#winter, baking, DIY, Easy Recipes, Fruit, Healthy treats on the run, Home cooked, Prepare ahead of time, summer, Summer eating

Christmas Pudding Bliss

WARNING – These are highly moreish, very festive, and a little bit addictive. I have served these around at work today and they have been highly rated by everyone and even got the Drs approval! But seriously, unlike everyone else in the online health space, I am not going to tell you to eat this instead of chocolate because they are gluten free, and dairy free, and they don’t contain refined sugar, but I would rather show this as an example of health marketing and how it can change our perception of health. This recipe is originally adapted from one by The Healthy Chef Teresa Cutter. She’s got a great site and recipes but I just wanted to say that perception is everything.

I may be perceived as unhealthy for typing eat the chocolate, but I truly believe that you should sometimes, eat the chocolate. And I am sure Teresa would agree. When we try to deviate from what our body tells us to eat, sometimes we can place an unnecessary restriction on ourselves and thats sometimes the thing that can feel like deprivation. This is not healthy. It is good to try to make healthy choices but probably not good to sacrifice preference. The outcome should probably be a means of making healthy preferences instead of rules. BALANCE.

But anyways, being overly healthy because of marketing is by no means the point of this post; which is on Christmas in Australia and what it is like for all the Northern Hemisphere, cold Christmas goers. So now that we have that straight, disclaimer – they are in no way a chocolate replacement – just more of a hot pudding replacement and easy to eat alongside the chocolate!

Part of being healthy is eating the chocolate, and balancing it out with things like these fruit and nut truffles. Given its so hot in Sydney for Christmas, these can be really refreshing cold straight from the fridge. Its also a bonus not to have to steam a pudding (sweat alert!).. Plus we have a pudding maker in our family and she is the best at it with her years of experience, I really wouldn’t want to challenge her.

Another good point about this recipe is that this is versatile and it doesn’t take a lot of time out of the overall busy season. Its also something you can make into something else for whatever the occasion – so I am going to try to roll this into a log to be  served alongside some different cheeses tomorrow. There is one negative and that is the price of dried fruit and almond meal – you might need two batches of this as its yummy so go to your local community bulk buy store to get some cheaper prices than in the supermarket to help the Christmas budget.

To everyone in the Northern Hemisphere cooler climate, you might like to leave them out of the refrigerator and serve them at room temperature alongside a nice glass of warm mulled wine….  transforming them into wintery Christmas Pudding that you don’t have to bake. Time saving, delicious, and AMAZINGLY versatile!! Heres the recipe.

YOU’LL NEED:
A food processor with a sharp blade. Measuring cups. A wooden spoon for scraping the sides. And a large mixing bowl. 2 plates, one for rolling and the other for coconut. And a Christmas CD of your choice. Maybe a glass of wine.

INGREDIENTS:

DRIED FRUIT
250 grams diced apricots
20 pitted dates, diced

NUTS
1.5 cups almond meal, plus an extra half cup in case of emergencies with the orange juice.

1 small orange, zest removed, and set aside, and half of its juice – around 1/4 cup.
1 tsp vanilla extract, essence or vanilla bean paste
2 tsp cacao powder

SPICES EVERYONE HAS AT HOME BUT NEVER USES UP, EVER:
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

HOW TO MAKE:
Place the chopped dates and apricots into the processor first.
They should be room temp for easy processing. Don’t do what I did this morning and use hardened and refrigerator cold dates, as they don’t combine well and any cold fruit will rattle around in the processor. Annoying.
Make sure they are at room temp so that mix in the same consistency. SUPER LAZY TIP – If you haven’t diced them you could blitz them a little before to get them together.
After they are mixed, add almond meal, cacao, orange zest, spices, vanilla and blitz together until it resembles a mince. For about 2 mins. Seriously. Then add in the orange juice and process until it forms a sticky ball. If its too wet and you can’t hold it without it sticking to your hands a lot, add in the extra half cup of almond meal at this point and blitz into the mixture.

Turn it all out into a bowl and form into whatever shape you like. This should only take about 15 mins if you are a fast roller.

Dust with cacao and cinnamon or icing sugar. To dust: in a bowl, mix together 1 desert spoon of cacao and 1 tsp cinnamon. Then dust them with the mixture and some icing sugar. Or roll them in 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut on a plate (untoasted).

Refrigerate in a container for a bit before you eat them, for the max effect on a hot day.
My favourite is with the coconut as I think it adds something to the flavours. I used McKenzies coconut flakes, they are a much larger and thicker shredded style of coconut, not so dry and generally more dense than desiccated coconut usually is, so they stick on better overall and taste way better too.

I hope you will try this, its really easy and really delicious!!!

Thanks for reading and your likes and follows this year. Its been really cool to build the Healthy Little Kitchen page up and Ive got a few more in store for 2017!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas,

Jill  x

Standard
baking, BBQ accompaniments, cafe food, Cardioprotective food, Easy Recipes, Healthy dinner ideas, Home cooked, Mid week lunches, Prepare ahead of time, vegetarian

My Cheat loaf … not for cheat days!!

This thing, this loaf, is not a cheat day meal – its a vegetarian meat loaf comprised of chickpeas, black eye beans and vegetables. I know I make a lot of loaf style things and its just because they are easy to make. Baking something is so easy to do in between emails and laundry, it basically cooks itself once the oven timer has been set!

