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Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

 

These Chocolate Chip Muffins are really easy to make and always a hit. I use coconut oil but you can use melted butter if you prefer. I also drop the amount of sugar used to 1/2 cup when making for hubby and I as we really don’t like our muffins too sweet. This works well as the chocolate chips have a little sweetness in them.

You can make these with milk or dark chocolate though I prefer the dark chocolate. You could even use white chocolate or a mix.

Ingredients

Cocoa 1/4 Cup
Boiling Water 1/4 Cup
Self Raising Flour 3 Cups
Sugar 3/4 Cup
Chocolate Chips 1 Cup
Evaporated Milk 1 1/2 Cups
Coconut Oil 125g

Method:

  • Turn oven on to 190°C
  • Lightly grease a muffin pan or the muffin liners
  • Mix cocoa with boiling water, leave to cool
  • Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix to combine
  • In a separate bowl mix egg, coconut oil, evaporated milk and cocoa
  • Make a well in the dry mix and add the wet mixture, mix gently until combined. Note: do not beat as your muffins will be tough, it is just a gently mix
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Serve dusted with icing sugar

Simple Basil Pesto

 

Pesto should be fresh and eaten within a couple of days. This one offers subtle flavours and is super easy to make. Also it is relatively cheap. I would recommend growing your own basil to use for this. It is very easy to grow in a well lit area inside. I use a hand held blender attached to a small food processing bowl attachment to make this. You may also wish to use a mortar and pestle, it will take a little longer.

Don’t skimp on the oil. The Virgin Olive Oil is an integral ingredient for flavour and to pull it together.

Remember pesto does not require cooking.


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Ingredients

Fresh Basil 2 large handfuls
Pine Nuts 6 Tbsp
Garlic Clove 1 very small or 1/4 of a large
Parmeson Cheese 4 Tbsp
Virgin Olive Oil
Salt Pinch

Method:

  • Put the pine nuts under a grill, do not brown but heat to release the flavour
  • Add all ingredients to the food processing bowl except the oil
  • Process until well chopped up
  • Add Virgin Olive Oil a small amount at a time. You will want the pesto to be a very thick sauce consistency.

Ultimate Cinnamon Scrolls

 

Cinnamon scrolls are variable in taste and recipes.

It has been my holy grail to find the best recipe for the best cinnamon scroll. I realise that it is all subjective and a matter of taste. But this recipe wins for me.

I use my bread machine to mix the dough.


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Scroll

Dried Yeas 1 tsp heaped
Milk 1/2 cup
Caster Sugar 1/4 cup
Butter 60g melted
Salt 1 tsp
Eggs 2 beaten
Bread Flour 4 cups

Filling/Topping

Butter 180g melted
Brown Sugar 3/4 Brown Sugar
Cinnamon 1 tbsp heaped
Walnuts 1 cup chopped

Method:

  • Place Scroll ingredients in your bread machine
  • Set to Brioche dough program or dough program of about 70 minutes
  • Meanwhile mix the brown sugar and cinnamon
  • When complete removed from machine and roll out into  a large rectangle about 3mm thick
  • Melt butter
  • Sprinkle 3/4 of the brown sugar/cinnamon mix over the dough rectangle ensuring you don’t go right to the edges
  • Pour 3/4 of the melted butter over the dough rectangle
  • Mix remaining butter and brown sugar/cinnamon mix together
  • Gently roll the rectangle starting from the long side
  • Cut the roll into 15cm scrolls
  • Gently place in a large slab tin
  • Pour remaining butter and brown sugar/cinnamon mix over the top
  • Sprinkle with walnuts
  • Leave for up to 60 minutes in a warm place until doubled in size
  • Bake for 40 minutes at 180 °C
  • Leave to call in tin

Cheese Biscuits

 

I love cheese and I love cheese biscuits. Supermarket purchased cheese biscuits are salty and full of horrible additives, furthermore I suspect they don’t actually put cheese in the mix but just sprinkle their “cheese flavouring” on the top of the biscuit.

These biscuits are really super easy to make. I have taken it from my very old version of the Womens Weekly Book of Beautiful Biscuits. The only thing I have changed is I have omitted the salt as cheese usually has enough salt in it as does the butter.

Use a full flavoured cheddar cheese.


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Ingredients

Plain Flour 1 Cup
SR Flour 2 tbs
Cayenne 1/4 tsp
Cold butter cubed 125g
Grated parmesan cheese 2 tbs
Grated cheddar cheese 125g
Lemon juice 1 tbsp

 

Method: 

  • Put all ingredients in a bowl except the lemon juice
  • Rub the butter in until the mix resembles bread crumbs
  • Add lemon juice and mix to for a stiff dough
  • Roll into a fat sausage shape and refridgerate for at least 3 hours
  • Slice biscuits from roll and place on baking sheet at 160°C for 15 minutes

The Best Granola

 

Granola is as varied in ingredients as you want it to be. It is also marketed as a gourmet breakfast cereal when it is nothing more than a little fancied up toasted muesli. The best think about making your own is you can add whatever you like to it and have control over the quality. Oh, and there is the massive difference in price. This is my favourite granola recipe however I encourage you to add and subtract your ingredients as you desire.

