Monthly Archives

August 2010

Here We Go ‘Round the Memory Bush

August 31, 2010

I love the sensibility that food summons. Different tastes and aromas have the ability to evoke memories of your childhood and overseas adventures, instantly transporting you back in time to a treasured place. Particular flavours and fragrances can unearth forgotten experiences, hidden beneath a veil of what is immediately present. I so cherish those moments when I unwittingly bite into something and am delighted by a vivid trip down memory lane.

The sweet and tart taste of mulberries immediately leads me down Memory Lane, where I make a right at Childhood Corner and find myself in my parent’s backyard, picking mulberries off of our mulberry bush with my brothers. Our purple stained fingers and mouths told my mother where we had been playing and what mischief we were up to. We would spend hours playing outside by the mulberry bush, creating fantastical worlds involving pirates and space ships, which we would turn into a play that my parents would watch (after they paid for their tickets, of course). I feel so lucky to have had two brilliant comrades growing up. I miss our theatrics and games.

The saccharine yet wholesome flavour of honey, banana and cinnamon on toast makes me feel like I am nine years old again, and in my parent’s kitchen. My dressing gown clad dad would assemble this heavenly combination for breakfast. It was his specialty, and even though it is very simple, no one can make it like dad.

The confronting, intense heat of birdseye chilli is a frequent and welcome visitor to my palate. It’s extroverted presence puts me back in the Thai countryside, sitting at the dining table in Baan Dada, eating whole chillies in an attempt to bond with the older boys at the home by proving how hardcore I am. Throat…on…fire…all the while shrugging, “that was nothing!!”

Whenever I take in the aroma of fresh seafood being cooked, I am once again in the vivacious markets of Ortygia and Palermo, Sicily. Mountains of weird and wonderful produce surrounds me. Marvellous melons, perfect peaches. Enormous and brilliant eggplants and tomatoes and lemons, oh my! Determined nonnas power their way to the front of the queue and instruct the vendor. This is their turf, don’t get in their way. Raucous and cheeky fishmongers yell and wink at you, parading their catch of the day. The intoxicating aroma of fresh seafood on the grill wafts through the market, over the heads of those seasoned nonnas, enticing you. I am in heaven in this cacophonous, vibrant world.

Thus is the power of food. It has the ability to nourish both your body and your soul, by arousing your psyche and allowing you re-live cherished, joyous times.

I wanted to post a recipe that evokes many beloved memories. I hope that it delights you as well. It is something that Ben and I make when we want to feel like we are back in Thailand, grabbing a quick lunch from a roadside café. It uses pork, which we found to be the most popular meat in Thailand. The balance of sweet palm sugar, salty fish sauce and sour lime alongside the heat of birdseye chilli is perfect, and quintessentially Thai. The fried egg on top really complements the sharp flavour of the mince, offering a soft, silky time-out for your taste buds. If you cook the egg so that the yolk is runny, it adds a delicious richness. The basil really makes this dish. In Thailand they use holy basil, however you can use Thai basil. I must admit, I have even used sweet/Italian basil in this dish. It isn’t the same, but it is still yummy! This dish is always served on steamed jasmine rice. To us, this is Thai food.

Pad Krapow Moo for Two

The name translates to stirfried “pad” basil “krapow” with pork “moo”. And “for two” means, as you guessed, serves two people. Plus, it rhymed and I thought it was cute.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons peanut oil (1 tablespoon for the mince, the other 2 for the eggs) – note, it does have a bit of oil. This is not something I cook very often, and don’t usually use this much oil in stirfries. However, to cook the egg in the traditional way they use this much oil. If I cooked this more often, I would look to remove the oil and forgo a bit of flavour to make it a bit healthier.
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 birdseye chillies, finely chopped
(less if you don’t like a lot of heat)
250g mince pork (you can use chicken or beef if you wish)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoons grated/shaved palm sugar
(you can use white or brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar)
1-2 tablespoons water
2 handfuls holy basil
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve

I usually also serve it with steamed greens. You can add in green beans along with the garlic and chilli if you wish.

