Monkey Bread Breakfast

While Sunday seems like the right day for decadence, I’m really not sure my breakfast this morning fits the bill. It’s so ridiculously dessert-like that I’m… I’m almost feeling… guilty.Food Fervour

You see, yesterday I decided to try a recipe for something I’ve never (to my knowledge) eaten before: Monkey Bread. I’d been preparing my spelt sourdough from Jo Whitton’s Quirky Cooking, when on a whim, I decided to keep on cooking …I had the time and the ingredients (kind of)… and I chose her to try her monkey bread.

As with many of my yeast-based bread attempts, it didn’t seem to turn out the way it should have …according to photos of other Monkey Breads I’ve seen. But then, I did make a couple of small adaptations: I halved the quantities (that shouldn’t’ve mattered) added cinnamon to the dough (this neither) and finally used maple syrup in the ‘butter sauce’ instead of solid sugar granules (like rapadura or coconut sugars). That most certainly could have had some effect on the outcome. But I tell you what, I don’t regret it because I had a bit left over, and it was an integral element of my wicked breakfast today.

Suffice to say, it still tasted good (and I only ever throw out totally inedible foodstuffs) so after it had cooled right down, I cut it into slices and shoved it in the freezer for future consumption. No surprise that it ended up on my mind this morning. At first I envisaged trying to make French toast with it but laziness kicked in, and I opted for super simplicity: toasting (in the griller). No frypan to wash up, you see. ūüėČ

It came together with just the following ingredients: two slices of monkey bread (you could use banana bread or slices of some other sweet loaf) one banana, a ‘scattering’ (small handful) of macadamia nuts, 2-3 heaped tablespoons of Greek yoghurt and about a tablespoon of the leftover vanilla-butter-maple syrup sauce (you could of course substitute with straight maple syrup, but you definitely will not need a whole tablespoon; try 2 teaspoons) (FYI, the ‘black bits’ in the sauce in the picture above are fragments of vanilla bean from my homemade vanilla paste.)

Toast the bread in the grill, whilst slicing up the banana. Break the toasted bread into chunks in your bowl, scatter over the banana slices and macadamias then top with the yoghurt. Finally drizzle over your sauce/syrup. You could scatter some berries on top as well for a burst of freshness (this came to me after I’d emptied the contents of the bowl into my body, dammit!)

If you give this a go, please let me know what you think: breakfast or dessert? ūüėČ

French Toast Sandwich aka Cheat’s Pancakes

I usually opt for pancakes for Sunday brunch but today I was feeling a tad lazy (hey, I’ve been up since 5am surfing, cleaning & gardening… I’m entitled!) so what to do if you feel like pancakes but you can’t be bothered to make the batter and cook them?

Grab two slices of bread and an egg. French toast is dead simple and much quicker and easier to create than pancakes. All I needed to add was some elements for extra flavour, nutrient density and excitement…

So this is how it came together:

Since I keep my (variety of) breads in the freezer (pre-sliced) I had to pop two pieces in the toaster to thaw for a few seconds, so in the meantime, I set the frying pan on the stove on a medium-low temp, adding a splash of coconut oil. Setting the bread slices aside I then created the French toast batter by whisking together an egg, a dash of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla paste and a decent sprinkling of cinnamon in a cup.

Placing the two bread slices in the pan, I carefully poured about half of the egg mixture (that’s a quarter for each slice of bread) as evenly within the bounds of the crust of both pieces as possible, and after about a minute, turned them over with an egg slide to cook. Note: this method is actually a tad more difficult than your typical French toast procedure: normally you’d empty the egg mix into a shallow dish and soak the bread pieces before putting them in the frypan. My fiddly method keeps your crusts ‘crunchier’…

Next I grabbed a handful of hazelnuts, a dash of maple syrup, some more (rice) milk and cacao powder to make my hazelnut choc sandwich filling. Some minutes in the Magic Bullet – stopping regularly to check consistency and scrape down the sides – and that was done. Ready.

Returning to the pan, I divided the remaining egg mixture carefully again over the (other sides) of the bread slices, spreading the dregs of the mix (chunks of vanilla bean at the bottom of the cup) over the toast as well (waste not want not and …extra fibre!) before turning them for the last time.

