Yoghurt and Mixed Berry Muffins

I have tried to change my eating habits over the last 5months but that doesn’t mean that I have lived on celery sticks – it just means that I have tried to make smarter choices, get more active and limit my portion sizes.

Through the SleekGeek community and their 8week challenge (this being the last week of my particular heat) as well as with the help of the BodyBoss Method (which has provided some meal plans, recipes as well as a great 12week workout plan) – I have managed to shed 9kg in 22weeks. I am now half way to my goal weight but already I feel so much more energetic and full of life. Compliments have started to surface in the recent days from colleagues and this is probably more down to the fact that I am making more of an effort with my appearance than trying to hide in black, black and more black. (Don’t get me wrong – 80% of my wardrobe is black, but now I am wearing items of clothing with a splash more colour and slightly more fitted).

One thing that I want to point out is that I have not starved myself. I still eat carbs. I have still gone out to restaurants. I have even had a few alcoholic beverages. Not to mention the fact that I have still baked some delicious treats! This particular recipe is from the BodyBoss recipe book and the only difference is that I used sunflower oil instead of nut oil. It makes 6 delicious muffins and works out to 190 calories per muffin.

Yoghurt and Mixed Berry Muffins

1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
85g greek yoghurt
1 Tablespoon nut oil (or sunflower oil)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup mixed berries
1 Tablespoon flour (for the berries)

  • In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, yoghurt, honey and oil
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined
  • Cover the berries with the tablespoon of flour and gently fold into mixture
  • Place into 6 greased muffin cups
  • Bake for 20minutes at 190C

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No-bake Lemon Cheesecake

Another year, another reason to celebrate, right???

I got to ring in the new year with some awesome friends at the end of May, in our 4th floor apartment in Brussels. It was a hot, humid day and there were 7 children under the age of 3 running around, screeching and have fun. Sounds crazy, eh?

I opted to keep things simple and serve crudités/dip, fresh fruit sliced up, while HIM ordered a cake from the Portuguese bakery as well as a large amount of various Portuguese rissois (a traditional deep fried savoury snack something like a croquette, but could be filled with meat, chicken, fish, etc) and of course, I made a cake (because cheesecake is a cake in my books, ok!?).

I had planned on making this granadilla cheesecake recipe, but then at the last minute decided to rather make it a lemon flavoured. It was super easy to make, required no baking and went down well.

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

200g coconut biscuits (crushed)
1/4 cup of butter (melted)
1 packet of lemon jelly
1 cup boiling water
250g cream cheese
1 tin (385g) condensed milk

  • Mix jelly powder with boiling water until dissolved, set aside to cool
  • Mix crushed biscuits with melted butter and press into a greased spring-form cake tin
  • Beat cream cheese until smooth and then slowing add the condense milk, continuously beating until smooth
  • Mix in the cooled jelly mixture
  • Pour cream cheese mixture over the biscuit base and place in the fridge for 3-4hr (or until set)

Courgette Ribbon Salad

As mentioned earlier, I have signed up to something called “Sleekgeek 8 week challenge“, which means that I have been trying to be more imaginative with regards to meal planning, colourful plates and cooking etc.

On a recent trip to Stonemanor (a grocery shop in Brussels specializing in British products), I stocked up on my favourite English food magazines… including a new one that I found called “Food to Love” magazine. Within this magazine, I found a recipe for a chargrilled courgette ribbon salad with green olive dressing. I didn’t make the dressing and rather added a sprinkle of feta and some toasted pine-nuts on top of the cooked courgettes.

Make again? I already have 🙂

Courgette Ribbon Salad

2 large courgettes
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
sprinkle of feta
toasted pine-nuts

  • using a mandoline, vegetable peeler or sharp knife, slice the courgette lengthways into thin pieces
  • Toss with olive oil and season
  • Cook the courgette on a heated grill or a grill pan for 1 minute on each side (cook in batches)
  • Place on a plate, sprinkle with feta and toasted pine-nuts

 

What is a “Buddha” bowl?

If you love instagram like I do, then you wouldn’t be able to scroll past the foodie accounts without encountering at least one “Buddha” bowl picture.

They might also have been called a glory bowl, grain bowl, sunshine bowl, hippie bowl or macro bowl… but as far as I am concerned, it is essentially a *deconstructed salad in a bowl*.

There is no rule written in stone on how to construct the bowl, but it essentially consisted of a little bit of this and a little bit of that, focusing mainly on vegetables (raw or cooked), a bit of grains (if you so wish) and some protein (although 90% of the bowls seem to be vegetarian and thus featuring tofu, beans, etc… it hasn’t stopped anyone from adding some form of fish or lean meat.)

