Thoroughly Nourished Finds: Rainy Days Edition

I had an amazing zucchini and chocolate cake to share with you today. Had. Until I went to turn it out of the pan and my perfect cake became a pile of crumbs, chocolate chips, and devastation. So, I took this as a sign from the universe that I needed to step away from the cake (and the chocolate) for a little while and share something a little different with you all. Perhaps, what I have been wrapped up with on the internet for the past few weeks. Presenting Thoroughly Nourished Finds: Rainy Days Edition. After all, the weather is getting warmer and stormier here, and our rainy days of spring are just starting.

Indulgent Rainy Day Eats:

Let’s start the list with a little chocolate, because on a rainy weekend day I want to be wrapped up on the couch with a book and something indulgent to drink. This Chocolate Iced Coffee from Kare at Kitchen Treaty fits the bill perfectly.

Rainy days are perfect for Thai food in my mind. This Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad from Tasty Kitchen Blog looks perfect, and oh that sauce….

Do you remember the Cadbury Mint Patties that came in the gold foil? I do, fondly. These Irish Mint Patties from Clean Eating are like the (almost) guilt free version – and you can make them at home!

Searching for another sweet treat? My new blog friend Lynn at Fresh April Flours shared a recipe for Cinnamon Crunch Scones last week. Now, scones are my perfect rainy day food because they remind me of my Mum. Anyone for high tea?

I know this vegan crumble is supposed to be dessert, but with all those berries, surely it could pass for breakfast too? Can’t wait to make this Raw Berry and Pear Crumble with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Where I’m Dreaming Of:

If you could choose anywhere to spend a rainy weekend, where would you go? I would choose a lighthouse, right on the edge of a cliff, with the storm howling around me and a fireplace keeping me toasty warm I would be in my own little version of heaven. These lighthouse hotels make that a possibility….

Chris and I both have Scotland on our ‘Must Travel To’ Lists and when we get there The Kelpies sculpture near Falkirk in Scotland are on my list of ‘Must See Architecture’.

Might Be Raining, But I’m Still Training

I have decided to take a break from training for races for a little while. I am still enjoying running, and getting my long runs above 6 miles again, but I just want to be able to enjoy and explore some different ways of moving at the moment. Since my surgery earlier this year I have found it really hard to get my abs firmed up again. I am thinking of trying out reformer-based Pilates to strengthen my extremely weak core. Any thoughts?

I’ve been enjoying some at-home workouts during the week to increase my strength without having to fight the crowds in the weights area at the gym. This Cardio Pilates workout from PopSugar Fitness was an amazing follow up to my run on Saturday. I was starving by the time I got to the dinner party I was going to as well – bonus!

These printed tights from Under Armour are calling my name! Perfect for running and so pretty! Saving up my pocket money for these.

Rainy Retail Therapy

These coral suede loafers are completely impractical for the rain, and I would probably end up carrying them more than wearing them to jump through puddles, but they’re so pretty. Perfect for spring farmer’s market mornings.

A little book retail therapy is always welcome on a rainy day, and these are the latest reads to catch my eye (might need to give our bank account a workout this weekend…): Dear Daughter: A Novel by Elizabeth Little; The Miniaturist: A Novel by Jessie Burton; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; and Lisette’s List by Susan Vreeland. Also, I have a Books Worth Reading board on Pinterest and I’m on Good Reads as well if you want to see what I’m reading at the moment!

Okay, dear reader, what have you found around this big ole web recently? Anyone tried out reformer Pilates before? Help!

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Four

I’m feeling a little itchy this week. It might be the spring rains that have finally started falling outside the window after a dry winter season. It might be the universe telling me that I need to change something in my life – perhaps take on a new project or focus on something that needs work at the moment. I am listening, so when I find out I will be able to nourish the part of my life that needs some attention. Despite the itchy feeling there has been plenty to be grateful for this week, and so, my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Four:

Monday: Tonight when I got home from work Chris piled me back into the car and drove me to our block of land so that we could see how the developers are doing. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that we bought a house and it all seems so surreal because we don’t move in until next year. I am grateful to have Chris to remind me that this is reality, and soon we will have our own little cottage to call home.

