All About Bread – An Easy Delicious Loaf For You To Make

Bread making is in my family genes.  My grandfather was a baker in the tiny West Australian country town of  Yarloop and I can imagine that he would have been one of the most popular people going around because of it.  

My grandparents had a small general store as well and as a kid my Dad used to hop on his bike and deliver the groceries in the township.  I can almost smell the delicious aroma of fresh bread wafting behind him as he pedalled furiously through the streets of Yarloop.

In a spot of poor timing, by the time I was interested in food and baking, Alzheimer’s had whisked away my grandfathers memories.

I would so love to talk to him about his tips and tricks for the best loaf, especially as he had a great interest in healthy food. His idea of a treat for the grandkids was a shredded wheatmeal biscuit or a slice of Roberts Dark Rye with a scrape of honey.  I appreciate the sentiment now but at the time it was not gratefully received!

I’ve been baking bread for around 15 years in my trusty Breville Bread Maker. I do have to keep an eye on it because now and then it does ditch itself off the edge of the bench when dough mixing gets a bit vigorous. However, it still delivers a fantastic loaf of bread.

Despite this, I have always looked at Artisan hand shaped loaves with a kind of longing. My bread is usually tall and square reflecting the shape of the tin inside the machine.   Cutting the appropriate sized slice of bread (i.e. not a doorstop) can indeed be challenging. 

A few weeks ago, my friend Corrine over at Sweet Perfection passed on a recipe for ‘easy’ bread that required no kneading or intense upper body exercises.   Corrine makes the best celebration cakes you will ever see and is very much a fine details kind of gal, so I was a little worried about the effort I would have to go to. My worries were unfounded.

For the past two weeks, I have baked that bread almost every day to try and perfect my little hand made loaf and yesterday I think I got there. The crust was satisfyingly crisp with a perfect crumb on the inside. 

Easy Bread

Ingredients

3 cups bread flour or plain flour 

1.5 tsp dry yeast 

1.5 cups warm water

Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl.  
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water (the temperature where you can stick your finger in and it feels like a nice warm bath)
  3. Mix the yeast and water into the flour with a wooden spoon until the dough come together into a ball.  This will literally take just moments and the dough should be a bit or a lot sticky – I find this depends on the day and the flour.
  4. Cover the bowl with Glad-Wrap and put into a warm spot (but not in the sun) in the house for 2-3 hours.
  5. Prior to baking the bread, pre-heat a large French Oven casserole pot and lid (Chasseur, Le Creuset or similar) at 220 degrees for 30 minutes.
  6. When the dough is ready, cut a piece of baking paper that is big enough to fit the bottom and sides of the pot, place on a flat surface and lightly dust with flour.
  7. Scrape the dough from around the sides of the bowl and gently ease the dough upside down out of the bowl and onto the baking paper.
  8. Using a plastic spatula, move the outside edges of the dough into the middle. This should require no more than four movements.
  9. Carefully take the pot out of the oven, remove the lid and place the dough on the baking paper into the pot. Replace the lid.
  10. Bake on 200 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes and VERY carefully remove from oven.

You now have an amazing loaf of bread!

Don’t be scared that there are ten instructions in the above method as it literally is a five minute job but I wanted to be very clear about each part.

I have been using Premium White bread flour and Purple Wheat flour from All About Bread in Greenwood but you could try any flour that you have or can get!

You can serve this delicious bread with your favourite spread or just by its good self.  If you haven’t tried my Blueberry Chia Jam, to go with it, you should.

So, now I wait for the photo’s of your bread to come rushing at me!

 

 

Goal Setting Made Easy – The Guide To Getting Things Done

Goal setting is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.  The thing is, it’s always this time of the year when society starts sending you messages that you should be doing exactly that.

A few weeks ago, someone that I admire and respect immensely wrote a fantastic article on goal setting. which has a slightly different slant on the usual way of going about it. Gihan Perera is a colleague and friend and I always get something out of his insights.  I think you might too.  

