Things in Jars

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These are for the rushed ones. The breakfast-in-the-car eaters. The early-start- endurers. The I-don’t-have-time-for-breakfast-but-damm-I’m-hungry’ers.

They say you shouldn’t eat on the run. They say you should sit down, meal on a plate, focus completely on the food, chew each mouthful ten times. Swallow, then take a breath before your next bite.

They don’t know how funny they are.

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Keep all your glass jars. The standard sized ones fit into your car cup holders and so are perfect for eating on the run without a food-in-car mishap. Take in mouthfuls during red lights. Sip between pathetic releases of the foot brake during the maddening shuffle of peak-hour traffic. It’ll keep you from mouthing expletives at the other drivers. A hunger cure and road-rage cure in one.

Once you are done, you can pop the lid on and deal with the smell later when you have to wash the thing after it’s been in the hot car all day. Keep all your glass jars and dedicate a shelf to them. Buy things in glass jars just so that you can finish it, wash it out and use it for meals on the run. The pasta sauces, the peanut butters, the honeys and the jams. Ask relatives for their glass jars. They’ll think you’re cuckoo and it’s mostly worth it.

Then make one or two of these options, either the night before or in the morning. A couple of these need a fancy-pants food processor, but some need very little equipment. Each recipe makes one serving, but you can easily double them to set yourself up nicely for the next 2 days. As you are rushing out the door, grab the jar of yum, grab a spoon and GO GO GO!

Jars to spare? Use ’em for nut butters, piquant quick mango picklelemon curd or apple & ginger relish.

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Thing 1: Mango Avocado Whip (freezes well)

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango flesh
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup milk of choice
1-2 scoops protein powder
Handful of baby spinach, washed
1/2 tsp vanilla powder or paste
Seeds of 2-3 cardamom pods or ¼ tsp cardamom powder (optional)

Place all ingredients in food processor bowl, blitz until homogenous mixture. Top with coconut, berries, nuts, seeds, chocolate or whatever tickles your fancy. To turn this into a smoothie, add a little more liquid (milk, coconut water, water).

Tip: Place the ingredients (apart from milk and avocado) in small snap-lock bags and freeze in single serves, ready for blitzing in the morning.

Thing 2: 1 Minute Pesto Eggs

2 eggs
1 tsp pesto of choice
Small handful baby spinach
Oil (optional)
Shredded cheese (optional)

Spray or brush the bottom of the jar with oil (optional, makes for easier cleaning). Place eggs and pesto in jar and whisk with a fork or small whisk. Fold through baby spinach leaves. With lid off, microwave on high for 40 seconds to start with, then another 20 seconds. Sprinkle a little shredded cheese over the top before the second microwaving session if desired.

Thing 3: Choc, PB and Banana Smoothie (freezes well)

1 ripe banana
1 heaped dessert spoonful peanut butter
1 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder
1-2 scoops protein powder
¾ cup milk of choice

Place all ingredients in food processor bowl, blitz until homogenous mixture.

Tip: Peel and freeze and bananas that are in danger on over-ripening before they are eaten, to use in this recipe later.

Thing 4: Anne’s Overnight Oats

2 tablespoons of chia seeds (white or black)
½ cup rolled oats
One decent-sized ripe banana
¾ cup milk of choice
1/2 tsp cinnamon or vanilla (optional)
Honey or other syrup to serve (optional)
Fruit, seeds, nuts, shredded coconut, chocolate chips to garnish (optional)

Mash banana in jar. Add chia seeds, oats, milk and cinnamon/vanilla. Stir well. Store in fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Top with toppings of choice and sweetener. If using.

Adapted from a recipe by Anne who writes here.

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Chocolate, Cranberry and Pistachio Granola

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It began with the subtlest of signs.  A hole in a paper bag from which plain flour poured when I was shifting things around to look for something.  A perfect circle the size of a ten cent piece that I convinced myself was a tear.  I cleaned up the mess, found what I needed and thought nothing more of it.

Then on another day, another hole……..this time in the wholemeal flour bag.  And another pile of flour underneath to clean up.  On the other side of the pantry, there were tiny holes nibbled into the bag of pepitas.

Nibbled!

By tiny teeth!

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It was then that we noticed the scattering of tiny black pellets.  After all, when you’ve been busy scooting around on tiny feet and munching your way through a pantry full of food, nature will inevitably call and a trail will be left behind.

