Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake

I wish I could invite you over for coffee and cake. Just like last time I had a good, weighty, spiced cake to share over a cup of tea, there is much to talk about. Not big exciting things or changes in my life, but ideas and thoughts beyond my own sphere of experience. The mind knows no bounds and out there are ideas for us to capture, absorb, understand, and discuss. Ideas like – how would you live, how would you choose to live, in the shadow of an unpredicted, unexpected stroke that might reoccur at any moment, or, never again? Geoff Dyer provides insight. Lighter, happier ideas like wishing that this was my new kitchen, just look at those gleaming benches and that magnetic blackboard wall!

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

We would pour cups of freshly percolated coffee and I would serve you thick slices of this moist gingery cake with an angel dust coating of icing sugar, and over mouthfuls of soft sweet apple and roasted almonds we would talk about the intricacies of the creative brain or how neither of us can believe it took me so long to read this book.

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

At our worn wooden table we would share the thoughts that have made us smile, what has kept us up into the wee hours of the morning. What has made us grateful to be here, and all the future plans that we are looking forward to bringing into reality (hint: suitcases are hopefully involved!). One slice is not enough to enjoy the heady ginger scent and the richness of brown sugar, nor is it enough to talk about all that occupies our hearts and minds. Oh, won’t you knock on the door and come over for a coffee and a chat?

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake

Serves 10-12. Makes one 8-inch bundt cake

Note: if self-raising flour is unavailable use 2 1/2 cups plain flour and 1 tablespoon baking powder. To toast nuts: measure 1/2 a cup, spread over a tray and place in an oven heated to 180C (350F) and roast in oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then chop.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups self raising flour (see note)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 100 grams butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup Greek/natural yoghurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped (see note)
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease an 8-inch bundt tin very well. Set aside until required.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt.
  3. In a medium size bowl whisk together melted and cooled butter, golden syrup, milk, yoghurt, eggs, and vanilla essence.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just mixed.
  5. Add almonds and apples and stir to distribute. Pour batter into prepared tin and smooth top.
  6. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in tin for 15 minutes. Then turn out onto a plate and allow to cool completely.
  8. When cake is cool mix together icing sugar and cornflour and sift over cake.
  9. Serve with whipped cream or by itself.

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty

This week I have been rather absent from the internet, and I have only posted one recipe her for you to enjoy. I have been out and thinking dear readers, I have been gobbling up books and articles and trying to feed my hungry mind and to fuel me to write more. Sometimes I find that I need to rest my writing muscles and feed my brain so that it can produce big thoughts about the matters that fall beyond my own little circle. But, I am back and I am ready to talk, let’s start with my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty:

Monday: Today I started my week with a run. I love the feeling that I am choosing to get my fitness goals for the week under way first thing on a Monday morning and I am grateful that I could come straight home in the afternoon and spend some quality time with Chris making him something special for dinner.

Tuesday: Today I took a chance to read my book during lunch time. I got swept up in the small but dense with thoughts volume ‘The Bell Jar’ after it was recommended to me by a friend. It certainly is worth a read, but be prepared for some deep thinking. I was grateful to escape between the pages for a little while during the work day.

plath and lunch

Wednesday: Tonight I tried a new workout. I am trying to shake up my routine a little and I was grateful for the chance to jump around and do push-ups and laugh at my attempts to do a roll-up from lying down. It’s so important to diversify the ways we move our bodies, not only for cross-training purposes, but to realise the areas in which we still have room to grow.

sky

Thursday: Tonight Chris and I watched a documentary together. We may not always agree on the topics we talk about, but we sure do have some interesting conversations! I am grateful for a man who keeps my brain happy as well as my heart.

