Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend Bake; Apricot and Maple Muffins

So to say Mr. LL and I have been indulging ourselves with food lately would be a serious understatement. From the amazing food purchased throughout the Yarra Valley to the dinner we hosted for some friend's birthdays last night, we're both feeling a little over the heaviness.

So for my bake this week I sought out a recipe that would satisfy the sweet craving but still provide some nutrients, (and maybe a little less of the 'blergh' factor). These muffins have turned out super tasty and are very dense and moist, making them very satisfying and filling. They also contain fibre, iron & potassium - better than you're average choc-chip version. Definitely one for the healthier alternative file!

Apricot and Maple Muffins

2 eggs
250ml semi-skimmed milk
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp natural yoghurt (I used Greek Yoghurt, youl could use whatever you have)
50g All Bran (any bran flakes will work)
225g plain white flour (I used 150g wholemeal plain and 75g plain white - worked well)
1tbsp baking powder
25g muscovado sugar (I only used a tbsp)
125g dried apricots, chopped (I used 100g)
50g sultanas (I used 75g)
2 tbsp maple syrup (I used pure maple syrup)

Preheat over to 180c (fan forced - 170c)/gas mark 5. Line a large muffin tin with 8-10 paper cases or grease proof paper.
In a measuring jug, combine eggs, milk, olive oil, yoghurt and bran. Set aside.
Sift four and baking powder into a bowl, then stir in sugar and dried fruit.
Add the egg mixture and mix well until smooth.
Spoon mixture into muffin cases.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked through (insert a skewer to the middle and if it comes out clean, they're done).
Remove from oven.
Allow the muffins to cook for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and brush with maple syrup.

Very simple, very yummy! My terrible photos don't do them justice.

Aside from what is stated in the ingredients, I also added 1 cap full of vanilla essence and a teaspoon of cinnamon as I thought they needed a boost. It worked a treat.

Much healthier than the caramel slice I have in the fridge, although the muffins would be amazing warm, with butter...

Did you bake this weekend?

Stay well,
Nat x

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Healesville; Giant Steps

This weekend past, Mr. LL & I spent a long weekend in the Yarra Valley. It was amazing and I now want to move there, (until Summer, when I will want to move down to the coast. Rinse. Repeat), but this place was one of the food highlights;

We had lunch here yesterday. I'm not sure if it's Giant Steps or Innocent Bystander - maybe their web site will clarify. Whatever the name, we had lunch there yesterday and were super pleasantly surprised.

Open 7 days or not, I doubt you'll get a quiet day. It was Monday when we were there, freezing, raining and about 3pm. The place was packed. We had to share a table with another guest because there was no where else to sit and everyone was ordering pizza. We are rebels so we didn't order pizza. We didn't regret it, but we did contemplate buying it to take home for dinner because other people's looked so damn good.

They had so much Moscato advertising up and so many Moscato products, (like Moscato sorbet). I hate, OK that's mean - strongly dislike Moscato, so I didn't try any, but if any of the other things we tasted there are anything to go by, I'm sure it's a good Moscato as far as Moscato goes.

I did not drink this, but Mr. LL had the Giant Steps Merlot with his meal. He loved it, so I tasted it and I loved it. Have I mentioned that I love wine? Hi, I'm Natalie, and when everyone was drinking cruisers at a house party circa 2002, I was at home with my parents enjoying a glass of Cabernet.

This is what I had for lunch. It was, AMAZING. I went on about this so much at the table that I Mr. LL was embarassed and the table next to me was looking sideways. It was called fried polenta with cauliflower, or something lame like that that doesn't do the taste justice. It was nuts. I want to recreate it. There were currants and onion and pine nuts and AMAZING THINGS. I'm sorry, I'll stop, just trust me.

Mr. LL got a duck pie. He loved it, I liked the carrot mash. Mr. LL usually finds something wrong with every thing he eats, but there were no complaints on this dish.

I had a glass of Rose with my meal as recommended by the waitress. It was good, but not amazing. Mr. LL's Merlot was better, so we bought a bottle.