Tuesday: Today I knew that I just wanted to be outside with the wind in my hair and my feet thumping the ground. I had run around all day at work and all I wanted to do was run when I got home. I slipped on my shoes, selected shuffle on my Taylor Swift playlist, and headed to the bay. I felt free. I felt grateful.

sunset 19-8-14

Wednesday: Tonight I went home for a major baking session. Thank goodness I did a weights workout before starting though because there was a lot of taste-testing going on. I was grateful to be able to bake something for my Dad to take to work for the Red Cross Fundraiser he was helping with. Dad does so much for me that I was grateful to be able to do something in return. (P.S. I made these brownies and topped them with freckle lollies)

Thursday:  As I left work this afternoon the rain started falling steadily and softly. I made it to the gym for an awesome run and then Chris and I curled up in bed with ‘fancy baked beans’ for dinner while watching Anthony Bourdain explore The Philippines. Even though I had a busy night of cake decorating in front of me I was grateful for some quiet time with Chris before I started.

beetroot cupcakes

Friday: Today all my baking paid off at our RSPCA Cupcake Day Morning Tea! I didn’t manage to get any good photos of the cupcakes, but I made chocolate cakes with vanilla buttercream and decorated the tops with little paw prints made from fondant. I was grateful for the generosity of my workmates in helping me raise over $100 to help our furry friends. I was also grateful to leave work and go for a run before getting to hang out with my Mum, sister and a whole gaggle of ladies for a linen party. A girls night of oohing and aahing over brightly coloured sheets and fluffy towels was some low stress entertainment for the end of the week.

Saturday: This morning I woke up to the sound of the rain on the roof. I slept over at Mum and Dad’s so I was able to have a slow breakfast with them (and Miss Molly of course) and Dad and I did some sketches for a piece of furniture we are going to make together for the new house. I am grateful that I have such creative parents who also foster creativity in their kids. After breakfast I went for a great 11.5km run and did a 30 minute Pilates workout because I knew I was going out for dinner at Casey and Matt’s tonight and was sure of a feast! I was grateful for the delicious food Casey prepared for us and for the chance to spend time around the table with a whole bunch of my favourite people. A wonderful Saturday indeed.

Miss Molly

Sunday: Today I spent most of the day reading. Chris and I had the very definition of a lazy Sunday and it was greatly appreciated. After yesterday’s workout I just wanted to curl up in a chair, listen to the rain, and get swept away in a book. And I gave into that desire. I was grateful for the chance to lose myself inside the pages. Tonight I made Chris and I homemade ricotta gnudi (a sort of gnocchi) and I was so excited by the way they turned out. I will definitely be sharing the recipe soon. Also, I made a delicious basic green smoothie that I’ll share with you this week.

Basic Green Smoothie

Also this week:

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream (gluten free)

I fed Chris one of these cupcakes, well a bite (I’m still learning how to share), while he was still half asleep because I needed someone else to confirm the amazing combination of flavours. He concurred and promptly went back to his nap. I returned to the kitchen and ate the rest of the cupcake while watching the rainy night over the bay. I fell in love at first bite with these chocolate cupcakes, which are rendered unbelievably moist by the addition of a secret ingredient – beetroot! Yep, roasted, pulverised beetroot turns these easy chocolate cupcakes into fudgy decadent little cakes. I ate one straight out of the oven because I couldn’t resist an early taste test. Oh my.

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I love beetroots, and Nigel Slater’s Beetroot Chocolate Cake is one of my favourite ways to incorporate the ruby root vegetable into a sweet dish rather than gobbling them down roasted and topped with hummus or in this dish for a quick couch-and-bowl dinner. Adding beetroot to a chocolate dish is the secret weapon to a moist and tender crumb, and the other secret that you must know is this: always add a little coffee to a chocolate creation. You will boost the chocolate flavour with the bitterness of the coffee, but in small amounts you can’t taste the coffee itself. Look at that: two secrets in one post!

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Even if you didn’t have the time to make the frosting, these Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes would make a delicious simple treat. But, you do need to make the Golden Syrup Buttercream frosting at some point because the deep roasted sugar flavour of golden syrup buttercream pushes these cupcakes over the top from tea time treat to total dessert status. I couldn’t help but lick the frosting bowl after I was done – I think my favourite chocolate buttercream might have some stiff competition here! I know some US readers might have trouble finding golden syrup in stores, but I believe you can get it from Amazon and perhaps some specialty stores. Believe me, this buttercream is worth the trouble.

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

A few other secrets lurk in these cupcakes. I used a greater amount of brown sugar than white to increase the mud cake like texture of the cupcakes and oil rather than butter because it bumps up the moisture too. These are definitely not diet food, but they are good for the soul on a rainy night food.

