Cook this: Orange & zucchini “muesli bars” (lactose, gluten & sugar free)

Remember how I said the other day that I wanted to try using puffed quinoa a bit more? I have a giant bag of the stuff at home now and have been experimenting with other ways of using it. Enter these muesli bars. But first, let’s backtrack a few steps..

I’m a snacker. I like to eat in dribs and drabs throughout the day, and I’ll snack on whatever is handy and convenient. If that’s a jar of cookies, I’ll have a cookie. If I come across chocolate before I notice carrot sticks, I’m having some chocolate. So, it’s in my best interests to have healthy snacks laying about the house instead. Many years ago, before fructose decided it wasn’t my friend, I used to make apple and honey “muesli bars” to snack on – the ones you buy are FULL of sugar, so I preferred to make my own healthier ones. It’s been a while since I’ve made muesli bars, though, so I had an idea to make some more – but without any butter, oil, eggs or sugar. Simple stuff.

I also wanted to create a snack that would fill me up and give me energy, and not be completely unhealthy. Something I could nibble on to tie me over between getting home from work and dinner time. Or post-morning workout before I get to work and eat breaky properly. I used the baked oats theory, and here’s what I came up with…

Ingredients:
– 1 cup rolled oats
– 1 heaped scoop protein powder (I like vanilla, but chocolate would work well, too)
– 1 cup milk (soy, almond, regular, whatever)
– zest & juice of 1 large orange
– 1 large zucchini (or 2 small ones)
– 1 cup puffed quinoa
– ½ cup sunflower seeds

Method:
1. Combine the oats, protein powder, milk, orange zest and juice in a tub, place the lid on and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight).

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, line a medium-sized baking tin with non-stick baking paper, and grate the zucchini into a bowl. Squeeze out any excess liquid.

3. Combine the zucchini with the rested oats, puffed quinoa and seeds in a large mixing bowl, and mix until totally combined and there are no dry “lumps” in the mixture.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth out with a spoon or spatula.

5. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

6. Cool in tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Slice up your “muesli bars” and store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days.

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Cook this: cacao, puffed quinoa & pistachio granola

I have the most ridiculous accumulation of cookbooks at home, and at one point had started to hoard magazines, as well.

When I realised how out of control it was getting, I decided to consolidate all of my favourite recipes from my magazines into smaller collections; I went out and bought a few large spiral notebooks and went through my magazines, cutting out the recipes I actually liked and thought I’d cook. I stuck them into the notebooks, and they now sit in a nice, neat little pile on my bookshelf.


I go through them every few weeks to find inspiration and ideas I’d forgotten I’d collected, and found some new breaky inspiration in one of my books last week; a Donna Hay granola recipe, using puffed quinoa, which I’ve been wanting to try adding to my breakfast oats for a while now.

I made a few changes to suit my tastes and pantry supplies, and ended up with an incredible mix, and the perfect way to enjoy a chocolatey breakfast without the extra sugar and calories – happy!

 

Ingredients: (makes 1 large jar)
– 1/4 cup cacao powder
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 6 tbsp water
– 2 cups puffed quinoa
– 2 cups rolled oats
– 100g pistachios, roughly chopped
– 1/4 cup chia seeds
– 1/2 cup cacao nibs
– 1 cup shredded coconut

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a large oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Heat the cacao (or cocoa) powder, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, gently mixing until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat to cool a little.

3. While that cools, combine all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to coat and combine.

5. Spread the mixture over the oven tray, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, mixing it around every 5 minutes or so to ensure it cooks evenly.

6. Cool completed on the tray, and store in an airtight jar or container 2 – 3 weeks.

Make this: quick & healthy – green smoothie bowl (gluten, lactose & fructose free)

Ahh Monday morning. The time of the week when you resolve to do better after reflecting on a weekend spent in stretchy-waisted pants indulging in delicious food, with your only exercise being lifting another donut to your mouth. No judgement; we’ve all been there. And we all will be again. But if, like me, you like to start the week off strong (knowing full well things will descend into anarchy come Thursday night), this breakfast might be a good place to start.

Let me preface this recipe by saying that I absolutely bloody hate smoothies and juices. A smoothie is not a meal. Neither is soup, for that matter. You eat a meal, you don’t drink it. UNLESS you can add some stuff to it to make it chunky and crunchy and substantial. So I added stuff on top. I also love a good chia pudding, so I make this smoothie the night before and stir chia seeds through it, so by morning it’s basically a big, thick, healthy, green chia pudding with crunchy bits on top. And, because there’s green stuff in it, it’s obviously healthy. Happy days!

 

Ingredients (for 1):
– ½ cup milk (I use an almond coconut milk blend)
– 1 tbsp rolled oats
– 1 tsp matcha powder
– 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
– 2 blocks of frozen spinach
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– all of the toppings!!!! On this one, I used homemade muesli, toasted cacao nibs, shredded coconut and frozen raspberry, but lets be honest – anything goes!

Method:
1. Throw the milk, oats, matcha, protein powder and frozen spinach into a blender/Nutri-bullet/that type of device and blend until smooth and combined.

