Thoroughly Nourished Finds: Merry and Bright

I’ve held back as long as I could dear reader, and I just can’t hold back anymore. I am ready for Christmas. Ready for the baking, the shopping, the shipping, the card making, the wrapping, the dinner partying, the summer running, the carols, the tree, the time with family. Thinking about Christmas, for me, starts before Halloween. I just can’t help myself. As soon as the days start to grow longer and the temperature starts rising to ‘get in the pool now’ levels I am ready to wind down on the work, dial back on the responsibility, increase the merriment, and get into festive mode.

ranunculus

Let’s start with something very merry, and by that I mean a cocktail. Kate from Cookie and Kate created the perfect seasonal sip for by the pool – Spiced Apple Margarita anyone!

Starring stunningly in-season watermelon these Watermelon, Strawberry, and Vodka Slushies from Emma at A Splash of Vanilla would be very welcome among my girlfriends – perfect for a pool date!

Katie from What Katie Ate takes the most beautiful photos (her second book is on my Christmas wish list) and creates the most tantalising desserts. Katie created this delicious Chocolate Pavlova for Christmas – I can tell it’s going to be popular at our house!

Lizzy from Your Cup of Cake created the cutest Reindeer Cupcakes last year, and I’m going to treat my colleagues with these for sure!

I’m hoping to DIY some of our presents this year, and after we received a delicious ‘Cookie in a Jar’ mix last year I am hoping to gift some ‘In a Jar’ presents of my own! BuzzFeed has 24 ideas for jars full of happiness.

We are approaching deep ice cream eating territory very quickly, and my ice cream maker is already sitting on the bench waiting for its next job. I think Chris deserves a big bowl of this Double Chocolate Ice Cream with Cookie Pieces after our next run along the water.

Do you get easily overwhelmed? I certainly do! This article from The Chalkboard gives us permission (and the steps) to Break Out of Overwhelm.

My parent’s mango tree has baby mangoes all over and I need more than ice cream and cupcakes to power me through my summer workout plans – this Mango Coconut Green Smoothie from Kitchen Treaty brings homegrown mangoes and healthy eating together in one delicious glass.

I am enjoying strength training at the moment (Jess and I have been taking Body Pump together and it hurts so good).  This Holiday Rev-Up Workout from Women’s Health Magazine sounds perfect to pump up my metabolism when I can’t make it to a class.

Before Chris and I see the Stephen Hawking biopic ‘The Theory of Everything‘ I will be sure to read the book by his first wife Jane. You can also be sure that we will be re-reading this family favourite while putting up Mum and Dad’s Christmas tree - you are never too old for ‘The Jolly Christmas Postman‘.

Okay, there you have my first post for the Holiday 2014 season. Let this one be merry and bright, and full of nourishing moments.

Summer Tomato and Herb Tart | Gluten Free

Summer Tomato and Herb Tart | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Last week at work I got the news that I am going to be working in one of our other teams for the next two and a bit weeks. The work I am going to be doing isn’t particularly hard, but it requires more focus than my usual position, and is great practical experience in things I only studied on a theoretical basis in my post-graduate study. Naturally, I am nervous as all hell.

I know this weakness in myself. When faced with a shift in focus, a challenge that I know in my logical mind that I am perfectly capable of achieving, my not-so-logical mind takes over and pumps up the anxiety levels.

Summer Tomato and Herb Tart | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I wish I could approach work challenges and changes the way I approach challenges in the kitchen: work out the science, be methodical in the creating, put all my heart and soul into it, and see how it goes. Lose or win I have tried my best and (most of the time) the results are yummy, or I learn from the experience and take those lessons into my next attempt.

What I’m saying is, I wish my work-life could be more like pie. Pastry has never been my strong suit, and gluten free pastry has been on the list of challenges that I have yet to attempt with gusto. But, on the weekend, I strapped on my big-girl panties apron, got out my frozen butter, various flours, and got my hands dirty experimenting with a basic press-in pie crust. This summer is going to be the Great Pie Experiment summer, which is going to mean lots of challenges, a few failures, lots of learning, and some leaps of faith. )Also a lot of running and lifting of weights.)

