It’s ANZAC Day in Australia which is a day for solemn remembrance of those who fought and died at Gallipoli in WWI and many other wars.
ANZAC biscuits have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I. The biscuits were sent by wives and women’s groups to soldiers as the ingredients do not spoil quickly and keep well during transportation. They are also very sustaining, delicious and worth eating at any time, not just on ANZAC Day.
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup plain wholemeal flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/4 cup canola or rice bran oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine oats, flours, coconut and sugar in a bowl.
Combine golden syrup, oil and water in a microwave-proof bowl and stir to combine. Microwave on HIGH for 25–30 seconds. Whisk in baking soda until well combined.
Add syrup mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Drop teaspoonfuls of mixture onto baking tray, leaving space between them (they will spread). Flatten with a fork.
Bake for 10–15 minutes, until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Our gut microbiome can be ‘poetry in motion’ or a horror story. It needs to be fed with care.
The system is dynamic. Residues of our digestion, including complex carbohydrates, soluble fibres and cell walls arrive in the large intestine to be fermented by a host of bacteria. This active environment of anaerobic fermentation exists in a fine balance. When all goes well, the right mix of bacteria receiving the right prebiotics, will produce a benevolent microbiome.
A happy microbiome will:
Hundreds of species of bacteria continue the process of digestion, both of food products and cells rubbed off from the gut wall.
Feed on excess mucous to keep the gut epithelial wall peachy. This icky sounding feature is the key to enabling the gut lining to transport nutrients into the blood stream, while blocking access to anything harmful.
Synthesize vitamins, particularly the B vitamin Biotin and two thirds of our intake of vitamin K.
Short chain fatty acid synthesis. Omega-6 fatty acids are converted to omega-3 fatty acids which are associated with a reduced vulnerability to inflammatory bowel disease.
Extremely important for a healthy biome is keeping the system moving. Our gut needs lots fibrous food and fluid to produce the malleable substrate that can be happily moved along.
The Horror Story
We can feed our gut bugs a junk food diet and expect a refuse pit microbiome. We can also be unlucky and have a system that doesn’t easily tolerate some fairly common foods. Many of us know that if we eat certain foods, maybe gluten, or complex sugars in raw onions, or inulin, the commonly added pre-biotic in ‘health’ foods and drinks, certain bacteria over-react. Bloating or excess gas production is uncomfortable, but worse is possible. It’s unlikely that bacteria cause irritable bowel syndrome but they can certainly exacerbate it. A reduction in the diversity of bacteria in the microbiome is associated with a diseased colon.
The problem with solving horrors is that our bacteria population is unique to ourselves and even within ourselves, is constantly changing. Added to this, bacteria are extremely complex, a variety of bacteria will have many strains. A quality probiotic supplement, with zillions of bacteria of a few varieties, can have a beneficial effect if our biome has been compromised, but there is no guarantee.
Eat Fibre, Drink Fluid, Keep Active
The best we can do is encourage a microbiome of pure poetry.
Eat whole foods, grains, fruit and veg, oats and linseeds are brilliant prebiotics. A low to moderate intake of caffeine and alcohol helps, plus avoiding foods high in salt, fat and sugar.
Prevent dehydration by including water in our choice of beverages.
Encourage gut motility (the ability of an organism to move independently, using metabolic energy) by being active.
It’s the time of the year to indulge so here’s a delicious and easy table decoration for your Easter lunch… chocolate nests filled with yummy treats!
Easter eggs in a nest!
1 packet of fried noodles
250g good quality milk or dark cooking chocolate
Your choice of eggs, chocolate, almond, nougat, yoghurt covered nuts or whatever takes your family’s fancy.
Melt chocolate in a bowl over a water-filled pot at low temperature. Stir often to avoid burning the bottom. Pour noodles into melted chocolate and stir until fully coated. Line another bowl with baking paper and transfer chocolate covered noodles to this bowl. Then place another piece of baking paper on top of this and press into the centre of the chocolate noodles to form a well.
Place in the refrigerator for around half an hour to harden. Remove noodles from bowl and fill the nest with colourful eggs.
We love the crispy Indian Dosa and we want to have a go at a proper, full-monty fermentation – no tinkering around the edges for us, we want the real thing. These are also vegan and gluten free!
Fermentation takes time – we start our fermentation the day before we want to eat dosas. I started this at lunch time day 1, to eat for dinner day 2. The preparation is easy.
The Dosa Batter
1 cup (180g) basmati rice
¼ cup (45g) urad dal (black split lentils)
Rinse basmati rice in a sieve. Put in a bowl and cover with 2 cups (280ml) cold water. Rinse the lentils and put in a cup and cover with cold water to 1cm over the lentils. Leave both to soak for several hours. Drain the rice. Place in a blender with ½ cup (120ml) water and blend to a smooth paste (about 4 minutes). Drain and rinse the lentils and add to the blender. Blend together for a further two minutes. Pour contents of blender into a bowl. Add ½ cup (120ml) water to blender, swill around and add to bowl. Cover with a tea cloth and leave until the next day. (Any left over batter can be stored in the fridge for a few days.)
