Make your own instant porridge/oatmeal packets!

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For a long time I have been meaning to do this…

Firstly to save money  – the brand that we like to buy is over $6 for 8 serves, but has added pepita seeds and cinnamon etc.,  that makes them yummy.

Secondly – if I make our own I can control the sugar, and thus I can eat them again as I’m avoiding sugar (the ones we buy have sugar, honey and sultanas added, and 10gs of sugar per serve!).

You can read about the health benefits of oats here (http://www.uncletobys.com.au/health-and-nutrition/all-about-oats/). Adding the chia seeds, pepitas, nuts and coconuts adds more fiber , protein and also some good fats.

I made these mainly for the man to take to work, so I added about four sultanas per bag, and some stevia powder, if I eat them I don’t have the dried fruit or sweetener, but add some frozen berries when serving.

I prepare these individually into small snack size zip lock bags, and make them in a bowl at home, or a container at work. It is possible to combine every thing in a big container, and scoop a serving as needed.

This recipe is adapted from ‘The Yummy Life’ (http://www.theyummylife.com/Instant_Oatmeal_Packets), where you will find 12 flavor variations and instructions on how to turn these packets into ‘overnight oatmeal’, something that looks similar to bircher muesli.

You can use rolled oats or quick oats, the added bran and chia seeds will make up for some of the goodness lost in the processing of the quick oats. I use the ‘secret’ revealed here (http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/10/the-secret-to-making-homemade-instant-oatmeal-packets.html).

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I process some of the oats, to make the end product creamier. I made enough for 10 packets, which is 3 cups, so I processed 1 cup until fine and mix it back with the rest of the oats (this is what I call oat mix).

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Ingredients -per package

1/3 cup of oat mix

2 tsp of milk powder ( skim, full fat, or even protein powder)

1 tsp of chia seeds

2 tsp of oat bran

1/8 tsp of cinnamon

pinch of salt

Optional

sweetener of your choice, I added 1/4 of tsp of stevia powder ( if you don’t have a problem with sugar, any dry type will work or add liquid when serving)

1 heaped tsp of shredded coconut

1 tsp of pepita seeds

1 walnut crumbled per packet

To assemble:

Simple add ingredients to a ‘snack’ size zip-lock bag.

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Steps to heat:

1.Tip packet into bowl or container

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2. Add about 3/4 cup of water (you could use milk but you all ready have the milk powder in the mix). Stir to combine).

3.Microwave on high for 1 minutes, stir and microwave for a further minute. Stir, stand to cool enough to eat (times may vary according to microwave, if you use whole rolled oats you will need to cook for 3 minutes.

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I have only ever made them this way, but if using quick oats, you  can make this by simply adding 2/3 of cup of boiling water, stirring and letting stand for a few minutes until thickened.

Don’t be afraid if it seems a little runny, it will thicken after standing.

Txx

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Nicoise in a Jar

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I like things in jars, and here is another good use for the many jars I have laying around.

Putting salads in Jars is a great way to make things them of time, and to keep the salad fresh, and develop flavors while they sit in the fridge.

The order of the layering is important, as keeping the lettuce away from the moist ingredients keeps it crisp, while allowing some to touch the dressing improves their flavor – in this case the tomatoes and onion.

They also look, really pretty. Depending on how tightly packed the jar is  you may be able to eat directly from the jar (shaking to mix), or as I had, added to a plate or bowl to mix and eat.

Nicoise is a classic French salad, I didn’t use olives as I didn’t have any, and used capers instead of anchovies for a salt hit.

The tuna, egg, potato and beans make a very filling salad. If you wish, replace the eggs and tuna with white bans or chickpeas for a vegan alternative.

You need two large size clean jars for this recipe,  mine where 750mls, but you can add more or less lettuce to fit a slightly smaller or larger jar.

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Ingredients: for two large jars (these make a BIG salad for one).

2 tins of tuna slices in oil, drained

2 boiled eggs cooled, and sliced.

1 cos lettuce, washed, spun and torn into pieces

10 cherry tomatoes – halved

1 red onion – diced

6 baby potatoes, steamed, cooled, cut into slices.

250 gs of green beans, steamed lightly and cooled, cut into thirds

2 tsp of capers

2 tbs of olive oil

1 tbs of red wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper

Steps.

