Focaccia Bread (Keto + Gluten Free)

This is a versatile flatbread that I like both focaccia style (with cracked salt and fresh rosemary) and pizza style with a blend of cheeses on top.

Ingredients

  • 90g ground flaxseed / linseed
  • 30g finely ground almond flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Flavours / toppings, i.e. olive oil, rosemary, cracked sea salt

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free, soy free. (can be made nut free by using only flaxseed).

Directions

  1. Prepare your coconut oil. It needs to be very soft / liquid BUT you don’t want it to be hot and cook the eggs. Depending on climate, either let it liquify on the bench or warm it in the microwave (then wait for it too cool).
  2. Ideally, beat and froth the eggs / coconut oil first but this will work if you simply combine everything and mix vigorously. You can also choose to fold additional ingredients into the base (i.e. rosemary, pizza thyme, sundried tomatoes, olives).
  3. Allow the mixture to rest. I like to put it in the fridge for 30 minutes but even 5-10 minutes on the bench will see the mixture thicken.
  4. Shape and bake (and decorate!). I like to cook mine in the air fryer (lined with baking paper). I split my dough and shape into two flat breads. If I’m making focaccia, I rub a little olive oil on the top, sprinkle cracked salt over it, and add fresh rosemary from the garden. I bake each one at 200’C (392’F) for 12-14 mins. Once cooked, I allow them to cool and then cut to serve. You could also make one large focaccia bread and bake in the oven.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Based on 4 servings per recipe; nutritional breakdown is approx:

Serving Size: 1 Serving

Average Quantity
per Serving
Energy1381.9 kJ (330 kcal)
Protein9.9 g
Fat, total29.5 g
– saturated12.5 g
Carbohydrate1.8 g
– sugars1.1 g
Dietary Fibre6.9 g

Cream cheese pancakes (keto + gluten free)

Makes 3 servings @ 4.7g carbs each; if cooking for the family simply scale up the recipe to suit. These are very popular with children and adults alike!

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Whizz the eggs, cream cheese, sugar free syrup, coconut flour, almond flour, and baking powder together until smooth.
  2. In a non-stick frying pan / skillet, melt a small amount of butter over a medium heat. Pour in some of the mixture and watch until it starts to bubble. Flip and cook on the other side (approx. 30 seconds).
  3. Transfer to a plate and repeat!

Tip: If you have the time, you can whizz the pancake ingredients (apart from the baking powder) and let the mixture sit in the fridge for 30-60 mins to thicken; then mix in the baking powder just before cooking.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Based on 3 servings per recipe; nutritional breakdown is approx:

Serving Size: 1 Serving

Average Quantity
per Serving
Energy1018.9 kJ (243 kcal)
Protein8.7 g
Fat, total20.4 g
– saturated10.3 g
Carbohydrate4.7 g
– sugars2.2 g
– lactose0 g
– galactose0 g
– starches1.1 g
Dietary Fibre2.3 g
Sodium360.3 mg
Calcium124.7 mg

Tip: The stated butter is included in the nutritional information; you can of course use more but I find small / medium pancakes cook and flip more easily (whereas excess butter will brown in the pan).

Tip: Although nutritional information is for 3 servings, the recipe makes either 3 medium pancakes or 6 small ones.

Easy Cheesy Taco Mince (Keto + Gluten Free!)

Served with konjac fettucine and broccoli; yum!

Makes two servings @ 10.2 carbs each; if cooking for the family simply scale up the recipe. For keto eaters, this is great served with konjac noodles and green above ground veggies; for gluten free families consider serving with brown basmati rice or wholegrain gf corn chips.

Note: Those on keto can reduce carbs further by making their own spice mix; calculations for this recipe are based on Farrahs Taco Spice Mix.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Lightly brown mince in a frying pan/skillet.
  2. Add tomato paste, spices, salt, dried onion and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Turn off heat (leave on hot element) and stir in cream cheese + colby cheese.
  4. If using konjac noodles: rinse them, stir in, and return pan to low heat for a few minutes until noodles are cooked.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Based on 2 servings per recipe; nutritional breakdown is approx:

Average Quantity
per Serving
Energy2337.2 kJ (558 kcal)
Protein41.8 g
Fat, total38.9 g
– saturated21.1 g
Carbohydrate10.2 g
– sugars5.4 g
Dietary Fibre1.8 g
Sodium822.2 mg
Calcium206 mg

Caesar Salad (Keto + Gluten Free)

A satisfying version of a classic treat that balances a range of healthy vegetables, tasty proteins, and filling fats with only 10g carbs per salad.

Ingredients

  • 100g fresh green beans
  • 1 cup chopped lettuce (romaine or cos)
  • 80g fresh tomato (sliced)
  • 30g colby / cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 100g bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Caesar dressing (store bought).

