Saturday, 26 May 2012

Pineapple and Shrimp Tacos

I must have a face that says, 'hi strangers on the bus - in spite of me sitting here, glaring at you, with my earphones in, please sit next to me, interrupt me lovely train of thought involving Ryan Gosling, and tell me incredibly personal stories'.

For the last two days, both times I have been on the bus, people have sat down next to me and talked to me. The first day, one woman asked me if I had kids (um, no, how old do I look thank you very much?) and then told me about her partner and her grandchildren. In detail. The next day a French man sat next to me, pointed at the rain and said something. I smiled and nodded my head which is usually an appropriate response. By the time I realised he was talking about his house being flooded in the horrible Brisbane floods last year, how he lost all his furniture and how he had to be rescued by a rescue helicopter, it was too late to rearrange my face into a look of concern. He then yelled at me for smiling.

I also learnt, the hard way, that just because other people have the ability to jump into the bus when it is raining does not mean I do.

And it has now taken me an hour to write this post because I got distracted. I was trying to prove to my roommate why the Goo Goo Dolls are brilliant and underrated.

But now - about the actual food. This is a delightfully simple dinner - easy, healthy and quick. The shrimp (or as we call them in Australian, prawns) may be expensive but I'm cheap and buy the supermarket brand, and as I cook them, they still taste ok. We have actually eaten this three weeks in a row - it is one of the most commonly requested meals in this house. That's how good it is. Simple and delicious.

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: It’s pretty self explanatory
Recipe adapted from:
Occasion: Dinner, but I’m sure leftovers could make a lovely lunch
Menu Options: You can add whatever you like to it – salsa, mango, other grilled veggies. There is no limit to the veggies you can add to this!

Serves 4

What you need:
-          400 g shrimp (this will make a lot of shrimp – probably more than you need. However as tortillas generally come in packets of 6 or 8, the remaining ingredients should also provide you with a few leftovers so people can go back for seconds if they wish)
-          1 tbsp olive oil
-          1 tsp dried chilli flakes
-          1 tsp dried coriander
-          1 tsp dried basil
-          6 pineapple rings, chopped into small pieces (more or less depending on taste – we like pineapple here)
-          4 wholegrain tortillas
-          4 cos lettuce leafs (or as much or little as you want)
-          2-3 tomatoes, diced
-          ½ avocado, diced (we probably use a bit more)
-          2 tbsp lemon juice (1/2 per person)
-          4 tbsp tomato chutney (1 per person)
-          Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Add olive oil to a frypan over medium heat. Add shrimp and season with chilli, coriander and basil. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the shrimps are pink and have a ‘grilled’ appearance. Make sure they are no longer pale and see through or slimy.

Remove from heat and keep in a warm spot. Add the pineapple rings to the frypan and cook in the remaining oil for 10 minutes or until ‘grilled’ looking. Add more oil if you wish.

Add the shrimp back to the frypan for another minute or two to ensure both pineapple and shrimp are heated through.

On the four tortillas, make a base for the ingredients with the lettuce leafs. Make sure you put the ingredients on one half of the tortilla, so you can fold the remaining half of the tortilla over the half with the ingredients and nothing will spill.

Divide the tomatoes, avocado, lemon juice and chutney between the tortillas. Do the same for the shrimp and pineapple rings.

Season the tortillas with salt and pepper and other seasonings if you wish.

Serve warm. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

WIAW - Boring Study Day

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope everyone is having a great week - I have pretty much finished university for the semester. I had a speech yesterday - I have no idea how well I did - the entire thing is a blur. I remember my teacher calling me up to the front of the class, then speaking, then applause, and then sitting down. So I hope it went ok. Other than that, a few essays left, but they're already written. So it's great.

I am trying to write this while watching Hawaii Five-O, but I keep getting distracted. Good looking men fighting crime tends to win out over struggling what to write.

As it is Wednesday, that means it's time for the weekly foodie party - WIAW!! So here are my eats from Monday, a day I spent entirely at home, working on some assignments and worrying about my speech. As usual, a huge thanks to Jenn for hosting the party. Go check her out at Peas and Crayons.

Breakfast was simple - oatmeal with honey, granola, berries and half a banana.

Snack - some of the bar I made while I was photographing it (recipe coming soon).

