Saturday, 30 April 2011

a royal wedding party and chicken chive salad

hi everyone! i hope all is well, and i hope you all managed to catch a glimpse of the royal wedding yesterday!

mum and i popped over to visit my nanna and grandad to watch the ceremony yesterday. it was absolutely beautiful - i loved the dress so much, and thought the fanfare and choir were incredible!

we celebrated in true style - with a little flag each to wave every time we saw the queen, and a glass of champagne to toast the newly married couple :)

we also had a union jack cheesecake (a new york style from Waitrose, yum!)

and a delicious buffet lunch...

prawns, salad, fresh greens, coleslaw, pate, salami, tomatoes and quiche - i was a happy woman!

it's days like yesterday that make me so thankful for the 80/20 rule, because i could indulge in some quiche and cheesecake without feeling any guilt (though i did bypass the white rolls and margarine)... and it enabled me to have a fun time with my family and share the whole experience together without worry!

now onto a few of my latest eats & recipes:

chicken chive salad. simply mix cooked chicken with mayonnaise, dried herbs, salt and pepper. then layer on top of sliced cucumber, celery, radish, bell pepper, chopped homegrown chives, tomatoes, spinach and goats cheese. serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a little homemade sauerkraut.

tomato lentil curry - a leftover's dish. combine onion, garlic, tomatoes, soaked lentils, aubergine, peppers, sweet potato and any other vegetables in your fridge, with a little curry paste and a tin of tomatoes. let it cook in a slow cooker or on a low heat in the oven, for a few hours. serve with fresh parsley and a spoonful of yogurt.

currently watching: the new episodes of doctor who!!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

coconut and cinnamon seed granola

so, the royal wedding is tomorrow - yey!! i'm heading on over to watch it on tv at my grandparents house with my mum. i'm taking a mahoosive salad with me and some fresh berries and soy cream to commemorate the occasion :)

without further ado i want to introduce to you the star of today's post:

 ♥ coconut and cinnamon seed granola

it's a very low-carb granola, and the reason for this is the accident that occurred when i tried to make soy flour cinnamon crisps - instead of crispifying, it sort of shmooed up (that's a technical term, of course) and crumbled everywhere, and my brain instantly thought 'ah, that'll make crispy granola instead!'

i've made granola's in the past - and i absolutely love having some around in a tub in the cereal cabinet. it just so perfectly rounds out a yogurt and fruit breakfast...

it tastes wonderful with a little nutmeg pear puree and greek yogurt!

so for all those of you curious to know how to make this low carb granola recipe, here is a brief how to...

coconut and cinnamon seed granola
- soak 1/4 cup sultanas for a few hours until plump
- combine 1/3 cup coconut flour, 1/3 cup gram flour, 1/3 cup soy flour with 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbsp melted butter, 1 tbsp agave nectar and 1 1/3 cups water.
- place mixture in a large non-stick baking tray (i used my new Jamie double non-stick tray - i love it!) and bake for 20 mins at 180c until golden on edges and cracking in the centre. then remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 mins.
- crumble up the mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon, and place in oven again to crisp up for another 5-10mins.
- put 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, 1 tsp cinamon, 1/4 cup linseeds, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 1/2 cup dessicated coconut (although even more would taste amazing!) and 1/4 cup whey protein powder into a large bowl. then add in the crispy soy/coconut crumble mix.
- mix together 1/2 cup apple sauce, soaked sultanas, 1 dsp honey, 1 tsp molasses, 1/4 cup groundnut oil and 2 or 3 peach slices. blend until smooth, adding a little water or juice if necessary.
- mix together the wet and dry ingredients and bake at 180c until golden and crispy, giving the pan a good shake every 5 minutes. remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly. then enjoy!
 - this should keep in an airtight container for a good few weeks...

obviously this recipe is up for negotiation and experimentation...i loved the peaches to sweeten it, so next time i'll probably try just a tin of those and 1Tbsp molasses to see what that results in. but i'll probably still use the same combination of dry ingredients, because the texture and flavour is just so tasty!

