It's school holidays in Melbourne and so far this first week has been miserable weather. Luckily today the sun is shinning and I can actually see blue sky! For some reason this makes me want to bake so I've just made up a batch of these yummy muffins to have with a cup of tea this afternoon and some extras to put in the freezer for school snacks. They are a bit healthier then your average muffin so great to have on hand.
As part of my campaign to cut back on the amount of processed snack or convenience foods that my children have access to after school I became fixated on Nutella. Mmmmm, sweet, silky smooth Nutella. Choc full of healthy fats from hazelnuts right? WRONG. Have a look at the ingredients list next time your dipping your spoon in to the Nutella jar. The first ingredient listed is sugar, the second is vegetable oil, hazelnuts don't come in until number 3, and then there is all the preservatives and emulsifiers. Now don't get me wrong I wont be banishing Nutella from my house forever, there is definitely a place for Nutella in baking and as an occasional treat straight from the jar. But in my house it had gotten to the point that I was buying a large jar of Nutella a fortnight, that was a bit excessive.
So to replace the Nutella sandwiches and toast that was consumed in copious amounts of a morning and after school at my place I now have what I like to call - 'I cant believe it's not Nutella'.
So here it is a sugar free Nutella recipe for you to try out. Feel free to add some stevia, argave syrup or a little but of caster sugar if you don't want to settle for my extreme sugar free version.
This is a fun and easy cake to make for a child's birthday cake, for a party or just for the family at home. My son helped me put this together for his 3rd birthday. That's right I've pulled this one out of the archives, but I really loved how cute it was. We had the cake for a teddy bears picnic themed party which is so easy to create.
Today we are discussing healthy baking options. I know ..... shock, horror, there will be no butter, sugar or (shudder) frosting involved! (insert gasp here)
You see I've been on a bit of a health kick of late and although I indulged in a range of sugary and buttery delights on Sunday whilst celebrating my daughter Emily's 6th birthday I knew that come Monday morning it was time to get back on track.
I have committed myself to a 14 day slim down challenge. This involves completing regular exercise challenges and completing a 'clean eating' program.
If your wondering what exactly I've gotten myself into, Clean eating is about eating foods in their most natural state. This means avoiding processed foods, foods with loads of preservatives, foods with lots of added sugar, and foods with high levels of bad fats (some saturated fats/all trans fats). Its about eating unrefined, whole-grains, lots of fresh vegetables, drinking plenty of water or other no-calorie drinks and making healthy cooking choices, such as baking, steaming, and light sauteing whenever possible.
I know, I know, sugar is not exactly clean. But, I am allowed one free meal a week so I'm just going to have to make do with some experimental healthy 'clean' baking until the weekend.
So last night I began my experiments. My aim was to come up with a muffin that I could use as one of my high protein snacks post workout. I had visited my local health food store and bought a few ingredients not really knowing what I intended to create but purchased them more based on the health benefits of the items. I left the store with whole flaxseed (otherwise known as linseed), chia seeds, raw cacao nibs and no added sugar apple sauce.
After much thought I decided on 2 flavour combinations, banana and flaxseed, and orange, cacao and chia.
The banana a flaxseed was a complete success although the orange, cacao and chia muffins were made with oat flour (ground rolled oats) and were a little to dense for my liking so I will keep working on them because the flavour combination was a success.
Back to the banana and flaxseed muffins. Considering they have no butter, no flour and no sugar they are delicious, filling, and the exact same texture as a regular full fat, full sugar muffin.
Flaxseed is known to assist in burning body fat, being high in omega-3s and
charged with fibre, these little seeds can really fire up your metabolism. Bananas are a storehouse of essential nutrients like potassium, magnesium, dietary fibre and B vitamins and with the added benefit of protein powder these muffins fill you up.
So make yourself some of these fantastic healthy muffins, even my children love them!
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served."
Anzac Day is a national public holiday and is considered by many Australians to be one of the most solemn days of the year. Marches by veterans from all past wars, as well as current serving members of the Australian Defence Force and Reserves, are held in cities and towns nationwide.
In my house we bake Anzac biscuits to commemorate the day.
An Anzac biscuit is a sweet biscuit popular in Australia and New Zealand made using rolled oats, flour, coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and boiling water. Anzac biscuits have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I.
It has been claimed the biscuits were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation.One notable omission from any Anzac biscuit recipe is that of eggs, because of the scarcity of eggs during the First World War (after most poultry farmers joined the war effort), and so that the biscuits would not spoil when shipped long distances
Sorry its been so long but we have been in Hawaii and now are in preparation mode for the beginning of the school year. My eldest daughter is starting prep this year so its going to be an exciting couple of weeks for us.
I hope everyone has had a safe start to 2013. We had such a relaxing couple of weeks on the island of Oahu. We stayed in Waikiki at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and then headed out to Ko 'Olina to stay at Aulani Disney Resort.
We swam, we shopped, we swam, we shopped some more. I visited a craft store called 'Ben Franklins's, (it was like spotlight for us Aussies) and stocked up on some Wilton cake decorating products, for about half the price of what we pay here in Australia for Wilton products. I even did some dessert research and have some new recipes to try over the next couple of weeks.
Hawaii is a great place to vacation with young children. Everyone was very accommodating to the children and extremely helpful. We will definitely be repeating this trip again in the future!
Ok enough about me, todays recipe is a super quick and easy lemon tart. Its a perfect summer dessert or afternoon tea selection which can be served warm or cold, plain or with a dollop of cream. Give it a go, I promise you wont be disappointed!
1 more sleep until Santa comes and we just have some last minute baking left to do and some prep work for tomorrow. The presents are wrapped and my three children are very excited today.
I had my three children working hard last night. They were given the task of decorating their gingerbread houses and they loved every minute of it!
Making gingerbread houses isn't a quick process but it is definitely worthwhile. Nothing beats the smell of gingerbread baking in your oven. I started the process of making my gingerbread houses on Wednesday and we finished on Sunday.... I got distracted.
Basically you need to make the dough and bake the pieces for the house on one day. I assemble my houses over 2 days to ensure that they are structurally sound as last year I had one collapse while we were decorating and I've now been scarred for life. I then leave assembled houses to dry overnight before I let the children decorate them as the children are never exactly gently when applying the decorations. I'll share with you my ginger bread recipe, royal icing recipe and basic template link.
I hope that you can also find the time to make a gingerbread house for yourself or with your family this year or the next.