Over to you Gihan.

Most goal setting programs are hard. The system might sound easy, but achieving the goals is difficult. It usually takes discipline, willpower, a strong mindset, hard work, sacrifice and struggle.

I’ve got a different approach to goal setting: This coming year, choose, plan and achieve goals that bring you joy, ease and happiness – not only when you achieve them, but along the way as well.  This of course, flies in the face of most goal setting programs. So be warned that what I’m going to share with you might be controversial, confronting or conflicting with other advice you’ve seen.  But hey – if you do embrace my advice, you will enjoy the next twelve months.  So what have you got to lose?

So do yourself a favour this year: Don’t create goals an activities that involve struggle, complication, hardship and sacrifice.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive, especially if you’ve done other goal setting programs.  But hang in there, I will explain.

There are ten guidelines here, broken down into three areas: Choosing the right goals (four guidelines), planning (3) and taking action (3).

Choose

1. Do what you love

It’s surprising how many people set a goal because they think they “should” do it, or they “need” to do it, or somebody else wants it for them. Those goals are the first to go when life gets in the way.

So only choose goals that you want to achieve. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say you should only choose goals that you will love to achieve. This isn’t about being selfish; it’s about choosing wisely.

2. Love who you’ll be

Think carefully: Are you going to be happy – truly happy – with the person you’re going to become if you do achieve your goals?

If you get that big promotion, will you be OK spending more time away from your spouse and kids? If you go on that carrot juice diet and lose 20 kilos, can you tolerate having to gaze longingly and wistfully at chocolate cake from now until the end of your life? If you get all those business travel opportunities, can you cope with spending wasted hours in airports, taxi queues and hotel rooms?

Be sure you’re willing to accept all the consequences of achieving your goal.

3. Think big

Most people don’t fail because their goals are too big; they fail because their goals are too small. Those goals are easily forgotten or tossed aside when something bigger comes along. So make sure you set big – but achievable – goals.

As Jonathon Kozol says:

“Pick battles big enough to matter; small enough to win.”

4. Know the reason why

It’s not the “what” and “how” of a goal that motivates you; it’s the “why”. Sometimes you’ll end up with something that wasn’t exactly what you imagined, but it still achieves the same result.

Plan

5. Love what you do

Plan to enjoy the journey. If it takes willpower, discipline or sacrifice to achieve your goal, it’s harder to do and easier to slip up. Instead, make it fun!

It’s no fun to crawling out of bed an hour early to exercise, but perhaps you can make it fun by exercising with a friend, so you make it a social event as well.

It’s no fun to set aside 10% of your income for wealth creation, but what if you also set aside another 10% as “play money”, to be spent on fun and frivolity?

It’s no fun to call past customers to bring them back into your fold, but what if you invited them to a cocktail party instead?

6. Hang out with people you like

Life’s too short to spend with people you don’t like, love, inspire or are inspired by.

Decide who you want to spend more time with this year, and make sure they’re part of your journey. They don’t have to be actively involved in helping you achieve your goals – although that’s a bonus. But make sure they’re around. And be especially sure you don’t neglect them while achieving your goals.

7. Get help

Whatever your goals, there’s a good chance somebody else has already achieved them. So find the right mentors and ask for their help. You might have to pay, or you might not. Either way, it’s the best way to fast-track your success.

Do

8. Start before you’re ready

You won’t have all your preparation complete. You won’t know exactly what path to follow. There’s always a reason not to start today. But if you’re waiting for the perfect moment to get started, you’ll be waiting a long time. The perfect moment is now.

9. Take a big step first

A rocket uses most of its fuel in escaping the Earth’s atmosphere. After that, it takes very little energy to keep going.

Many of your goals – especially the biggest and most important goals – are similar. Don’t start with baby steps; start with massive strides. The good news is that often just a few strides can make a big difference, and then everything else is easy.

