{Healthy Snacks} Oat, Bran and Prune Biscuits

healthy oat biscuits

My 18 month old daughter often has constipation issues.  (Yeah, that probably isn’t how you expected a recipe post to start out, huh?)  Anyway, so when I stumbled across this biscuit recipe on the Vegie Smugglers blog, I thought it seemed the perfect recipe to adapt to get some poo promoting ingredients into her little tummy.  I also always love a recipe that helps me get some folate rich oats into her.

I actually used Homebrand Processed Bran sticks rather than Allbran as per the original recipe, because after reading the labels, it seemed they had a lower sugar content.  I substituted prunes in for saltanas, but you could really use any dried fruit you wanted.  And I added extra bran powder, but if you don’t need so much poo power, you could definitely leave it out.  But hey, it’s always good to be regular, right?

bran sticks

Oat, Bran and Prune Super Poo Biscuits (I’m so good at making things sound appealing)

Ingredient Set 1:

½ cup self-raising flour
1½ cups oats
¼ cup bran sticks (e.g. Allbran cereal)
2 tbsp bran powder (optional)
3 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
½ cup chopped prunes (or dried fruit of choice)

Ingredient Set 2:

60g butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
2. Mix together Ingredient Set 1.
3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar from Ingredient Set 2, then mix through the egg.
4. Fold everything together, roll into ping pong sized balls, put on lined oven tray and pop in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

oat bran biscuits

It is a super easy recipe to whip up start to finish and definitely one of those “blank canvas” recipes – you could adapt this to your heart’s content!   I’m imagining versions with grated apple or chocolate chips or cranberries… maybe even zucchini for hidden veggie goodness??

I was going to add chia seeds but forgot right up until the last moment, so I just rolled the dough balls in the seeds instead, which actually worked quite well.

I’d love to hear of any versions you may come up with!

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Baby/Toddler Recipe: Oaty Cereal Bars

A little while ago I came across the fabulous One Handed Cooks blog, full of recipes perfect for little fingers and busy mums.  One of the first recipes I tried for my little spoon feeding boycotter was the Chew-me Oat Fruit Bars.  As soon as they were out of the oven, she devoured three big fingers of it straight away!  They have been a big hit and I have made them a ton of times since – in fact, I like to pretty much always have them to hand, they have become a staple.  They are so quick to throw together and are great for afternoon snacks or even a hand-held breakfast.  I also love that it is a way to get oats into her, with all their folate containing goodness.

Bubba has always preferred finger food, but she has been pretty much refusing spoon feeding altogether lately.  So I decided to come up with a way to get the iron-enriched baby cereal into her and this recipe seemed the perfect vehicle.  So this is my adaptation of the recipe, with a few other tweaks based on what I have in the cupboard and my general laziness (I hate grating things, hence no grated apple as per the original recipe!).  The original recipe is also wonderful as is!

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup iron enriched baby cereal (Farex or the like – I use Rafferty’s Garden)
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
3/4 cup dried fruit (I use whole sultanas, or a mix of sultanas and chopped dried apricots)
1 overripe banana
2 tbsp bran (I put this in for fibrous, poo-promoting goodness)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mash/mix with a fork until combined.  Seriously, just chuck it all in at once.  I don’t even beat the egg first.

3. Pour into (baking paper lined) slice tin and cook until firm to touch – in my oven, this is about 30 minutes.

4. Cool and cut into fingers.

Not only is this recipe quick and easy, it’s very forgiving and fun to  play around with.  If you’d prefer them without the baby cereal, just substitute in an extra 1/2 cup of rolled oats, as per the original recipe.  I’m thinking of trying it with blueberries or raspberries in place of the dried fruit – yum!

Let me know if you try this recipe – or come up with any of your own variations!

DIY Personal Care Recipe: Super Easy Homemade Coconut Oil Moisturiser

Ever noticed that when you apply moisturiser, it seems to seep into the skin and disappear?  Has it ever occured to you that this means that every ingredient in your moisturiser is sinking into your cells and bloodstream?

I really started thinking about this recently.  I wouldn’t take a big spoonful of commercial moisturiser – especially not after reading the ingredients list that reads like the contents of a chemistry lab.  And yet, I allow it to be absorbed into my skin, where it reaches my cells much more directly than if I ate it (in which case it would be filtered by my liver and kidneys).

