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How to make kombucha at home

Ever wanted to make kombucha at home?  Here’s how we do it!

How to make kombucha at home #kombucha

Kombucha.  It’s one of those latest buzz words, fad things that the ‘healthy’ people seem to go on and on about, isn’t it?  What is it?  And why is it so good?  And does it really taste like bacteria?  And why would people like my picky family, especially Grant, enjoy drinking it?  Well, read on, and hopefully all these questions … and more will be answered.  As well as helping you to make it yourself at home!

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea, combined with fruit juice, with lots of good probiotics.  You know, probiotics are the good bacteria that help digestive health and general well-being.  Kombucha requires a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) to start the fermentation process of the sweetened tea.  By the way, this SCOBY is what put Abby off of kombucha right from the beginning … and has never drunk it since!  But for those of you who don’t make judgements based on the first impressions, 

How to make kombucha at home #kombucha

I know there’s some dispute as to whether kombucha does have any health benefits or not, but all I know is that my special snowflake stomach works much better when I have kombucha every day.  So I’m sticking with that.

Grant loves it too – he loves his ‘fizzy drink’ (soda to you US people!).  But he’s also become more aware of the calories in some of the sodas, and the artificial chemicals in all the diet drinks.  And when a friend of ours (thanks Janet!) gave him a drink of her kombucha, with that bubbly, fizzy taste, he was hooked too.  Now Grant is Chief Kombucha Engineer in our house, so he’s helped me to put this post together for you … and if you have any questions, I’ll ask him!

How do you make kombucha?

Things you will need:

  • A SCOBY
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 9 tea bags
  • fruit juice
  • 2 x 1 gallon glass jars
  • 4 x 1 quart glass bottles

The SCOBY

First you need to find a SCOBY for yourself.  The good thing is that once you start making kombucha, the SCOBY grows more and more layers, which you can remove and start new batches, or give to friends.  Like what happened with us (thanks again Janet!).  Either find someone you know who is making kombucha at home already, or you can buy these online (check out Amazon!).  

Step 1:  Make some unsweetened tea

Pour 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of granulated sugar into a heavy bottomed pot and heat until the sugar is fully dissolved, in preparation to make sweet tea.  The best water temperature to make tea is subjective, but we heat to just before boiling, around 200F.  Apparently this helps to stop black tea from being bitter.

How to make kombucha at home #kombucha How to make kombucha at home #kombucha

Once the water has reached your desired temperature to make tea, add 8 or 9 tea bags.  Now these can be a mixture of any type of tea – this is where you can put your Mad Scientist gear on and have fun with it.  A good place to start is half green tea / half black tea.  Grant usually uses two green tea, two black tea, 4 flavored herbal teas and maybe an Earl Grey tea bag for good luck.  The experimenting to balance the flavors is the fun part!

How to make kombucha at home #kombucha

Grant usually takes the black tea out of the water after 5 minutes to stop it from going bitter, but leaves the green and herbal teas for 10 minutes total.  Give those tea bags a squeeze when you remove from the water to get as much flavor out of them as possible.  Don’t squeeze the black tea bags!

Allow the sweetened tea to cool to room temperature.

Step 2:  Start the fermenting process

Once the tea is at room temperature, pour into a glass jar.  We use 2 one gallon jars but only put 1/2 gallon of tea in each just to give it room to do it’s magic and because it’s easier to handle than if the jars were totally full!  Also, the combination of the SCOBY and 1 gallon of tea = more than 1 gallon …!

Into each jar, add a 1/4 cup of kombucha made from the previous batch, half of the sweet tea and the SCOBY.  Do not touch the SCOBY with anything metallic – we have tongs with rubber tips on them for just this purpose!  Place either cheese cloth or a face towel, secured with a rubber band over the top and allow to ferment.

How to make kombucha at home #kombucha

Keep the kombucha out of direct sunlight during the fermentation process.   

Step 3:  The first fermentation

Depending on the ambient temperature, the fermentation can take anywhere from 7-15 days.  A longer fermentation creates a less sweet, more vinegar-like drink.  A shorter period creates a more sweet but less fermented drink.  We leave ours from 6-7 days in summer and 7-8 days in winter for the balance of sweetness we like.  Many people let their fermentation go longer, but we find that a little too tart for our liking.

Step 4:  The second fermentation

After the desired time of first fermentation, remove the SCOBY with plastic/silicon/rubber tipped tongs and set aside on a clean plate.  You may have noticed that the SCOBY has already started to grow a new layer (a SCOBY baby!), which you can then bless other friends with if they would like to make their own kombucha!

