Foodie Friday: Food Waste and a banana saving recipe!

Food waste and a banana saving recipe

Last night at my monthly WI meeting, I was treated to a talk from Duncan Milwain from Saltaire Canteen, a pay-as-you-feel cafe centred around intercepting food waste. The canteen is part of the Real Junk Food Project, of which Duncan is a Trustee, and he came to tell us about the project and why it’s so important.

I was fairly aware that we waste an awful lot of food as a nation, in part because of silly food labelling and regulations, but I had no idea just how much. The biggest shocker for me was that, averaged out, we waste more than one whole chicken per person per year, which is just awful. And despite bananas being the nation’s favourite fruit, it is also the most wasted one. We consume over five billion a year, but bananas also account for 20% of the 15 million tonnes of food waste produced in the UK each year!

I confess, this made me pretty mad….I know that most of us prefer to eat them before they get too ripe (although there are more health benefits associated with them once they’re brown!) but we never throw any away in our house, because even the over-ripe ones still have plenty of uses! Banana loaf is probably the most well known use for over-ripe bananas (we love it with butter on at breakfast, and I’m currently working on a very healthy recipe using only coconut flour and oil, with no refined sugar!), and indeed it’s better made with brown speckly ones than green ones by far. But that’s not much good if you don’t have the other fresh ingredients to hand, or especially if you don’t have the time to bake one when your bananas happen to be ready. And as a fellow WI member pointed out last night, if you’re watching your treat intake, making cake from fruit isn’t really a good idea.

So, what we do with the bananas we know we won’t eat is to quickly chop them up, stick them in a storage tub and bung them in the freezer. Why? To make ice cream!!! We’ve been doing this for yonks as it’s really the easiest thing in the world, and great for when we want bananas on the side of pancakes or a Belgian waffle but have none in the fruit bowl. And recently we’ve been a bit more creative too, adding things to make a sweeter and more chocolatey version. I know plenty of people do the same, but with so many bananas being wasted I thought I’d share our recipe in the hope that it stops a few bananas going in the bin!

Basic Healthy Banana Ice Cream Recipe

  1. Chop your too-ripe bananas roughly and pop them in a storage container in the freezer for at least 24 hours
  2. Take the frozen bananas out and transfer to a bowl or measuring jug
  3. Blend the bananas, ideally with a stick blender, adding a little milk (we like to use coconut and/or almond milk) if needs be to help the process
  4. Et voilà! Yum up your banana ice cream on its own, with a yummy pudding or sweet breakfast

Slightly Naughty Chocolatey Banana Ice Cream Recipe

  1. Chop your too-ripe bananas roughly and pop them in a storage container in the freezer for at least 24 hours
  2. Take the frozen bananas out and transfer to a bowl or measuring jug
  3. Blend the bananas, ideally with a stick blender, adding a little milk (we like to use coconut and/or almond milk) if needs be to help the process
  4. Add a glug of maple syrup, a drop of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of raw cacao powder, and gently mix together…you may want to adjust the amounts to taste and return the mixture to the freezer for a little if it’s too melty

Both recipes make the most delicious treat, a creamy-smooth gelato-like ice cream…plus it can easily be dairy free. And even the chocolatey version isn’t too naughty at all…the maple syrup provides a sweetness boost without refined sugars, and raw cacao has many known health benefits because of its high fibre and antioxidants. Plus, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve eaten something that may otherwise have gone to waste. Winner!

 

Ems x

 

 

 

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Foodie Friday: Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Muffins

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it loads, but for a while now we’ve been getting an organic vegetable box delivered fortnightly. It’s a great way to eat seasonally, support local farmers and force yourself to make different things all the time. The only downside is that you can end up with too much of one thing….we’ve recently had a spate of cucumbers and we always seem to have too many carrots!

My husband’s mum and brother also have a glut of cooking apples this year, so I set out to find a recipe to use up a whole load of carrots and apples! As usual, I couldn’t find *quite* what I was looking for, so ended up adapting a few recipes into my own. For a first go, I’m pretty impressed too! I usually have to tweak a recipe a few times, but these came out really well on the first attempt. My only goal now is to replace the caster sugar with unrefined sugar, but that’s a challenge for another day!

These make excellent breakfast treats, and you could easily make them the day prior to serve to overnight guests. They’re also pretty healthy (*I* think!) and are a great gluten free, low fat treat.

