I’m quitting sugar

… for lent.imageWhich is why yesterday this donut happened and it was delicious.

It’s not the first time I’ve given sugar the flick. Back in 2012 I successfully stopped eating the sweet stuff after the whole acute hepatitis episode.

Since then I generally try and keep it to a minimum, and although I don’t think I eat that much- certianly less than your average Aussie- I have noticed myself allowing more of it to sneak in recently.

So when one of my cousins mentioned that she’d given up added sugar for Feb Fast, and reminded us that lent started this week I was inspired. Sugar be gone! The fact that I nearly made myself I’ll on the stuff this past weekend probably helped.

I won’t be following the IQS (or any other) program, instead just going with the flow and being mindful about what goes in my mouth.

There is a good chance the next 40 days will include a fair amount of peanut butter… Wish me luck!

Just. Eat. Real. Food

BreakfastA couple of weeks ago I started my second Whole 30.

My first attempt happened in 2013 when the BF and I arrived home from Europe with a couple of extra (gelato and french pastry fuelled) kilos hanging around.

The basic premise is 30 days (or more if you need them) of strict eating. No grains. No dairy. No sugar. No legumes. No booze. No treats. Nothing processed. Just meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs and nut, pretty much. It sounds super daunting at first, but it doesn’t take long to get into a rhythm with it.

This time around I made it two weeks before it was Valentine’s weekend, on which I had a Hen’s night and a baby free lunch with all of the women from my mother’s group. Both of which saw me indulge in pretty much everything on the NO list. And I regret nothing- well maybe that cocktail after three glasses of sparkling…

The delicious debauchery was a two night stand only… and as of this morning I am back on the wagon. But not quite the Whole 30 wagon.

While out walking this morning I got to thinking that maybe the Whole 30 wasn’t quite right for me. I enjoy it, absolutely, but if I ate good food all the time then wouldn’t I feel good all the time? Why limit it to a month here and there?

Why indeed!?!

I think I had a bit of an epiphany. It’s not so much a Whole 30 I need but an Intentional/Mindful Eating Challenge, because if I’m honest I have some bad habits when it comes to food, in no particular order…
– I can be a bit of a binger
– I eat when I am bored or upset or happy
– I zone out and eat without thinking
I’m sure there are more but these are the main ones. And I won’t kid myself into thinking that eating clean can solve it, because you can binge on “healthy” foods just as easily as unhealthy ones.

Nut butter straight from the jar anyone?

So here I am at the beginning of what I am hoping is my own little eating revolution. I will focus on whole, unprocessed foods that nourish and fuel my body the right way.

In short I will JUST EAT REAL FOOD.

Stay tuned for updates!

Choose Your Own Ice Pop Adventure

Summer is coming! We’ve already had a few glimpses of it here in Melbourne- our new AC units cannot be installed quick enough.

Now I am not what you call a hot weather kid, give me Autumn crispness any old day, but the warmer weather does have its perks, one of which is devouring sweet, frozen treats.

The problem with most icy poles is that they are loaded with sugar and artificial nasties, so this year I wanted to create a cleaner, healthier version.

First of course we needed the moulds. Now most of the moulds you can get here are little, kiddy type ones.  They would not do at all. Amazon naturally provides s variety of better options.

Ice pop moulds

 

Once you’ve got the hardware the rest is up to your imagination! We started with a banana smoothie pop. Then a raspberry-mint yoghurt.

Watermelon margerhita

Watermelon Margerhita- juice watermelon, lime and mint.

Pear-pine devine

Pear-pine Devine- juice pineapple, pear, apple, lemon.

Peaces 'n' (coconut) cream

Peaches ‘n’ (coconut) cream- blend peaches, add coconut milk.

The options are truly endless. All you need to do is blend, or juice, pour, and freeze! BOOM!

Time out.

walk

Sometimes you just need to call “time out” on life. Which is precisely what I did yesterday.

A walk in the sun and fresh air. A treat or two. Feet up couch time. And today, I am feeling so much better for it.

My days recently have felt really slow, but the weeks seem to be passing in the blink of an eye, I mean… 35 weeks pregnant, how did that happen? Work has been strange/boring/overwhelming with me being the only one in the office 90% of the time. And then there is planning for baby (we bought a pram and Ergobaby carrier, and have a cot sorted too), along with our quickly approaching house move- yes it’s only across the driveway but everything still needs to be packed! It just feels like there is a lot going on generally. So it’s not all that surprising that I needed to press pause and take a little time for myself.

The one thing that seems to be getting side-lined more than anything else in my advanced stages of baby-growing is exercise. I have accepted that this is a fact of life (and does not require stressing over) until I finish work in 2 short weeks! (!) after which I will have more time to myself and hence more time for movement. Yesterday’s walk felt so restorative that I am really looking forward to getting back into a (hopefully) daily routine of outdoor movement.

