Cook this: Mini microwave matcha pudding cakes

Monday morning. You’re meant to be rested and ready to go on Monday mornings. As I begin to type this on Sunday night, I get the feeling that’s not going to be the case for me. A lifelong insomniac, I’m also struggling with depression and anxiety and disordered eating. Throw all that into the cauldron along with how busy things are getting in the lead up to Christmas (not very compatible with a textbook introvert who gets her energy from being along rather than in big social situations), a particularly frustrating work situation that I’m stuck with at the moment, and my body struggling to adjust to some new medication, and it’s just, well…. yeah. So at this point, every Monday I can get through in one piece is a massive win right now!

I know a lot of people like to reward themselves for getting through another Monday unscathed; for some, it’s a beer or a nice glass of wine. For others, it’s a spot of online shopping. Or maybe watching their favourite guilty pleasure trashy TV show. Personally, I like a cup of tea on the couch in my PJs with a little something sweet to eat. So if I get through today, this is what I’m gonna be treating myself with.

This is a magical little cup of happiness, based on the recipe I used for the chocolate mug cake. Other than the matcha powder, it uses staple pantry ingredients that you should always have handy, and it only takes about 5 minutes start to finish, so it’s the perfect end-of-the-day treat 🙂 I also like to use pandan kaya on top of mine, because it tastes fantastic with the matcha – this is the stuff I use, which I get from ARC Asian Grocers at Preston Market. It’s SO GOOD!!!

 

To make one big pudding cup or two small ones:
– ¼ cup plain flour or almond meal (if I have almond meal, I like a 50/50 mix)
– ½ tsp matcha powder
– ¼ tsp baking powder
– ½ tbsp caster sugar
– ½ tbsp shredded coconut
– ¼ cup milk (I like almond milk for this)
– 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
– optional – a few strawberries or raspberries, pandan kaya

And then:
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a coffee mug or tea cup.
2. Add in the wet ingredients and stir to combine completely.
3. If you want to add in berries, stir them in now.

4. Microwave for 1 – 2 minutes, depending on how strong your microwave is.
5. Take it out, let it cool for a minute, top with pandan kaya and a little more shredded coconut if you want, and enjoy!

I hope everyone has a good Monday; make sure you make time to do a little something for yourself, and if you need a little treat tonight, I hope you can enjoy a matcha pudding cup, too!

Cook this: 6 ingredient cookies (gluten, lactose, egg free)

I used to hate Fridays. Back when I was working in gyms and in retail travel. I bloody hated Fridays. Because when everyone else was winding down from the week and ready to enjoy their weekend, I was just gearing up. Friday was like a Tuesday or Wednesday for me. For the first decade of my working life, I worked almost every weekend. And it sucked.

But now that I’m doing the corporate thing for work, and not stressing about whether or not I’ll actually get paid because I no longer get paid per personal training session or on commission per holiday sold, weekends are a thing of beauty. Friday is a happy day. I get to wear my jeans to work and be all “casual.” I get to visit my beloved Preston Market after work and do my groceries with the Euro-nannas. I get to take said groceries home and bake something! That’s where it can get a little tricky – Friday nights are when you want something nice to nibble on, but can’t actually be bothered putting in much of an effort, because, ya know, it’s Friday.

Enter these guys. Cookies from the heavens.
6 ingredients.
1 bowl.
1 spoon.
Highly customizable.
Gluten free.
Lactose free.
Egg free.

This is Friday night baking at its best. Now, throw these together when you get home this afternoon and prepare a glass of wine to go with that shitty movie you’re planning to unwind with after another long week at work.

Unless you work in the gym or retail sector, in which case prepare a double batch and a bottle of wine, and good luck for the weekend!!

(Based loosely on the cookie layer recipe from Eating Bird Food’s Twix Bars)

Ingredients:
– 1 cup almond meal
– ⅛ tsp sea salt
– ⅛ tsp baking soda
– 2 tbsp maple syrup
– 1.5 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

That’s the base 6 ingredients you need, but then you can top the cookies with whatever you want. I used chocolate chips, but anything goes!

1. Throw everything into a bowl and mix it together – when it becomes too crumbly, use your hands to smoosh it all together.

2. Line an oven tray with baking paper, and take tablespoon (or teaspoon, depending on what you’re after) sized chunks of dough, roll into balls and flatten slightly, placing them on the baking tray as you go. If you want to add a little something on top, like my chocolate chips, do that now.

3. Sit the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes, and while they’re resting, preheat the oven to 160°C.

4. Take the cookies out of the freezer and into the oven for 15 minutes; once they’re baked (they won’t brown up much, and that’s ok – they’re not meant to!), take them out of the oven and let them cool on the tray to room temperature.

5. Eat all of the cookies while watching the latest episodes of The Vampire Diaries and America’s Next Top Model. Yes they are my guilty pleasures, judge away, I don’t even care. Except that tonight I won’t be in my PJs by 7pm, because I’ll be out at the first Christmas party of the season… I hope they have cookies…

Cook this: 6 ingredient pork fried rice

“It’s way too expensive.”

“It’s too hard – how am I supposed to come up with ideas every night?!”