1. Add oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to the bottom of the jar.

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2. Add tomatoes, onions and capers.

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3. Add tuna.

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4. Add the potato slices, carefully so that they are flat and cover the bottom layers completely.

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5. Add the green beans to cover the potato.

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6. Add the egg, reserving a couple of slices to arrange vertically against the jar for decoration.

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7. Place the decorative eggs slice against the glass, add the lettuce to ‘hold’ up the egg and fill the jar.

8. Screw on lid, and refrigerate until you want to eat!

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Txx

Chia Seed Pudding Jars!

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Here is another low fructose , highly nutritious recipe inspired by Sarah Wilson (http://www.sarahwilson.com.au/).

Although there are may recipe variations for these available on the net, in  paleo, raw, vegan circles.

Chia seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium and other nutrients.

I saw Sarah make these with Justine on “Everyday Gourmet'(http://www.everydaygourmet.tv/recipes/696-cashewy-chia-puddings) on channel ten, and since I have started watching my sugar intake decided to give them ago.

I use  lite coconut milk in mine because I’m not a fan of other dairy milk alternatives. However, Sarah makes her own cashew milk, and you can use any other nut milks, soy or dairy if you wish.

Really, you can use any flavorings, fruit, nuts etc you wish, to suit your style of eating. You may wish to alter the milk to seed ratio to vary the consistency.

This version uses low fructose berries, and I top with some nuts and a little shredded coconut.

A higher fructose, but more dessert like version that I have made, is adding half a fresh add before refrigerating and topping with half a banana when eating.

They do need to be chilled overnight to achieve a pudding consistency, and they last well for a few days in the fridge.

I generally eat them for breakfast, and sometimes as a snack.

Jars make the best containers, as they are easy to seal and shake when making them.

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Ingredients – Makes 2 jars

1 can of lite coconut milk or 270mls of liquid of your choice

2 tbs of chia seeds

hand full of frozen or fresh berries of your choice

To top – nuts of your choice and shredded coconut

Steps:

1. Wash and dry two small glass jar and lid.

2. Pour half of the coconut milk into each jar.

3. Add the half the chia seeds and berries in the jars.

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4. Seal the jar with lids, and shake vigorously.

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5. Pop the jars in the fridge overnight.

6. Top with desired toppings, and eat!!

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Txx

Sugar free Chocolate, Berry, Coconut Treat

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So I’m trying to limit sugar in my diet.  I have been dabbling in this for about a month, but have really been doing properly for a fortnight (since my last supper of sugar).

I’m reading ‘Sweet Poison’ by David Gillespie (http://sweetpoison.com.au)  and also have been reading Sarah Wilson’s (I Quit Sugar, http://www.sarahwilson.com.au/, ) blog . These writers and all the ‘no sugar’ movement is based on this theory – Basically,  we have only been eating  added sugar ( and thus excess fructose)  for a very short period of time, from an evolutionary perspective. The excess amount of sugar we eat is related to a whole host of health problems, including obesity. Specifically, Fructose, one of the types of sugar available in our diet is the main problem. For more info please see their websites.

They aren’t doctors and neither am I, do your own research before going down this ‘diet’ route.

But, how do I feel? Has it been hard? Have I lost weight???

Honestly I feel pretty good! Instead of sugar or sugary things, I have been eating more good fats, protein, veggies, and non-white carbs.

So, although I miss some things, I can have some really yummy things – olive oil, avocado, coconut oil and other coconut products, eggs, and in smaller amounts butter, full fat dairy and bacon!!!

I don’t get hungry between meals , so I don’t snack as much as I did before, and I don’t any energy highs and lows.

I’m losing weight relatively easily (I have been exercising everyday, but not excessively, about 30 minutes only).

I haven’t done the full ‘quitting’ thing, where you cut out all sugars (dairy, carbs, fruits, sugar alternatives, and table sugar) for a period of time, but I have cut out any added sugar and limited fruit. This means no sweet spreads, juice, soft drinks, and sauces. To do, this I generally have to make everything I eat. This has lead to me being much more organized than I have been before! Today I made breakfasts, lunches and snacks for the next few days!