Feeling somewhat invaded and unclean, we set out the humane traps.  They were not lured by the bread that we offered on the first two nights, not the sweet piece of dried coconut that we tried next.  Predictably, it was the cheese that did it.  Not the holey Swiss cheese that attracts cartoon mice, but a small piece of Grana Padano…….the expensive kind.

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Once both the tiny furry terrorists were caught and released in the park down the road, Mum and I set about on our cleaning mission.  It was a much needed push to spring clean the pantry.  Old ingredients and those that were blessed by rodents were thrown out, shelves were wiped down, and glass jars were filled, labelled, and arranged in height order.

Ingredients that I had purchased and forgotten about were rediscovered.  An afternoon of experimentation led to a rich, chocolatey granola, low enough in sugar to make it ok to eat chocolate in the morning.  I used some unsweetened cocoa mass that was uncovered in the mouse hunt, and added rice syrup for a slight sweetness.  You could do the same, or just use 70 or 80 % dark chocolate.

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Chocolate, Cranberry and Pistachio Granola

Get:

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
80g dark chocolate (I used unsweetened cocoa mass + 2 tsp rice syrup)
2 tbsp cashew or macadamia nut butter
1 tbsp protein powder or milk powder (optional)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Make:

Preheat the oven to 160 C.  Spread the coconut and sunflower seeds out on an oven tray and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until the coconut has turned a light brown.  Spread the pistachios on a seperate tray and roast until they have gained a little colour- they may take a bit longer than the coconut and sunflower seeds.  If making the nut butter from scratch, this is the time to roast those on a separate tray.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 20-30 second bursts (use a large bowl either way).  If using cocoa mass, stir in the rice syrup well.  While the chocolate is warm, add the coconut oil and nut butter, cinnamon and salt, and stir well.

Add the other ingredients and toss until they are all well coated in chocolate.  Place the bowl in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from the fridge and crumble with your fingers.  Store at room temperature for up to 3-4 weeks or in the fridge for longer. Eat with milk, nut milk, yoghurt or on it’s own!

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Or La La Banana Bread (Paleo) from Clean Living Cookbook

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We have talked before about my cookbook fascination.  You very sweetly didn’t judge me when I revealed that I own many more cookbooks than I actually use.  I recently had a glimpse of what lay in my future when I visited the home of a friend of a friend whose cookbook collection put mine to shame.  “Let me show you something” She said as she slid open her wardrobe doors to reveal a wall of cookbooks.  An entire wall.  Vintage tomes, the pages yellowed and slightly fragile sat alongside crisp, contemporary recipe collections adorned with breathtaking photography.  It was not quite heaven but pretty darn close.

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One of the latest additions to my collection (and one step closer to the coveted cookbook wall), is the Clean Living Cookbook (Hachette, Australia), by My Kitchen Rules alumni Luke Hines and Scott Gooding.  I cooked from it no less than six times in the last two weeks, and I think it’s a safe assumption that this is one member of my cookery book army that will soon be thoroughly covered with ingredient stains, a sure sign of affection.  It is packed with uncomplicated recipes for wholesome, moreish dishes that your body as well as your taste buds will thank you for.

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Deciding which recipe to share with you wasn’t easy, but in the end, this one was an obvious choice.  You see, I used to make banana bread with such frequency that I have been accused of buying bananas and deliberately ignoring them until they are ready for the banana retirement village that is banana bread.

When I decided to cut down on sugar, I reluctantly gave up my habit due to the sugar content of most banana bread recipes.  Scott and Luke’s recipe on the other hand, is Paleo friendly, which makes it free of refined sugars as well as gluten.  This is not the cakey, oversweet slice you get in cafes.  No, this Or La La Banana Bread is a much more healthful loaf, dense with the chew that coconut offers and the rich, tight crumb that almond meal brings.  I tweaked it very slightly, adding a little more oil for a more moist outcome.  If you don’t have coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil would also work.

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It is best straight out of the oven, still hot slices tossed gingerly between fingertips, or toasted and slathered with your favourite spread.  Soon after I made it for the first time, I happened to discover some ripe mango flesh in the freezer, a welcome remnant of the summer just gone.  So then there was a mango version, which was equally lovely and disappeared just as fast.