I came across this recipe on the Connoisseurus Veg blog and its become popular with my home crew who usually love their meat. I didn’t have all the ingredients that Alissa used so this one is more basic that her recipe, I didn’t have flaxseeds or the liquid smoke either – it was a bit fancy for me. But still successful – particularly with the brothers and my mom who are usually huge meat fans. I also substituted out one of the cans of chickpeas for black eye beans which Edgell have finally started to be sell here in Aus now. I first tried these when I lived in the states and I loved them. They are a good source of protein and fibre and mix in well with the chickpeas in terms of flavour and legumes are usually quite economical as well. The other thing I like about this recipe is that it is super simple; all you have to do is fill your food processor and blitz until everything is a bit crumbly and broken down to a mince consistency.

You’ll need:

Food processor – large capacity – or you could use a small one but just blend it in batches.

1 x400g tin of chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 x400g tin of black eye beans drained and rinsed

2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 onion, 2 carrots & 2 celery sticks … all diced. I chop my veggies a bit larger so that some of them are still visible in the loaf once its cooked.
Salt & Pepper to season – you could add in extra paprika or other herbs if you like.

2 Tablespoons each of Olive Oil, Worcester sauce, Low Sodium Soy, Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Soy Milk or dairy alternative – increase to 1/2 cup if mixture is too dry after blending.

Maple Glaze Ingredients – in a small bowl, mix together
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika

Once the mix is blended, place into a lined loaf tin, top with tomato maple glaze and bake for 40 mins at 180 degrees. This will be quite soft so I would recommend eating it when its cooled for awhile, you could bake it in the morning and let it sit for bit.

I’ve taken to serving it with my other side dishes like some stirfried tofu or asian greens or sometimes have it with a green salad. Its even nice cold. My little brother who I think is actually a genius has taken to shallow frying it for an extra crunchy element, and served with polenta. And I also think it might be good with a serve of sweet potato fries *drools*!

Overall, its versatile. Give it a go and let me know your thoughts on it.. on a meatfree monday perhaps?

Standard
baking, BBQ accompaniments, DIY, Easy Recipes, Healthy dinner ideas, Home cooked, Prepare ahead of time, vegetarian

Lentil and Quinoa Stuffed Capsicums

These make a good veggie lunch or can be a side to any roast dinner.

You’ll need:

5 or 6 traffic light capsicums all around the same size
3/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup aborio rice
1/2 cup French (blue) lentils
1 medium onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 -3 cups chicken or veg. stock
salt and pepper

This is an absorption method recipe. You could also use a rice cooker for this mixture.
Heat up 1 Tablespoon of oil in a heavy based deep pan. Fry the onions in the oil until they are translucent. Make sure the heat is not high as you don’t want to brown the onions. Then add the rice, quinoa and lentils. You could rinse these in a sieve before you add them in if you like. Mix to combine with onion and add in the stock. Place the lid on top and let simmer for 5 mins. Stir the pot every 5-6 mins. it should take around 15 mins to cook.
You can vary this recipe by adding different seasoning or combinations like bacon and onion to fit the occasion. You could also add toasted almond slivers, sultanas or walnuts in the rice.

When cooked, allow to cool for 5 mins or so while you prep the capsicum.

Line a deep baking tray with greaseproof paper. Wash the capsicums and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the tops off about 1 inch from the stalk and remove the seeds inside and in the top. Place them on the tray.

Stuff each capsicum with the quinoa and lentil mixture.
Replace the lid of the capsicum.
Spray with olive oil spray and season with salt and pepper.
Baked in a mod. oven (180 deg) for 15-20 mins, or until the outer skin of the capsicum has cooked.

Serve with a side of your favourite protein or salad.

Enjoy!

 

Standard
baking, breakfast, Cardioprotective food, Healthy treats on the run, Uncategorized, What to eat when

Breakfast on the run: Giant Sultana and Oat cookies

Yum – I’m missing these giant sultana and oat cookies I baked for work a few months back for a fundraiser. Sometimes if you don’t have time for breakfast a baked item can be ok occasionally. You just need to watch for the oil or fats used in the treat as they be a super nourishing cookie, which could be a drawback for your diet and your daily fat total can add up quickly before lunch, especially if you are watching your weight, it all adds up. I originally made these cookies for the nurses I work with, as they are always working hard without having had breakfast. This cookie would also suit anyone who is working hard, working out, or learning hard on the schoolyard. With the nurses I work with, a lot of them work long shifts and because they have to put other people first, they sometimes skip breakfast and lunch too. So I got the idea to make a breakfast cookie, but healthy. I used a recipe from the taste website – you can view it here. -> Taste recipe

For this recipe I replaced butter with Meadow Lea buttery cook and bake click here for product info which is better for your heart. I’ve used rice bran oil in the past as well to make these and my Vegan Anzacs and they still always come out on top taste wise. I have no affiliation with Meadow Lea, the Rice bran oil company or Taste. Just saying.

I also added some pepitas and other nuts into the mix like a couple walnuts. You could also add pecans or dates if you like for a fudgey hit.

The verdict: Not bad! I had some nurses comment they were pretty awesome, a couple even went home for their kids lunch boxes.

The fibre content in the cookie from the oats is also very good for hitting the daily fibre requirement to protect against cholesterol and other nasties like bowel cancers.

I call them the cardio protective, healthy cookie. These cookies raised about $200 towards my fundraiser for the cycle for education which is a world vision fundraiser for primary school education kits. You can read more about this if you like via this link.

But yeah, healthy baking can be done and it’s something so many people should know more about. Especially when you feel like you need a healthy treat!

IMG_0860

 

Standard