Category: In the kitchen

Grain free Banana Choc-Chip Muffins

 

When I was forced to give up grains and coffee, I thought I would not make it! I am Dutch after all and this is what the Dutch love the most, bread and coffee.

Luckily, I did make it and I came out the other end a whole lot happier and healthier.

Grains make you gain a lot of unnecessary weight, hence the reason farmers feed them to their cows to fatten them up before slaughter!! Interesting…… I am glad to say, we eat grass fed beef for a whole lot of other reasons, but I will have to leave that for another post, another time.

I have been on quite a creative journey trying to healthily substitute my bread and muffins and other snacks. We don’t consume refined sugar in this house, because I regard it as drugs. In fact it is often quoted as it being “the drugs of the food industry”. It is significantly more addictive than cocaine! So why, would I want to get my beautiful children hooked on it??

I have been able to create some delicious muffins and I am excited to share the recipe here with you. My mother-in-law visited us the other day and she really enjoyed these muffins too. I know that she is looking forward to the recipe 😉

Banana Chocolate Muffins (I made 17, but it depends on the size of your tins)

 

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil/butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup choc chips

 

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C and grease some muffin tins.

In a bowl mix the melted coconut oil, honey and vanilla.

Add the eggs and whisk well. Now add the cocoa, the cinnamon and the coconut flour. Whisk until well combined.

Then add bananas and choc chips.

Feel free to use a food processor for mixing, it will be a lot quicker and easier to do.

Pour the mixture into a greased muffin tin and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

If you can avoid it, do not use the microwave to melt the coconut oil/butter, it really defeats the purpose of using such a healthy oil.

 

 

 

 

Flaxseed crackers

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When I started on my grain free diet in order to heal my digestive tract, I also started to make some new foods to replace the grains I could no longer consume.

Was that a bad thing? NO!

Here is is my recipe for delicious crispy flax seed crackers.

  • 500 grams of flax seeds soaked in water for at least an hour

  • a handful of sunflower seeds, almond flour, pepitas. This is optional.

  • salt to taste or a tablespoon of homemade vegetable stock concentrate

If you juice you can also add the left over pulp the juicer spits out. Add them in for extra fiber. I add pulp from:

  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Red cabbage
  • Apple
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato

Be creative!

You can also make one with banana, prunes, dates, figs, vanilla, honey and cinnamon. Real exotic!

Your flax seeds have soaked for at least an hour and are now very gelatinous. This is what makes the cracker stick together. If there is any leftover water on the flax seeds, drain it. Often, though, this is not necessary.

In a food processor combine all ingredients and whiz until well combined. This might take a minute or so. Then spread your mixture onto a dehydrator sheet, no thicker than 1 cm. Dehydrate for around 18 hours. Make sure you flip them over, so the other side dries also!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you might be able to do it in the oven at a higher temperature, for a shorter amount of time.

Play with it, there are no hard and fast rules.

A word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry – part 3

Now that we have established the shopping basics and the kitchen appliances that I think are useful in any kitchen, I will go ahead and share with you some foods we see often on the menu in our house.

I have a variety of recipes I always use. They are our family favourites and if you are ever invited to dine with us you will definitely be treated to one of the best beef curries in town. Ultimately, you will have to make your own list of favourite things to cook, I can’t help you with that…..but I can tell you what we cook often.

