Oatmeal Sultana Biscuits

I’m not going to call these healthy – they do still have a fair bit of sugar in them – but they are definitely wholesome. Wholesome and delicious. And probably a great deal better for you than chocolate chip biscuits, or melting moments, or something like that. So if you feel like a bit of sweet baked goodness, but don’t want to feel too guilty about it, go for these.

oatmeal sultana cookies

They’re also really easy to make, and dairy free! You probably have all the ingredients in the pantry already, and you can chuck in a bit of whatever you feel like – that’s what I did.

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sultanas
handful of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
3 teaspoons chia seeds
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
2/3 cup light vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170C. Whisk together the sugar, honey, eggs, oil and vanilla in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix together all the rest of the ingredients. Add the honey mixture to the dry mixture and stir through well.

Drop large tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto baking trays that have been lined with greaseproof paper, leaving enough room between them for spreading. Bake for about 15 minutes, then take them out of the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes on the trays. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

oatmeal sultana cookies

You could use any kind of dried fruit that you liked in these, and lose the coconut/sunflower seeds/chia seeds if you wanted to. I think they’d be good with dried cranberries and slivered almonds, or maybe chopped up dried apricots.

Zucchini and Sultana Loaf

I started a new job about 4 weeks ago, but until today I hadn’t done any baking for them. We had a farewell morning tea today though, so I thought I’d bring in something home-made. Not pretty, but made with love 🙂

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There are a few special dietary requirements in my new team, which is great because it makes for a challenge – we have a combination of dairy-free, nut-free, and just generally very health conscious people. I also didn’t have much time in which to produce anything! I was initially thinking I’d do a carrot cake because they are generally dairy-free with no extra effort, but then realised I didn’t have enough carrots… I did have zucchinis though! So, zucchini loaf it was. I found a basic recipe but then made so many changes it became virtually unrecognisable: here’s my version.

2 medium zucchinis, finely grated
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup sultanas
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups plain flour

Preheat oven to 180C, grease and line a loaf tin.
Beat the eggs, oil and sugar until well combined, stir in the zucchini, sultanas and sunflower seeds. Stir in the remaining ingredients in 2 batches. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for about 1 1/4 hours. Let it stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

I made a simple cinnamon glaze to pour over the top as it was cooling, just by mixing icing sugar with some water and cinnamon. This is entirely optional though!

No-Bake Chocolatey Green Protein Balls

I’ve been very slack on the baking front lately, sorry about that. And I’m not sure you could even call this particular recipe ‘baking’ as there is no actual cooking required at all. But it’s something, and it’s different, and it’s healthy, so here you go!

I decided I wanted to make some kind of snack food that I could have with my tea during morning or afternoon breaks each day, but I needed something healthy and preferably with some kind of protein, because I’m about to start personal training and gym-going on a regular basis. (I’ve been talked into doing this Spartan Race thing in June, so I need some level of fitness…)

And so, here we have my version of protein ball things. If you don’t have, or don’t like, green powder stuff then substitute with extra protein powder. Also feel free to add or change things according to what you have in the pantry – I might try adding some cinnamon and/or coconut next time.

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200g (approx 12) fresh dates, deseeded
1 1/2 tablespoons protein powder (I used chocolate flavoured soy protein)
1 tablespoon green powder (I found this in the health food section of a pharmacy, it has wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorophyll and such things in it)
3 tablespoons almond meal
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons almond milk

Put everything in a food processor and pulse until the mixture starts to come together, then process until it becomes a paste. It will look like some kind of gross sludge, but don’t be put off, it tastes better than it looks. If it’s too dry, add some more milk, if it’s too squidgy add some more protein powder or almond meal.

Wet your hands and roll into small balls, about a heaped teaspoon per ball. Roll the balls in a coating such as coconut (I intended to use coconut but didn’t have any, so I used a mixture of almond meal and protein powder instead). I found this mixture made 12 balls. Keep them in the fridge, and have them as a snack, or post-workout.

Dairy Free Banana Cake

I was given a bunch of soft bananas by a colleague who knows I love to bake, and thought I could possibly make something tasty from them (thanks Clayton!). Instead of a banana bread style recipe, I opted for more of a traditional cake. This wasn’t originally intended to be a dairy free cake, it just so happened that way based on the ingredients I had in the fridge. (I’ve made this twice in the last 2 weeks, but unfortunately was not able to get very good photos on either occasion – it disappeared too quickly!)

Sliced up and ready to share!

 

The cake itself is very easy – I made the whole thing in my KitchenAid mixer, but if you don’t have one it would still be a simple one-bowl process using electric beaters.

