Saturday, 27 February 2010

amaranth raisin cinnamon cookies

today i was given the challenge of baking with the amaranth we have in the cupboard...it's been there for a while now without being used, and i think mum is getting a little annoyed.

i thought that was a fantastic challenge, and so i went on google and started typing in like 'amaranth baking', etc, only to find most recipes call for amaranth flour, rather than the grain...which is what we have. then i stumbled across this little gem at Me and My Boys, which asked for the grain to be popped and added to a cookie batter - interesting idea right?

so, i made the amaranth cookies, and my goodness how tasty! i do have a few issues with some of the ingredients, but i thought i'd follow the recipe as close as possible just in case it turned out weird, then i couldn't blame myself...!! after making them, i think they are pretty adjustable - sub in ground almonds and buckwheat instead of regular wheat for a gluten free variety, and perhaps agave and honey for the sugar so they are sugar free too.



amaranth cookies

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rapeseed oil
1 mashed banana
1 egg
1tbsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups popped amaranth (roughly 1/3 cup before popping)
1/2 cup raisins

 - pop 1/3 cup amaranth grain *
 - beat together the sugar, oil, banana, egg and vanilla.
 - mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, popped amaranth and raisins.
 - dollop the mix onto non stick trays and put in the oven at 180c/350f for about 8 minutes.
 - remove from the oven and enjoy!!

* to pop the grain, make sure you practice in small sections to get the temperature correct. mine worked best at about medium to medium high. then add 1 tbsp of grain to the hot pan, put the lid on and shake every couple of seconds. it shouldn't take too long to pop (like 30seconds - if that), and you'll know when it's finished, by the reduced amount of crazy popping - although not all of the grain will pop, but that doesn't matter.



why should you even eat amaranth?
 - for a full nutrition profile, click here.
 - or just know that: amaranth has a pretty complete protein which is highly unusual for plants, it boosts the immune system and reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, it's high in fibre and iron, phosporus and magnesium too, it also has a ridiculous amount of minerals in it!!
 
 
i'll definitely be cooking more with this grain, now that i know how to cook it to make it taste just delicious!! i'm thinking popped amaranth granola might be next on the list - particularly lovely with fresh blueberries and cinnamon almond milk....mmmmmm!
 
ps. the nutty flavour of the amaranth would definitely go brilliantly with chocolate...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

my new ice cream maker & chococo sorbet

after falling in love with a very expensive (but worth it) dairy and sugar free ice cream, i've been thinking about getting my own ice cream maker to recreate some of the delicious flavours and textures for a lot less money at home.

i researched and researched the different types of ice cream maker, and settled for a Magimix Le Glacier 1.1, at just under £40.

this is the type of ice cream maker that you need to put in the freezer for at least 12 hours before you want to make ice cream - no matter, because i have created a space in the freezer for it to live until i need it.

and so, my first impressions of the machine are really good. it's so easy to use, and doesn't take up much space at all. i made a chocolate coconut milk batch yesterday, which turned out beautifully (3heaped tsps cocoa, 1 pint coconut milk) and is stored in my freezer today - 1 pint of homemade ice cream seems way more than store bought! i did add a few chocolate drops, and the final consistency is more sorbet like than creamy, but i think it'd be the most amazing low carb treat in the summer, i can't wait!

i will name it chococo sorbet



ps. i made the black bean chocolate cake for a family celebration at the weekend, and everyone loved it! so if you haven't attempted it yet, do have a go, it's not too expensive, and i'm sure it can't fail. this batch seemed to rise much more, i might have whisked it a little more than last time....and the topping was so much better - real dark chocolate, butter and some coconut milk, so delicious!!

pps. i made the coconut milk cookies again, and took them to my grandparents, much appreciated! they lasted for a couple of days in the container too which is great!

ppps. both of my brothers are catching on to my healthy ways, my youngest one went into a health food shop (a big acheivement in itself) and bought some acai/green tea supplements and some Bio-CLA! and my oldest brother ate a salad whilst his wife ate fish and chips. i'm so proud of them both! - even though, granted, they're both doing it in order to be more muscley!