Lunch - raspberry jam, ham, fontina cheese, sauteed mushrooms grilled sandwich. Sounds weird I know, but was incredibly good. Also had a baked oatmeal round with some yoghurt.

Snack - I ate some dough/bits of warm cookies as I was making cornflake biscuits (recipe coming soon). I had a total disaster in the kitchen that day - I put the cornflake biscuits, which contain choc chips on a tray with holes - obviously, though not to me at the time, the mixture and choc bits slipped through the holes, resulting in a veru burnt oven bottom, slightly undercooked biscuits and a near disaster with the smoke alarm.

I had another snack later on - a bowl of weetbix with honey (not pictured).

Dinner - Grilled pineapple and shrimp tacos (recipe soon).

Dessert - Yoghurt with a fudge ball, and some bits of the bars I was photographing earlier (unpictured).

Seems like a lot of food - I was hungry! And probably bored. I usually wouldn't eat so much, but making baked goods made me hungry.

Hope you are all having a lovely week and continue to have one!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Brown Rice Salad with Grilled Fish

So yesterday was Food Revolution day. Me and my roommates celebrated by eating burgers. And going to see The Avengers. It was just as good the second time I saw it. My roommates hadn't seen it before, and they hadn't seen any of the previous movies, but they loved it too. I love taking people to movies I love and finding out they love them to.

They had also never watched or read any of the Harry Potter books/movies!!! This is like a total crime in my books. As I can't force them to read anything, I decided to force them to watch the movies. We have watched the first five so far - four and five we watched on Friday night (wild teenagers we are). It's so exciting for me to see them enjoying them, as I can honestly say that without Harry I would have spent my whole life believing that true friends didn't exist - I was a rather lonely child and the message I took away from Harry was that if you make real friends, they will do anything for you. It took me a while to find those friends - but I believed because of Harry. I also kind of credit Rowling for making me believe I can be an author - maybe not yet, but someday. There was never a time when I doubted that I wanted to spend the rest of my life writing, and I believe that it was because of books like Harry that I fell in love with reading and writing.

So they like Harry - and I love it, and spend half the movie explaining what the books have left out. I know the books and the movies practically by heart - I was the first person in my town to get the books since the third one was released, and probably the first to finish them - I read reaaalllyyyy quickly - the Hunger Games took me nine hours to read them all, and I can easily read the entire Harry series in 6 days.

So here are some of my favourite books - and yes, they are all nerdy ones:
- Harry Potter
- The Hunger Games
- The 'Ink' trilogy by Cornelia Funke
- His Dark Materials trilogy
- Lord of The Rings
- Jasper Fforde's 'Shades of Grey' and probably the rest of the trilogy when released
- Rivers of London/Moon over Soho series by Ben Aaronovitch
- Terra Incognita trilogy by Kevin Anderson
- The Book Thief
- The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
- Chrestomanci Series by Dianna Wynne Jones
- Pure Dead Series by Debi Gliori
- Trixie Beldon series
- Anything by Enid Blyton - Famous Five, Wishing Chair, Faraway Tree and short stories
- Angels and Demons
- Brave New World
- Animal Farm
- Karin Slaughter's crime books
- To Kill A Mockingbird
- Some of Shakespeare's plays - particularly Midsummer Night's Dream (NOT Romeo and Juliet)

Well I'd say that's about it, but if that's just my list of absolute favourites and not the list of books I would recommend, then I think it's safe to say I'm not remotely discriminatory in what I read or like. Or I just read good books.

What do you guys like to read? Any of these your favourites we can bond over?

Now onto the actual point of this blog post - the food. This is a very simple, healthy and delicious dinner. It is great if you've had a heavy week or weekend, like I had and you need something simple yet delicious to get you started again. Best of all, it's an original recipe.

Level of Difficulty: Quite easy and extraordinary healthy
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: Brown rice, sweet potato, pumpkin, apple
Occasion: Dinner and lunch – I made this for me and had one serving for dinner and the next for lunch – works both cold and hot!