Paying. Not cheap. Worth it.

So if you feel like doing a day trip on one of these really horrible freezing drizzly days, may I recommend Healesville. Be sure to take home some of the cheeses from Giant Steps as well. The Stilton is super tasty, if you're into blue.

There's also a 'butcher' that sells even more amazing cheese, a cute chocolate shop and a Beechworth Bakery. It's just a cute town. If you stay for a while, try pizzas from a place called Bodhi Pizza as well, a shack-y looking place just down the street and opposite Giant Steps.

And now to plan the next escape.... they are needed for sanity!

Stay well,
Nat x

Friday, July 15, 2011

Simple Tummy Remedies

Today I stayed home with a terrible tummy bug after a night of almost no sleep trying to settle my stomach. A lot of people in my work place have had the same bug, and, if the GP I saw today was anything to go by, a lot of people at least state wide are suffering alongside me.

So, on the odd and hopefully completely unlikely chance you are feeling, or are going to feel similar to what I do right now sometime before winter goes away, I thought it would be useful to share my favourite anti-nausea remedies.

If you're pregnant, it's worth noting all of these are safe for pregnancy, too.

Although I'd love to say this is my flat tummy, the photo is from Akrigg UK on Flickr

- A widely used and known remedy. I find the tea helps if served at room temperature. Definitely do not brew some and then refrigerate as cold liquid upsets a lot of people's stomachs further. You can also use peppermint oil as an aromatherapy treatment.

- A fantastic anti nausea remedy. I love the stuff and can chew on a piece straight. If you're not quite that game, you can steep a few pieces in boiling water and drink when the liquid has cooled slightly - add honey or a small aount of lemon juice to change the flavour. Shaved ginger is also very yummy with a sprinkle of sugar.

Ginger Ale
- If you can't handle the straight ginger.

Apple Cider Vinegar
- Mix 1tablespoon into a glass of room temperature water & drink. You can also add honey to sweeten.

- I can't quite figure out if this one is a myth and have read it's something to do with the phosphoric acid in Coke; either way, I swear it works for me! Just sip a little and see how you feel. If the carbonation of the drink is going to bother you, a few drops of boiling water will flatten it in seconds. If there's any chance your nausea is exacerbated or caused by anxiety or stress, best stay away from the caffeine in this one.

Lying on your Left
- I learnt this from a man who took CT Scans of me once. I was very nauseas and he said lying on your left side will help your stomach to settle, and help you to digest with less effort. I haven't heard it since, and it may all be in the mind, but I now find lying on my left more comfortable than lying on my right when unwell.

- This sounds backwards and I've yet to have it work for me, (though it's never hurt), but I've heard of people having their stomach's settled by simply smelling freshly cut lemon. Diluting the juice in water can also help.

Stay well! & live especially healthy through this terrible virus season,
Nat x

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Proof; Calories In / Calories Out

The Boyfriend sent me this photo this afternoon after my extreme fascination with the diet of a Tour de France rider.

We've all seen these riders, right? Very, very lean men who do extreme amounts of exercise.

Here's an example of what 1 of them may eat in a single day, as taken by Andy Schlek after his cook put together the arrangement.

Amazing, eh?

Obviously none of us exercise as much as these guys, nor should any of us non-pro-competitive-amazing athletes, but it's still a great visual.

Also, please note where there energy is coming from. No coffee and biscuit, no chocolate bar, no giant bowl of pasta, just wholesome, real food. It doesn't matter how much of an athlete you are or aren't, your body will perform it's best when it's fed proper nutrients, regardless of how many calories you aim to consume (5 apples is better for you than 5 Tim Tams, even if they both have about 500 calories). Yes they eat glucose bars; you can too when you ride 120kms a day by bike at 50kph for a few weeks straight.

Has anyone else ever taken a photo of all the food they'd eat in a day?
I'll try & do that soon.