Obviously I’m not suggesting you do dangerous things, like suddenly taking up squash if you’re unfit. But if it’s OK to start walking for 30 minutes a day, start walking. Don’t “build up to it” with unnecessary little steps – e.g. buying new sneakers, starting a journal to record your progress, telling all your Facebook friends, shopping for a new T-shirt to celebrate the start of the journey, and plotting the optimal walking route for different weather conditions. Sure, these small steps are easy, but it’s the first big step (literally in this case) that matters.

10. Do something every day

Do something towards at least one of your goals every day. After all, why wouldn’t you? These activities are fun, not a burden or a chore. So, in addition to working towards your goals, you’re adding some fun and enjoyment to every day of your life!

More importantly, at the end of the year, you will have taken 365 steps – enjoyable steps – towards achieving your goals. That’s 365 more than the average person.

So that’s it. Those are my ten guidelines for easy goal setting.

 

You can check out Gihan Perera and all he shares by clicking here.

Egg Goodness – It’s World Egg Day

Happy World Egg Day! It’s time to bring out the balloons and streamers because today is the day to celebrate  and be reminded that the humble egg is an amazing source of energy and vitality.  These little goodies contain just 300 kilojoules each and quality protein plus 11 different vitamins and minerals including iron, selenium, iodine, Vitamins A, D, E, folate and Vitamin B12. 

This nutrition all rounder has suffered from an undeserved bad boy reputation over the years, mostly in the area of cholesterol. Egg yolks do contain a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fat. However, research conducted over the past 50 years shows that egg consumption has only a negligible effect on raising total blood cholesterol levels in healthy people.

For most people, eating an egg every day is a healthy addition to a diet that includes wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Of course, it is a different story if you are frying eggs every day and eating them with lots of bacon! 

An egg can be a great snack or meal full of protein and is the richest source of choline, which is essential for the manufacture of neurotransmitters in your brain. They are recommended daily as part of the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

I grew up with chooks around my feet and I loved finding an egg hidden in my cubby house amongst my dolls and blankets.  Our chooks were very much free to range wherever they felt like it. Cubby, chook pen, prams – you name it. To be honest, these feathered birds (and all others for that matter but that is another story for another day) completely freak me out BUT I do so appreciate their produce!

You can check out some interesting and fun facts about the little egg plus some fabulous recipes at World Egg Day.

Eggs would have to be one of the easiest foods to prepare but for some weekend eggpsiration, you might like to try my Noodle Omelette.  This recipe is in my recipe e-book, ‘eat, energise, repeat’ which can be downloaded for free right here.

Noodle Omelette (Serves 2)

Ingredients

2 cups (already) cooked noodles or spaghetti (any small shaped/sized pasta that is leftover)

4 free range eggs, lightly beaten

80g grated reduced fat cheese

1/4 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 large zucchini, thinly sliced

1 whole tomato, thinly sliced

Method

Spray a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and arrange onion, zucchini and tomato in layers in the pan. Top with noodles, distributed evenly over the vegetables and pour over egg. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook over low heat until egg starts to set at the side of the pan and then place fry pan under grill to finish the top of the omelette and brown the cheese.  Cut into quarters and serve with your favourite salad.

Serves 2 adults or 4 kids under 12              Cost = $1.90

 

 

 

Easy Chicken Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

This recipe for meatballs is one of the quickest you could ever hope to make and perfect for a week night when you really need to hustle along! A good source of calcium, protein and deliciousness and loved by kids and adults alike.

Easy Chicken Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

500g chicken mince

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

200g cottage cheese

½ cup snipped chives

400g can mushroom soup

½ cup natural yoghurt

Method

Mix chicken mince, breadcrumbs, cottage cheese and chives together in a bowl.  Roll into meatballs and cook for 5 minutes on each size in a lightly oiled frypan.

Mix soup and natural yogurt together and pour over meatballs.  Return to a low heat for 10 minutes.

If you are not a fan of mushroom soup, you can always sub in another flavour. 

To see this recipe in action click here for the video.

 

How to make your salad sing

 

I love to cook but my motivation is at all time low right now.  I want the ingredients to get themselves together and just make something already. You know what I mean? Enter salad.

