Guilt-free Banana Bread

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GUILT-FREE BANANA BREAD | Relish guiltlessly in this moist loaf made without butter

I totally have a soft spot for moist, delicious banana bread. However, I noticed my waistline thinks otherwise so I’ve been meticulous with this treat (read: trying to not make it a daily routine everytime I walk past the coffee shop on the way to work).

To this I have found a remedy. The satisfaction of baking your own banana bread from scratch – without butter – is a therapy in and of itself. From the mashing action of the overripe bananas, to the mixing of the wet and dry ingredients, and of course, the smell of the loaf oozing from your oven – words don’t do justice to describe the satisfaction derived from the overall process. And because I’ve come up with a recipe that does away with the butter, you can enjoy this moist loaf without the associated guilt factor.

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Guilt-free Banana Bread

PREP TIME: 20 mins | BAKING TIME: 40 mins | TOTAL TIME: 60 mins | YIELDS: 8-9 slices

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 115 g of yoghurt (Greek or natural)
  • 60 ml maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut / brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • icing sugar, to dustYoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0239

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease a loaf pan.Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0272
  2. Mash bananas.Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0245.jpgYoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0246
  3. Beat eggs. Fold in the mashed bananas, yoghurt, maple syrup and coconut sugar. Mix thoroughly. Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0250Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0258Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0262
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the salt and baking powder.
  5. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and fold till well combined.Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0265.jpg
  6. Pour batter into loaf and put into the oven for 40 minutes or so. Test with an inserted toothpick: if it comes out clean then the loaf is ready.Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0286Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0290
  7. Remove loaf from tin and let cool. Slice into 1.5 cm slices. Dust with icing sugar before serving. To store for later, banana bread can be kept frozen. Feel free to toast the banana bread in your toaster before serving. Enjoy!Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0324Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0332

 

Heavenly Scrambled Eggs with Dill and Creme Fraiche

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THE PERFECT SCRAMBLE | Divinely creamy yet as light as the breath of an angel.

My latest obsession is scrambled eggs. How to perfect them and make the most glorious, creamiest and heavenly eggs unparalleled to any other you have eaten before.

If you have a hard time finding creme fraiche, you can substitute it with sour creme. To achieve that heavenly creamy texture, the key is to ‘fold’ the eggs and to not overcook the delicate soft curds. This can be simply achieved by turning  the heat setting to as low as possible while harnessing what has often become a rarified trait called “patience”.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-15-of-17

Heavenly Scrambled Eggs with Dill and Creme Fraiche

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon butter, diced (ice cold)
  • bunch of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 slices of rustic bread or sourdough, toasted, to serve.
  • freshly ground sea salt and pepper, to taste.

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METHOD:

  1. Break eggs into a bowl and beat gently.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-2-of-17
  2. Chop the fresh dill and add into the egg mixture.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-3-of-17
  3. Add tablespoon of creme fraiche.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-4-of-17
  4. Heat pan on low heat, and add butter. Using a spatula, stir the eggs frequently as they begin to slowly cook. Should take no longer than 4-5 minutes or so.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-5-of-17creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-6-of-17creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-7-of-17
  5. Toast sourdough bread (or substitute) as eggs are cooking. Ladle the eggs on top of the toast while it is still not fully cooked yet (as eggs still cooked when removed from the stove).creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-10-of-17
  6. Add black truffle paste if you want a more gourmet experience.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-16-of-17

 

Truffled Scrambled Eggs

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TRUFFLED-UP SCRAMBLED EGGS | Soft heavenly ricotta-like texture with a touch of gourmet.

Crazy about eggs? Especially those creamy and soft scrambled eggs that slip off your spoon into your mouth?

The secret here is cooking the eggs low and slow — low heat, plus plenty of time for soft eggy curds to gradually form.

Yes, I know patience may not jive well with a busy morning weekday schedule before work but trust me, 10-15 minutes is worth your time once you taste the sensation of these eggs. If I am going to make scramble eggs, this is how I will do them. No compromise.

What’s the trick? Simply cook the eggs in a regular saute pan over the lowest heat you can manage on your stove. Please resist the temptation to nudge the dial up. As the eggs start to cook, stir occasionally to mix the cooked eggs on bottom with the still-runny eggs on top, and let the eggs form into billowy curds at their own pace.

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Ingredients:

TIME: 10 mins | YIELDS: one 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of black truffle paste
  • Chopped green onions or chives for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Turn stove on lowest heat setting. Heat pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. In meantime, lightly beat eggs in a bowl with a dash of salt and pepper. truffled-scrambled-eggs-1-of-6
  3. Pour whisked eggs into pan and gently fold continuously. truffled-scrambled-eggs-2-of-6
  4. Once egg forms set curds, add the teaspoon of black truffle paste.truffled-scrambled-eggs-3-of-6
  5. Remove pan from stove and dish eggs onto a plate (remember, eggs still cook when removed from stove). Garnish with chopped spring onions or chives before serving.truffled-scrambled-eggs-4-of-6

Heavenly Almond Milk with Vanilla Bean and Dates

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Save the money buying almond milk and make your own. Creamy, lightly sweet, and so satisfying—homemade almond milk (without the additives and preservatives) is a true luxury!

