Tag Archives: healthy ambition

Fast and Easy Homemade Bread

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Baking my own bread has always been a rather intimidating prospect. I’m not sure why I became so afraid of it, perhaps visions of being up to my ears in sticky, flour-y dough, and kneading and proving for hours on end scared me off. I love to bake, but spending hours in the kitchen on complicated recipes isn’t my first choice of how to use my time. And now there’s a seven month old in the house, well, it’s just not an option anyway!

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Warm bread with homemade jam and organic butter – dee LISH!

An episode of  River Cottage (a fave UK lifestyle show of mine) inspired me to get my bread making on. I found what I thought was a good way to dip my toe in the dough at The Stone Soup; a foodie blog made just for me – and you no doubt! Jules creates and shares recipes with 5 ingredients, loves fresh and seasonal produce, and espouses the thrifty kitchen – what a trifecta! It is her recipe for Rustic Homemade Yeasted Bread (it’s titled Rustic Sourdough on the website, and even has a video!) that I’ve been loving up and raving about.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Newly Mixed Dough

My first attempt at this bread was with generic brand flour and table salt. It was freaking amazing. I was so excited I think I told everyone I knew, who – lucky for me, bless ’em! – at least feigned interest. This makes my first loaf of Jules’ bread cost less than $1 in ingredients. Without horrible additives. Making my house smell divine.

And no kneading.

I know. Its true! I couldn’t believe it.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Proved Dough @23hrs

I’m sure there are bread purists out there who will gasp and call me a philistine. That’s okay. The fact is, Jules has me baking fresh bread for my family, and that makes me very happy. I even do a little dance when I get it out of the oven. And when I’m eating it. Bub finds it all very entertaining. 🙂

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Proved Dough @ 23.5hrs

And. It takes 5 minutes to prepare. Mix in a bowl some flour, water, salt and yeast. Cover it with some cling wrap. Leave it for 12-24 hours. Tip it onto a floured surface; fold the edges in, place inside a floured tea towel for half an hour while you warm your pan and oven. Plonk the dough in the pan, cover, bake for half an hour; take off cover, bake a further 15 minutes. Slather on some butter and jam and congratulate yourself on baking a beautiful, fresh, uncontaminated loaf of bread.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Almost done – taking lid off

Jules recommends using a round baking dish with a lid. I didn’t have one of those, so I used a shallow pie dish and some foil. Then I experimented with a loaf tin and foil, with superb results – primarily so I can freeze some (so I don’t keep going back for ‘just another slice’ – far too tempting!) and make a good sandwich. I did reduce the baking time though – 20 minutes then ten. Just give it a try with whatever you have, it’s very forgiving.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Mmm fresh bread smells uh may zing

I usually make up the bread at night once bub is asleep and bake while we’re all eating breakfast. Today’s bread, however, sat for 23 hours before I turned it out of the bowl, and I think it tasted better when the yeast had extra time to ferment. I have started using organic flour; it is nicer, a bit more moist and springy. But when we have to tighten the purse strings, I’ll have no hesitation in using generic flour for the benefits of good, wholesome, homemade bread.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

First attempt – round loaf

While you’re over on The Stone Soup, have a good look around. I particularly love her approach to minimalist menu planning, and her checklist for a minimalist kitchen is great – excellent for people setting up a new house.

The next thing I’m going to do is make my own sourdough culture and make sourdough bread; I’m exploring fermenting my grains – like porridge, mmm – to make them more easily digestible a-la activating nuts, and to reduce the harmful effects of gluten.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Makes a pretty good loaf-shaped bread

As someone with Hashimoto’s, gluten is something I need to kick. I have been able to do this in the past, and am going to wait until I finish breastfeeding until I quit again, mainly to spare bub from the detoxifying process that I’ll need to go through. However, any of you who have gluten intolerance or Coeliac’s disease will know just how sad gluten free bread is, and how expensive. It’s an ambition of mine to adapt this recipe to make a decent gluten free bread fresh at home, and I’ll share my results when I do. I’m hoping I can turn out something that is not just better than cardboard, but something that is yummy, inexpensive and that I can fit into my day. Spelt sourdough, perhaps? We’ll see!

Do you guys bake your own bread? If not, give this a try! You will not regret it. Let me know how you go!

