Sugar Free – Paleo – Blondies Recipe

blondiesQuite some time ago we embarked on the Paleo diet. I have to say that I feel really great since starting this way of eating which is based on the diet of our ancestors from the Paleolithic era.

When we first started I wondered how we would go with sweet treats but I have been pleasantly surprised at the wide range of tasty treat recipes that are available.

I have been busy over the time making almond chocolate which I love and have just had a go at making ‘Blondies”. this recipe has been adapted from the Paleo Meal Plan Recipe Book. I say adapted because we had to substitute some of the ingredients.

BLONDIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz jar almond butter  – we used peanut butter
  • ½ cup Honey
  • ½ maple syrup – here we had to cheat as I only had about ¼ cup so we topped it up with  golden syrup.
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond butter with honey, maple syrup and eggs. Mix well
  3. Mix in salt and baking soda, followed by ½ cup of the chocolate chips
  4. Pour batter into a well greased 9×13 baking dish and spread the batter oout evenly.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining chocolate chips
  6. Bake for 35 minutes.

These are very tasty and an ideal healthy treat for adults and kids alike.

For this and many other tasty Paleo meals and sweet treats you cant go past the Quick and Simple Paleo Meals recipe book and the 8 week meal plan

blondies-paleo

 

Aluminum Cookware: Know the Risks

You may have heard about the risks linked to using aluminum cookware before, or perhaps you are reading about it for the first time. The debate has been open for some time now, with opposing views on either side of the fence. Whether you use aluminum pots and pans or not, it is worth knowing what all the fuss is about.

Health Concerns

Aluminum is widely regarded as a metal that provides no benefit whatsoever for the human body. The body has no use for it, so it will only be removed and excreted if it enters into the body through food or any other source. It can enter the body in many different ways, from certain medications, deodorant aerosols, lipsticks, talcum powder, and all sorts of other products.

High levels of aluminum in the human body are toxic and dangerous. It competes with calcium Cuisinart Multiclad Triply 12 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Setfor absorption, so high levels of aluminum in the body can result in reduced skeletal mineralization, which can be extremely degenerative for infants. There has also been studies conducted that aluminum can be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease, however the evidence for this is inconclusive.

Some people are allergic to aluminum, and ingesting it could mean they develop a skin rash, also known as contact dermatitis. Other dangers posed by aluminum toxicity include liver disease, stomach and intestinal ulcers, skin problems, and heartburn, among others.

Avoid Acidic and Basic Foods

One of the main concerns of using aluminum cookware comes from the types of foods that they are used to cook or prepare. While trace amounts of aluminum will be found in all food that is cooked in aluminum cookware, there are a couple types of food that pose a significantly bigger risk for increased aluminum consumption. Acidic foods, like tomatoes, citrus fruits, and vinegar, should not be cooked or stored in aluminum cookware because some aluminum will dissolve into the food. In addition, foods that already contain aluminum, basic foods like table salt, self-rising flour, and baking powder, will end up having an even higher aluminum content if cooked in aluminum cookware.

Another problem with aluminum pots and pans is that they can melt if they are left empty and heated up to a high temperature. Aluminum is a soft metal, so heating them up too high means they will become more malleable and the process of aluminum leaching into foods will happen faster.

Alternatives to Aluminum

Go through your kitchen as see how many of your utensils are made from aluminum, and see what you can do without. For those pots and pans that you need to replace, don’t worry. The good news is that if you have decided to sell all your old aluminum cookware for scrap metal, there are some much safer alternatives. Cast iron cookware is a great alternative, and some chefs regard cast iron as the best material for cookware. Sure, it is heavy, it needs to be kept seasoned, and needs more general looking after than something like stainless steel. However, a well-seasoned cast iron pan will perform just as well as any of the fancy non-stick pans out there on the market. Stainless steel cookware is also a better alternative to aluminum, and it is lighter and easy to look after than cast iron. However, aluminum is used to bond the layers of stainless steel together, so it can still enter food cooked in stainless steel cookware.

Other alternatives include copper cookware, but they rely on their tin or steel lining, and once this has gone they must not be used for cooking again. Ceramic cookware is also an option, but make sure it is of good quality and has been made especially for cooking, as the glaze contains lead, and if this migrates into food it can be very dangerous. New anodized aluminum pots do not have to be avoided. They are much better than the older non-anodized ones because the anodizing process stops the aluminum from leaching out of the pan and into the food while it is being cooked.

Whichever You Choose, Look After It!

