Chocolate Nut Muffins

Chocolate Nut Muffins

Today is snow. Heavy snow. I’m kind of over snow to be honest. It’s very pretty but, you know, COLD. I learned a new word today (thanks Twitter!): the Icelandic term: GLUGGAVEÐUR  or “window weather.” Weather that looks lovely from inside your house but is horrible to be outside in. I think that sums it up quite nicely. Our household is the kind of household that is stocked with good coffee and organic food at all times, but lacks things like a working boiler or any kind of insulation. So I am sitting and shivering here at the laptop wearing an insane amount of clothes, but with a full and warm belly.

I wasn’t planning to blog anything today but I promised Sas from the awesome Courage & Spice podcast (have a listen – it’s just lovely) a recipe for these gluten and dairy free muffins so here we are! If you’ve got the ingredients in stock you could be warming your own belly with these in under forty minutes – are you ready? GO!

Preheat the oven to 180c while you combine 200g cashew butter (you can use peanut butter if that’s what you have in), two eggs, 75g soft dark sugar and 50g chopped dark chocolate. Then stir in 200ml of nut milk (yep – dairy milk works fine here too – I just had some almond milk to use up.)

Combine 280g self-raising gluten-free flour with a teaspoon of baking powder and then lightly stir it into the gloopy cashew nut butter mixture. Don’t over stir or you’ll end up with rubbery muffins. Eew!

Put generous dollops of mixture into 12 muffin cases or silicon moulds and bake for 25 minutes. By the time you’ve washed up, cleaned up and made a pot of coffee they’ll be all steamily warm and delicious. You might even get to remove just one of your jumpers. Maybe…


Rethink Breakfast Cereals

Rethink Breakfast Cereals

Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #8

So you’ve all heard about the origins of Kellogg’s corn flakes right? No? Mwahahaha! You’re in for a treat then. Dr Kellogg was a Seventh Day Adventist who believed that “Neither plague, nor war, nor small-pox have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism. Such a victim dies literally by his own hand.”

Yep, to cut a long story short, Dr Kellogg developed corn flakes to cure the life and soul destroying effects of masturbstion!

Quackery as it sounds though, he had a point. No! Not that having a sex drive is bad! In fact, having a healthy libido is a key sign that your health is generally doing ok. If your health is under par then your body won’t necessarily want to encourage behaviour that might end in pregnancy.  His point that cereals reduce libido though? That one. That’s the point I’d like to expand on. 

Until Kellogg began promoting his anti-libido cereals at the turn of the 20th century, western breakfast eaters were fueling themselves with either meat and eggs or some kind of porridge. Until the misinformed diet police started getting their knickers in a twist over fatty breakfasts we were breakfasting on just the right stuff for good energy and, yes, a healthy libido! Here’s why: cholesterol and saturated fats are vital components of all hormone production! And having a healthy sex drive is reliant on your body being able to synthesise sex hormones, namely testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone, oxytocin and vasopressin. If Dr Kellogg wanted to reduce sex drive then restricting the ingredients of traditional breakfast fare was an effective measure!

And if you aren’t convinced by the whole libido argument. How about breakfast cereals messing up your stress hormone cycles? Starting your day with a carbohydrate based breakfast causes your blood sugar levels to rise, which in turn increases your insulin production. Both of which interfere with your natural daily cortisol cycle. And when your cortisol levels are high then your non-emergency functions such as digestion, reproduction and wound healing are going to get suppressed. 

Those low-fat, added vitamins, superfoods enriched health claims on the side of the box aren’t looking so hot now are they?

What about those lovely, natural, fibre containing, organic and whole grain cereals from the health food shop? Well, it’s also worth noting that whole grains contain both enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion and phytic acid that combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc and blocks absorption of these vital minerals. So sorry, but these aren’t great either. And check the nutrition panel for sugar. Don’t be fooled by the wholesome sounding ingredients like honey, maple syrup or, I don’t know, enchanted fairy nectar. Every 4.2 grams equals one teaspoon of sugar. Add up the weight of your serving (I’m guessing it’s more than the suggested 30g.) Do the maths. 

So, what can you eat for breakfast? 

The first thing to remember is that the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mantra is misleading. Breakfast literally means to break your fast. There is no rule that says that this has to be as soon as you wake up, or even in the morning. It’s the quality that counts. Not the timing. 