While the second side cooked I grabbed my plate, then the tub of greek yogurt¬† and some fresh blueberries from the fridge…. ready to rumble! Once the toast was browned enough on the second side, I popped it on the plate, smearing a nice thick layer of the hazelnut choc mix onto one piece before topping it with the other slice. Dropping a couple of large dollops of yoghurt on top of the ‘sandwich’, I scooped the rest of the hazelnut spread on top and swirled them together with the end of the fork. Then it was simply time to pile on the blueberries, and get stuck in! Mmm, craving satisfied.Food Fervour

It was so rich that I know I won’t be able to eat again for many hours. To be honest, I think coconut cream (even though it may melt due to the meal’s warmth) may taste better than the yoghurt: while it’s good for some tartness (and probiotic qualities!) it’s somehow not quite complementary. If you decide to give this creation a go, let me know what you used and how it turned out ūüôā

 

Turmeric & Cumin Mushrooms

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These mushies are so addictive that I’ll eat them with my dinner as well as breakfast!

I¬†have this ‘thing’ with turmeric: it’s so ridiculously good for you (anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, anti-almost-every-disease-under-the-sun) that I’ve become quite motivated to find ways to¬†get more of the stuff into¬†me‚Ķ without a huge deal of effort! In order to avoid cooking up a huge Indian curry every time I feel the ‘need’ for some, I started grating the bulb directly into and¬†onto different foods.

Food Fervour

I originally liked grating turmeric over eggs

I find it quite enjoyable with egg, whether grated directly over poached or boiled, or added to a scramble or omelette mix. But one morning recently, whilst frying up some mushrooms to eat with some scramble, it dawned on me to try pairing them up with the turmeric instead. Since I usually always cook with coconut oil, and I tend to relate turmeric to Indian cuisine, I decided to try adding cumin as a balancing flavour.

Well, dang! I¬†was blown away. Now maybe it’s just me, but the fact that I cooked and ate¬†them twice in a space of 36 hours suggests that I was hooked!

It’s so simple it’s ridiculous. For a single serve¬†you’ll need about a cup of roughly chopped button mushrooms, coconut oil, turmeric & cumin (fresh is best, but powdered will still do). Oh, and some (Celtic or Himalayan) salt to taste…

Whack a couple of tablespoons of the oil in a frypan over medium heat, then add about a teaspoon of each spice (more if you wish – especially the super-cool super-spice turmeric). Stir it up for a minute then throw in your mushies. Keep the coconut oil beside you, since they suck up the fat like there’s no tomorrow so you’ll more than likely need to add a bit more along the way. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, adding a good dash of Celtic or Himalayan salt to taste, and serve immediately, scraping as much of the flavour from the pan onto your plate as possible, too! Deeeelicious ūüėÄ

 

Coconut Chia Dairy Alternative

Breakfast on this fine Sunday morning has been both easy & decadent in the same breath. How good does this look?food fervour

While contemplating cooking a hot Sunday breakfast,¬†I came across a container of soaked chia seeds I had forgotten I’d prepped earlier in the week. Bang! Instant gratification.

I could forget about the frypan or Thermomix now: I had organic blueberries & strawberries, banana and the ultimate (rare) decadence – some fresh cream. (Clearly I’M not vegan, but I sometimes prefer vegan meals‚Ķ) That’s all it took to make my brekky. Minimal dish washing means more time to hang out my linen and wash my car. Yay :/

Had I not had the chia prepared, this breakfast wouldn’t’ve happened. Well, nowhere near as ‘instantly’. This is a perfect example of how a little bit of preparation can help you avoid “poor food choices” when you’re in a hurry, or simply just too impatient (“Need food NOW!”).

Chia seeds soaked in coconut cream (or milk) make a perfect vegan alternative to yoghurt or cream. And it’s ridiculously simple. The ratio is usually about 1 part chia seeds to 3 or 4 parts liquid, depending upon how ‘solid’ you like your yoghurts/creams. It’s as simple as mixing them together in a container (I always use glass) sealing and refrigerating for perhaps half an hour (or 2-3 days‚Ķhow hungry are ya?!) Bob’s your Uncle.

The calcium, protein, Omegas in chia seeds make this just as good, if not better than the dairy alternatives. You can also play with this basic concoction in numerous ways, adding spices (vanilla, cinnamon for example) cacao and added natural sweeteners (if you HAVE to!) For more ideas Google ‘Chia Pudding’ and you’ll find a whole host of recipes.