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Or La La Banana Bread

Very minutely modified from Clean Living Cookbook

Makes 1 loaf

Get:

2 cups almond meal
3 eggs
2 tbsp nut butter (I used peanut)
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 large ripe to overripe bananas (or 1 cup ripe mango flesh for mango bread), mashed
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup nuts, roughly chopped (walnuts, cashews or pistachios work well)
A small handful of shredded coconut, pepitas or sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top (optional)

Make:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a loaf tin (the boys recommend 10 x 20 cm) with baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the almond meal, eggs, nut butter and oil into a thick batter.  Add the coconut, banana (or mango), cinnamon, chia seeds and nuts, and combine well.

Pour the batter into the tin and level out the top using a knife or spatula.  Sprinkle coconut or seeds (if desired) over the top.  Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 mins, or until a knife passed into the centre comes out fairly clean.  Allow to cool completely before turning out (if you can wait that long!).

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Aussie Apple, Berry and Yoghurt Breakfast Jars

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What I forgot to mention in my first blogiversary post is the lovely, warm community of bloggers that this little hobby-whatsit has opened up to me.  And what I deliberately left out, partly because I’m only just getting a taste of it and it seems almost too good to be true, and partly because they really are just a bonus, are the experiences I have been opened up to in the world of food.

Last weekend was a perfect combination of both if these fringe benefits, as I and a few other food bloggers headed off on a day trip to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.  There, in a town called Bilpin, we got to visit some beautiful apple orchards and meet the growers who bring some of the sweetest, juiciest apples to our fruit bowls.

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There is a joy in being able to trace the food we eat from its beginnings, through its journey and finally onto the table.  At Saliba Fruits, second generation farmers Joe and Lily Saliba welcomed us warmly and took us through the process of apple farming.  We first meandered a little through the orchards, admiring the squat, fruit-laden trees in their fruit-bat proof netting like babies in a nursery.  What got us all a little bit excited was what we dubbed the ‘apple day spa’, a conveyor belt system where the crisp red globes were first washed, dried, polished, hand-sorted and packed into baskets for market.  And when we found out that the little guys actually get their own sunscreen to protect them from the harsh Aussie sun?  Well, we were positively gushing!

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From there, we visited Bilpin Springs Orchard, a pick-your-own farm.  Cedric greeted us and led us around more apple trees, as well as trees laden with lemons, peaches and navel oranges.  He told us about the farm’s preference for organic farming methods whenever possible.  He explained to us how to choose a good apple and what to avoid.  He then set us loose among the trees and armed with baskets, we set about picking to our heart’s content.

Around us, families were doing exactly the same.  Parents filled baskets while their city-slicker kids revelled delightedly in the fresh air and wide open spaces interrupted only by trees whose branches were weighed down by things you could eat.  It was good, clean, safe and inexpensive fun and something I would recommend to anyone.

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A satisfying day in all, and made even more so by the armfuls of apples that we all went home with.  It turns out an apple a day really could…you know, do what they say, as the little guys are packed with vitamins and minerals that help lower the risk of some chronic diseases.  Their skin especially is rich in poly-phenols and antioxidants, which we all know is a good thing.  Aussies, look for the Aussie Apples sticker as not only are they home-grown, but they are seriously delicious fruit.

Breakfast is an important meal for me and not only does it have to be filling, but also tasty and transportable, given my tendency to be running late at all times, to everything!  These breakfast jars incorporate apples, berries and yoghurt, making them an anti-oxidant and protein party in a jar.

I was a guest of Aussie Apples, Saliba Fruits and Bilpin Springs Orchard.  This is not a sponsored post and my opinions are my own.

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Apple, Berry and Yoghurt Breakfast Jars

Makes 2 generous serves

Get:

2 small Aussie Apples, diced small
1 tsp coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup frozen berries of your choice
1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rice syrup or honey
Greek yoghurt (about a cup)
Small handful pepitas
Small handful shredded coconut

Make:

Preheat the oven to 160 C.  Place the pepitas on a tray and toast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until they have swelled.  Add the coconut and bake for a further minute or so until it has browned slightly.  Toss both in a bowl with 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

In a non-stick sauce-pan, warm the coconut oil.  Add the apples and cook for about 5 mins.  Add the berries, syrup, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and vanilla extract.  Stir and cook on low-medium heat, covered for 5-7 mins or until the apples are tender.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

In jars or glasses, layer first the fruit layer, then the yoghurt, then fruit again, then yoghurt.  Top with the toasted pepita and coconut mixture and drizzle with any leftover sauce from the fruit mixture.  Remember to take a spoon and eat in the car whilst stuck in traffic.

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