It has not been defined by science how much skin can absorb, however it seems clear from studies so far that skin absorbs anywhere between 60-100% of what we rub on our skin.  The chemicals we absorb from our skin care has been found in all sorts of organs, not the least of which being the womb.

Makes you think, huh?  Increasingly, I am coming to view skincare as part of feeding my body, and am of the philosophy that says “If I wouldn’t eat it, why would I rub it on my skin?”

That’s why I was so excited when I came across this recipe for homemade moisturiser.  Not only does it only really contain one ingredient (with a couple of optional additions), but that ingredient is a really nutrititious food product!  How better to nourish my skin than with pure coconut oil?!

The benefits of coconut oil are so many it really deserves a post all of its own.  Just trust me on this – it’s really good stuff!  Quite apart from it’s nutritional benefits, it is also fantastic for dry and problem skin, including acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.  It is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic.

And so, here it is, a super easy, super fabulous recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut oil (preferably organic virgin oil)
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil (optional)
essential oils for fragrance (optional)

Method:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whip with a wire whisk.  If you have a KitchenAid or similar (drool, a woman can dream), you will find this much easier than I did.  It will thicken up and become a thick white cream.

That’s it!!

I first tried to whip it with a stick mixer, but it really wasn’t going anywhere.  Once I got out the wire whisk, it just took a little elbow grease and it got there eventually.

The melting point of coconut oil is quite high at 24 degrees Celsius.  Therefore, once whipped, you’ll want to transfer this rather quickly to whatever container you intend to store it in.  It will set rather hard, so I recommend something fairly shallow with a wide mouth.  I actually just used a plastic takeaway container for this batch, but I intend to get a nice looking container for it next time!

I found the scent of the essential oils I used was completely overpowered by the coconutty smell of the oil, so I think I’ll just leave them out next time.

As it’s a rather chilly winter here at the moment, my moisturiser is in a kind of soft solid block on my bathroom bench.  I just scrape a bit off with my fingernail and it quickly melts into the skin with the friction of rubbing it on and the natural warmth of the body.

Apparently in the summer, it may need to be stored in the fridge to maintain it’s whipped state.

This moisturiser is SO good!  I use it on my face every day after washing, and on my legs after shaving.  You may be worried about putting oil on your face, especially if you have oily skin, but I really recommend giving it a try.  It absorbs really quickly and leaves the skin feeling lovely and soft.  I have heard people have had a lot of success with it for acne, so don’t be afraid of it if you’re pimple prone!

After I had been using it for a few days, Daddy C even said to me one day “ooh your legs are all smooth!”  I said “yeah, I shaved them” and he replied “I know, but they’re SUPER smooth!”

So there you go – if even a mere male can notice the difference, it must be good!

Not only that, I *love* knowing that I am nourishing my skin with a pure, nutritious food product, that I am completely happy to have absorb into my body.

Delish!

Baby/Toddler Recipe: Very Healthy Banana Bread

I found this banana bread recipe when looking for healthy finger foods to make for my 9 month old baby (original recipe here).  I like the recipe because I like to give my baby good, wholesome food – I liked that every single ingredient in this was healthy and I was able to make it without any added sugar.

I made this with honey instead of sugar.  If you’re used to very sweet food, you may like to make this with sugar, possibly even extra sugar.  However, I found myself going back to this bread myself for a very satisfying and guilt free snack.

It certainly passed muster with my harshest critic, who absolutely devoured it.  I should add the caveat that my little guts will devour most anything… but I do think she especially enjoyed this bread!

Ingredient Set 1:

2 cups flour (I used wholemeal, use whatever flour you like!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder

Ingredient Set 2:

3 large very ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 cups) – mashed
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar (or replace with 1/3 cup unsweetened fruit juice concentrate ormaple syrup or honey)
1/2 cup milk
zest of a lemon or orange (optional – I omited this, must try it next time!)
2 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp dark rum (obviously I chose the vanilla for my baby!)