Ingredients

Rolled oats (not instant) 3 cups
lightly packed light brown sugar 3 tbsp
Ground cinnamon ½ tsp
Sea salt ¼ tsp
Pepitas 2 tbsp
Sunflower seeds 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds 3 tsp
Raw almonds ⅓ cup
Maple syrup (genuine Canadian) ⅓ cup
Coconut oil ¼ cup
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
⅓ cup Dried fruit of choice

Method:

  • Heat oven to 140°C
  • Mix all dry ingredients together except the fruit
  • In a separate bowl mix sunflower oil, vanilla and maple syrup
  • Pour into bowl of dry ingredients and combine until well mixed
  • Spread on a backing sheet and put into oven
  • Stir every 15 minutes and cook until a lovely rich golden brown
  • Cool then add dried fruit if adding
  • Store in a sealed container
  • Serve with cold milk and or fresh plain yogurt

Peanut Biscuits

 

Really fast and easy to make. Perfect anytime.

Either roast your own peanuts or buy dry roasted nuts or nuts cooked in coconut oil. Avoid peanuts cooked in cottonseed oil.

Ingredients

Butter 110g
Self raising flour 1 1/2 cups
Egg 1
Caster Sugar 3/4 cup
Unsalted roasted peanuts 1 cup

Method:


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  • Cream butter and sugar until well combined
  • Add egg
  • Mix in flour and peanuts
  • Roll teaspoons of mix into balls. Place on tray, press down lightly.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes until golden on 180°C

Brioche and Choc Chip Pudding

 

I cannot take the credit for this. It is a slight slant on the Nigella Lawson Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding.

Simply delicious I have used left over Brioche Loaf that I had stashed in my freezer and I have omitted the alcohol. As always I use 70% dark chocolate. Not cooking chocolate but good quality eating chocolate however, you can use what you prefer or have on hand.

This is a super fast desert that I serve with a dash of whipped cream. Perfect for when you have guests. Thank you Nigella!


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Ingredients

Brioche Loaf, cut into 3cm cubes 250g
Dark chocolate chopped (or any chocolate you choose) 100g
Soft brown sugar 40g
Double or thickened cream 100g
Full cream milk 500ml
Eggs 3
Demerara sugar (optional)

Method:

  • Put the bread in a 1.5 litre oven proof bowl or pan. I find the casserole dishes perfect for this. Don’t worry if the bread is piled high
  • Sprinkle chocolate over and around the bread nudging it under the cubes of bread
  • In a jug mix the brown sugar, milk, cream and eggs until well combined
  • Carefully pour over bread ensure all the pieces are soaked. When done give the bread a push down to ensure the pieces are soaking up the mixture
  • Stand for 20 minutes to let it soak through
  • Sprinkle with Demerara  sugar if using
  • Put in oven on 140°c  for 40-50 minutes
  • Let stand before serving

Sweetners more dangerous than sugar

In a bid to convince as many people as possible that cooking good food at home is important I have decided to start listing the products you will find in your pre-packaged foods and why you should avoid them. Today I am starting with Artificial Sweeteners.  The following is  information on Acesulfame-K and Aspartame:

Acesulfame-K: Used in candies, baked goods, chewing gum, dry
beverage mixes, canned fruit, gelatin desserts, diet soda, and as a tabletop sweetener under the brand names Sunette and Sweet One. About 200 times sweeter than sugar, acesulfame-K was tested for safety in the 1970s. The tests were not conducted with gold-standard protocols; however, two rat studies suggested that the chemical could cause cancer. In addition, large doses of a breakdown product
from this chemical affected the thyroid in test animals.

Aspartame: Used in breakfast cereals, soft drinks, drink mixes, gelatin desserts, frozen desserts, yogurt, chewing gum, diet foods, and as a tabletop sweetener under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet. Used in more than 6,000 products worldwide, aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Studies have suggested that it might cause cancer — especially with lifelong consumption — or neurological problems. Aspartame also lowers the acidity of urine and may make the urinary tract more susceptible to infection.

Aspartame is the most controversial food additive in history, and its approval for use in food was one of the most hotly contested in FDA history. The artificial sweetener was approved, not on scientific grounds, but because of strong political and financial pressures. With all the research now available on aspartame and its various ingredients, it’s hard to believe such a chemical would be allowed into the food supply, but it is, and it’s been silently wreaking havoc with people’s health for the past 30 years.


