Chococcino muffins

Chococcino muffins

Chococcino muffins

Experimenting a little with the delicious triumph that was our grain-free chocolate cupcakes, I decided to try chococcino muffins for an early evening kick. Here they are:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup nut butter – we used the delicious and imminently affordable macadamia nut butter at our local Spar, but you could use anything you prefer, or even make your own. I think sunbutter would work too, though you run the risk of the cupcakes turning green.
  • 1 tbsp coconut cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ginger (optional)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tbsp ground coffee
  • 4 tbsp raw honey
  • ½ cup raisins

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the raisins in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the raisins and pulse for a few minutes.
  4. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases.
  5. The original recipe I used said “bake for about ten minutes”. Ours took at least 20 minutes, so I recommend letting your nose guide you, and poking them with a stick when they smell done, to make doubly sure.

Grain free, sugar free, dairy free chocolate muffins (can be nut free)

Chocolate cupcakes - grain free and sugar free

Chocolate cupcakes – grain free and sugar free

This weekend has been a lot of fun for us! My friend is moving house, and we’ve had the joy of looking after her lovely kids for the weekend. She thinks we’re helping her. Heh heh. In fact, it’s all part of our evil plot to steal the adorable munchkins and keep them for ourselves!

Dexter, the young evil genius of the pair, decided we needed to bake chocolate cupcakes.  A super-quick Google search delivered a delicious-looking recipe for grain-free cupcakes, and a little inventive adding and substituting delivered my new go-to cup cake recipe (until the next one appears).

Chocolate Cup Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup nut butter – we used the delicious and imminently affordable macadamia nut butter at our local Spar, but you could use anything you prefer, or even make your own. I think sunbutter would work too, though you run the risk of the cupcakes turning green.
  • 1 small banana (optional but subtly delicious)
  • 3 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ginger (optional)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 4 tbsp raw honey
  • ½ cup raisins

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the raisins in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the raisins and pulse for a few minutes.
  4. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases.
  5. The original recipe I used said “bake for about ten minutes”. Ours took at least 20 minutes, so I recommend letting your nose guide you, and poking them with a stick when they smell done, to make doubly sure.

I’m off to bake another batch … and fill out some adoption papers, I think. This full-house thing really works for me. 😉

Super-safe SCD mayonnaise

Delicious home-made sugar-free SCD mayonnaise

Delicious home-made sugar-free SCD mayonnaise

Before starting SCD, I enjoyed mayonnaise, but I could take it or leave it. a few days without mayo made no difference. Since starting this eating plan and losing so much weight, however, getting all the calories we can get has become important. So has finding delicious food that we’re actually allowed to eat! That’s why this mayonnaise is such a Godsend. We love it, and don’t go more than a day or so without a fresh jar in the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt (we love Imbali Blends Herbal Salt)
  • 1 tsp paprika (optional but delicious. Again, we love the one sold by Imbali Blends)
  • 3 tbsp lemon/lime juice (apple cider vinegar is also good, or use a mixture of each).  You may prefer it more or less tangy, so feel free to experiment.
  • 1 tsp mustard. Feel free to experiment with brands, types and quantities.  Our favourite is the french wholegrain mustard sold at our local shopping centre. Make sure you check the ingredients in your mustard: no starch of any kind, and no sugar!
  • 1 tsp – 1 tbsp raw honey (optional)
  • 1 cup oil (not coconut oil. Olive oil is healthy; avocado oil is delicious)

Method

  • Blend all the ingredients except the oil until very well combined.
  • VERY slowly add the oil, beating all the time.
  • Store in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long ;))

SCD Updates (intro diet)

We’ve only been on the intro diet for two days. The guidelines all over the web say 2-5 days, but I think for the sake of all of our sanity we’ll transition into phase 1 tomorrow. I can’t tell you how appealing butternut looks right now!

Today I found this post, which helped motivate me a lot.

We’ve been very strict, although I did let the girls each have bananas today. Red Riding Hood has terrible nausea and vomiting, but there’s a bug doing the rounds, so I don’t think it’s related to the diet. As a result of the bug, she has only eaten the one banana and a little diluted pure fruit juice today, and most of that has come straight out again. Even so, her tummy is a lot less distended and hard than it has been up to now. Her eyes look clearer, too. I can’t say how she’s sleeping since last night was one of those hellish nights moms fear and dread.

