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

 

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.

Popcorn Butterscotch Squares

popcorn-butterscotch-squaresNow that the kids are back at school its time to start thinking about lunchbox fillers. Mind you that isn’t as hard as you think if you have the Australian Women’s Weekly Little Squares & Slices cookbook on hand

My friend Tammy makes amazing slices for her family of 5 children to pop into their lunch boxes and for after school snacks and this is one I am sure you will all love.

 


 Popcorn Butterscotch Squares

Prep + cook time 30 minutes (+ refrigeration)
Makes 24
Store squares in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Ingredients:-

• 250g (8 ounces) butternut snap biscuits
• 125g (4 ounces) butter, melted
• 395g (12 ½ ounces) canned sweetened condensed milk
• 30g (1 ounce) butter, extra
• 4 cups (40g) air-popped salted popcorn
• ½ cup (40g) toasted shredded coconut
• 185g (6 ounces) milk eating chocolate, melted

Method:
1. Grease 20cm x 30cm (8-inch x 12-inch) rectangular pan; line base and long sides with baking paper, extending paper 5 cm (2 inches) over sides.

2. Process biscuits until fine. Add butter; process until combined. Press mixture firmly over base of pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.

3. Meanwhile, combine condensed milk and extra butter in a medium heavy-based saucepan; cook, stirring, over medium heat, about 10 minutes or until mixture is a caramel colour. Remove from heat; quickly stir in the popcorn and coconut.

4. Working quickly with wet hands, spread and firmly press popcorn mixture over base. Spread chocolate over slice. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set before cutting.

the-australian-womens-weekly-little-squares-&-slicesThe recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘little squares & slices’ cookbook.

I doubt there is a household in Australia that doesn’t have a copy of at least one of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks.

They have an amazing range of cookbooks that cover every type of cooking that you can think of. The recipes are always easy to follow.

Each recipe is clearly photographed so that you can see what the finished dish should look like. The recipes aren’t complicated and  because they are all tested before publication, they work – every time.

 

Healthy Home-made Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes – Couldn’t be easier

We both recently started making our own bread. One reason for this is that we are eating more and more organic foods and growing our own veges so making our own bread was just one more step towards knowing what we are eating. Commercial bread is full of additives and preservatives.  We know exactly what goes into our bread.

The bread recipe we use is from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking recipe book by Jeff Hertzber and Zoe Francois, which is available in both hard copy and kindle.  We have both, but I like to work from the Kindle app on the iPad.

Now what is so great about this bread recipe?

Well it takes only 5 minutes to make, there is NO kneading required and the mixture keeps in the fridge for around 14 days so you can just pull off a lump of dough to make a fresh loaf when you need it.

The book has around 100 recipes so that you can make different kinds of bread but we generally make the basic dough mix which makes enough for four 1 pound loaves.  Although you can double or halve the recipe to suit your family’s requirements, we find that the standard recipe works well for two to four people.

Master Recipe for 5 Minute Artisan Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast (equivalent to 2 packets). I no longer use packet yeast but loose yeast granuals
  • 1½ tablespoons Kosher salt or other coarse salt
  • 6½ cups flour, unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose (not strong)
bread-making-ingredients

bread-making-ingredients

Method:

Preparing Dough for Storage:

1.. Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. With cold water it will need 3-4 hours.

2. Add the yeast to the water in a 5 quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket.  I use a large Tupperware rectangular modular mate container.

Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

adding-the-yeast

Adding the Yeast

yeast-added-to-warm-water

Yeast Added to the Warm Water

3. Mix in the flour and salt – kneading is unnecessary. Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula. Don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement.

Use-scoop-and-sweep-method

Use Scoop & Sweep Method

Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. I have just started using my Cuisinart hand mixer which also did an admirable job.

If you’re hand mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead, it isn’t necessary.You know the dough is ready when everything is uniformly moist, without any dry patches. It takes a few minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.

stir-in-the-flour-into-the-yeast-mixture
Stir the flour into the yeast mixture
mixing-bread-dough

Mixing the bread dough

4. Put the dough aside to allow it to rise. Cover with lid (I just sit the lid on top of the container and don’t seal it otherwise it could explode from the trapped gases). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approx 2 hours, depending on room temperature, and initial water temperature. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes as longer rising times, up to 5 hours, won’t harm the result.

bread-dough-rising

Bread dough rising

 

5. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature.

