Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Resolutions

Every year I say I'm going to make a New Years resolution and stick to it. Every year, without fail, I fail. Usually before Valentines day. I get a summer cold, or something else comes up and there goes my resolve. This time, I'm hoping it is different. My approach is different and hopefully my outcome will be different too. In the past, I have made all-sweeping statements such as "I'm going to exercise more" or "I want to lose weight". This time, I'm am making a plan. I want to lose some weight, which is nothing new, but how I am going to go about it is new. I have a plan and I am making myself accountable. I also have 2 beautiful little people as motivation. My daughters deserve a healthy and energetic mum to play with them, run around and jump and go swimming and bike riding with them. My plan is multifaceted. I will be exercising more - swimming at least once a week and doing wiifit for at least 10 minutes every evening at least 4 days a week, smaller portion sizes with meals, not buying chips, biscuits, chocolate, lollies when I go shopping, not shopping when I'm hungry, having little, achievable goals and drinking more water. If I feel hungry, the first thing I do is drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. Why? I have realised that a lot of the time when I think I feel hungry, I'm actually just thirsty. My silly brain confuses my body. I have started my Resolution a few days early, just to give myself a kick on. I figure, with my multipronged approach is going to make me less likely to fail. If I have a naughty day, food wise, I still have my exercise. If I don't feel up to exercising one day, I will be sure to eat well. I won't let little problems turn into complete failure. I will get down to my pre-pregnancy weight. I would really like to be down to the weight I was in my last year of highschool, but that is a long way off. Little steps.
Here we go!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oat Lactation Cookies

Adapted from original recipe by Noel Trujillo on www.food.com
This recipe is not only delicious, but useful. The oats, linseed and brewers yeast are galactogogues - substances than increases breast milk production. Oats need to be real rolled oats – not the instant kind. Linseed is also known as flaxseed. Brewers yeast is also known as “nutritional yeast”. You can use as little as 2 tablespoons or up to 4 tablespoons full of yeast – the more yeast, greater the effect on your milk production, but it also is rather strongly flavoured. When I first made this recipe, I started with just 2 tablespoons of yeast. I quite liked the yeasty flavour so the next batch I made I put the full 4 tablespoons of yeast. Both the linseed and yeast can be found at most health food stores.

Ingredients:
· 1 cup (about 125g) butter
· 3/4 cup caster sugar
· 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
· 4 tablespoons water
· 2 tablespoons ground linseed
· 2 eggs, lightly beaten
· ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
· 2 cups plain flour
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 3 cups rolled oats
· 2-4 tablespoons brewer's yeast

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix the linseed and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Beat butter, sugars well.
  4. Add eggs and mix well.
  5. Add linseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
  6. Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
  8. Stir in oats
  9. Roll into balls and squash into circles onto baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown and firm around the edges
  11. Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray
It is recommended that you eat one of these cookies a day to boost and maintain breastmilk supply. I found them a really convenient snack to munch on while feeding my baby girl. They are relatively easy to throw together and won't take too much time away from your new bub. Something I have been doing is baking these as a gift to bring when visiting a mum with a new baby. They have always been well received. They were also very popular at ABA meetings.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Revelation

I have come to a revelation. I am not a housewife. While my kids still live at home I will never be a housewife. Why, you may ask? Because I am a mother. A stay-at-home mum, to be precise. My kids come first. Always. The house can fall down around me, the laundry can pile sky high and the dishwasher can never get emptied. As long as my kids are happy, healthy and cared for, the rest is completely irrelevant.
Now, if you will excused me. I have to go. AJ just woke from her nap and sounds hungry.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spiced Banana Bar

This is one of my favourite cakes. It is really basic to throw together, has a great banana flavour, is incredibly moist, is really forgiving and takes well to variations. It also uses ingredients that most people have in their pantry so you don't need to make a trip to the shop before you make it. This makes it great for those unexpected visitors.


INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cup SR Flour
2/3 cup Castor sugar
60g butter
2 very ripe bananas, mashed well
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon spice - I use mostly ground cinnamon and a little nutmeg, but a little ground ginger is nice and so is all-spice, if you have it.


METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a loaf or bar tin with a little oil, melted butter or oil spray.
2. Using electric beaters, beat butter and sugar until creamy.
3. Add banana and vanilla and beat to combine.
4. Add egg gradually, while beating.
5. Fold in sifted flour, spices and milk. Stir until just combined.
6. Pour mixture into baking tin and bake for 45min or until a skewer comes out clean.
7. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.


So good. The last few times I have made this recipe, I haven't had real block butter, so I've just used 3 tablespoons of Western star spreadable butter and it worked just fine. I've also used a variety of sweet spices with great success.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mass-produced Vs Home made

Today, I wanted to discuss with you the pros and cons of using mass-produced, premade, shop-purchased food products, as opposed to making everything from scratch. Personally, from a soley taste perspective, you really can't beat home made for most things. Pasta sauces from jars are ok. They will suffice if you are really stuck for something to eat. Same with frozen pizzas, store-bought chicken schnitzel, oven fries etc. They'll do. They are quick, easy and convienient and are usually not completely terrible-tasting. However, if you have the time and energy (or a little bit of forward thinking), home made will blow commecial products like these out of the water, in the taste department.
I have found that the closer to the end-product a mass-produced food is, the more likely it is going to taste bland or overly seasoned (read: salty) or like plastic. Complete frozen meals, such as a pasta and sauce meal, are usually not that great - you can occasionally find some that are ok, but these are few and far between. With jars of pasta sauce, for example, you are more likely to find a sauce that tastes decent. You can boil your own pasta, and add some extra herbs and spices to elevate the taste a bit. Home made, using premade tomato paste, canned tomatoes, minced garlic from a jar and dried herbs from a packet will make a very delicious sauce. Serve it over some cooked dried pasta and it should be great. There is no reason for this meal not to be amazing, even. However, if you can get some really good fresh ripe tomatoes in season, fresh herbs, fresh garlic the resulting sauce will be stellar! Fresh, well-made pasta with really good eggs, the great sauce and fresh parmesan cheese on top. Oh My!! You will think you've died and gone to heaven. There will be a celebration in your mouth and you will leave the dinner table with a quiet smile and an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction.
So why not have this amazing fresh food experience with every meal? Why? The answer is easy - this last option is just not practical for most people most of the time. Tomatoes are not great all year round and it is time consuming to prepare them - skin removal, and preservation, turning them into passata etc. Fresh herbs are relatively easy to grow, but if you never get time outside to plant those herbs, the fresh grown option from the market is often very expensive. Dried herbs are easy to store, last a decent while (though the quality will deteriorate with time) and are fairly inexpensive in a "bang for your buck" stand point. Garlic is great fresh, and when you need roasted garlic, slices or crispy strips of garlic for a dominant part of a dish (garlic prawns comes to mind) fresh is the only way to go, but if it is just going to be a flavour booster as part of a complex flavoured dish, minced in a jar is so easy, you are better able to get the quantities required (you've all seen the massive variation in size between individual garlic cloves) and you don't end up with sticky, smelly hands for about a week after the preparation. The happy medium option is the one I recommend to you - use some preprepared ingredients like canned tomatoes, but make the overall sauce all yourself. Pasta sauce freezes so well, and it is also relatively easy to preserve you own sauces in jars for later use (Post on canning/bottling sauces and jams to come in the next little while). When making sauce, make LOTS! It only takes a small amount of extra time, to dice 1 or 2 extra onions, and to peel an extra roasted capsicum. See my post on Making Extra. Make a bucket load of sauce, use it for your intended meal, and freeze the rest in appropriate portions. Then, next time you feel like pasta but are short on time or energy, you don't have to reach for a commercial, mass-produced, overpriced product - get your own beautiful sauce where you have controlled the salt content, not added ingredients that you don't care for and you know EXACTLY what has gone into it. Not only will the meal taste better, but there is also a bit of a sense of satisfaction at the end. You can say "I made this and it tastes good" and it doesn't matter than you didn't make it that day - you put in the extra effort and trust me, it will be worth it.