Method

For the egg:
Heat a well-seasoned wok over high heat. Lower the flame to a medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Crack 1 egg into the wok, and fry whilst shuffling it around so that it doesn’t stick, but the edges go nice and crisp. You can spoon some of the hot oil over the egg so that the yolk cooks evenly. Once it is cooked to your liking (a runny yolk is really nice with this dish), carefully lift the egg out of the wok, put it on a plate and cover with foil to keep the egg warm. Add another tablespoon of peanut oil to the wok, and repeat the above steps with the remaining egg.

For the mince:
Add the final tablespoon of peanut oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and chillies until they become fragrant. Be careful not to colour them too much (they can easily burn). After ~30 seconds, or once lightly coloured and fragrant, add the pork mince. Stirfry until just browned all over. Add in half of the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Taste to assess what you need to add more of. I usually add all of what is listed, however your limes may be more juicy, etc. You want to balance the salty, sour and sweet flavours going on here. Play around with it – it’s fun! Once the flavours are balanced, add in a tablespoon or two of water, and simmer very briefly (~1 minute). If you overcook it, the meat can toughen. Stir in the holy basil until it just wilts, then serve immediately over rice. Top each bowl with one egg.

Yum! I’m hoping to cook this for dad soon, as he is keen to become more familiar with Asian flavours. He is flirting with the idea of chilli, however doesn’t yet fully appreciate its beauty. Hopefully I can pay him back for all the delicious mornings of honey, banana and cinnamon toast.

Heidi xo

Freesia Fun and Hellenic Eats

August 29, 2010

When I am with Ben, I feel like I am swimming in the Ionian Sea. Everything smells like freesias and tastes like peach gelato. Today is our nine year anniversary. We have a whole day of fun and frolicking planned.

This morning we woke early and went for a brisk walk to a local park, where we relished the fact that no kids were around and we could get away with playing on the playground. We spent a good ten minutes on the swings, slides, rock climbing wall (yes, I know, amazing!), and other sweet equipment, and then headed home.

As Ben and I are saving (for a house/more travel/wedding), we put a $20 limit on presents. It encourages creativity, which I love. Ben made something special involving photos, tickets and other bits and pieces from our travels. I love it.

For Ben, I wrapped up a plate that I made during a school holiday pottery class when I was around ten years old.

It has a duck in the middle. Why, I’m not sure. I’m really not very crafty…. he thought it was hilarious.

I also bought some lolly bags and filled nine of them (one for each year we have been together – awwwwww). In each bag I put a different lindt ball (the funky flavours like peanut butter, mint, coffee and raspberry), and a note highlighting something that I love about him.


I love cute presents like this. Having a budget really makes you think about how you can show someone that you love them.

Now to the eats. We just came back from a beautiful long brunch at Hellenic Republic. We had been wanting to visit this casual Greek eatery for a while, and always wanted to go with a group so that we could get away with ordering more food and work our way through the menu. My parents were keen to join us, and so this morning headed to Brunswick East to celebrate our anniversary with some delicious food.

The atmosphere of this place is very casual and relaxed, yet vibrant. Lots of chatter from different tables, it is pleasantly raucous. The interior is lovely and bright, with lots of windows and painted white brick walls. An open plan kitchen allows you to see what the chefs are getting up to, which I always love. Greek salt sits on the simple, wooden tables. As does olive oil and vinegar, which are in thin 250ml recycled ouzo bottles – a nice touch!

The staff are very friendly and the service is quick (but not too quick). The prices are really reasonable – $12.50 for Spanakopita and two poached free-range eggs! The menu focuses on nostalgic Greek food, with simple fresh flavours using good quality produce.
Coffee to start, which was really well made.

Greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts. Lovely and light, however it was not as amazing as the yoghurt I practically lived on in Greece. I was kind of disappointed.

The Omeletta was superbly silky and fluffy, with potatoes, sausage and really lovely feta. I never love sausages, so I ate around them, but the rest of the table gobbled them up with glee (they had a nice spice to them).

House-cured bacon. Im not a huge bacon fan, but I could tell that this was of good quality.

Beautiful sardines – hello omega 3s! I’ve recently started to like sardines, after visiting Sicily (a.k.a heaven) last year.

One of the most delicious spanakopita I have ever had. Light, buttery pastry, with a delightfully strong spinach flavour…… heaven. My favourite dish.

I have no words…..