Friday: This morning I woke up feeling off. I had gone to bed with a headache and woke up to find that it had not disappeared in my dreams. I took the opportunity to have a day off and just treat myself well. I lay about on the couch and read for a while, took myself out under the blue sky for a walk and then curled up on the couch with another book. I was grateful for the break and the chance to nourish my soul with a feast of words. Later in the afternoon I went to sleep over at Mum and Dad’s place. I love that my parents are my friends as well. Mum made delicious pumpkin soup that I ate way too much of, Dad shared with me plans for a house he is working on and the great work that he has done in the backyard, and Molly followed me around and gave me lots of furry love.

molly

Saturday: This morning Jess, Mum, and I bundled up against the chill and went to the farmer’s market. We had a great time wandering around and I found some edible treasures to play with this week. I was grateful for our ritual start to the weekend. Then I went for a long run, had a delicious nap, and in the evening Chris and I indulged in a movie and dinner. (I had popcorn and a hot chocolate again…). It was a day packed full of things to make me smile.

Sunday: Today I had a date with my friend Jenny for a walk and coffee. We walked, and caught up about lots of deep, soul-searching, life things. I am grateful to still have my ‘work mum’ in my life and to have such a beautiful spirit as my friend. Thanks for the walk Jenny, I can’t wait to catch up again. This afternoon I am putting my feet up with a new book and simmering a pot of soup on the stove for a relaxing start to the new week.

lunch

Also this week:

Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week? Anyone else have a hungry mind? What books are you reading at the moment?

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble

Big, sad, heavy things have been happening in the world this week. Big, sad, heavy things that drive home the fact that we need to cherish those around us and be grateful for everyday, whatever its slight annoyances. I think my instinct when I see the headlines is to turn inside, to pull those I love closer to me and check that they are okay, really okay. I want to gather my loved ones in and spoon some comfort into their souls, to make the chilly winter days a little warmer, and to lock away the bad news and feelings that can overwhelm us. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones so unexpectedly and tragically.

When I go looking for comfort in my kitchen the first recipes I turn to are those that my Mum makes. The best things that come out of her kitchen are the rib-sticking, belly-filling cold weather dishes: osso bucco; beef stroganoff; bouffe (a traditional Danish dish of meat and gravy); roasts; and pumpkin soup. When your bowl has been scraped clean and the last crumbs of bread or homemade scones litter the tablecloth a euphoric glow spreads from your fully tummy and reassures you that though dark clouds gather and bad things happen, there is love to be found.

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble 1

I was in need of a little comfort this week. A pumpkin stared at me from our kitchen table and the thought of Mum’s soup drifted through my mind. However, not being in possession of an immersion blender nor the patience to wait for the soup to cool down so that I could use the normal blender, I sought to embody the comfort of Mum’s soup in solid form. This was a good idea. Meet the Savoury Pumpkin Crumble. It’s a good thing.

I chose a small Japanese Pumpkin for my savoury crumble. With it’s green and yellow mottled skin it was a beautiful autumnal decoration on our kitchen table for a week before I sliced most of it up, roasted it to coax out the natural sugars and reduce the flesh to buttery soft pieces. The pumpkin was joined by some sweated onions and garlic and then the whole baking dish was showered with thick chunks of herb and oat laced crumble. You could use a butternut pumpkin (squash) instead if you’d like, or any other sweet, firm fleshed pumpkin. My crumble is thicker, more scone like than a traditional sweet crumble, and I wanted bigger pieces to evoke the dumplings my Mum floats on top of her beef casserole sometimes. The crumble is also gluten free, if you do not require the dish to be gluten free you can replace the three flours with 95 grams of plain flour instead. A late addition to my leftovers was a decent amount of grated aged cheddar. Take my advice: do it.