How to make kombucha at home #kombucha

Add about 1 cup (20%) of fruit juice into each of the 4 x 1 quart glass bottles.  Apple juice is a good default, but we have also used cranberry/apple, apple/raspberry, blueberry, prune and multiple other flavors.  Again, get your Mad Scientist gear out and be creative.  Try not to go for juices with more of an acidic flavor already – we found orange juice to be less effective – but you can always blend juices to create your own flavors.

Using a funnel and nylon (not metal) sieve, pour the fermented tea into the bottles, leaving about 1″ of air from the top.

How to make kombucha at home #kombucha

Step 5: The second fermentation

Cap the quart bottles and put in a cupboard, away from direct sunlight.  During the second ferment, the bottles will build up pressure internally so make sure you leave that air gap!

The longer you leave the second fermentation, the more bubbles, the more fizzy, the more champagne-like the drink will become.  But don’t leave it too long, or you will end up with vinegar.  Putting the bottles in the fridge after 2-3 days slows down the fermentation so you don’t have to drink all of them before the vinegar effect begins!  We generally leave our second fermentation between 2-3 days for a gentle fizz before putting in the fridge.

If you are concerned a bottle may break, pop the lid, allow the gas to escape and put the lid back on.  The fermentation will continue!

Step 6:  Drinking your homemade kombucha

Now that you’ve done all the hard work, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.  But just remember to pour the final product through a nylon (not metal) sieve on top of your glass because there will still be residual SCOBY in the bottles after fermenting.

So there we go – feel ready to make kombucha at home?

For those of you who live in our area, and are interested, we are more than happy to provide a SCOBY for you to begin the kombucha adventure.  We won’t supply you with the Mad Scientist gear, but will give advice, tips and help when needed.

For those of you who aren’t near us, try to find someone who’s got a SCOBY – and let the experimenting with fizzy drinks begin!

Until next time, enjoy making kombucha at home!

Sarah

How to make kombucha at home - how we do it! #kombucha

Feeling worn down and tired all the time?  Check out these ideas for how to use Pranayums super spice shots in your daily lifeFeeling worn down and tired all the time?  Check out how to use Pranayums super spice shots in your daily life!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link.  Please note that all opinions are my own!

As you may be aware, I love these Pranayums super spice shots and use them quite a lot in my daily life.  I have noticed a distinct difference in my digestion and my emotions when I include them.  So I wanted to share all the different ways that I have used them in the past, maybe to give you some ideas yourself.  And keep scrolling down because you could win some to try in my GIVEAWAY (now closed)!!

But first of all, what are these Pranayums super spice shots?

Direct from the Pranayums website:  These super spice shots contain turmeric, ginger, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and licorice root.

Turmeric – boosts immune system as sit supports healthy digestion

Ginger – helps to ignite the digestive fire, enhance immune response and reviatlize body and mind

Black pepper – detoxifies the body and stimulates digestion

Cardamom – assists digestion, circulation and metabolism

Cinnamon – healthy digestion and circulation, can offer comfort for headaches and congestion, and can be used as a sugar substitute

Licorice root – supports immunity, calms digestion and cold symptoms, enhances immunity response and elevates energy

So you can see, there’s lots of good stuff in every single shot.  But, short of just chugging these as shots (which I don’t recommend), how do you incorporate all this goodness in your everyday life?  Well, my friends, keep scrolling to see how I do it!

6 ways to use Pranayums super spice shots in your daily life

1.  Morning wake-up

Check out how to use Pranayums super spice shots in your daily life #pranayums

Every morning, before I have breakfast, I warm up some water, add some cinnamon and apple cider vinegar, and (you guessed it) some Pranayums super spice shots.  And drink it.  Before any food.  I was a little skeptical of doing this at first, but it soon showed in better digestion and stomach feelings (without going into too much details).  The trick is to make sure the water is warm, but not hot, and you mix it in thoroughly.  As much as I love these shots, I do not love swallowing whole lumps of it at once!

2.  Roast veggies

 

Check out how to use Pranayums super spice shots in your daily life #pranayums

Since we’ve been in the US, I’ve discovered the joys of the reduced veggies at the local grocery store.  But then there’s always the dilemma of what to do with them to use them up before they go off?  Well, I’m a big fan of roasting veggies in a big batch, and putting portion sized mixtures in the freezer.  That way I’ve always got a stash of roast veggies to go with any leftover meats from family dinners, or adding some poached or fried eggs on top.  And I often have this for lunch … or breakfast … or for our ‘fend for ourselves’ dinners.   And adding the Pranayums spice shots to the veggies just gives it a different taste to normal. So versatile.  So yummy.  So nutritious!