Note: Bacon seems to mean different things in different countries, in New Zealand bacon has a wide selection so feel free to use whatever you prefer.

Allergies: free from gluten and soy.

Directions

  1. Start a small pot of water boiling. Using a spoon, carefully slide in the eggs. Reduce heat to a simmer and set timer. The BBC have a helpful guide on timings; I tend to remove after 6 minutes. Tip: Keep in mind that the yolk will keep setting the hot shell until you peel it.
  2. Start the bacon cooking. If you’re using a frying pan / skillet and on keto than you may wish to use the bacon grease to saute the green beans. I prefer to cook bacon in the air fryer.
  3. Cook your green beans while the bacon is cooking; if you want to boil them (after removing the eggs) they will only take 2-3 mins.
  4. Layer your salad with lettuce, green beans, and tomato. Peel the hardboiled eggs and chop in half. Cut the cooked bacon into strips (or even better, use kitchen scissors and snip it directly onto the salad). Sprinkle over the grated cheese. Drizzle the dressing.

Nutritional Information

Nutrition InformationServing Size: 1 full recipe

Average Quantity
per Serving
Energy2367 kJ (565 calories)
Protein42.1 g
Fat, total38.3 g
– saturated13.9 g
Carbohydrate9.7 g
– sugars7.8 g
– starches1.2 g
Dietary Fibre5.2 g
Sodium1240.6 mg
Vitamin C22.6 mg
Vitamin A1864 µg
Calcium319.8 mg
Iron2.6 mg

Blueberry and Lemon muffins (Keto + Gluten Free!)

These Keto friendly muffins are gluten free, soft, naturally sweet, and contain only 3.3g net carbs per serving! They are lovely served warm from the oven (and can be frozen to use as needed).

Ingredients

Allergies: free from gluten and soy.

Note: These muffins are sugar free and naturally sweetened by the cream cheese and blueberries. If you prefer them sweeter you could add a little Maple Syrup (either natural, or an alternative like ‘Queen Maple Syrup Flavoured Sugar Free’ to maintain the low carbs).

Tip: For a finer consistency, consider ordering finely milled almond flour online.

Directions

  1. Line or grease a 6-serving muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 180’C / 350’F.
  2. Melt the butter (I use a large pyrex jug in microwave).
  3. Stir in the almond meal. Let it stand for 5-10 mins so that it thickens a little.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, eggs, and cream cheese.
  5. Gently fold in the fresh blueberries and lemon peel.
  6. Spoon into the muffin tin. Bake for 18-22 mins (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

Nutritional Information

Based on 6 servings per recipe; nutritional breakdown is approx:

Average Quantity
per Serving
Energy874.1 kJ / 209.9 kcal
Protein6.1 g
Fat, total18.8 g
– saturated6.5 g
Carbohydrate3.3 g
– sugars2.6 g
Dietary Fibre2.1 g
Sodium219.5 mg
Calcium54.9 mg

Discovering Spring – Flower Press and Life Cycles Box (ExperisenseNZ review)

I love the ExperisenseNZ Life Cycles box which I purchased for $27. I was inspired by our annual Spring unit on seasonal cycles, growing food and flowers in the garden, and observing garden mini-beasts. We were thrilled to watch the hard work we had done earlier in the year, creating new wildflower beds to support our favourite pollinators, burst into colourful bloom.

We wanted to preserve some of our flowers and were excited at the idea of buying a flower press to create seasonal art and gifts. A classic press seems to cost around $24 so I was thrilled to get the ExperisenseNZ kit which comes with a flower press and a number of additional activities.

What is the life cycle of a sunflower?

We love sunflowers with their stately and colourful beauty. It’s also fun being able to harvest their seeds; either to dry and sow again, or, to feed to the birds in Autumn.

The kit comes with a laminated life cycle wheel for discussing the sunflower’s life cycle stages. It also comes with a generous amount of sunflower seeds and some compostable pots to get you started.

Tip: Seedlings make great Christmas gifts!

What is a butterfly life cycle?

We made marbled paper and then followed the instructions in the kit to make a beautiful butterfly life cycle. Our wall poster shows the stages from egg, to caterpillar, to cocoon (or pupae), to butterfly.

Tip: Spring is a great time of year to consider growing Swan Plants to watch the Monarch Butterfly life cycle in action!

What is a ladybug life cycle?

What I like about the kit including both Butterfly and Lady Bug life cycles is that the two insects look quite different to each other in their stages. They also differ in what they eat! For instance, a Monarch butterfly caterpillar will eat a huge number of milkweed leaves; whereas, a Ladybug larve will voraciously eat aphids, tiny worms, and insect eggs.