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Just to refresh your memory, aspartame has been linked to the following health concerns:

  • Lymphomas, leukemias and brain cancer
  • Neurological symptoms including headaches, depressed and anxious mood, seizures, memory loss, hallucinations and dizziness
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Sleep disorders
  • Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Asthma
  • Visual changes
  • Joint Pain
  • Weight gain and diabetes
  • Rashes and hives

The truth is, aspartame should never have been released into the market, and allowing it to remain on the market is really a serious public health issue—no matter how many times it gets rebranded with splashy new names, like Neotame and AminoSweet.

Aspartame has been the subject of a great deal of research over the past several decades. But much of this research has been seriously flawed due to major conflict of interest—funded by those interested in promoting aspartame at any cost.

The Most Compelling Evidence Linking Aspartame to Cancer

As Tom Philpott pointed out, aspartame studies have been extremely biased, depending on the organization providing the funding. Studies funded by the
sweetener industry tend to conclude aspartame is safe, whereas studies funded independently show all manner of adverse health effects.

In the early 2000s, Italian cancer researcher Dr. Morando Soffritti, head of the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences, conducted aspartame safety studies on rats in an effort to find some answers. His studies were different from earlier ones in that he studied a much larger population of rats (1,900 of the little rodents) and observed them over the course of their entire natural lifetimes (about 3 years).

A very important fact to consider here is that the Ramazzini foundation is a well respected, independent, non-profit institution that has been dedicated to cancer prevention for more than 35 years.

Dr. Soffritti believed the studies done by Searle in the 1970s involved insufficient numbers of rats, and did not allow them to live long enough to develop cancer. The rats in the Searle studies were euthanized after two years, arguably before many cancers would have developed.

Soffritti explained:

“Since 80 percent of cancer is diagnosed in humans over the age of 55, it is of paramount importance to observe how an agent affects laboratory animals in the last third of their lives.”

What did he find? The first study found, after being fed the “human equivalent” of four to five bottles of diet soda per day, the rats developed high rates of lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers. At the highest dose, 25 percent of the female rats developed lymphomas and leukemias, compared with just 8.7 percent of the control group. Dr. Soffritti attributed the cancer to the methanol produced as a byproduct of aspartame metabolism. As with rats, when your body breaks down methanol, the result is formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

The researchers determined aspartame’s carcinogenic effect was observed at levels as low as 400 parts per million (ppm), concluding the following:

“The results of this mega-experiment indicate that APM [aspartame] is a multipotential carcinogenic agent, even at a daily dose of 20 mg/kg body weight, much less than the current acceptable daily intake. On the basis of these results, a reevaluation of the present guidelines on the use and consumption of APM is urgent and cannot be delayed.”

Not surprisingly, the results drew massive criticism from the industry and vociferous attempts to discredit the Ramazzini Foundation and its research.

But the foundation refused to back down.

In 2007, they published a follow-up study—again finding cancer linked with aspartame use. But this time, their findings included a troubling discovery that when exposure begins in the womb, aspartame’s carcinogenic effect is amplified. Sadly, no American regulatory agency has acted on Dr. Soffritti’s findings, and the FDA stubbornly clings to its position that aspartame is safe.

Watering the Seeds of Deception

The Obama administration has made sure Monsanto will enjoy even more control over what you eat. The appointment of Tom Vilsack to Secretary of Agriculture was a foreshadowing of things to come. As former Iowa Governor, Vilsack was a staunch advocate for Monsanto, genetic engineering, and factory farming. And many other USDA officials have similar ties.

After a five-year battle with the industry, the USDA just gave its stamp of approval for genetically engineered alfalfa and sugar beets. Farmers will be allowed to plant GMO alfalfa and beet seeds anywhere—even abutting organic farms.

This decision poses dire possibilities for our entire food supply as these GM seeds drift hither and to neighboring farms, invited or not. Sugar beets are wind-pollinated crops whose pollen can be carried up to six miles, depending on the winds. Is this really what Michelle Obama wants in her organic White House garden? Beets and  alfalfa are one thing—but what do GMOs have to do with aspartame? As it turns out, quite a lot.

The Connection Between Aspartame and GMOs

Aspartame is made with genetically modified bacteria—E. coli, to be specific. Monsanto uses GM bacteria in the process of making aspartame in their American factories—and insists it is completely safe.

According to an article in The Independent:

“Aspartame is made by combining phenylalanine, which is naturally produced by bacteria, with another amino acid. Monsanto has genetically engineered the bacteria to make them produce more phenylalanine. Scientists fear that other unknown compounds, which may end up in food, are produced by the genetic engineering process.”

Aspartame is composed of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. All products containing aspartame must be labeled with the information “contains phenylalanine” (which is dangerous if you suffer from the metabolic illness phenylketonuria). But additives that are manufactured with the aid of GMOs do NOT require  labeling as such, provided the additive contains no actual microorganisms.