3.  Pizza crust

You may wonder what a pizza crust has to do with super spice shots?  Well, in my coconut flour pizza crust recipe, it calls for some herbs and spices to be mixed into the crust, so I thought, why not use the Pranayums shots?  And I gotta tell you, this flavor is amazing.  Top it with whatever you wish, and know you’re doing a good thing for your internals!

4.  Avocado chicken zoodles

What to do when you run out of curry powder for a chicken coating?  Well, I use Pranayums spice shots as a really good substitute.   And with my trusty spiralizer for zoodles galore, this is one of my favorite meals – both at home and at work.  Check out the recipe for the simple chicken seasoning … and feel free to change it up a bit!

5.  Seasoned potato wedges

Another really simple and easy way to get these Pranayums spice shots into your life – similar to the roasted veggies above, just sprinkle potato wedges with the Pranayums spices before putting in the oven and cooking them.  I love changing up the spices I put on my potato wedges – but this one is a personal favorite of mine!

6.  Flourless honey almond cake

And last, but definitely not least, you can use these super spice shots in your baking.  Because you all know that I am a baker at heart, so I had to figure out a good way to get nutrition into all the baked goods that I make.  And these spices give this yummy cake, just that extra special something!

And now for the giveaway …!

Because I want you all to give these Pranayums super spice shots a go, I have a multi-pack available to give away to one lucky winner.  All you have to do is comment on this post, letting me know what you would make if you won this prize.

Note that by entering this competition you agree to receive all sorts of yummy ideas and recipes for gluten and dairy-free cooking at home in your e-mail inbox!

US residents only please.  This giveaway closes October 15, 2017.  Winners will be contacted via e-mail shortly after.

6 ways to use Pranayums super spice shots in your daily life

So what do you think?  Let me know what you’d make in the comments below, even if you aren’t a US resident … and I’d also love to know how you make sure you get all the nutrients you need in your daily life.  

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with Pranayums!

Sarah

Feeling worn down and tired all the time?  Check out 6 unique and healthy ways to use Pranayums super spice shots in your daily life #superspices

7 creative peanut butter recipes for cooking at home

Stuck for ideas for peanut butter – read on for 7 creative peanut butter recipes that I (and the family) love!

As you are probably aware, peanut butter is my spirit animal.  I saw that on a t-shirt once and absolutely loved it.  I also saw a quote that spoke to me deeply – I just want to love Jesus, train hard, and eat all the peanut butter (thanks Kelsey!).  And because I do a lot of cooking at home (hence the name of this website), I wanted to give you all some more interesting combinations of foods that I’ve used peanut butter in.  And I was given the opportunity to promote Crazy Richards Peanut butter (Best.  Peanut Butter.  Ever!) so I thought I’d give you a round-up of all things peanut butter!

By the way, I love ALL of these recipes.  This is not just a list of crazy ideas that no one would ever eat.  This is a list of some of my favorite things, which just happen to include peanut butter.

OK, lets go with my 7 top creative peanut butter recipes!

(1)  Meal ideas:  Satay chicken potato pizza

A potato pizza crust (gluten and dairy-free) topped with peanut satay chicken, spinach and peppers - what could be better for pizza nights? #pizza

This was one of the more unique combinations of ingredients that just simply work well together.  Because (a) it’s pizza, (b) it’s naturally gluten-free with using potatoes for the crust and (c) it’s got peanut butter and chicken on it.  Who wouldn’t like it?  The kids often ask for this … it takes a little more effort than most of my recipes so it’s an infrequent treat for the whole family!  And even though it doesn’t look like much of a photo, you’ll just have to trust that this is awesome!

(2)  Cookies:  Peanut butter avocado cookies


Peanut butter avocado cookies

Most health experts are starting to agree with each other these days that good fats, such as nuts and avocados, are good for you.  Much better than all the sugar-y substitutions used in the low-fat food to make it taste good.  And I whole-heartedly agree.  Hence my love for peanut butter and avocado … so I thought, why not in a cookie?  And these are amazing.  Not as ‘stick to the roof of your mouth’ texture as the simple flourless peanut butter cookies, but oh so creamy!  And no refined sugar, so even better for you!