  • I  make my own soups from my homemade stocks, see recipe here. Soup is such an easy meal to make,  it is so versatile that you will never have to eat the same soup. When I make a really large batch of bolognese sauce I will turn the left overs into soup by adding a few cups of my chicken stock and vegetable stock into the sauce. If you serve this soup with some crusty home made french bread, you will be truly satisfied. You will love cooking soups in your slow cooker, it’s easy and so yummy.
  • That brings me to my next thing, baking bread. When you think of baking bread, you might well think that it is impossible to do this at home. Well, it isn’t,  in fact it is so easy that I do it almost all the time. I not only bake bread, but also make English muffins and waffles. They are even easier to make and quicker. I have a easy recipe for bread right here. It requires little of your time, if you are working full time it is still possible to do this method of baking.
  • I also always make my own yoghurt. It is the easiest thing you will ever do and it really saves you a lot of cash. Yoghurt in this country is seriously overpriced for whatever reason, I don’t know. But I have started to make my own, since we use it in smoothies everyday or for breakfast with muesli.
  • Every morning my beautiful husband makes all of us a breakfast smoothie (this is were a blender comes in handy). The basic recipe is: yoghurt, kefir, banana, oats, almonds, flaxseed oil, LSA mix and honey. He will add different fruits everyday to keep it exciting. But the basic recipe stays the same.
  • We eat meat maybe 3x a week and often in a casserole or pasta sauce. When making pasta sauce I will make enough to also use it for a lasagna and to make soup. I will always add sprouted lentils and beans to the sauce for extra nutrition.

Of course there will be other things I also cook, but I guess these items will be eaten on a weekly basis. It keeps my life simple and my budget at a reasonable limit. I hope this post may have inspired you to do some more cooking from scratch. You can be as creative as you want to be or just keep it plain and simple.

Happy cooking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry – part 2

As promised, part 2 of the topic “wisdom from my kitchen pantry”.

Previously we discussed the principle of buying in bulk, online and direct from the farmer. This really helps not only your wallet, but it also supports the local farmers who work so hard to make a living. So, now that we have stocked our pantry, what do I do with all this food????

Here is a list of kitchen equipment i use for food preparation, I simply can’t live without them:

I have had my slow cooker for many years now. I bought it when we had our first child. It made life so much easier. You simply throw a whole bunch of ingredients in there, let it cook for 8 or so hours and away you go. BRILLIANT invention. It makes so much, that you can freeze half for the following weeks menu. AWESOME!

My Thermomix entered our family about 18 months ago. This machine is capable of anything. If you don’t believe me google it. In my Thermomix I make yoghurt, for example,  or ice cream. I knead all my bread dough in it too. Every morning we make smoothies in it. And at night I cook a meal in it. If you don’t have a Thermomix, don’t worry, you can get a lot of use out of a blender or food processor. I do believe that 1 of those items is a must in a healthy kitchen.

Of course we all have an oven! I hope…..I almost use it daily for baking. Or to keep my culturing yoghurt warm.

So, if you have access to those 3 items, than you have a very well equipped kitchen.

In the last part of this topic I will share with you a few meals we like to enjoy with our pantry items. Stay tuned!

 

 

A word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry – part 1

I promised you in my last post a word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry. I hope that all you ladies have enjoyed my previous post in regards to the laundry room and that you have been able to implement some of those ideas into your own laundry-life.

Today I will share with you, in part 1 of this topic,  how I manage my kitchen, my food supply and how this might lower your household budget.

I really need to stress the point, that in our house we have decided a long time ago to live healthy by making healthy food choices. This can look very different in your life as there are so many different ways in which a healthy lifestyle can be defined.

A healthy lifestyle for us pretty much looks like this:

  • No processed foods
  • No refined sugar
  • No additives

For me that makes buying food real easy, because everything I buy will be a basic ingredient or fresh produce. I cook everything from scratch with the advantage of knowing what is in the food that I feed my family.

Alright, having said that, here is how I shop:

  • I shop once a month for all my non-perishables, such as canned tomatoes, coconut milk, dried beans etc.
  • I buy in bulk,  all flours, oats, seeds and spices
  • I am part of a fruit and vegetable co-op
  • I buy fresh milk once a week from the farm
  • I buy meat every 3 months from a cattle farmer
  • And, once my chicken starts laying (aaargh) I will have access to free eggs

Have you noticed how I have not set foot in Coles or Woollies? Most of my ingredients I buy come from online independent stores. Some of them even offer free postage. By not shopping at the supermarket, you will never be tempted by their clever marketing ploys to influence you into buy more than you need and buying foods you don’t need. You will also be voting with your wallet and showing support to the little guys by shopping elsewhere.