Summer Tomato and Herb Tart | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThis tart crust is the best to start with if you are either: a) new to cooking pies and tarts (like moi), b) new to cooking gluten free, or c) afraid of cooking things that fall into category  a) or b). There is no kneading, rolling, lifting, cutting or any such tricky thing involved in this savoury tart. You simply make up the crust, allow it to chill for a while, then press the crumbs evenly into a lined and oiled tart pan. It’s just like making shortbread.

The trickiest thing is getting your crust even along the bottom and the sides, and if you make a few mistakes there, no one will know because we load the center of the tart with fresh summer tomatoes, herbs, and fresh mozzarella cheese. If someone does notice, tell them it’s a rustic summer tart. ‘Rustic’ forgives all inconsistencies.

Summer Tomato and Herb Tart | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAfter some time in the oven, the tomatoes will have deepened and sweetened their natural flavour, and the bright soft baby mozzarella will have melted into cheesy pockets. Trust me, you want cheesy pockets in your life. The reward vs. output for this gluten free savoury tart is high. This is a challenge you can win.

Summer Tomato and Herb Tart | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeSummer Tomato and Herb Tart

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 4 -6 as a light meal

Note: If you do not require this to be gluten free, just use 140 grams (about 1 cup) of plain flour in place of the first four ingredients.
Note: Xanthan gum is available in supermarkets and health food stores. It helps with the elasticity of the dough.

Ingredients

  • 35 grams sorghum flour
  • 35 grams brown rice flour
  • 35 grams white rice flour
  • 35 grams buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 50 grams butter, frozen
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • 275 grams (about 8 small) roma tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 100 grams mini bocconcini (or firm fresh mozzarella)

Method

  1. Measure your flours and xanthan gum into a medium bowl. Whisk until well combined.
  2. Use a box grater to grate your frozen butter into your flour. This is the best way to get small pieces of butter into your dough. Gently ‘rub’ your butter into the flour until it looks like a course meal. You can use your hands or a pastry cutter to do this.
  3. Add salt and pepper and lightly mix to distribute.
  4. Measure in 3 tablespoons of iced water and stir until the dough starts to come together.
  5. Tip crumbly dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Do not bother trying to knead it all together. Wrap tightly and press into a flat disc. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).
  7. Oil the bottom and side well of a 7-inch (18 cm) removable bottom tart tin, and line the bottom with baking paper.
  8. Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator, tip into the bottom of the tart tin and press dough even around the bottom and up the sides of the tin.
  9. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until the bottom looks dry but is still pale.
  10. Slice tomatoes in half and place in partially baked tart shell cut side up. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and dot the mozzarella between the tomatoes.
  11. Bake for a further 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have started to blister and the mozzarella is melted.
  12. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving with a large green salad.

Okay dear readers, who is ready for this challenge? What should my next pastry experiment be?

Summer Tomato and Herb Tart | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Forty-Six

We enjoyed a short work week this week, and a long weekend owing to the G20 Summit currently happening in Brisbane. While our world leaders (hopefully) talk to each other honestly about the challenges facing the world at the moment, I am grateful for a long weekend to escape from the heat, catch up with my sister (and get in some good workouts), and spend some time reading and thinking the big thoughts. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Forty-Six:

Monday: Tonight Jess and I went to a Body Pump class at the gym together. Although we both do resistance training we haven’t taken a class like that in forever. We had so much fun despite all the squats (So. Many. Squats) and limped out of the gym with smiles on our faces. I was grateful to spend a sweaty, smiley, evening with Jess and get the week off to a healthy start.

Mums apples

Tuesday: Molly and I started our day with a beautiful walk around the neighbourhood, and when I got home I felt like I needed to get back outdoors so I got in a run for the day too. I was grateful to spend some time in nature, and with my pup. Nothing busts stress like some exercise (especially with a furry companion).