The most important thing you can do no matter what type of cookware you choose to use is to keep scrupulously clean, and avoid using harsh cleaners or scouring pads. These will degrade the protective layers that most cookware has, and also scratch small grooves into its surface which can become a haven for bacteria to grow. When your cookware starts looking a bit old and used, get replacements as soon as you can.

 

The Breville Automatic Tea Maker & Kettle Review

Breville-one-touch-tea-makerI have fallen in love – with my new Breville Automatic tea maker.

Paula and I went out to our favourite tea store ‘Adore’ in Federation Square. We had run out of our favourite herbal teas –  French Earl Grey Tea and Evening Mist, both very nice blends with a floral hint.

On the counter was this great looking The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
priced at $299.00. I kept being drawn to the tea maker, just as intended by the shop owner of course. I could certainly see a use for this item in my household.

We finished making our tea purchases and headed to the cafe nearby for a milkshake and to discuss whether or not we should buy the tea maker, keeping in mind we would have to buy two, one for each household.  Paula went online and found the same item at David Jones, a local department store, for $249.99. So we  headed off to DJ’s.

The Breville Tea Maker can also be found for $249.99 on Amazon.

We couldn’t wait to get home to try it out. And we were not disappointed.

Getting Started

As with any new appliance – read the directions first. There is a quick start guide included and we simply followed the instructions on that.

So we set the power base onto a flat surface then performed a cleaning cycle with just plain water – no tea.

You do not add the tea basket for this initial clean.

Fill the jug with water up to the 1500ml mark, replace the lid and insert the power cord into the power.

The tea maker has a short power cord that I find ideal as I don’t have to wind up long lengths of cord which has to be tucked out of the way.  The cord also has a unique assist plug, which has a convenient finger hole which makes it easy to remove from the power socket.  If you require a longer cord, these are available from Breville.

The LCD lights on the power base will light up.

  • Press the up arrow to select 100°C (212°F)
  • Press the ‘Hot Water’ button to start.

Once the first lot of water has boiled simply discard it and your tea maker is now ready for use.

Making the tea

Okay, so far so good. Now for the next step – Making the tea.

At this point we hadn’t added the basket but once you start making tea you simply lift the basket out of the glass carafe, by the sides.

Pop off the basket lid and add tea leaves.  There is a plastic measuring spoon included and as I like very weak tea I only add a ½ a teaspoon. But you can make your teas as weak or as strong as you like.

Fill the jug with the amount of water you need. It’s generally only Paula and I having a cuppa so I fill the jug to the 750ml water line, 1200ml is the max recommended fill line.

Slip the tea basket onto the post in the jug and pop on the jug lid.

Now simply select the tea type which helps your tea maker to determine the brew temperature.

Select the tea strength – there are 4 modes:

  • Strong
  • Medium
  • Mild
  • Custom

Whichever one you choose determines the brew time.

Now press the ‘Tea/Cancel’ button to start the tea making process.

Now this is the really groovy part. Once the water reaches the correct temperature, the tea basket will automatically lower down into the water. Then as soon as the brew time has elapsed the tea basket will automatically rise out of the water and the machine will beep to let you know that your tea is ready.

Then you simply pour and enjoy.

How simple is that?

There is also a Keep Warm button the will keep the brewed tea or the heated water warm for up to 60 mins. Ideal if you are doing something you want to finish before sitting down to have your cup of tea. And because the tea basket isn’t sitting in the brew, it wont become bitter as with a normal teapot.

Do we think it is a worthwhile purchase – yes we do.

So what do you get in the box

  • One Power Base
  • One short Power Cord
  • One German Made Schott stain resistant glass kettle
  • One jug lid with stainless steel scale filter
  • One tea scoop
  • One stainless steel tea basket and lid

The Power Base

The power base has all the function controls to make the perfect cup of tea.

  • Auto Start
  • Keep warm
  • basket

Tea Type Selection Button for the following tea types

  • Green
  • Black
  • White
  • Herbal
  • Oolong
  • Custom

There are buttons that allow you to override both  the preset brew temperatures and the preset brew times.

The back-lit LCD displays both the brew temperature and brew time.

The Tea Strength Button has preset times for:

  • Strong
  • Medium
  • Mild
  • Custom

There is a Hot Water/Cancel button

  • This allows you to use the tea maker as a variable temperature kettle.

The Tea/Cancel

  • This button activates the tea brewing cycle

You can purchase this great appliance from Amazon and take advantage of their Free super Saver Shipping.

Need to see it in action?  Here are a couple of videos to help you see how great this appliance is.