i can't tell how many carbs it actually got in it, but it's not many, especially in comparison to a regular oat granola. and it's far lower GI than standard. i think it's worth the extra effort to make the bulking crumble mix, because it works so well!

i hope you all have a fantastic day tomorrow, and that you have fun being super patriotic ♥

currently listening to: pyro by kings of leon

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

1001 low carb recipes: a cookbook review

hello lovely readers - i hope you are having the most wonderful day! today i want to share a quick review of dana carpender's 1001 low-carb recipes cookbook...

this particular cookbook was bought on the recommendation from Dr Bernstein in the Diabetes Solution.on the quest to lower the carbs in my diet, i needed a tome i could turn to more frequently. something abounding with fresh ideas and new ingredient combinations that would tickle my tastebuds. 

i was thoroughly skeptical about the purchase - aren't 1001 recipes going to be low quality? won't it be full of fad foods, and odd ingredients? 

well, i was kind of half right. but i still am very happy to have this on my shelf!

this massive doorstop of a book (which i never fail to find in about 3 seconds flat because of it's red spine - bonus!) is packed full of simple recipes that are easy to create, quick to prepare and tasty.

the split of recipes is pretty decent, with a good section on vegetables. dana also includes meat & fish, sauces, salads, soups, breads, snacks and desserts (sunshine cheesecake or espresso brownies anyone?). of course with 1001 recipes there's no room for photos, which is pretty sad, but the book isn't about inspiration, it's about function.

it's about having a book on your shelf that you can reach for and cook from. and it's a great book to find standard, simple recipes too. i've opened this book to find classic fish flavour combos, and different ways to cook sprouts, and ways to flavor homemade burgers.

i've 'made' a few of the recipes already -the chocolate chip cookies (p501) and the oatmeal molasses bread (p116). although, both recipes had to be changed quite a bit because of the unusual ingredients they required...

well, ok, maybe Splenda isn't unusual. but it's actually kinda made with chlorine, and it has to be made by a human in a factory with chemicals, and our bodies can't actually digest it...well, then i take issue. especially as it's in a LOT of the recipes. anyway, i just substitute agave, maple syrup or honey or something natural - not sugar free imitation honey or polyol sweetener (some of her other suggestions).

and the thing is, i don't mind substituting in the least, because at this point i'm really used to it. but, i just don't know how seriously i can take a person that recommends that sort of thing. it's flawed nutrition advice, and if i weren't as much of a health info geek, then i might end up eating a lot of it if i cooked her recipes exactly as she says everyday...which is seriously health questionable. and also, with substituting for a more natural sweetener the carb count goes way up...hmmm.

anyway, the reason why i actually like this book is that, (Splenda aside) i can and want to eat everything in it. and it's got a really, really good index.

♥ i am looking forward to making: curried cauliflower salad (p150), kolokythia krokettes (p225), mexian flavoured whiting (p267), spicy peanut chicken (p311), peanut butter cheesecake (p520).

if you are interested in the sort of recipes and style you'll come across then check out dana carpender's blog, hold the toast for more info on the author. 

and please tell me - what's your opinion on Splenda and other artificial sweeteners? do you use them?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

thyme butter sardines and overnight molasses bread

how is it that the sun is still shining here in england? it's so awesome!! i love that i've been able to do so much gardening at the allotment, and that i can walk the dog with blue skies. but my absolute favourite thing is that people are out and about with big smiles on their faces!

today mum and i went into town to do a little shopping and just mooch around. we picked up a super old copy of the neals yard bakery wholefood cookbook - which is plain awesome, with great recipes, and fantastic nutrition information. i'll give you a full review later, but i can't think of a better buy for £1 (and the amazon prices aren't bad either!) - it even has tips on blanching and freezing veg as well as a nutrition info for different types of seaweed. genius!

then we sat out on the cathedral green and ate a little picnic. homemade salad, a watercress scone from the market, a barbecued chicken satay from the chinese stall in the market square and a tiny tub of hunky punky chocolate booja booja stuff in a tub. oh. my. goodness. serious wow.

