Archive | June, 2012

Brussel sprouts CAN be delicious

30 Jun
Brussel sprouts with chicken-bacon and olives

Brussel sprouts can be nom nom nom

When I first tried brussel sprouts, they were dis-gust-ing. When I tried them again, they were dis-gust-ing-er. But then I saw this video by Christina Dugdale and my mouth started watering, so I decided brussel sprouts deserved a second chance.

I’m so happy that I did. The key, as Christina says in her recipe, is to bake them in the oven after they’ve been quickly cooked on the stove top. This caramelizes them and removes that bitter grossness. When I cooked them I decided to serve them with bacon, so used chicken-bacon as a healthier alternative to traditional bacon. First I fried the bacon and set it aside, then I cooked the brussel sprouts on the stove top in the fat from the bacon. After that I baked the brussel sprouts. When the brussel sprouts were ready, I added the cooked bacon back in with them and Koha suggested we add some olives too, so we did.

The result was amazing. While Koha wasn’t a huge fan of them, she ate a few before deciding to concentrate on picking out and gobbling up the bacon and the olives. I ate.. too many. But, as Christina says in that video, brussel sprouts are good for me, so never mind, it’s all in the name of cancer avoidance ūüėČ

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Superfood: Why we love blueberries <3

30 Jun
blueberries

blueberries (Photo credit: Simply Bike)

We LOVE blueberries. Why? Because they taste delicious. Obviously ūüôā

But blueberries are more than simply delicious, they are amazingly good for us to. For this reason we eat blueberries a lot, and usually buy frozen packs and have them in the freezer at all times. When we want some, we simply thaw them out and eat them (or we eat them as a cold dessert).

Why are blueberries so great?

  • Apparently, 100 grams of blueberries contains as much antioxidant phytonutrients as five servings of vegetables. Antioxidant phytonutrients are said to help prevent cancer, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, cataracts and Alzheimers.
  • Great source of fibre. Fibre helps keep you regular (ahem ahem). This is very important for your general health.
  • Blueberries are said to help slow the onset of age-related neurological disease. In other words, they help you keep your marbles.
  • Contain polyphenols, which combat the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are released when the body is under stress, for example when doing intensive weight training. Eating foods like blueberries helps combat that, which aids the body’s recovery.
  • Free radicals are also said to cause wrinkles, so eating blueberries helps maintain your youthful appearance.
  • Blueberries taste delicious but are low in calories.

How do we like our blueberries?

We often have blueberries with porridge, or in blueberry pancakes. Koha also likes it when I throw a few frozen blueberries into her lunch box, which thaw in time for lunch at creche. When blueberries are in season, sometimes we buy punnets and simply scoff them down (they usually don’t last long around here).

Blueberries are also nice in muffins, salads, or sprinkled on yoghurt.

Stevia: Natural, Low Calorie, Alternative to Sugar

29 Jun
Sweete - a brand that makes stevia in a "sugar" form

Sweete – a brand that makes stevia in a “sugar” form

We use stevia a lot in our baking and when we make coffee or porridge. This is because it’s natural and it has a minimal amount of calories. We particularly like the sweete brand (pictured above) but find it a little expensive compared to other brands which are sold in a tablet form, so we generally use other brands of stevia tablets in hot drinks and save the sweete granules for porridge. I’ve also heard of people buying stevia plants and dehydrating the leaves and using those in their baking. We haven’t tried it, but perhaps in the future we will do that as it sounds amazing.

Refined sugar is so common, but so unhealthy. There are multiple articles on how sugar harms the body, and if you want to make a change in your diet sugar should be high on your list of things to cut out.

If you do want to move away from sugar, the easiest way to do it is to switch to something similar which is better for you – move to stevia or another natural sweetener. Personally, I’m more likely to stay away from sugar when I have something else instead. It’s easier to say “I’ll have stevia” than it is to say “I won’t have sugar”. This is because your mind focuses on what you tell it, if you keep thinking “no sugar, no sugar, no sugar” you are focusing on sugar.. if you think “stevia, stevia” you will actually be able to reduce your sugar intake.¬†There are also a lot of other natural sweeteners you might also like to try including honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or molasses.

At the moment on the Sweete website, you can sample this product for free:¬†www.sweete.co.nz. I highly recommend you check it out and grab a free sample. ¬†If you hate it, that’s ok. At least you were brave enough to give something new a go.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: Protein Pancakes! (Gluten & Lactose free)

29 Jun
Blueberry Pancake

Yum Yum Blueberry Pancakes!