UPDATE: SPELT IS NOT GLUTEN FREE! Fear not, I will pursue a yummy, no knead gluten free bread to bake at home, but Celiac.com has advised that it is not suitable for those with Coeliac disease. Spelt is much healthier than wheat flours, however, and is possibly okay for those with gluten intolerance, but if in doubt please be guided by advice from your health professional.

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Banana Parfait with Home-made Yoghurt

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Recently, I bought an EasiYo Yoghurt Maker. It is one of my new favourite things. In my various quests to make and grow as much of my own fresh and healthy food as possible (in my apartment), and to get my budget living, stay-at-home-mum skills on, I’m becoming cultured.

See what I did there?

So. I made yoghurt. I used a store-bought sachet, but the next thing I’m going to do is make my own starter culture from organic milk. When I do, I’ll share a tutorial on how I did. (Don’t you love how ‘when’ is so definitive? Now I *have* to do it!)

Despite all these lovely, lofty ambitions, there are just some days when dinner is an afterthought. Eager to tuck in to my yummy, sugar free, fresh yoghurt, and find something quick and healthy to make for dinner, I made some Banana Parfait.

I crushed up a few handfuls of my Activated Nuts, which was wonderful, as I really need to show my mortar and pestle some more love.

Crushing my activated nuts

I don’t have parfait glasses, but I *do* have martini glasses. And while I’m still breastfeeding, cocktails are quite rare round these parts, so I’m rather excited to have found a use for them and bring them back from sabbatical.

Create your layers, as thick as you like, as many as you like.

The layers - activated nuts, banana, homemade yoghurt

I made two for dinner, served with some of my home-made banana bread, plus an extra one for my lunch the next day.

Parfaits in progress

It was a surprisingly filling dinner actually, with the protein and good fats from the yoghurt and nuts proving quite satisfying, while the banana bread added something a bit more substantial to the meal.

It only took a few minutes to throw together, and would be great to make for breakfast, or brunch for those of us Hashimoto’s sufferers who can’t have dairy in the morning!

Next time I make these, I’ll slice the bananas thicker, and add some dessicated coconut and layer the yoghurt between banana and coconut, with the nuts away from the yoghurt to stop them from soaking up too much of the yoghurt.

Yum!

What sorts of ingredients to you put in your parfaits?

Water Baby

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I have been looking forward to taking my gorgeous six month old daughter swimming, but have had to hurdle some self-created obstacles to get there. The right temperature? I don’t have any swimming nappies! Do I put her head under? I need a second person to help get her in an out of the water!

Arg!

So, on the weekend, hubby and I seized what could be the last warm Melbourne day before the cold of winter descends, and took a tentative dip, as opposed to any kind of plunge.

Baby's first swim

It was great! She had a great time, smiling and kicking, even though she was shivering a little in this strange new environment. Once her dad jumped in she even became shy! But she certainly enjoyed it.

I’m thrilled! Maybe she’ll make it to the Olympics to swim for Australia one day? A bit too early for London 2012 methinks…

How did you go with your baby’s first swim? Did you take them for a dip newborn? Pop baby’s head under? I’d love to hear your thoughts on when to go under water, and when to start swimming lessons.

Activated Nuts and Seeds

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Ooo, this is one of my ambitions that I wanted to become a habit, and it seems to have stuck. If you have never tried activated nuts and seeds, hang on to your hats people, they are so yummy, so good for you and so damn easy you wont even believe it.

This little pot of goodness is more than enough for a delish snack, especially when those mid arvo cravings hit! But before I get into the hows, how about some whys?

As many of you already know, nuts and seeds are an excellent source of fats, a little protein kick for between meals, as well as some great nutrients too. However, in order for our bodies to access all this awesomeness, a good deal of effort is required to overcome certain enzyme inhibitors which can cause digestive upset. Activating them cuts out a lot of that effort; leaving your energy better spent elsewhere,  chilling out some of the negative aspects of eating nuts raw, and making many more good vitamins and nutrients available for us to absorb.

As far as Hashimoto’s goes, I find that nuts and seeds are fabulous. I try to pour a little ramikin for myself when I get up in the morning, so that as the day goes on and I need a little meal to kick along my energy and metabolism they are right in arms reach, derailing me from sugary foods. I try not to eat them every day tho. And they are awesome with yoghurt, and I LOVE the pepitas in salads – they add an awesome crunch and a teensy salty element, which is novel to me as I don’t use much salt anywhere in my cooking.