But I’m not about to deprive you of “something in a bowl” of a morning so if that’s your bag you can always try my breakfast porridge, my chia breakfast bowl or my yoghurt breakfast bowl. And, when I get round to it I will blog a lovely sugar free and low carb granola post for you. Because I realise that was a cruel trick to post a picture of some healthy homemade stuff and not actually  give you a recipe. Sorry…

If a hot drink is the most you can face then Bulletproof coffee is great. Or, try my hot coconut and vanilla shake or my breakfast hot chocolate 

A weekend breakfast is the perfect time for a fry up. But if you are missing pastries or bagels then you could try my peanut butter muffins or my breakfast cheesecake. (I’ve also just realised I have omitted to write a recipe post for pancakes! Whaaat? I will rectify this soon. Promise!)

And, of course, there’s always bone broth! (How could I finish a post about breakfast without it?!)

Liver Hash

 I’m always on the lookout for liver recipes. I have a strong tendency to become anaemic, and liver provides a great source of easily absorbed iron, which in turn makes me marginally less inclined to drowsiness at certain times of the month. So this relatively mild tasting lambs offal is in our weekly organic delivery from Riverford and thus features regularly on the weekend menu!

This is a pretty undemanding way to both cook and consume lambs liver. If the taste is still a bit strong for you feel free to stir it into a big bowl of rice.
First you’ll want to trim the liver (organic every time) of any membranes and stringy bits – give them to your meat-eating pets who will noisily knock it back in the manner of the wolves and wild-cats they dream themselves to be while they doze on downy divans. Then chop the liver into bite size pieces and toss in gluten-free flour seasoned with salt, pepper and something spicy like Cajun seasoning. Fry some onions in plenty of butter or coconut oil until soft then add courgette and give it another ten minutes. Next some kale (pictured is Black Russian kale but curly kale or Savoy cabbage would be great too) and then push all the veggies to the outside of the frying pan. Turn your heat up high and pop the liver in the centre of the pan to brown on all sides. You want each cube to be lightly crispy on the outside and only-just-cooked on the inside. Like a Daim bar. But not. All done? Just stir it up, add extra seasoning if you like and serve. Fifteen minutes altogether I reckon, and a darn tasty way to get your inner-wild-animal revved up and ready to go.

Related post

Loving Liver?

Slow Cooked Curry

 I bought a slow cooker on Monday; it was an impulse buy but I mostly wanted something I could do the weekly chicken broth with. Slow cookers are the ultimate paleo/primal/ancestral and yet totally modern convenience right?! Yeah but no but. I quickly felt really bad because I’m trying to not buy, um, stuff at the moment and figured I should try and allay my guilt, assuage my remorse and alleviate my shame. (I love my thesaurus, I’ve had it twenty five years and the spine has long disintegrated. Whenever the pages or a chunk of pages fall out they get shoved back in the wrong place. There is now a minimal adherence to the rules of the alphabet.) I fear I may have digressed… Um, where was I?

Curry! I made a curry. I made a curry in my new crockpot. I ran round to the local shop, horribly aware that this was a slow cooker and it was only four hours until dinner time, and grabbed stewing steak and sweet potatoes. I browned off one and chopped the other. Threw them with reckless abandon into the crockpot with curry powder, chopped onion, chopped courgette, salt, pepper, some water and a big chunk of butter before switching the dial to high and waiting…
After two hours it was barely warm.

After three hours the occasional bubble blipped up to the surface.

My family arrived home with cries of: “What on earth is that?” “Isn’t that what old people have?” and “I thought we weren’t spending any money!

After three and a half hours I started boiling rice and wondering if I’d have to try and prepare something else.

After four hours elapsed I served up a perfect curry. I mean, it was truly sublime. Each morsel a tender, tasty testament to TLC. Everyone had seconds. Simon and I had leftovers for the next day’s lunch. I am, right now, wishing I could quickly cook some more. But it would take too long…

Incidentally, the freebie recipes that came with the slow cooker looked wack so please, please give me your favourite ideas in the comments!

Grain Brain by Dr Perlmutter

  One of the hardest parts of working in a pharmacy is seeing the stark contrast between the cheerful 90+ year olds who waltz in to buy cod liver oil or vitamin D tablets; and the 60 year olds who resignedly hand over their prescriptions for 5+  medications sagely muttering, “when you get to my age…” Statins to swallow alongside fat-free diets, laxatives to knock back after chewing through high-fibre bread; hundreds of capsules of tramadol, thyroxine, and pain killers dispensed every day. And picking up a weekly prescription seems, for many of our customers, to be an inevitable way of life, staving off surgery or death for just a few more years. 

It would be neither ethical nor professional for me to suggest customers ditch their margarines, low-salt condiments and low fat breakfast cereals when they look for over-the-counter relief for joint pain, heartburn and inability to sleep at night. I am unable to offer advice when I take their blood pressure and give them readings of 180/100. I can only apologise when they ask me how I look so well and I have to answer high-fat, low-sugar and no sunscreen. 