Molly walk

Wednesday: Today one of my colleagues put in extra effort to help me assist in getting his documents out of the door on time. I sat back for a moment and realised he is always ready and willing to help me with whatever tasks I have on hand, and on top of his own tasks. I am grateful that he delivers documents to me early and gives me time to do my job. I feel very respected when I am working with him, and for that I am grateful.

Thursday: I have been moved to another team at work for the next two weeks and in our meeting today I got the news that I was going to get the chance to copy edit some big documents. I am grateful for the chance to really put my brain to work and experience a different working area. I finished off the day with a quick run at the gym and a relaxing walk with Miss Molly. A great start to the long weekend.

Friday: Jess and I started our day with a heart pumping cycling class and then Chris and I headed out to spend some time with friends. We hung out by the pool for a few hours. The water was such sweet relief from the heat of the day, and I was grateful that we could relax and let all our stress float away. We made our way to another friend’s house for dinner and we had such a great time. They cooked us a beautiful dinner (Chris has competition for his mashed potato championship now) and then regaled us with fascinating tales and beautiful photos from their recent trip to Japan. I was so grateful to spend some time catching up with two groups of our friends, and getting inspired for our own travels.

Pool day

Saturday: After Molly and I took a quick walk around the neighbourhood before the heat of the day got too bad, Jess and I took our favourite class (Body Attack) at the gym. I came home and got into a serious baking mood (to be shared with you all this week) and then Chris and I watched vampire movies and ate dinner on the couch. I went to bed so relaxed and I was grateful for a day where much was achieved that also felt restful.

tart

Sunday: Today started with a hot and sweaty walk in the hot summer sunshine and some hot and sweaty laundry and house cleaning. Chris, Molly, Toby, and I are now very grateful for our air-conditioned house and some entertainment courtesy of Dan Brown and Kate Forsyth. A slow summer day is just what we need before we both have some very intense days at work in the lead up to Christmas.

Also this week:

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad with Orange Maple Dressing

A girl needs two things she can rely on when the seasons start to change. One – a good cardigan because the weather can turn on its heel between winter and spring (or winter and summer as it happens here). Two – a good cross-seasonal salad. Something that can be made no matter what looks good at the farmers market, or if you happen to be relying on your grocery store because going to the gym with your sister seems so much more appealing than getting out of bed super early after a challenging week at work. It happens.

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, I can’t help you on the cardigan choices (although these people here certainly know a thing or two) but I can certainly help you with a salad that crosses seasons and can transform refrigerator and store cupboard staples into a meal (or side dish) that satisfies hunger and delights tastebuds. No matter what the season it’s easy to find a bag of carrots, some fresh baby spinach, and a packet of dried lentils. Even in the dead of winter, this salad will bring a little sunshine to your life, or on a blustery, humid summer night a little comfort without weighing you down.

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The natural sweetness of the carrots is brought out by some time in the oven with a coating of olive oil and maple syrup. The lentils are cooked with bay leaves and cinnamon; flavours that both reach down into the earthiness of the lentils and give them real flavour and presence in this salad, rather than just being the good, solid backbone of a hearty salad. The dressing pulls everything together and unites each separate, stunning part into bite after delicious bite. The dressing is a combination of olive oil, maple syrup, orange juice and zest, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper, and just a touch of cinnamon.

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIf you are searching for a salad that does double duty as a healthy lunchtime meal and a side dish for a family gathering (think of my USA friends preparing for Thanksgiving) then this is the salad for you. For my Thanksgiving friends with tricky to feed guests this salad is vegan and gluten free, which that no matter their dietary constraints, your guests will be pleased. If you are preparing for summer beach season then this salad is perfect for filling your lunchbox. Protein from lentils, healthy fats from walnuts, and the green power of baby spinach will keep you satisfied and help you work towards your summer glow.