Salad vegetables (and all kinds too of course) are full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, which all help our mind and bodies working day-to-day and reduce our risk of chronic disease.

That said, getting enough of those vegetables does become a little tricky if you leave your daily dose to one meal like dinner, so spreading the vegetable love across the day is key. Of course, you can tick off  a bunch at breakfast by adding mushrooms, tomato, spinach or baked beans to a poached egg and then gather speed by adding a crisp, crunchy salad to lunch.

We can most certainly make salad fancy but the question is, do we need to? 

Just like a coordinated wardrobe, there are some easy ways to mix and match colours and ingredients to put together a salad that everyone around you will be wishing they had too.

For an all seasons salad mix any of the following:

+1…Go Green – baby spinach leaves, crunchy Cos lettuce, beetroot leaves or tatsoi for a fibre, magnesium and folate boost
+2…Orange all over – roasted warm chunks of orange sweet potato, pumpkin or carrot, all excellent sources of the powerful antioxidant carotene.
+3…Go Fast Red – cherry tomatoes, sliced ripe Roma tomato

And don’t forget to add Exceptional Extra’s like – crunchy cucumber, baby roasted or canned beetroot, sliced mushrooms and crunchy combo sprouts.

Toss your choice of salad ingredients and add:

  • Protein Power – lean chicken, sliced cold leftover lamb or beef, lean ham, boiled egg, small tin of 4 bean mix/chickpeas or lentils.

Quick Salad Ideas

  • Lentil, Ricotta and Beetroot – combine 220g canned, drained lentils with 3 baby beets, a handful of baby spinach and 100g low fat crumbled ricotta
  • Orange, capsicum and avocado – toss a handful of mixed salad leaves with 1 orange peeled, segmented and sliced, ¼ of a sliced avocado and ¼ medium red capsicum topped with 40g crumbled low fat feta

Along with the rest of the world, the distinct green leaves of kale have been one of my favourites for a while. Kale going solo does lack appeal but in this recipe – kaboom!

Try my fave healthy Kale Caesar Salad recipe below and you will see what I mean.

Kale Caesar Salad (serves 6)

Ingredients
½ bunch curly or Tuscan Kale (washed, dried and leaves trimmed of stalks)
4 slices proscuitto (fat trimmed), grilled
4 slices sourdough bread

Dressing
½ cup low fat natural yoghurt + 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard + 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil + 1 large garlic cloven + ¼ cup lemon juice + 2 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese

Method
Once trimmed, roll up kale leaves, slice finely and place in large salad bowl. Break the grilled proscuitto into small pieces and scatter over the kale leaves.

Tear the bread roughly into 1 cm pieces, place on a baking tray and spray with cooking spray. Bake in a moderate oven for approx. 10 minutes until crispy.

For the dressing, mix all ingredients together in a shaker or jug and pour over kale leaves. Using your hands, mix the dressing through the salad and serve.

 

Healthy Pastry – How to Make a Delicious Meat Pie Scroll

Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere will have noticed that the air is getting a little crisper these days. Colder air means winter sports and warmer food doesn’t it? It does in my foodie world. Enter healthy pastry.

In Australia, winter sports like football, soccer and netball are often associated with spectator fare like meat pies, sausage rolls, hots dogs and hot chips. The thing is, these guys are not exactly bursting with goodness and should really only be a treat food, not every weekend afternoon.

So what is the alternative? The good people over at Legendairy have given me some inspiration for a quick, super easy recipe for healthy pastry that can be used for scrolls, pies or anything that you would like to wrap some pastry around!

Easy Healthy Pastry

1 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup natural yoghurt

Combine yoghurt and flour and mix together until combined. Knead into a ball and rest for 5-10 minutes.

On a floured bench or board, roll out the pastry in a rectangular shape 30 x 20cm.

