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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Healthy Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns

My favourite Easter treats are Hot Cross Buns but the traditional recipes are filled with white flour and sugar, I've created a healthier option this Easter and made them even easier to bake. This recipe makes 8 Hot Cross Buns, but you can double it to get 16, triple it to get 24, etc.

Unfortunately, a lot of my photographs were corrupted when I exported them from my camera and I don't have pictures of the final stages of making the dough. I'm going to remake the recipe again today and edit the post with more photos as soon as possible. Enjoy!

You'll need:

For the buns:
1 packet of dry yeast
2 cups of Wholemeal Flour (use Atta Wholemeal if it's available, otherwise any wholemeal will do)
1/4 of a cup of Stevia (I recommend the Natvia brand, alternatively you can use sugar)
3/4 of a cup of Skim Milk
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 a cup of raisins, you can use more if you like
1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 a teaspoon of mixed spice (all spice or nutmeg are okay to use as a substitute)
1/2 a teaspoon of salt

For the cross paste:
3 tablespoons of Wholemeal Flour
2 tablespoons of Water
1 teaspoon of Stevia (alternatively, you can use sugar)

For the glossy glaze:
1 tablespoon of hot water
1/2 a tablespoon rice malt syrup (maple syrup will substitute)
1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon

Okay, first, calm down. There may be a lot of ingredients but I promise these buns are easy to make, now continue..

Warm your milk (in the microwave or on the stove) until it's hot but not boiling (about 30 seconds in the microwave), add a tablespoon of the Stevia and the dry yeast, give it a gentle stir and cover it with cling wrap. Leave it to the side for 10 minutes. The warm milk will activate the yeast and speed up the rising time.

While you're leaving the yeast mix to activate, sift the flour into a separate bowl then add the remaining Stevia, cinnamon, all spice and salt. Mix them together until well combined.

After the 10 minutes is up for the yeast mixture, add it to your dry ingredients along with the oil, egg and raisins. Mix it well and cover the bowl (with cling wrap or a tea towel) and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes is up, transfer the dough onto a clean counter top that's been sprinkled with a handful of flour. Kneed the dough gently until it's smooth. I recommend flouring your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers.

Separate the dough into 8 pieces. The easiest way is to roll it out into a 'sausage' shape, around 20-25cm long, slice it into 8 pieces and then roll it into flattened balls.

Use a little oil on the bottom of a baking tray to stop the buns from sticking and then place the buns into the tray so that the sides are just touching. Leave them to rise for about 10 minutes.

Now you need to make the paste for your crosses, my paste turned out a little too thin but I've altered the recipe so you'll have a thicker paste and more defined crosses. 

Mix your flour, water and sugar in a bowl and then transfer it into a piping bag with a 1/2cm nozzle. Alternatively you can follow my lead and transfer it into a snap lock bag and then cut the corner into a 1/2 cm hole.

Pipe the crosses onto the buns.

Put them into the oven at 210*c (410*F) for 15-20 minutes.

While they're baking you can prepare your glaze. Mix the water, Stevia and cinnamon in a small bowl and bring it to boiling point either on the stove or in the microwave. This won't take long, just a few seconds. 

When your buns are ready, remove them from the oven and brush them with the glaze. Your Hot Cross Buns will turn glossy and the crosses will stand out more. 

 Without Glaze/With Glaze

Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and you're all done!

The Hot Cross Bun fun doesn't stop here though, if you take out the raisins it's easy to adapt this recipe to make all kinds of hot cross buns. Try adding a shot of espresso and a handful of sugar-free chocolate chips to make Mocha Hot Cross Buns, or how about some diced dried apricots and a handful of coconut to make Apricot Delight Hot Cross Buns. You could add a 1/2 cup of grated pumpkin and a tablespoon of nutmeg to make Spicy Pumpkin Hot Cross Buns or you could use 1/2 a cup of dried cranberries and a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt to make Creamy Cranberry Hot Cross Buns. This recipe is very versatile and can easily be altered to suit all taste buds.

Why are these Hot Cross Buns better for you than others?

Wholemeal flour makes your feel fuller for longer and has a lower calorie value than processed white flour, it also doesn't spike your blood sugar levels like processed white flour does. Wholemeal flour also has more than double the amount of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and E, as well as folic acid, fiber, iron, zinc, copper and calcium than white flour does.