Topping For Dosa
400g sweet potato – cut into small cubes, boiled and drained
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 large onion, chopped
1 green capsicum/pepper, de-seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic – crushed
1 thumb tip size piece ginger, peeled and grated
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon dry chili flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
This can be made ahead and re-heated when required. In a large wok or frying pan, heat canola oil and when hot, add cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds pop, after a minute or two, add onion and capsicum. Fry for a few minutes until onion starts to soften. Add crushed garlic and ginger, chili and garam masala. Fry for a few minutes more. Add sweet potato and salt, mix well and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.
Add ¼ teaspoon salt to dosa batter and stir. Heat a non stick frying pan with one teaspoon canola oil. Use a ladle or ¼ cup measure, pour batter into centre of pan and spread with a swirling action. As the dosa starts to cook and edges brown, ease away from the pan with spatula. I flipped mine – the real deal dosa cooks very hot on one side and filling is loaded while the dosa cooks. Mine’s a wimps dosa but it cooked well, had a fresh, crisp texture and tasted great. These are best eaten fresh. If you can keep frying dosa batter and keep adding filling, people will love your meal. A little coconut chutney or extra veggie curry is wonderful with this. A little plain yoghurt worked for me.
Food spoilage can be the first stage of fermentation, for example, bacteria causing milk to sour. However, there is nothing haphazard about the many fermentation processes used in our food.
We often don’t even notice how the foods we eat have been altered by fermentation.
Obvious fermented foods are pickles, beer and bread, but cocoa beans for chocolate, leaves for tea, olives too, wouldn’t be the food we know without fermentation.
Preserve foods – in acid or alcohol as in pickles and beverages
Develop flavours – in coffee beans and tea
Improve the digestibility – in sough dough fermentation alters the carbohydrate and protein, in yoghurt lactose has been converted to lactic acid
Reduce cooking time – fermented rice batters used for idli and dosa cook very quickly
Often the fermentation is over when we consume the food. The bread is baked and the yeast with it, or yeast in wine has turned the sugars in grape juice to alcohol, or the tea leaves are heated and dried or the sauerkraut is too acidic for the bacteria to thrive. Some fizzing drinks like beer are still active, some yoghurt has a live culture and there is a new zest for ancient fermented drinks like Kombucha. A great commercial opportunity has been sparked by this fermentation craze.
Beyond this is our own gut flora and the balance of getting foods in our diet that encourage a healthy bacteria population to flourish and avoiding the foods that in sensitive people cause bloating and discomfort.
At Moodilicious, we’re going to report on the fact and have a go at some fermentation recipes of our own.
Stick with us if you want to see some fermentation fun!!!
It’s Shrove Tuesday, a great excuse for yummy pancakes and they are pretty healthy. Those winter Olympic athletes could be having them for breakfast with bananas to get a low fat, high carb plus protein start to the day. Here’s our delicious recipe to try with coconut flour which is gluten free, perfect for those of us who are gluten intolerant or sensitive or who just like the coconut flavour for something different.
½ cup (20g) coconut flour
¾ cup (95g) gluten-free plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 cup (240ml) milk
Small handful of blueberries
Dollop of crème fraiche
Sieve dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Whisk 1 egg with milk and add to flours. Mix well. Spoon dollops of batter into buttered hot frying pan. Spread a little, turn after a few minutes. Serve warm with blueberries and crème fraiche.
Enjoy for breakfast or a delicious dessert or snack.
400g sultanas 4 tablespoons brandy (or orange juice) 200g self raising flour 1/2 a nutmeg finely grated 150g soft dark sugar 150g butter 200g walnuts, chopped apart from a few for decoration 200g glacier cherries 3 large eggs, beaten
Put the sultanas to soak in the brandy for a few hours. Heat oven to 180 C Line the base of a 20cm round, lose bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper and butter. Put the flour, nutmeg and sugar in a large mixing bowl, chop butter in to lumps and mix together using finger tips to produce a bread crumb consistency. Add the soaked sultanas with any remaining liquid, walnuts (apart from a few for the top) cherries and beaten egg. Carefully mix and combine. Put the mixture in the cake tin, smooth to give a slight hollow in the middle. Arrange whole walnuts on the top. Wet finger tips with a little water and lightly dampen the cake surface to avoid it becoming too dry. Place in the middle of the oven for half and hour. Lower the temperature to 150 C, cook for a further hour. Check after thirty minutes and if the top looks too brown, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper. Use a fine skewer inserted deep into the cake to see if the mixture is cooked through. The skewer should be clean if the cake is cooked, allow a further 15 minutes and check again. Leave in the tin to cool. Remove when cold. Double-wrap in greaseproof paper and store in a cool, dry place.