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeRoasted Carrot and Lentil Salad with Orange Maple Dressing

Serves 3-4 | Gluten Free | Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried Puy lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

For the dressing

  • Juice and zest 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Place lentils, water, bay leaves and cinnamon stick into a medium saucepan, cover with a lid and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked, but still firm to the bite. Once cooked, drain lentils and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
  2. While lentils are cooking heat oven to 200C (400F). Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.
  3. Top and tail carrots and cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) thick rounds. Place in a small bowl with maple syrup and olive oil. Toss to coat and then spread across baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are easily pierced with a fork.
  4. To toast walnuts add to carrots in the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Allow to cool and chop roughly into large pieces.
  5. To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork.
  6. Combine lentils, walnuts, carrots, cranberries and spinach in a large mixing bowl. Pour over dressing and gently toss until everything is well coated.

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars

Brown butter is distracting. Chocolate chips are distracting. Add them together and you have double the distraction, and double the deliciousness. In fact, this post has taken me two days to write because every time I get started I remember the container of shortbread bars sitting on the kitchen bench just waiting for me to open it up and devour another crumbly, buttery, dark chocolate morsel filled bar.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

My sister and I did a mega-workout morning on Saturday (9km of dog walking, 5km of cycling, and a Body Attack class) and by the afternoon my tummy was craving a treat for all the hard work my body had put in. When my body wants a treat the first thing that crosses my mind is chocolate chip cookies. They are my favourite everything. But then I started thinking about browning the butter, maybe adding some hazelnut meal, and so the Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bar was born.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This recipe is the answer to your buttery dreams because in addition to browning a half cup of butter, we also cream another half cup with sugar and vanilla. Double the butter = double the treat = double the happiness. To this beauteous bounty of butter we add a medley of gluten free flours, an egg, and a large helping of chocolate chips (to be honest, I should have added more chocolate chips to my mix because you can never, ever, have enough chocolate chips).

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeYou then press your mixture into a lined slice tray (steal a little taste test of the dough too – oh boy) and it gets to rest in the fridge for two hours. This ensures the butter chills again and gives your shortbread the flaky, buttery crumble that we expect.

When these bars emerged from the oven I knew I had created the treat my body was craving. Crumbly but chewy, brown sugar sweet but browned butter salty, and studded with semi-sweet dark chocolate chips. These are the perfect treat for when you are resting your weary legs on a Saturday night with a new novel, and a happy dog at your feet.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars

Gluten Free | Makes 24 bars | Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days

Note: this article is a great explanation (with photos) of how to brown butter.

Ingredients

  • 250 grams butter, softened
  • 150 grams brown sugar
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 75 grams brown rice flour
  • 75 grams white rice flour
  • 75 grams sorghum flour
  • 75 grams hazelnut meal
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (or more, to taste) dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Place half the butter (125 gram) into a small heavy-based saucepan and melt over medium-low heat. Keep heating butter once it has melted continue to heat it, stirring frequently. The butter will foam a little and once the foam has disappeared keep a close watch of the butter – it should now be a light caramel colour and smell nutty. When little brown specks begin to appear at the bottom of the pot remove it from the heat and pour the butter into a small bowl to cool for 20 minutes.
  2. While browned butter is cooling line a 7 x 11 inch (18 x 28 cm) slice tray with baking paper. Set aside until required.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together brown rice flour, white rice flour, sorghum flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Beat together remaining softened butter, brown sugar, caster sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Once browned butter is cooled beat it into batter until fully incorporated.
  5. Beat egg into batter.
  6. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well combined.
  7. Add chocolate chips and mix until well distributed.
  8. Press mixture into prepared tray and chill in the fridge for two hours.
  9. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and bake bars for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and bounces back when lightly touched.
  10. Allow to cool completely before slicing. I recommend slicing the bars in the tray as it saves you a lot of mess.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These buttery bars are sure to become a favourite in our house, and I hope you enjoy them too.