Stevia is a natural plant sweetener, you can read more about it HERE. They make these Hot Cross Buns sugar free but still sweet and delicious without any chemical sweeteners.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Delicious (Vegan) Chili

I don't know about you but I love winter and it's mostly because I love those winter comfort foods. I know, I know, it's not winter yet, but the weather is getting cooler an I'm diving straight into some of my favourite (and very missed) winter foods.

This vegan chili-style meal is incredibly easy, you just throw it all in a saucepan and let it cook itself. It's also incredibly budget-friendly to make (always a bonus!).

You'll need

3 tins of beans/lentils. Use what you like, I'm going to use Red Kidney Beans, Butter Beans and Lentils but you can use whatever you like (such as Lima Beans, chick Peas, etc). Make sure you drain and rinse the beans before adding them to your dish.
2 tins of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon of cumin

1 table spoon of Honey (or if you're strictly vegan, you can use 2 tablespoons of Sultanas)
1 Onion
3-4 cloves of Garlic
A dash of olive oil
4-5 cups of vegetables chopped into bite-sized pieces
(I'm using Pumpkin, Potato, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Capsicum)
Salt & Pepper

First, brown the onion and garlic in the saucepan on medium heat for a minute or two, then add the crushed tomatoes, beans and 1/2 a cup of water, stir through.

Add your vegetables then stir through again.

Next add your cumin, honey and/or sultanas, and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir it through and leave it on medium heat until it's bubbling, then turn it down to low and leave it to simmer.

It will be ready when your vegetables are cooked which will take 15-30 minutes depending on the vegetables you use. I put a lid over mine to speed up the cooking process but this is optional.

I served mine with a scoop of brown rice, delish!

Want to serve more people? Easy! Just add more beans, tomatoes, water and cumin. They're all really affordable ingredients (roughly $1 a tin) and can easily extend out your meal.
This meal freezes well too, if you want to make some for another night. It'll store in the refrigerator for about a week.

Why is it good for you?

Beans are packed with protein and fibre so they fill you up quickly, they're also bursting with iron, potassium and magensium which are all essential to a healthy body.

Beans are also fantastic a lowering cholesterol, which also lowers your risk of many diet associated diseases such as heart disease.

This chili-style dish is also an easy way to get extra vegetables in your diet, always a plus!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tag: Why do I wear make up?

I stole this tag from Rachel at Beauty Behind the Imperfections (I adore her, you should forget about reading this post and just go straight to her blog) and to give it a whirl. If you do it too make sure link me in the comments below, I'd love to read it!

1. When did you begin loving make up?
I've always been into make up and beauty, I would save my pocket money to buy Bonnie Bell lip balms or Impulse Body Sprays from a really young age. I'd shuffle through the discount bins at cheap beauty stores in search of eye shadow palettes or lip glosses.
My first real experience buying 'real' make up (rather than cheap items at discount stores) was when I was 13 and went shopping with my older cousin. She was really into ChiChi make up and I followed her lead and spent all my savings on a set of two lip glosses, a lipstick, two cream eye shadows and two eyeliners. I rocked the crap out of those products like you wouldn't believe. Too bad the cream eye shadows were both silver, the eyeliners were blue and purple and the lipstick was dark, dark purple. I looked like sick witch. But don't worry, I've evolved.
2. How do you feel without make up?
I feel fine without make up, I don't wear make up at home (removing it is the first thing I do when I walk in the door) but I don't leave the house without it.
It doesn't take me long to put on my daily face of make up and I only ever wear products that feel comfortable on my skin, especially when it comes to foundation. I'm just not comfortable in the outside world without make up on. I wear a complete face of make up to work 5 days a week and I will usually do the same on Saturdays when I run errands or do whatever I need to do. I try to stay home on Sundays and either relax or blog as well as give my skin a well deserved rest and no make up.
3. What do you like about make up?
I've always had a wild creativity and an over-active imagination, make up is just an expansion of that. I'm fascinated with colours and how they work together and respond to each other. Plus there's the obvious reasons like feeling more confident, enhancing natural features, etc. I just love beauty products, there's no logical reason for it but I get a nice sense of joy from playing with make up. Ultimately I'm just a girl, standing in front of the Myer beauty department, asking it to love her.
4. List three 'Holy Grail' items.
Tarte Lights, Camera Lashes! Mascara. I cannot tell you how many tubes of this I've gone through, but I can tell you that right now I have three backups in my drawer ready to be used. I've tried a ridiculous amount of mascaras, this one is amazing, the ultimate bees knees.
Organic Rose Hip Oil. I use it every night on my cheeks, nose and forehead and every 2 or 3 nights I'll also apply it over my chin and jaw (where I'm more prone to blemishes). I've been using it for years and will never stop, it's done amazing things for my skin and is the best product I've found to help with oil control. I also use it on my elbows, knees or any irritations I have on my skin. I've tried many brands, Kosmea and Kora Organics are my two favourites.
Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks. These incredible cream eye shadows are the best in their league, they apply so easily and there is enough time to blend them out before they lock themselves into place. Once they're set, they're not going to move or crease all day. The shade variety was always quite limited but new shades are launching in Australia this month.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Granola Like Crazy