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble 2

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 750 gram (approximately) piece of pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 30 grams white rice flour
  • 30 grams brown rice flour
  • 35 grams buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 20 grams butter
  • 1/4 cup gluten free quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4-1/3 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Place butter in freezer.
  2. Peel pumpkin and chop into chunks approximately 2.5cm (1 inch) cubed. Place on prepared baking tray and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until softened all the way through.
  3. While pumpkin is cooking chop onion into thick slices and finely dice garlic.
  4. Heat olive oil in a small frying pan and cook onion and garlic until onion becomes translucent.
  5. Place roasted pumpkin and cooked onion mixture into an 8-inch round ovenproof dish. Mix everything gently so that the onions are distributed through the pumpkin chunks.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together white rice flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder and salt.
  7. Remove butter from freezer and grate over the flour mixture. Use a fork to mix through gently. Gently mix in dried herbs.
  8. Add 1/4 cup of milk and stir until the dough starts to come together. If the mixture appears too dry and there is a large amount of dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl then stir in the additional milk.
  9. Break the dough into variously-sized chunks and drop over the roasted vegetable mixture.
  10. Place dish into oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the dough is golden on top.
  11. Remove, spoon into bowls and devour with your loved ones.

Savoury Pumpkin Crumble 3

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Twenty-Nine

We are in the thick of winter in Brisbane dear reader. Right now I am curled up in bed under a quilt listening to a podcast about female Antarctic explorers reflecting on the week that was and scheming about what sort of treats to bake up over the next week. Apples will be involved (this will become clearer when you read about my week). Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Twenty-Nine:

Monday: Over the weekend my work friend Jess and her husband Bruno went to Stanthorpe. While they were there they bought a whole box of apples straight off the farm and Jess brought a whole bag to work for me! She knows that they are my favourite fruit, and these apples happened to be my favourite variety (Sundowner). I am so grateful to Jess for thinking of me and making me smile with her sweet gift.

rest day

Tuesday: Today I sent some doughnuts to my Dad (Chris is a great delivery man). I was grateful to be able to surprise him with a little sweet treat after all the help he gave me over the weekend with my car (I even got a care package with car wash, chamois, bucket, and tyre shine – yep, best Dad award – boom!). Thanks Dad.

Wednesday: Tonight I went for an awesome run, made dinner and a recipe for the blog, and even managed to relax with Chris while watching a film before bed. I am grateful for nights like these, which make the days pass quickly and the time away from work so special.

another beetroot bowl

Thursday: The day started with another awesome apple gift from Jess (thanks Jess!) and proceeded to be very sweet indeed. I was grateful to have email chats with my sister in between spreadsheets, and talk to Dad about how much he like the doughnuts (he coined a new word – donutagus – so that’s a good sign). I am grateful for how connected I am to my family even when we can’t see each other every day.

Friday: Today I started the morning with a great run and at lunch time my friend Jess and I headed out to lunch. I am grateful for our Friday ritual and I look forward to it every week. Tonight Chris and I headed to his family’s house for dinner after work. Although the drive was long (about two hours) I was grateful for the time alone with Chris at the end of the week, and of course grateful to see his family when we finally arrived! Although it was cold outside, we sat around the table in the warm house and laughed and chatted all night long before tucking ourselves into bed for a great sleep while the wind howled outside. (Also, I brought a batch of these brownies with us.)

brownies

Saturday: This morning we slept in. How nourishing is the occasional Saturday morning where you don’t get out of bed until 9am? I rarely have the chance to just luxuriate in the warm sheets and wake up slowly chatting to Chris about all sorts of things so I was grateful for our slow introduction into the day. We had a long drive back, but thanks to snacks from Chris’s Mum’s mandarin tree (and avocado tree too!), and the fact that both of us are chatterboxes, we had a great drive back and then I holed up with ‘Born on the Fourth of July‘ (so many feelings) while Chris went and played in a poker tournament.

Sunday: This morning started off like every Sunday – an exercise session! I walked along the waterfront for 12.5km and when I got home I basked in the sun and read my book before Chris and I went to a birthday party for a dear friend of ours. I was grateful to sit out on the pavement of a nice cafe with Mum, Dad, and Chris and catch up while celebrating my (almost) big sister Donna. A very nourishing end to the week.

