Sunday, April 27, 2008

Healthy Banana Cake

I've been playing with variations of banana cakes for years, and I've come up with this one as a healthier alternative. It is really moist, quite dense and one of my favourites. You could add anything you like to it, like other nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate, whatever. But it is yummy just in it's plain, uncomplicated form. Give it a try!

Healthy Banana Cake

1 cup organic old fashioned oats (not the quick cooking kind!)
1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
3/4 cup organic spelt flakes (or coarse spelt flour)
1/2 cup organic wheat bran
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine all above ingredients together in a large bowl with a whisk.

3 organic bananas
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mash the bananas, add sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla and stir together until well combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Pour into a glass baking dish (I use an oval stoneware dish, but I suppose a 9x13 glass baking dish would do, but you may have to decrease baking time). Bake at 325F for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out pretty much clean.

PS Bonus! This cake is not only healthy, but vegan!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tulips, rhubarb and garlic!

I've been impatiently monitoring the progress of my garden, and to my delight my tulips are slowly starting to come up! I spent a whole day in the fall creating a perennial garden from what was a rock garden (not my thing....). I planted tulips and daffodils, hostas and crocus (not sure what the plural of crocus is.). Anyways, I had no idea whether they would come up or when, but after carefully looking yesterday I saw about 6 or 7 tulip leaves and 1 crocus! I am so excited! Also, I had a lesson in garlic. Last spring I was so eager to plant my garlic sets that I ignored the advice of a seasoned gardener to plant in fall. From the outside they seemed to thrive all summer, but in the fall I pulled one up and it was a fully formed head of garlic, but tiny! So I left the rest in thinking they would just decompose over winter. But last week I noticed that they sprouted! So I guess I'll give them this growing season and pull them up in the fall to see if they're mature. I learn better from my mistakes than from others I guess....
And as for my rhubarb, it's coming along nicely and was not at all upset about last night's frost!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hummus for Sarah

Here is my loose recipe for hummus. I just make it, so try to be flexible with the amounts and add more or less of anything to your taste. I used to make it with tahini, but I found that I had to buy such a big jar of it and I only used it for hummus, so I just omit it. It may be lacking a bit in authenticity, but it tastes great!

1 can chick peas
a few good glugs olive oil
1 or 2 lemons
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a couple of good pinches of sea salt
about 1 tsp cumin
freshly ground black pepper
small handful of pinenuts, toasted, to sprinkle over

Rinse chickpeas, put in food processor. Add olive oil and juice of one lemon, crushed garlic, salt, pepper and cumin. Blitz until fairly smooth. If it seems thick add more olive oil down the tube. Taste at this point and adjust lemon and seasonings to your taste. When you are happy with the taste and consistency, scrape into a bowl and put it in the fridge. When ready to serve, drizzle a bit more olive oil over top and sprinkle toasted pinenuts over top. Serve with pita, veggies, tortilla chips, or use as a spread for sandwiches. Enjoy!

Red Lentil Soup

This recipe is based on a recipe in a really good vegetarian cookbook I have called Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley.
As you may know I can't follow a recipe, too many rules for me, so I'll give it to you how I make it....
It is a soup recipe with red lentils which are my new best friend. Cheap, healthy, fast and most importantly yummy! I know lentil soup is a wintry kind of dish, but just try it. It's so good that it surpasses the seasons.
Here it is:

Red Lentil Soup
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed
1 large can diced tomatoes
a few glugs olive oil
5 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and de-germed
a few good pinches coarse sea salt
4 or 5 big slices of peeled fresh ginger 
a sprig of fresh rosemary
a good pinch of dried thyme (preferably from your own garden, it tastes so much better)
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
5 cups water
one lemon

Basically all you do is put everything in the pot. Wrap up your ginger, bay leaves and rosemary in cheesecloth or a teaball and pop into the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes to half an hour. You will know when it is done because it will be thick and it will smell amazing!
Take out your cheesecloth with the ginger and stuff and discard it. Smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. Squeeze the lemon into the pot (if you don't like lemon like JS, just skip this, it's great without too). Taste for salt, add more if you like. Serve. Yum!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring is about to spring

I've just decided that it's time I started my blog to share recipes and gardening ideas with my friends or anyone who wants to have a look.
Last year I planted my first vegetable garden and it was a surprising success. I ended up with lots of delicious and fresh vegetables which inspired some delicious meals! I have been waiting somewhat impatiently for this extra long and incredibly cold winter to come to an end, and with the snow almost melted and my rhurbarb starting to show it's bright pink tips through the cold earth, I think it finally has! 
I have started to go through last years seeds and plan what I'm going to put where, what worked well, what didn't, etc. This weekend, I'm going to start some tomato seeds (inside) and maybe a few others to get a head start.
Time to pull out those gardening gloves and get back to work!