But, if I could, I would recommend Dr Perlmutter’s Grain Brain to every customer who walks through our door. Because, while the book focuses on brain function (depression, migraines, bipolar, Alzheimer’s etc) the advice would be equally relevant to anyone looking to relieve digestive issues, inflammatory conditions, circulatory diseases and diabetes, to name but a few. 

Grain Brain is authoritative, comprehensive, well referenced and a surprisingly easy read. Perlmutter’s case studies are presented with compassion, the four week plan is totally do-able and his recipes realistic. (Quick Flat-Roasted Chicken with Roasted Seasonal Vegetables and followed by Chocolate Truffles anyone?)

When I coached nutritional therapy clients one of the major stumbling blocks in avoiding gluten was that breakfast was boring. And this despite an enormous array of options, from Flojo’s SuperSmoothies to full fry-ups to eggs on gluten free toast. And this was from people who had only had toast for breakfast for years! Here is Perlmutter’s excellent explanation for that scenario, “We’ve known since the late 1970s that gluten breaks down in the stomach to become a mix of polypeptides that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Once they gain entry, they can then bind to the brain’s morphine receptor to produce a sensorial high. This is the same receptor to which opiate drugs bind, creating their pleasurable, albeit addicting, effect.” Sound familiar?!

Gluten-Free has become big business in the last decade or so and for every desperate soul who purchases commercially produced gluten free bread and sadly passes on the offer of biscuits in order to alleviate bloating, control their weight or deal with other seemingly inexplicable ailments there is a sceptic who believes that there is no scientific explanation for avoiding the very grains that have apparently sustained the human population for thousands of years. If either of these sounds like you, your friends or your family, please read Grain Brain and then lend your copy out! Your brain and body will thank you tenfold!

Related Post: 

How Flojo Got Her Mojo Back

Some Gluten Free Recipes:

Cheap n Cheerful Chocolate Chilli 

An Easy Curry Recipe

A Curried Chicken and Coconut Soup

Chia Breakfast Bowl 

Peanut Butter Muffins

Chia Breakfast Bowl

 Cheat alert. I forgot to prepare a proper post for you this week. But it’s been so lovely and sunny that eating outside, playing frisbee with the family, attempting my first ever cartwheel (no it wasn’t pretty, and yes I nearly broke a toe) going for lovely walks with my husband, and running through a chest hight river with a crazy friend (yes, really, it’s a long story) kinda took precedence. So, I’ve just scanned through some recent Instagram posts and wondered if you might like a recipe for a chia breakfast bowl. Would that suit? Oh good – do read on…

  1. Stumble down the stairs at 6am and stick the espresso pot on. Or boil water for green tea. Or do your meditation. Whatever works for you while you try to assemble your facial features into something that won’t scare small children.
  2. Pour chia seeds into a jug and add about three times that volume in milk or a milk substitute. Stir like a crazy thing.
  3. Sweep all the seeds that you spilt off the counter. Eat, or tip into the jug and hope nobody noticed; or let them fall to the floor for your hopeful looking dog.
  4. Gently dry fry some walnuts. Do not burn them! I know it’s early but burning them will ruin your entire day. Trust me.
  5. Find someone to set the table. Or  at least wipe it. Or at least get off their phones and try to feign interest in being helpful.
  6. Rinse blueberries. Try not to spill them in the sink.
  7. Share the chia pudding into as many bowls as you have family members. Let them help themselves to walnuts and blueberries.
  8. Sip coffee. Watch everyone’s happy smiling faces. Savour (oops, I just typed saviour) your lovely breakfast. Try to ignore the blueberries rolling all over the table. Congratulate yourself on managing to get yet another weekday breakfast on the table. I’m proud of you. You rock!

Related posts:

Flojo’s SuperSmoothies

Peanut Butter Muffins

Quick Baked Breakfast Cheesecake

Hot Chocolate for Breakfast

An Easy Curry Recipe

 Due to “technical difficulties” I can’t give you an excerpt from the Detox book this week, but I didn’t want to leave you with nothing at all. I’m nice like that. So, here’s what I made earlier – a hodge-podge of stuff I had kicking around in my tiny fridge. I hope you make some too…

I fried off chopped onion, garlic and minced ginger in a nice big wodge of butter. Chopped some courgettes (zucchini) and threw them in with plenty of minced lamb and browned that off. Pondered life for a while. Remembered I was supposed to be cooking dinner. Tipped in a ton of curry powder, a couple of chopped tomatoes and some tomato purée. Stuck a lid on and cooked some rice. Poured in some frozen peas. Tasted it, seasoned it, served it all up and took it all into the garden for my famished family to feast on! Fabulous!