On Baking Day:

1. You can bake this bread in a prepared loaf tim, tray, or whatever you’ choose to bake it in or on. I simply use a Pizza Stone. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with four. Pull up and cut of a grapefruit-size piece of dough (approximately 1 lb), using a serrated knife.

2. Hold the dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off – that’s fine, it isn’t meant to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will sort itself out during resting and baking.

stretching-the-bread-dough

Stretch the bread dough

3. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 – 60 seconds.

bread-formed-and-ready-to-rise

Bread formed into roll

4. Rest the loaf and let it rise in the form, on the tray/pizza peel, for about 40 minutes. I use a small round board sprinkled with Polenta, which I find helps stops the dough sticking and helps it to easily come free when transferring it to the pizza plate.
Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period. That’s fine, more rising will occur during baking.

5. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

6. Dust and Slash. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a quarter inch deep cross, diagonal lines, or tic-tac-toe pattern on top using a serrated knife.

bread-floured-and-sliced

Bread dough floured and slashed

7. After a 20 min preheat you’re ready to bake, even though the oven thermometer won’t be at full temperature yet. Put your loaf in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of hot water (from the tap) into the broiler tray and close the oven to trap the steam.

8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.

9. Eat with your favorite topping – yummo

baked-bread

Baked bread with a golden crust

Sliced-bread-enjoy

Sliced bread ready to enjoy

9. Store the rest of the dough in the fridge in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days. The flavour and texture improves, becoming like sourdough. Even 24 hours of storage improves the flavour.

This is the standard bread. There are loads of variations – both savory and sweet – in the book. I also have the Kindle version of their Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.

Making bread has never been easier. Forget all the fuss and bother of kneading and resting the dough for hours on end, which is how my mother used to make her homemade bread. She would have loved this recipe.

 

Choc-Honeycomb Ice Cream Pudding – Delicious for Celebrations or Anytime

Paula and I decided to cook dinner for her brother Wal for his birthday. For the menu we cooked wild Alaskan Salmon, a favorite of ours,  with new potatoes in parsley butter, carrots and beans from  Paula’s garden, and dessert was a delicious choc honeycomb ice cream pudding.  This dessert was taken from the Super Food Ideas magazine and believe me it is delicious.

choc-honeycomb-ice-cream-puddingChoc-honeycomb ice-cream pudding.

Ingredients:-

  • 1½ x 300g packets of chocolate sponge roles. (we used a chocolate cream filled sponge roll from Coles)
  • 2 liters hokey pokey ice cream – softened
  • 2 x 55g Violet Crumble bars, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup of dry-roasted hazelnuts, chopped

Topping:-

  • 180g block white chocolate, chopped (we used Cadbury’s Dream White Chocolate)
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream
  • strawberries – halved,
  • white chocolate curls ( I made the chocolate curls using a potato peeler)
  • silver cachous, to decorate (optional)

Method:-

Line an 8 cup capacity pudding basin with plastic wrap. (Good luck doing that, I found it to be a bit fiddly).

Cut the chocolate rolls into 1 cm thick slices. Reserve 4 slices. Line the base and side of the prepared pan with remaining cake slices, trimming to fit.

Place the softened ice cream in a bowl. Fold in the roughly chopped Violet Crumble and the chopped hazelnuts.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, Level the top with a spatula and arrange the reserved cake slices over the top of the ice cream, pressing slightly to secure.

Cover with plastic wrap, then foil and freeze overnight.

Topping:-

Place white chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium (50%) for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth, stirring with a metal spoon every 30 seconds. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly.

Decorating:-

Turn the pudding onto a plate. Remove the plastic wrap.

Spoon 1/3 of the chocolate sauce over the pudding. Stand for 5 minutes.

Decorate with strawberries, chocolate curls and cachous. Serve with the remaining chocolate sauce.

I didn’t read the last part of the recipe and so added all the topping instead of just 1/3 , but it turned out fine and it tasted fantastic.  The topping is not too sweet and the hidden bits of violet crumble and hazelnuts certainly add a touch of pizazz to the delicious hokey pokey ice cream. We also served it with extra strawberries and cream.

I will certainly make this dessert again.

Many thanks to Super Food Ideas Magazine.