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream

Gluten Free | Makes 16-18 cupcakes | Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Note: it is best if you cook the beetroot the day before. To roast beetroot: scrub well and wrap in aluminium foil. Place in oven heated to 180C (350F) and bake for 60-75 minutes or until the middle of the beetroot can be pierced easily with a knife. Allow to cool completely before using.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium beetroot, scrubbed (about 150g), roasted (see note)
  • 100 grams bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 80 grams (2/3 cup) buckwheat flour
  • 80 grams (1/2 cup) brown rice flour
  • 80 grams (3/4 cup + 1 tbs) almond meal
  • 40 grams (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

For the Golden Syrup Frosting

  • 125 grams (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 375-500 grams (3-4 cups) icing sugar (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and place cupcake papers in 18 holes of two 12-hole 1/3 cup capacity cupcake tins.
  2. Peel beetroot and shop into large pieces. Puree in a blender or food processor until you have a smooth paste. Set aside until needed.
  3. Place chocolate into a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 20 second bursts until melted. Stir between each burst. Once melted, dissolve instant coffee in chocolate and set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  5. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, caster sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, milk, and vegetable oil until smooth. Slowly whisk in pureed beetroot and melted chocolate until smooth and fully incorporated.
  6. Switch to a wooden spoon and pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  7. Spoon into prepared cases, filling them 2/3 of the way.
  8. Place trays in oven and bake for 20-22 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  10. To make the frosting: place butter in a large bowl and using a handmixer beat until pale and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until frosting is fluffy and aerated, about 3-4 minutes. Spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with your choice of tip and decorate cooled cupcakes as desired. You could also use a knife to frost cupcakes rather than a piping bag.

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roast Potato, Pea, and Vintage Cheddar Frittata

Spring is coiled tightly around Brisbane ready to come in sweetly warm on the heels of the winds that blow through this city every August. September is just around the corner and the ground is preparing itself to burst into frenetic green shooting life as the days grow longer. We were lucky this year: winter was short and mild. Hibernation was short and we all survived the darker shorter days. I am ready for the heat, the warmth, the beating of the sun down on me for longer every day. I am already anticipating the longer afternoons perfect for running, and I am amping up the floral prints that appear in my work wardrobe.

Roast Potato, Pea, and Vintage Cheddar Frittata | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

My food is also taking on a lighter note. Winter was kind to us this year and I had salads all throughout the colder months, but with the arrival of spring baby vegetables and early tomatoes from my neighbour’s gardens I am looking forward to a spring and summer full of salads as fresh and filling as this. Spring is the time for brunching too. Sitting out in the cool morning breeze after a long walk along the water with a slice of something hearty, a cup of tea and a book; or rounding up friends and family for a late morning feast that fills the tummy and the soul.

Roast Potato, Pea, and Vintage Cheddar Frittata | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This frittata is the dish you make at the end of winter to herald the spring weather. You make it from winter potatoes, fresh baby peas (well, fresh from the freezer), and sharp biting cheddar. I made this for an easy work lunch while cooking dinner one night. The herb roasted potatoes were inspired by the potatoes I made for a roast dinner last weekend. I was hoping there would be leftovers, but who actually has leftover roast potatoes from a dinner party? If you do, you can use them here. Frozen sweet baby peas are refreshed in water and added to the potatoes and the whole lot is sprinkled generously with the crumbliest, sharpest vintage cheddar you can find. I am particularly fond of cheddar, but if you prefer a milder Colby or tasty cheese these would work too.

Roast Potato, Pea, and Vintage Cheddar Frittata | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 Roast Potato, Pea, and Vintage Cheddar Frittata

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 4-6 as a light meal | Leftovers will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Ingredients

  • 3 medium washed potatoes (I used Cream Delight)
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen (or fresh) peas, if frozen defrost before using
  • 6 extra large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 50 grams sharp vintage cheddar, crumbled

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Chop potatoes into a medium dice (~2cm/1 inch square) and toss with 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil; one teaspoon each dried oregano, dried rosemary and dried thyme; and half teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Arrange potato on baking tray and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the outsides are crispy and the insides yield easily when pierced by a fork.
  3. Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature.
  4. Oil an 8-inch round baking dish (or cake tin) with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon olive oil.
  5. Toss room temperature potatoes with peas and spread in the bottom of the baking dish.
  6. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, and remaining herbs, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes and peas.
  7. Crumble cheddar over the top of the frittata.
  8. Place frittata in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the frittata is golden on top and does not wobble in the middle.
  9. Remove and serve warm, room temperature or chilled. A large green salad works well as a side.