(3)  Cookies:  Peanut butter mystery cookies

Peanut butter mystery cookies

Ok, so if you’ve peeked at the link above, you’ll know what the mystery ingredient is.  But it’s an awesomely soft and chewy peanut butter cookie, which no one will ever suspect of containing …!

(4)  Quick bread:  Pumpkin peanut butter bread

Pumpkin peanut butter bread

I thought this was a strange combination until I tried it.  And loved it.  Perfect for events around the Thanksgiving/Christmas period, but to be honest, I’d eat this any day of the week.  And I still enjoy the combo of sweet potato and peanut butter when pumpkin isn’t so much in season.  See, maybe I’m not totally strange?

(5)  Cake:  Peanut butter apple spice cake

Peanut butter apple spice cake

Ahh the classic apple and peanut butter combination.  But who’d ever thought of putting it in a cake?  Well, that would be me!  I made this once for some friends, where one of them was always against peanut butter, and he didn’t make a noise about the taste, because it’s just awesome!

(6)  Snacks:  Peanut butter filled chocolate covered dates

Peanut butter filled chocolate covered dates

Long title for the snack, but totally awesome and I dare you to stop at just one.  With no refined sugar added, you can feel good about eating them … in moderation, of course!

(7)  Snacks:  Carrot, celery and apples with peanut butter

Peanut butter, carrots and celery - my classic snack!

Couldn’t go past my all-time favorite combination.   No recipe needed for this one.  Simply, cut up some veggies and add peanut butter.   This is a snack that I sometimes have as a meal, when I’m not that hungry, or just pick up leftover random veggies and stick them in a pool of peanut butter.  And I’m in my happy place!

So there you have it.  My top 7 creative peanut butter recipes for you all to make at home.  Do you have any other ideas for using peanut butter, either creatively or not so creatively?   Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

7 creative peanut butter recipes for cooking at home - all gluten and dairy-free, slightly unusual, but always tasty and family pleasing! #peanutbutter

6 healthy sunflower seed butter recipes + a GIVEAWAY!

If you’re looking for some healthy nut-free options, be inspired by these healthy sunflower seed butter recipes – all gluten and dairy-free, Paleo-friendly and without any refined sugar!

Sunbutter products

In this day and age of increasing numbers of people with nut allergies, what do you do?  Well, you turn to nut-free alternatives, like tahini (sesame seed butter) and sunflower seed butter.  I love the no added sugar varieties from Sunbutter but always snag a few jars when whatever flavor is on special.  Because sometimes this peanut butter/almond butter/cashew butter loving gal just wants a change.  And I thought I’d do a bit of a round-up for healthy recipes that I love making with sunflower seed butter, just in case you’re asked to bring something where you know there will be people with nut allergies.

I should point out that I’m not being sponsored or paid for this post – while I love Sunbutter, I am not receiving any compensation for posting this stuff.  But keep scrolling through for the opportunity to win a jar for yourself (giveaway is now CLOSED).

Now that is out of the way, here goes:

6 Healthy sunflower seed butter recipes

(and one not-so-healthy!)

Thai beef coconut curryThis Whole30 compliant meal really satisfies.  The mix of spices is gentle enough for the whole family, but the taste will transport you to another country.  Unless you live in Thailand.  In which case you’ll just feel like home!  But seriously, using sunflower butter in here gives it a unique taste that just can’t be beat when thinking of curries!

Healthy chocolate sunbutter slice

Ahh, the combination of chocolate and peanut butter … but nut free with sunflower butter.  My kids actually love this version – I think more than the peanut butter version.  Me?  I like both.  And will eat both, given the chance!  But with no refined sugar, and good wholesome ingredients, this is a snack that will make you taste buds, and your belly smile.  I would highly recommend slicing into small pieces though … portion control and everything!

Sunbutter cookies

You know, you can’t go wrong with just a simple cookie, can you?  Well, give this one a go.  It’s vegan and Paleo, with no refined sugar in it and the sprinkled salt on top just gives them that great combination of salty/sweet flavor.  This is one of my most viewed posts on Instagram (remember you can follow me on social media by clicking on the buttons to the top right of this page), so trust the masses I guess!

Chocolate banana pie

If you have guests for dinner, who have allergies from here to kingdom come … give this dessert a go.  This recipe is free from all the top 8 allergens, totally gluten, dairy, nut and egg free.  But it looks, and tastes, pretty impressive, if I do say so myself!  It’s quite rich, though, so be prepared to only have a small piece.  And then you can go back for more when your guests leave!