Serves 2

What you need:
-          1 cup brown rice
-          1 sweet potato
-          ½ butternut squash or regular pumpkin – mine was a 1kg butternut squash
-          1 tbsp olive oil
-          Your choice of spices – I used Masterfood Vegetable Sprinkles, rosemary and thyme
-          1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
-          1 tbsp brown sugar
-          1 tbsp lemon juice
-          ¼ cup nuts – I used flaked almonds, but hazelnuts would work too
-          2-3 tbsp honey
-          1 tsp wholegrain mustard
-          ½ - 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
-          2 white fish fillets – I used halibut

What to do:

Boil the rice for 30 – 40 minutes in slightly salted water. I like my rice soft and fluffy, but if you prefer your rice slightly grainier, boil for less time until desired texture is reached.

Dice the sweet potato and pumpkin – the size is up to you but I prefer bite sized vegetables. Place the veggies in a bowl and add oil and your choice of spices – I recommend rosemary and thyme at the least. Place a lid on the bowl and shake until veggies are evenly coated in oil and spices. Add salt and pepper if you wish. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the veggies are golden and crunchy.

Add the diced apple, brown sugar and lemon juice to a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently and well. The brown sugar and lemon juice will be absorbed by the apple. It may sizzle a little, but don’t worry. Cook until the apples are brown and soft – they shouldn’t be falling apart, but they should be soft and juicy. If you do this step here, the apples will be finished cooking at the same time as the rice and veggies.

Quickly toast the nuts – I just added a tsp of olive oil to a saucepan and added the nuts until they were slightly toasted. Does not take long – you can do this last or simply skip this step and add in untoasted nuts.

Mix the honey, wholegrain mustard, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mix together well. Leave to sit for a little bit. Add more olive oil if the mixture is too thick and not runny enough. Add more honey if the mixture tastes too mustardy and want it sweeter – I prefer a very sweet taste with this dish – it works very well with the dish.

At this time, the rice, veggies and apple should still be cooking and the dressing should be mixed. Therefore, you can cook the fish now or wait until later.

I prefer to coat the fish in lemon juice and sea salt. Grill the fish for approximately four minutes on each side – I used a grill which does both sides at once so it took about four minutes in total for each fish.

Once the fish is cooked, place it to one side. In a bowl, combine the rice, apples and pumpkin and stir well together. Divide onto two plates and top with fish.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Just a quick note to mention some great news I got today - I don't mind telling you guys, but I have yet to tell too many of my real life friends - I got the highest mark in one of my law subjects out of the entire year! I get an award and everything. It was pretty exciting news. Unfortunantly it doesn't look like I can make the ceremony - which is upsetting. Now - onto the actual food - which is what you're here for.

Finally an oatmeal post. So much for being a healthy living blogger.

Now, if there is one thing I am totally awful at, it is peeling things. Are you guys bad at it as well? I can barely peel a potato, and I have given up completely on sweet potatoes. Apples also take me ages. So if you're like me, peeling the apples for this may take a while. If you're like my roommate Marnie, who is now forever my official apple peeler, this will take you no time at all.

I love apple crumble. It is my all time favourite dessert. I also love pretty much anything with molten chocolate and sticky date pudding. But I fell in love with apple based deserts in Europe, in Salzburg. I remember we were sitting in this crowded resturant, all the locals just arriving as our dessert came out. The room was completely white, but there were flowers everywhere. My parents convinved me to try the apple crumble, which was beautiful. It was piping hot, with ice cold creamy vanilla ice cream. The apples were soft, the crumble crunchy, the perfect mix of sweet and spice.

Now I can't guarantee this oatmeal is that good. But it does try. And for a breakfast, it is hot, creamy, with a delicious apple tang.

Level of Difficulty: Perfectly easy
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: Apple and Oatmeal
Occasion: Breakfast. But if you’re like me, I eat breakfast for pretty much every meal.

Serves 1

What you need:
-          1/3 cup oats
-          1/3 cup almond milk
-          2 tbsp water
-          1 tbsp applesauce
-          1 – 2 tbsp maple syrup
-          ½ apple, peeled, cored and diced
-          2 tbsp raisins
-          1 tbsp flaked almonds

What to do:

I am a microwave gal when it comes to oats – its quick, easy and I’m scared to try on the stove. So if you usually cook on a stove, I’m sure you can still try this, but I’m not quite sure how it would work.

Combine oats, milk and water in a microwave proof bowl and microwave for 1 min 30 seconds. I like my oatmeal life this – thick, not too watery and still a little dry. If you like really creamy oatmeal, microwave for another minute.