Roast Potato, Pea, and Vintage Cheddar Frittata | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Three

Right now I am curled up in bed extra warm and cosy and nearly ready to close my eyes and start another great week of food, fitness, family, friends and books. This week has been good to me, and I have been given cause lately to look around my own life and realise just how lucky I am, and how grateful I should be, to be in such a good place in my life. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Three:

Monday: Today Chris and I woke up and realised we didn’t have to go to work! The glory of a vacation Monday is not to be underestimated. My Monday started with a chair by the window, a book in my hand, and the sun streaming down on my back. After a lazy day and a great run, Chris took me to the movies! We saw Guardians of the Galaxy, and despite my loyalty to Captain America, I have to recommend it. A delightful superhero romp. I was grateful for my holiday Monday. I think a shot of this every now and again is the best thing to counteract the everyday type Mondays.

Monday breakfast in the sun

Tuesday: Today I woke up like I had jumping beans under my skin – we were off to SeaWorld! I felt like a little kid again and I couldn’t keep still until we finally arrived at the theme park gates. Mum joined Chris and I and acted as our expert tour guide and bag holder extraordinaire (thanks Mum!). We saw the polar bears, the penguins, and the sharks; Chris discovered a new talent in feeding sting rays (seriously they were charmed by him even when he didn’t have a fish to feed them); and on the way back home we decided to stop in at MovieWorld to ride the rollercoasters. I am so grateful that in the whole wide world I found Chris who loves rollercoasters just as much as I do. We whooped and yahooed like teenagers and felt our hearts leap in our chests with every loopy-de-loop. That night we had dinner at Mum and Dad’s place before falling into our bed exhausted by an adventure-filled day. I am grateful that Chris and I had the opportunity to buy year-long theme park passes, to spend a great day out with Mum and Chris, and see Dad and Molly that night. Such a happy day.

chris and I movieworld

Wednesday: Today was our last day of holidays (shh! Don’t let me know). I went for a relaxing walk/run along the bay in the morning and then sat in the sun to read my book. I pottered around, finished another book, and did some writing before Chris and I had dinner and watched a movie. I was grateful for our midweek Sunday and that there are only two days of work before we get a weekend.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Thursday: The first day back at work after a holiday is always extra-tiring and this evening when I got home I was not in the mood for the busy, people-filled, fluoro-lit gym so I decided to do an intense workout video at home instead. I am grateful to have this chance to move my body in a different way and laugh at myself while I am working out. I look ridiculous doing plyo push-ups!

Friday: Tonight I came home after a good Friday night run to find candles lit in the house. Chris and I had a great dinner and I made chocolate fudge for tomorrow night. We stayed up late reading and watching television and just enjoying a night in while the rain fell slowly outside our window. I was grateful for a night of relaxation and candlelight dinner with my best friend.

Saturday: Today we skipped the markets because Mum wasn’t feeling well. It gave me the opportunity to sleep in late and then have a lazy breakfast before heading to the gym for a hard and sweaty run. Then Chris and I got down to preparing for the first dinner party we have hosted in Nanny’s house. Jess and Trent, and my other (work) Jess and Bruno came over for dinner. I made roast chicken and vegetables; we ate cookies, fudge, and Jess’s (sister) to-die-for peanut brittle; and drank wine while we played boardgames and laughed late into the night. I am grateful to have such wonderful people who surround me and to find new combinations of friends to share Saturday nights with.

Sharks!

Sunday: Today I didn’t wake up until nearly midday! (Why do three glasses of wine when you 27 feel so much more deadly than three glasses of wine did when you were 20?) Chris and I got stuck into cleaning up the remaining dinner dishes (grateful for all the help from Jess and Jess on the night before to clear most things away) and then I relaxed in the sun with plump ripe strawberries for breakfast before ambling down to the waterfront to meet up with Caroline for a coffee and a long chat. It was a Sunday where I didn’t do much, but I feel so relaxed and nourished after this weekend. I am grateful to have this time with not too many responsibilities and to be able to just enjoy the time with people around me.

walk to coffee

Also this week:

French Lentil and Tomato Salad

This Wednesday marked four years since I decided to become a vegetarian. My decision to give up meat and fish illustrates the way I do many things in life: I research my decision and read all the information I can get my hands on and then I just do it. Usually when I dedicate a lot of time to thinking about something I know I have already made the decision in my heart and I am just waiting for my head to catch up. This wasn’t something expected of me: I was the biggest carnivore as a kid and even as an adolescent I could out-steak my Dad. Funny, now I don’t even crave meat. Not once in the past four years have I cracked and had even one little bite of someone’s burger, taco, or chicken wing. On the morning of the 13th of August 2010 it was though a switch had flipped in my head: I was a vegetarian and it was the most natural progression in the world.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, I am not going to preach at you here and insist vegetarianism is the way for everyone. I know it’s not. There are many paths to the same wellness I derive from my plant-based diet. I still cook meat every night for Chris and nothing pleases me more than pulling out a perfectly crispy skinned roast chicken and presenting it to a table of hungry guests. I have written about why I love meat before and this still holds true. But my tastebuds don’t well up at the thought of a perfectly medium rare steak or a bowl of fresh summer prawns: I am drawn to the protein of the earth. My mouth waters when I discover a new type of legume, or some clever dish concocted from quinoa, or a gooey-centred poached egg. That’s just the way I work.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I am not a vegan either though (see aforementioned gooey egg), and I did give it a good shot for about six months a few years ago. For me a lot of veganism involves eating ‘fake foods’. I don’t want veggie sausages or “not chicken” made out of soy protein isolates and a whole host of other unknown substances requiring a chemistry degree to pronounce. I want real food, earth food, whole food. I know exactly what I am getting when I open up a tin of chickpeas or a bag of dried lentils. When I fry an egg I can see the whole process from raw ingredient to perfect meal. I crave food whose journey is short from paddock, to chopping board, to plate. I guess that’s why I became a home cook in the first place. I watched my Mum and Dad make meals from ingredients that were straight from the grocer, no packets or mysterious tins required. And now, as an adult, as a vegetarian cooking meals for her beloved omnivore, that is still what I crave: real food, earth food, thoroughly nourishing food. Happy Veggie-versary to me.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

French Lentil and Tomato Salad

Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 3-4

Adapted from Pinch of Yum‘s Sautéed Garlic and Tomato Lentil Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried Puy lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach

For the dressing

  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Place lentils, water, salt, dried thyme, and dried rosemary into a medium-size saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until cooked but still firm. Drain well, place in a large bowl, and allow to cool until required.
  2. Chop tomatoes into a large dice and mince garlic. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté garlic and tomatoes until garlic is tender and the tomatoes have started to soften. Add lentils and tomatoes to lentils.
  3. Peel and dice red onion and add to lentil and tomatoes along with spinach.
  4. To make dressing: whisk together all ingredients. Pour over salad and mix everything gently with two large salad servers or with clean hands.
  5. Serve room temperature or chilled. Lasts well in the fridge for up to two days.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Peanut Butter and Millet Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free)

I am going to come clean with you right here in the first paragraph of this post. Just so that we can clear the air and you can understand where I am coming from when I share this recipe with you and then insist multiple times that you make them as soon as humanly possible. So, here goes. I ate a whole batch of these cookies by myself in only two days. Now, don’t scroll down and do the maths about serving sizes and how many cookies that is exactly. Know only that I was possessed by some cookie smashing spirit and cannot account for my own actions. You have to make them for yourself so that you can truly understand my predicament.

Peanut Butter and Millet Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

When I came back from my run on Saturday afternoon all I could think about was peanut butter cookies and then I started thinking about the jar of maple bliss nut spread from Blessed and Lucky that was sitting in my fridge, and then I decided that I needed to make an enhanced peanut butter version of my Tahini and Peanut Butter Cookies. I wanted these cookies to be crumbly but soft and fudgy, like a peanut butter ball that had been reincarnated as a cookie. Then I added oats, crunchy little millet morsels, and milk chocolate chips because enough is just never quite enough. After you’ve eaten your first one, you will understand why I couldn’t just stop at one. It’s that salty-sweet flavour that needs chasing by even more salty-sweet in a never-ending cycle of cookie crumbs.

Peanut Butter and Millet Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I could tell that I was onto something big because I couldn’t get enough of the batter. I may have eaten a cookie straight off the baking sheet before it made it into the oven, maybe (cough, cough). And they aren’t just divine eaten raw. When you bite into a baked cookie you are rewarded with creamy super peanut butter taste (enhanced by the brown sugar and salt in the dough), and then little pops of millet and chewy quick oats. You also slightly under-bake these cookies so that they retain their cookie dough benefits after they are cooked.