There is also some disconnect on where the name came from and what it actually means with some definitions of a Buddha bowl indicating that the shape of the round bowl reflects the round belly of Buddha or (my personal favourite story) is that Buddha walked around with an empty bowl at the beginning of the day and each of his neighbours provided a spoonful of what they were eating – thus by the end of the day, he had a bowl full of food (with a little bit of this and a little bit of that).

Whatever definition or story you like to believe – I don’t really believe it matters but I do think that it looks pretty… so here is my deconstructed salad (aka “Buddha Bowl”) => corn, red kidney beans, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and some sliced cooked chicken breast with a squeeze of lemon juice.

 

Chilli Con Carne

Nothing says comfort quite like a warming bowl of Chilli right? And helping me to eat “clean” without breaking the bank is Colruyt (a Belgian retail store that offers good quality, fresh ingredients with a no fuss attitude).

Can you believe that I had never eaten (or even had the inclination to even try) a bowl of Chilli before I moved to Brussels 10 years ago? But one fine (rainy Belgian) day, my Spanish friend, Sonia, had invited a few of us around for a meal and produced this magnificent meal and I was hooked.

I begged her for the recipe, which she kindly provided and I have been making it regularly ever since. The below has some minor adaptions to the original recipe that she gave me but in essence has not been altered too much!

Chilli con Carne

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1Tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves – crushed
2 red chillies, chopped
500g mince (I use a combination of pork/beef)
tin of tomato paste
500ml Passatta
425g tin of red kidney beans (I like to use the variant that is already in chilli sauce)
1 green pepper – diced
200g tin of sweetcorn
250ml stock (I prefer to use chicken stock)
1 teaspoon brown sugar

  1. Heat frying pan over a medium heat
  2. Add cumin, allspice, chilli flakes and paprika and *dry fry* for about a minute to release the flavours
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and spices and cook for 2-3minutes
  4. Add garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute
  5. Add mince and cook on a high heat for 4-5minutes until the meat has browned
  6. Add the tomato paste, passatta, beans, green pepper, sweetcorn, sugar and stock
  7. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Top with some diced Avocado, cream cheese or a sprinkle of grated cheese… the choice is yours!

Easy Rocky Road

Leftover Easter chocolate and leftover wine are myths in our house… except that having a toddler in the house means that the amount of chocolate available around the Easter season had increased (even for me!).

Monkey is 2,5 years old and although we only gifted her one (Peppa Pig) chocolate Easter Egg… I had purchased more goodies for our Easter table (for the adult guests) and of course… this meant more chocolate in the house after the celebratory luncheon. I do tend to “over cater”….

I was flipping through Jamie’s America cookbook and kept coming back to his Rocky Road recipe… typically a type of biscuit/chocolate hybrid with nuts, marshmallows, etc etc… so good….

Rocky Road

400g chocolate
Handful of pretzels
Handful of mini marshmallows
Handful of pistachio nuts (roughly chopped)
100g raisins
leftover mini eggs

  • Melt the chocolate over a water-bath
  • Stir in chopped nuts, marshmallows, pretzels, etc. leaving a handful to one side for decorative purposes
  • smooth the mix over a grease-paper in a baking tin and then “decorate” with your remaining ingredients
  • Leave to cool/set (I put mine in the fridge for 20minutes before breaking or cutting into chunks)

Blueberry Courgette Bread (SRC)

As many of you might remember from previous blog posts – I used to belong to a *Secret Santa* type of blog swap called Secret Recipe Club (SRC) but the concept was disbanded a while back due to a number of reasons.

The great news is that they decided to re-install an annual event… so this year, I got to review the blog called Troyers Loving Life. And as I read the “about me” page, I was convinced that Kirstin was talking about me when she described herself and her favourite things (clean house without having to clean it; cooking; reading and her connection to God). She is mom to 2 daughters and has been married for 26 years (#marriagegoals as we will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary this year!). I also got sucked into her home renovation posts from 2008…. probably because (kindred spirits again), we bought an apartment in 2017 and had it fully renovated before moving in… kitchen; bathrooms, walls being knocked down and new walls being built. An exciting and nerve wracking time all rolled into one!