Almond butter chocolate swirl ice cream

Ok, so this recipe doesn’t explicitly use sunflower seed butter in the ingredients list, but it’s more than acceptable to substitute the almond butter for sunbutter.  The taste is still amazing … dare I say even better?  No, I won’t, because I love both almond butter and sunbutter equally.  Just differently.  Kind of like my kids?  Or is that going too far??

Chocolate hazelnut blueberry granola

Again, sunflower seed butter isn’t explicitly in the list of ingredients for most of my granola, but feel free to substitute for any nut butter.  I particularly like this granola, with naturally sweetened jam as the sweetener, full of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.  And sunbutter.  Or almond butter.  Or whatever type of good fatty substitute you wish!

Chocolate sunbutter slice

Yep, sunbutter can be used in not-so-healthy stuff too.  And this slice is just the bomb (I always wanted to say that … maybe I shouldn’t in the future though!).  Full of icing/powdered/confectioners sugar and other sweet things like that, this is seriously worth making.  On occasion.  And again, cutting into small slices.  So you can have one at a time.  And share with others around.  But make sure you get at least some of it because it is SO yummy!

And here’s the giveaway part …!

(Giveaway is now CLOSED – congratulations to the winner!)

Because I want you all to love sunflower seed butter as much as me, and maybe make one (or more) of these healthy sunflower seed butter recipes, I have two jars of Natural Sunbutter to give away one lucky winner.  All you have to do is comment on this post, letting me know what you would make if you won this prize.

Note that by entering this competition you agree to receive all sorts of yummy ideas and recipes for gluten and dairy-free cooking at home in your e-mail inbox!

US residents only please.  This giveaway closes September 8, 2017.  Winners will be contacted via e-mail shortly after.

For another chance to win, head on over to my Instagram account at @cookathome.info and enter the giveaway there as well!

6 Healthy sunflower seed butter recipes

So what do you think?  Have I inspired you to think of sunflower seed butter a little bit more?  I’d love to hear if you’ve made anything with this butter, or what you’d like to make with it in the future.  And any ideas that you’d like me to give a go as well.  Just let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with healthy sunflower seed butter recipes!

Sarah

6 healthy sunflower seed butter recipes - all gluten and dairy-free, Paleo-friendly and without any refined sugar! #sunbutter

How to stay Whole30 compliant while camping

You’ve decided to do a Whole30, and then you realize that you had plans to go camping during that 30 days.  What do you do?  Normally camping is a time where diets and healthy food choices fly out the window because eating outdoors just tastes so good!  And you excuse yourself by saying you’ve been walking around more than normal so this marshmallow, or chocolate, or packet of chips isn’t really going to hurt you.  And you know what?  You’re right!  A weekend of indulgence isn’t going to hurt you.

But, if you’ve committed to doing 30 days of Whole30 eating, and you decide to eat typical camping food … well, that usually means you would need to start your Whole30 again.  Never fear, I’m here to help!  I’ve just gone on a camping trip with the family, and I’m in the middle of my third Whole30.  And I stayed compliant for every meal, while the rest of the family had the indulgent pleasures described above.  How did I do it?  And end up looking as happy as in the photo below?

How to stay Whole30 compliant while camping

Plan ahead

While our camping trip was kind of spontaneous – Grant and I looked at each other one Sunday and said we wanted to go camping the following weekend – that still gave me plenty of time to think of what meals I could have that were compliant, and yet satisfy the family of picky eaters.  Fortunately we had gone camping previously just before my second Whole30 so I had a few meal ideas already in my head.  You can’t really go wrong with meat and veggies …

Cook ahead

Instead of getting to a campsite, often when it’s dark or late afternoon, and realizing you’ve got to set up the tent, find all the cooking utensils and the food, we’ve found it’s much easier to simply cook the meal ahead, put it in a ziplock bag and all you have to do is reheat it.  Now this works wonders with soup, tacos, satays, casseroles, you name it.  And all you need is a frying pan and a burner.  Couldn’t be easier!