Peanut Butter and Millet Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I wish there had been someone in my kitchen to share these with. Chris was snoozing while I was baking them, and after he woke up and laughed at me for taking fifty photos of my cookies I was not sharing with him! These are the perfect cookie to make with kids, and you can feel better about this sweet treat because there isn’t any butter in here. They are perfect to make with intolerant or allergic kids too because they are completely gluten free. No one has to miss out.

Now, do you understand why I ate the whole batch by myself?

Peanut Butter and Millet Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten Free | Makes 14-15 cookies

Note: I used a maple infused peanut butter to make my cookies, but if you cannot find this just use plain peanut butter instead – they will be just as delicious. You can also use plain flour in place of the rice flours, just substitute 145 grams (about 1 cup) of plain flour for the rice flours.

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy as you please)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 70 grams white rice flour
  • 75 grams brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup gluten free quick oats
  • 1/3 cup millet uncooked
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl beat egg, brown sugar, peanut butter, olive oil, and vanilla essence until creamy and well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together white rice flour, brown rice flour, baking powder and salt. Add this mixture to the egg mix. Beat until well combined.
  4. Add oats, millet and chocolate chips to the dough and mix until incorporated. This will be a very stiff dough so you might have to use some muscles!
  5. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Push down slightly to flatten cookie. Leave some room for spreading.
  6. Place sheets in oven and bake for 15 minutes, swapping trays halfway through baking. Do not overcook.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Peanut Butter and Millet Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Two

I know this is late, but I have been on holidays, even if the last few days have been more of a staycation than a vacation they still count because I slept in everyday and went for long walks by the water and ate way too many cookies (come back later this week and you will understand why they disappeared so quickly). Chris and I have been enjoying the break and catching up on films, books, and having big talks about all the important things in life. There has been a lot to be grateful for this week (and a bit), so here is the Thoroughly Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Two:

Monday: Today I started a great new book and I simply could not put it down. I was grateful for the recommendation by my friend Jess and the perfect escape during lunch. Greek salad + Russian love story = happy lunchtime.

Monday lunch

Tuesday: Today my workplace decided that we are going to participate in the RSPCA Cupcake Day! This day is a wonderful way to support a charity close to my heart and the hearts of all the pet owners I work with. I am grateful to work with so many generous people.

Wednesday: Tonight after work Chris and I left for our trip to the coast! Although the traffic wasn’t the best and there was a weird lady who told us to pull over because our tyre was ‘about to blow!’ (her words, which turned out to be a bunch of hooey but a funny story nonetheless) we eventually made it safely to the Sunshine Coast. We had dinner, saw a movie, and then fell asleep to the sound of waves. I was so grateful to see Brisbane disappearing in our rear view mirror and to get away from our routine for a few days. Tonight Chris and I also had some big talks about things, and it was good to start off our holiday by getting a few things off our chests and out into the open. I love this man.

Mooloolaba 2

Thursday: Today I slept in and then ambled out of bed for a nice long walk along the coast road. I watched the sea smash against the rocks, the surfers ride the waves, and people sun baking in the midwinter sun that felt more like summer to me. When I got home Chris and I treated ourselves to brunch by the water: sushi for me and fresh fish and chips for him. Afterwards we took a long walk along the beach and I made my first ice cream stop of the holiday. Oh.so.good. After our time in the sun an afternoon nap was in order and then we treated ourselves to a dinner out. We tried a (new to us) Italian place on the boulevard and it was perfection. The gluten free pasta was divine and our antipasto platter was overflowing with all the good stuff. We highly recommend Augello’s if you are headed to Mooloolaba any time soon. Over olives and pasta and a massive meat lover’s pizza for Chris we talked about travel and wrote down our dream itinerary for the next few years. It might be a little ambitious but if your dreams aren’t big enough to scare you they need some attention don’t they? I am grateful that Chris and I are finally thinking about setting sail for some distant lands and having some adventures. I am also grateful that today Chris took the reigns and decided our activities for the day. It was nice to relax and let him lead the way. I’m not very good at doing that and I definitely need to practice it more.

ice cream mooloolaba

 

Mooloolaba 1

Friday: This morning called for another long walk by the sea and more deep thoughts while I looked at the waves. The wide blue sky makes my heart feel wide open and my desires and dreams are exposed to me. When I got back to the house Chris and I headed out for another walk, this time around the lighthouse. We stood at the edge of the cliffs and then made our way to brunch followed by more ice cream before we headed home. I was grateful for our quick getaway and the quick de-stress it provided. (also, please ignore the hair below the wind was crazy)

Chris and I Mooloolaba

 

Saturday: This morning I woke up early and met Mum and Jess at the markets for breakfast. I am grateful for our weekly ritual and having my Mum and my sister as two of my best friends and closest confidantes. Chris and I headed out this evening to attend his cousin’s 21st birthday celebrations and I was grateful to catch up with Chris’s family and eat some wonderful food made by his Aunty Grace.