Goldilocks has lost 2kg! This is a bit of a shock since she really doesn’t have any room to lose any weight. She has a headache and she’s been tearful most of today and part of yesterday. She didn’t seem to sleep too well, either. She’s hungry, which is a good sign since she often goes for ages not being hungry. She still hasn’t had a bowel movement, but it has only been two days, after all. Her concentration in school today was much better. (An awesome advantage of home education is that I can keep track of this myself).

Papa Bear is a bit tired and has a vague headache, but he actually seems really well – more motivated and “present” than usual. This might be a result of having more sleep since we’re pretty drained by the detox and we’ve been getting our eight hours.

I have a raging headache, sore joints and all over lethargy. Frankly, I want a chocolate bar, a pillow, and my privacy! But I know this is the natural result of yeast die-off. It’s well documented and frankly, I’m getting off lightly from what I’ve read. My skin is clearer and my tummy is a different shape – much less distended than it was on Sunday night. I am amazed at how fast it’s working!

The hardest thing to give up has been coffee. We can reintroduce that tomorrow though, so long as it’s weak. Apparently cocoa is a no-no, but I seriously need to investigate that! In three weeks it’s Goldilocks’ birthday. She learnt to ride her bicycle yesterday (YAY!!) and wants to go on a bicycle picnic for her birthday. I’m working on a menu for the picnic that is SCD-legal and party friendly.

I’ll update again at the end of phase 1, which should be in about a week or so. I’d love to hear from anyone trying the diet or considering it.

Update on costs

I was right when I said R165 seemed a little light for our family for a week. We had to top up yesterday, so week 1 is currently sitting at R210. Still not bad for our family.

SCD, Here we Come!

Alright, we’re ready. On Saturday we went shopping and bought everything we need for the SCD Intro Diet. This is supposed to last for three days (give or take a day), and it cost us R164. That’s really, really good for three days for our family, so I think perhaps it won’t last as long as I’m hoping. But some of that stuff will last longer than three days, like the eggs, so we’ll see.

I spent most of Sunday (the bits where we weren’t at Church), preparing for the diet. I have given my family their “last meals.” (Pies and crisps. I know. Don’t judge me). I have cooked up a gigantic pot of chicken-and-carrot soup, 36 meatballs, 8 bowls of grape jelly and a dish of purèed carrots. I also have 40-odd eggs in the fridge, just waiting to be breakfast!

Now, I don’t know how long this lot is supposed to last, but it feels like about two days’ worth. Except the jelly – that’ll get us through today only. Again, we’ll see. The intro diet is supposed to take between two and five days, so we’ll re-evaluate on Tuesday night and decide what to do next. I foresee another full day of cooking in my future, though.

Here’s what I hope to achieve from all of this preparation:

  • Fewer headaches (especially for Goldilocks and me);
  • Fewer stomach cramps (especially for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood);
  • Better concentration (esp. Papa Bear and Goldilocks);
  • Fewer mood swings (all of us);
  • Better skin (mainly me);
  • Fewer allergic reactions (all of us but especially Papa Bear);
  • Fewer nightmares (Red Riding Hood);
  • Better sleep (all of us, but esp. Papa Bear and me);
  • More energy (the Big Bears again); and
  • Better focus.

When I list these like this they really don’t seem that serious. One might even wonder why we’re bothering with such a strict diet and lifestyle change. But the thing is that the headaches are really debilitating at times, leaving the girls in tears and me wishing I could get away with tears! The girls spend a lot of time doubled over in agony at their stomach cramps (and their relief is our demise as they expel the offending bubbles. Sorry to share but this journey is important to me and I need to remember as much of where we started as possible so that when I look back I can see real change).

My skin breaks out all the time. It’s painful and decidedly embarrassing, given that I really am too old for this kind of thing. I’ve even had to cancel client meetings because of my skin (or headaches, or tummy troubles). Papa Bear and Goldilocks battle to concentrate and often Papa Bear’s not even here, despite being physically present. He also battles terribly with hay fever, and his hay fever, tiredness and tummy troubles have kept him out of meetings and appointments, too. Not being able to concentrate affects us all and I imagine things can only improve if we have better moods and better focus.

