The Flour Chronicles : 3

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After a relatively successful first batch of sourdough (made using the rye in my valentines day basket of interesting ‘flours’) I let the starter die. Was it the travel to Brisbane and back? Or the salt added too early? Perhaps my not discarding any of the starter as I fed it meant it didn’t stay fresh. Whatever it was, I’ve restocked up on rye flour and will need to begin the sourdough project again soon, my rudimentary success and the price of a decent sourdough loaf urge me on!

In the mean time, I had a go at using one of the other ‘flours’ this week. Millet flour. I did some Pintrest searching and mostly came up with gluten free bread loaves and flat bread recipes. I wanted to bake something that was good as a take-to-uni-or-to-work-as-a-healthy-snack rather than a loaf of bread so hunted around for a muffin or biscuit recipe. I found one but, as the recipe author suggested, found that millet flour can sometimes leave a bit of a funny aftertaste in your mouth. The muffin recipe was also very (very) dry. I actually felt mean sending it off to uni with my brother the other day (he was desperate for some extra things to nibble on). I needed to come up with an innovative way of using them up without wasting them … so I dreamed up a cross between energy balls and cake pops. ‘Muffin mouthfuls’ maybe? I give instructions below for how to turn mildly sweet muffins into little chewy morsels perfect for morning tea!

Ingredients:
12 unsweetened muffins (mine were millet based, and therefore gluten free, but I’m sure wheat/spelt/another type of gf would work. A for flavour, the ones I used had 1 cup of grated sweet potato in them but any flavour you like would work, just adjust added ingredients depending on moisture content of your muffins)
250-270g roasted sweet potato
4 1/2 Tbs date paste (this is the sweetener, feel free to add more, you’ll just need to add more ‘drying ingredients’*, see below, to compensate).
2 1/2 Tbs oat bran*
1 1/2 Tbs chia seeds*
1 1/2 Tbs psyllium husk*
2 Tbs cacao nibs

Method:
1. Bake the muffins up as per the recipe.
2. When cool, place them in the bowl of the food processor with half the sweet potato, pulse to combine. Add more sweet potato as needed, ideally the mixture will stop looking like bread crumbs and start looking like dough.
3. Add in the date paste, check sweetness.
4. Add in ‘drying’ ingredients and cacao nibs. Check texture. If wet, add more of your chosen ‘drying ingredient’, if dry, add a little more date paste.
5. Roll into balls and freeze till needed! I’m sure they could also be rolled in something tasty, perhaps cacao or coconut, cinnamon sugar … but I’m going to enjoy mine plain this time!

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Crunchy Oats for Breakfast

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Very loosely based on the grain free version of this recipe from Our Four Forks, I had a go at developing this nutritious toasted muesli recipe for my breakfast. I’m trying to get into making things for breakfast ahead of time, so I am more likely to make wise decisions when I’m hungry – following the advice I’m quick to give students … and am finding harder to follow now I’m the one who makes most of the food decisions in my house! I love sweet potato more than I do pumpkin, so that was my first switch – I also made a quite a big batch of this so it would last longer. We tried it out soaked overnight for a softer cereal (very nice), but it is also delightful crunchy, served with cold milk in the morning! I’ve recently tried a few other delicious ‘granola’ recipes; the peanut butter and honey one from Cooking Classy combines some of my favourite things (peanut butter and honey combined is my long time favourite toast topping … yum!) – I added some sunflower and pumpkin seeds too. I also really enjoyed the Oh She Glows Blissful Buckwheat Granola Clusters, very yummy! Although I might try using some buckwheat in my version next time I make it, the simplicity of the dates and sweet potato as the ‘wet mix’ is a bit of a winner! Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup currents
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pepitas
1/4 cup linseeds (partially ground in a coffee/spice grinder)
1/2-2/3 cup almonds (roughly chopped)
1/2-2/3 cup pecans (roughly chopped)

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups orange sweet potato/kumera puree (either boil in water, drain and puree or roast and then remove skins and puree soft inner sections*)
20 dried dates
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

a note about spices … 
when I made it the first time I under spiced the recipe – it was still delicious, here I’ve upped the spice levels so you can taste them but feel free to adapt and adjust to your own preference. 