Nutrient Dense Porridge

Let me start out by saying my motivation for this post was not the great breakfast I just had. It was the thought behind it; my general philosophy about food. If we are meant to be eating less (portion control) how are we meant to get all the nutrients in? By thinking. And being creative. Yes, you need a little education, but it’s really NOT hard. Here’s my example…

I’m not necessarily a porridge fan. I have found I usually digest it too quickly and can feel hungry again within 3 hours. This I put down to the fact that in cooking the oats, I’m removing some of the workload that my digestive system would otherwise be lumbered with, in¬†breaking down the food. Now, in Winter it gets pretty hard chowing down on my usual bircher brekky: eating or drinking cold makes me cold from the inside, so I turn back to porridge (it’s the quickest thing to make before I start work, especially in the Thermomix). The question is, how to make it last longer?

Simple: add protein and/or healthy fats and/or fibre. Most of us know – or have surely heard by now – that fibre, protein & fats are satiating. Fibre & protein usually because of their ‘complexity’, fats because of their density. So my go-to porridge recipe is now a mix of oats and protein rich quinoa flakes¬†&¬†chia seeds, with whatever milk I’m feeling on the day. It has made a huge difference.

So my point is: get a little educated & be creative. Learn something about REAL foods and the¬†nutrients they¬†contain, especially those with the highest quantities (this is why I believe vegetables should be the base of the Food Pyramid: no other food group contains same the array & density as this plant matter) and it will be easy to find ways to slot them into your meals without having to eat them in ‘excess’. (And for the record, even though I don’t throw the word into my recipes, ‘organic’ choices are definitely first option.)food fervour

So with that, here’s the recipe for a (sizeable) single serve of this morning’s apple cinnamon & chia porridge:

¬Ĺ grated apple, 35gm oats, 5-10gms quinoa flakes, 5gms (1 head teaspoon chia) seeds, 90gm water, 150gm milk of choice (today I used almond) 1 teaspoon cinnamon, coconut sugar to taste.

Stovetop cooks place apple, oats, quinoa & chia, water & milk into saucepan over a medium-low heat, reducing to simmer¬†as the mixture begins to bubble. you’ll need to stir continuously. I honestly have forgotten how long it takes to make porridge on the stove top, but I would think it would be about 8-10 minutes, similar to the Thermomix cooking time.

Thermomixers you can ‘grate’ your apple in the bowl for¬†5 secs speed 5, or Turbo a couple of times. Then add the oats, quinoa, chia, water & milk, cooking for 8 mins, 90¬ļC reverse speed 2.

Serve immediately, stirring through the cinnamon with any extra milk you may or may not like to add and top with coconut sugar to taste *not TOO much*!

Coeliacs would evidently replace oats altogether, using 40-45gm quinoa flakes however since quinoa (& especially chia) will require more fluid you may need to almost double the fluid quantities. Stove-top cooks will be able to gauge the mixture thickening, Thermomix users won’t. Trial & error. That’s what it’s all about!

Turmeric Egg on Toast

I just rushed in from a resistance training session, and had to rush out again in minutes, so how was I going to re-fuel? Since it’s winter here, I’m loathe to make a protein smoothie in my Thermomix because it’ll chill me from within.

The quickest, warmest, high protein, healthy fats replacement is a boiled egg on toast. I boiled the jug ala Jamie Oliver style, popped the egg and water in a small saucepan and let the stovetop catch up while I pulled out an avocado and the frozen (gluten free) bread slice ….when I saw it. The frozen Turmeric bulb. How would that go with egg? Turns out: ….brilliantly.food fervour

I smashed half an avocado on the toast, spread the egg over the top, then finely grated turmeric over all of that. With some Himalayan salt (I love salty eggs) & the slimmest drizzle of olive oil, it tasted DIVINE. And I just upped the nutrient density and anti-inflammatory properties of my post-training fuel, with minimal effort.

Up there for thinkin’, down there for dancin’!