Bring compliant snacks

You know the feeling – the rest of the family is roasting marshmallows, to dunk in their pudding cups (or maybe that’s just our family!), or they are snacking on crackers and dip, or chocolate, while you know very well that none of those foods are Whole30 compliant.  Well, you have a few options:

  • Sit by yourself feeling very sorry for yourself,
  • Sit next to them and lord it over them that you’re much healthier than they are (let’s see how long the family camaraderie lasts with that one!)
  • Sit with them and eat some Whole30 compliant snacks, such as fruit, nuts, meat bars (I love Epic Bars and Wild Zora Bars) etc and join in the fun

Sounds easy … right?  But what do you actually eat?  Here’s some ideas for you:

Whole30 compliant camping meal ideas

Breakfast

This shouldn’t be too difficult – eggs and sugar-free bacon would win every day for me, with a side of snack veggies or fruit.  Fills you up and keeps you full much longer than any sugar-filled cereal or toast and jam (although they are both yummy in their own right at times!)

Lunch away from camp

Now, if you’re out all day and you need something to take with you, while the rest of the family has snacks … try one of those meat bars I mentioned above with some snack veggies such as snow peas, baby carrots, celery sticks, and a piece of fruit.  And make your own trail mix to snack on if you need an added energy boost while hiking or whatever you’re doing.

Lunch at camp and dinner 

These can be interchangeable – as you are aware, food shouldn’t really be classified as breakfast, lunch or dinner foods – just food that can be eaten.  Here’s where you can let your imagination go wild.  Give these a go with options for those non-Whole30 family members

  • Taco meat with salad (family can have corn chips to make Nacho Taco Dippos, or wraps or tortilla shells for tacos or burritos)
  • Satay chicken with salad or cauliflower rice (family can also have rice, or wraps)
  • Soup, such as this, this or this (family can add bread rolls for dipping)
  • Casserole, such as this, this or this (family additions as for the soup)
  • Or something just as simple as steak and salad

There we go – hope this has helped you.  If you would like any suggestions, or would like to make some suggestions for me to try for our next camping trip (because there will definitely be more of them!), please comment below!

So it’s still cooking at home, but eating outside.  Best of both worlds if you ask me!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

The Great British Baking Show

One thing we’ve become accustomed to while living in the US is binge-watching TV shows.   Grant and I have gone through all the episodes of shows such as House, Hawaii Five-O (in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Hawaii – yay!), NCIS and other drama series.  I also love watching shows such as Alton Brown’s Good Eats and other food shows (obviously!).  But the one show that we just hang out for new episodes to come onto Netflix is The Great British Baking Show.

This is a reality TV show where amateur cooks compete against each other, all with different technical challenges, signature bakes and show-stoppers.  I’ve learned so much about baking while watching this show – and I’m trying to improve my decorating as well!  We love this show because (a) it’s British and not American, so a totally different culture compared to where we currently live and (b) some of it reminds us of sweets and pastries we had growing up in Australia.  

Over the past few weeks, Abby and I have both tried to make recipes that we saw on the show.  Abby, as is her way, wanted to make choux buns religieuse.  Not just for the family, but for when we had guests for dinner as well.  For those of you (like me) who had no idea what these are, let me break it down for you:

  • Choux pastry – kind of like the eclair-type pastry
  • Creme patissiere – a fancy way of saying custard
  • Chocolate ganache – hopefully that’s self-explanatory
  • Whipped cream – ditto

Basically, make the pastry, inject it with the custard, dip in the ganache and assemble with the whipped cream.  They look like little ‘nuns’, or as we called them ‘penguins’.  Anyway, see what you think for the comparison – the actual recipe photo on the left, Abby’s on the right

I was impressed – and as they were full gluten and full dairy, I didn’t get to try any of them, but from the feedback from our guests, they were a winner!

For my effort, I tried to make an ice cream roll.  On the show they were tasked to make a dairy-free ice cream (which I had no problem with), a sponge cake and some jam and roll it all together.  There wasn’t just one recipe for this challenge as they could all make their own variety, so I did too.  I made a paleo sponge roll, made my own strawberry jam, some almond butter ice cream with blueberries inside and a chocolate frosting on top.  It definitely wasn’t as glamorous as those on the show were, but we definitely enjoyed it!

And then, because I wasn’t satisfied with just one recipe, I thought I’d try to make macaroons.  Not quite sure what the difference is between macaroons, with 2 ‘o’, and macaron, with 1 ‘o’ – maybe someone can enlighten me?  Anyway, the British cooks seem to use these on a regular basis, and they are naturally gluten-free, so I thought I’d give them a go.  With egg whites, sugar, powdered sugar and almond flour, I thought I’d have no problems.  Well, the texture and taste on mine were great – I made them into a mint macaroon with a chocolate filling – but they were a little bit flatter than I’d like.  Maybe next time I’ll pipe them into smaller rounds so they’ll rise more?  Any advice from experienced macaroon bakers would be greatly appreciated.  Again, the left photo is from the show, the right photo is from me.