Koha is obsessed with these blueberry pancakes, and if she had her way we’d have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Luckily these pancakes are also very nutritionally dense, and while I wouldn’t recommend them for every meal (way too many egg whites for one day), they are a healthy everyday meal option and can be slipped into the lunch box and eaten cold. This recipe doesn’t have any dairy and, depending on the brand of oats used, are also gluten free. I always laugh when Koha takes these pancakes in her lunch box to creche because they look like they are less healthy than the standard jam sandwiches other children at creche have, but they are actually much healthier. We will post a video of us making these delicious pancakes soon (as I’ve promised Koha we will).

Ingredients: (makes about 4 serves)

–¬†rolled or quick oats, 2 cups
– stevia, 1/4 cup
– baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon
– salt, 1/8th teaspoon
– egg whites, x 6-8 eggs (size dependent) *
– vanilla essence – 1 teaspoon (optional)
– water about 1-1.5 cups, cold or warm but not hot
Рblueberries 1 handful 
– canola oil spray

Method:

1: Turn the oats into oat flour by putting them through the blender until fine. Doesn’t need to be perfect, just sorta like flour.

2: Mix all the dry ingredients well.

3: Add in the vanilla & egg whites & mix.

4: Slowly mix in water. You should have a batter about the same as for normal pancake recipes, perhaps slightly thicker

5: Fold the blueberries into this batter. Try not to mix too much because it looks better if you don’t.. otherwise they become blue pancakes instead of white ones with blueberries inside them.

6: Heat frying pan, and lightly spray bottom of pan with canola oil spray.

7: Pour batter into pan. I like to do dollops which are small enough so that the resulting pancake can fit into the toaster.

8: Like with normal pancake recipes, turn when bubbles appear.

9: When cooked remove from pan (when you have made pancakes before you become good at judging this, if you are still unsure of your abilities, the best way is to cook one smaller pancake on one half of the pan, and when it gets bubbles you flip it and pour some more batter on the other half of the pan, when that second one gets bubbles you flip the second one and remove the first one.. and continue that way… at most you burn 1 pancake.)

10: DONE! Either eat immediately, or pop into the fridge and toast them later in the toaster (that’s what my husband will do every morning as I make these babies in bulk), or eat them cold later. You can eat these plain, or add a topping like honey, butter, or peanut butter.

We initially started making these because my husband and I were following a weight training program and diet from www.bodybuilding.com, which required breakfasts of egg whites and oats. This pancake incorporates those main ingredients in an appetizing way. The addition of blueberries (super food!!) packs these pancakes with additional antioxidants, which are really good for maintaining a healthy body and which also support recovery when training or exercising.

Because these protein pancakes do not have any additional protein powders added to them, they are fine for children to have. * To make them even better for children, you should half the number of eggs and use whole eggs instead of just whites, because the yolks of eggs are an excellent source of healthy fat and nutrients which support brain development. You could also try them as waffles by cooking them in a waffle iron, or you could switch the blueberries for something like bananas for a new flavour.

Cooking Show: Hummus!

29 Jun


Our first video for our cooking show! Pardon the poor quality video, we have very basic equipment. We had to make a few substitutions for our recipe based on what we had on hand. It worked out well though and tasted nice. Making hummus at home means (1) we know what’s in it, and (2) we save money. For the same amount of store bought hummus you’d spend about $8 (in New Zealand in 2012). We made this for about $2 total. We added garlic and cumin for flavour. You can leave those out, or try something else. We might try cooked red peppers next time.

Here are some links to other good hummus recipes:

http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-hummus/¬†: this recipe is very similar to our one, but uses tahini instead of oil and has a little salt, actual garlic cloves (not minced garlic) and no cumin. We love this website as it has loads of recipes and prepares them according to “clean eating” principles.

http://evewaspartiallyright.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/cannellini-cilantro-hummus-quick-easy.html : this recipe uses olive oil and adds some heat with chilli. This hummus interestingly uses cannellini beans rather than chick peas (garbanzo).

Koha’s Lunch: Dipping Snacks Hummus or Yoghurt

27 Jun
Hummus Lunch Box

Hummus is a fantastic and healthy option for the lunch box

There’s just something about the action of dipping that makes eating fun. For Koha’s lunch I gave her a variety of things which she could dip into this homemade hummus (we will put a cooking show video up soon). Wholegrain toast, carrots and rice crackers are all good options for serving with this homemade dip. I haven’t tried banana with hummus, but who’s to say that wouldn’t taste good too?

Yoghurt is another alternative for healthy dipping. Carrot sticks or celery taste amazing with yoghurt.

I’m a big advocate for taking the tricks of the fast-food junk-food companies and applying them as a Mum for the purpose of getting my child to eat and love healthy foods. This lunch uses loads of bright and interesting colours. It also uses the trick of small things. Chips and lollies are small, and I know from experience just how easy it is to eat a lot of those! These snacks are all “fun size”, and I’ve noticed that when I serve vegetables like this Koha actually eats a lot more of them.