Once the desired consistency is reached, add the applesauce, maple syrup and apple and mix well. If you want softened apples, prior to microwaving the oats place the diced apples with a tablespoon of brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and allow to bubble for 10 minutes. This will soften the apples beautifully.

Top the oatmeal with raisins and flaked almonds and apple slices from the remaining apple half if you wish.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

WIAW - A typical uni day

I thought I would share a few thoughts I've had over these past few days:

1. Is every guy in Pretty Little Liars incredibly attractive? Why is this show so addictive? I've watched two seasons in about a week. And the girls clothes/hair/nails are always amazing. I would kill to have the patience and ability to make my hair all pretty like that. And what a job those girls have - they pretty much go to work, stare into the eyes of the most gorgeous men, and look scared a lot. I should be an actor not a writer.

2. Why do all the smokers sit next to me on the bus?

3. Why does winter make me want to curl up in a ball in bed and never leave? I didn't participate in WIAW last week because I spent all week eating an awful lot of food, not leaving my bed and not exercising. Both this week and last week I will have not exercised for three days and I will have eaten significantly more than I usually do - not a lot of bad, sugar ladden food, just a lot of food in general. Now I know this is my body adjusting to winter, but I have been feeling really guilty and cranky lately. The guilt is the worst. Do you guys have this problem?

I've decided to try to not worry so much and enjoy myself and if I eat, I am trying to eat good food. Therefore I want to know what do you snack on? Any hints you can give me about adjusting to winter - not wanting to work out because it is cold, and eating significantly more food, especially after dark? Anything at all will be welcome.

But I am going to participate in WIAW this week. I won't hide away, ashamed again. A HUGE thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting this party as usual. I'm sorry I never got a chance to participate last week, but I'm back this week.

Thursday is a busy day for me. I have a whole day of uni, and I usually end up with a headache about halfway through and force myself to stay. Especially this week, as I skipped out on uni other days and pretty much lay in bed all week. So breakfast was the usual - oats and honey. It wasn't pretty so there is no picture.

I snacked on some yoghurt throughout the morning until I left for uni at 9.

Lunch was this pasta - whole wheat pasta, leftover mince from beef stroganoff I made the other day, flaked almonds, mushrooms, onion, tomato, sour cream and lemon juice. There was no way to make this look attractive - but it tasted great!

I also snacked on some grilled chicken and baked pumpkin and sweet potato.

Dinner was something I threw in the slow cooker in the morning - slow cooker shredded beef from elly says opa. We made tortillas withwhole wheat tortillas, pork, cheese, carrot, lettuce, tomato, tomato chutney, pineapple, and avocado.

What isn't pictured is the three bowls of cereal I ate that night. Like I said, bad week.

But this is something I keep reminding myself, whenever I have a bad day, or a bad week: It's not forever.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mum's Chicken Burgers

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

I figured this would be a great day to tell you about a lovely recipe of my Mum's.

Now I know blogworld has gone crazy talking about how much they love their mothers, and as much as I shouldn't need a day to mention why I love my mother, I may as well mention her today. I really do love my Mum (and I will be home in a month from today!).

She is such a strong, independant women, which is what I admire most about people - no matter what happens my Mum will always be able to pick herself up, and everybody else around her and get on with her life. She is also beautiful and brave, though she doesn't think she is either of those things. But mostly, she is the best mother in the world (and I'm not just saying this because I'm biased). Whenever I have a problem, whether I be struggling with some silly moral decision, or whether I am upset with how I look, or having a bad day, or got a bad grade, or spent the week without exercising and am feeling guilty, she is there for me. Even when she doesn't really understand the problem. She always tries to make it better (which often makes me angry) but she is trying to do the right thing. And if I am upset, she reminds me how lucky I am - to have parents like I do.

Thanks Mum, for teaching me the most important things in my life (I know you're reading this). I never say it enough, but thanks. I think I have a pretty decent moral compass, I know a good book when I see one, I know what I should and shouldn't eat, and I know how important love is.

So Mum, this is for you. And it is one of the best things you ever taught me to cook. And one of my favourite meals ever - life wouldn't be complete without chicken burgers every Friday and some movie that only two of us family members like.