We liked the rainbow foil print on this life cycle so much that we decided to laminate it and add it to our resource collection (rather than use it for a paper plate craft).

How to press flowers

We very much enjoyed using our flower press! We used our pressed flowers to make beautiful bookmarks.

Tip: Gather a variety of flowers on a sunny dry morning. Check flowers for dewdrops (moisture will impact the drying process). Avoid flowers that are very bulky i.e. cut the tips from lavender or choose rose petals rather than a whole rose. Remember that wild flowers, like oxalis, can be as beautiful dried as garden grown.

Interested in more homeschool box reviews?

ExperisenseNZ

#1 Exploring Maths through Art

#2 Exploring Space through Art

#3 Exploring the Human Body through Art

#4 Exploring Science through Experiments

Discover the World with ATLAS Crate

#1 Introducing the World

#2 Discover Japan

#3 Discover France

Explore STEM with Kiwi Crate

#1 Arcade Box (and the Claw!)

#2 The Amazing Animation Box (make your own 19th century movie with a Zoetrope!)

#3 The Mechanical Sweeper Box (make your own baleen whale!)

#4 The Disc Launchers Box (play games with physics!)

#5 Kaleidoscope Puzzles (explore symmetry and mirrors!)

Apple Nut Muffins

Apple Nut Muffins

Apple Nut Muffins

These sweet treats are high in natural goodness and fruit fibres, do not contain refined sugar, and contain valuable trace minerals from the almond, brazil, and cashew nut butter.

There are a few different ways that you can make this recipe and I have endeavoured to include options without over-cluttering. Keep in mind when subbing ingredients whether it will impact the recipe overall; i.e. coconut oil or butter will solidify in cold temperatures and hold a gluten free version together better than rice bran oil; using almond meal rather than flour will give a substantially different texture.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour + 30g fine instant oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 ripe bananas (= 150g frozen sliced banana)
  • 2 apples peeled and quartered (= 350g intact apples)
  • 1/4 cup Almond Brazil Cashew nut butter (or almond butter).
  • 2 tsp Orgran egg replacer + 4 Tbsp water
    • OR: 2 flax eggs
    • OR: 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)
    • OR: 2 Tbsp rice bran oil
    • OR: 2 Tbsp butter (soft)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Optional: 1 tsp cinnamon

Allergies: This recipe can be made gluten free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free. Contains tree nuts.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180’C / 350’F. Grease a muffin tray or cupcake liners.
  2. In a food processor, blend the banana and apple until smooth. (If you prefer a rougher texture, grate the apple instead and mix in at the end).
  3. Add the egg replacer (or eggs), coconut oil, ABC nut butter, and maple syrup. Pulse to combine.
  4. Add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), and apple cider vinegar. Gently pulse to combine.
  5. Spoon your batter into the muffin trays and place in preheated oven.
  6. Cook for about 35 minutes. Check after 25 minutes (you may want to add tinfoil as a cover for the remainder).
  7. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

How do I make my bread light and fluffy?

Musings on baking bread

Musings on baking bread

I’ve written previously about ‘Everything you wanted to know about baking bread‘ and it occurred to me today that it’s a little more process driven than ingredient focused. My journey making bread began with making all our bread by hand which I found restrictive and time consuming. I later moved, very happily so, to a Panasonic Bread Maker. That allowed me a little more time to experiment with ingredients and research.

I gave serious contemplation to buying a sourdough starter (sourdough is much easier to digest than commercial bread) but my daughter doesn’t like the tangy taste. I researched ways to make the bread I was feeding my daughter more nutritious. I also made myself more aware of the chemistry involved and how different ingredients impact hydration ratios and rising.

Supermarket bread is essentially refined white flour (so basic starch) with a token amount of other ingredients potentially added; Julian Lee wrote an excellent article in 2018 revealing commercial bread-making processes in New Zealand. At home, you can start with high grade (or strong) white flour but add extra nutrition into the mix.

Whole Wheat

If you can afford to buy stone-ground whole wheat flour then you can make some pretty fine bread. If you’re shopping at the supermarket then it’s sufficient to be aware that the wheat kernel is made up of bran (fiber), the germ (protein and nutrition), and the endosperm (a starchy tissue). You can probably guess which part white flour is made from!

At the supermarket you can buy strong white flour and also buy bags of wheat bran and wheat germ. Not only do these have different nutritional profiles but these also have different impacts on the properties of your bread. Wheat bran has a drying quality and may require additional hydration. Wheat germ will naturally make your bread moister and fluffier.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to make a loaf entirely of white flour. When baking, I usually have 70-80% of my ‘flour’ made up of white flour and then use a range of dry ingredients to make up the weight. This equates to 350-400g of white flour and 50-100g of other flours and seeds.