My vision for the outcome of this new eating plan is that we will have energy, joy, focus, time (because of better sleep and better planning), success (because of more confidence and fewer canceled appointments), and all-round awesomeness. I know the beginning is very tough indeed, and I don’t expect it to be easy, but I am looking forward to the long term results. I’ll keep you posted.

Every one a coconut.

After the coconut milk had been made,  I still had no inclination to get to “work”, and besides, I was technically in the middle of home school. So while I listened to the girls reading, I made ice cream and macaroons.

The ice cream was a big hit and super easy:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • as much vanilla essence as you like (or none at all – I used just shy of a teaspoon)
  • honey (I used aboout 1.5 tablespoons, and found it rather sweet)

Blend everything well in a food processor, then freeze. This amount of mixture made six ice lollies, and froze reasonably fast. It was delicious but I think next time I will take it out of the freezer and beat it a couple of times to get the crystals out. If chocolate was allowed on the SCD I would definitely dunk the ice lollies in melted chocolate. So much of nice.

The macaroons were less successful. I’ve made macaroons many times and while I’m no Daniela, they’ve always been edible and in most cases people ask for more.

Not today.

I think I hadn’t squeezed enough coconut milk out of the coconut, and I also substituted honey for sugar, so almost immediately my light and fluffy egg whites swirled into slightly separated strangeness. I thought a tablespoon of macadamia nut butter would help to reconstitute the mass into something that would sort-of hold together, but that was a mistake and I knew that before I even opened the jar.

It wasn’t all bad, because after 20 minutes of baking, the macaroons began to resemble the correct consistency. I let them cool, scraped them into a bowl, and formed the lot into 9 little balls. Baking these yielded something … well … something. But it’s edible. And you don’t need a spoon.

I won’t post the recipe until I have one that works.

So, why the coconut?

Cracked-open coconut. (Kimi’s, not mine).

Have I mentioned SCD? I’m sure I have and you’re probably like everyone else who knows me by now: over it! But whether or not you’re over it or you’ve never heard of it, it is fascinating and I can’t wait to get started. All I need to do is read the book, understand the book, and get started.

I have started reading the book, so I know that coconuts make up a big part of the diet. They are a good source of a lot of the things our bodies need, and easily digestible. Coconut milk can be used as a regular milk substitute. It can be turned into yoghurt, and used for smoothies and ice cream. The liquid inside the coconut is a valuable source of electrolytes and the flesh is delicious and multi-functional.

Empowered by all of this information and ready to act, I headed off to the green grocer and bought the first coconut I have ever personally owned. Nestled among the bananas (to make it feel at home), we admired it for a few days, then finally decided to depilate it on Monday morning. I had expected the process to take long, and I supposed it did, but not as long as anticipated. Removing the hairy husk was followed by driving a nail into the eyes to see if any liquid came out. It did not.

Next up was the extremely satisfactory process of hammering it open. I wrapped the coconut in a dish towel, took it outside, and holding it down firmly by the dish towel I hammered away with semi-gay abandon. It was fun. Highly recommended.

Once it was broken open, I faced the tedious task of scraping off the softish brown outside of the flesh with a sharp knife which, despite the element of danger, was rather dull. The blender served well to break the flesh into the recognisable consistency of dessicated coconut, though without so much of the dessicated. I really enjoyed discovering the thick, waxy white by product smeared on everything (not sarcastic, I promise), and used that to great effect in lieu of cooking oil for frying the onions I used for dinner.

Using the method I found here, on the wonderful Nourishing Gourmet blog, I made coconut milk. I thought it was delicious, and really enjoyed it in my coffee. It was a little thin, but I think that’s because of the ancientness of the coconut I’d bought, which had not even a drop of liquid inside.

Given the cost of the coconut, the labour involved, the sheer delight of hammering the thing open (which in my mind is worth the cost all by itself), the by products (“oil”, coconut pulp), and the health benefits of it all, I think this is a potentially worthwhile pursuit. I could have made more coconut milk by using more water. (I used two cups, then one cup, while the recipe suggests two cups, then two cups. That made 2.5 cups of coconut milk). I could also have squeezed the pulp harder to get more out, I later found, and I now know that I need cheesecloth. Is that stuff reusable? I should probably have let it stand in the water for longer too. Some people even simmer it gently, which I may try next time.

