Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Choc Berry Muesli Squares

My kids are really starting to love muesli bars and things like that and whilst doing our grocery shop a few days ago, they asked me to buy Carman's Oat Slices for them.  The ingredients didn't seem too bad, but for the price that you pay for a box of 6 tiny slices, I knew I could make something that was much more nutritious, organic and a lot cheaper.  In terms of serving size and macronutrients, these work out similar to the Carman's oat slices (though my recipe is a little lower in total fat), but I would be surprised if the Carman's contained the variety and amount of micronutrients that this recipe does.  So here's my take on our version of nut-free (therefore great as part of school lunch boxes) muesli squares:

Ingredients (makes 18 squares):

- 1 & 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 2 tbsp linseeds
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped (I used dried blueberries and cherries)
- 1/2 cup choc chips
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 banana, mashed
- 1 free range egg
- 2 tbsp apple juice concentrate (or replace with honey)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 50g butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees and grease and line a medium sized rectangular baking dish.

2.  Because I don't have a microwave, I pop the butter in the oven in small souffle dish, while the oven is preheating.

3.  In a large bowl, mix together the oats, linseeds, chia seeds, spices, dried fruit and choc chips.  Add the water, stir it together and set aside.

4.  In a small bowl, mash the banana and add the rest of the ingredients (including the melted butter). Mix until combined.

5.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

6.  Tip the mixture into the prepared baking dish and press down.

7.  Bake for around 30 minutes or until cooked through.  Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Cut into squares while still warm, then allow to cool to room temperature before removing the squares from the baking dish (they will crumble otherwise).

Monday, June 8, 2015

Double Chocolate and Blueberry Cookies

Here we go again - I am the best procrasti-baker in the world!  My exam is tomorrow (eek!) and here I am, blogging like there's no tomorrow!  The dried fruit in the recipe could be replaced with whatever dried fruit you have, just make sure they're chopped into very small pieces.  If you can find dried blueberries, however, I highly recommend making these cookies with them!

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies):
- 125g butter, softened
- 3/4 cup rapadura sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 free range egg
- 1 & 1/2 cups light spelt flour
- 1/4 cup cacao powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried blueberries (I got mine from Wray Organic in Brisbane)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.

2.  Beat together the softened butter, sugar, vanilla and egg until combined.

(Thermomix - beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla and egg for 30sec/sp4)

3.  Add the flour, cacao powder, baking powder and bicarb soda and continue beating until just combined.

(Thermomix - add the flour, cacao powder, baking powder and bicarb soda and beat 20sec/sp4)

4.  Fold the choc chips and dried fruit in and knead with your hands until combined.  If you used the Thermomix for the previous steps, tip the cookie dough into a large bowl and proceed with this step as described above.

5.  Divide the dough into 12 cookies and place onto the prepared baking trays.

6.  Bake for around 10 minutes, then take out of the oven and allow to cool on the trays.  I like to eat them while they are still a little warm!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Turkish Delight Kombucha Jellies

I wanted to do something different with my kombucha, and after the link I posted on my Facebook page this morning to a raw Turkish Delight cheesecake, I thought it would be a good idea to make some kombucha jellies and coat them in chocolate!  You could muck around with the liquid part of the jelly - you could add some fruit juice to make the jelly a bit sweeter, but personally I like the jellies quite tart thanks to the kombucha, and I find that the sweetness from the choc coating contrasts the jelly centre really effectively.  The next test will be to see whether or not my kids will like them!

Ingredients (makes 16 squares):

- 2 tbsp gelatine (I used Great Lakes brand)
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 1 1/4 cups kombucha (I used homemade strawberry kombucha)
- 1 tbsp rosewater

- 3/4 cup cacao butter
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup cacao powder (reduce this amount if you don't like your chocolate as bitter as I do!)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla


1.  Dissolve the gelatine in the hot water and allow to cool slightly.

2.  In a large bowl, add the kombucha and then gradually pour in the gelatine liquid as you whisk the mixture together.  Whisk in the rosewater.