Wholemeal Spelt Flour

Wholemeal spelt flour has a high nutritional profile and is easier to digest. It also has less gluten so will produce a denser loaf and may require guar gum to help it bind.

Wholegrain Kamut Flour

Like spelt, kamut flour is lower in gluten and easier to digest. It’s a brand name for khorasan wheat and is an older variety of wheat. There have been small studies performed which suggest that kamut flour has health benefits (over standard flour) and may help to reduce certain inflammation markers. It’s important to remember that one of it’s other benefits is that it is an organic wholegrain flour (as opposed to highly refined bleached white flour).

Ground Linseed – Sunflower – Almond (LSA)

Whole seeds can make a loaf dense and the texture doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s not necessary to pour heaps of whole seeds into your bread dough. You can add plenty of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids just by adding 2 Tablespoons of ground seeds to your bread dough.

Popular powerhouses of nutrition include linseed (flaxseed), sunflower seeds, almonds, and chia seeds. Quinoa is another but I found even small amounts of quinoa flour to have a noticeable taste in the bread.

You might like to rotate different seeds in order to vary your nutritional profile. The cheapest and easiest option is to alternate between ground LSA and ground chia seeds.

Gluten Free Grains

One of my favourite ways of making multi-grain bread is to use Red Mill Gluten Free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal. If you’re picturing a cereal box with some puzzlement, it’s actually a mix of freshly milled whole grain brown rice, corn, buckwheat and sorghum. It’s a handy way of adding a broader nutritional profile to the loaf and is so finely milled that it doesn’t overwhelm the loaf. It’s weight-dense so you only need a small amount; it still produces a fluffy loaf and is incorporated into the texture without being obtrusive.

Are sunflower seeds good for me?

Sunflower-seeds-picture

What are the nutritional benefits of sunflower seeds?

Sunflowers make a beautiful addition to gardens in the summer and a great science project for kids but are their seeds also an overlooked source of essential nutrients?

What are the benefits of sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds are rich in Vitamin E, copper, B vitamins like thiamine, selenium, magnesium, fiber, folic acid, and more. They are a source of essential fatty acids; especially linoleic acid and oleic acid. Additionally, sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of  amino acids (especially tryptophan) which make up the building blocks of proteins, B Vitamins, phytosterols, and more. They are also a source of healthy polyunsaturated fats which your body needs.

What is the nutritional breakdown of sunflower seeds?

SunflowerSeeds-Nutrition

Can sunflower seeds help improve my health?

As well as helping maintain your body, sunflower seeds are are most highly correlated with boosting cardiovascular health thanks to their ability to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and to prevent hypertension.

Since they also contain minerals like magnesium and selenium, you may also find they help with ‘growing pains’, leg cramps, and tension headaches.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body. This makes it popular for warding against everything from heart disease, to helping with IBS, or with chronic inflammation as the result of multiple allergies / intolerances.

What are easy ways to include sunflower seeds in my diet?

You could buy them coated in chocolate or dusted in flavourings (like sour cream and chives) but that’s off-setting their health benefits with other calories and additives! Here are some healthier (and still easy!) ways to eat sunflower seeds:

Easy Carrot Cake

Best Ever Carrot Cake

Chelsea Sugar’s Best Ever Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is a delicious winter cake. It’s a great way to use up those extra carrots (while they’re cheap and plentiful) and get some warmly sweet spiced cake into lunchboxes or afternoon tea. My inspiration for the recipe is this Best Ever Carrot Cake which I’ve amended to add in some different micro-nutrients; also, swapping from nuts to seeds makes it suitable for childcare and schools with no-nut policies.

Carrot cake with seeds and ancient grains

Delicious carrot cake with seeds and ancient grains.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch Allspice
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar or raw coconut sugar
  • 200g grated carrot
  • ½ cup sultanas or raisins
  • 2 tsp ground chia seeds
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp Hubbards Seeds and Ancient Grains Toppers
    • or, a mix (as desired) of coconut thread, linseed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, buckwheat, puffed quinoa.
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup rice bran oil or canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Allergies: dairy free, soy free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C bake (160°C fan-forced). Grease a 23cm cake tin (6cm deep) and line with baking paper.
  2. Sift all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add carrot, sultanas, ground chia seeds, and coconut + seed mix and stir until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, oil and vanilla.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  6. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cooked (when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean). Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes then remove from the cake tin and peel away the paper.
  7. Optional: make cream cheese icing to decorate.

 

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 50g butter, softened
  • 125g cream cheese, chopped
  • 1½ cups Icing Sugar

Cream Cheese Icing
Beat butter and cream cheese together until combined. Stir in Chelsea Icing Sugar, then beat mixture on high speed until light and fluffy.