Granola is one of my favourite foods in the world, you can make so many varieties and it's a brilliantly healthy snack.

Not only is is incredibly easy, but you can make it with ingredients found deep in the caves of your pantry. Your basic ingredients are 1 part warm water and 3 parts oats. For example I use 1 cup of warm water with 3 cups of oats, then I load it up with whatever extra ingredients I feel like.

Examples of wonderful Granola ingredients are:
Dried Cranberries
Flaked Almonds
Dried fruits
Chia seeds
Sugar free chocolate spread (melted)
Peanut butter
The combination I'm using today is honey, dried cranberries, coconut, chia seeds and flaked almonds, keeping it simple this week.
Simply put everything into a bowl, mix it up, lay it out on a baking tray and put it into the oven at 180 degrees.
It'll take about 10-15 minutes for your granola to be golden brown, I like to take it out of the oven and sprinkle it up to keep it loose every 5 minutes.

What on earth am I supposed to do with it now?
  • Granola is a great breakfast cereal, I serve mine with a little orange juice poured over it but you could use milk if you prefer.
  • I love a fruit salad with granola and greek yogurt as a mid-afternoon snack.
  • Use sweet granola as a sprinkle over your muffins and cupcakes before baking them, this keeps them interesting without the need for icing.
  • Layer Granola, Yogurt and Strawberries for a delicious dessert.
  • To make Granola Bars to eat on the run, simple press the ingredients into a smaller baking pan rather than sprinkling it. Bake it for about 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees.
  • Add some protein powder to the mix and roll it the mixture into bite sized balls for a quick power-pick-me-up during the day
  • Adding a couple of tablespoons of wholemeal flour (or rice flour) and an egg can quickly turn granola into a cookie dough. Just make sure it's well flavoured and then bake as cookies.
  • If you're using ingredients such as honey, sugar-free chocolate or peanut butter, melting the ingredients in the microwave first will help them mix through more evenly.
  • If you like a sweeter granola, disolve a teaspoon of Stevia in the warm water before adding other ingredients.
  • Store your Granola in an air tight container to keep it fresh for up to a week.

Let me know if you give it a try, I'd love to know what combinations you come up with!

NOTD: OPI 'My Vampire Is Buff' - Review

My Vampire Is Buff is an off-white shade, leaning slightly towards a beige/peach undertone. I've always been a fan of white nail polish but it just doesn't suit my fair skin, My Vampire Is Buff however is a nice neutral-warm colour that wears easily on any skin tone.

The formula is typical of OPI nail polishes, quite thick to apply and opaque in two coats. Like any pastel shade it can be prone to streaking but it's not as bad as others. If you use a steady hand and let each coat dry completely you'll be fine. The finish of the polish is incredibly glossy and smooth and it dried down nicely.

It wore on me for 3 days before chipping (my typical wear time is 3-4 days), but the chipping was only minor and could have been unnoticed for another day or two.

The colour is gorgeous and a great shade to transition your nails into Autumn. I believe the shade is limited edition so if you adore is as much as I do, I'd rush to pick it up.

You can find it at David Jones in Australia for $20 (releasing late March) or for $8 at Ulta in the US (out now).