Sunday walk 20_7

Also this week:

Fear Of Missing Out

I am sure by now that you have all heard about the (possibly) social media fuelled phenomenon that is FOMO, that is, Fear Of Missing Out. In these days of constant connection and instant uploads the lives of others are accessible to us and only one click away. The downside of being able to see photos of Greek beaches, the New York City skyline, or rugged backstreets of Turkey is that we call into question our own lives. Suddenly the lustre of happiness and satisfaction with our little two bedroom house with undercover parking and excellent commuting possibilities dulls. Don’t even get me started on Facebook…

It’s the comparison game my dears, and humans are well versed in it. My theory is this: human brains are excellent at recognising patterns and when we see deviation from the pattern we are attracted to more intense study of the aberration. We start to compare the gap between the deviation and our own rhythm and conclude that our pattern is lacking, lacklustre.

Fear Of Missing Out has launched a flotilla of articles (this one and this one are very informative) and called us to question the ways we use technology to communicate with our ‘friends’ and update them on how our lives are going at the moment: the ethics of this new landscape and virtual community centre are currently written in chalk, there is no grand tradition or best practice to be relied upon here.

For example, are we always honest in our posts on various social media sites? Are we showing people the 9-5 of our lives, or just the highlights reel? I’ll be honest, I don’t show the majority of my life on any social media site. My days are spent in a grey cubicle, in an office, an hour’s commute from my home. Not something Pin-worthy or Instagram-able. I still do laundry, clean the bathroom, and spend a ridiculous amount of time comparing products at the supermarket before emerging empty handed. Again, not something I am going to write on my ‘Wall’. I want to share with you the delicious, the comical, the inspiring, and the special. We all know what every day looks like. We all have our own versions of it. Even those people who fill up our ‘feeds’ with palm trees and white sand and impossibly tiny bikinis aren’t always on vacation. If they are good on them. Perhaps they have FOMO on laundry…then again, maybe not.

The next time you feel FOMO falling down around you like a glittery jealousy blanket take a deep breath, put down your phone. Go outside and look at the sky, your own patch of sky. Play with your dog, run your fingers through its fur, and see the goofy tongue grin on her face. No matter how high definition your camera is you can’t capture that kind of love. Somewhere out there is someone who would love to live your 9-5 existence, or in your not-always-spotless home, or have your loving partner.

The only thing we should fear missing out on is our own lives. Sure, they might not always be glamorous, or fun, or interesting, but they belong to you and no-one else.

Don’t fear missing out on the beautiful things, they are right there at your fingertips if only you are wise enough to recognise them.

That is why I started my Gratitude List. Because the thing I fear missing out on the most is the gifts I have already been given.

love

Come back tomorrow for the Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Twenty-Nine. Until then, do you have FOMO? How do you resist the urge to compare?

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad

Let me take you inside one of my favourite day dreams…

It’s lunchtime, or maybe just before, and your tummy has just started to rumble a little. You are walking down a suburban city street. Tall trees line the wide footpath and flowers blossom in window boxes; bright splashes of red and yellow against the brickwork. Further down the street you happen upon tables set out on the footpath, and a bell tingles as the shiny glass and wood door opens and a waitress steps out with a tray filled with bowls of fresh salads. She delivers them with a smile and then holds the door open to admit you.

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

As you step over the threshold you are welcomed into a small but substantial café. Tables are intermingled with bookshelves, which are stacked to the brim with used books ready to be read by patrons as they nibble their lunch or coffee time treats.

Here I am, standing behind our long wooden counter. A curved glass window over part of the counter displays our selections for the day: hearty salads filled with grains and beans and delicious things; fresh baked sweet treats small and large; seasonal fruits and locally made dairy delights. You order, we exchange smiles, and then you are free to choose a table, await your lunch, and wile away some time with a book, or simply watching the crowds drift by.

