Friday, 19 October 2012

Fruit Toast!

Melting butter over lightly toasted cinnamon-scented bread, packed with gooey raisins..

A cup of hot tea with lemon, slices of banana and a delicate glass of almond milk.
The sun is shining through the windows and warming your back as you open the mornings news..

Is there a better way to start your weekend?

I've had enormous cravings for fruit toast for weeks now. One of the biggest disappointments when I discovered my soy allergy was the lack of bread available - in particular fruit bread. This week I desperately needed to get my fix. So I checked out some recipes in my bread-maker book (which are usually no good - milk powder/bread improver/etc.) and compared these to my only successful bread (Sunflower and Flax Bread) to develop my own dairy, soy, egg free fruit bread.
And to great success!

I used plump Australian raisins available at my favourite allergy-friendly shop Eumarrah, not enough cinnamon, ground ginger and cloves, and a little dried apple. I found the apple unnecessary and the recipe below has increased spices, but feel free to increase these more for a super spiced-fruit bread!

This is my first completely self-written recipe, and I am so excited by how well it's worked!
My family and I easily ate half a loaf of this bread (makes 14 fairly standard sized thin slices) straight out of the bread-oven last night, and I'm thrilled by how well it goes toasted with Nuttelex oozing over it; exactly what I was looking for.

Fruit Bread, The Ally-Way.
Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any damage that may occur when your home smells good enough to eat.

1.5 cups Water
2 tbsp Oil (extra-virgin olive works well)
2 tbsp Agave nectar (or honey)
1.5 tsp Salt
2.5 cups Plain flour
1 cup Almond meal
0.5 cups Hazelnut meal
2 tbsp ground Flax seed
2 tbsp ground Cinnamon
2 tsp ground Ginger
2 tsp ground Cloves
1 sachet/7g Dry yeast
0.5 - 1 cup of Raisins (if these are stuck together take a moment to separate them so they disperse evenly)

Place these in your bread-maker in the order suggested above, with fruit in the fruit-nut dispenser if applicable. Select the basic white cycle for a 1kg loaf and away you go!

This bread improves when allowed to sit and dry out a little after cooking.

Makes a 1kg loaf with approximately 14 slices.
per slice: 210calories, 26g carb, 10g fat and 6g protein

I apologies for no oven baking method here, I do plan to provide a conversion method in the future. 

I must, must, must buy a camera and work on photography...

Friday, 12 October 2012

Green Smoothie

They're all the rage and I've bee convinced to get on the green train.

I'm a bit of a greeny as it is so it only makes sense (joke at my grandmother and mother's birthdays: 'Don't touch the bottom or you'll get green babies! Oh wait - you already have them!').

I came across green smoothies after having a horrid nightmare about having ovarian cancer (creepy? you have no idea). I couldn't get it off my mind and turned to google.. always dangerous. I googled dreams about/causes/symptoms (which, of course, made me certain that I had it) and came across a post on my favourite blog: Anti-Ovarian Cancer "Green" Smoothie. It passes on a heap of brilliant information including the results of studies that have shown that regularly eating endive can decrease your risk of ovarian cancer by 75%!!! I had to get me some of that! And so the green smoothie was created.

Last mother's day I cooked kale for the first time (see my post here for the delicious Paprika Braised Chickpea and Kale recipe) and loved it. Kale comes in a number of varieties with 'curly' and 'dino' (or tuscan) seeming to be the most available (recently I've noticed larger supermarket chains selling dino kale in bags, similar to spinach/other salad mixes). Both varieties are quite bitter and capsicum is fantastic to accompany it.. but that's another conversation.

Why is kale so great? It's green! It's also another cancer-fighting veg (packed with over 40 flavonoids), contains loads of vitamin K (really important for bone health and blood clotting) as well as vitamins A and C. I have kale in all of my smoothies (unless I run out - then I have spinach), and in salads a few times a week.

Back to the smoothies. I did a bit of googling to see what everyone puts in their smoothies and the variety is endless, I suggest you do your own experimenting to find something that suits you.
I wanted fruit and veg and low calorie. I tried adding coconut milk and decided it didn't make much difference. Tried adding flax meal to add more protein but decided it wasn't worth it (didn't make much flavour difference, and doesn't add much protein, really). I haven't tried it, but if you're wanting something sweet pineapple juice might be the way to go, and cinnamon doesn't seem to make any difference at all. It took a few goes to get it just right, but now I've found a mix that suits me there's no way I'm going back!

I have this smoothie around three times a week for breakfast after the gym and it leaves me feeling revitalised for the day ahead:

Ally's Green Power Smoothie
50g of Kale
1/4 head of endive (when I don't make it to the farmer's market I replace this with more kale)
50g blueberries
1 small banana
1 apple (usually a small pink lady, but anything goes)
1-2 cups of water (not sure exactly, I find runnier is better)

Another, sweeter combination that I love:
30g Kale (or thereabouts)
60g Spinach (or thereabouts, more spinach than kale)
50-100g Strawberries (frozen work great if you find a lot on super special!)
1 small banana
1 apple (golden delicious is best here)
1-2 cups of water

Blend them up with a stick mixer and drink up!
(180 - 200cal per smoothie, makes about 800ml)

Go on, you know you want to ;)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Paprika Braised Chickpeas with Kale

I posted this recipe on my other blog Adventures of Lady Flutterby after I made it for Mother's Day this year. It's such a brilliant everything-free recipe that I feel it deserves a showing on this page too. The original post can be found here.
This recipe comes from the Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans book Winter on the Farm. It's a particuarly great winter-warmer, perfect for sunday lunch with the people you love.

I love using my slow-bake casserole dish and filling the house with scrumptious smells. This recipe is vegan and gluten free, as well as free from refined sugars and nuts. It's super healthy and tastes delicious.

Paprika Braised Chickpeas with Kale
from Matthew Evans Winter on the Farm
500g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
10 large kale leaves (or silverbeet if you can't find any)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 large onions, diced
2 bay leaves
1 small piece cinnamon stick
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (I reduced this as my grandmother isn't keen on garlic)
3 tsp sweet paprika (I used Spanish)
1 tsp ground cumin
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Put the chickpeas in a large saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 1 hour, or until they are just starting to become tender, but not cooked through. Drain well, reserving the cooking liquid and set aside. Strip the soft green part from above the the ribs of the kale leaves and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bay leaves and cinnamon and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the onion starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then reduce the heat, add the paprika and cumin and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly and being careful not to scorch the spices. Add the tomato, kale and 500ml water and stir to combine.
Add the chickpeas and salt to the pan with just enough of the reserved cooking liquid to cover. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the chickpeas are buttery soft.

Alternatively, you can cook this dish in a 140 degree oven for 2 hours.
Just before serving, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir in the extra virgin oilve oil. Serve warm with turkish bread.