Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daring bakers-Gluten Free Nanaimo Bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

This month the daring bakers went gluten free, which is a great thing as I've not experimented much with the various flours that are around for gluten free baking.

I didnt manage to get all the different flours involved this time, I got a baking mix which had a similar combination of flours(bob's red mill gluten free baking mix). Since I dont normally use them in my regular baking it seemed like a bit of a waste. The mix worked very well, I replaced the separate flours and the baking powder with it.

The mixture was very odd in consistency, and pretty runny, so I decided to add 1/2 cup oat bran. I was very happy with this addition, and I really liked the flavor in the bars. It should be noted that some celiacs dont eat oats, and it is important to look for a gluten free product.

These delicious graham crackers were mixed with a combination of cooca, butter, almonds and coconut for a decadent base, a custard/buttercream layer was added, followed by delicious chocolate. These were cut into small squares and devoured by my bookclub. I was in a hurry, so they were a little messy, not the perfect squares that other daring bakers created. An overnight rest in the fridge is really crucial.

I dont know that I'll try this recipe again, its a little rich, but it was an interesting window into the world of gluten free baking, and into a delicious little canadian treat!

Visit the daring kitchen for a recipe and links to other daring bakers, or even try getting involved in the daring bakers yourself!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cupcake decorating party!

Cupcake decorating parties are something that scared me to bits, but someone asked me to help out at a party, and I thought it would be fun to give it a try and it went very well!

I really enjoyed hanging out with my friends kids who were 'helping' me make decorations for a wedding cake, so I had an idea of what would be fun for them.

What I learned was that they were extremely excited by sprinkles and M&M's and that they did like to roll out fondant and cut shapes. I just have to learn how not to laugh at their mutant cyclops bees. Hmmmm.

It can be an extremely messy affair, I was very happy that it wasn't in my house, it was held in a community area of the complex, the table was covered, and I brought lots of parchment sheets so that I could easily clean up after each child.

Another consideration is to make sure that the parents are happy with what the kiddy is eating, they generally end up with more frosting/sprinkles in their mouth than on the cake. Its maybe a good activity for after the meal (if there is a meal).

They did enjoy making one cupcake for now, and one to take home, so I made sure to stock up on little takeout boxes(super cheap from smart and final).

I bought a pipe from home depot and cut it into small pieces to use for rolling out the fondant. It was useful to have confectioners sugar on hand to stop things sticking!

This day brought me closer to my goal, I'm trying to raise nearly $3,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society any way I can and the family were kind enough to give me a donation for my troubles! I'm also making cakes and treats for anyone who wants them!

Weight loss update down another pound! Slow but steady! I realised that my evening meals had been getting bigger and bigger and I've been mindful of how much I'm eating and that is helping!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Healthy appetites, soba noodles

I was shopping in Trader Joes and I came across this interesting package, I'm really having trouble coming up with ideas for delicious healthy meals, so this looked perfect!

It comes with a package of noodles, sauce mix, sesame oil and a sprinkle mixture of sesame seeds and seaweed, a healthy sized portion for around 4 people.

I stir fried some veggies in the sesame oil, added some marinaded tofu, and then prepared the noodles as per the package instructions. Tasty and filling! I was left with another 3 lunches for work, or a dinner for us on a weeknight, so it was cheap, cheerful, healthy and delicious!

I added some crunchy lettuce mixed with a little dressing that I whipped up with low fat mayonnaise, wasabi, honey and rice vinegar on the side.

Much as I'd love for Trader Joes to hand me free stuff, I actually went and paid for this, I just thought I'd mention it as many of us are trying to lose a little weight, and
looking for healthy, quick options.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another weigh in and another healthy recipe, quiche

Oh dear, I've been a lazy blogger, I dont seem to have a lot to talk about since I'm trying to be healthy!

I did want to discuss this quiche, I've made this several times and I actually prefer it to an eggy quiche, which is good, since eggs seem to give me a terrible stomach ache of late.

Looking back, I realise that I've mentioned this recipe before!

I think it deserves a repeat performance though. This time I strayed pretty far away from heidi's recipe! This is a particularly forgiving recipe, the important thing is to add lots of flavor since tofu can be bland. Sundried tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, a little veggie stock and caramelized onions are all great ideas. I also mentioned last time that much as I love heidi, I think I must be more of a whirlwind in the kitchen since I can usually whip this up in around 30mins active time plus 30 mins baking time.

Since pastry isnt terribly great for the waistline I was careful to roll it really thin, and also use one part whole wheat pastry flour to one part all purpose flour. This time I used butter so its not really vegan any more.

Eggless Quiche adapted from 101 cookbooks
your favorite savory tart recipe, baked blind
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 tbsp sundried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch of greens (I used kale)
1 tsp better than bouillon stock

1 package firm silken tofu
1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and Pepper

Cook the onions and garlic with some olive oil until nice and caramelized, add the washed and chopped kale and the sundried tomatoes and sautee for around 5 mins. Add salt and pepper, stock and set aside.

Put the tofu, nutritional yeast and vinegar in a food processor and process until smooth then add the greens mixture and pulse a couple of times to mix.

Place in the tart shell and cook for around 30 mins, cover the pastry with foil to prevent burning.

10 in 10 progress:
I've lost another pound! Total loss of 2lb! I've also had a great time on the bike team and I went up a group, plus I managed an extra repeat on torrey pines hill. I'm really enjoying my exercise these days...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Plum Frangipane Tart

I recently received some plums in my CSA and they just languished in my fridge and I couldnt think what to do with them. I also had a huge tub of almond meal that I bought, thinking it would come in handy to make marzipan for christmas. Bookclub seemed the perfect occasion to make a nice tart, using some of my almond paste, and the plums.