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Thank you for indulging me, dear reader.

In one of my day dreams I have the best healthy lunch spot in town with dishes to nourish body and soul. We serve cake, and salad. And applaud both choices. In my dreams, I bet this Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad would be on high rotation in the winter months. The natural sweetness of cauliflower is coaxed forth by time in the oven, and rendered crispy by a high temperature. Tiny grains of millet swell when boiled with herbs and spices. The whole lot comes together with the fresh grassiness of parsley, tiny jewels of apricots and almonds and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. This is light, bright winter fare that does just as well for a desktop lunch or a winter potluck, and because it’s gluten free and vegan everyone can enjoy a serving. And because it’s served at room temperature, you can make it ahead and just add the parsley and lemon at the last moment.

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad

Serves 3-4 | Gluten Free | Vegan | Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days

Ingredients

  • ½ medium head cauliflower
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons almonds
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ginger
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ uncooked millet
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (reduced salt)
  • ¼ cup dried apricots
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup (packed) parsley leaves

 Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220C (430F). Line a medium sized baking tray with aluminium foil.
  2. Cut cauliflower into small/medium sized florets. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and spread across prepared baking tray. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly browned in spots and cooked all the way through. Remove, place in a large bowl, and allow to cool at room temperature.
  3. Sprinkle almond across baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. Dice onion and crush garlic.
  5. Add remaining olive oil to a medium sauce pan and place over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic.
  6. Combine cumin, coriander, rosemary, ginger and paprika and add to onions. Cook until onions are softened.
  7. Rinse millet well and drain thoroughly. Add millet and vegetable stock to the sauce pan. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook without stirring for 20-25 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  9. While millet is cooling, roughly chop almonds and apricots.
  10. To finish: combine cauliflower, millet, almonds and apricots in a large bowl. Squeeze over lemon juice and then toss with fresh parsley.
  11. Serve with a smile.

Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts (gluten free)

I had to get these doughnuts out of the house. After eating two on Sunday and another two on Monday, when I was reaching for my third (all before dinner mind you) I knew that I had a good recipe on my hands, but a problem where my health goals and skinny jeans were concerned. So, I packaged them up, called Dad, and told him that there would be a delivery for him tomorrow from me, care of Chris. (I love that he doesn’t mind playing delivery man during his lunch hour). My Dad sent me home with a car-washing care package on Saturday so it was only fair that I repaid him with doughnuts. That’s the way the payment system works in our house!

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The reason I couldn’t stop myself after one doughnut? Firstly, these ones are kinda healthy (shh – don’t tell Dad): there isn’t too much sugar because the ripe bananas provide natural sweetness to the batter, and there are only two tablespoons of olive oil instead of butter. Secondly, banana and coconut is one of my favourite flavour combinations (see here for evidence): the banana and bold coconut partner perfectly in these soft little cakey rounds and the coconut glaze on top really seals the deal. Also, toasted coconut should be sprinkled on everything.

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I love baked doughnuts. I love that they don’t require scary deep-frying instruments and all that oil that I would probably burn myself with, and I love that they can go from a wish to reality in about 30 minutes. These would make a wonderful lunch box treat, and you could probably get the kids to help you with the measuring, mashing, stirring, mixing and dunking. You should probably let them help with the eating too, I suppose.

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Banana Coconut Baked Doughnuts

Gluten Free | Makes 15-16 mini doughnuts | Will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Note: If you do not require these to be gluten free you can use 250 grams of plain flour in place of the first five ingredients. If you do this reduce the milk to ¼ cup.

Because coconut flour soaks up a lot of liquid you may need to use up to ¾ cup of milk in the recipe. You want a loose, muffin type mixture for your baked doughnuts. Add the smaller amount of milk first and if required add the extra ¼ cup.

