Pantry item#4…………Pantry staples from scratch

 

pancakes

C’mon! Do we really have to buy pancake mix in one of those unsustainable plastic bottles. Have we really gone down the hill that far, that we are not even able anymore to make a humble pancake!?

When I go shopping it astounds me how many different types of pancake mixes are available these days, not to mentions how many weird ingredients are in there. Here is one ingredient list of a shake and pour pre-fabricated pancake batter:

Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Baking Soda, Defatted Soy Flour, Salt, Dried Egg Whites, Dextrose, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Buttermilk, Tricalcium Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate Monohydrate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Aluminum Sulfate.

Looking at this list of ingredients, I certainly have a few questions.

  1. Why is there sugar added to the mix?
  2. What’s wrong with butter? Why use partially hydrogenated oil? This is trans fat and kills you, just like cigarettes are KNOWN to give you cancer, trans fats are KNOWN to raise your bad cholesterol (1) High cholesterol causes heart disease. Certainly not something I would like to have as a side to my pancakes!  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trans-fat/CL00032
  3. Dried egg whites? What is wrong with using the whole egg? In fact it is the yolk that has the most nutrition and vitamins such as, vitamin D as well as all the other fat soluble vitamins A, E & K and also essential fatty acids. Nutritional bomb, my friend!
  4. Sodium aluminium phosphate (SALP) is a chemical used in food processing. It is synthetically produced from aluminium, phosphoric acid and sodium hydroxide. As a food additive it has the number 541.( ref wikipedia) Doesn’t sound very appetizing to me….
  5. Tricalcium phosphate is a calcium salt of phosphoric acid with the chemical formula Ca3(PO4)2. It is also known as tribasic calcium phosphate and bone phosphate of lime, BPL. Calcium phosphate is one of the main combustion products of bone, see bone ash. In general cases, calcium phosphate is also commonly derived from inorganic sources such as mineral rock.[2] (Ref. wikipedia)

And then there are the other laboratory made chemicals at the end of the list, that in my opinion have no place in the human body. Did it grow on a tree, bush or plant? Maybe originally, before it was altered and processed……?

Well, my pancake mix takes less time to make than the ‘shake and pour’  version of the supermarket. My pancake mix doesn’t come with heart disease, diabetes or obesity, I hope you don’t mind ;-).

  • 200 grams flour
  • 500 ml milk
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together and bake in your frying pan.

These pancakes are crepe like, if you prefer them thicker add less milk as well as a teaspoon of bicarb of soda.

If you are very time poor , I would like to suggest you mix together the dry elements of this mix and store them in plastic containers, ready for use. The only thing to add are the eggs and milk when you are ready to bake!

bon apetit!

 

 

 

Pantry staple #3……….Coconut Butter

Artisana_coconut

 

Just lately in the world of health food a “new” product is being marketed, called Coconut Butter.  Back in the days of my raw food adventures, coconut oil and coconut butter were the same thing. But when I kept seeing these ads for coconut butter,  I realized that this was something different than coconut oil. Really it is a product which I believe has been re-namend and re-marketed. I did some digging and found that it also goes by the name “coconut cream concentrate”, which is the hard layer you will find on the top of your can of coconut cream.

However,  if we are to believe that this indeed is a new and trendy ‘must-have’ item and an impossible one to make at home,  you will be confronted with a price tag that is higher that the tree from which the product  came.

Let me tell you the truth about this trendy coconut butter. All it is?  Shredded coconut blended for a minute or 2 in your high speed blender. That is all there is to it. Absolutely nothing fancy, whatsoever.

What does this cost at the shops, you might want to know? I did some online shopping for you and found several different brands of coconut butter going for around $37.90 a kilo! That is more expensive than coconut oil. Shocking, considering it is an easier process to make the butter than it is to extract the oil from the flesh of the coconut. Go figure….

I made some of this delicious butter the other day in my blender. Once it was creamy I transferred it into an ice cube tray and put it in the fridge where it became really hard. After dinner I popped one out and ate it. It was so satisfying and it literally melted in my mouth. I immediately thought of all sorts of ways for which I could use this incredible ingredient. First thing that came to my mind was of course……CHOCOLATE! I will be experimenting with this as soon as I find some time to do it. I promise I will share with you the things I made. There are many other ways this butter is used. You can put it on your toast or drizzle it on your veggies. You can also cook with it and use it in baking instead of using butter. Or you can just eat it by the spoonful, like I do. It is also an anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Natures anti-biotics!