These chicken burgers are really easy, very delicious, and can be whipped up in a few minutes. They are hearty and filling when served as a burger, but taste amazing crumbled in a salad the next day. You can't go wrong with them (unless of course you add beetroot, which is wrong).

Level of Difficulty: Easy – so wonderfully easy
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: chicken, tomato chutney – chose a really good, strong one
Occasion: Dinner and lunch – would make a lovely light lunch with a salad and no bun
Menu Options: Serve the patties with whatever buns you chose. And whatever trimmings you want – mushrooms, onions, lettuce, cheese, tomato, pineapple, sauce. Though if you chose beetroot I may have to stop being your friend. I really hate beetroot – quick side note: In Australia, beetroot is commonplace on burgers. At school, tuckshop was always healthy except on burger day. And every burger day I had to ask for no beetroot on my burger because it is automatically put on burgers here (much to my disgust).

Makes 6-8 burger patties, depending on size.Nutrition stats are for the burger patties alone and will alter depending on what tomato chutney you use.

What you need:
-          400-500g lean ground chicken / chicken mince
-          2 tbsp tomato chutney (I use Outback Spirit)
-          1 egg
-          3-4 tbsp breadcrumbs (your choice of type)

NOTE: You can mix in other veggies or sauces/salsas if you want. You can add spices – chicken is a staple in the diet of almost every culture so any spices you add will work well. I recommend trying it with a decent chutney first, as the flavour is amazing – delicate tomato and juicy chicken. It truly is so simple, but so tasty.

What to do:
Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. You can use a spoon to to stir the ingredients together – make sure the chicken is coated in the chutney, egg and breadcrumbs.

Heat some oil in a frypan – just a little, you don’t need a lot.

I use an egg shaper to shape my patties into lovely circular mounds. If you can’t or don’t want to use an egg shaper, just make sure the patties are the same size and thickness of an egg shaper. This also means they will cook fast.

Cook patties for approximately five minutes on each side or until the patties are browned.

Serve with whatever buns and trimmings you chose. And don't forget chips. As if you could.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A variety of Puffs

I can't believe I forgot to post this. I had this written yesterday, but I came home from uni and pretty much fell asleep. I've been feeling ridiculously lazy lately - I haven't done any uni work, I've slept about 9 - 10 hours each night and I've eaten an insane amount of food. I blame winter. Sorry it's been such a long time since I posted - still adapting to the consistency thing!

I have made three puffs for you today:
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Goats Cheese Puffs
Salmon, Potato and Goats Cheese Puffs
Avocado Puffs (adapted from the amazing Averie Cooks)

These puffs are perfect for Mother's Day. They're cute, small, delicious and warm. I don't actually think my own mother would eat any of these, except for maybe the avocado ones, but I hope she would at least try them. If your mother does like food like this - then it's perfect.

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Average Cost: $
Occasion: Morning tea, afternoon tea, snack, Mother’s Day
Menu Options: This recipe is brilliantly simple. You can add other flavours if you want – maybe some lemon and rosemary to the salmon puffs. You can change the cheese for stronger or weaker cheese. You can use salsa in the avocado puffs instead of tomato chutney – it is all entirely up to you. These are just basic ideas.

Salmon, Sweet Potato and Goats Cheese Puffs
Makes 12 pastries

You will need:
1 large sweet potato
1-2 cooked salmon fillets, depending on size (I needed 2, but my fillets were very small)
2 tbsp goats cheese
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, in a small bowl, beaten

What to do:
A note about the salmon fillets – they should be already cooked. This is a great way to use up leftovers. You can also buy frozen salmon fillets which just need a few minutes in the microwave to be cooked properly. I know this sounds awful, but, at least in Australian anyway, I have found a great packaged salmon which I defrost in the microwave and it tastes fine. This is because I am a uni student and can’t afford real salmon fillets. This is also why my salmon fillets were small. If you are cooking your own, I recommend cooking with a little oil and lemon juice and rosemary.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Boil the sweet potato. This usually takes me about 15 minutes. To make this process quicker, cut the potato up into small bits. Make sure the potato is very soft.

While boiling the potato, defrost the puff pastry.

Mash the boiled sweet potato, and combine with goats cheese and salmon fillet. This means shredding the salmon fillet which can be done with a fork or your hands.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry into twelve equal squares. As one square will be the bottom of the puff and another square will be the top, this means each sheet makes 6 pastries.