This tart is so pretty and easy. I made the pastry the jamie oliver way, although he says to press the pastry into the tart pan, and I think it is far easier to roll it out, that way you can get it nice and thin and delicate.
This is definitely not something to be eating giant pieces of with all the butter and sugar, but is definitely a nice treat if you can make yourself just have a small piece. I found that bookclub was the perfect opportunity, since it would be shared.

Plum and Frangipane Tart

Short crust pastry crust, baked blind I used this recipe
100g Almond Paste
16g Sugar
50g Butter
20g Cake flour, sifted
6-8 plums, or 2 pears if preferred
Cream the almond paste, sugar, butter and egg, then add the flour and mix until combined. Smooth the paste on the bottom of the crust until even, then arrange slices of plums on the top.
Put foil around the crust of the tart to make sure it doesnt burn.
Bake for around 30mins at 350f until the frangipane is slightly browned.

10 in 10 update!

I'm supposed to update how I'm getting on with my healthy eating and weight loss project and I'm a little late! Here's a picture of a pretty fruit plate for inspiration!

The first week has gone really well. I've found myself just getting back into a good routine, and I've tried to start using www. to track how much I'm eating to make sure I'm on track and keep myself accountable.

My weight seems to fluctuate by a couple of pounds from day to day, so its hard to tell whether I'm actually losing weight, but I think it seems to be constistently slightly lower than it was last week. I'll continue to try and weigh myself daily to get a good sense of what is going on.

My hairdresser really inspired me this week, she's 8 months pregnant so she's carrying a lot of extra weight and she just cant wait to have that extra weight that she's carrying around gone so that she can move around more easily and feel less fatigued. I know being pregnant is very different, but I think its a good thing to keep in my mind, that I will feel so much more comfortable if I lose 20lb.

The exercise is going well, I managed to go to the gym twice, train on my bike 2 days, have a rest on friday and then did a 55 mile bike ride with the team in the beautiful hills of san diego county.

Weight loss: 1lb Total weight loss: 1lb

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Super Quick and Easy Dinner! Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

Since my dinner looked so crappy, I thought I'd share a photo of my pretty cat! I've decided to take part in the 365 project and take a picture every day. I'd love to take loads of time over them, but I think a lot of the time it will be a quick snap with my phone. Here is the set if you'd like to check them out! The lovely barbara got me started on this, thank goodness for twitter!
Anyway, what with all this faffing about with photos, you'll need a quick idea for dinner, this is also super healthy and delicious!
Spaghetti Squash with meatballs -serves around 4

1 large spaghetti squash
1 large tin marinara sauce (I love trader joes low fat version)
meatballs (I used trader joes meatless meatballs)
grated cheese
Timing will vary depending on your microwave.
Microwave or steam each half of the squash until cooked, about 2 x 4 mins each half.
Place the frozen meatballs into the squash, cover with sauce and microwave for another 2 x 4 mins.
Cover with grated cheese and grill until bubbly.
If you dont have a microwave you can steam the squash, then put the meatballs and sauce in, cover with cheese and then pop in the oven at around 350f for around 45 mins.

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 in 10 and a healthy recipe!

Thanks so much to Recipe Girl for kickstarting hundreds of us into getting healthy this new year!I've recently had a very indulgent time, with family staying in September, a trip to the UK in October, our wonderful vacation in Hawaii in November, holiday indulgences, as well as some fatigue and general malais which has left me feeling pretty exhausted and bloated. Whether its a medical issue or not, the facts are plain, I have some weight to lose, so here I am, admitting it to the world!

I've got a horrible feeing I'll need to document everything I eat. This seems to be the only way to keep myself honest, as otherwise I'll be nibbling things left right and center. I'll also need to follow recipe girls lead and get a giant packet of chewing gum and chew gum if I'm making cakes or treats so that I'm not nibbling on things the whole time.

I'll be back next Friday with an update on the weight loss, and every Friday for the next 10 weeks. I'll be participating in a century bike ride in solvang in March, so the added health benefits will also transfer to a much more fun bike ride! This nicely ties in to the 10 week challenge, as its actually the last week!

Here are my goals:
  • Lose 20lb

  • Get back into my nice clothes comfortably

  • Get faster on the bike
  • As I tidied up all my crap that was all over the place, I came across a recipe for katsu curry, which I really loved eating at wagamama, so I thought this would be an excellent sauce that I could have with boring veggies and tofu to spruce them up. It was delicious, it even made my nasty tofurkey from christmas taste palatable!!

This sauce is usually paired with breaded and fried chicken, although I think it will be great with all manner of veggies/meat etc.

Apologies for the ugly photo, this is pretty ugly but tasty, which seems to be a theme for some of the healthier fare!

Katsu Curry Sauce adapted from urban drivel/wagamama

1 tbsp Butter
small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 apples, cored and chopped (leave skin on for healthy fiber)
16oz water
2 tsp better than bouillon not chicken stock
2 bananas, chopped
2 tbsp honey (taste before adding, add to taste, I found the sauce a little on the sweet side)
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp ground pepper

Sautee the onions in the butter for a few minutes, add the garlic, then the apples and cook a little more, then add the other ingredients and simmer for around 15 minutes until soft. Blend the sauce with a hand blender. If it seems thin, add a tablespoon of cornstarch in some water and heat until thickened.