3.  Pour the jelly mixture into a square cake tin lined with baking paper.  Allow to set in the fridge.

4.  Make the chocolate by melting the cacao butter and coconut oil on a low heat, while stirring.  Whisk in the remaining ingredients until smooth.

5.  Allow the chocolate mixture to cool slightly while you take the jelly out of the fridge and cut it into 16 squares.

6.  Dip the jelly squares, one by one, into the chocolate, and then put them onto a large tray lined with baking paper.  Allow to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Carrot Cake with Zesty Cream Cheese Icing

I love me a bit of procrastibaking!  This is exactly what was on the agenda today, while I looked for anything and everything I could do in order to avoid studying for my pathology and clinical science exam.  I've also organised a playdate for the kids for this afternoon, so you know, they needed to have something to eat for afternoon tea!  The cake turned out quite delicious.  For a dairy free version, the butter in the cake could be replaced with coconut oil and for the icing, some whipped coconut cream with vanilla and a bit of maple syrup or icing sugar would do the trick.  Enjoy!

- 1 cup light spelt flour
- 1/2 cup whole spelt flour
- 1/2 cup rapadura sugar
- 1/2 cup unsulphured sultanas
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 free range egg
- 3/4 cup milk of choice
- 30g butter, melted
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 apple, grated
- 2 tsp vanilla

- 250g block of cream cheese, softened
- 50g butter, softened
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 50g icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees and grease and line a loaf tin.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the dry cake ingredients and stir to combine.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.

3.  Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

4.  Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

4.  To make the icing, beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until creamy.  Add the lemon zest and icing sugar and beat until combined.  Ice the cake.

(Thermomix icing - beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla for 20sec/sp4.  Add lemon zest and icing sugar and mix a further 20sec/sp4.  Scrape down the sides and mix for another 20sec/sp4.  Ice the cake). 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Double Chocolate & Peach Brownies

We get our organic fruit and veggies delivered fortnightly and so we always get a pretty good variety of fresh produce.  Sometimes though we get some items which don't get eaten as quickly - I had a few peaches in the fridge and thought that a good way to use some of them might be to make something lunchbox friendly that I could include some peaches in - so here it is!  The kids are pretty impressed and I hope you like it too!

- 1 cup whole spelt flour
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/3 cup cacao powder
- 1/3 cup rapadura sugar
- 1/2 cup choc chips
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 free range egg
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 large or 2 small peaches, sliced

1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a 20cm x 30cm baking dish.

2.  In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir together.  Add the wet ingredients (except peach slices) and stir until just combined.  

3.  Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and arrange peach slices on top.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until just cooked through (you don't want to overcook it or it will be too dry).

4.  Allow to cool completely and cut into slices to serve. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dental Amalgam Fillings - Are They Harmless?

Image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

The time has come for me to sit down and do some research on the topic of dental amalgams because I'm horrified everyime I come across a person (medical professionals included) who tells me that dental amalgams are harmless.  This has happened a few times lately.  I thought, perhaps naively, that it was now common knowledge that mercury, a known neurotoxin, is anything but harmless!  Searching through several databases of scientific journals, there are plenty of articles which state that amalgam fillings are not detrimental to health.  There are also many which state the opposite.  I discuss some of these below. 

If urinary levels of mercury are measured in participants who have amalgams and it is concluded that the measured levels are lower than what would pose health risks - does that mean that amalgams are harmless?  How are these minimum levels even determined?  In any case, these numbers do not take into account the fact that every individual's body distributes, metabolises and excretes different chemicals at different rates.  Some articles argue that there isn't even a clearly established safe level of exposure (Zwicker et al 2014).  What about the concentration of mercury in people's organs?  How do people know if certain health problems they have (which may seem unrelated) are not connected to their body trying to detoxify these heavy metals which do not belong anywhere near, let alone inside their body?   There are so many questions and when medical professionals blatantly disregard the logic (and also science) relating to issues such as this, it is completely negligent and I don't believe that they are acting in the best interests of their patients.  Many patients who would not even consider questioning what they are told by a medical professional.

According to Zwicker et al (2014), the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that "mercury may have no threshold below which some adverse effects do not occur."  In addition, the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) from the European Commission concluded that amalgams are safe, but failed to cite results from autopsy studies which are believed to be the most reliable for measuring mercury levels in body tissue (Mutter 2011). 