There are several online spice stores, here is a list:

For meat I go to:

With our grocery budget we have to feed 5 people. I try to stay under $160 a week. If you don’t care about organic grass fed meat or healthy alternative natural sweeteners, than you can even do it for less. $115 is allocated to meat, fruit and vegetables. The rest is spent on flour, dairy, beans, natural sweeteners etc.

Now that you know my shopping habit, I hope I have inspired you into looking at grocery shopping from a different perspective. I know, not all of you will be able to employ this way of buying, simply because you are on your own, perhaps you have only a small family and buying bulk is not an option. Can I just suggest to you, the idea of buying bulk with friends?

In part 2 I will explain a few things about the appliances I have a love relationship with and help me be an effective cook.

 

 

 

 

 

The perfect crust……EVERY time!

A deliciously easy home made breakfast. Yoghurt, granola and bread.

 

Before kids,  I would always laugh at these mums who would bake muffins and scones for their morning tea parties or for the school canteen. In my opinion there were better things to do than bake your own goods, it was too fifties housewife for me…..mind you I was in my mid twenties at the time, so you can forgive me for thinking this.

Nowadays, I loathe at the thought of having to hop in the car, kids in tow, to buy a set of scones from the bakery for an exorbitant amount of money. Really, it is only milk, flour and butter. Who doesn’t have those items in the pantry?? Truth be told, before kids I didn’t have flour in my cupboard, EVER, because I simply didn’t know what to do with it. Now I do, I buy 25 kilo bags of flour and I bake everything myself from bread to cinnamon scrolls and English muffins. No scones, just not a huge fan ;-). Oh and I still don’t bake for the school canteen either! 😉

Let me share with you the easiest method of baking bread. I read it in a book called “Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day”. Before reading this book I had been making bread for a while and although I have a very powerful kneading machine, I still found it laborious having to make the dough daily and letting it rise. It was taking up to much time for me. So in this book I read that you can make an entire batch of dough, enough for 8 loaves and leave it in the fridge for at least 10 days. How BRILLIANT!

So here is the recipe, feel free to half it. This recipe makes 8 loaves.

  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp of yeast OR 3 cups of sourdough starter
  • 13 cups of bakers flour

You can mix your flours (no need to knead), for example 8 cups of wholemeal and 5 cups of white bakers flour. Or you can do 7 cups wholemeal, 5 cups white and 1 cup of seeds and grains. It is really flexible and this recipe works with your tastes and preferences.

In a big bowl mix all ingredients together, give it a 45 minute rise and then put in in the fridge. When you want to bake a loaf you remove a ball of dough from the container. Be warned, the dough is sticky, so make sure to sprinkle it with flour before you try to take it out of the container. Shape the dough in a boulle shape (round) or in any other shape you want. When baking, put the loaf on a floured baking stone in a 180C oven for 30 minutes or so. For the perfect crumb and crust, place a bowl of water in the oven with the bread. The steam will work wonders.

Let me know how you go. x

 

Freedom from these chains

For about 2 years now, as a family we have been trying to get away from the “duopoly” of Australian supermarket chains. No need to mention the names of these 2 giants who are trying to take over the entire market and your life and squeezing the last life out of the little guys who are trying to make an honest living.

So, with this in mind I started our journey to freedom from these chains (pun intended). Along the way I have learned everything from how to make butter with fresh milk from the farmer, to how to make my own bread without using a prepackaged yeast, to making our own toothpaste.

Over the next few posts, I will help you in your journey to freedom from these chains.

The first thing you might want to consider is looking for, or organizing your own co-op. A co-op or cooperative is a group of people who work together to receive mutual benefits through a joint purchase of bulk goods. In this case I am talking about buying fruit and vegetables directly from the farmers or the market garden (e.g Flemington Markets in Sydney).

I am part of a co-op that organizes a box of fruit and veggies every fortnight for cost price. We can do this because it comes straight from the farmer or the market and the produce is bought in bulk. You, as a co-op are entitled to bulk or wholesale prices, which keeps more dollars in your wallet and fresher food in your tummy.

