Saturday, 28 April 2012

Essentials



Pancakes. Nothing screams it's the weekend more than pancakes. Pancakes mean sticky messy fingers for lickin' . Pancakes turn you back into a kid when life's getting heavy. A good pancake recipe is essential.



This is a pancake recipe that is quick and simple. Nutritious and filling but they won't leave you rolling out of your chair. Even after a couple  four or five. Seriously... it's pancakes. Who stops at two?



I use a blend of buckwheat and spelt flour to create a pancake thats smooth but not too buckwheaty. A bit of vanilla and cinammon to add some pizzazzzzz. They're quiet similar to french crepes.



I made mine up with yogurt, local honey, berries, banana, walnuts and almonds. But you can go with your favourite toppings. This recipe is just a simple base.



If you make these the night before you couple roll them up with peanut butter and banana and have them as breakfast on the go :) I'm such a fan of breakfast a la bus and extra time lying in. I've been on a big pancake kick this week because work experience was so tiring I needed the extra sleep.



Basic Buckwheat Spelt Pancakes.


Makes 4-5 pancakes.

Cook time 15 minutes.

Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup soya milk
  • teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinammon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • oil spray
1. Mix flour and eggs. Add vanilla, baking powder and cinammon. Then add soya milk slowly.

2. Heat a large frying pan and spray with oil. Pour the batter on the pan and cook until the edges of the pancake lift from the pan. Flip and cook on the other side for a few seconds.





Friday, 27 April 2012

Third Time Lucky

The amount of times I've tried and failed to make falafel is shocking. Well twice, maybe that's not so shocking. Whats more shocking is probably the fact that I got over the failure and tried again. Twice. For something that sounds reasonably simple (blend ingredients, then bake or fry) it's actually pretty damn tricky.



Maybe it's because I set the bar so high. The falafel in Dun Laoghaire Sunday Market at the peoples park is pretty much my idea of the perfect falafel. Garlicy, moisty, fresh and crispy on the outside. Unfortunately this dreamy Lebanese goodness is created through the not so heavenly method of deep frying. Hence my falafel quest has wandered down the path of oven baking. Until I discovered the wonder of the oil sprayer! ;)



This stuff is great. I went on an anti-oil rampage after doing work experience in the Happy Pear where I was informed that even my beloved coconut oil *gasp* was not as healthy as I had thought it was. However no oil means you've got to bake or steam everything which can be very time consuming because I have a range oven which takes a year and a day to heat up. It's also very limiting. I kinda struggled through it for a while, eating my pancakes half burnt and in a sticky mess with pieces of frying pan stuck to it. Until this stuff saved me. It's probably still hydrogenated crap but at least its one tiny spray of hydrogenated crap instead of 10 inches of dangerously unstable burn-your-face-off frying oil. I would say that it's by far the lesser of two evils.



So anyway, back to my perfect falafel. It's got to be extremely garlicy (I'm a garlic fiend, my aftershave obsessed brother says I smell like it sometimes :S), freshly herby (preferably parsley from the garden but I was all out so I used herbs de provence) and moist with a loose crumb. 
Unlike my previous concoctions that involved flour and eggs to bind them and were blended to a smooth paste before being baked for ages these falafels have a very short and sweet ingredients list. They're also much quicker to cook because they just need 10 minutes of the pan.
Sometimes simple is best. I'm a culprit for overcomplicating things.
My previous falafels were dry, borderline rock solid, pasty tasting lumps. Yuck. Personally I even find shop falafel too dry for my taste, although the flavour is usually pretty good.



I advise you season this to your own taste. Personally I have a very salty taste when it comes to dinner. I think it might be because I usually run before dinner and sweat out all my salts. Thats what I tell myself anyway! You do need salt in your diet anyway. Just not too much of it. The main source of salt in peoples diets is processed foods but if you don't eat them you shouldn't worry about a little salt in your dinner. Especially if you make sure your hydrated and are concious of the amount you use. And make sure you use good quality salts like sea salt or organic tamari. (I am a soya sauce addict).