Gigantes. I was not overly impressed with these beans, but the others loved them.

House-made chilli jam. Respect.

Amazing grilled Dench toast

Vino – too early? Surely not.

We certainly made a good dent in all the dishes, and weren’t shy about ordering most of the menu 🙂
Dessert had to happen….

Baklava. Wow. Very impressed. Super moist and robustly sweet. Beautiful. I am often disappointed with baklava in Australia, but this little bite of heaven did not disappoint.

Loukamathes – Greek donuts, served warm with honey and walnuts. I had never tried these before today, and was pleased with what I tasted. They are more heavy and eggy than Italian donuts, but I certainly wouldn’t turn these down if offered one!

Personalised take-home pack!

We had a fabulous time at brunch. I will definitely be coming back here for the breakfast menu, and am keen to try out the lunch/dinner menu. Something tells me the Moussaka here would be amazing. Ben looked longingly at the rotating spit as we were leaving, so I’m fairly certain that he would support future visits.

This evening will be fun, as we are planning on turning our kitchen into a wonton-making factory. I love wontons. The only phrase I know how to say in Cantonese is “one wonton noodle soup, please”.

Happy anniversary, gorgeous pie. I love our fun, freesia filled life.

Heidi xo

Anne’s Words

August 28, 2010
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”.

– Anne Frank

I love this quote, it always inspires me to be a better person. To give more. To be less involved in myself. Anne Frank was an incredible girl. I have read The Dairy of Anne Frank at least four times. It still astounds me how articulate and inspiring she was.

Last year, Ben and I volunteered at Baan Dada for five weeks. It is a Children’s home in rural Thailand, near the Myanmar border. I won’t delve into how incredible and special this place is in this post. However I wanted to share with you some news that Ben and I are planning a fundraising event, to coincide with an amazing event taking place at the home.

Baan Dada are raising money to build a Technical School, so that the locals have somewhere to learn and study after high school. The amazing people who run the home and other volunteers are setting off on a journey to walk 225 Kilometers in October with the hope of raising enough money to start construction. They will walk from the town of Sangklaburi to the city of Kanchanaburi. All the details can be found on the website here.

Ben and I wish that we could join them for the walk, however timing and money does not permit it. So…..we are in the midst of planning a little something to do over here to raise money. We’ve been brainstorming a few ideas, but last night we pretty much settled on what we are going to do. I will let you know the details once they’re set in stone, but I’m getting pretty excited and thought I would share this with you today.

I hope Anne’s words resonate with you as they do with me. Of course everyone has different circumstances, and many of us have been through tough times in our lives. But generally speaking, we are pretty lucky here in Australia. It is nice to be reminded of this sometimes…

Heidi xo

Friday’s Calcium Count

August 27, 2010

Happy Friday everyone!

I have some delightful plans this weekend that I am very much looking forward to. Some celebrations, time with family, dates with close friends, and, of course, good food!

Here is my Friday Calcium Count. I’m going strong! I still have to really plan my meals and think about where I can fit in my dairy, but hopefully this will become less of a conscious effort. Third day in, and my RDI is met again.

Breakfast

Oats cooked with 1/2 cup skinny milk and some water. Plus 1/2 a banana, and a crumbled muesli bar bite on top.

Lunch

A delicious leftover grated vegetable combo that Ben made when he was feeling creative the other night. I heated it and then added spinach leaves and chickpeas. I topped it with 100g natural yoghurt.

I also had some low-fat cheese on the side. Bega 50% less fat cheddar is the only reduced fat cheese that I like. It doesn’t taste like plastic or cardboard, which always helps.

Afternoon Tea

Some amazing greek-style yoghurt that I picked up whilst running errands. Thick, indulgent, yum. I didn’t eat the overly sweet strawberry goo on the bottom.

Friday’s Calcium Count = 1000mg

Jamie Oliver (whom I absolutely adore) is on tv tonight – “Jamie Does”. He’s visiting Marrakech. Ben and I were there last August. Oooooh how I long to go back….