Our co-op also donates $5 of each box to build wells in Cambodia, which I love about our co-op, because it makes a large difference in someone else’s life and not a large profit in Mr. Coles’ pocket.

So, it’s easy to get started. Simply get some friends, family or neighbours together, find your local farmer or market and share the duties of picking up the produce each week or fortnight. You will see the difference in your grocery budget and eat seasonal food (instead of 12 month old apples from China).

Summary of all the benefits of joining a co-op

  • It builds community
  • You will eat fresh food in season
  • Supports your local growers
  • Reduces your carbon foot print
  • Saves money

So, what are you waiting for?

 

 

What is brewing???

Over the years I have been learning many things about healthy eating, health foods and the benefits of them. I was very blessed to grow up in a family who believed that sweets, lollies and sugar were never a good thing. We also did not have a fast food restaurant anywhere near to us, so luckily I did not experience any of those foods as a child and never got addicted to them. However, I was not taught why these foods were not such a great idea so I decided to find out for myself. On my journey in finding the truth about food and well being I have come across many amazing and eye opening things that were new to me and helpful for the well being of my husband and children, one of them being raw foods. But I have also found out some really ugly truth about the food industry as well as the “health industry”.  I will share some of those things here on my blog as I am very passionate about that. Today I will share with you about fermenting your food and in particularly; KEFIR.

Milk Kefir, Water Kefir, Kombucha

Only recently have I learned about fermenting of foods and how wonderful it is for your digestive system to receive foods that have been fermented. The funny thing is, that having been born in Holland, sauerkraut was a staple in our diet! I never knew how healthy it was.

There are many reasons why you should ferment food, one is because they are full of beneficial bacteria to replenish your gut. According to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine “all disease begins in the gut”, therefore it is so very important to make sure that we have enough healthy bacteria to keep us strong to fight off disease.  In a world where many of us are prescribed antibiotics for whatever reason,  I strongly believe that fermented foods need to be an important part of your diet, since they restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut.

Raw and fermented foods are also rich in enzymes. We need enzymes to digest our food properly according to the  Food Renegade blog. Unfortunately most of us consume not nearly enough raw foods, such as salads, raw vegetables and fruits to make sure that we have enough enzymes to digest our foods. As you get older your enzymes decrease also, so it is critical to make sure that you ingest enough enzyme rich food to help you digest properly. Why, you might ask? Simply because our body needs all nutrients in our food and when it is not digested properly our bodies will not absorb all the goodness it needs in order to function at its best.

According to ubernatural.com

A healthy gut has 3 prime functions…

  1. digestion of food
  2. absorption, manufacture and distribution of nutrients
  3. prevention of toxins from entering the body.

So what do I ferment? The easiest thing to ferment is milk. I use milk Kefir grains to turn milk into Kefir.

Kefir is rich in beneficial bacteria. It has over 40 different strains of good bacteria. One glass is equivalent to consuming one bottle of pro biotics!!

This is how you make it:

To make Kefir all you need is the grains and milk. Best way to get the grains is from a friend. This how I got mine. If you don’t have a friend with grains, then you can purchase them online. Make sure they are live grains which you can use over and over again. Do not ever fall for the “maintenance free Kefir cultures” These are adapted and do not contain far as many strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast as the real thing. Besides, you can only use these kinds of cultures once, whereas, your grains can be passed down from generation to generation.

You add the milk to the grains and let it sit in a glass bottle for 24-48 hours (this is where the magic happens) before straining the grains out of the milk. The milk does not go off, instead, fermentation of the lactose yields a sour, carbonated, slightly alcoholic beverage, with a consistency similar to thin yoghurt. I use it in a smoothie with banana and honey. Sometimes I add berries. Super delicious and my children love it!

I  have started a batch of water kefir and a batch of Kombucha this morning. I will talk about these another time, because I only just received these in the mail and want to see if it will work out desirably, before I start raving about it…..;-).

Here I added to the Kefir some orange juice (freshly squeezed, cos I love it.), almonds and berries. See, the options are endless, so have some fun with it.

If you want more information, Yemoos is a great website where you will find an answer to most of your questions.