soy sauce
1tsp cornstarch, diluted with 2tsp water
60ml chicken or vegetable stock

*You can use other vegetables such as corn, broccoli or bell peppers.

Heat vegetable oil in wok or large skillet and cook chicken in batches until brown. Remove and set aside.

To make the sauce – combine diluted cornstarch with stock. Add honey, sesame oil and soy sauce and stir well.

In the same skillet, heat a bit more oil and slightly brown the onion. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes. Put the chicken back in to the skillet and stir in the sauce. Add the vegetables and cover for 1-2 minutes.

Serve with rice, and garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Chicken and Egg Donburi with Ginger

200g cubed chicken breast
1c chicken or vegetable stock
1 finely sliced onion
3cm piece of finely shredded ginger
2Tbs sugar
60ml Kikkoman soy sauce
50ml mirin or Chinese cooking wine (optional)
100g corn kernels
100g broccoli florets
50g shiitake or button mushrooms
2 eggs, whisked

Combine stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan. Heat on low until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, stir in the onions and ginger and the chicken. Reduce the heat again, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and cook (covered) for a further 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and slowly pour into the pot, over the entire mixture. Cover again and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Ps.. this dish is very popular with my 2 year old. We would often make it for lunch and have left over for her dinner that night.

Asian Broth with Ginger (serve with meat, vegetable and/or noodles)

1L good quality stock
3cm piece of sliced ginger
5 coriander roots
3Tbs Kikkoman soy sauce
3Tbs oyster sauce
A good dash of fish sauce
A good dash of Chinese cooking wine (optional)
1tsp of sugar

Combine stock, ginger and coriander roots in a pot, bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a further 3 minutes. Strain into another pot and add your vegetables or finely cubed meat, or simply ladle over cooked noodles.

Serve with fresh chilli, spring onion, coriander leaves and/or a squeeze of lime!

Chicken Egg & Ginger Donburi

Chicken Egg & Ginger Donburi

LoveS

Super Simple Choco Brownie. Pregnancy Craving #1.

So.. it has been a couple of weeks since my last blog. I have a good reason though – we are pregnant again! It’s been an interesting few weeks, figuring out the similarities and differences between my 2 pregnancies. Like the first, I crave chocolate and sweets even though I’m not a massive chocolate eater. Unlike the first, I am feeling tired ALL THE TIME! And hungry and thirsty constantly. Well, any excuse for an afternoon nap or snack I say!

Here is a foolproof super easy brownie of mine. It is so foolproof that I once left it in the oven too long and it still came out moist on the inside!

Super Simple Choco Brownie

125g butter at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
1cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2cup good quality cocoa powder (preferably one without added sugar), sifted
1/2cup plain flour, sifted
50g slivered almonds (optional)

*Sifting is optional but it does give a smoother result

Pre-heat oven to 170C. Grease and line a brownie pan or large, rectangular oven dish.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and slowly add eggs. Mix thoroughly then fold in the cocoa, flour and nuts and combine well.

Transfer into pre-prepared pan and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.

Allow brownie to cool in pan before cutting them into squares.

Especially yummy served warm with vanilla ice cream!

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Smells amazing!

Smells amazing!

photo 3LoveS

Simplest Strawberry Trifle

I LOVE strawberries. Who doesn’t! My little one can eat them by the punnet and so can I! Besides the many nutritional benefits of a strawberry, this pretty red fruit has also sentimental benefits. Just one look and my mind reverts back to being a little girl, wearing a pretty dress, chewing on this sweet  juicy fruit.. It might be the colour or it might be the taste but one look and it simply makes me feel good holistically!

Did you know that 8 raw strawberries make up around 20% of the recommended folate intake – especially good for pregnant women. It is also said that if you rub sliced strawberries onto your teeth and leave them on for a while, it can whiten teeth and remove tartar.

In Australia, strawberry season has just started. Hooray! The other day at the grocery store I probably bought a few too many punnets.. I mean we use them as topping on our porridge, morning/afternoon snacks, dessert with yoghurt.. So I went a little nuts. This morning I decided to whip up a wholesome dessert using these lovely ripe strawberries.

A trifle is the simplest form of dessert. And if you use store-bought ingredients, you don’t even have to cook anything! Best of all, you can add all sorts of things into a trifle. Whatever you feel like! In this instance I decided to use what’s in my pantry, a sponge cake I baked yesterday and jelly that was calling out to be made. With hubby being a health nut, I also had to make sure it wouldn’t be too naughty!

Simplest Strawberry Trifle

6-8 strawberries, sliced
Sponge cake, cut into squares or sponge fingers
Strawberry jelly
Good quality custard

Put a thin layer of custard on the bottom of your trifle bowl (or large bowl if you haven’t got one).
Pour custard into a medium sized bowl and dip each sponge cake/finger into it.
Arrange the sponge cake tightly around the trifle bowl and drizzle more custard on top.
Add jelly all over and a layer of strawberry.
Repeat until you have a desired height or until you run out of ingredients!
Finish with the strawberry slices on top.
Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until the flavours meld together and the sponge has absorbed the strawberry juices.
Serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar and/or vanilla ice cream.
YUM!

Strawberry Trifle!

LoveS

A Calm Mum’s Must-Try Toddler Recipes

You may own myriads of recipes already, passed down through family members, or archived from multiple different sources. There are so many out there, and if I could, I’d try them all! However, not only can making toddler meals be time consuming, it can be disappointing when bub doesn’t like it after all the trouble you’ve gone through!

As referred to in my last post, mealtimes can be smooth sailing when you know how (probably more important than what bub likes) your toddler likes his food.  In most cases, bub will enjoy his food better when mushy or saucy. The following recipes are helpful for the transition from toddler meals to adult meals. You know.. that period when you’re short on time and wish bub can eat chicken tikka masala with the rest of the family!

I try to buy organic where I can but if not, these meals are still be jam-packed with nutrition… and are pretty much one-pot-freeze-able-wonders. But best of all, bub will love them!

Risoni in Veggie Broth

3/4 cup risoni
1/2 zucchini, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
50g sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
500ml water
1tsp good quality stock (Vegetable or Chicken)
Sprinkle of parsley

Method

Cook risoni in a pot of boiling water for 10-11 minutes

In another pot, cover zucchini and sweet potato with water and bring to boil. Cook until tender – cubes should fall apart with the press of a fork. Lower heat. Do not drain – the water is part of the nutrition!

Drain risoni and add to the cooked pot of veggies. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine and gently smash the vegetables (watch out for spatter!)

Stir in stock, parsley and a splash of water if required. The consistency should be soft, chunky with a bit of broth. Cool thoroughly prior to serving.

Easy Tuna Tomato Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
90g canned tuna in spring water, drained
1/2 onion
1 clove crushed garlic
200g chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
50g frozen corn kernels
50g frozen peas or fresh broccoli
500ml vegetable stock (or water), heated
1tsp olive oil
1/2tsp butter
Sprinkle of oregano
Parmesan for sprinkling

Method

Heat olive oil and butter in a saucepan. Cook onions and garlic until soft. Add rice and stir to coat each grain. Add stock and cover. Cook for 12 minutes, but check after 10. Stir well and add more stock if required.

Once cooked, stir in the chopped tomatoes, corn and peas. Cook for a further 2-4 minutes, until veggies are soft. Stir in tuna and oregano and heat through.

You may wish to mash up the risotto if bub is a young toddler.

Serve with parmesan.

There you go – a couple of easy, nutritious meals for bub that’s yummy enough for the whole family and easy enough to whip up! Hope you enjoy them.

LoveS