Heidi xo

Creative Differences

August 26, 2010

Mother Nature has been rather fickle lately. The past few mornings I have been greeted with a lovely warm, soft, golden hug. This welcome affection tends to linger until midday, when the baby blue sky becomes overshadowed by scatterings of white cotton-ball clouds. These fluffy additions look innocent enough, but come mid afternoon mother nature begins to feel a bit creative and arty. She whips out her grey-lead pencil, colouring in all the soft pallid clusters turning them a dark, looming grey, which almost guarantees an early evening downpour.

Now I’m all for encouraging creativity, Mother Nature, but this makes it very tough to select an outfit in the morning. More importantly, it makes it difficult to decide what to eat for lunch.

Do I embrace the fact that it is still undeniably cool, and warm up with some comforting soup? Or do I look ahead and spring into the sunny future with a refreshing salad? Decisions, decisions…

These morning glimpses of sunshine and warmth have made me realise that, soon, mother nature will pack away her dreary grey colours in favour of vibrant yellows and bright blues. And it will be a while before rich winter warmers are on the menu. So, call me sentimental, I decided to put off sunny salads a little longer. I do love a yummy homemade soup, and so why not extend a good thing a little longer?

I decided to make a batch of Bill Granger’s Puy Lentil Soup with Parmesan Toasts. It is from his book Sydney Food. This book has some great breakfast recipes. Last time I visited Sydney, I hopped from Bill’s to Bill’s across the different city locations, eating my way through his delectable menu.

This is a really yummy, wholesome soup. Delightfully rich, the earthy Puy lentils are the main champion of the dish. Puy lentils are fantastic as they hold their shape beautifully during cooking, so aesthetically you are left with stunning olive coloured little discs. I really recommend making the parmesan toasts. The sharpness of the parmesan is really enhanced by the wholesome soup, making it even more delicious. All these flavours work really well together, combining to make something special. Now that’s my type of creativity 😉

See, we are all creative in our own ways. It is a great way to express yourself, and maybe that is all Mother Nature is doing when she paints a multi-coloured sky. So, I don’t hold anything against her. Especially because I get to enjoy this lovely soup on these unexpectedly chilly days…

Heidi xo

Calcium Count for Today:
200g vaalia yoghurt 340mg
35g tasty cheese 320mg
250ml low-fat milk 350mg (banana smoothie)
=1010mg
RDI met!

Calcium Confession

August 25, 2010

My diet is, on the whole, very healthy. My parents raised my brothers and I on good, wholesome food. Watching my mother in the kitchen and the joy she had cooking and reading recipes, as well as tasting her food, which was always served with a side of love (oh so corny but oh so true) ignited my love of food and cooking. For this I will always be thankful. I guess it was no surprise that I wanted to make food my career. Studying nutrition only further sparked this love. It also gave me a deeper understanding of the true value of good nutrition.

I feel my best when I put proper fuel into my body. Hence, the bulk of my diet consists of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, lean meats, oily fish and legumes. I find it only natural to practice what you preach as a Dietitian. Having a healthy diet is…what is the opposite of an occupational hazard?

I recall one assignment at University, when we were required to keep a detailed food journal for one week. At the end of the week, we entered everything we ate into a nutrient analysis program to see what our diets looked like in comparison to Australian recommendations. I met the Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDIs) for each nutrient except one…calcium.

Calcium is my nutrition Achilles heel, my one downfall! Every day I have to consciously make sure that I am eating enough calcium-rich foods so I can reach my RDI, which for my age (19-50years) is 1000mg per day. It is not that I don’t like dairy products, I do. It is just that I tend to neglect them in favour of other foods. Most days I simply do not eat enough dairy products, not in the quantity required to meet my RDI. Do you?

This is what 1000mg per day looks like:

A 250mL glass of milk (~300-400mg, depending on the brand)
+
A 200g tub of yoghurt (~300-350mg)
+
30g of tasty cheese (~300mg)

Note: calcium is also found in other foods including bony fish (salmon, sardines) and custard. Almonds, leafy greens such as spinach, and dried fruits also contain calcium, however not in the same large quantities as in dairy.

With a family history of Osteoporosis, I am very conscious of the fact that lately I have let my calcium intake slip. I’m not quite sure why, however I’m tempted to blame a recent persistent sinus infection. Whatever the reason, I need to pull up my socks and get my dairy on.