Again, not too bad, all things considered!

Anyway, thanks for reading all my ramblings – just know that I’m not going to stop baking any time soon.  There’s so many more recipes I want to try!  And any suggestions you may have for me would be welcomed as well!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

An auspicious occasion and a request

Today marks a very special occasion for me.  As of today, I have now updated all the photos on this website with (hopefully) more artistic and better (!) photos of all the yummy food that I’ve been making.  Can everyone do a happy dance with me to celebrate, please?!

For those who have been along for the ride, you will remember how about 6 months ago, I really started getting into the social media scene.  This was to challenge myself to make my food look better, and to find out lots of new ideas from bloggers around the world.  I started to realize pretty quickly that my photos were just not up to par when I looked at what everyone else was posting.  So I asked for help, and researched a few topics, reached out to a number of Facebook groups for food photography and food blogging in general.  And I think I’ve improved.  

Below are just some of the photos that I’m really proud of:

      

       

      

What do you think?  I know I’ll never win any food photography awards, but I’d like to think these are ok for social media purposes?

And now the request …

You’ve been through my journey with first gluten-free baking and cooking, then adding the dairy-free issues, then the vegan sugar-free trial period, and then the issues with corn etc, leading to the Whole30 adventures.  My question to you is – what type of recipes do you want me to look at developing next?  I’ve had lots of fun re-doing all the recipes on this website, and have been developing a few others along the way, but I want to know what you want me to do.  What challenges do you want to give me?  I’m up for anything!  Just tell me!

I look forward to reading lots of ideas  in the comments below!  

As always, feel free to let other people know about this little ol’ website if you like what you see.  Sign up for updates on new recipes and general experimenting in the kitchen, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and/or Facebook.  I just ask that you all enjoy life and cooking at home!

Until next time,

Sarah

 

 

My second Whole30

I have just completed my second Whole30 – and have learnt a lot more about myself and my relationship with food than I ever thought possible.  

For those of you who don’t know what the Whole30 is, check out their website.  Basically, it’s a 30 day reset, where you eat whole, nutritious foods and eliminate those foods that have the potential to cause issues in your system – digestive and psychological.  You eat lots of meats and veggies, eggs, fish, fruit and nuts and remove gluten, dairy, alcohol, legumes and grains.  And sugar.  And then follow a structured reintroduction protocol to positively identify the impact those various foods have on your system so you can make an informed decision about whether you want to eat them … whether it’s worth the reaction, if there is one.

I did my first Whole30 in October (see posts here, here, here and here) and established some good habits (like not standing next to a bowl of cookie dough and putting the spoon in my mouth so many times I only make half the amount of finished product).  And I felt a lot better, less bloated, more clearer mind.  But then November and December happened … and I started moving towards more and more eating cookie dough and cake batter, having less Whole30-ish meal days, my digestive system started to react again and I knew I needed to nip this in the bud, so I committed to a second Whole30 in January.

This time around I wanted to make recipes from other people and test them out on the family – getting more creative in the kitchen.  And people have asked me what I eat … so here’s a round-up of all the meals I made … and all of them were awesome!

From the Whole30 cookbook (thanks to my awesome husband for my lovely Christmas present!):

  • Twice baked Mexican potatoes
  • Italian slow cooker roast beef
  • Green pork and cauliflower curry
  • Ketchup
  • Garlic and prosciutto smashed potatoes
  • Grilled bacon wrapped turkey

From other bloggers:

And I couldn’t forget all the Whole30 compliant recipes I have on this website, which I made during the 30 days:

Try any or all of these recipes, feel better about eating good, wholesome food, and let me know what to think!

Until next time, enjoy cooking these (and other) recipes at home!

Sarah

 

Winter camping food

Call us crazy, call us whatever, but for the past two years the family has gone camping at Christmas time.  For all you Southern Hemisphere people, that probably doesn’t sound like a very big deal.  For all us Northern Hemisphere people, just one word.  Snow.  And lots of it.  And did I mention, we camp in tents?

Last year we camped at Zion National Park, where the days were bright and sunny, there was a little snow on the ground, and it was quite cold at night.  Well, below freezing actually.  We ended up buying a few more blankets and other winter gear while we were camping out.  So this year, we wanted to try another National Park, and chose Bryce Canyon.  Now, Bryce is at 8000 ft elevation, so is definitely higher than Zion.  Strike one.