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Forty-Five

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The fall was a symbol of freedom and the end of oppression and fear. Although our world is still marked by the blights of suffering, enslavement, war, and, worst of all, indifference to these evils, we can take hope from the past and see that when we do act together to end oppression, fear, and suffering – the human spirit can triumph and set us all free. Now that’s something to be grateful for. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Forty-Five:

Monday: Tonight we were faced with another dark and cloudy night down by the bay so I was grateful to curl up with a book in bed and let time pass me by while I was caught up in another world.

the help

Tuesday: This morning I got up and made the most of the early sunrise with a walk by the water. After work I hopped in my car and headed to my parent’s place as Chris and I are house sitting for them while they are away in New Zealand. After a difficult afternoon I was grateful for the opportunity to take Miss Molly out for a walk while the sunset. There is nothing like some puppy love to wash away whatever troubles your heart.

morning walk

molly and me

Wednesday: Tonight on the way home from work I stopped by to see a friend. What was supposed to be a quick book pick-up turned into an hour and half of us baring our souls to each other. We are unusual friends, not close, but closer than mere acquaintances, and we have shared things and supported each other through some hard times. I was grateful to see this beautiful lady and though troubled by her tears, I was grateful she had someone with whom she could share the hurt inside her heart.

Thursday: This morning I got up early and worked out while the sun rose. The cat was very amused by my plie squats and push-ups. This afternoon a light rain swept across our house and so Molly and I curled up inside the house waiting for Chris to come home from work. I was grateful to watch a movie (Easy A – one of my favourites) and do some baking and just take a breath.

vegan salad

Friday: Today I was grateful for my Friday lunch with Jess from work and even more grateful to come home and take Molly on a long walk to start the weekend. While I was finishing up my workout with a few miles on the stationary bike Chris and I caught up on the happenings of the day and planned our weekend.

Saturday: Today Jess and I got to spend some major sister time together. We walked our respective dogs and then went to the gym to try out a Body Attack class. We treated ourselves to a veggie juice while we did our grocery shopping and talked about matters big and small. I was grateful for some good quality time with my little sister. In the afternoon Chris and I drove down to MovieWorld and rode the roller coasters and watched the evening clouds roll in from the highest vantage points we could find. I was grateful to end the afternoon on a really fun note, and grateful that Chris and I might be grown-up but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a child’s amount of joy in simple pleasures such as this.

Sunday: This morning has started quietly, but I was grateful for a sleep in after a week of early risings. This afternoon Jess and I are getting started on some of Dad’s Christmas painting (Christmas 2014 might be the biggest yet around here) and then we are going to have a little family dinner to end the week.

Also this week:

Capsicum, Corn, and Zucchini Savoury Bread

Today I bring you a different take on my love of quick breads – a gluten free, veggie-sprinkled, savoury summer loaf that provides the perfect base for building open sandwiches, or dunking into bowls of chili.

Capsicum, Corn, Zucchini Savoury Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAs you all know, I love a salad for lunch, but sometimes I crave something more solid, more carbohydrate heavy. That’s where this bread comes in. Packed with a confetti of onion, zucchini, corn and capsicum and heavy with spices this savoury loaf takes summer lunching to the next level.

My Mum has always been a fan of open sandwiches (she does come from the land of the famous smørrebrød after all) but as a little kid I couldn’t understand the appeal – I wanted two slices of white bread, butter, and vegemite. Or my Dad’s buttery curried eggs. As an adult though I understand the sophistication of an open sandwich. The appeal of a thicker, more flavoursome bread that holds its own weight in the sandwich situation.

Capsicum, Corn, Zucchini Savoury Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

In addition to a colourful mix of summer vegetables, this loaf is spiced up with paprika, cumin, coriander seed, and dried thyme. A sprinkle of grated sharp cheddar lends a final savoury boost. This bread is denser than your sandwich bread, but still fluffy, and it makes an open sandwich into a meal fit for a queen (or king).

I can imagine taking this to a picnic and laying out a range of options for guests to create their own open sandwiches. I topped mine with sliced creamy avocado and cherry tomatoes, but the options are limitless. A slice of cheese and some ham (for the omnivorous amongst us), avocado and melted cheese, or perhaps hummus and sundried tomatoes. Or you can just eat it plain, or toasted, with a decadent spread of butter. Just how my Mama taught me.