Hello friends, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me…

For as long as I can remember, I have hated the taste of plain cow’s milk. In addition, I don’t like to rely on vitamin and mineral supplements to give me what I can get from food. Therefore it will require a little effort and creativity to reach my 1000mg of calcium each day. I’m up for the challenge. Are you?

I am aiming to meet my RDI for calcium every day for 2 weeks, starting today. Hopefully by then eating more dairy will have become a habit and I can easily continue it for life. I’m seeing lots of fruit smoothies, low-fat cheese and salad sandwiches, and yoghurts for dessert in the near future…yum!

If you like, you can join me in this little health challenge. Is there a particular food or nutrient that you don’t eat enough of (or perhaps eat too much of)?

Oh! Look at the time… it’s smoothie O’clock 😉

Heidi xo

(blueberry, blackberry and banana smoothie – amazing)

P.s.
A quick Dietitian note, because I cant help myself: if you are avoiding milk from an animal (i.e. cows or goats milk), be sure to purchase a milk that is fortified with calcium. Most soy milk brands (and lots of almond milk brands too) are fortifying their products these days, however some are still unfortified and therefore are not an appropriate dairy substitute in terms of calcium. Make sure you check the carton before purchasing!

Granola Goodness

August 23, 2010

You know how some foods have the ability to take you to a special, happy place? For me, there is nothing quite like the taste and smell of homemade granola. It makes me want to dance in delight.

The combination of nourishing oats, nuts and seeds with the indulgence of the softly sweet syrupy coating, sends me into a euphoric whirl. Each bite is exciting, as you invite a variety of luscious flavours into your mouth and they dance and spin and pop together, having their own little party, with you as the guest of honour. The sweetly tart and chewy cranberries, mixed with the mild crunch of the buttery pecans, rounded out with the wholesome flavour of the oats, sunflower seeds and pepitas…all the while being chaperoned by the gorgeously rich maple flavour along with undertones of vanilla. Only thinking about it and again, I’m spinning in delight.

Nothing makes me feel more like a domestic goddess than whipping up a batch of granola. It is one of my favourite ways to relax and have fun in the kitchen.

The process is simple enough that I can pop on some music, and be sure that I wont get distracted whilst dancing around the kitchen and end up with burnt oats. It also has room for creative freedom. Once you get the hang of the recipe, you can really have fun with making different types of granola.

If I’m craving the tropical flavour of coconut, I may add a cup of shredded coconut. If Ben has his way, then it will be full of dried apricots and heavy on the maple flavour. The next time I make granola, I plan on making it a little indulgent by adding some good quality dark chocolate drops.

That is the beauty of making your own granola rather than buying it in a store. It can reflect your tastes and mood.

I adore eating this warm, fresh out of the oven when the fragrance is out of this world – heavenly, wholesome and sweet. Be warned, more euphoric twirling is guaranteed….

 

Maple Granola with Vanilla and Pecans

Note: you can play around with the ingredients, opting for different nuts and dried fruit. You can also add in some bran flakes or other cereal grains in place of some oats. Tailor it to your preferences.
In terms of the sweetener, you can swap the maple syrup for brown rice syrup (which I often use) or honey. Note that when using maple syrup, go for the real stuff. The maple ‘flavoured’ syrup just lacks the depth of flavour. Yes it is cheaper, but it tastes like sticky sweet water, and won’t have the same effect.

Ingredients

4 cups rolled oats
½ cup pepitas
(I often add ¾ cups as I love pepitas)
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pecan pieces
(if you buy whole or half pecans, break them up a into smaller pieces)
½ cup almond flakes (can use almond slithers too, for more of a crunch)
1 cup cranberries
10 dried apricots
(cut into quarters or eighths, depending on how thick you like the pieces)
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
(this is quite a lot of vanilla, you can use less if you don’t want such a strong vanilla flavour)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.
Combine the oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the maple syrup, canola oil and vanilla. Gently whisk the liquids together, just until they combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and fold until the dry ingredients are evenly coated in the syrup.

Line a large (or two small) rimmed baking dish with foil. Pour the oats onto the tray/dish and spread it out evenly. Put it into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Add in the dried fruit. Stir to combine. Store in an airtight container.

Personally, I like to serve my granola over vanilla yoghurt (with an extra sprinkle of chia seeds and/or linseeds), have it with milk and fruit, or sprinkle it over porridge. I also use it to make apple muesli muffins.