Coco Mojo

Yesterday was a good day. Full of energy and accomplishment, it was the kind of day I wish every day was. Having worked until nearly 2AM the night before, when I had put my house in order by 7AM, I was disinclined to do any billable work. (Funny, that). So instead I “supervised” the girls as they sorted out their room. This process was made both more and less difficult by their best friend spending the day with us. She helped a lot, but the three girls can never spend more than a few minutes together without collapsing in giggles, and I didn’t have the heart to unleash Mean Momma on their hilarity.

We only started “school” around 9:30!

"Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild" has great special features, including an art lesson!

“Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild” has great special features, including an art lesson!

BFF (Tinkerbell) was visiting because she’d begged her mom to let her come and try a day of home school with us. We started by hacking open a coconut*, moved on to reading, made coconut milk, studied the Bible, made coconut ice-cream, then took a break. After lunch Papa Bear helped them to make hovercrafts to study the effects of air pressure, then moved on to an art lesson. Since we’re currently looking at identifying the shapes within objects, we decided to use the “learn to draw” part of the Stuart Little 3 DVD for today’s lesson. We drew Snowbell and Reeko, but by Stuart we were pooped. Although Goldilocks was up to the challenge of creating the little mouse, and did a good job, too.

I made the left over “dessicated” coconut into arguably the worst macaroons in the world, although they were better after I rebaked them, having dried out a little the first time around.

Papa Bear played tag with the girls out front while I made supper. They laughed and played and frequently declared, “Daddy needs to be disciplined!” This out burst was followed by well-intentioned beatings with a miniature yard broom, rendered utterly jelly-like as a result of mirth-overdose.

Dinner was delicious, despite Tinkerbell’s absence (she’d already gone home), and everyone relaxed in front of an animated movie afterwards. *Bliss*.

Why can’t every day be like this?


*More on the coconut to follow.

Oh the depth of wickedness I have plumbed!

I have a very sweet tooth. It’s not a good thing, since sugar tends to make me squirly. (Although I am assured by my fans that it’s most amusing to watch!). I love chocolate. I loved fudge. I love condensed milk.

Fortunately, my allergies have been a strong deterrent. The sugar makes me squirly, as I’ve mentioned. Dairy does unkind things to my complexion, and the combination does both, with a side order of twitchy headache. It’s a good thing, because without symptoms I’d be gigantic. In fact, part of me is convinced that God got tired of trying to answer my prayer for will-power, so He gave me allergies instead. Effective.

Until today.

Dairy-free condensed milk. Toffee-like and delicious.Dairy-free condensed milk. Toffee-like and delicious.That’s because a simple and poorly-intentioned Google search revealed the key to dairy-free desert nirvana: a simple recipe for making your own condensed milk! Oh wow. So I made some. Since I was experimenting with ingredients, I made less than the recipe suggested, but I will confess that as I write this, scarcely two hours since I started the experiment, there’s precious little of the gooey, toffee-coloured deliciousness left.

The original recipe can be found here, but this is what I did. (Heads up: this is an easy snack, but not a quick one).

Ingredients

  • 1 litre dairy-free milk. I used soya milk, although I imagine rice or almond milk would work too.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar -greatly reduced from the recipes I found online (can also use brown sugar). I totally used thick treacly sugar for this … *sigh* … Next time I might xylitol or even, if I’m feeling particularly adventurous, stevia.
  • 1 tablespoon butter (Optional – to thicken the milk). I used margarine. I might omit this next time.
Thick and gooey and ickily sweet. Yumm.Thick and gooey and ickily sweet. Yumm.Method
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring the milk and the sugar to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently for about two hours (yeah, I know..) until the volume is reduced by half. The mixture should be barely simmering and never bubbling at any point. Stir every 15 minutes or so to keep the milk from forming the “skin” on top. I forgot to stir and the milk burnt slightly and turn yellowish instead of remaining white. The original author said this but I did the same thing, so I’m leaving it in.
  3. After 2 hours, stir in butter.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and let the milk cool. The mixture will thicken further after it has cooled. Try HARD not to eat the fresh, hot condensed milk. It does scald, although the sheer bliss masks the symptoms for a bit.