2. Pour your mixture into a plastic tub and stir through the chia seeds. Place the lid on, into the fridge, and rest over night while you go to sleep and dream of breakfast.

3. In the morning, pour it into a bowl, top with whatever you want, and enjoy your fancy, health breakfast that didn’t cost $20 and a 45 minute wait at a café 😉

Cook this: cranberry gingerbread granola

Because I’m kinda getting into Christmas more than usual this year, and wanted to find a way to extend the gingerbread man into a legitimate breakfast option.

You know what’s funny? I used to HATE gingerbread men as a kid. Absolutely hated them. I think it was because I was always given ones that had cinnamon as well as ginger in them, and cinnamon just makes me sick. So for the longest time I’ve gone without. Until last year; I gave this recipe a crack and just didn’t put cinnamon in (duh). Now, these gingerbread gentlemen are year-round favourites in our house!

I’ve made a few batches leading up to Christmas this year, too, and added dried cranberries in the last batch, which made them even better )didn’t actually think that was possible), so I based this granola recipe on that successful and quickly devoured batch…

Ingredients (makes 4 serves):
– 2 cups rolled oats
– 1-2 tsp ground ginger (depending on how strong you want it)
– 1 tsp brown sugar
– 2 tbsp nuts or seeds of choice
– 3 tbsp maple syrup
– 2 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– small handful dried cranberries

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with paper.
2. Combine 1½ cups of the oats, the ground ginger, brown sugar and your nuts or seeds in a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil and vanilla; pour that into the oat mixture and stir through to coat the oats well.
4. Pour the oats onto the oven tray and bake for 15 – 20  minutes (depending on how crunchy you want them), checking every 5 minutes or so to toss the oats around, ensuring they bake evenly.
5. Let them cool on the tray, then mix in the rest of the oats and the cranberries, and enjoy! If you have a lovely friend like I do, you may even get a cutie pie gingerbread man to thrown in with your breakfast 😉

Eat here: Sun Moth Canteen, Melbourne (cafe)

Sun Moth Canteen & Bar
28 Niagara Lane, Melbourne CBD
http://www.sunmoth.com.au/

I’m lucky enough to not only have a job I quite enjoy, but to also work with the loveliest group of people 🙂 Among my new team (I still feel kinda new to the job even though it’s been just over 6 months since I’ve been here!) is an old colleague who I used to work with in my travel agent days, who was determined to organise a little something for my birthday at work – she decided that she and the other lady in our team would be taking me out for breakfast. That’s my favourite meal of the day (and way less stressful than lunch for me), so I was pretty excited to be able to choose a venue. I wanted something close to the office so we wouldn’t have to rush back, and remembered a friend telling me about Sun Moth Canteen a while ago. It’s pretty close to work, and it’s a strange hybrid of breaky café and drinking hole.

The fit out is gorgeous, just my style, with a perfect mix of floorboards and wooden fittings and industrial lighting – a very open and welcoming space, with plenty of natural light coming in on those sunny Melbourne mornings.

The menu is pretty simple and ever evolving, with a few oat based options (muesli, bircher and porridge) and a few other standard options like smashed avo toast and omelettes, but brought up to a much nicer level with the addition of things like smoked ham hock and walnut thyme butter…

The girls went with the omelettes with three cheese and sides of ham hock and mushrooms. Amazing. A big, fluffy, grated pecorino pile of egg on top of some house brick-sized crunchy toast, it smelt incredible. The girls polished them off so I’m guessing they tasted pretty good, too!

For me it had to be the bircher – I love it! A delicious classic bircher topped with stewed rhubarb, fresh apple slices and a golden crumble, it was the ultimate hot weather comfort food breaky. Rich and creamy, filling without being heavy or sickening, and the crumble was amazing – perfect crunchy touch with the creamy bircher.

Seeing the nice little bar set up also got me interested in popping back in after work one night for a drink, too… Another awesome addition to Melbourne’s laneways – and they’re open from 7.30am weekdays, so consider a pre-work breakfast date! Also open tomorrow should you want  a late brunch with booze… have a great weekend everyone 🙂

 

Sun Moth Canteen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

How my dog saved my life… Cook this: coconut matcha porridge

Summer might almost be here, but we’re still getting some cooler mornings in Melbourne, which means there are still a few chances left for warm breakfasts. But to get to that, let me first rewind a moment…

This weekend hasn’t been amazing. We were meant to stay in Geelong last night and take part in Run Geelong this morning, a 6km fun run husband and I entered together. It was not to be.

After 48 hours of vomiting, I took my fur baby to the vet on Friday morning. There had been a big fat storm the night before which meant the little guy didn’t sleep, I’d only had 3 hours myself, and was exhausted… I expected (hoped for) a check up and maybe some antibiotics for a tummy bug; he ended up staying overnight. After a physical examination found him to be in a fair bit of tummy pain, the vet said it could be anything from having eaten something he shouldn’t have (being part beagle, this was highly likely) to something more serious.