Ingredients

For the doughnuts

  • 50 grams sorghum flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams white rice flour
  • 50 grams coconut flour
  • 50 grams brown sugar
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup Greek/natural yoghurt
  • ½ – ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 large bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon coconut essence
  • ½ cup shredded coconut

For the glaze

  • 1 1/2- 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

Method

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and oil 16 holes in two 12 hole mini doughnut pans. You could also use muffin tins if you do not have doughnut pans.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together sorghum flour, almond meal, brown rice flour, white rice flour, coconut flour, brown sugar, caster sugar, salt, and baking soda. Whisk well to ensure there are no lumps of sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together yoghurt, 1/2 cup milk, mashed banana, eggs, oil, vanilla extract and coconut essence.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk together. The mixture should be similar to a muffin batter. If the batter is too thick add the extra 1/4 cup of milk. Stir in shredded coconut.
  5. Spoon batter into a large piping bag fitted with a wide-mouthed round tip and pipe into doughnut holes. This is much easier than spooning it in!
  6. Place pans in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Swap position of the trays halfway through baking time.
  7. Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a rack before glazing and decorating.
  8. To make the glaze: In a medium-sized bowl  whisk together 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, and coconut essence. The consistency should be runny, but not watery, you want it similar to a custard consistency. Add extra icing sugar or milk as required to reach the right consistency. Place coconut flakes into a small bowl. Dip doughnuts into glaze first and then into toasted coconut. Place on a lined baking tray or cooling rack to dry.

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Twenty-Eight

Welcome to this week friends, and welcome to my reflections on last week. This week was one where I felt the passage of time strongly, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in an uncomfortable way. I am grateful for both. The former for reminding me to be grateful and practice living in the moment as much as possible; and the latter for reminding me that sometimes life has to be uncomfortable for us to change or say what we need from a certain situation. Do you ever feel this way? Here is my Gratitude List 2014 – Week Twenty-Eight.

salad and legs

Monday: Today started off with a sweet treat from another of my co-workers! One of the gentlemen at work had made a meringue gateau for his daughter’s birthday over the weekend and brought me slice because it was gluten free! I saved it and when I got home from the gym I treated myself, because sometimes it’s Monday and you need to do that. I am grateful that my co-workers are so thoughtful, and I’m also grateful that my relationship with food has healed so much that I didn’t even feel guilty for indulging on a Monday night.

Beetroot bowl

Tuesday: Needed to wake up with a run this morning, especially after my delicious dessert last night. I was grateful for the warmth of the gym because boy it has been chilly here in the mornings lately! I was grateful too for the motivation of the other people running, lifting, and cycling so early in the day – they kept me going for longer than I thought I would in my groggy morning state.

Wednesday: Today I went on a spontaneous lunch date with a friend from work. She was stepping out the door and I decided to tag along. Best decision. We sat in a local café, ate lunch, sipped coffee (great iced Americano) and talked for an hour. I was grateful for the midweek refresh. I was so refreshed that when I got home, instead of a steady run (or a big nap) I decided to run myself through a bootcamp-style workout: squats, push-ups, burpees, and 6.5km worth of intervals later I felt sweaty and awesome. Lesson from this Wednesday: put an unexpected twist on your usual routine and refresh yourself midweek!

Thursday:  Once a week Chris and I have a movie night. We make/buy something easy for dinner and then we snuggle up in bed with one of the latest releases. We don’t look at our phones, read a book, or otherwise entertain ourselves; we just spend some quality time laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I am grateful that we have this free time to spend with each other and shut ourselves off from the world.

jonquils

Friday: Tonight I got to spend the evening watching movies and eating junk food (hey, it’s all about balance) with my little sister and my Mum. We snuggled up on Jess’s couches and watched ‘A Winter’s Tale‘ while Jess’s fur-baby Storm patrolled the living room and gave us face licks. I am grateful for these nights with Mum and Jess and that I have such a great relationship with my mother and sister. When I got back to Mum and Dad’s house I was very grateful for Dad who put hot water bottles and extra blankets on my bed because the weatherman had reported that it was going to be extra chilly tonight.