Monday, 15 February 2010

ok, YUM!

in my mission to be a valuable resource to all of my lovely readers, i've been researching different health blogs, videos and books....and whenever i come across something good, life-altering and informative, i'll let you all know.

so for now, i wanted to let you in on this video, straight from the help yourself restaurant in key west:


it all looks seriously yummy, and the rest of these videos have so much inspirational food and health ideas, you should definitely check it out. oh, how i wish i lived somewhere that sunny and beautiful, with local coconuts!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

butternut + spinach triangles and coconut milk cookies

i've had the remaining few sheets of filo pastry in my fridge, and been wondering what to do with them. then a thought came across my mind that just wouldn't leave...butternut squash and spinach. good combo, i thought. and i wasn't wrong.

after making spanakopita the other week, i felt it wasn't too taxing to do all the buttering and folding, so asked my mum for help and made a mini production line of these bad boys; 16 in total!

to make the inside mixture, i gentle fried one onion and one shallot (both diced), i steamed some frozen spinach - about 3-4 blocks - and roasted one segmented butternut squash for about 1 hour. i mixed everything together, taking great care to have got rid of all the water from the spinach before chopping and adding it to the mix. i also added a tiny amount of cheese, 1 beaten egg and some seasoning.

then we got to buttering, filling and folding, and more buttering (i used half organic butter, and half soya spread - which is a pretty good combination). popped in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until golden, turned 1/3 to half way through so both sides get all golden and crispy.


these were really good straight from the oven, but really really really good heated up the day after. my granddad even agreed with their being tasty - which given he's a meat and potatoes, no fuss kinda guy, really is quite the compliment! and these are freezable too!!

then i made some coconut milk cookies, because you just have too don't you. and they were incredible! seriously good...squishy and not flaky, sweet and interesting, tasting way too indulgent whilst actually being really super healthy! cookie perfection.

the recipe i started with was this one for cherry coconut oatmeal cookies from rosemary's bakery. but i changed it of course, so here's what i actually used:
  • mixed together the wet ingredients: 1/4 cup rapeseed oil, 1/2 cup agave nectar, 1/2 cup honey, sprinkle salt, 6 tbsp coconut milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • then mix in the dry ingredients: 1/2 cup stoneground wholewheat flour, 1 1/2 cups porridge oats, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp cranberries, 1 tbsp sultanas, 1 dsp sunflower seeds, 1 dsp linseeds, 1 dsp sesame seeds.
  • place on a baking tray in the oven at 180c for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden, turning towards the end of cooking time.

oh, how i wish there were some of these left! even though the recipe did yield a good amount of cookies, everyone hoovered these up very rapidly. i guess it helps when they/re low GI and dairy free ♥

Friday, 12 February 2010

treats from my local farm shop

we recently stopped off at a new local farm shop and cafe, and picked up a few things after having the tastiest hot chocolate ever (naughty i know, but a necessary way to review new cafes!)...

                            
                            

the stuff in the paper bag is 'new forest wild game pate', 'habas mojado' - or roasted broad beans, and sun dried tomatoes. then we got two pies: wild mushroom and a 'heidi pie' - that's sweet potato and goats cheese, mmmm.

i'm so grateful for our local farm shop, and i'm sure we'll be back there for some delicious local organic produce! there were loads of yummy brands and good looking food available. the only problem with stores like that is that i end up spending loads of money!!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

black bean chocolate cake

when i wrote about healthy indulgences yesterday, i included a picture of their black bean chocolate cake, and it immediately went on my healthy recipes for 2010 list. it's grain free and sugar free, woohoo!

you can find the delicious recipe here, and i did follow it pretty straight for once. almost. except instead of xylitol or erythritol or stevia or splenda, i used agave because that's what i had in my cupboard. i found a tin of organic black eyed beans in the international/health foods aisle of my local supermarket, so i was pretty set to go. and i bought some organic butter...though next time i'll probably try using coconut oil (but it's so expensive, i'm very hesitant to buy it).



i could happily make and eat this every week, and it'll certainly be made at all special occasions. i tastes so chocolate-y, and NOT AT ALL like beans (for those of you who are wondering about that!). i love love love it!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

healthy indulgences

let me start by saying that i tried millent and amaranth porridge yesterday, and i blatantly need to try another recipe because it was pretty shockingly bad. i will persevere because i have almost a full packet left of both! i hope i'll come up with a solution to the blandness and dodgy texture. anyone got a good recipe?

i wanted to share with you a new found favorite blog of mine, called Healthy Indulgences. it's a gluten free, sugar free, natural and delicious recipe/healthy eating blog, and it has loads of recipes for scrumptious and healthy (often grain-free) desserts. after finding the first blog i could actually eat everything from and looked good too, The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, i really felt that there must be more great healthy recipe blogs out there...so i have been searching and searching. and every once in a while i stumble upon a real gem.

here are the tasty treats i'm looking forward to making:


From top to bottom, left to right: Healthy Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, Sugar Free Marshmallows, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, Chocolate Almond Ice Cream, Black Bean Chocolate Cake, Chewy Honey Nut Cookies