now onto my latest eats...

sardines in a thyme butter sauce with artichoke radish salad and broccoli

i love this way of preparing fish - just put the fish in some tin foil with a little butter, salt, pepper and herbs (fresh or dried) and perhaps a little lemon. then pop it in a hot oven for 10 -15 minutes until cooked (and the fish has lost it's translucency). this works for most types of fish and you'll get a prepared sauce with it as well as making sure it's not dry.

delicious proper pork chipolatas with mediterranean veg and sweet potato mash. we also had a friend's little boy round for dinner, and he absolutely loved his little bowl of food!

overnight molasses bread - this recipe has its origins in dana carpender's 1001 low carb recipes book, although i have adapted it to make it suitable for making without a breadmaker, and tweaked it a little ingredients-wise too. but this bread is ridiculously good, the combination of oats and molasses is stupendous! it's very difficult not to eat lots...

i hope you all have a fantastic easter, and enjoy spending time with friends and family over the weekend!

currently listening to: animal by neon trees (love this song!)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

a homemade easter tree and aubergine lamb lasagne

it's been incredible being out in the sun today - it's 23c here where i live, and that's very hot for april in wiltshire! so, i've taken all opportunities to be out in it - walking the dog, sitting chatting with my friend Zoe, and just generally pottering doing some tidying and things.

i burn pretty badly usually, so am always careful to apply sunscreen and wear a hat - but i think this year i might actually tan - what with france, then australia and the weeks leading up to them at the allotment. i've got a good freckle layer already we'll see. this might be the year of the tan?

anyway, i don't mind being pale and freckly. i think it kinda suits me. but i've always joked with my mum about what i'd look like with a tan, and whether it was even a possibility for my skin tone (or my personality, because i'm not patient enough for sunbathing!). i've got a little swedish blood in me, so i think just more outside hours is probably what it'll take.

so, moving on, here are my latest eats and treats:

long-prep lasagne is incredible! there's something about the ridiculous length of preparation it takes that just makes it awesome... i layered it up with courgettes and aubergine instead of pasta, and i used lamb mince instead of beef in the tomato sauce (because it tastes better!), and just put really good cheese in instead of cheese sauce. and - it was so good.

low carb soy flour cinnamon muffins - these are a very luxurious delight, and kind of surprisingly fluffy (not crumbly, or flat - which is usually the case with gluten free cooking) - i followed the 'indulgent' recipe here.

herbes de provence red onion courgette hash, with chopped salad, greens and dill egg mayo

my homemade easter tree! i finally made one, using some twisted hazel branches and some cheap (thank you Rymans) egg decorations. i think it looks kinda pretty!

i'm so looking forward to Easter!!!

currently listening to: landslide by the dixie chicks

Monday, 18 April 2011

red onion and thyme socca

socca is pretty popular on the foodie scene at the moment, thanks to the pure2raw twins and david lebovitz. and i must admit to a combination of excitement and scepticism at the prospect of the dish - after all it wasn't something my grandma would've eaten, and it's not a flavour i was used to, or ingredients i was familiar with.

anyway, the first socca i made, i did like pancakes in my frying pan, with just gram flour (chickpea flour), salt and water. hmm, well they weren't great, and the taste left something to be desired. 

my second and third attempt i fried as chickpea pancakes again, but i tried out a few different flavour combinations - herbs (fresh and dried) and spices (picante pimenton rocks!)

and then my fourth attempt i baked it (having found a suitable-ish pan). and i struck gold with a flavour combination that brought out the deep flavours of the chickpea flour:

red onion and thyme socca!

it has about 10g carbs per 1/8th - so quite a lot still, but it's low gi and great for gluten & wheat free eaters, and vegans of course!

to make this wonderful snack, side dish or appetizer...