Capsicum, Corn, Zucchini Savoury Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Capsicum, Corn, and Zucchini Savoury Bread

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Makes one 9×5 inch loaf – about 10-12 slices

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup finely diced capsicum
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely diced
  • 60 grams brown rice flour
  • 60 grams white rice flour
  • 60 grams almond meal
  • 60 grams sorghum flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar (reserve 2 tablespoons for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 finely diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup corn (canned, frozen, or fresh off the cob)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a 9×5 inch loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. In a small frying pan heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Fry capsicum and onion gently until the onion is translucent. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together brown rice, white rice, almond meal, sorghum flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, spices and thyme.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, remaining olive oil, and eggs until smooth.
  5. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.
  6. Using a wooden spoon mix in cooled capsicum and onion, cheddar, zucchini, and corn.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin and sprinkle reserved cheddar over the top.
  8. Place in oven and cook for 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If your loaf is browning too quickly you might wish to cover the top with aluminium foil.
  9. Once cooked all the way through, remove from oven, take out of pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Capsicum, Corn, Zucchini Savoury Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Tell me dear reader, what are your favourite toppings for open sandwiches? 

On My Shelf – Give Me a Good Story

I don’t belong to a formal book club, although it is certainly something I know I would enjoy, but I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who love to read, and who love to talk about books and reading. There is a vulnerability in recommending books to other people, or in sharing your favourite books; a window to your innermost soul is opened when someone cracks the pages of a book you identify with and cherish so much that it has become a part of your own story. Here’s a peek at what’s been part of my story over the past two months.

The Bronze Horseman Trilogy
(The Bronze Horseman, The Bridge to Holy Cross, and The Summer Garden) by Paullina Simons

Bronze Horseman Trilogy

These books were recommended to my by my friend Jess (to distinguish her from sister Jess) and as soon as I had read the first chapter I was hooked! I read the first in the trilogy over the weekend. I don’t think Chris managed to rouse me from my reading chair except to go for a walk and eat something between reading sessions. The Bronze Horseman Trilogy tells the sweeping love story of Tatiana and Alexander: lovers under the most unfortunate circumstances. Over the course of these three books Tatiana and Alexander experience challenges, hard ships, and moments of joy against the backdrop of any ever changing world. From frozen Russia to the plains of Arizona to the jungles of Vietnam these novels keep the pace up. I really enjoyed following these lovers from the first buds of love through to a decades-long marriage. If you love a good love story with strong writing then I highly recommend The Bronze Horseman Trilogy.


The Husband’s Secret
by Liane Moriarty

husbands secret

The first chapter of this promises an intriguing story and strong characters, so I downloaded it onto my iPad one afternoon and prepared myself for a good lazy weekend of reading. It was awful. I still read the whole thing as I am not very good at giving up and I was hoping that it would redeem itself. No such luck. I can’t even think of one good thing to say. Such a shame as there isn’t much women’s literature set in Australian towns that I recognise, and this book shows people in the worst light at every opportunity. Sorry Liane Moriarty, but I can’t recommend this one.

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

hundred foot journey

I saw The Hundred Foot Journey film with the women in my family, and as soon as we stepped out of the theater I purchased the book. I was in love with the imagery of food, and how exactly the right combination of flavours and textures can sweep you back to the past or propel you forward to new adventures. The storyline of the movie and book diverge in some points, but I believe that you can enjoy each for it’s own merits. The book is a quick read, but despite its brevity (it’s only 270 pages) you feel the heft of a deep, rich story that travels from India to France and flavours the present day with the spice of the past. It’s about taking chances, making choices, but never losing sight of who you are. For food lovers everywhere I highly recommend The Hundred Foot Journey.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebecca

The title may say romantic suspense, but if you are looking for true romance then this is not the book for you. I am not trying to ‘classics bash’ but even taking into consideration the time period in which this is set (early 20th century) the romance is hard to find. The suspense element is mild but present, but what makes it all worthwhile are the descriptions of Manderley and the creepy Mrs Danvers. If you have a dark and stormy day to spare ‘Rebecca’ isn’t a bad way to wile away some time.

