Recipes: Blueberry Muffins – Take 2

The first time we made blueberry muffins, we followed a recipe we found from a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse book and they were really salty. The plan was always to re-work the recipe but I forgot all about it until G1 wanted blueberry muffins on the weekend but the bakery was all out. So here we are…

#blueberry #muffins as requested by G1...

This is a modified blueberry muffin recipe from Women’s Weekly.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp blueberry supersprout powder (for extra blueberry oomph)
  • 100g frozen blueberries
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 180ml milk
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 190C.
  • Sift flour into a bowl.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.

The Verdict

Big thumbs up from G1. I think we will definitely make this one again.

Dairy-Free and Carrageenan-Free Milks

We’ve cut out the nut milks because a lot of them contain carrageenan which has been getting quite a bad rep in the media. However, like the “soy” issue, I wanted to be sure of the facts, so I dug a little deeper… I eventually found what I believe to be a balanced review from Chris Kresser who concludes that while carrageenan probably isn’t as bad as we’ve been led to believe, there is still a question over its safe use. When in doubt, avoid…

“precautionary principle” – in the absence of proven safety, I choose to avoid foods that have questionable adverse effects. Carrageenan fits this description, as there’s still some doubt about its safety and no evidence has convinced me that there isn’t a potential for harm if consumed regularly. – Chriss Kresser

Which is pretty much the direction we’ve gone in. Although we don’t really need to go dairy-free, I’ve been looking for diary-free alternatives because Cacao should be consumed without dairy as dairy inhibits the absorption of the antioxidants from Cacao.

Dairy-Free, Carrageenan-Free Milk Alternatives

While you can make your own nut milk, or simply soak your nuts, rinse them and blend them into your smoothies, there are also some dairy-free milk alternatives you can opt for that are carrageenan free. Although Pure Harvest‘s nut milks contain carrageenan, it appears they do have a range of dairy-free milk that are also carrageenan-free: coconut milk, rice milk, soy milk, and oat milk.

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Australia’s Own Organic also offers carrageenan-free milk varieties in almond/coconut, macadamia, and rice milk.

Carageenan-free

Alternatively, there are oat milk powders that also work. The ingredient labels on the Biogreen and Country Farm Organics oat milks check out okay.

Carrageenan-free

I’m sure there are others out there, and feel free to recommend them to us, but at least we know there are “healthier” alternatives available.

Chinese New Year Food: Ang Koo

A symbol of longevity, luck and prosperity, Ang Koo is another food that features in Chinese festivals and celebrations.

Ang ku

For Pai Ti Kong, in addition to the popular tortoise-shell-shaped Ang Koo, we also need to prepare twelve pieces each in two other shapes (shown below) – spherical and an elongated form. Why 12? One for each month of the year. Since the Year of the Horse was a leap year with thirteen months, we had to prepare thirteen of each this year.

Ang ku Ang ku

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1kg mung beans / green beans / split peas
  • 4 pandan leaves
  • 750g sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Preparation:

  • Soak beans overnight. Drain water. Steam for 45 minutes. Mash the beans and set aside.
  • In a wok, bring the water to the boil. Add pandan leaves and sugar. Stir over low heat until the sugar turns into a syrup. Add the mashed beans and continue stirring until the mixture is almost dry. Remove the pandan leaves. Divide the bean paste into golf-ball size spheres. Set aside.

Ingredients for pastry:

  • 600g glutinous rice flour
  • 180g sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn oil
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling hot water
  • orange colouring
  • banana leaves cut to make a base for each “cake”

You will require one of those special wooden moulds to make this.

Method:

  • Mix water, colouring and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  • In a bowl, pour rice flour. Make a well in the center and add water mixture and oil. Knead until the colour is even and the dough appears glossy.
  • Divide the dough into golf-ball size quantities.
  • Dust the wooden mould with some rice flour.
  • Wrap the bean paste with the dough and press into the dusted wooden mould. Up-end the mould and tap gently to remove the dough. Place on a piece of oiled banana leaf and brush the surface with oil. Set aside for steaming. Repeat until all the mixtures are finished.
  • Steam for 20 minutes.

Chinese New Year Food: Bee Koh – Sticky Glutinous Rice Pudding

“Bee Koh” is another item on the list for our Chinese New Year festivities. It is basically just sticky glutinous rice pudding with sugar, pandan and coconut milk.

Bee koh

Here’s how it’s made…

Ingredients:

  • 1kg glutinous rice
  • Santan from 1 coconut
  • 3-5 pandan leaves
  • 400g sugar

Method:

  • Soak glutinous rice overnight. Steam for 1 hour.
  • In a wok, add sugar with some water and stir over medium heat until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add santan and pandan leaves. Stir over medium heat.
  • Remove from heat. Add glutinous rice. Mix well.
  • Return to heat and continuously fold the rice until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
  • Remove from heat. Remove pandan leaves.
  • Scoop the rice onto a plate or into a bowl and mould the rice cakes by hand, packing them well so there are no air spaces inside.
  • Decorate the top with goji berries.

Super Smoothies: Maca and Lucuma

I first stumbled onto Maca when I saw it listed as a “booster” on “The Perfect Smoothie“. While I was looking for it at the shops, I stumbled onto Lucuma. Both have been touted as “superfoods” by various health food sites and are recommended smoothie boosters. Like the regular skeptic that I am, I had to do a little digging separate the fact from fiction…

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About Maca

Maca is a Peruvian plant that has been used for centuries in the Andes for nutrition and to enhance fertility. It is related to such plants as rapeseed, mustard, turnip, black mustard, cabbage, garden cress, and water cress. There are three types of Maca – black, red, and yellow. At the time of writing, most of the studies are quite preliminary as they have only been performed on animals. Based on these studies, the results demonstrate some differences in the beneficial properties between the different types of maca, although all types of Maca offer potential benefits for osteoporosis, libido, mood, mental focus, prostate issues, and metabolic syndrome.

…natives in the central Peruvian Andes ascribe to the use of maca in children improves school performance – Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.

The key benefit of maca that caught my interest was its effect on latent learning and memory, and its antidepressant effect. Although all three types of maca had beneficial effects on latent learning and memory, it appears that black maca has the most potent effect.

…different evidences suggest that maca, particularly black maca, improves learning and memory – Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.

Other beneficial properties of maca:

  • antioxidant – protect cells from oxidative stress and scavenges free radicals
  • decreases levels of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL), total cholesterol, and triacylglycerols
  • improves glucose tolerance and lowers glucose levels in blood
  • improves bone mass

About Lucuma

Lucuma is a subtropical fruit of the Pouteria lucuma tree – native to Peru, Chile and Equador. It contains 14 essential trace elements, including a considerable amount of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Lucuma is also a good source of antioxidants, dietary fiber, carbohydrates and vitamins (especially beta-carotene and vitamin B3) necessary for bodily functions and beneficial to the immune system.

Beneficial properties of lucuma:

Maca and Lucuma for Kids?

The biggest concern I have about any “supplement” is whether it is okay for the children to consume.

So far we’ve been quite conservative with our use of both maca and lucuma. We occasionally add 1 to 2 teaspoons in a smoothie serving for three – usually no more than a couple of times a week. I believe that the key with nutrition is not to get carried away – superfood or no. At the end of the day, the best diet is still from a wide variety of sources.

How do my boys tolerate maca and lucuma? So far so good…

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