red onion and thyme socca recipe

gently fry on a low heat 1 sliced red onion with 1 diced garlic in a little olive oil, coconut oil or butter until soft. then in a separate bowl combine well 1 cup chickpea flour, 1 cup water and a large drizzle of olive oil. season the mix with 1 tsp dried thyme and a few stalks of fresh thyme (and enjoy the smell as you do this!), salt and pepper. 

place the red onion and garlic in your chosen dish and spread around evenly. add a dash of olive oil and cover with chickpea mix. sprinkle over a little more salt if you wish. then pop it into the oven at 180c until the very centre is cooked and almost cracking (but not burnt, about 20-25mins)

♥ it goes well with cucumber and radish salad, watercress and boiled eggs for a quick lunch

or smoked peppered mackerel, roasted cauliflower  and purple sprouting on courgette herbes hash for a tasty dinner

currently listening to: guns and horses by ellie goulding

Friday, 15 April 2011

spicy cayenne chicken and chocolate vanilla cookies

hope you are all looking forward to a fantastic weekend full of sunshine and good times with lovely people! this afternoon my mum and i popped out for a bottle of wine - and we came back from waitrose with a portion of hot thyme chicken and a bottle of Lindeman's Australian Shiraz Cabernet.

now, i don't profess to be a wine expert at all - although i did win our family wine choosing contest in Italy in 2009, and i have done a tour of South African vineyards! haha - but this particular red is delicious. ridiculously smooth, abounding in rich flavour and very, very drinkable. it will go perfectly with this evening's lamb and vegetable curry with red onion socca.

i never used to like wine - i always thought they all tasted the same, and i never really saw the point of drinking it. that was up until the point i tasted a good warmed wine made by my very own grandfather - it was a blackberry red, and we ate it with dinner one night at their old house in Devon. it was smooth, had no chemical after taste and was a nice accompaniment to the meal. 

since that bottle, there haven't been many great ones to compare really. many of them still have that nasty 'kick' or aftertaste which puts most people off, and yet i continue to try them. why? oh why?

well, my whole family drinks red wine at meals, not every day, but on bigger family gatherings. and also, because from time to time, in small quantities, it's been shown to actually be good for you. and when you come across a wonderful bottle like today's australian, and you have good company to drink with, it can really be quite a pleasure.

and on a less wine-y note, i'm glad you liked my coconut flour banana waffles. we'll probably be enjoying some this weekend... because well, although they sound, look and taste naughty - but they actually really aren't at all, yippee! more for me :)

spicy cayenne chicken (chicken strips dipped in seasoned flour and fried in butter and hot sauce) with mixed greens, avocado, celery and sweet pepper and a garlic and thyme yog-mayo dip. wowee!

chocolate vanilla protein cookies from the 1001 low carb recipes cookbook - i could eat these all day.

egg and vegetable scramble with avocado, cheese and dill - see my notjustapples youtube channel for a quick (yet thorough!) how to video.

currently watching: a year in provence - classic, and kinda makes me want to move to france...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

coconut banana waffles

it's time for one of my best recipes ever! i even contemplated keeping this all to myself because it's so good, but then i couldn't help but share the goodness with you all, given the levels of happiness these would bring to each and every one of you if you make them (and i think that you should)!

coconut banana waffles!!

so rich and delicious, and just generally amazing! they don't stick to the waffle maker, and they aren't super eggy, and they actually taste really good. these were such a happy surprise - we ate them on Swedish Waffle Day (aka March 25th!) and on mother's day too...

coconut flour waffle recipe with banana:
makes 4 whole round waffles

2 eggs
1 banana
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp peanut butter
1.5 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 Tbsp coconut flour

 - blend all ingredients together, in the order listed, using a hand blender or food processor. until totally smooth.
 - let mix sit for 30 minutes.
 - turn on your waffle maker and continue as you would regular waffles.
 - enjoy with cream, fresh fruit, homemade fruit compote, St Dalfour jam (it's my absolute favorite!), tinned peaches/mandarin, or yogurt.

