Chocolate Quinoa

It’s true what they say, who you are matters more than what you say in determining who your children will become. It’s a slow and steady process. I’m six months in to¬†eating differently and paying more attention to my health (some weeks it goes better than others but there are no failures when you don’t give up) and my super fussy eater has not only tried and even liked a few new things but has been reading and thinking about allergies and food that makes you feel better. Now if only I could find a way to cope better with them being really irritating so I could pass that on to them too. Or maybe siblings will just always get wound up by each other no matter what. ūüôā

The last few weeks I’ve also started consciously working on not letting anxiety stop me from achieving what I want. I know that doing the thing that makes me anxious is almost always not as bad as not doing it and getting anxious over what might happen. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I need to head back and re-read The Opposite of Worry¬†and maybe get on and write my diary so I can move on to the next part of the CBT course rather than continue to just avoid it by starting other courses. At least the learn to code HTML and CSS course is really interesting and making my brain work hard and being encouraged by my son to give it a go and keep going is super special.

Despite prevailing opinions on quinoa in the household I decided to give a quinoa experiment a go this week. So I made some for my lunch which was yummy and then made the rest into quinoa crispies like this¬†it wasn’t the weather for having the oven on for longer than necessary so I took the opportunity to slow roast some veggies which means¬†that my dinner is under control for today. Not often I’m that organised so feel pleased with myself!

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The quinoa didn’t all get the same amount crispy but it was sticking to the tray more and more so I decided it was time to move on.

To make it into Quinoa Crunch Bars.

These are so simple. I didn’t have (and don’t like) stevia but I’m also used to things not so sweet now. If you’re not used to being sugar-free or don’t want to be then a teaspoon or even half a teaspoon of icing sugar would work really well.

Decided to be extra decadent and put some melted chocolate on top before they went in the freezer. When they came out they looked great.

They taste like a chocolate bar. The only issue for me was a little bit of getting quinoa stuck in my teeth, worth it for the kick for sure. Two of the taste team found them a little too chocolatey but the maybe not so fussy anymore one wanted a second piece!

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Avocado Brownies

It’s been a couple of weeks where a lot¬†has happened in the news and we’ve seen our country in shock and many families and communities in the pain of losing loved ones before their time and through the violence of others. It’s a time when it’s easy to feel a little lost looking at the pain and not seeing where the love could be. But the love is there to see if you look, the love is in the way people come together to care for each other in times of need and where a 13-year-old boy called Adam seriously¬†hurt in a bombing can send a message to the world to say “don’t go forward in anger, love spreads”. When we lose people it hurts but it’s a good hurt because it only exists because we loved them and they loved us and it is (as the saying goes) better to love and lose than not to love at all.

So there is still love in the world and there is still chocolate so there must be hope.

Chocolate Brownies with secret vegetable ingredients. That must be healthy too right?

Not as healthy as it could be as I’ve picked regular sugar again but just focus on the secret vegetables.

They make the mix green so that’s fun!

But the cocoa powder turns it chocolatey -which is good or they wouldn’t be very secret anymore. There’s more of a cakey brownie than a fudgy one but very yummy and I couldn’t taste the avocado.

Then I subjected them to the ultimate taste test -a 13-year-old fussy eater. He ate two said they were yummy and then I confessed¬†they have avocado in them and he¬†still wanted a third. He even picked them over the commercial chocolate biscuit in his lunch box for school. They didn’t quite win the best Brownie ever competition but only because his aunty’s brownies are truly amazing.

 

 

Emotional

DSC_1187This blog is about cupcakes a little bit but it’s also about friends and family and how feelings are ok. I made so many cupcakes this week, vanilla ones, chocolate vegan ones, even gluten free ones which tasted good. Why? Because it was my birthday (an age with a 0 in it) and I wanted to celebrate having reached a point in my life where I have friends I can count on and who I love to spend time with. I wanted a party where I didn’t have to be the centre of attention because my friends know and love me just as I am and where I could show them how much I love them all with cake. Because I’m not always good at expressing myself but I’m good at making cake.

I am also blessed to have many lovely and loving people in myDSC_1188 family (not least my wonderful mum who supported me through all of the stress and shopping and organising and cleaning) and the same day was filled with many emotions as my kind, principled, loving father-in-law passed away. Even when you know that someone is very ill and have plenty of warning it’s still a shock when that moment comes. So there was sadness, I will never see his smile again or hear him say ‘ah they’re alright’ when I tell off one of my children. We will miss him more than we probably know. But there was also¬†relief¬†as his pain is over and he’s at peace now and he died with all his children and his partner and sister around him in his own bed knowing he is loved. And even surrounding the sadness there was joy. The joy that we knew him and have many wonderful memories and the joy that comes from the comfort of your friends sharing the downs as well as the ups with open and loving hearts.

Life is full of beginnings and ends and celebrations and hard times and all of the mundane day to day in-between. But if life is also full of love all of those times and all of those feelings are OK. It’s OK to be happy and OK to be sad sometimes and it’s OK to share that with each other.

Making so many (over 100) cupcakes meant freezing them before icing them on the day.