She couldn’t have been more kind and understanding as she gently explained that he would be sedated for his ultrasound, a drip inserted into his little paw to keep his fluids up, and through-the-night monitoring. I cried. Bless her, she gave me a box of tissues, a pat on the arm and the assurance he’d be ok. I just cried harder as she led him out of the consulting room with his tail between his legs, leaving me there with a hand full of tissues and a face full of snot and tears. I proceeded to bawl my eyes out for the next four hours until I had nothing left.

This may seem like a bit of an overreaction to a sick dog, so let me explain. He’s not just a pet, he’s not just family. Depression entered my life in my late teens; by the time I moved out of home straight out of uni, I was in a pretty shitty state. Having never been allowed a dog growing up because my mum doesn’t like them, the first thing husband and I did when we got our own place was to go puppy shopping. Enter little tiny Marley…


He was the best thing possible for my depression; he dragged me out of my bad states because I had to look after him. I couldn’t just sit in a corner and cry, because this little fur blob needed me to look after him. He was totally dependent on me, and I, in turn, became totally dependent on him. He saved my life. When I’m at home, he’s never more than a few steps away from me. When I’m sitting down, he’s sitting on my lap. When I’m depressed or anxious, he senses it and sits with me silently. When I cry, he nuzzles my neck with his nose to wipe away my tears. When I get home from work, the yelping is deafening. He’s my best friend and my shadow and my constant, loyal companion in every sense of the word.


So having to bring him to the vet and leave him there and imagining him waking up from his anesthetic scared and alone was more than I could handle. So I reacted the same way any rational, fully grown woman after dropping her dog off at the vet for an ultrasound; I cried my eyes out. And texted my dad, who called me immediately, and cried to him even harder. It wasn’t pretty.

Anyway, back on the recipe track, we were told we could collect him yesterday morning. It was cooler than it had been in a while and I wanted comfort food for breakfast, which meant porridge. Checking the fridge to make sure there was enough almond milk left, I noticed the matcha jar I’d brought home from Tokyo and thought I’d give that a try…

To make one bowl of porridge:
– scant half cup of rolled oats
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– 1-2 tbsp shredded coconut
– 1 scoop protein powder – I use Amazonia’s raw vanilla protein (optional)
– 1 tsp matcha powder (more if you prefer a stronger flavour)
– 1 cup milk – I prefer almond milk for this

1. Put all ingredients except the almond milk into a tub and shake to combine.

2. Pour the tub into a small saucepan over medium heat, along with the milk, and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to a simmer, and stir constantly until it thickens to a consistency you’re happy with (somewhere in the vicinity of 4 – 8 minutes).

4. Serve immediately – enjoy 🙂

After that warm bowl of love, we collected our fur baby (with a bag full of medication) and took him home to rest. As you can see, he got real comfy, real quick… 🙂 here’s to a better week ahead for my poor little bug, and I hope everyone else has a great week, too! And if you need a warm, comforting breakfast at any stage, I hope this recipe helps! xo

Treat yoself breakfast: overnight coconut pandan oat & matcha chia parfait

So, last Saturday night was Oktoberfest. The man cave was transformed into a beer hall. Several batches of pretzels were baked. Several more batches of pretzels cookies, too. And schnitzels, potato salad, gravy… There was a lot to do, and while Friday night was reserved for the bulk of it, but there was still plenty left to do Saturday morning before everyone arrived.

With all that coming and my inability to work on an empty stomach, I knew I was gonna need a decent breakfast. It had been a pretty long, challenging, sleepless week, so by Friday night I was mentally and physically exhausted. With a big day ahead, I wanted to treat myself to something a little nicer than my regular overnight oats to start the day.

My usual overnight oats consists of oats, chia seeds, protein powder, almond milk and yoghurt thrown into a tub, shaken violently, and topped with whatever is in the pantry – coconut flakes, pepitas, goji berries, chocolate chips, anything goes. I also found this absolutely unreal pandan kaya custard type stuff at ARC Asian Grocers at the Preston Market that I’m loving with my morning oats at the moment. I thought I’d try to add that in with the shredded coconut (because matcha and coconut are delicious together) and seperate the chia and oats for something a bit different – takes a bit of effort, but the different layers makes it look and taste great! Actually, that’s not entirely truthful – it doesn’t take much effort at all…

For one serve:

Chia layer:
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– ½ tsp matcha powder
– 5 tbsp milk (again, I use almond milk, but coconut milk would be perfect as well)

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar or plastic tub and shake well to combine. Set it aside for 10 minutes, going back to give it a quick stir every few minutes.

 

Oat layer:
– 1 heaped tbsp plain yoghurt
– ½ cup milk (I use almond)
– heaped ⅓ cup oats
– 1 scoop (approx 8-10g) protein powder of your choice – I really love the Amazonia vanilla for this!
– 1 tbsp shredded coconut
– 2 tbsp pandan custard

Put the yoghurt, milk and protein powder in a jar or plastic tub and shake until well combined. Add in the oats and coconut and shake again, the set aside.

Once the chia pudding has set and gelled a little, the oats should have soaked up a bit of the milk; stir the pandan custard through the oats.

To assemble, just spoon half the oats into a glass or jar, followed by half the chia, the rest of the oats and the rest of the chia on top. That simple!