It also contains no animal byproducts, allowing vegans and vegetarians to enjoy it without guilt.

Personally, my favourite flavour combo comprises of utilising an entire vanilla bean, a couple Medjool dates, and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. The secret to an intense vanilla flavour is blending the entire vanilla bean; just chop it up and toss the whole bean into the blender. Not to worry if you don’t have one on hand though: a half a teaspoon of vanilla extract will work just fine in a pinch.

This milk is delicious served with cookies, cereal, in a smoothie, or simply on its own.

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Almond milk’s high vitamin E content makes it a superfood for skin, helping to protect it from the  sun damage. 

I am now going to rave on about the merits of almond milk. First, for those who are looking to lose weight, almond milk is your solution. Did you know that one cup of almond milk contains only 60 calories, as opposed to 146 calories in whole milk, 122 calories in 2 percent, 102 calories in 1 percent, and 86 calories in skim? Enough said – it makes for a great substitute that will help you lose or maintain your current weight.

Moreover, almond milk won’t impact your blood sugar levels. Home made almond milk (with no additives) is low in carbs, which means it won’t significantly increase your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for diabetes. Because of its low glycemic index, your body will use the carbs as energy so the sugars aren’t stored as fat (score!).

Almond milk also keeps your heart healthy as there is no cholesterol or saturated fat in almond milk. It’s also low in sodium and high in healthy fats (such as omega fatty acids, typically found in fish), which helps to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.

For those who care about beauty and skin, the vitamin E boost in almond milk will work wonders. Containing  50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E, almond milk contains antioxidant properties essential to your skin’s health, such as protecting it against sun damage.

For those who are lactose intolerant (i.e. have difficultly digesting the sugar in cow’s milk), almond milk is particularly fitting as unlike cow’s milk, there is no lactose. Lactose intolerance is prevalent amongst the Asian population and impacts about 25% of the US population.
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Almond milk is a suitable, lactose-free substitute for cow’s milk.

Heavenly Almond Milk with Vanilla Bean and Dates

TIME: 15 minutes | SERVES: 4 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large cup of  almonds
  • 3.5 cups of filtered water
  • 4 pitted dates
  • 1 whole vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of himalayan sea salt

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METHOD:

  1. Soak the raw almonds in a bowl of water overnight. Hint: the longer you soak, the creamier the almond milk will become.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (30 of 31)
  2. Drain water in colander. Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (29 of 31)
  3. Place drained almonds in a Vitamix (or any powerful blender will do).Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (28 of 31)
  4. Add the dates, vanilla bean and a pinch of himalayan sea salt in the Vitamix. Fill up the container with filtered water at a ratio of  roughly 3-4 x as much as the volume of the almonds. Here I used 3.5 cups of water.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (26 of 31)
  5. Hit the on button, at first on low, before slowly increasing the speed to high and blend for 1 minute.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (25 of 31)
  6. Once everything is blended, strain the contents into a large bowl using a cheese cloth or nut milk bag/sprouting bag (as if milking a cow).Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (20 of 31)Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (19 of 31)
  7. Once done, pour the almond milk into a jar and store in the fridge. Almond milk can be stored for 2-3 days (since there are no preservatives) in the fridge.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (10 of 31)
  8. For variations, feel free to blend in some cacao and banana for an almond milk smoothie to best kick start the day. Otherwise, the almond milk makes for a refreshing alternative to milk when served chilled.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (18 of 31)

 

Super Moist Blueberry Muffins

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“I love you BERRY much” Blueberry Muffins | The moistest blueberry muffins with a lemon sugar crumble to take it over the top.

There is something just so homey and comforting about blueberry muffins. The thought of sitting down to relax, with a nice cuppa tea in one hand and taking a steamy bite of a freshly baked blueberry muffin is DIY therapy for my soul.

For those who are more health-conscious out there, I have managed to come up with a moist mouth-wateringly delicious blueberry muffin with a drastically reduced sugar and butter content. The key is to load up on the sour cream.  Sour cream will add moisture to these muffins, doing away with the addition of extra butter.

Last but not least, the addition of a lemon-zested sugar crumble takes this muffin over the top.

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These muffins are chock full of berry goodness and the sour cream makes them extra moist.