Here is what it really costs, when made at home.

1 kilo of Organic Coconut Butter = $8.00

Want to know where you can purchase Organic Shredded Coconut for that price? Check out our Whole-foods co-op, in the Hills District NSW.

 

Pantry Item #2….Here is a money saving tip.

freshcoconut3

 

I have been itching to make this for ages and yesterday, when our very first Co-op order arrived, I finally had the chance to do it. I get so excited about real food, it is almost sickening. And when I find a way to make things myself without going to the supermarket, I get even more excited.

I love coconut milk and I buy lots of it in evil BPA lined tin cans from the Aldi. I have found the Aldi one contains the least crap and has the most yummy layer of cream on the top. In fact I use that layer to make whipped coconut cream and even chocolate filling to put in between a macaron or a cake. Oh yeah, I can taste it right now and I am salivating. However, it is not organic and it is in a tin can, lined with BPA and as we all know by now this is toxic, as are many other things……and it is 0.89 cents per 400ml tin. Being Dutch, I like to save money wherever I can. I know ya’ll think the Dutch are tight as anything, I would like to suggest I am frugal. It has a much better ring to it, don’t you agree?

So, when my 10kg bag of the most beautiful organic shredded coconut arrived, I headed to work and made myself some nice coconut milk. And it was quick and it was easy and it was also money saving!

I boiled 1 liter of water and poured it over 2 cups of organic shredded coconut.

I let it sit for 2 hours to cool down and then whizzed it in a high speed blender.

Then it was ready to be strained through a nut bag. The pulp sits in my dehydrator at this very moment and later tonight I will store it in a glass jar. And guess what, it is now coconut flour! Tada! You can of course put the pulp on a tray and chuck in the oven to dry it, if you don’t have a dehydrator. Or you can leave the pulp in the milk, this will create that yummy creamy layer on the top.

Of course I would like to share the math with you:

400ml of home made certified organic coconut milk = 0.53 cents!

If you dry the pulp you have “free” flour as well, which is especially exciting for those who are gluten intolerant and grain free. I remember paying $18.95 a kilo for coconut flour before I started the Organic Whole food Co-op. Thank goodness, those days are over!

To join our co-op, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Pantry staples from scratch…..Food Item #1

 

I promised to show you how to make food,  generally bought ready-made, at home from basic ingredients.

I thought it would be appropriate to start of with breakfast. A recipe I heard of a few years ago revolutionised my life. I know……sounds dramatic, BUT it just created a zing for me in the mornings. And best of all everyone in my household liked it as well, which is always a bonus for mummy.

It’s  a granola recipe created by Cindy O’meara. She is such a gifted lady and has a website called http://changinghabits.com.au/   Absolutely brilliant, so please check out her wisdom as well.

Anyway, back to the recipe. There are only 4 ingredients:

  • Coconut
  • Almond
  • Date
  • Apple (1 whole)

That is it, CADA. All you do is, cut up the apple, dates and the almonds and mix it together with the shredded coconut. If you have a blender or food processor or even better a thermomix, you can use that to do the chopping.

If you feel a little adventurous, you could add some rolled oats as well and roast it for a short time in the oven. You might want to drizzle a mixture of water and honey over the top of it to make the oats crunchy. You can eat this granola with yoghurt.

For me, I eat it as is, for breakfast or a snack. Yum, yum.

 

Save with pantry staples you can simply make yourself.

Have you noticed that buying convenience is a whole lot more expensive than making your own? And have you noticed also that buying these foods can have a detrimental effect on your health and the health of your family?

Yes, it is easy to go to the shop and buy a box of A, B or C, but is it really beneficial to our lives and health? Would it not be a wonderful thing to pass down some basic life skills, such as cooking,  on to the next generation? It is such a tragedy, that some of today’s kids and even their parents struggle with sickness and obesity, simply because we have been led to believe that buying box A, B or C is easier, more convenient and not an unhealthy option.

It might be easier to open up a box or buy a cake mix from the store but at the end of the day it does not teach our children anything other than, “food is not important for our bodies” and “We must spend more time on activities and work, than on keeping our bodies healthy” and “If we are sick, we will buy another box from the chemist to fix us quickly” (but makes us sicker in the long run).

I wonder how we ever got into such a mess? Even with the economic climate we find ourselves in today, many of us still spend a lot of money on convenience foods rather than on basic ingredients to make these staples at home. The amount of debt that the average Australian carries is a very daunting statistic. And with a high rate of mortgage foreclosures in my area,  I wonder what can be done to teach parents and children the basic life skills of healthy home cooking.