Which worked really well except that chocolate cupcakes’ wrappers peeled away as they defrosted. The gluten free cupcakes which finally worked well and tasted good were made using Doves Farm gluten free self-raising flour with their own recipe¬†https://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/recipes/fairy-cakes/

I also made vegan and gluten free scones – more on that next week!

Three weeks in one go

I’ve been making positive decisions over the last three weeks. Some of them have been decisions to do things other than spending time on the computer which is why the baking has happened but the blogging hasn’t.

It’s been a few weeks of thinking about so many things that are completely out of my control. The things that are either shit that happens because that’s just how the world is and the things that are the consequences of bigger life choices that I’ve made. My heart is very much in one day being able to go back to my job of being a birth doula -if you’re saying ‘a what?’ click here. But not dwelling on that as it can’t happen in the next couple of years is easier said than done. Making smaller positive choices within the confines of what is possible for me right now does help but it doesn’t quiet the longing in my heart completely.

In our wider family we’re being forced to face the fact sometimes people have to leave you before you’re ready to let them go and cancer is really shit. There are positive choices you can make to value and love people but sometimes hard times come and it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to not be ok.

When things are not ok chocolate cake can’t fix anything but it’s still nice to have some.

This recipe hasn’t got eggs and I made it with almond milk so it was completely vegan.¬†I was also in a hurry and I took it out the tin too quickly so it crumbled but it still tasted really good.

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The next week my project at the insistence of my kitchen assistant was strawberry cupcakes. They tasted amazing, too amazing, the taste team was either not¬†available or apparently don’t like strawberries, except the kitchen assistant who didn’t like the icing and then refused to eat any more cakes. Long story short I ate them all. It wasn’t a good decision but I couldn’t help myself.

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And it led to a very positive decision to stop saying I need to do something about my health and start actually doing something. And so the last week has included a lot of making smoothies and salads and no coffee drinking. I’ve gone a bit hardcore to start off but I’m working on a new lifestyle, not a temporary quick fix so I’m planning to mellow as I ¬†learn.

We did a little Easter Baking. It was fun and I think we did a good job of making them like the picture but I don’t know what they taste like.

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Too yummy for photos

This week I made vegan brownies¬†twice and both times they were eaten too quickly and I didn’t get the chance to take a photo of the finished product. Partly the speed of eating because they were so yummy and partly I was distracted as I had a week surrounded by friends and family. So super busy that not only did I not have time for food photography I had little time for thinking.

Yet what did ‘get done’ was very important. I spent time with my children, I listened to them and I gave them opportunities to spend time with friends and I spent time with my friends and that’s good for the soul. Then I spent time with family over the weekend, which is precious especially as you never know when it won’t be able to do it anymore.

Vegan brownies¬†inspired by some of my friends ‘going vegan’ or rather ‘switching to a plant-based diet’. Good for the environment and when you don’t make brownies as your main vegan thing often good for health too with lots of yummy vegetables.

The recipe involves precooking some of the flour and water before mixing into sugar and cocoa powder and oil.

It’s an unusual method, not one I’ve used before but not too difficult or time-consuming. It makes a really sticky batter which is much thicker than I’m used to but makes really lovely sticky sweet brownies which you can easily be healthy and eat just a small amount of, unless you’re like the taste team and get carried away.

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Thank you https://www.facebook.com/itsthehappypage/

When you’re an introvert it can sometimes feel like hard work having friends and family but it’s always good to be reminded¬†it’s really worth it.

 

Valentine’s Special

I’m on the fence with Valentine’s day. It’s fun to give a card and gift and to receive one and to have a nice meal. But I agree in part with the people who hate valentine’s day because they feel they are being told to do these things by people who will make money out of it. I wish everything in life was free from commercial influence really, the way people are valued by their contribution to the economy makes me sad. I get annoyed though at being told if my relationship was as wonderful as random internet people’s I wouldn’t need a special day to remind me to write a card or buy a gift for my husband. As it happens we do buy each other gifts randomly sometimes too but we also sometimes get caught up with the day to day and fail to appreciate each other. I find it hard to believe that people who pontificate about how they don’t celebrate valentine’s¬†day are always buying spontaneous¬†gifts and writing spontaneous love poems but maybe I’m just a cynical bitter old person ūüėČ

So the compromise somewhere in the middle of not celebrating commercialism but wanting to take the reminder to show my husband I really do appreciate him is where I try to find my joy. I love to make gifts for people because it’s my way of putting something of myself and therefore the feeling behind the gift into the package. This is especially true for valentine’s day. I think I’ve made something every year of the 20 we’ve been together although there may have been one or two somewhere in the madness of small children I’ve gone commercial.

Pretty simple this year just¬†melted chocolate with sprinkles and m and m’s but very effective.

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Kitchen assistant enjoyed the melting process and found some mini cases so she kept going with her own project. It was very sticky.

Melted butter and marshmallows with crisped rice cereal mixed in. There’s a reason it’s normally done all in one pot. It’s very sticky.

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They look cool, she’s refusing to eat them because they are too sticky but everyone else likes them. Not healthy but very yummy and fun.