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Super Moist Blueberry Muffins

Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 20-25 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes | Makes: 10 medium sized muffins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup (60g) of butter, softened
  • 30g of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar crystals
  • 1 1/2 cup (180g) of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (roughly one lemon juiced)
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup of sour creamMana (2 of 23)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F and butter muffin moulds. Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until combined. Add in egg, sour cream, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat again until well combined.Mana (23 of 23)
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Mana (21 of 23)
  3. Fold in dry ingredients into the sour cream mixture and fold with spatula. Gently stir in blueberries until throughly combined.Mana (20 of 23)
  4. To make topping, combine 1 tablespoon of brown sugar crystals with 1/4 teaspoon of grated lemon zest. Sprinkle ~1/4 teaspoon on the top of each muffin before shoving it into the oven.Mana (17 of 23)
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Remove. Let rest for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Best served warm.Mana (3 of 23)Mana (5 of 23)Mana (9 of 23).jpg

Moist and Fluffy Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (3 of 26)POPPY SEED DELIGHT | Light, delicate, sweet and moist muffins with tiny crunches of poppy seeds and the citrusy kiss of lemon. 

Woke up to a dreary Saturday morning. Rather than to let the dismal weather affect my mood, the optimistic voice inside of me nudged me to bake something to brighten up the day. Not so sure about you, but the scent of lemon always perks up the morning for me, especially in the cold winter days.

When lemon and baking comes to my mind, I instinctively think of warm lemon poppyseed muffins. The key to ensuring these muffins turn out moist and fluffy? Sour cream. Simply replace milk with sour cream in the same quantity and you will be left with moist muffins that can be frozen ahead of time.

These muffins are sweet and simple and comes together quickly – great for last minute cravings.

Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (11 of 26)Poppyseed muffins with a scent of lemon make a warm welcome to the winter blues.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

Prep Time:  10 minutes | Cook Time: 18-20 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 8 large muffins (12 small muffins)

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, melted until browned and cooled
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seedsLemon PoppySeed Muffins (26 of 26).jpg

METHOD:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit / 200 degrees Celsius.  Line a 12 mold, regular sized muffin tray with paper muffin liners, place the muffin pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Zest the lemon with a microplane grater and juice it.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (23 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (24 of 26)
  3. In a large bowl, rub the granulated sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar is lightly coloured and scented with lemon.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (21 of 26)
  4. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk (or sour cream) vanilla extract, melted butter and lemon juice.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (20 of 26)
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together.  When almost thoroughly mixed, add the poppy seeds.  Divide batter between muffin cups.  Sprinkle each would be muffing with granulated sugar.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (17 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (16 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (15 of 26)
  6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (13 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (4 of 26).jpg
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing. Best served warm with a cup of tea.Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (6 of 26)Lemon PoppySeed Muffins (1 of 1)

 

Caramelised Figs on Avocado Toast

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Figs…a culinary delicacy par excellence. Caramelise them with honey and serve on a toast layered with sliced avocado for a healthy and nutritious breakfast.

Figs. There is nothing like the tastes and texture of fresh figs. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds. California figs are available from June through September; some European varieties are available through autumn.

Figs are the sweet way to lose weight. Did you know that figs are a good source of dietary fibre, which helps with weight management and protecting against the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. What’s more, figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure. Since many people not only do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but do consume high amounts of sodium as salt is frequently added to processed foods, they may be deficient in potassium. Low intake of potassium-rich foods, especially when coupled with a high intake of sodium, can lead to hypertension.

Figs range dramatically in color and subtly in texture depending upon the variety, of which there are more than one hundred and fifty. Some of the most popular varieties are:

  • Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh
  • Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh
  • Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh
  • Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh
  • Adriatic: the variety most often used to make fig bars, which has a light green skin and pink-tan flesh

As for their origins, figs can trace their history back to the earliest of times with mentions in the Bible and other ancient writings. They are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt. They spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, around the 9th century BC, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple foodstuff in the traditional diet. Figs were held in such esteem by the Greeks that they created laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Figs were also revered in ancient Rome where they were thought of as a sacred fruit. According to Roman myth, the wolf that nurtured the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, rested under a fig tree. During this period of history, at least 29 varieties of figs were already known.

There are several ways to serve fresh figs. For me, I like to have my dosage early in the morning for breakfast when I wake up. Simply caramelise them with some honey in a pan and serve on a slice of toasted sourdough with fresh avocado. Sublime.

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INGREDIENTS (makes 1 toast, serves 1):

  • 1 fresh fig
  • 1 tablespoon of runny honey
  • 1 slice of sourdough/breadof your choosing, toasted
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

METHOD:

  1. Slice fresh fig in quarters and place in bowl. Coat with the runny honey all over.

Caramelised figs on avocado toast (4 of 18)2. Heat frying pan on low-medium heat. Once hot enough add the figs and lightly pan fry until golden both sides (no more than 3 minutes).

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3. Toast bread and arrange sliced avocado on top. Layer with the cooked figs and serve whilst warm.

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