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Organising a Party

CannapesWe all want our parties to be a hit and to have our friends to be much talked about by our family, colleagues and friends. So if you really want  your party to be a hit, it`s all in the planning. It doesn’t matter whether you are planning to hold a small soirée of four close friends or a corporate event with 200 people, what you serve, how it looks and the entertainment are all integral to the success of the party. For medium to large parties it`s important to follow catering standards for food servings so that you are sure that everyone will have enough to eat.

Budget for Your Party

So the very first thing you need to do before you start any planning is to work out exactly how much money you have to spend on the party. This will dictate how much you can have available to allocate to each aspect and will avoid a situation where you have spent everything on food and have nothing left over for entertainment. Once you have worked out what you have, decide how much you need to allocate to food, how much on drink, entertainment, decorations and so on.

Catering is the most important consideration however many people you have. Obviously, on a small scale it`s fairly easy as you can do the food yourself. If the numbers are over 20-30 it may be worthwhile giving consideration to hiring a caterer. There are a number of things that you need to consider when checking the dietary requirements of your guests, such as how many vegans, vegetarians or pescatarians are attending. Also check whether anyone attending has any food allergies or intolerance’s. For those people who usually find eating out difficult due to a lack of choice, the fact that you have catered for them will certainly make them think of you as a considerate hostess and your party will be deemed to be a success right from the outset.

Calculating the Catering

For medium to large scale catering there is a ‘rule of thumb`when it comes to assessing how much to serve. It will depend on what you are serving and when. For an afternoon through till evening event, you will need pre-dinner appetisers, a main meal and more appetisers for later in the evening. The rule of thumb here is to serve 3-5 pieces per person both before and after dinner.

For an evening shindig which has no dinner you should expect guests to eat around 10-15 pieces person. If you are serving a sit down meal then expect diners to eat around 150 grams of meat or fish per person along with vegetables, potatoes and salad. Add bulk items such as bread to ensure you have enough food.

Buffet Ideas

A sit down meal tends to cost more than a buffet so provided it fits with the event this is a wise choice. Ideas for buffets/finger food are vast and can be easily adapted for the party. A simple buffet composed of British fare; sandwiches, quiche, cake and so on is very popular with a traditional crowd. For younger and more cosmopolitan people why not try something more adventurous generally food with an Asian flavour will go down well Chinese and Indian dishes also work well as finger foods and the options are endless; spring rolls, samosas, spare ribs, schezuan chicken, poppadoms and so on. Other international cuisine ideas include Spanish tapas, Mexican food, Greek mezze or Japanese Sushi. Finger food can also be successfully included in a more elegant party; smoked salmon, hors d`oeuvre and caviar are all well received buffet options.

Try to keep a buffet varied by way of hot and cold options and food colour. Also ensure there is a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables and dessert.

Drinks

Beverages are just as important as food and you need to have all your bases covered. Just because it`s an evening party, doesn’t mean everyone will drink alcohol so have plenty of soft drinks to serve. For daytime events most people would rather have a tea or coffee so be sure to have the equipment you need to serve these on a large scale if necessary. As a rule of thumb for drinks assume that the average coffee drinker will drink a cup every 1.3 hours, and often more in the mornin. If there are many guests then you may need industrial tea and coffee making equipment to keep up with demand. With alcohol the general rule is about one drink per hour per person.

Entertainment is very important if you want attendees to make your party memorable and and stand out from other parties. For small parties a good choice of music will suffice, but for larger, perhaps corporate events, you might want to think outside the box with a magicians, bands, cabaret or maybe even a bit of burlesque, and a good DJ can really get the place jumping in no time at all.

Parties are all about having fun, but if you are the one planning it, it can often feel like anything but. But a successful party is all in the planning and as long as you have everything in hand long before the event then it should all run smoothly. Following industry rules of thumb on catering will help ensure you neither buy too much or too little food. Making sure you have equipment to help you such as a suitable coffee machine or a tested sound system, will help avoid any hiccups on the day. Once you have your perfect event planned, it`s time to get the party started…

Why Eat Brown Rice?

 

The Many Benefits of Brown Rice

 

riceSome people can’t go without rice when they eat. Rice can be a good source of carbohydrates and other nutrients but did you know that you could have different options when eating your rice so you can get more health and nutritional benefits?

Rice comes in two types, the processed white rice and the unprocessed brown rice. Most people prefer the white rice because it is more tasty and delicious but if you want to get more nutritional benefits, then you must try the brown rice. So why does brown rice offer the most health benefits? Brown rice is processed in such a way that the outer part called the hull is not removed. This outer layer is rich in proteins, fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals, which can help prevent heart diseases like high blood. Thus, removing this layer from the processed white rice lessened its nutritional benefits by 45%.

We have always known….