The Gold Finch by Donna Tartt

the goldfinch

I am not trying to get into the popular crowd when I say this: I loved ‘The Goldfinch’ and I totally believe that it deserved the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (or should that be finch-ion?). This is a long book, but there is real story here, and characters who grow and develop and are flawed and truly human. Donna Tartt has created a world that you can dive into and spend hours in. Theo is a sympathetic and flawed narrator whose voice it is pleasant to spend hours with. I binge read this book in sessions. I couldn’t just pick it up and flick through a few pages: it had me up at all hours of the night just needing to finish the chapter. If you are looking for a book to read over the summer break then I highly recommend The Goldfinch.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

the help

I read this book over three sleepless nights and one very lazy Sunday (don’t worry Mum I remembered to put on pants – proof) and I wish Kathryn Stockett had written a thousand more books (this is her only one so far) because I wanted to live with the voices of the women in this book for the rest of my reading life. By now I’m sure many of you have read the book or seen the film, but for those who haven’t. This is the story, mainly, of three women (and many surrounding characters) living in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960′s. The times they were changing, but not in Jackson so Skeeter Phelan decides to write about just that. She didn’t know what gifts embarking on this writing project would bring, nor would she know the costs to herself and those around her. Remarkable. On my shelf of all time favourites and most highly recommended.

Tell me dear reader, what have you been reading at the moment? Any books on your Summer (or Winter) Reading list yet? Any authors you wish had written a thousand more books?

I have a whole Pinterest board of Books Worth Reading! Some I’ve read, some are on my never-ending To Read list – come and see what’s on the list!

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream

Fluffy coconut cupcakes topped with silky coconut buttercream and crunchy toasted coconut chips- these bite size treats are a gluten free tropical treat of the sweetest kind. 

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I feel a cupcake moment coming on – beware the creations that may fill this space over the next few weeks. The last time I felt this fever I had just returned from my first trip to New York with my best friend Casey. That trip was an epic feast from the moment we landed, and one of the best memories I have is eating cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery while watching the pigeons peck around our feet. After our excitement at picking out which cupcakes we wanted to taste (vanilla and chocolate for me, chocolate and red velvet for Casey) we sat on an old iron and wood bench in a small park opposite the store and devoured our pack of cupcakes in a sugar frenzy. I remember floating back to our hotel room on a cloud of crumbs and frosting, and the smile on Casey’s face when she bit into that first cupcake is a memory I will carry for a long time.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

A good gluten free cupcake is often hard to come by, and I can sympathise with bakers trying to cater to gluten free clients. Simply substituting a commercial gluten free flour mix doesn’t always yield the best results and getting the correct mix of naturally gluten free flours takes experimentation. Sweet, sweet experimentation. I have had my own fair share of cupcake shaped disasters, and when I attempted these coconut gems I thought long and hard about the combination of flours, and the mixing method required for the best results possible.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The list of flours seems long here, but I can promise you that this combination yields a fluffy, tightly woven crumb for a cupcake that doesn’t disintegrate on first bite. Don’t substitute gluten free flours if possible. The ones I have listed here are available in most supermarkets now, or easily found in health food stores or online. Each mouthful is packed with coconut flavour thanks to the coconut flour, coconut milk, and coconut essence. Then each little cake is topped with silky smooth coconut buttercream and (store bought) toasted coconut chips.

The method here is the simplest for cake making. Melted butter is whisked with sugar, egg whites, coconut milk, Greek yoghurt, and vanilla and coconut essences. This wet mix is then combined with the flours and raising agents. Bake, cool, frost, and decorate. Very easy. Your very own gluten free cupcake moment is easy to create – you don’t even need a mixer!