Still with me?

Even if you’re not, They. Are. So. Yummy. that you should give it a crack anyway. 🙂

So. Step One.

Gather up some nuts and seeds – just make sure they’re not oily, so no peanuts, macadamia nuts, etc. My favourites are walnuts, pecans and almonds. My favourite seeds are pepitas, or pumpkin seeds. Sunflower seeds lost a bit of their love for me and became a bit too thin, but have a go and see what you reckon.

Step Two.

Soak your nuts and seeds overnight in a pot with a lid in enough water to cover and a little bit more, with one tablespoon of sea salt. I make a huge batch, so here they are soaking in my soup/jam pot. You might like to try just a bit on your first go, to see if you like them.

Also. Stop singing NKOTB.

You may be realising about now that my photography skillz are preeeettttyyy basic :s and yes, you guessed it, an ambition of mine to improve them!

Step Three.

Drain off all the water. I don’t get too fancy, just hold the lid to the side of the pot and drain that way, and leave the colander alone. You will notice the water is a little brown, and the nuts a little lighter and possibly swollen. This is cool. Spread out in a big baking tray, without oil or baking paper, just au naturale.

Step Four.

Cook for 12-24 hours in an oven set on the lowest possible setting. Just make sure its on, and doesn’t just have the fan switched on, like I did for an hour the first time I did this! Oopsy! About 70^C or so should be plenty. Every few hours, grab some tongs and move the nuts and seeds around, and try not to eat them all before they’re done! The longer you slow roast them, the better. I try to do this overnight when electricity demand and rates are lower, especially if its already warm.

Step Five.

Freeze. Seriously, freeze these babies. They taste amazingly crisp coming out of the freezer, and keep longer. Double win! And enjoy. Sooo yummy. In fact, I’m going to grab some now.

What do you think? Have you tried them? Do you have another way of making them? Let me know!

Thank you to Sarah Wilson for the inspiration!

Quit Coffee

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Dear Coffee,

Mug of liquid silk. O velvety cup of goodness. It’s time we said goodbye. 😥

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While I have adored indulging in you for more than half my life, meandering through all your forms: long macciato, long black, flat white, latte… the impact you have on me lasts longer than your warmth on a wintry Melbourne morning, and your help to get through a looong work day does me no favours in the long run.

To finally say adieu, I write this post to underscore my need to part from you. Otherwise, the chances of me slipping up are simply far too strong! [I dare not say Ciao.. whatever will I drink when I go back to Italy?! Ah, the mercies of small bank balances!]

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Why, you may ask? Protest, even? Well. I have Hashimoto’s Disease. When I have coffee, you stimulate my already burned out adrenal glands. You help kick my insulin spikes along a little further on its roller coaster trajectory. Coffee, you may give me a little moments happiness, but hours if not days later, I pay the price many times over in lethargy (oh! the cruel and tempting irony!), aches and pains, forgetfulness, brain fog, insomnia, headaches.

My added inspiration dear Coffee is my baby girl, for whose benefit I have visited upon you less often, and only at a half shot, has helped me more than I was aware. Going cold turkey on you is never fun! My half measures and weak lattes have held an ulterior purpose all along.

You see, I have to list it. Here, in full view. But primarily, Coffee, so that I can see these words I type and remember why it is that our heady days must come to an end.

And while it may smart a little, o Coffee, there is another I may turn to, so that my cherished social outings and gatherings may yet continue.

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Chai. Camomile. Peppermint. The ritual of tea, sometimes the warmth of the brew teasing honey from a spoon, maybe watching milk form clouds in a delicate cup, soothes not just a need for a hot drink. I have many, many more friends to spend time with, who will not treat me so ill. Pun intended! These friends can do me more good than you know – camomile to soothe the nerves, the spices of chai to warm and stimulate circulation and balance blood sugars, peppermint to aid digestion.

And so, it is done. Coffee, fare ye well. It’s been grand, for the most part, and I grant you that 15 years of love was worthwhile. But the last several years of clinging to sensations past in the midst of pain does neither of us any good. Here’s to herbal remedies, healthful drinks and happier days. 🙂

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Thank you Laney at Crash Test Mummy for the inspiration 🙂