The trick to this falafel is to pulse it until it a coarse texture rather than blending it until smooth. It's quiet crumbly so you really need to push it down on the pan to hold it together. I made it into one big long falafel burger rather than small falafels because I thought it would hold together better in the wrap.



Speaking of the wrap, I seem to have been neglecting all the other wonderful components of this meal by making the falafel the star of the show. I guess I was just so excited by finally getting the falafel right. The roast red pepper hummus compliments the falafel beautifully with it's sweet yet savoury and nutty flavour. The homemade buckwheat, spelt wrap does a great job of holding the show together. This wrap takes 5 minutes to make. It's a hundred times tastier than conventional, dry, white wheat wraps and doesn't have any of that processed junk in it. I couldn't recommend it more. It also makes a fantastic breakfast dressed up as a pancake.
I served it all with a humongous side salad dressed in balsamic vinegar and mustard. Nom nom nom. Crunch.



I haven't cooked all week because I basically collapsed into bed every day after work experience in the hospital. My brain was going crazy brainstorming stuff it didn't have time to make. I just love when you get a recipe out of your system and into your mouth and onto your blog instead! It's amazingly gratifying.

Herby Falafel with

 Roasted Red Pepper and Paprika Hummus

 in a Buckwheat, Spelt Wrap.


Serves: 1 HUNGRY teenager after her run.

Prep and cooking time: 30-40 minutes (depends how fast you are ;D) 


Ingredients:
  • 100g chick peas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • teaspoon herbs de provence
  • teaspoon flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • salt to taste
  •  120g chick peas
  • 1 pointed red pepper
  •  1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • tablespoon tahini
  • tablespoon tamari
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 3 tablespoons buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • oil spray


1. Dice the pepper and bang it in the oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes until roasted.

2. Meanwhile pulse the first set of ingredients together until it forms a coarse mixture that holds when you form it into shapes. This is your falafel mix.

3. Mix together the third set of ingredients. Heat a large frying pan and spray with oil spray. Spread the wrap mixture across the pan with a spoon until it covers the pan. Let it cook at a low heat for 3-4 minutes. The mixture will stick to the pan a bit until its cooked but onto it's done it with turn easily. Cook on the other side til light brown. Set aside the wrap.

4.  Form your falafel mix into desired shape and frying on a pan with a little oil spray for 5 minutes on each side or until brown and crispy.

5. Your peppers should be ready now. Remove from the oven and blend together with the second set of ingredients until it forms a smooth paste.

6. Spread your hummus onto your wrap and place your falafel ontop. Now you're ready to rock and roll! ;)










Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A Little Slice of Sunshine

You know those baking experiments that turn out to well that you literally jump for joy at first bite? The sheer pride you feel when you know something so glorious is the result of you casually tossing whatever ingredients you fancied into a bowl and giving it a magical stir. It's amazing to think that something so wonderful can be created with such little thought hours of meticulous premeditation.



I've had a polenta cake floating around my mind for a while now. Despite the fact that I love using cornmeal in place of breadcrumbs and in breads I've never actually made polenta. Something I've got to put on my to do list.



So back to the cake. It has a perfect balance of flavours. Zesty, tangy, subtly sweet and nutty. The cornmeal gives it that loose crumb that is signature to sponge cake. It's a far cry from the denseness of most healthy cakes.



At first I was kinda unsure about stevia. I kept trying to use it on its own and it left a weird aftertaste. But now I've learned the trick is to use it as a way of boosting the sweetness of another sweetner.



This is an amazing snack, breakfast or dessert. It makes 9 big filling wedges in a square cake tin. I guarantee the entire pan won't last a day! (Mine didn't).





Ingredients:



  • 1 flax egg
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml soya milk
  • 50ml maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon
  • 4 tablespoons yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 90g kamut flour
  • 165g fine polenta
  • 2 packets stevia
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g toasted flaked almonds
  • 150g rasberries



1. Mix together flax, eggs, soya milk, maple syrup, yogurt, lemon zest and stevia.

2. Stir in zest, flour, polenta, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. Fold in almonds and rasberries.

4. Transfer to square cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven at 180 degree for 30 minutes or until knife comes clean.




Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cake for Brekkie

Cake for breakfast is probably the last thing you expect to see on a healthy food blog but to be honest its a saving grace. Breakfast takes about 20 minutes for me to prepare and eat because I'm a slow eater and on a school day thats usually 20 minutes I'd rather spend in bed than listen to my brothers squabbling over the last bagel at the breakfast table.



If I've been a bad girl and stayed up a bit longer than I should have reading food blogs I would choose 20 minutes sleep over breakfast any day. But that said I can't operate with breakfast. So the solution is a portable breakfast that I can grab and eat on the bus. 



Muffins, cookies, flapjacks. Wow. This is beginning to sound like a one way road to diabetes and heart disease. Fear not. I'm armed with stevia and soya yogurt to healthify convenient breakfast classics!



It's the first week back to school after the midterm so obviously I'm a bit out of sync with my sleeping pattern. These quick and easy snacks have made getting up in the morning a hell of a lot easier.



This recipe is adapted from a recipe on Susan Jane Whites website. The original muffins are full of character and texture. They're dense and moreish; just how I like my muffins. My mother, however, begs to differ. She believes in light and airy cake, the kind thats usually achieved with a ton of white flour and other such silly things. This adaption of the recipe is my bid to please her. 



These muffins and fluffy and moist. I achieved this by swapping half the spelt flour for millet flour and using the baking soda and vinegar trick. Millet flour is my little pet. I love it so much. I don't actually eat that much millet (even though I think its yummy) but I seem to find an excuse to toss some of this snowy coloured goodness into even baked good that graces my oven with its presence. The baking soda and vinegar trick works the way those volcanes you made in primary school do. But be careful not to use too much otherwise your muffins might explode (happened to me in Switzerland when I was 12, in someone elses oven....awkward). 



I think the apricot jam adds a real something special to the frosting :) But don't tell anyone the secret to it's creamy goodness until they've gobbled at least 4 of these bad boys. Then feel free to drop the bomb.



Ingredients:

For Frosting
  • 100g soaked cashews
  • 200g silken tofu
  • 3 tablespoons agar agar
  • pinch salt
  • teaspoon vanilla essence
  • tablespoon apricot jam
  • tablespoon xylitol
  • juice of a lime
  • juice half lemon
  • tablespoon cornflour
  • tablespoon flaxseed
  • packet stevia


For muffins
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 6 tablespoons peach and grape juice (or any other juice)
  • 1 overripe banana, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons soya yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup 
  • 1 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1 teaspoons bicarbonate soda
  • teaspoon cinammon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teasponn nutmeg
  • 2 handfuls walnuts
  • 2 handfuls dried cranberries
  • 1 packet stevia


1.  For the frosting blend all the ingredients in food processor for 5 minutes. It's important to give it this amount of time as even though it may be smooth it needs the extra time because the motion causes the agar and cornflour to thicken the frosting. Set aside and chill. It becomes thicker the longer you leave it.

2. Stir the juice and flaxseed together. Add in the yogurt, banana, vinegar, maple syrup and stevia.

3. Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl together. 

4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and add the cranberries and walnuts.

5. Spoon the mixture into muffin cases and bake in the middle of the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.

6. Let the muffins cool on a wire rack before you decorate them with frosting, walnuts, cranberries and grated carrot.

Now all you have to do is try and resist until breakfast time.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Super Soups.

When one needs an instant healthy meal you need look no further than soup. Soup is a saving grace for health fanatics. But I get a bit bored of the usual ''vegetable'' or ''carrot'' offerings that you come across in most cafés. I mean what is vegetable soup anyway? I'm always suspicious that it's a concoction of the weeks leftovers mixed together. Yuck :S


So today's post is a double treat. Two in one. Both ready 15 minutes from when your tummy starts rumbling.

Number one is a simple lentil soup with fancy pants garnishes :)


Fancy Pants Lentil Soup


Serves 3

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp boullion or stock cube
  • 1 litir water
Garnishes:
  • 1 pointed red pepper, diced.
  • tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 9 oatmeal crackers or other crackers of choice
  • fresh herbs (I used rosemary from my garden)
  • natural yogurt
1. Boil lentils in water for 12 minutes until soft. 