“It’ll taste crap.”

“What, like kale and salad? No thanks!”

“How can you be bothered? It takes too long and I have better things to do than spend hours in the kitchen!”

“But my kids/partner/cat has special dietary requirements.”

“It won’t keep – instead of having left overs, I’ll just have to throw it out, and that’s such a waste.”

While it did in large part contribute to my current disordered eating situation, my career in the health and wellness industry (the result of my uni degree in exercise science) did also have a few up sides, one of which was that I developed an appreciation and genuine enjoyment of well prepared healthy food.

One of my biggest professional hates, along with “I didn’t have time to exercise this week” (but you had time to watch TV for 2 hours each night?!) were all the excuses listed above for not making healthy food choices. Studying nutrition made up a good part of my uni degree and further learning/career; a huge con is the subconscious knowledge and counting of every single calorie I eat. But an even bigger pro is the ability I now have to put together a healthy meal with minimal ingredients, in a short time frame.

Allow me to give you a really quick recipe before demonstrating how wrong all of those points are…

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6 Ingredient Pork Fried Rice

Ingredients (makes 4 serves)
– 500g pork mince
– 2 cups cooked brown rice
– 2 carrots, peeled and diced (you can par-boil if you don’t like your veggies as crunchy)
– 1 broccoli, chopped (you can par-boil if you don’t like your veggies as crunchy)
– 400g tin corn kernels, drained
– soy sauce
– cooking spray oil (I’m not counting this as an actual “ingredient”!)

Method
1. Heat a large wok over high heat, spray with cooking oil and add the mince. Cook, stirring constantly to break it up in the wok for a few minutes, until it’s cooked through and no pink remains in the meat.

2. Add the carrots, broccoli and corn kernels, cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the carrot softens and the veggies get a little colour to them.

3. Add the cooked rice and as much or as little soy sauce as you want – keep stirring over high heat for another 5 minutes, or until the rice starts to get a little crispier (I tend to stop and stir in intervals around 30 seconds, to allow the rice to form a bit of a crust on the bottom of my wok, which tastes amazing when you scrape it up.

4. That’s it! Serve it up with garnishes if you have/want them – I use fresh coriander and the tops of spring onions, to keep it FODMAP friendly.

 

 

So, how does it weigh up?

 

“It’s way too expensive.”
No it’s not – I can get a kilo of pork mince at my local market for around $7.00, 2kg of rice for around $4.00, and you can’t tell me 2 carrots, a broccoli and a tin of corn are going to break the bank!

“It’s too hard – how am I supposed to come up with ideas every night?!”
6 ingredients and 4 steps ain’t hard! As for coming up with ideas, there are SO many amazing healthy food blogs around – get inspired and read!

“It’ll taste crap.”
Wrong again! Keep it simple – a few good ingredients = delicious meal.

“What, like kale and salad? No thanks!”
Healthy food doesnt’ have to be salad! I’ve based this recipe off a pretty basic principle – 1 serve of healthy fat (cooking oil), 1 serve of protein (mince), 2 serves of grains (rice), 3 serves of veggies. Once you’ve got that basic formula, you can make it whatever you want!

“How can you be bothered? It takes too long and I have better things to do than spend hours in the kitchen!”
Around half an hour to make 4 meals. That’s all you need.Wanna make it extra quick? Use one of those microwave rice packets instead!

“But my kids/partner/cat has special dietary requirements.”
Low fat, low calorie, gluten free (as long as you use GF soy sauce), lactose free, low FODMAP, no nuts, no eggs. What else do you want?!

“It won’t keep – instead of having left overs, I’ll just have to throw it out, and that’s such a waste.”
Keeps perfectly well in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge.

 

So if you’re stuck for quick and easy and cheap and healthy meal ideas for the rest of the week, just grab these few ingredients and enjoy this week!

Cook this: Healthy peanut butter cookies

I know what you’re thinking. Yeah, sure, “healthy” cookies. Like a few seeds makes it “good” for you. Whatever.

But seriously, these actually are good. No flour, no sugar, no eggs or butter. My baby sister (a clean eating and tough training machine) got me onto these – a super simple recipe that tastes like a treat, but made from pretty healthy ingredients, so you can enjoy them without guilt! They can’t be THAT bad, can they?! Now that I have your attention..

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You’re gonna need (to make around 15):
– 100g almond meal
– 150g peanut butter
– 75g mixed seeds (I used sunflower and pepitas)
– 175g pitted dates
– 1-2tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp bicarb soda

Ready for how ridiculously easy these are to make?
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Put the dates & peanut butter into a food processor or blender, and blitz until the dates are well shredded up and combined with the peanut butter.
3. Put the rest of the ingredients into the food processor and blitz again until they are all combined.
4. Roll the mixture into balls, pop them onto the tray and bake 12 – 15min.

That’s it. Seriously. They are soft, crumbly, and really really delicious. No sugar required. Can be made gluten free or vegan. Can muck around with it and swap ingredients around – use cranberries or figs instead of dates. Use hazelnuts and cacao nibs instead of seeds. Use almond butter instead of peanut butter. Use oats instead of almond meal. Whatever, anything goes! Enjoy!