*note* - these took a little longer to cook than normal waffle mix, on a medium high heat. 

you could of course change up the flavours in this a little, by exchanging the peanut butter for any other nut butter, and you could probably change the butter for coconut oil (although that's what makes them not stick and go crispy, so i don't know how this would fare...), and you could totally use coconut milk instead of regular milk. 

i happened upon this recipe after doing a lot of googling for coconut flour waffles, and stumbling across one that didn't have a whole box of eggs in it... thanks to the healthy advocate for making me fall so much in love with coconut flour!

currently listening to: tik tok by ke$ha

ps. thanks to all your responses to my previous post about easter traditions! we are currently in debate in our house about how we will be celebrating, but i think the general consensus has roast lamb, German easter tree and a bonfire way up the list 

Monday, 11 April 2011

bacon avocado breakfast and a continental lunch

hello fantastic readers! i just want to start this post by saying a massive thank you to every single one of you for reading the blog, it's a tremendous thing to know that someone somewhere can connect with the food you love and enjoy preparing. it's also brilliant to have your support in my latest crazy adventures, whether that's writing a book, starting a yt channel or going to australia - it's sort of comforting to know you'll all be there with me... and amazing and overwhelming to hear your wise and kind words along the way. so thanks.

i'm still doing well with my new eating plan - it's hard not to when the food is so tasty and varied, and i have loads of energy and i am never hungry and my sugar levels are awesome! yip yip.

here are my latest delicioso eats:

bacon and avocado breakfast, with dill mushroom egg scramble

olives with anchovies, hummus, cucumber and tomato salad with mozzarella, sardines with olive oil and a homemade spelt and rye roll

and for dessert - greek yogurt with homemade low carb cinnamon granola (recipe to come soon!)

so, i hope you are all looking forward to an amazing easter! it's been odd this year, because usually i've been doing lots of kids work and so have been preparing for easter for ages. but instead it's just sprung upon me really quickly, and i have nothing prepared. 

the usual sweet treats are totally off limits this year, so new traditions will have to be conjured. i like bringing into place new traditions for the family - like swedish waffle day (march 25th is a wonderful day in our calendar now) or bread making on a sunday evening or pumpkin pie at thanksgiving (even though i am in no way american). 

i guess i want to know, what are your easter traditions?

we'll definitely be having a big party at church on Easter Sunday, and possibly a reflective walk on Good Friday. but, i want food to be involved, and to keep the party atmosphere going all day. i think i ought to take a leaf from the greek's books, and have a massive spit roast lamb? or, burn bonfires like the Finnish? or create an Easter tree like the Germans? or sharing boiled eggs with my relatives like in Poland?

Easter means a lot to me, and i think it warrants way more attention than any other holiday in the calendar - because i believe that (although it probably wasn't exactly this day 2000 years ago) Jesus died for me and rose from the dead, and that's something worth celebrating!

currently watching: the west wing - series 4, love, love, love it!

ps. if you want to know the secret to perfect pear and nutmeg compote - try accidentally leaving it on the hob whilst you are writing a blog post :) 

Friday, 8 April 2011

tuna mayonnaise and cinnamon soy beignets

the sun has been seriously shining here in england today - i even got a little burnt (oopsie) whilst weeding up at the allotment. it's seriously overgrown up there, but there is some asparagus coming through and some rhubarb ready to  pick - how amazing is that! i think i'll be up there lots in the next week whilst the weather is still beautiful and warm... 

we've also potted up some seeds, including basil and some mixed leaves. we've already got a good lot of fresh herbs in tubs all around the house with the following in: thyme, french flat leaf parsley, curly parsley, ginger mint, rosemary, chives, and basil. 

one day i hope to add dill to the mix, given just how much i use it! and a bay tree would be nice too, as that's a staple in my italian and fish recipes. but, i think these few are enough to take care of for now! 

now onto my latest eats:

tuna mayonnaise - a rare dish in our house, but makes a nice change for a salad topping! 

tomato aubergine bake - done the classic french way. aka, taking a really long time creating a perfect herb tomato sauce and salting and frying each piece of aubergine before layering it all up in the dish and baking it in a hot oven. served with thyme yogurt mayonnaise and some mixed vegetables.