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins Recipe

Ingredients (makes about 12 large and 12 mini muffins):

  • 240g organic oats (buy carefully if you are gluten intolerant!)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 60g organic coconut flour
  • 200g fair trade golden caster sugar
  • 4 tspn baking soda
  • 2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1 tspn all spice
  • 1/2 tspn ground ginger
  • 1/2 tspn grated nutmeg
  • 6 organic eggs
  • 100ml organic coconut oil
  • 100ml water
  • 340ml organic milk
  • 200g grated organic carrot (about four)
  • 125g grated cooking apple (one medium)
  • 120g sultanas
  • 120g chopped mixed nuts (optional)
  • extra nutmeg and nuts, plus some demerara sugar for topping

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins Recipe

How to make them:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C /gas mark 4.
  2. Pop your sultanas in a bowl and cover with hot water to soften them…you can leave them like this until they need to go into the mixture later
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients (oats, almonds, flour, sugar, baking soda and spices)
  4. Beat your eggs and melt the coconut oil, then mix those together with the water and milk
  5. Add the fruit to this, then add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients
  6. Combine until you have a nicely mixed battery-dough, and mix the nuts in if you’re using them
  7. Grease your muffin tins and line with cases if you like, then pour in the mixture level with the top
  8. Sprinkle some extra nuts, demerara sugar and / or grated nutmeg on top, then pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean
  9. Once baked, remove and cool a little before removing the muffins from the tins
  10. Serve warm and with a little creme fraiche or yoghurt if you like!

Do you have a veggie box delivered? What recipes do you use to finish up those gluts of courgettes etc.?

Ems x

Foodie Friday: Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe

One of the big benefits of our recent move has been our proximity to Costco. I know. What a loser. But I’m totally in love with the place. I love wandering around seeing what totally random things they’re selling (a hot tub, a wooden castle, multi packs of Sharpies, TVs bigger than a car….) and honing in on the bargains on offer. Their own-brand stuff is just wonderful….the Kirkland maple syrup is some of the best I’ve ever had, and their vodka is terrific!

They also have some really great organic and whole-food offerings now too, and we’re now getting all our pasta there as well as buying organic virgin coconut oil in bulk. Whilst wandering the aisles there recently we came across a bumper pack of organic coconut flour. Noticing that it’s gluten free and you can use it as a substitute for regular flour, we thought we’d give it a whirl.

Apparently, coconut flour is one of the healthiest available…. because it’s not grain-based like most flour, it is non-inflammatory like those which contain gluten, and is also very low in carbs. The fats are of the more healthy kind (as with coconut oil they are primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids or ‘MCTs’) and have been shown to improve metabolism, being used up for energy, not stored in fatty tissue. It is also high in fibre, which helps fill you up!

Whilst looking up what we could do with our coconut flour, we found that a little goes a long way….you can’t use it as a straight substitute for regular flour for this reason, and it also requires more liquid. There are however lots of great recipes out there, especially for cakes and breads….and why not use it to make a more-healthy-than-usual treat?!

As we were off to a friend’s birthday party around the time we bought the flour, and especially as that friend is wheat intolerant, we decided to bake her a birthday chocolate cake! We scoped out some recipes, and actually baked the cake a second time to perfect this recipe. I’m pretty pleased with it now though, and as it’s made up of ingredients we tend to always have in, I know that it will be a bit of a staple when a baking session is in order!

The texture of the cake is very even….nicely moist but also solid enough to comfortably eat a slice without necessarily needing a plate and fork. Initially it wasn’t sweet enough for me, which is why I tweaked the recipe….now though it is wonderfully velvety and chocolatey, not too sickly but also very satisfying. Especially when you consider it’s so quick and easy to make, plus low in carbs and naughty sugars!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

Ingredients:

30g good quality cocoa
35g coconut flour (ours is made by Nutiva)
7g baking powder (gluten free if you’re gluten intolerant)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
4  free range eggs
3 tablespoons organic honey
3 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml melted virgin coconut oil

For the icing:

approx. 5 tablespoons softened virgin coconut oil
approx. 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
approx. 2 tablespoons organic honey
approx. 2 tablespoons grade A maple syrup

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

 How to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 c and grease and line a 15cm diameter baking tin
  2. Mix together the cocoa (which you may need to sift), coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
  3. Fold in the eggs, honey, vanilla and oil
  4. Mix well until smooth….you will find it takes on an almost mousse-like texture
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack whilst you make the icing
  7. Combine the oil, cocoa, honey and maple syrup using a metal spoon
  8. Depending on the temperature (coconut oil has a very high melting temperature) you may find you want to add more oil or cocoa, and you can also add more honey or syrup to taste, depending on how sweet a tooth you have
  9. You can pop the icing in the fridge to cool it down if it’s too runny, or warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds if it’s too hard….then once you have it to a nice soft fudgey consistency, cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together the two parts with icing
  10. Then just use the rest of the icing to coat the assembled cake (it’s so quick and easy to make that you can always make a bit more if you run out), slice and enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

I bet this cake would work wonderfully with some raspberries and creme fraiche or yoghurt, although we very much enjoyed it on its own. The icing is pretty handy to make a nice chocolate fudge sauce for ice cream or whatever too, as you can make it all runny and gooey by heating it up.

Next I plan to try a banana bread with the coconut flour….I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on!