Quick Meat Pie Filling:

1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g lean beef mince
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
1 tsp beef stock powder
2 tsp gravy powder
1 tablespoon water

Heat the oil in a pan and then add garlic, onion, mince, sauce and stock powder. Stir until well-browned and then add combined water and gravy powder. Stir until thickened.

Putting it all together

Spread rolled out healthy pastry with the meat pie filling or your choice of pasta sauce and grated cheese or leftover bolognaise sauce, leaving 2 cm around the edge to avoid oozing (unless of course, you want it to ooze!). Roll from the longest edge, continually until the dough forms a sausage shape and use a little milk to seal the edge.

Cut into 2 cm wide pieces and place face up on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle with grated cheese if desired and bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

You now have a meal made with healthy pastry that is a good source of calcium, is much lower in fat and salt but high on taste. Enjoy!

How to Make Healthy Easter Chocolate Bliss Balls

The truth is, its hard to avoid all the Easter chocolate isn’t it? Despite the deliciousness, I do know that Easter eggs are jam packed with calories and it is very hard to stop at just one, especially the little teeny tiny ones.

Enter the Easter Chocolate Bliss Ball. The concept of ‘balls’ have become very popular over the last few years and it is very common to see them adorning the glass display cabinets of many a cafe. The thing is, although the ingredients in these so called ‘healthy and natural’ treats, may look good on paper they still contain a bunch of calories and are not actually healthy.

Todays recipe is my own for Easter Chocolate Bliss Balls and a modification on my Festive Chocolate Balls (which may contain a little alcohol…). These guys are so quick and easy and make the perfect Easter chocolate gift. If there are any left of course. These balls are high in fibre and a great source of healthy fats and antioxidants too.

Easter Chocolate Bliss Balls

Ingredients
10 Medjool dates + 8 dried apricots
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 cup raw hazelnuts or mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) or
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Method
Throw ingredients into a food processor and blitz for a few minutes until nicely combined and sticky. Make tablespoons of the mixture into balls, roll in extra shredded coconut and enjoy.

Wishing you all a safe and hoppy Easter!

Looking for a quick dinner?

Growing up, one of my staple after school snacks was the good old 2-minute noodle pack. If you were on the same page, you will understand the attraction of something that is so quick and simple and requires virtually no cooking skills whatsoever. Never mind a snack – what about the night’s where time is short and all you want is a quick dinner?

The thing is, while the noodles themselves provide a source of carbohydrate, they are very limited in their nutritional value and that little foil flavour sachet is high in salt. Too much salt is associated with high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. The average Australian eats around three times more salt than we need for good health so we certainly don’t need to be adding more. Historically, the noodles were fried but now we have access to the 99% fat free versions that are vastly improved in the fat department.

With all of these things in mind, I gave some thought about how to utilise some 2-minute noodles hiding in the pantry, whilst adding some protein reducing the salt and the 2-minute noodle omelette was born.

Layers of freshly sliced onion, tomato and zucchini provide a ton of natural tastiness eliminating the need for adding the flavour sachet to the noodles. Eggs and melted cheese bring all the ingredients together for a super tasty dinner (or even a snack or lunch).

The 2-minute noodle omelette dishes up at least three serves of vegetables, quality protein, carbohydrate and a serve of calcium all in one super easy meal that everyone will love. This omelette is a quick dinner and a great alternative to cruising past and picking up a take-away meal. It’s super- easy on the pocket too. For the video on how it’s all put together you can check it out here.

A quick dinner – Two Minute Noodle Omelette

1 packet of 99% fat free 2 minute noodles, cooked according to directions but without flavour sachet
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
40g grated reduced fat cheese
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 whole tomato, thinly sliced

Spray a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and arrange onion, zucchini and tomato in layers in the pan. Top with cooked noodles, distributed evenly over the vegetables and pour over egg. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook over low heat until egg starts to set at the side of the pan and then place fry pan under grill to finish the top of the omelette and brown the cheese.

Cut into quarters and serve.

Serves 1 adult or 2-3 kids under 12

Cost = $1.94