 

The Decadent Porridge

It’s my birthday. And I’m starting the day’s celebrations (after putting on a washload & cleaning some windows!) with a dish I usually reserve for ‘pudding’. It’s a simple quinoa porridge, which literally takes MINUTES to make. It’s the addition of the cacao powder that makes it feel more like a dessert, although there’s absolutely NO reason cacao needs to be associated only with sweets. Unlike your processed chocolates or cocoa powder, its nutrient content is much greater – notably its mineral density, in particular potassium & magnesium.¬†Well, that’s what I always tell myself when I add it to anything!food fervour

All you need to do for a single serve, is throw ¬ľ cup of quinoa flakes into a saucepan over a low heat, with approximately ‚ÖĒ cup of your choice of milk (I usually use rice milk, but opted for almond today. Cow’s milk just takes a fraction longer to heat up) and be ready to stir vigorously as the milk approaches boiling because it will bubble and splatter! It really doesn’t need too long at all, perhaps 1-2 minutes; it will thicken quickly.

Remove from the heat, fold through 2-3 teaspoons cacao powder (to your taste) and your choice of sweetener (I use maple syrup or coconut sugar, and only 1-2 teaspoons at that) and serve.

You might want to add extra milk if it ends up thicker than you’d prefer. This morning I added strawberries & a little dollop of Greek yoghurt (which I don’t think worked so well :/ )¬†but for normally, for ‘dessert’, I’d eat it¬†straight out of the saucepan!!!

 

Hot Brekky in a Hurry

Working on a Sunday is never really fun, I mean, who wants to rush around on Sunday? I wasn’t starting¬†work until 9:30am but I usually like to leave myself about an hour to get there. I’d been up for awhile drinking tea, messing around, when I realised it was close to 8am and I had to start getting my lunch ready. With about half an hour up my sleeve, I knew I’d easily have time to make a black quinoa salad, thanks to my¬†beloved Thermomix.

It only takes 18 minutes…plenty of time! While I was chopping up the veggies I wanted to add to the salad, I was inspired to make myself a hot breakfast Рafter all, I had heaps of time, right? I mean, with Thermie taking care of lunch I had all this time to fry up some stuff….right?

Oh dear. Talk about multi-tasking! Even with my lunch veggies ready to add to the quinoa in the last 4-6 minutes, I was really pushing it. But I did it, and it was super wholesome and very tasty even though I inhaled it!

Somehow I managed – within 45 minutes¬†– to prepare a quinoa salad, an¬†apple & coconut chia dessert cup, do ¬ĺ of the washing up, cook and eat the following super nutritious (and filling) hot brekky before leaving for work:

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Smashed fried eggs atop mushroom & capsicum Hash with (gluten free) avocado toast

Pop about 1 tablespoon of¬†coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then chop up 8-10 mushrooms and ¬ľ capsicum. Throw them straight in the pan then de-stem and roughly chop up 3 kale leaves. Stir the mushroom & capsicum Hash¬†then grab 2 eggs, ¬Ĺ¬†avocado and prep your toast by sitting it in the toaster so it’s read to go (I use gluten free bread).

Add the kale to the Hash and stir until it has wilted (a couple of minutes, tops). Start the toaster then serve up the Hash, returning the pan to the stovetop, adding a little more coconut oil and breaking the eggs into the pan. Spread the avocado over your toast (on the plate with the Hash) then with the spatula, roughly scrape the frying eggs from the pan base, tearing and smashing them up as you tip them on top of the Hash. Season and get stuck into this messy but highly nutritious and satisfying breakfast.

Gluten Free Fruit & Seed Loaf

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Raisin toast is loaded with sugar so I need to create a GF version minus excessive added sugar…

I used to have a real weakness for fruit toast. But I knew before I went off gluten that fruit loaves are full of sugar so I¬†began¬†limiting my ‘splurges’ anyway.

But I do miss ‘raisin toast’ from time to time, so my¬†quest is to try to create a gluten free version that’s as similar to the ‘real thing’ as possible, minus the excess sugar of course. Trial and error is the only way, with the aid of heaps of research – Googling & others’ blogs! – and the courage to ‘alter’ (or ‘bastardise’ as I like to say) recipes. That kind of courage I definitely do not lack.

The loaf I just made was the result of an adaptation of Cyndi O’Meara’s gluten free bread recipe included a couple of Thermomix recipe books. I altered the dry ingredients a fair bit (due to both lack of some & preference for others), added a selection of spices, seeds, preservative-free dried fruits (these worked to sweeten the loaf more than the meagre amount of coconut sugar I opted for) and the kicker: I replaced xanthan gum & egg with soaked chia. I’d discovered this idea on a blog somewhere recently and then saw it used in a complimentary recipe on the Thermomix website.