Place a dollop of the salmon mixture onto six squares on each sheet.

Cover the salmon filled sheets with a corresponding pastry lid. Using your fingers, press the corners of the two sheets of pastry together so the mixture is firmly enclosed in the pastry case. Using a fork, stab the edges of the pastry. The end result is that each individual pastry will have a border of dots from the fork. The border should go around all four sides of the pastry. This lets the air escape from the pastry and ensures the mixture will not spill out.

Brush the lids of the pastry with the beaten egg.

Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the pastry, as you want them to be a lovely, crispy golden brown.

Salmon, Potato and Goats Cheese Puffs
Makes 12 pastries

You will need:
3 small washed potatoes (alternate this depending on size of potatoes)
1-2 salmon fillets, depending on size
2 tbsp goats cheese
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg

What to do:
Follow the same process for these puffs as I said above, just using regular potatoes instead of sweet potato.

Avocado Puffs
Makes 6 pastries

You will need:
NOTE: Do not bother measuring this out, as you will merely be using a tablespoon of the mixture on each pastry; this is just an estimate of how much you will need.
1/2 avocado
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup tomato chutney
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg

What to do:
Defrost the puff pastry. Once defrosted, using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry until it is stretched thin. Cut the pastry into 12 equal squares.

Mash the avocado in a small bowl.

On six of the squares, place the following, in the order listed below:
1 tablespoon of mashed avocado
1 teaspoon of cream cheese
1 teaspoon of tomato chutney

Cover the filled pastry squares with a corresponding pastry lid. Using your fingers, press the corners of the two sheets of pastry together so the mixture is firmly enclosed in the pastry case. Using a fork, stab the edges of the pastry. The end result is that each individual pastry will have a border of dots from the fork. The border should go around all four sides of the pastry. This lets the air escape from the pastry and ensures the mixture will not spill out.

Brush the lids of the pastry with the beaten egg.

Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the pastry, as you want them to be a lovely, crispy golden brown.

NOTE: I made all of these on the same day, so I used two eggs – as you are only using the eggs to brush over the pastry you don’t actually use the whole egg so one egg can brush quite a few pastries.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Healthy Banana Bread - Sugarless, Whole Wheat, Low-Cal

I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted. I actually can't use the excuse of being busy; I haven't been at all. I've just been tired. But I'm back with a bang - a recipe I developed, guaranteed to not break your diet, and perfect for those who love wholesome, healthy foods. The epitome of this blog.

I was supposed to give blood yesterday, but because last time I did I fainted (several hours after donating), they won't allow me to donate for another three years. Which is fine, but I wish they'd told me before I drank 1.5 L of liquid that morning - including an insane amount of juice! I never drink juice, but I figured with the whole donating blood thing, the sugar wouldn't bother me. Well, the sugar did bother me. I pretty much spent the whole day feeling guilty about drinking calories. Which made me eat an insane amount of chocolate banana bread I made. Which tasted excellent, but made me feel worse. And the cycle continued. I'm sure you've been there.

However, I am going to look at the positives of this week. I saw The Avengers. That is probably the only positive it what turned out to be a rather average and slightly annoying and lonely week. But wow, it was a positive. I recommend you go see this movie now. Tomorrow. Hell, even tonight. It is brilliant. I am a bit of a dork (I was planning on posting a few days ago and making a 'May the Fourth be with you' joke, I love Harry Potter, and I have an insane amount of respect and admiration for Steven Moffat), and it is a super hero movie. But ignore this fact if you don't like super hero movies, and go because, well, everyone is good looking. And there are some brilliant one liners. And everyone is good looking. And there is some great action scenes. And everyone is good looking. 

I obviously have my priorities straight.

So this bread I baked as a healthy treat is one I have been experimenting with for a while. It is one of the first recipes I have completely made up by myself, not just fooled around with. Literally I walked into my kitchen and pulled out what people usually use in a banana bread and attempted to make it healthier. And boy did it work. I made it healthy. There is no sugar. Whole wheat flour is used. The honey is minimal. The banana's do all the work in this bread. It tastes brilliant, and is so incredibly low in calories.