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Go ahead, treat yourself to a little coconut bliss, and create a cupcake memory of your own.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream

Makes 24 small cupcakes or 12 regular cupcakes | Gluten Free

Note: if you do not required these to be gluten free simply use 220 grams (generous 1 1/2 cups) plain/all purpose flour in place of the buckwheat, white rice, brown rice flours and almond meal. I recommend using the coconut flour even if you do not need the mix gluten free as it adds a nice texture and coconut flavour.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 30 grams coconut flour
  • 50 grams buckwheat flour
  • 50 grams white rice flour
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 70 grams almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek/natural yoghurt
  • 2/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut essence

For the buttercream

  • 125 grams (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 3 cups icing sugar (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut essence
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons milk (or coconut milk if you have some leftover)
  • Toasted coconut chips, flaked coconut, or other decorations as desired

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line 2 x 12-hole small (1/4 cup capacity) cupcake pans with papers. Set aside until required.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together coconut flour, buckwheat flour, white rice flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together melted butter and caster sugar.
  4. Add eggs, yoghurt, coconut milk, and essences and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and beat until smooth.
  6. Spoon batter evenly between papers. Fill each to only 2/3 full so they do not overflow.
  7. Place cupcakes in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden and bounce back when lightly touched.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating as desired.
  9. To make the frosting: beat butter until pale (about 2 minutes) in a large bowl using a handheld mixer. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  10. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice and decorate as desired. You could also use a small palette knife (or butter knife) to frost cupcakes instead.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Forty-Four

I am feeling very relaxed this afternoon. Chris and I have had the last three days off. We have spent time with family and friends this week, eaten some great food, and found lots of everyday moments to be grateful for. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Forty-Four:

Monday: Today was hot, like 38C (100F) hot. In October. I don’t mind hot early summer days like this though, because come 3pm the clouds gather, the lightening plays in bright flashes over the airfield near my work, and the thunder rumbles overhead so loudly that the glass trembles in the windowpanes. I was grateful to go home and workout inside the house while I watched the storm roll out over the bay while we were safe inside.

Tuesday: There was merriment in the office today when I brought in Halloween decorated Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting. I was grateful to share a treat with my office mates. I love Halloween even though it isn’t too popular in Australia, and I was grateful that my colleagues were as eager to celebrate as I was. When I got home in the evening Chris and I went for a walk along the water to offset some of my cream cheese frosting tasting…

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Wednesday: We had a few documents to get out of the office today and I was grateful to sink my teeth into a big chunk of work. I need my brain to be stretched and my body to be busy to feel like I’ve had a worthwhile day at work and today was one of those days. When I came home from the office I shook out the kinks with a great run along the bay.

Thursday: Jess and I got out of the office for lunch today and as we sat and sipped our coffees I realised I am grateful to have such a good friend at work. Thursday was also my last day (Chris and I treated ourselves to a long weekend) and I walked out of the office with a smile on my face, ready to enjoy my three days off.

bay walk 31_10

Friday: The sunshine called to me outside the window this morning at 6a.m. Clearly, I am bad at this ‘sleeping in’ thing. I was rewarded with fine breezes and a calm clear bay view for my walk. When I got back I cooked up some Halloween treats to bring to my parents, and then Chris and I had a slow day before heading over for some Halloween fun with Mum and Dad. I was so grateful for all the effort Dad put into the decorations for his first ever Halloween spook-tacular, and grateful that Chris and I got to take part. I dressed in my ghoulish finest and Chris was a merry pirate indeed. We scared some little kids (Dad as Grim Reaper will do that), handed out chocolates, and had fun watching little goblins, witches, and a great gingerbread man face our scary display in order to win some chocolate.

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Saturday: This morning I woke up for a walk with my sister. I love these walks and talks with Jess, we cover miles and topics and I always feel clean and calm and sure after time in her company. I was grateful this morning for a visit from our family friend Cara. We have known each other since we were children, and her sunny personality is a delight every time we visit. This afternoon I came home and was grateful to start another great book. Chris and I wound down our evening with a natural disaster movie double feature. I am grateful this man doesn’t mind my obsession with weather based movies – there’s just nothing like a good storm!

halloween cookiesSunday: Sundays are my favourite days for walking along the bay; there are so many other people walking and running, families and little kids, and puppies of every kind. There is a pleasure in those moments of shared bliss, when you nod and smile at each other because you realise that you are so lucky to be right here, right now, blessed under an endless blue sky. I am grateful for Sundays, and our lazy afternoons filled with movies (today: Safe House), baking and napping.

Also this week:

Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week? How was your Halloween?