soy flour beignets - i won't lie and tell you these were wonderful, but i will tell you they have possibilities - i found the recipe in the back of dr bernstein's diabetes solution, and wanted to try it out, so i did. but it needs editing to turn it into something marvellous...maybe more cinnamon, baking powder, yogurt, ground almonds? stay tuned.

what a random mix of things! i'm still loving the primal lifestyle, and i'm taking steps towards reducing my dairy and increasing the quality of the meat i eat. i've got a holiday in france coming up in may, before i head out to australia, and so i'm going to re-read healthy at 100 and in defence of food whilst i'm there - i can't wait! i'm hoping it will help focus me, and establish some core eating principles that will do both me and the environment good.

currently listening to: the sound of a ticking clock. yes, a real one.

ps. i wonder if you would like a few photos or a video of our herb pots, garden and allotment? 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

chorizo hash and fresh mint cucumber salad

when i have people over for lunch or dinner i like to make something a little special, or try out an ingredient that would otherwise be a little too expensive, or take too long to prepare. so the other day when my friend emily came over, i went mad in Waitrose and purchased two things i've been wanting to experiment with - chorizo and fresh mint....

the chorizo was mixed with courgettes, cabbage, celery, peppers, garlic and picante pimenton - it made a delicious spicy hash dish. quick to prepare too which was a bonus, because we had been shopping for a very long time and needed a speedy refuel.

i love having all sorts of things laid out on the table so that people have options on what to choose - and it's a lovely way of forcing people to eat slower, eat less and actually enjoy eating at a table! some hummus, olives, thyme yogurt mayonnaise, crispbread and mint salad complete the menu...

the fresh mint was DIVINE! perfect in salads - it just tastes so fresh and summery. and it seems to compliment anything you put it with (especially cucumber and radish), so long as it's raw!

this meal went down a treat with Emily - she loved the spice in the hash, the salad, the hummus and well, everything! it was such a blessing that she enjoyed it - i worried so much about making sure that my new lifestyle was not seen as 'boring', 'disgusting' or 'tasteless', and that hopefully it might inspire her to try some new no-grain recipes at home... and i think it worked!!

i know i shouldn't worry - but people make so many judgements when you tell them you are eating something different. no matter what sort of change it is, they assume that i must be depriving myself, and eating lettuce all day, which is so not the case. i want to show other people just how tasty and healthy this diet is!

i'm so thankful for this online community of foodies, because there has only been encouragement with my change of lifestyle from my readers, and i am more than grateful!!! 

currently watching: my new yt recipe video - breakfast scramble with dill, mushrooms and bacon

what do you like to cook when people come over for a meal? do you cook to suit your diet or theirs?

Saturday, 2 April 2011

poached eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise

can someone please tell me what the big deal is with hollandaise sauce? i've eaten it out at restaurants, made it myself and had it from a jar, and none of the times i've eaten it have i actually understood it. 

granted it is just mostly butter, you would think i would love it more than i do! anyway, after eating homemade hollandaise my mind is firmly fixed on not really liking it. which is weird, because i pretty much like everything. not that i wouldn't eat it again, and i would probably even choose it at a restaurant for brunch - but i will definitely not bother making my own again, in my opinion it's not worth the effort. now mayonnaise on the other hand...

anyway, i did discover a new talent for making poached eggs - what a tasty and satisfying thing they are! after watching julie & julia the other night, i figured it was about time i mastered the art of poaching an egg - and i somehow managed to pull of cooking three good looking poached eggs on my first try. yummy! the secret is all in the spinning of the water, and the addition of a little vinegar.

with some balsamic roast tomatoes and some grilled bacon, it was a perfect breakfast

the ballymaloe cookery course book is an invaluable aid in making anything from scratch, and finding any basic recipe you seek, including hollandaise sauce, poached eggs and a variety of other classic dishes! you know there just has to be that one cookery book you have for function and practical use, rather than inspiration - well this massive tome is my one of those.

currently watching: raw down under on youtube - so funny and interesting...