Sunday: Today was the ultimate lazy day. I ate cookies and finished reading my book in the warm sunshine streaming through the sunroom windows. Later in the day I went for a long walk to counteract the cookies (balance, people, balance) and then Chris and I lay in bed and watched movies all night long. I am grateful for the chance for a truly lazy day.

Sunday breakfast

Also this week:

Well, Chris and I still have two days of holiday left to enjoy and I am off to enjoy some new TV series that Chris and I are trying out (still trying to find our ‘end of winter binge show’) with a crunchy Sundowner apple I picked up from the markets on Saturday.

Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week?

On My Shelf – Reading Appetite Regained

I am always reading something. I have always been that way. Ever since I was privy to the magic of letters transfigured into words, sound, meaning and understanding I have been a lover of books and reading. Sometimes, however, I stray from the path of literature and I voraciously consume other content: magazines, blogs, photographs. Lately I have regained my appetite for literature and I have been eating up book after book. Here are my latest reads and my thoughts on each. If you have read any of these, let me know what you thought in the comments below, or tell me what you are reading lately.

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital 

Sheri Fink (Crown, 2013)

five days at memorial

 

This book follows the journey of the staff and patients at New Orlean’s Memorial Hospital as Hurricane Katrina rages and the flood waters rise. So many things went wrong with disaster management and after the storm clears questions arise about decisions made by the hospital staff. While the content is sad, I enjoyed Fink’s writing style and the amount of detail she weaves into her story. She has certainly done her research, and while we will never know the whole truth this book is an interesting look at what happens to humanity when life hangs in the balance. The whole end section of this book is full of references if you wish to continue your reading about the events surrounding the hospital and investigation.

 

Quiet: The Power of Introverts 

Susan Cain (Broadway Books, 2013)

quiet

This book explained so many aspects of my own personality to me! I have always felt like an introvert, but then I have no problem sharing my innermost thoughts with the right people. Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet’ illuminated the spectrum of introversion and extroversion and the traits that may be present in both. Now I understand why I hunger for ‘real conversation’ and need time alone to recharge. I highly recommend this book if you want to gain insight into your own personality, and also relationships with those around you who may be similar, or lie on the opposite end of the spectrum.

 

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow

Peter Hoeg (translated, 1995, Delta)

smilla

 

I cannot decide whether I enjoyed or endured this story. It took me forever to finally reach the end and I was left with the feeling that I hadn’t quite understood the larger themes Hoeg was trying to convey through the story of the strange Smilla. Some of his descriptive devices are enjoyable, but overall I felt like I was viewing the deeper meaning through a snowstorm.

 

The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath (1963, reprinted by Faber & Faber)

the bell jar

I loved this book. I have written before about episodes of mild depression that I have experienced in the past, and the descriptions offered by Esther about the feeling of being inside a bell jar while life continues its hustle and bustle around spoke to my experiences precisely. More than that this story is about coming of age as a woman in a time where there are so many options open for you to pursue, and the pressure to choose your life path so early in life. I would highly recommend this to senior high school students or university students and anyone who is standing at the crossroads trapped in their own bell jar.

 

March

Geraldine Brooks (2006, Penguin)

march

 

Little Women‘ was one of my favourite books as a child and young adult, and Geraldine Brooks is my favourite author, so I cannot believe that it took me so long to finally pick up this volume. Rarely do I sit still for long stretches of time, but I finished this book over a weekend in large greedy gobbles. Against a backdrop of the American Civil War, March is a story about love, honour, family and the scars that our past choices leave on our conscious. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I don’t have to, the folks at the Pulitzer Prizes awarded it winner status in 2006.

 

The Language of Flowers

Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011, Ballantine Books)

language of flowers

I struggled with the main character Victoria throughout this entire book; however, I think this may have been the author’s intention so that you could feel the inner conflict that haunts Victoria until nearly the end. As a flower lover (as you have probably garnered if you follow me on Instagram) I found the information about floral meanings interesting and the way Victoria uses flowers and bouquets to express the feelings she cannot speak aloud. This book swept me into its story and I didn’t want it to end. I do hope that Diffenbaugh continues to write because I really enjoyed her style.