Amalgam fillings consist of approximately 50% elemental mercury along with other metals making up the remainder of the filling.  According to Mutter et al (2005), the half-life of mercury can range anywhere from 1 to 18 years and that mercury also has a greater affinity to our organs than other heavy metals.  Once the filling has been placed, it continues to release mercury vapour and the metal subsequently accumulates in bodily organs including the brain, kidneys and is thought to contribute to various auto-immune diseases, increasing oxidative stress and neuropsychological impairment among other health problems.  

Mutter et al (2005) furthermore states that when the mercury vapour is released from the fillings and absorbed by our nasal and oral mucous membranes and also by our lungs, it then enters our circulation.  The mercury is then oxidised and promptly transported to our organs and also crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and affects the central nervous system.  In addition, studies have shown that mercury from dental amalgam is transformed to organic mercury by microflora in the gastrointestinal tract (Mutter 2011).  It has also been shown that mercury from amalgam fillings contributes more greatly to the concentration of the metal in human bodies than through high consumption of fish.

One of the scariest things to me is that mercury enters breastmilk and the number of amalgam fillings in the mother directly correlates to an increased concentration of mercury in the infant.  I would be very surprised if these so-called "safe" levels of mercury take this into account.  According to Mutter et al (2005), several studies have shown that blood and urine concentrations of mercury do not adequately reflect concentrations of mercury in the organs.  Furthermore, the reference levels often used to analyse urine and blood mercury levels are indicative more of acute and short term exposure to mercury (such as occupational exposure) and therefore not particularly useful for assessing long term exposure such as that from dental amalgams (Zwicker et al 2014).

Amalgams continue to be widely used due to the fact that they are less costly than other alternatives, and they are also durable (Zwicker et al 2014).  Nowadays however there are several alternatives available to amalgams so generally safer and less toxic options should be used whenever possible to replace dental amalgams.  


Mutter et al 2005, Amalgam Risk Assessment, Institute for Environmental Medicine and Hospital Epidemiology, Germany.

Mutter 2011, Is Dental Amalgam Safe for Humans? Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, Germany. 

Zwicker et al 2014, Longitudinal Analysis of the Association Between Removal of Dental Amalgam, Urine Mercury and 14 Self-Reported Symptoms, Environmental Health, Canada.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Body Butter

I am super excited to be delving into the world of making my own body products.  I've been fascinated by aromatherapy for quite a while (and at some point I would love to study it) and have accumulated quite a stash of essential oils over the past couple of years.  I love coming up with new ways of incorporating their use into everyday life and with Christmas coming up, what better way than adding them to some homemade body products for Christmas pressies?  This recipe for body butter required a little experimentation.  It doesn't whip into a butter-like consistency but when you let it set for a few hours, it ends up with the most gorgeous, fluffy, butter-like texture then!

Ingredients (makes about 250ml which I used to fill 2 glass jars):
- 180g shea nut butter (I purchased mine in a big tub from the Sydney Essential Oil Company)
- 30g coconut oil
- 30g macadamia oil
- 1tsp vitamin E oil (this acts as an antioxidant)
- 30 drops of pure essential oil - I used 10 drops each of lavender, chamomile and orange

1.  Melt the shea butter, coconut oil and macadamia oil on a very low heat, stirring constantly.  Transfer into a glass bowl and pop into the fridge for about 15 minutes or until the mix starts to solidify around the edges and has cooled right down.

(Thermomix - add shea butter, coconut oil and macadamia oil into the TM bowl, chop for 5sec/sp6, melt for 3min/50deg/sp2.  Pour into a glass bowl and pop into the fridge for about 15min or until mixture starts to solidify).

2.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Whip for a few minutes with an electric mixer until the mixture is creamy.  Transfer to glass jars, pop jar lids on and allow to set at room temperature for a few hours or overnight.

(Thermomix - pour the mixture back into the TM, add the remaining ingredients, put in the butterfly and whip for 3min/sp4.  Pour into glass jars, put the lids on and allow to set for a few hours or overnight at room temperature).