Optional Extras:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I omitted this for bubba)
1/3 – 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces (I omitted but must try it!)
1/2 cup chopped dates (I actually used prunes to help with bubbas bowels, actually tasted pretty good and lent a good sweetness to the loaf)

Method:

1. In two separate bowls, combine the two ingredient sets (a dry mixture and a wet mixture).

2. Mix the wet and dry mixtures together until just combined.

3. Fold in the optional extras, if desired.

4. Pour into a greased and/or lined loaf tin.

5. Bake at 180 C for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. Leave in the pan for 10 minutes then place on a rack to cool.

 

There you have it – an easy, healthy snack easily adaptable to your tastes and/or your baby’s!

Why not have a slice hot from the oven with a generous smear of butter?


Sweet Treat Recipe: Milk Chocolate Mud Cake

On New Years day, we were just sitting around on a lovely Melbourne day, when Daddy C said: “I feel like cake.”  Naturally, I obliged, and came up with this delicious milk chocolate mud cake (based on this recipe).  Moist, dense and muddy, and it lasted for days.  Yum!

Ingredients:

250 g milk chocolate (the better quailty, the better!)
250 g salted butter
1 tsp instant coffee granules/powder
188ml (3/4 cup) water
325g (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) plain flour
30g (1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
550g (2 1/2 cups) caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons (40ml) oil
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk (don’t have any? You can easily make some!)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius.

2. Grease a 23 or 24 cm round cake tin, preferably springform.  Line with baking paper.

3. Place 250g chocolate, butter, coffee and water in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. When chocolate and butter have melted, remove mixture from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm/room temperature.

4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda together into a very large bowl.

5. Add the caster sugar to the bowl with the flour mixture, and stir the ingredients together until well combined. The original recipe recommends using a whisk to stir ingredients together.

6. In a medium bowl, place eggs, oil, vanilla and buttermilk.  Whisk until well combined.

7. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture, and stir until well combined.

8. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg and flour mixture in a three batches, stirring until combined after each addition.

9. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (24cm pan) or 1 hour and 30 minutes (23cm pan).  If a knife/skewer comes out clean or with moist crumbs (not gooey batter) attached, the cake is ready.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan and then remove.  It has a kind of crunchy top, which the original recipe suggests removing, but I thought it was awesome!

I iced this cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing and it was delicious!  The cake was quite tall, so I even cut it in half and added a middle layer of icing, which I think helped it stay moist for so many days.

As a finishing touch, I grated some toblerone over the top.  Yummo!!

Sweet Treats Recipe: Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

I’ve recently discovered that some people define icing and frosting as two different things.  Where I come from, icing is what you put on a cake and frosting is considered the American term for the same thing.  So I’m going to call this icing.

Whatever you call it, it is Yummy McYumpants.  Not to mention super easy.  Once you’ve had this icing, you’ll never want that icingsugar-cocoa-butter crap again!

I got the recipe from this Masterchef recipe.  I haven’t tried the actual cake in it though so I can’t recommend it.  I do, however, recommend this yummy Milk Chocolate Mud Cake .

Ingredients:

50 g butter, softened
250 g cream cheese
1 cup (160 g) icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup (25 g) cocoa, sifted

Method:

Place the butter and cream cheese together in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy.

Add the icing sugar and cocoa, and beat until light and fluffy.

*******

Didn’t I tell you it was easy?!  You can use an electric beating contraption if you have one… I don’t, so trust me, good old elbow grease works too!

Oh, and the final step – smear all over a really yummy cake (and then lick the spoon.  A few times).

Baking Tips: A Few Eggs Short Of A Sixpack?

If you’re like me, then you have started on a recipe, got to the wet ingredients, and then upon pulling the egg carton out of the fridge, realised that you’re an egg or two short.  Or rather, I should say, if you have a partner who likes eggs for breakfast like I do.  Hurumph.

Anyway, if it happens to you, you don’t have to abandon your baking!

The most successful substitute I have found for an egg or two in baking is actually… mayonnaise!

Simply add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise for each egg the recipe calls for.

I usually use this when I do have some eggs, but am missing one or two.  I have used it with great success, and you would never know the difference in the end result.

I have also heard of using applesauce in place of eggs, but I haven’t tried it myself.  If you have had success with any egg substitutes in baking, I would love to hear about it!