Saturday: We started off the morning with a brisk trip and ladies’ breakfast at the farmers markets. I found the most perfect bunch of kale and a huge load of thyme. I was grateful to start the day with an awesome cup of coffee too. In the afternoon I went for a run and then did a killer leg workout. Chris and I spent sometime relaxing while watching Rio 2. I love our busy weekends, but I am grateful that we get these quiet ones on occasion too.

sunday walk

Sunday: Being by the water has always been my power place, the place I feel most at peace, most at home. Today’s walk along the waterfront under the flawless blue sky was a time to count my blessings and reflect on the last couple of months. Chris and I are planning some exciting things and looking forward to moving into our own house, and today I just got to reflect on that for a moment while I walked. I am grateful for the time to pause.

sunday breakfast

Also this week:

  • In addition to running/walking 52.5km this week I also completed this killer ab workout, and a killer leg workout. Believe me, I am still walking like a duck and trying to avoid laughing too much.
  • I shared the cake I brought into work for the team. They loved it. You should make it.
  • This chilly weather makes me want bowls of soup and nearly nothing else, and this recipe made me love an old enemy.

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

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I am a full-disclosure kind of lady. It takes a lot of self-restraint for me not to just pour out the contents of my heart and mind when I am talking to someone.

Also, I like to know what I am getting into in most situations. The ‘most’ caveat covers such things as the Apple conditions of use page. No one on earth has time to read that when they are madly trying to update their phone while making breakfast and put their pantyhose on. No one.

In the spirit of full disclosure I have to tell you I listen to the BBC and NPR and I’m more of a country or classical girl than Top 40.

I also have to tell you that I’m just not into this whole mass of new young adult dystopian fiction that seems to be flooding the market. Sorry to all the teenagers/lovers of YA. I’d rather have my depressive darkness in a translated Danish form, or a classic love story.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

In the spirit of full disclosure I have to tell you that I actually hate cauliflower. I may be the only (former) dietitian who feels this way. I’m sorry, I know it’s a brassica vegetable. I know that y’all love it instead of rice or mashed potato when you are trying to avoid carbs (note: I am never trying to avoid carbs. Like, ever). I just can’t get past the notion that I carry in my brain that cauliflower tastes like an unflattering bodily emission that rhymes with art. You know what I mean.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I got it into my brain that I just needed to make cauliflower soup. I cannot pinpoint the genesis of this thought, but once it was there, it was there and it all culminated in the purchase of a cauliflower at the farmer’s market last weekend. With cauliflower purchased very little stood in the way of my cauliflower soup vision.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Full disclosure: I am glad that I got that cauliflower ear worm. A steaming bowl of this garlicky, creamy soup was the perfect antidote to a Tuesday night. We all know that Tuesdays are harder than Mondays.

Full disclosure: there is no cream in this soup. The creaminess of the title is contributed by a can of cannellini beans blitzed into white, mushy oblivion in the soup. Cannellini beans add protein and body to this soup – and as they render cream unnecessary (here, not in other delicious confections, obviously) this soup is completely vegan.

In full disclosure: when you saute the garlic, celery and onion together you will want to dive into the pot and abandon all thoughts of making soup. They are the necessary flavour backbone of this bowl of heaven.