What do you do when you need a time out?

Banana Bread (again)

Bananas

My Saturday has included
– breakfast
– baking
– a failed trip to H&M (pro-tip: don’t go on a Saturday, just don’t)
– a large hot chocolate
– vegemite and cheese toastie

The baking has been the highlight (well along with breakfast). Unconsciously I think I have been on a search for my ideal banana bread. It’s tricky. I don’t want to fill it full of sugar. I’d rather make it gluten free. Most importantly, it’s gotta be damn tasty. And I think I may have found it.

Four words.

One. Bowl. Banana. Bread.

It’s also gluten free, and has only bananas and maple syrup for sweetness. I found it on Minimalist Baker, which I have been drooling over for sometime now but have yet to jump in and make any of the creations. What better place to dive in than with banana bread. Especially when you only need one bowl.

We start where all good banana breads start… with mashed, overripe bananas

banana bread: mashed bananas

Next up we add everything except are three flours

banana bread

Once whisked it’s time to add the oats, almond meal and gluten free flour.

banana bread

We whisk again and into the greased and lined tin it goes.

banana bread

Even at this point, I’ve gotta admit it smells delightful. Into the oven it goes for 45 minutes to an hour. I probably could have left mine in a little longer but considering I am planning to toast it for breakfast I figured it didn’t matter too much.

banana bread

Banana Bread (adapted from Minimalist Baker)

Ingredients
3 ripe bananas
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
3.5 tsp baking soda
a big pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
3ish tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup almond meal
1 1/4 cup oats
1 1/4 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

Method
1. preheat oven to 180*c
2. mash your bananas in a bowl
3. add everything except the almond meal, oats and GF flour. Reserve the cider vinegar too. Whisk it up.
4. add your cider vinegar and give it another little whisk, it’ll fizz a bit.
5. almond meal, oats and GF flour are added, mix it up.
6. pour your batter into a loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

You’re done! Now all you have to do is clean up the mess created in the process…

banana bread: behind the scenes

banana bread: behind the scenes

This is pretty much how my kitchen looks every time I bake something… In my defence I did clean the whole place up afterwards!

Banana-Apple-Walnut loaf

Who doesn’t love banana bread?

But what do you do when you only have 1 over ripe banana? You scour your fridge for any other bakeable fruit, that’s what. And that’s how I ended up with this frankenstein bread-loaf creation.

I started with Teresa Cutter’s healthy banana bread recipe, but didn’t have everything I needed to got to making substitutions.

Banana-Apple-Walnut loaf

A little rice malt syrup here. A little melted butter there. Some grated apple instead of banana. And BOOM! You’ve got yourself a tasty and healthy snack.

Banana-Apple-Walnut loaf (based on Teresa Cutter’s Banana Bread)

Ingredients
1 ripe banana, mashed
2-3 large apples, grated (squeeze most of the juice out too)
3 eggs
200g almond meal
1/2tsp bi carb soda
1/2tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
1tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2-3/4 cup walnuts

Method
1. Preheat oven to 160*c
2. Combine banana, apple, eggs, vanilla, rice malt syrup, melted butter and apple cider vinegar
3. Add the almond meal, walnuts and chia seeds, mix it all up until combined
4. Spoon batter into a greased loaf tin
5. Bake for 45 minutes, test it with a skewer, if it comes out clean you’re done
6. Let it cool in the tin before removing
It should keep for about a week in an air tight container. You can also slice it up and freeze it in individual slices for a grab and go option.

Yum.

Cheesy Savoury Muffins (gluten free)

I’ve never really attempted a savoury muffin. I think it’s partly because I never know what to put in them. And also, as much as I can knock cupcakes out of the park, muffins always seems to allude me. It’s that whole “over mixing” situation. I always do it. However, when you take gluten out of the equation it seems to get a little easier.

savoury muffin

The reason I had an itch to make a savoury muffin was thanks to a spectacular one I enjoyed with a hot chocolate at the East Brunswick Project on a cold and rainy Saturday morning.

It didn’t take long to find a base recipe (this one) and took to tweaking.

savoury muffin

Cheesy Savoury Muffins (gluten free)

Ingredients
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup gluten free flour
1tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
60g butter (melted)
2 cups cheese (grated)
1/2 red onion (finely diced)
handful chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Method
1. Preheat over to 180*c (350*f), and line a 12 cup muffin pan
2. Combine almond meal, gluten free flour, baking powder, cheese, parsley and red onion, salt and pepper in a bowl
3. Mix up milk, melted butter and your egg
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix it up. Not too much!
5. Divide your mix up and bake for about 15 minutes
6. Enjoy!

savoury muffin