You do miss desserts, candies, chocolates etc.

So I looked at some of the recipes available on Sarah’s site and this caught my eye (http://www.sarahwilson.com.au/2012/04/my-sugar-free-raspberry-ripe-2/)

It is really a homemade, berry coconut chocolate bar!!

It uses berries, which are a relatively low fructose fruits and rice malt syrup, which again is a fructose free sweeter (it has a flavor and consistency similar to honey).

This needs to be kept in the freezer, don’t be tempted to kept it in the fridge or at room temp, it will melt and separate.

Sarah Wilson’s Raspberry Ripe

1/3 to 1/2 a cup of coconut oil

1/3 cup of salted butter ( use salted, it brings out the choc flavor)

1/3 cup of shredded or flaked coconut

1/3 cup of frozen raspberries ( I had to add about a tbs of mixed berries, as I was down to my last raspberries

2 tbs of cocoa  or raw cacao if you have it

Steps:

1.Melt the butter and oil (in a pan or microwave…the oil takes longer to melt so add the butter a little after).4

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2. Stir in the cacao and syrup.

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3. Arrange the berries and coconut on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray or plate (a dinner plate is ideal – the slight indent creates a good shape, reserve some coconut to sprinkle on top).

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4. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the top and pop in the freezer for about an hour.

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5. When firm either break into shards or cut into wedges. Store in a sealed container in the freezer.

Due to the coconut oil, and intense cocoa flavor, it’s fairy moorish, though only slightly sweet. You won’t scoff it all, and you won’t feel horrible after eating it.

It is a beautiful thing

Tx.

Healthier Brownies Two Ways – Beetroot, Sweet Potato, Dates and Prunes.

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Brownies are yummy, and everyone one around here seems to love them.

Alas, they are full of fat, sugar and calories (due to all the delicious chocolate, butter and sugar they contain).

Here are two healthier brownie recipes that I have made lately. I say healthier because they are still a treat.

To make them healthier I have added some veg to up the nutrition, and replaced some of half of the sugar with dates/prunes.

The first recipe still contains lots of butter and dark chocolate, but the second reduces the fat, and contains only cocoa to get the chocolate flavor.

To make the second even healthier you could replace all the sugar with the dates, use raw cocoa instead of normal, and replace the flour with coconut flour or almond meal (adjusting liquid and raising agent as needed).

Beetroot Brownies (adapted from August issue of Australian Good Taste Magazine)

Surprisingly you can taste the beetroot, and it really compliments the chocolate! These were really moist, and much like normal brownies.

Ingredients:

200g beetroot, peeled, chopped

175g butter

125g of a mix of prunes and fresh pitted date

125g dark brown sugar

200g of good dark chocolate

3 eggs, lightly beaten

75g of plain flour

35g cocoa powder

1/4 tsp of nutmeg

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

100g chopped walnuts

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line a 20cm square pan. Process beetroot in a food processor until finely chopped.

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2. In a small saucepan on low heat, mix prunes and dates with 1/4 cup of water, cook stirring occasionally until soft and mushy. Let cool.

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3. Place butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 20 seconds burst, stirring in between until melted. Add beetroot, fruit mixture and sugar to bowl while stir warm, stirring well. Let cool for a few minutes.

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4. Stir in eggs. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Sift dry ingredients over the wet, and stir to combine, and stir in walnuts.

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5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for approx. 30 min or until center is just firm. Cool in pan. Cut into squares. Try not to eat immediately.

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Sweet Potato Brownies (Adapted from Martha Stewart http://www.marthastewart.com/312801/fudge-brownies)

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Ingredients:

4 tbs of butter (about 65gs)

2/3 cup of cocoa powder

1/2 cup of wholemeal plain flour

1/4 tsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of salt

100gs of fresh dates pitted and chopped – about 8 dates

1/2 cup of dark brown sugar

2/3 cup of sweet potato puree (boiled, processed and cooled sweet potato)

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 tsp of coffee powder

Steps:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 c. Butter an 20cm square pan; set aside. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Remove pan from heat, and stir in cocoa. Let cool slightly.

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2. In a small saucepan, mix dates with 1/8 cup of water, cook on low stirring occasionally until dates are soft and mushy.