2. Meanwhile sautée the red pepper in the olive oil and sugar for 5 minutes.

3. Add the lemon and stock to the lentils and blend until its smooth. Add water to adjust consistency if you want but remember it needs to be thick to support the garnish.

4. Split into bowls and garnish each one with some red peppers, a spring of herbs, 3 crackers and a dollop of natural yogurt.

Cheesy Brocilli Soup


This soup is partially raw and vegan if you wish :) It's also packed full of protein (believe it or not green vegetables are actually a great protein source) and other nutritional goodies such as vitamin B12 and C.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
  • 1 large head brocilli, broken into florets with stalk chopped (save a few florets to garnish)
  • Tin of butter beans, strained.
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoon boullion
  • 40g raw cashews
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 20g organic sharp cheddar grated
  • Boiling water
1. Sautée the onion in a little water or oil for 5 minutes.

2. Put all the ingredients in the blender except the cheese. Add boiling water slowly as you blend until desired consistency. 

3. Heat on the stove if required and serve in bowls garnished with brocilli florets and grated cheddar with big chunks of brown bread.















Wednesday, 11 April 2012

In a hump about Hemp

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with my hemp protein powder. I just hate how it tastes. But oh boy, I sure do love its nutritional info. 


So the obvious solution was to mask the flavour. I am usually a strong believer in keeping smoothies free from all things green. I think it turns a smoothie from being a blissful glass of fruity goodness to a murky coloured swamp that you chug down like its a chore. But hey, those stats were just too good to be true so I decided to give hemp a chance. 


I took baby steps; starting with half a teaspoon! I thought if I introduced it slowly I wouldn't notice it as much. I was pleased that it didn't affect the beautiful pale pink hue of my smoothie. 


The rice milk is the trick to the flavour. It's so amazingly sweet so you don't need any additional sweetner :) It makes the perfect post run drink. I opted for this instead of the porridge my mum made earlier which led to the creation of oatmeal crackers!


Serves 1

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup natural yogurt
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 tbsp blueberries
  • 1 tbsp rasberries
  • 1 tbsp strawberries
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 tbsp hemp protein powder
Just blend the lot until it's smooth and creamy. Happy Hemp Slurping :)




Monday, 9 April 2012

An Oatmeal Epiphany


So I'm a bit backlogged with recipes; I make them, I photograph them, I write them down… And then the internet doesn't work. Bummer.

Where to start? I guess I'll start with the most exciting thing.

Theres always leftover porridge hanging around in my house. My family seem to have a problem with weighing their grains. Theres always too much pasta, too much rice… So on, so on. Pasta and rice is grand. You just use it the next day in a salad. But porridge? What on earth are you meant to do with the solid slimy lump that is leftover porridge?





I tried to make some oat biscuits a few years ago but I made them too thick so they were horribly stodgy and dense and chewy in the wrong way.
Seeing as I was still scarred from that experience I opted to try a savory cracker rather than a biscuit this time. 

I was really quiet impressed with the result. Frankly I was expecting them to be awful but they were crispy and flavorsome.





I noticed if you don't let them crisp fully they start to rise up and become hollow in the middle…. hmm…. I sense an opportunity for some experimentation!





Ingredients:

-400g leftover porridge
-500g spelt flour + extra for rolling
-3 tablespoons dried sage
-1 tablespoon black pepper
-1 teaspoon sea salt





1. Mix the sage, sea salt and pepper into the porridge.

2. Kneed the flour into the porridge until it forms a dough like bread. It shouldn't be sticky. Use extra flour if required.

3. Pour flour onto your surface and dust it on your rolling pin. Separate the dough into 4 balls and roll them out. Cut into desired shape.

4. This should make 3-4 trays. Place the trays in the oven at 160 degrees for 15-20 minutes until crisp.

5. Be careful to check on them because it only takes half a minute to go from crisp to burnt :(