Healthy home cooking certainly does not need to be expensive at all, I believe I spent less on my monthly budget than the average family in Sydney. We have a family of 5 and spend around $600-$700 a month on food.

The majority of the food we eat is organic and delivered to our house. I used to be part of this wonderful co-op for quite a while as you may have read in my previous post, but when I got sicker I decided to go onto an organic diet to heal myself. I changed from spending $50 a week on fruit and veggies to $90 a week on organic fruit and veggies.

We spend around $180 on organic beef every 3 months. I am really stretching that meat as far as I can. Some weeks we eat no more than 1 kilo of beef a week, shared between 5 people! But it is worth the stretch. And truth be told, our bodies don’t need anymore meat than that to function at it’s peak, no matter how much the man of the house thinks he needs it!

I also receive lots of bones from these organic cows from which I make delicious soups and stocks. This is an excellent and very frugal way to prepare nutritious dense foods. I purchase around 2 kilos of organic chicken carcasses for $12 to make stock with. Again, nutritious dense food for less. Stocks these days are mainly purchased in a carton or a can a cube or powder form. But when the butcher cuts all the meat of the chicken carcasses, he has no purpose for the carcass which to him is a waste product. To me it is real food, which I turn into golden liquid to strengthen my families bodies!

We used to spend $15 a week on raw milk and made kefir and yoghurt with it, unfortunately I no longer drink milk and have decided to deprive my whole family of it as well. I now make Almond milk for my smoothies instead or coconut milk, which I am experimenting to turn into yoghurt!

In the next few weeks I will share with you a few food items I make from scratch. These items are almost always bought in boxes, jars or cans from the supermarket. If you only had these basic ingredients in your cupboard you can make anything you desire……..well almost!

So, stay with me and learn some nifty tricks, to keep you away from the dangers of additives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow cooked Beef Bolognese Sauce

By now, I hope you have fallen in love with your slow cooker too. The following recipe is most loved by my daughter who happily scoops up seconds and thirds and she’s only 5!

This is my way of making the humble Bolognese sauce, which I use in 3 ways. 1 night for pasta, 1 night for lasagna and 1 night for soup! If you want to cook enough to do that too, please double or even triple the recipe.

Beef Bolognese

  • 1 kilo of grass fed beef mince
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tsp of your favourite combination of Italian herbs
  • 1 capsicum, any colour, diced
  • 3 carrots or so, diced or grated
  • a zucchini if you have one, grated
  • any other vegetable you want to hide, grated
  • 200ml red wine/white wine
  • 500ml beef/chicken stock
  • 1 can of tomato puree (or home made see recipe pizza sauce)
  • salt/pepper

If you feel like it, feel free to saute the mince, onion, garlic, and Italian herbs. Once sauteed place them into the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients.

Cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Serve with pasta or quinoa.

Sometimes I just chuck everything into the slow cooker without sauteing and browning the meat first. It turns out fine and it is a real time saver if you are in a rush.

Chai latte in your slow cooker

Here is a Chai Latte recipe for in your slow cooker!!  I make this around Christmas time, but you could make any time of the year, of course. Many people adore a lushious Chai Latte and when they order one at the coffee shop I am always surprised that it is made from some dubious dried and sickly sweet powder. Probably full of additives not so healthy for our bodies?? Here is a wholesome recipe.

 

Chai Latte

  • 8 cups of water
  • 8 black tea bags
  • 1/2 cup of rapadura sugar (this is unrefined and unprocessed sugar) feel free to use xylitol or stevia or any other type of wholesome sweetener adjust amount accordingly.
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 16 cardamom seeds
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Combine water, tea bags, sweetener, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon sticks and ginger in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 2-2 1/2 hours.
  2. Strain the mixture and discard the solids. At this point you can keep the tea refrigerated for 3 days.
  3. Stir in the milk just before serving.

 

 

 

Slow Cooked Beef Roast

When I make a roast I prefer to do it the slow cooker. It minimises the change of me burning it and it stays incredibly moist. Win, win!

Beef roast

  • 2-3 potatoes
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 kg roasting beef
  • 1/2 cup of water or beef stock, or white or red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • any herbs you might desire
  1. Cut the veggies into slices and place at the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper, then place on top of the veggies.
  3. Add water or stock, red or white wine and extra seasoning to taste.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours for well done meat, 6-7 hours for medium. or on high for 5-6 hours.