Ems x

Something on the side…. very easy baked sweet potato chips and broad bean salad recipes

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So the boyf and I are currently on the Weight Watchers diet. We chose it because we don’t have to cut anything out…we just have to cut down a bit! We’re allowed a certain number of points a day each, and some foods ‘cost’ more points than others. What’s great is that things like fruit and most vegetables are ‘free’ and have zero points…whereas things like cake have ‘cost’ lots of points! We’re just about getting the hang of it though, and have learned to fill up on the ‘free’ stuff, whilst reducing things like potatoes, pasta etc.

We fancied falafel for supper last night, and when I went to check how many points it’d cost us, I was a bit put out! I’d thought it would be pretty low in points, but it turns out that just three falafels cost more than half a tin of tuna for example! So, rather than gorge on my usual portion of four plus falafels, alongside piles of rice or pitta bread, I had to get a bit creative….

I’ve been making sweet potato chips this way for ages, the same way I make my regular potato chips in fact. Baking them in just a little olive oil is lots more healthy than frying them, and loads easier too I find. They come out wonderfully crispy on the outside, whilst lovely and soft on the inside. I usually add some seasoning to make them tastier still, but all in all they’re just really simple and quick to make.

For the obligatory ‘something green’ alongside, I raided the fridge and found a lovely big paper bag full of broad beans. We’ve been getting Abel and Cole organic deliveries for a while now, and I love that we get something different each week. Broad beans are one of my favourites though so it’s always exciting finding those in our delivery. I also found a little watercress left over, and a big bunch of spring onions….so there was the basis for my ‘something green’.

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Ingredients for the sweet potato chips….

  • One medium sized sweet potato per person
  • Two teaspoons of olive oil per person
  • A sprinkle of Aromat
  • A sprinkle of crushed chilli flakes

How to make them….

  • Pre-heat the oven to about 200 degrees
  • Peel and chop up your sweet potatoes into nice chunky chips
  • Pour the oil onto a baking sheet and use a pastry brush to spread it all over
  • Tip the potatoes onto the sheet and sprinkle with the Aromat and chilli flakes
  • Now coat them with the oil and seasoning with the brush, mixing them up on the tray and then ensuring they are well spread out
  • Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for around twenty minutes, or until they are golden and crispy…you can test one with a sharp knife to check they are nice and soft
  • Remove from the oven and tray, then place on a sheet of kitchen foil to rid them of excess oil before serving up

Ingredients for the broad bean salad….

  • A handful of broad beans per person, blanched and shelled
  • A large handful of watercress per person, any thick stalky bits trimmed
  • Four or five spring onions per person
  • Two teaspoons of olive oil per person
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • A little dill

How to make it….

  1. Pre-heat your oven to around 200 degrees
  2. Wash your spring onions, remove any browny outer layers, the top and tail them
  3. Then split the spring onions in half, down the length
  4. Spread a teaspoon of oil on a baking sheet (or use some spare space in the tin for the sweet potatoes) and then place the spring onions on it, using a pastry brush to ensure they are coated with oil
  5. Place them in the oven, on a  middle shelf and cook for about ten minutes, or until they crisp up
  6. While they’re cooking, plonk the watercress, broad beans and dill in a large bowl, then pour over one teaspoon of oil and the lemon juice before mixing everything lightly
  7. Once your spring onions are nice and golden and crispy, remove them from the oven, plate up the watercress mix and then serve up the spring onions on top

Done!

I know they’re super easy recipes, but they are dead tasty, and great to go alongside something else more time consuming or complicated perhaps….they’d be lush with a yummy roast chicken breast cooked in tapenade or some lovely marinade. I think they’d also work well as little individual dishes for a sort of tapas spread.

Enjoy!

Ems x

Made with love….. Adam’s Healthy (ish) Spaghetti Carbonara

In our flat, egg cooking is a man’s job. Mainly because Adam is so much better at cooking eggs than me. He cooks the most amazing poached eggs and omelettes, and his carbonara is something of a speciality too. I love this for a quick mid-week dinner alongside some garlic bread, or as a big weekend lunch (it’s excellent hang over food!).

Adam's Healthy (ish) Spaghetti Carbonara


Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 5 nests of tagliatelle
  • 3 Free Range eggs
  • 1 heaped table spoon (approx 100ml) crème fraiche
  • 4 rashers Free Range smoked back bacon, sliced into short strips
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • About 1 heaped table spoon of finely grated hard cheese, such as Pecorino or Parmesan
  • Knob of butter
  • Freshly milled salt and pepper

How to make it:

  1. Boil the pasta until it is cooked al dente
  2. In the mean time whisk together the eggs and then the crème fraiche
  3. Fry up the bacon in its own fat and a little olive oil if needed
  4. Stir the cheese into the egg mixture….. leave this for a minute to check there’s enough…. it should appear grainy so if it’s all disappeared into the mix you need to add more
  5. Drain the pasta and leave aside in a colander
  6. In the pasta pan, melt the butter on a medium heat and then pour in the egg mixture and stir
  7. As the mixture starts to thicken, add the bacon and reduce the heat
  8. Once the egg has started to cook, throw in the pasta and remove from the heat
  9. Give it all a really good stir then season as you like and serve

Hope you enjoy!

Ems x