Whichever way you like to eat it, be sure to gobble some granola goodness. I hope it makes you twirl in delight and takes you to a special, happy place too.

 

Heidi xo

Sunday Mornings with Señor Sunshine and Mr and Mrs Egg Cup

August 22, 2010

This morning we were pleasantly surprised to be awoken by a long lost friend. His name is Señor Sunshine, and recently he has been a bit aloof. I was starting to wonder whether we had done something to upset him. However, on this glorious Sunday morning, luminous golden beams of light pierced through our bedroom blinds, commanding us to get out of bed and go bask in his glory. It was clear that Señor Sunshine was back. Swiftly and happily we obeyed.

After making ourselves semi-presentable, we left our little apartment and walked down to the shops where we bought some fresh cape-seed bread, the papers and take-away coffees. We moseyed back home, the gentle rays softening the morning chill. After a quick Skype chat to family in Hong Kong, we headed into the kitchen in search of food. Ben wanted something savoury for breakfast, and savoury for Ben always means eggs. Enter Mr and Mrs Egg Cup.

They have their own hats.

They’re pretty awesome.

We had soft-boiled eggs with avocado and toasted cape-seed bread. I love this bread, it’s full of nutritional goodness and it smells and tastes wonderful. However I don’t often fork out the money for a loaf as I find it a little expensive. Ben also had some bacon with his eggs, but I went without. I tend to avoid meat in the morning for no reason other than I never feel like it. I was not a huge meat eater in general growing up, and meat for breakfast has never been my thing.

I hope you all had a nice weekend. Can you believe its nearly over?! Ben and I are off to hang out with our visitor a bit more this afternoon. The three of us are going for a long walk. I hope you received a visit from Señor Sunshine too. Although I do advocate being sun smart, studies continue to show how vital a little bit of sunshine is for our health. Some golden rays can really brighten your day, and give you an important dose of Vitamin D.

A look at the current forecast informs me that Señor Sunshine is only here for a brief visit. Why such a short stay, Señor? We love your company. Come back again soon…

Heidi xo

The photo below was taken this time last year in Santorini. Today’s sunshine brought back a little of those summer feelings. It has also inspired me to start looking into more summery recipes…..too soon? Lets hope not.

P.s. I am afraid that oats are noticeably absent in this post. Be assured that my oat love has not died, and I will return tomorrow with one of my favourite granola recipes. Enjoy the last few blissful hours of the weekend.

Oatmeal Pancakes

August 21, 2010

If there were to be battle for the highly coveted title of ‘Heidi’s favourite meal of the day’, there would be a clear winner…

Breakfast and Dinner would easily knock out Lunch in the first round, leaving the morning and evening meals to fight it out until the end. In the past, Dinner would win hands down. Pasta, fish, vegetables, garlic, chilli, olive oil – the culinary possibilities are endless, how could it lose? Yet recently, I have shown Breakfast more love and attention, giving it a real chance to shine. It has since gained more and more strength, so that it now steps up to the plate (or bowl) and knocks Dinner right out of the pan!

From a nutrition point of view, Breakfast is such an important meal. It kick starts your metabolism, helps you to perform better mentally during the day, leaves you less likely to reach for sugary pick-me-ups later on, and is a great way to get in lots of important nutrients.

From a taste perspective, Breakfast is the bomb! There are so many delicious things you can eat. Growing up, pancakes were always a favourite of mine. They were a special occasion kind of meal – birthdays, the occasional Sunday breakfast, trips to the Pancake Parlour with friends…. However once the golden stack disappeared into my belly, I would often be left feeling a bit ill and heavy. These days I avoid pancake regret by making them more nutritious. I might make my pancakes with wholemeal flour and top them with lots of fresh fruit. Or I might make oatmeal pancakes!

I stumbled across this very American recipe about a month ago on Molly Wizenberg’s gorgeous blog, orangette, and have been longing to try them out. What better time than this weekend, continuing with my little homage to oats?