That’s all folks! Right now I am deeply involved in ‘The Bronze Horseman‘, which was recommended to me by my friend Jess. I’m blaming her for the circles under my eyes because I cannot put this book down.

Tell me dear readers, what are you reading at the moment? Any opinions on the books I have been reading recently? Also, you can now find me on Good Reads if you’d like.

Happy reading.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf (gluten free)

Chris and I are going away later this week. We are not travelling far, nor for very long, but we are taking a break and getting out of town. We need some time away from our respective offices, ringing phones, and schedules. Some time just to walk on the beach, lie about with a book, and snooze in the midday sunshine. We are lucky enough to be able to go up to the Sunshine Coast and spend a few days there in a midwinter recharge before we come back and finish off our holidays with a few days of stay-cation.

Usually when I have a few days of holiday I set myself lofty goals to achieve, and I end up stressing myself out when I don’t achieve them all. This time I am setting myself only one goal: take each day as it comes and treat each one as a gift. I am going for low stress, high relaxation reward and maximum time in the winter sunshine.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I baked this loaf last Friday night while I was home alone rattling around in the kitchen listening to podcasts. Jess and I enjoyed thick slices with our warm beverages on Saturday morning at the markets and the rest of the loaf is tightly wrapped and waiting in the freezer for slow, lazy holiday breakfasts where I have time to linger with a book and a whole pot of tea to myself. I might even pack a slice or two to nibble when I get back from a morning beach walk. It feels like a holiday bread: coconut and fruit always remind me of waving palm trees and cool waves lapping against the sand.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The coconut in this cake is subtle but layered. Coconut milk, coconut essence, coconut flour, and toasted shredded coconut are all featured and the creamy sweetness is paired with slightly tart raspberries in a breakfast bread that is not too sweet. The crumb is fluffy from the presence of the coconut milk and coconut flour, the top of the bread is browned and sweet like all good crusts should be. Each bite is filled with strands of toasted coconut that lend a little crunch. It pairs perfectly with a cappuccino, or a pot of Irish breakfast tea. This is a quickly made quick bread too. I whisked the ingredients together in about 15 minutes and the largest amount of time was taken up by the baking, which the oven took care of while I put my feet up and started a new book.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

A few notes before baking: this loaf is gluten free, so that everyone in my house (especially me) can enjoy a slice. If you do not require it to be gluten free you can always use 280 grams (about two cups) of plain flour in place of the brown rice flour, white rice flour, and almond meal. I would not suggest replacing the coconut flour as it is important to the texture and flour of the loaf. Coconut flour is becoming easier to find now too. You can buy it from health food stores, and recently I discovered two different brands in my local supermarket. If you are using frozen raspberries do not thaw them before adding them to the mixture. When thawed they are very fragile and break up easily, which will discolour your batter. You can buy pre-toasted coconut strands in the supermarket, but I save my money and toast my own. Simply spread out onto a cookie sheet and toast in the oven as it preheats. Shake every minute or two to ensure the coconut colours evenly. Toast until most strands are changed from white to a light tan. Remove from oven and allow to cool until required. Now, I think you’re ready to get into the baking!

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf

Gluten Free | Makes 8-10 slices | Will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days | Freeze well-wrapped for up to two months

Ingredients

  • 100 grams brown rice flour + 1 tablespoon extra
  • 80 grams white rice flour
  • 100 grams almond meal
  • 60 grams coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (not coconut cream)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2/3 cup toasted shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries fresh or frozen (not thawed)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Butter and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin. Set aside until required.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together brown rice flour, white rice flour, almond meal, coconut flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Reserve 1 tablespoon of coconut to top the bread and whisk the remainder through the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate medium mixing bowl whisk together milk, coconut milk, eggs, caster sugar, rice bran oil, vanilla essence, and coconut essence. Whisk until well combined.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. In a small bowl combine raspberries and extra tablespoon of brown rice flour. Shake until all berries are covered. This will stop them from sinking in the batter.
  7. Gently stir berries into batter. Take care not to break them up too much.
  8. Pour batter into prepared tin and smooth top slightly. Sprinkle reserved coconut across top.
  9. Place in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Remove loaf from oven and allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool on a rack before slicing.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life