Friday, 5 February 2010

raspberry and walnut smoothie

i was browsing the net for healthy smoothie recipes, and after getting loads of ideas, i've been experimenting. today's was really, really nice actually.


i soaked a handful of walnuts in water for 24hours, to remove the bad stuff, and make them much softer. i couldn't find any clear evidence on how long and whether i should soak them, but i didn't think it would hurt so much, as they tasted pretty bad to begin with (after soaking they were much sweeter and nicer, and less 'off' tasting, some think they taste bland, but i prefer them this way).

i put the nuts in the blender with about 2 cups of water, and blended up until really smooth. i strained it through a straining bag (the one i use is meant for jam, but it works just perfectly here too) and then put the strained 'milk' back in the blender. i popped in a handful of frozen raspberries, a squeeze of agave and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and then put the blender on for about a minute, until it was really smooth.

then i put it into my favorite cup, and drank the lot pretty quickly!

ps. doesn't it match my new coat colour pretty well?

pps. if you want to see a video of what's in my fridge, then check out my Youtube channel!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

avocado and kale salad

yesterday i made a kale salad, and today i made it again because it was so yummy.


it's simply quartered cherry tomatoes, chopped avocado, a sprinkle sunflower seeds, a sprinkle linseeds, chopped salad onions, diced red pepper, olive oil massaged chopped kale and a little black pepper and salt.

and i put a little sneaky extra in, a spoonful of mayonnaise, which really made it very very delicious.

you can vary the quantities of what you put in, and maybe add a few extra ingredients of your own. but kale is really really tasty eaten this way. and really good for you too!

happy eating ♥

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

delicious brown rice nori rolls

i've made another of my 2010 recipes...and this was one i was extremely excited about: brown rice nori rolls! i had quite a few tasty nori rolls when i was on my round the world trip, and i've been very excited about making my own ever since, but not got round to it, until today!



i boiled half a cup of organic brown rice with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. when it reached boiling, i turned the temperature way down and let it simmer for about 45 mins. then took it off the heat to cool.

i sliced a little bit of red pepper and some avocado. then got out a nori sheet... placed the rice on the sheet, then the pepper and avocado, and then rolled it up. way too much rice though, so i ought to have spread it over two nori sheets. never mind, i'll know next time and so will you!

i'm so happy to have made these, and i think that these would make a delicious party snack or an amazing packed lunch for the future! and so easy to do!


ps. please excuse the photo editing. one day i'll be a total pro.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

spanakopita & red cabbage coleslaw

well, at the weekend i managed to cross off another of the items on my 2010 recipes list: spinach and feta spanakopita (from the falling cloudberries cookbook). i made them exactly as the recipe says, and they're pretty easy to make really.



it was so delicious, and they made a great lunchbox treat yesterday at work. it's the kind of food that gets better with age, as the flavours can kind of marinade for a little longer.

here's how i made them:
 - blanched 250g fresh spinach in boiling salted water...i think you could definitely use frozen for this recipe too. take it out after it has wilted, which is not particularly long, and drain. leave to cool and drain on one side.
 - mash together 150g feta cheese with a couple tbsp of dairy-free parmezano, a sprinkle of black pepper, pinch nutmeg and one egg.
 - squeeze every last drop of water out of the spinach - the way i did this was to literally squeeze it between my hands. then chop it up and put it in with the feta. mix it all together until it looks well combined.
 - get out some fillo pastry, i used 6 sheets. melt 90g butter (i used half butter butter, and half soya) and keep to one side. i kept my filo pastry between two damp teatowels throughout the process to stop it from drying out.
 - take one sheet, and brush with melted butter, cut in half and lay one side on top of the other (buttered sides upwards). then cut in half again.
 - put a spoonful of feta and spinach mix at the bottom of these quarters, and start to fold. take one corner over to the other side, and flip up, continue until it's a beautiful triangle. brush all over with butter and lay on a baking tray.
 - go as quickly as you can to complete the rest, and put straight in the oven once you have a full baking tray (make sure it's non stick or lined with greaseproof paper). cook until golden brown. you might want to brush with butter again and turn them over about two thirds of the way through cooking time so they turn super golden and crispy.

the coleslaw i made by: grating two carrots, slicing finely 1/4 red cabbage, 2 sliced salad onions, 3 dessertspoons low fat mayo, 2 dessertspoons wholegrain mustard, and a sprinkle black pepper. YUM! this keeps really well, and is delicious with anything!

ps. i've frozen two of them to see if they freeze well at all...i guess probably not, but you never know! how handy would these be to have in the freezer though ♥