Seriously guys, this bread is the best thing I've made. Maybe not ever - but the best thing I have ever invented in the kitchen thus far. Sure, it isn't pretty, and, due to the honey, has a tendancy to burn. But it tastes fantastic, at at 111 calories a slice, is just the perfect afternoon treat.

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: banana, honey
Occasion: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack
Menu Options: This recipe is brilliantly simple. You don’t have to add the coconut to decorate if you don’t like it. You could add chocolate chips, raisins, coconut, any type of nuts or dried fruit to the batter if you wish. You could decorate it with chocolate or nutella. Of course, this will affect the calorie count, and adding chocolate probably detracts from the healthiness of this bread, but I promise I won’t judge you. My last loaf may or may not have contained copious amounts of dark chocolate.

Makes 15 slices.

What you need:
2 cups whole-wheat self-raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
3 bananas
¼ cup honey
2 eggs
¼ cup yoghurt - I used low fat greek yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla
Coconut to decorate (optional)

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Liberally grease a regular 9 x 5 loaf pan. I use coconut oil, as I find it works brilliantly to grease tins.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a separate, also large bowl, mash the three bananas. You want three very ripe bananas – mine are pretty much brown all over when I make this. The flavour is amazing. Add the honey, eggs, yoghurt and vanilla. Using a stand mixer, or handheld, mix the wet ingredients together until well combined. This will take a minute or two – you want the mixture to be a light yellow, and the banana evenly distributed throughout.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly, continuing to mix on a low speed until just combined. You do not want to overmix this stage. Here is where you could add any further ingredients, like chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with coconut, if using. If you want to prevent the bread from browning, bake for 10 minutes, then cover the pan loosely with foil and continue to bake for another 20 – 30 minutes, checking frequently to ensure the bread is not burnt or done.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Keep a close eyes on the bread as it browns very quickly, but the inside will not be done. To make sure the bread is done, insert a skewer into the centre of the bread. It will come out dry.

Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely before slicing. Of course, you can slice it when it is warm, but it will get a little messy. But I admit, I love it warm with butter and honey.  

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

WIAW - going to America!

 * This will be a long post, but I promise it's a good one - news, WIAW and a quiz.

So for my good news - I'm going to America!

I will be going at the end of December/beginning of January to New York, Boston/MA (visiting the whole state) and DC. So please tell me where to go, tourist and non-tourist stuff to do (preferably the awesome stuff you do if you live there), what to eat and where to eat! I intend to try all the best American food - pizza in NY, clam chowder in MA, and I am definitely going to Trader Joes - which looks so freakin' amazing and we have nothing like that over here. So please, let me know!

I am so excited about this trip - I've never been to America and have always wanted to go. So if you live in those areas let me know!

I am going there to meet up with my lovely friend Meg, who I actually met on a writing website where we posted stories we had written. It was a great way to meet other people - like blogging! She wrote an amazing story, I said I liked it, and we became friends - and this will be my first time meeting her in the flesh. This was exciting for me - I never comment on things online unless I think they deserve to be commented on. So if I have been stalking your blog, I apologize, I'm not really a creeper. I just think you're awesome. Truly.

Now. WIAW:

As usual, a huge thank you to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for being such an awesome host. Have a look at everyone else's blog posts and of course, Jenn's.

It was such a rainy weekend I spent the whole weekend inside, baking mostly.

Breakfast – 1 cup oatmeal, 3 strawberries, 1 banana, cinnamon, honey, 'light n tasty' cereal. 

Lunch – leftover pizza (both recipes coming soon) – one slice chicken and mushroom, one slice margherita, one weight watchers apricots tin and a fudge ball (recipe from Choc Covered Katie - oh my god, these are amazing)

Dinner – one steak and mushroom pie, baked pumpkin and sweet potato

Dessert – popcorn with a little salt
Unpictured: a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt,  and I snacked on grapes, and sweet potato and pumpkin mix

I also baked for my roommates: banana and choc chip mini loaves from Skinnytaste and hot cocoa cookies from How Sweet It Is – using Marshmellow Fluff sent from Meg for Christmas!

Now for the quiz. I saw this on the ever lovely Shannon's blog and really wanted to do it, and couldn't wait to post it. So sorry for this insane post!