Stay well,
Nat x

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3 Health Goals

I can feel my body being angry at me lately and not really gelling with the cold weather, so, inspired by Hannah at Eat Your Freaking Vegetables, I decided to publish 3 health goals.

The sunset on the way to the beach house. I am most relaxed at the beach, I eat and think healthier at the beach & I am happier at the beach. I want to feel like this all the time (and unfortunately, cannot move to the beach).

1. Eat More Cleanly
I have a very good and relatively clean diet already, but the chocolate after dinner or the giant pieces of toast and not much else for breakfast are sneaking in too often. This may sound like nothing, but my body is used to functioning on a very, very clean diet and usually works very efficiently. Once you feel a very high level of wellbeing, it's not nice to go back to the 'norm', which can be sluggish & tiring.

2. Meditate Every Day
I have it at about once every 2-3 days at the moment, but it's so hard to make the time. I want to do it more because I am a natural stress head, (I've only learnt this in the past few months), and am driving myself silently crazy. I have been using the gym, in particular weights, to relive stress but that is exhausting me, (especially when I'm not fueling my body right lately).

3. Quit Diet Coke
You heard me. It's crap and I need to stop it.

Do you have any current health goals like Hannah & I?

Stay well,
Nat x

Monday, July 11, 2011

Breakfast at Mr. Tulk

Breakfast, as you all know, is my favourite thing on earth. Mr. LL has obviously cottoned on as last weekend he decided to take me out for the best meal of the day.

Mr. Tulk's, which is located at the State Library is where he chose.

The only stories I'd ever hear of Mr. Tulk's were that of a gorgeous friend of mine who frequented their dining room while studying across the road at RMIT. Still full of kids who looked like uni students, (young, giant spectacles, amazing buns on their heads and laptops sprawled everywhere .. on a Saturday morning), I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and cosy the environment was on a cold Winter morning. Instantly happy with the boy's choice.

And the brekky?

Good coffee & cute salt packets.

Good decaf coffee; quite an achievement these days.

According to the boy; good parmesan scrambled eggs & bacon, (but he did want more toast).

According to me; stewed rhubarb so good I dreamt about rhubarb that night. Beautiful muesli.

And a window display tempting enough to to take home a brekky dessert, and lunch.

And all not to $$ either, I guess that's the advantage of being near a uni.

Recommend if you haven't tried!

What's your favourite place for breakfast in ol' Melbourne town?

Stay well,
Nat x

Saturday, July 9, 2011

(Food) Stuff I Love Right Now

Home made wholemeal pancakes with cinnamon, greek yoghurt, honey & fruit. Yummmm.

My fruit bowl. A constant source of freshness.

Decaf 'real' coffee. And the way 'Decaffeinated Coffee' is said in Italian. Sexy.

Being The World's Worst vegetarian and making a seafood platter that Mr. LL & I shared.
My body told me to eat it, and I listen to my body. We'll see how it goes... especially as I felt terrible afterwards.

Vegemite & avocado on toast. So ridiculously yummy.

Egg, soldiers & the paper on the weekend.

Non food? Catching up with a girlfriend who I speak to every second day, but haven't seen in probably a year.

And you?

Stay well,
Nat x

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cycling; An Ode to Le Tour

If you're reading this and you're a late night channel surfer, or lover of the ol' push bike, you would no doubt know that over the weekend, Le Tour de France started - the most famous and prestigious road bike race in the world. While not all people are interested in how Cadel Evans' is fairing over in France, most of us have at some point hopped on a bicycle and gone for a ride, (even if it was a stationary ride).

Mr. LL was just reading an article to me on the rider's on the tour's nutrition, (absolutely insane and worth a read - click here
), and it got me thinking about bicycling compared to other forms of cardio exercise.