These oatmeal pancakes are a perfect example of how special the first meal of the day can be. Note: you do have to start this recipe the night before. The oats in the mixture make it more substantial and filling than your usual pancake, yet they are not dense or heavy. I found them rather light and very moist. The turn a lovely golden colour, and smell heavenly when cooking. Just delicious, especially topped with fresh berries. Ben loved them too. I made a full batch and froze the remaining pancakes, wrapping them individually in glad wrap. One thing I want to try is adding mashed banana to the mixture. I expect I will need to compensate for the extra moisture with some more flour? We’ll see how it goes!

If you aren’t already a Breakfast lover, I hope you now feel compelled to put a little extra love into your morning meal. And maybe someday soon Breakfast will triumph over your other meals to win the number one spot. Even if that time is not in the near future, I do recommend you try these delicious oatmeal pancakes. They pack a pretty powerful punch…

The recipe is on Molly’s blog: link.

Heidi xo

Jars and Bars

August 20, 2010

JARS…

Breakfast this morning was indeed porridge.

Oats in a jar!

I was introduced to this fun little concept by Kath, a dietitian blogger in the US. We share a love of oats and nut butters, amongst other things. One day I saw that she put her morning oatmeal in a near empty jar of nut butter. What a cute little breakfast idea, I thought.

This morning I noticed that my natural peanut butter jar was nearly ready to exit the nut butter line-up and take a dive off the shelf into the recycling bin, and I jumped at the chance to try out Kath’s idea of oats in a jar!

I had a lot of fun eating this. Scooping up the plump porridge and scraping the side of the jar for peanut butter remnants made for an enjoyable and scrumptious breakfast.

The porridge consisted of 1/3 cup oats and a finely sliced banana cooked in skinny milk, and poured straight into the jar. Not having a bowl to clean was an added bonus! I will definitely be doing this again.

BARS…

I am a huge fan of making my own muesli bars. It allows you to control exactly what goes into them, avoiding any additives or excess sugar and fats. They are incredibly fun to make, and easy to boot!

Making your own bars also allows you to exercise portion control, and choose how large or small you want your bars. I often make two different sizes. I make larger bars, that weigh ~60 grams, which Ben often takes to work. I also make smaller, bite-size pieces (~30 grams). I might have this size bar for afternoon tea alongside a yoghurt or some fruit. I also like to crumble the smaller bars and have them over yoghurt or porridge.

Even though it is just the two of us, I make a full batch of the muesli bars and freeze them individually (I wrap them in glad wrap once they’re cooled). At night I will take a bar out of the freezer and pop it on the bench, so they are defrosted by morning and ready to eat. You can also take it out in the morning and it will be ready for afternoon tea. They tend to take around 4 hours to defrost, depending on the thickness of the bar.


I created the recipe below by adapting a few different recipes. I am still tweaking the recipe, as I don’t think it is currently sweet enough to eat alone. We eat these muesli bars with a spread of natural nut butter or jam on the bottom. You can eat them without the addition of a spread, but it really does give it a nice kick. Next time I think I will add more mashed banana, and then perhaps omit the milk and maybe egg. We’ll see.

I make many different muesli bars, and the ones that taste the best are those that have a decent amount of sugar or syrup in them. Yes, they are delicious, but I am hoping to perfect this recipe, which is less sugary and has a lower GI. You’ll definitely feel healthy eating these!

Walnut, Banana and Cinnamon Muesli Bars

Ingredients

1 ½ cup rolled oats
½ cup bran flakes (I use Vogel’s Soy & Linseed Bran)
½ cup pepitas (you can add less, I just love these!)
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¾ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup dried fruit
(sultanas, craisins, diced apricot)
1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup skim milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
300g mashed banana
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon cinnamon(I sometimes add more, as I love cinnamon)
pinch of salt

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine the wet ingredients, then add them to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. The mixture will be quite wet.

Line a baking tray with baking paper (I use a rectangle one that is 28cm x 15cm, and 5cm deep). Pour mixture onto the baking tray. Spread the mixture evenly, so it fills the tray. Press down on the mixture with the back of a spoon, to ensure it is packed in firmly and smoothly.

Bake for ~30 minutes, until warm throughout and the top is slightly brown. Let it cool, then slice into bars. Serve as is, or with a thin spread of natural nut butter or jam.

A muesli bar jam sandwich!

Happy Friday! Ben and I are going out for Pizza with some friends. Such a nice way to start the weekend.

Heidi xo