Full disclosure: I am looking forward to the leftovers of this for dinner tonight. Also, I may be rethinking my stance on cauliflower.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Serves 2-4 | Vegan | Gluten Free | Leftovers freeze up to 1 month or refrigerate for up to 3 days

Tip: I made the soup up to Step 5 and allowed it to cool in the refrigerator overnight. The next night I continued from Step 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower (about 750 grams cauliflower), cut into small florets
  • 1 medium white-skinned potato
  • 400 gram can cannellini beans
  • 3 cups salt reduced vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves

Method

  1. Mince garlic. Peel and chop onion. Thinly slice celery.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauce pan. Add garlic, onion, celery, nutmeg, pepper, oregano, and rosemary. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add cauliflower florets. Wash potato and dice into small chunks. Add potato to pot.
  4. Drain cannellini beans and rinse well. Add to pot along with vegetable stock.
  5. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until potato and cauliflower are softened and cannellini beans have started to disintegrate.
  6. Remove from heat. Use stick blender to purée soup until smooth. Alternately, allow soup to cool to room temperature and use a blender to puree in batches. Replace soup into pot and heat before serving.
  7. To serve: spoon soup into bowls and sprinkle with toasted walnuts and parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Did you know there is a man employed by NASA to smell everything that becomes part of a space mission? From the freeze-dried food to the material that covers the seats to everything in between, it all has to pass the test of the Staff Sniffer. The smell of the smallest things gets important when you are going to spend weeks or months breathing recycled air.

I may not be an aeronautical engineer, or a cosmonaut, but I would like to proffer my home made solution for keeping people happy with the scent of their environment: Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Believe me, if you were stuck in space with the smell of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and brown sugar you wouldn’t mind. You might get extremely hungry, but you wouldn’t mind as long as someone handed you a piece piled high with spiced cream cheese frosting. (Side note: do they give astronauts freeze-dried cake?)

I wanted you to be able to really taste the chai spices in this cake, so I infused the milk with teabags, and also boosted the spices by adding them in powdered form to the batter. The result was a soft, light-crumbed cake with a heady aroma and deep flavour. Cream cheese frosting spiked with its own dose of spices is the perfect cap to the sweet cake below. This cake is a little bit of everyday fancy too. The batter comes together quite quickly and then all you have to do is wait and enjoy the scents filling your home.

Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The spices in chai tea, and this cake, certainly remind me the most of home. Cinnamon from fresh baked buns or fruit toast breakfasts; ginger from the gingersnap cookies my Mum loves with a cold glass of milk; and cardamom, which features heavily in Danish sweets and calls to mind the traditional baked goods my grandmother made as treats. I can guarantee the scent of the warm spices emanating from your oven will call to mind your own fond memories, or perhaps over a slice or two of this you can create some sweet moments in the present. NASA – you should definitely send this into space with your next mission.

Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chai Spiced Cake

Gluten Free | Makes 1 x 9-inch round cake | Leftovers will keep up to four days in an airtight container in the refrigerator

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 chai tea bags
  • 120 grams butter
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 60 grams white rice flour
  • 75 grams almond meal
  • 60 grams brown rice flour
  • 60 grams buckwheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup plain Greek/natural yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 125 grams cream cheese (full fat is best), softened
  • 50 grams butter
  • 3-4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (a decent sprinkle)
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Method

  1. Heat your milk gently in a saucepan until steam starts to come from the surface. Do not bring to the boil. Add tea bags and steep for twenty minutes. Allow to cool. Once cooled remove teabags, cut open and empty contents into spiced milk mixture.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter the sides and base of a 9-inch round cake tin. Line bottom with baking paper. Set aside until needed.
  3. Place butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Melt butter by heating in 30 second bursts in the microwave and stirring well in between bursts. When butter is melted whisk in sugar and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together white rice flour, almond meal, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.
  5. Mix eggs, yoghurt, and vanilla extract into cooled milk mixture.
  6. Whisk flour mixture and milk mixture into cooled butter mixture. Do not overmix but ensure there are no large pockets of flour. This batter is quite loose, don’t worry it bakes up very well.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan and place in preheated oven.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in cake tin. Then remove from cake tin to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  10. To make frosting: beat together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add 3 cups of icing sugar, spices and milk. Beat until combined. You want a slightly stiff mixture. If frosting is too loose add extra cup of icing sugar. Spread evenly across the top of the cooled cake.
  11. Serve and enjoy.

Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life