Stationary bikes are far from favoured in my gym, often being used as a last resort for the masses of super-fit-20-somethings that appear between 5 and 6pm (when all the treadmills are full), but I have always loved the bike, choosing it over the treadmill and the cross trainer every time. I know in myself that it is improving my fitness as I have more stamina when I do get out and hit the foot path or Les Mills class, but let's look a some facts;

- If you're not a runner, like me, cycling is much better exercise for the heart than walking or power walking.
- No pressure is placed on the joints, especially knees when cycling unlike running or jogging. (This is especially helpful for people prone to injury or carrying a lot of weight and looking to increase fitness.)
- Although you will burn calories faster running, most people will last longer on a bike and burn more calories overall. It takes a fair bit of fitness to continuously run and more people are able to cycle for long periods of time.
- Using a bike is a practical mode of transportation when the weather permits, and using a stationary bike will deliver similar benefits uninfluenced by climate.
- You are less likely to incur injury on an exercise bike as opposed to running.
- On a stationary bike, you can increase and decrease your resistance with ease depending on your desired work out or level of fitness. As you get fitter, you can continue to challenge yourself with more than distance.

Of course there is no denying that running is a more intense work out, but if you'll make any excuse not to run, then cycling is also useful for cardio fitness.

I still plan to buy a mountain bike and go on weekend adventures one day. I have fond memories of biking around our large property when I was a kid, and in the Grampians on a school camp.

These days, I use 20 minutes on the exercise bike as a warm up at he gym before my weights session. I'd love to road bike, but the roads around these parts aren't set up brilliantly for it.

Do you like to cycle? Are the bikes popular at your gym?

In other news, I highly recommend staying up for Le Tour de France one night purely for the beautiful french countryside scenery.

Stay well,
Nat x

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekend Bake; Chewy Peanut Butter Muesli Bars

I've developed a tradition in my house; every weekend, I bake a new work-friendly snack for Mr. Lemon Living. It started off as a convenient way for me to try out new baking recipes, but one week, 3 or so months ago I skipped the baking and left packaged muesli bars for Mr. LL to graze on during the week. Much to my delight, by Tuesday night Mr. LL was telling me that he missed having something home made in his work bag. The rest is history.

It should be mentioned that, as Mr. LL has grown custom to my super healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options, the weekly bake is almost never a healthy option. It's kind of an admittance on my part that if you're going to bake, it's really going to taste better with butter, sugar and the rest. Having said that, I usually eat one serving of each baking batch. There's usually excess which gets taken to work to share, or delivered to family or friends.

Here's to Lemon Living's first display of the weekend bake!

Chewy Peanut Butter Muesli Bars

1 3/4 cups Rolled Oats
1/4 cup Pepitas
1 tbsp Seasame Seeds
1/2 cup Honey
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 cups Cornflakes
1/2 cup Sultanas
1/2 cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
125g unsalted Butter.

Grease an 18cm x 28cm rectangular slice pan. Line base and sides of pan with baking paper, extending paper 3cm above pan edges - (I used 1 20x20cm pan, and 1 loaf tin as my pans were all too big).

Place rolled oats, cornflakes, pepitas, sultanas and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

Combine peanut butter, honey, chopped butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring, over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until mixture is slightly thickened.

Add honey mixture to oat mixture. Stir to combine.

Press combined mixture firmly over base of prepared slice pan.

Refrigerate until firm.

To serve, lift slice from pan, cut into rectangles.

This slice is yummy with a capital ! I think as a peanut butter super-lover, I am slightly biased as it is super peanut butter-y. My only criticisms of this slice is that it is super sweet, to the point of a sugar headache after 1 serving for me, but I am very sensitive to sugar. Mine also didn't set very hard (if you hold a bar from one end, it flops and falls apart), so I have wrapped them in individual portions and put them in the freezer door for Mr. LL to grab on his way out in the mornings.

Ignoring that, it's just ridiculously tasty.

Note that despite my extreme love of natural peanut butter and intolerance of the processed stuff, the processed stuff always stands up better against other ingredients in baking. I keep some in the house purely for this reason.
Also note the above as an amazing example of muesli bars not always being the healthiest option, and an excellent example of how they can be higher in fat and sugar than many dessert options.

Also note that sometimes, you just gotta' enjoy it.

Stay well,
Nat x