The weather forecast when we were planning on going showed the first two days with snow, clearing to the blue sky and sunny skies for the next two days of our trip (but considerably colder – maximum temperatures not even reaching freezing).  When we set off, it was snowing.  The roads had snow.  Lots of snow.  But we were holding onto the belief that the snow would clear after the first day.  We set up our tents in the snow.  We made a camp fire in the snow.  Henry made a path in the snow from our campsite to the amenities block … you get the picture.

The second day it was still snowing, but there was about an hour or so of sunshine and blue skies.  And then the snow came back.  With fog.  We did go for a hike – we were told that the fog was not as dense lower in the canyon – see for yourself!

Yes, that is Grant and me, standing where the fog was the least!  We ended up sticking it out for another night, when a huge winter snowstorm came through and almost buried our tents.  We ended up having to crawl through our tents that collapsed under the weight of the snow.  Packing up was probably the quickest we have ever done it, and it was very good to get back home.  So we missed out on two days worth of camping … but the forecast showed more snow and more fog for the rest of the time.  And it really wasn’t that much fun hiking in the snow to not see anything.  The kids were troopers, though, I was so proud of them!

What has this got to do with a cooking website, I hear you ask?  Well, let me share with you what we ate while camping.  I managed to stay relatively on the Whole30 plan (i.e. no sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, gluten) with just a few exceptions along the way.  Here’s what our main meals were:

From the top left clockwise: taco soup, ham and potato soup, beef stew and satay chicken (obviously these aren’t the actual photos of what we took camping, but you get the idea!).  Our breakfasts consisted of eggs and either bacon or sausages – I also brought some sweet potato toast and avocado so I could have my all time favorite breakfast (recipe here).  And our lunches were basically sausages, or pulled pork or burgers (recipe here) with salad for me (bread-type stuff for the rest of the family).

So we ate pretty well – I cooked up all of the main meals before we went so it was just a matter of reheating … which was very convenient considering it was snowing every time!

Anyway, thanks for reading this far – feel free to let me know in the comments on whether you think we are seriously crazy, or whether we should continue camping in the winter!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home (or while camping … in or out of the snow!)

Sarah

Whole30 – nearly the end

It’s coming to the end of my Whole30 and I wanted to update you all on how I went. 

I can honestly say that I feel better than I have in such a long time. My stomach is so much flatter i.e. not bloated, I don’t feel the constant need to exercise off overeating episodes, and in general I feel happier, without the guilt of overeating. And I’ve been able to bake so many sweets without having a single lick or bite. Not. One. Single. Bite. 

This photo is a collage of all the goodies I have made this month … including things like my favorite monster cookies, peanut butter fudge, my ultimate chocolate peanut butter slice, carrot cake and granola.  Lots of granola.  The granola was meant for Abby when she realized how much better she could be eating but she didn’t really stick with it that much.  I’m still working on her though!

whole30-non-whole30-dishes

Mind you, a lot of the time I baked with full gluten and full dairy so I knew I would suffer some pretty terrible pains if I did give in, but I still made a few things that technically I could have eaten.  And I didn’t!  I’m so proud of myself!

I’m still being challenged with how much to eat at each meal. Over the past week or so I’be been really hungry. And I feel like I’ve been eating way more than previously. The recommendation is to just have 3 meals a day but to snack on a combination of protein, fat and/or carbs if hungry. I’ve been trying to avoid snacking, but I’ve given in a few times. People have told me it can take 4-6 weeks without the sugar and grainy carbs for your body to use the fat and protein for energy instead so I’m waiting for that to kick in. 

I havent weighed myself, or measured myself all month but I’m pretty sure I have lost some weight and inches at least. And I haven’t missed peanut butter or sugar at all. To be honest, I am a little scared of how I’ll go next month and whether I’ll gradually slide back into my old habits, but the funny thing is, the first non-whole30 compliant food I’m thinking of having is green peas in a soup or casserole. Not sweets or peanut butter. How weird is that?

Anyway, just thought you guys could celebrate with me … counting down the days but will probably continue eating this way the majority of the time and only splurging on the non-compliant foods when it’s really worth it. It will be interesting to see how my body copes with legumes and grains again … wish me luck!

Thanks for reading and for following me on the journey. I look forward to posting many more new recipes across the gamut of all things gluten and dairy free in the coming months!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

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