125g Nuttelex (soft butter or butter substitute)
1 ½ cups caster sugar
3 mashed overripe bananas
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml almond milk (or regular milk)
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm round cake tin, and line the base with baking paper. Place butter, sugar, banana, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl and beat for a couple of minutes. Add the milk and beat again. Add the flour and bicarb soda and beat again until combined. Pour into cake tin, bake for 1 hour. Cool in tin for about 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack to cool.

I then iced this with lemon cream cheese icing, slightly defeating the purpose of making the cake dairy free to start with! It was delicious though.

To make my cream cheese icing I beat 1 block of softened Philadelphia cream cheese with a couple of tablespoons of soft butter. Then I add icing sugar while beating, until it’s the right consistency and taste, and I add some fresh lemon juice at the same time until it tastes how I want it. This makes quite a lot of icing, but it’s super yummy!

Random Pantry Ingredient Muffins

It was a Sunday afternoon. I was bored. I was hungry. I was a little tipsy on cider.

I decided to make muffins, the catch was that I could only use the ingredients already available to me in the house, and I hadn’t been grocery shopping in nearly 2 weeks. Interesting challenge…

I went with this basic recipe, but varied it slightly out of necessity!

2 cups flour – I only had 1 cup plain flour and 1 cup plain gluten-free flour left, so I mixed them together and then added ¼ cup oat bran for a bit of something extra
¼ cup sugar 
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk – no milk in the house, but I did have an unopened carton of almond milk, so I used that.
 ¼ cup oil or melted butter, cooled to room temperature – no butter, I used vegetable oil.

I also added 1 mashed ladyfinger banana that I had acquired that morning at the Mother’s Day Classic fun run, a handful of sunflower seeds, a handful of desiccated coconut, and a handful of dried cranberries (a very generous handful of those!). Followed the usual muffin instructions of mixing the dry ingredients separately to the others, then mixing them all together very briefly before spooning into the muffin pan and baking at 200C for nearly 30 minutes.

They actually turned out ok!! And not a massively sugar/fat laden snack either, they went well with another bottle of raspberry and apple cider!!

More Jam Drops

This time they’re wheat/gluten/dairy free! And no one would ever know if you didn’t tell them, they taste that good. Seriously. As an added bonus they are really easy and quick to make, so they are perfect for taking to work or to a friend’s place for afternoon tea (except if you nearly eat them all yourself first, like I did when I visited my friend Katy recently…)

180g Nuttelex (or other non-dairy butter substitute)
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
2 cups plain wheat/gluten free flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
jam (I like raspberry or strawberry, but whatever you like)
¼ cup plain wheat/gluten free flour, extra
Preheat oven to 180C. Cream the Nuttelex and sugar, then add the egg and beat well. Stir in the flour and baking powder until you have a dough that’s not too sticky, but not too crumbly. If it’s too sticky at this point, gradually mix in some of the extra flour until it’s just right.
Roll small balls (about half a tablespoon) of dough and put them on a lined baking try, then lightly press them down to flatten them with the palm of your hand. Make a hole in the centre of each biscuit (I use the handle of a wooden spoon) and fill with jam. Bake for 15 minutes, then cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. They store pretty well in an airtight container.


Wheat, Gluten, and Dairy Free Carrot and Banana Cake

Next up in the gluten-free, dairy-free experimentation: a cake made from scratch instead of a packet mix! I picked this recipe because it was dairy-free to start with (apart from the original cream cheese icing) so there wasn’t as much modification required. I found these two wheat and gluten-free flours the other day in my shopping expedition so I simply replaced the regular flours in the recipe with these. I was particularly impressed with the plain flour – the texture was pretty much identical to regular flour. The self-raising flour was very fine – it looked and felt more like cornflour.

It’s another AWW recipe that I’ve slightly altered to suit. I’ve never come across a carrot and banana cake recipe before, and I love both separately so I thought I’d probably love the combination too! Also I had a heap of soft bananas and a whole bag of carrots in the fridge… It turned out surprisingly well, not dry but not too dense, with a light and springy texture all the way through. It actually reminded me of the texture of the carrot cakes that my Nanna used to make when I was a child. It’s not a ‘pretty’ cake, not is it super sweet, but it is an easy, tasty and wholesome cake and I’ll definitely be making it again.

1  ¼ cups GF plain flour
½ cup GF self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cups finely grated carrot
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup vegetable oil 

Preheat oven to 170C. Grease a 23cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, carrot, banana and oil. Pour into the tin and bake for about 1 ¼ hours, cool in tin.

When the cake was cool enough I turned it out onto a wire rack and then drizzled it with a icing glaze that I made from almond milk, icing sugar and cinnamon.

It was ugly but delicious! I think it would keep pretty well in an airtight container but there wasn’t any left over for me to find out!