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 140oC (my oven can’t go much lower without going out, if you can make it lower, do, it will take longer to cook though).
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3. Mix the wet ingredients (including spices) and blend these with the dry till the texture is uniform.
4. Sprinkle the clumps of ingredients over about 3 baking trays and cook for about an hour and 40 minutes. Keep and eye on the mixture to see how it is drying out, adjust time if needed. I rotated the trays around every 30 minutes or so – this way it cooked evenly.
5. Enjoy as is or blend with other ingredients to stretch it out – rice puffs or raw oats could be nice, or perhaps chia seeds and psyllium husk for some extra fibre.
6. Serve with milk or yogurt and perhaps fruit. Enjoy your delicious breakfast (or snack at another time of the day)!

*See this link for helpful guidance on roasting sweet potatoes for making puree. The degrees centigrade conversion is 190oC .
http://thehealthyfoodie.com/deliciously-healthy-sweet-potato-brownies/

Baking with Apples

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These second two pictures are of an apple crumble recipe I made the same day … they were just so pretty I decided to share them too!

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I’ve recently discovered baked apples. It has taken a very long time for me to come to enjoying cooked fruit but I think that between apple crumble and these baked apples I may have finally been won over.  Searching for a healthy dessert to make one night I came across a simple recipe that I’ve adapted slightly. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have since then …

Ingredients:
apples
filling ingredients
a little water

First filling –
Currants
Oats
Cinnamon

Second filling –
Chopped dates
Oat bran
Cinnamon
A little brown sugar

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
2. Prepare the filling, the oats are quite dry so ensure that there is more fruit than oats in the filling. I would only use about one tsp of spice to four apples (other spices can be incorporated … I’ve just not tried them yet!).
3. The apples need to be cored and then the hole stuffed tightly with the filling.
4. Place apples in a baking paper lined baking dish. A little water added to the dish at this stage will help to cook them (using steam) and will keep them moist. They can also be sprayed lightly with oil to give the topping a nice golden crunch but this isn’t necessary.
5. The apples are then baked for at least 40 minutes, preferably longer till they are exploding out of their skins and falling apart so they are soft and easy to eat with a spoon.
6. Enjoy with custard, caramel sauce and ice-cream if you are feeling decadent, or with yoghurt and honey if you just want a light snack or dessert! Most of all, share them with a few other someones and enjoy the chorus of “mmms”.

Layered Mexican Salad with Chicken and Wraps

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Friday night movie and dinner with Asher, Mum and Dad. Mexican inspired fare and Frozen to entertain us. Good fun and company all around. One of my students made a Mexican salad a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. I thought I would have a go at making a creamy dressing with a lower fat content than sour cream (despite the cries of the sour-cream lover in my family!). After a little Google research I ad-libbed a bit and in the end, everyone was happy – and we were all glad of it the next day for lunch too!

Ingredients:
Chicken –
Chicken thighs
warm and spicy flavouring (your choice of paprika, turmeric, garlic powder, chili powder and salt …)
Oil for frying

Salad –
lettuce
1 x 400g can of beans of choice
tomatoes
1 x 400g can of corn kernels
cucumber
carrots (we grated them and I would recommend this!)
capsicum
low-fat cream cheese and greek yoghurt in a 2:1 ratio
corn chips

Method:
1. Slice the chicken and allow to marinade in chosen spices (these are really only a guide but I think they were the ones I used – all were happily received!)
2. Make the salad by preparing the vegetables and layering them with alternating colours attractively front the base of the bowl up. Again, those listed are a guide but they did work well.
3. Combine the yoghurt and cream cheese and spread over the top of the salad. Top with crushed chips. Refrigerate till serving time (2-3 hours allows the dressing to soak down into the salad a little, yum!).
4. Pan fry the chicken pieces and serve in wraps with salsa!

Pita Crisps

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These are a relatively healthy snack food, quite reasonably priced and easy to do. They can be varied depending on your taste. Nick likes vegemite and butter, while Asher likes olive oil and chicken seasoning better. They are great for serving with dips like hummus and tatziki.

Ingredients:
pita bread/Lebanese flatbread
Olive oil spray
Chicken seasoning (ours was a blend of lemon, roast garlic and oregano but other spice blends would work fine too!)
or
Butter
Vegemite

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200˚C.
2. Line baking trays with baking paper.
3. Chop bread into 8 triangles (in half, in half again, and then again …) and lay pieces on baking tray.
4. Spray lightly with oil and sprinkle lightly with spice mix.
Or
4. If you are doing the butter and vegemite version, spread a thin layer of butter and vegemite over the bread before chopping into the 8 pieces.
5. Bake in the oven till golden and crispy, this usually takes between 8-12 minutes depending on the oven and temperature.
6. Allow to cool before serving with dips or eating plain. Store in an airtight container.