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served up warm with my homemade butter

So… it turned out heavier than your typical commercial wheaten fruit loaf, but toasted up, I think it made the grade: particularly considering the vast majority of ingredients I used were unprocessed, which as far as I’m concerned is the most important thing.

If you don’t have a Thermomix the recipe should still work (you’ll have to buy your flours pre-milled) but will involve a lot more elbow grease in the mixing stages! Here’s what I used this time around:

2 tbspn chia seeds, 8 tbspn water, 280gm whole buckwheat, 100gm brown rice, 40gm dried chickpeas, 1 heaped tspn whole cloves, 35gm cornflour, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1 tspn nutmeg, 1 tspn garam masala, 10gm instant yeast, pinch (Himalayan) salt, 20gm coconut sugar, 400gm lukewarm water, 30 gm macadamia oil, 1 tspn vanilla essence, 1 tbspn apple cider vinegar, 80gm chopped dates, 80gm sun raisins, 45gm pumpkin seeds (pepitas), 40gm sunflower seeds.

Firstly¬†I put¬†the chia seeds and 8 tbspn water in a jar, shook it up and left it to ‘absorb’ while milling the buckwheat, brown rice, chickpeas & cloves in the Thermomix (1 minute, Speed 9). I added the remaining dry ingredients (cornflour, the powdered¬†spices, yeast, salt & coconut sugar) and mixed lightly (15-20 seconds, Speed 4-5) before adding the water, oil, vanilla, vinegar and chia seed gel for another¬†15-20 seconds on Speed 5-6. I finally added the dried fruit & seeds, mixing gently on Reverse, Speed 1-2 for 20-30 seconds (to be honest, I can’t recall how long).¬†Ready to¬†empty the ‘batter’ into my greased & lined¬†loaf tin, I placed it directly into the cold oven so it could ‘prove’ for the 15-20 minutes it takes to heat up to 180¬ļ. (The appliance in my rental home is ‘ancient’ & even though it is fan-forced, it’s pretty ‘slow’.) So from go to whoa, it should take about an hour: 20 minutes proving + 40 minutes cooking @ 180¬ļC.

Don’t expect a sweet cake-loaf: as I said earlier the meagre amount of coconut sugar is literally swamped by the other ingredients. So much so that the next time I cook this (or something similar) I’ll¬†leave¬†it out altogether and simply up the dried fruit content. Oh and nuts, I’ll definitely add chopped nuts. I’ve also read that the longer the dough (in this case ‘batter’) proves the better, so next time I might let it sit for longer before turning the oven on‚Ķ I’m not sure if this applies to heavy gluten-free-grain-and-seed-floured doughs but if someone out there knows, please speak up!

 

Dessert for Breakfast

So there’s this Thermomix recipe that I’m in love with. It’s classed as a ‘breakfast’ dish, but to my mind, it’s TOO luscious and (here comes the Health Nazi) not really packed full enough of nutrients to constitute an everyday healthy meal. (I’ll talk about my typical breakfast choice another time.)

But it’s Sunday. And while I am waiting for my first attempt a gluten free fruit loaf to cook, I have to put something in the belly.

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The first time I made CADA I fell in love with it

CADA stands for Coconut, Apple, Date & Almond. It’s incredibly simple. You throw all of these ingredients in and Turbo a few times. Voila! The recipe asks for coconut flesh which personally I never have on hand, so my version replaces it with shredded coconut after the mix hits the¬†serving dish.¬†Then I add cinnamon and thick greek yoghurt and I swear it’straws just like eating apple pie with cream. Or apple crumble. Kind of.

food fervourToday I dropped the coconut in favour of some strawberries. For this single serve, I used ¬Ĺ a green apple, approx 30gms (6-8) dates, 35gm roasted almonds and a handful of fresh strawberries. I’d recommend (Thermie user or not) you blast the almonds, dates and apple first then add the strawberries for the final ‘wazz’ since they’re too soft to withstand a heavy beating. Topped with 2 substantial dessertspoons of Greek yoghurt and about a teaspoon of coconut sugar, it was to die for! Next stop will be the blueberry version‚Ķ.