So, two of the greatest health hazards of modern times—artificial sweeteners and GMOs—originate behind the doors of Monsanto, the most powerful biotech company in the world.

“GMO-free” products have outpaced even “gluten-free” products as the fastest growing section of your grocery store aisle. Surveys show that up to 90 percent of U.S. consumers are in favor of mandatory GMO labeling. But the government isn’t listening to you.

Jay Feldman, director of Beyond Pesticides, puts it well:

“The Secretary of Agriculture should have picked up on the transparency advocacy that the President and this administration has put forth. It really is hypocritical of an administration that advocates transparency to support a technology that is secret to the consumer and to people who would like to make an informed choice.”

If GMOs are used in making aspartame, of which few people are aware, how many other products contain GMOs that we don’t know about?

What You Can Do

Only a fraction of all adverse reactions to drugs and vaccines are ever reported—estimates are between one and four percent. Chances are, adverse reactions from other FDA-regulated products, like aspartame, are probably even lower. This is a problem that only you can correct. Your best strategy is to vote with your pocketbook and avoid purchasing any aspartame products.  You can carefully read the list of ingredients and see if aspartame is there and avoid it. Additionally you can avoid the branded labels of aspartame such as:

  • NutraSweet
  • AminoSweet
  • Equal
  • Canderel
  • NatraTaste
  • Neotame
  • Spoonful

It would also be helpful to alert the FDA to a problem with a product they’ve approved, they must be notified by as many people as possible who are experiencing the problem. So I urge you, if you experience side effects from aspartame, report it to the FDA without delay.

It’s easy to make a report—just go to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator page, find the phone number for your state, and make a call reporting your reaction.

There’s no telling just how many reports they might need to receive before taking another look at aspartame’s safety and reconsidering their stance. But I CAN tell you, the more reports they get, the more likely that is to happen. So if you suspect you have experienced an adverse reaction from aspartame (or any other drug or food additive), please take a moment to make this important call.

Information provided by care2.com

 

 

Red Lentil & Chorizo Soup

 

This is amazingly good and easy. For those who want a inexpensive meal and would normally not even touch lentils this is for you.

Use home made chicken stock if possible, otherwise the best store bought you can find. Avoid powders or cubes as they can be too salty.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil 1 tbsp
Spicy chorizo 200g
Onion, large diced 1
Carrot, diced 2
Cumin seeds pinch
Garlic, chopped 2-3
Paprika, sweet 1 tsp
Caster sugar pinch
Red wine vinegar splash
Red lentils 250g
Chopped tomatoes or passata 800g
Chicken stock 850ml
Plain yogurt
Virgin olive oil

Method:


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  • Heat the oil in a large pan.
  • Add the chorizo and cook until crisp and it has released its oils. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.
  • Fry the onion, carrots and cumin seeds for 10 mins until soft and glistening
  • Add the garlic and fry for 1 min more.
  • Scatter over the paprika and sugar, cook for 1 min
  • Splash in the vinegar. Simmer for a moment,
  • Stir in the lentils, and pour over the tomatoes and chicken stock
  • Give it a good stir, simmer for 30 mins or until the lentils are tender.
  • Blitz with a hand blender until smooth-ish but still a little chunky.
  • Serve in bowls, drizzled with yogurt and olive oil, scattered with the chorizo and a sprinkling of paprika.
Notes
Can be made several days ahead or frozen for 6 months.

Recipe slightly changed from Barney Desmazery

Choc Nut Bars

 

No mixing required. Just layer the ingredients and bake. Incredibly easy and super yummy. This is not the cheapest recipe you will make, estimate it costs me $15-20 but well worth the cost due to quality ingredients.

I use organic, fairtrade chocolate (70%); organic coconut and high quality shortbread with no additives (easy to find in supermarkets). There is a mix of almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias and brazil nuts, cashews, avoiding the addition of peanuts.

Due to BPA linings in cans I usually do not eat foods that are from cans however condensed milk is in unlined cans.


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You can use milk chocolate or white chocolate (or a mixture of all chocolate types) but we find that too sweet and these types of chocolates are not that good for you with all their extra additives and the high sugar count. This is a treat and not one to eat in large quantities in one sitting.

Ingredients

Butter, melted 125g
Shortbread biscuits, crumbed 250g
Coconut, dessicated 1 cup
70% Chocolate (or whatever chocolate you prefer) 375g
Condensed Milk 375g
Mixed raw nuts, roughly chopped 1 cup (chopped)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Grease and line a lamington tin
  • Pour butter over base of tin
  • Sprinkle biscuit crumbs over butter
  • Sprinkle coconut over biscuit layer
  • Scatter chopped chocolate over the coconut layer
  • Pour condensed milk over chocolate layer
  • Sprinkle chopped nuts over the condensed milk layer
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in container then cut into fingers.