Now, I suppose you guys don’t really know a lot about me, but I read all these other blogs and I’m like, ‘Man, they seem like such a cool person’. And I think well, maybe if I actually talked about my life I might make some awesome foodie blogger friends. What a better way to start than on WIAW – a party for healthy bloggers anyway. So, I did a quiz:

Coke or Pepsi?
I don’t drink either on a daily basis, but Coke. Diet Coke specifically – that was all we had in the house when I was younger so I don’t even like normal Coke.

Lemonade or Fruit Punch?
Ugh, neither. I am not a fan of any lemonade or lemon-y thing really, and fruit punch has some form of soda in it, which I don’t drink. Not for any health reasons, purely because I’m picky and don’t like the taste.

Caramel Apple or Cotton Candy?
Again, neither. Both are too sweet for me. But I suppose if I was at a fair and had to chose, I would get cotton candy, eat a tiny bit, and pass it on to whatever friend I was with.

Butterfinger or Snickers?
I’m being boring again, but neither. Actually, what are Butterfingers? I don’t know. But I don’t really like Snickers.

Pudding and Jell-O?
Pudding all the way. Wasn’t a fan until uni, then I fell in love with this low fat version Weight Watchers has in a small tin – my problem is I eat like four of those tins.

Turkey or Chicken?
Cannot chose. I love them equally. A good turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, proper lettuce, tomato and cheese is fantastic, but I would die without my Mum’s chicken burgers – and chicken is like every meal for me.

American or Provolone Cheese?
Provolone. Not that I dislike American cheese, hell I love it, but I would say I like Provolone more.

Crackers or Cookies?
Probably crackers, because I eat them with cheese and tomato if I’m craving a bit of decent meal. I don’t really eat or make cookies.

Pretzels or Chips?
Pretzels – I only ever like Original Smiths Chips and Light n’ Tangy Smiths Chips anyway.

Mexican food or Japanese food?
Probably Japanese – I eat more sushi than Mexican food.

Chinese food or Italian food?
Being Italian, I like Italian food. This was called regular food for such a long time for me.

Pie or Cake?
Oh, that’s so hard. I love pie most, I think. The cake has got to be a specific cake to be better than pie – like chocolate or banana. And the pie has usually got to be warm and homemade; I don’t really do bakery meat pies. I would do bakery fruit pies though.

Ice cream or Cookies?
Cookies. I don’t eat cookies, but I eat ice cream less. I really don’t like it – just not my thing.

Pasta or Pizza?
Pasta – I mean, I love my grandparents homemade pizza, but pasta is like a twice weekly thing for me. Growing up, Tuesday and Thursday every week was pasta nights.

Soda or Juice?
Freshly squeezed juice, otherwise I only really drink Pineapple juice.

Chocolate Bars or Chocolate Truffles?
I don’t really eat chocolate bars – I prefer chocolate in things. So probably truffles, but I would never be able to restrict myself to one. And it would have to be dark chocolate – I can do some milk chocolate, especially if it’s with caramel, but never white chocolate.

Apples or Bananas?
I’m going to have to go with bananas here.

Salad or Soup?
Salad I suppose, I try to eat it once a day.

Cauliflower or Broccoli?
Ooooh neither. I’m still learning to eat my veggies. When I was kid, I ate every fruit there was. My parents called me ‘The Fruit Bat’. At the same time, I also told my friend’s parents when I slept over at my friend’s house that I was allergic to green vegetables because I didn’t eat them.

Onion Rings or French Fries?
French fries all the way. I don’t do onion – not a lot of it.

Blizzard or McFlurry?
What is a Blizzard? But not a McFlurry, as I have actually never eaten McDonals. I know, shock, right.

Fried or Poached Eggs?
Poached all the way.

Crepes or Pancakes?
Uh, such a hard decision! Both!

Hash browns or Roasted Potatoes?
Roasted potatoes. I used to love hash browns, but now, I can’t go past good old fashioned roast vegetables!

Oatmeal or Cereal?
I absolutely love both. Cereal in summer, oatmeal in winter.

So let me know -
- where to eat, what to do, where to go, what to eat
- what have you eaten lately that's been amazing?
- do you have any great friends you have met online through blogging? I'd love some food blogging friends, often my friends in the real world don't even care about these kinds of things :)

P.S. – A huge thank you to the wonderful Healthy Living Bloggers Newsletter team.