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3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Stir in sugar and date mixture into the sweet-potato puree,stir this and then the egg into the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, stir together vanilla and coffee until coffee is dissolved; add to cocoa mixture.

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5. Add  cocoa mixture and stir until well combined. Spoon into prepared pan; smooth the top. Bake until surface of brownies looks barely dry and an inserted knife comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.

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They are very fudgey, and give you a nice cakey chocolate hit.

Tx

Caramelised onion jam

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This is a very versatile condiment. I made here to add to a bacon and egg pie that I will post in a few days, but it will make any burger, steak, tart, hot dog, sandwich or meaty dish extra special.

Cool it, and mix through some sour cream or cream cheese for a homemade french onion dip.

This is not a a true jam, so it does not have a long self life. If you put it in a airtight container it should last up to 5 days in the fridge.

I have used and halved the is recipe from taste.com http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/25885/caramelised+onion+jam, but halved the recipe,

Ingredients:

half a tbs of good olive oil

300gs of brown onions

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 tbs of dark brown sugar

1 tbs of balsamic vinegar

1. Heat oil in a small saucepan, on low heat.

2. Add the onions and thyme, cook stirring, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

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3. Add  the sugar. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add  the vinegar and 1/2 cup cold water.

4. Increase heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until thick.

Yum!

Walpeup Young Womens Fellowship recipes – Chocolate Pudding

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This post is dedicated to my maternal grandmothers family. They were farmers in the small town of Walpeup. This recipe book was published by the ‘Walpeup Young Womens Fellowship’.

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The recipes are attributed to many of my great aunties, second and third cousins and various other family members related to me by marriage. This kinds of recipes books were made for school, club, association etc. fund raising purposes. But they were really useful when there was no internet, no cooking shows and no bookshops around the corner (cookbooks were expensive anyway). They were full of family recipes.

The recipes are for lack of a better work, very ‘retro’. They feature lots of canned things like soups and pineapple, call soy sauce ‘soya sauce’, and are by their nature budget friendly.

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But these things reflect what it was like to live in a rural area in the 70’s here in Australia. There was no supermarket in the town, they had a small store, a butcher  and a  cafe (many towns may not have had, even this). They were 1 hours drive from  the next larger town and small supermarket, and even then, this town would not have had specially stores.

You ate seasonally, because things out of season where simply not available. Sometimes things had to be made from pantry ingredients and whatever was growing in the garden, you couldn’t just run and get something from the supermarket at 7:00pm.  There was no take away, not even a fish and chip shop (which are and where everywhere in Australia). Meat was expensive, so cheaper cuts were utilized and nothing was wasted. Sundays roast became  sandwiches, curry, patties, and fritters during the week (my Nana still makes the fritters, there are pretty good with lots of sauce).

Anyway some of these recipes are still made by the original ladies and their descendents, and some thankfully have been retired.

This a pudding contributed to the recipe collection by my second cousin Tracy, I learnt how to make when I was fairly young, maybe 11. My Nana made it, so did my mum and dad (and many of my cousins), and now I make it too.

It is a chocolate self -saucing pudding.  Here is the original recipe.

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Here is my updated recipe. I used wholemeal flour and buttermilk, as this is what I had, feel free to use normal flour and milk. Using the brown sugar makes a really fudgey sauce.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup of wholemeal S.R. flour

1/2 cup of white sugar

2 tbls of cocoa

pinch of salt

2 tbs of melted butter

3/4 cup of buttermilk

1 egg, beaten

1/4 dark chocolate chips

topping

1/2 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of dark brown sugar

2tbs of cocoa

1 1/2 cups of boiling water

Preheat oven to 180c.

1.In a bowl, mix  flour, sugar, cocoa, chocolate chips and salt.

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2.Add butter, milk and egg. Stir to combined.

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3. Spread into a greased deep pie dish, small casserole  or oven proof skillet.

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4. To make topping, mix together remaining sugars and cocoa, sprinkle over the top the batter.

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5. Careful pour over the boiling water.

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6. Bake for approx. 30 mins.

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You should have a cake the has risen to the the top, and a  chocolate sauce on the bottom, that is bubbling deliciously up the sides of you dish.

A recipe that has stood the test of time X.