Brown rice offers a lot of other health benefits which include:

1.   Brown rice is rich in iron and fatty acids, which helps boost our body’s immune system. It also helps fight the free radicals in our body, which can help prevent cancer and improve cardiovascular health.

2.   It is also rich in fiber, which promotes good digestive system, and helps lower cholesterol and sugar level.

3.   Brown rice also contains antioxidants, which helps flushes out the bad toxins from our body. Antioxidants also helps increase a body’s energy, promotes healthy and glowing skin, improves our body’s disease fighting mechanism and prevents deadly diseases like cancer.

4.   Brown rice is also recommended for those who want to lose weight as it helps balance the fat in your body.

 New research on rice today…

1.  The current guidelines from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in the US describes grains, especially rice as a primary source of carbohydrates. Yet, there is so much more to rice. New scientific evidence on the benefits of rice all around, including brown rice, is proving once again that having a regular diet of rice is really good for us.

2.  Brown rice keeps your blood pressure healthy. Part of the tissue around the grains in the brown rice actually protects you from the protein called Angiotensin II which is contributes to high blood pressure. Brown rice eliminates this bad protein from your blood.

3.  Brown rice keeps your sugars balanced. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have discovered that brown rice lowers type 2 diabetes by 36% and white rice lowers the chances of developing diabetes by 16%

4.  White rice soothes your muscles. The outer husk of the rice grain, suppresses the release of histamine and as a result eliminates inflammation.

5.  Brown rice helps nerves thrive. There is a part of the rice see that becomes active when rice is placed in water, and which reduces any risk to nerves and vascular functioning.

6.  Black rice promotes energy and skin health. Black rice has more antioxidants than you can get from a handful of blueberries, and more fibre and vitamin E as well.

In all, it is nutty, sweet and versatile, always enjoyable in flavor but also nutritious and an important contributor to maintaining your health. Why? It is super rich in complex carbohydrates, that we knew, but now we also know rice is packed with vitamins and minerals; niacin, folate, vitamin E and potassium, antioxidants, dietary fibre and phytonutrients. Best of all, it pairs with just about anything you like, vegetables, fruits, meat or seafood.

Did you know there is more?

1.  Research that studied women who ate a regular diet of brown rice, over 12 years of their live were slimmer, did not gain extra weight and reported feeling healthier than other women.

2.  Rice is the least allergenic of the cereal grains, tolerated by children, and people with digestive difficulties or sensitivities.

3.  The type of B vitamins that are plentiful in brown rice feed and enrich the nervous system.

4.  Brown rice and black rice have been found to relieve depression.

5.  Brown rice is a good natural remedy for nausea, diarrhea and diabetes.

6.  Brown rice does not contain gluten; the absolute best benefit in today’s world of unhealthy diets of overly processed food and gluten rich grains. In fact, gluten has been found to worsen attention and behavior difficulties in children, and to make regulating blood sugar much harder.

7.  Finally, a recent study by researchers at the RIKEN Plant Science Center showed that the giant nutritional impact of rice is directed by the metabolites in the rice. 131 of them, including amino acids, lipids and flavonoids

Because of these many health benefits, brown rice is readily available now in the market. They are very easy to prepare as some can be cooked in just 90 seconds using a microwave oven or the bag of rice can be dropped straight to a boiling pan and will be ready in 10 minutes.

Your weekly meal planning with rice…

Rice can be a perfect complement to any meal and what a better way to enjoy your meal than with your nutritious brown rice. Here are some ways to enjoy very easy dinners that will provide you with all the health benefits of rice.

1. Meatloaf, corn and rice.

2. Chicken, brown rice, peas and sweet potatoes

3. Risotto with brown rice

4. Chili with rice

5. Stir-fry with rice

There is no end of creative options, especially given the newer varieties of rice either. Imagine an aromatic, soft-cooking, long grain rice, a jasmine-style rice, and charleston gold rice. Remarkably these rice products and other varieties are grown in more than 75 percent of the rice acreage in the US. This makes buying rice simple; as easy as it is to cook rice.

Prepare your brown rice perfectly by soaking it before cooking, cooking it in boiling water and letting it simmer for almost an hour. Serve immediately and by eating just two meals with brown or white rice each week, you live healthier. If you add foods with buckwheat, oats, wheat berries, and millet your body will celebrate the high fiber content and little fat. Then there is quinoa, another whole grain but it is also high in protein and fiber; making you feel full and satisfied. Combine any of these with fish or broccoli and sweet potatoes, a couple of times a week, and you will be giving your body the best of the “super foods” on a regular basis. Now, that’s heart smart.