I loved scrolling through her recipe list and drooling over different recipes like her Watermelon-Strawberry juice with Basil (but as watermelon isn’t in season, I had to veto this one); Cauliflower cheese bread which is Gluten Free and is earmarked for another day; but eventually decided that I wanted to recreate her Blueberry and Zucchini Bread recipe.

When I told HIM about this recipe, he was completely baffled … even until he took his first mouthful, he was still hesitant. But in the end, it received his stamp of approval along with mine and our 2,5year old toddler.

Would I make it again? Yes… I love how moist the bread is and although you see flecks of green, it is easy to forget that this has a vegetable in it!

One point to note is that in the Kirstin’s original recipe, she makes it into 2 loaves while I made 1 large loaf meaning that cooking time increased from 50min to 1hr20min.

Blueberry Courgette Bread

3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups courgette (grated)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup frozen blueberries

  • In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, vanilla & sugar
  • Fold in the courgette
  • Beat in flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon
  • Fold in the blueberries
  • Pour into a greased loaf tin
  • Bake for 1hour 20min at 180C (or 15-20minutes if you are making into muffins)

Banana Bread

There are always bananas in our house – either green, yellow or turning a nasty shade of brown. There are always frozen bananas in our freezer which are perfect for smoothies or fake ice-cream. And I regularly bake a banana bread with the excuse that I am using up the over-ripe bananas…. any excuse really 🙂

I have no idea where this recipe came from as it is in my hand-written recipe book… which probably came from my mothers hand-written recipe book. But origins aside – it is an absolute winner! Quick, easy and tasty.

Banana Bread

150g butter
cup of sugar
2 eggs
cup of mashed banana
1 banana sliced length ways
60ml plain yoghurt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda)

  1. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, mashed banana & yoghurt together
  2. Sift in Flour, bicarb & baking powder
  3. Beat on a low speed
  4. Pour into a greased loaf tin
  5. Arrange sliced banana on top
  6. Bake at 180C for 50-60min

Apple and Blueberry Cobbler

I wonder if other people enjoy reading cookbooks as much as I do? I don’t always make everything that I see, but I can spend hours paging through each one. And sometimes, I even try to recreate the recipe (or worse… I adapt it based on my fridge/store cupboard ingredients).

Which is exactly how I managed to make this apple and blueberry cobbler, which is now a firm favourite in our household and has been repeated numerous times using different fruit!

The original recipe is a Peach Cobbler from Jamie Oliver which I had seen in Jamie’s America cookbook, but I changed the fruit portion and kept the cobbler recipe (almost) the same. It is a SURE winner and a definite “repeat” in our household.

Apple and Blueberry Cobbler

4 apples, peeled/cored & diced
1 cup of blueberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice from 1 lemon

100g self-raising flour
50g caster sugar
100g butter, chilled & cut into small cubes
pinch of salt

  • Place the apples, cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the apples are soft.
  • Remove from heat and place into an ovenproof dish along with the fresh blueberries
  • To make the cobbler topping, place the flour/sugar/butter/salt into a food processor.
  • Pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs
  • Add 2 Tablespoons of water & pulse again – the mixture will form a dough now
  • Spoon this mixture over the fruit
  • Bake at 180C for 20minutes

Buttermilk Cheese muffins

The weather in Brussels is definitely starting to turn autumnal… with the leaves on the trees changing colour… to the most glorious shades of orange, red & yellow. And of course, the sunrise is later and the sunset earlier, the temperatures are dropping and my need for comfort food has definitely increased.

I did a quick search on the “google-box” for a savoury muffin recipe using buttermilk (which was in my fridge) and find this cheese muffin one on the Taste Magazine website (written by Abigail Donnelly).

I halved the quantity (because who can eat 36 muffins???) and it comfortably filled a 12-muffin tray. I omitted the sugar and also adapted the cheese portion by mixing grated cheddar with some grated parmesan cheese; plus added a teaspoon of paprika & a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs.

This is an easy weekend baking recipe and a definite make again. And my little helper enjoyed the mixing portion as well as the eating aspect… and has happily devoured them. Those that weren’t eaten within the first 2days have found their way into our freezer for those mornings when toast or cereal just wont cut it.

Buttermilk Cheese muffins

200g grated cheese (I mixed cheddar with parmesan)
280g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried Italian* herbs (*or mixed)
2 eggs
125ml buttermilk
125ml sunflower oil

  • Beat together eggs, buttermilk & oil in a large bowl
  • In another bowl, mix together flour, cheese, salt, herbs & paprika
  • Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture
  • Place spoonful’s into a greased muffin tray
  • Bake for 18-20min at 180C