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These are fun to make with children. To help keep the pastry firm, one trick I use is to pop soft ice packs underneath a metal baking tray. You can then cut out the rolled pastry on the tray and it will stay beautifully chilled while you and your little helper work. If you don’t have time for cutting out shapes, you can make simple chocolate rounds by using the cheat’s version of the recipe instead (see Variation).

MAKES APPROX. 20

INGREDIENTS

150g (1 cup) white spelt flour (see Tips)

110g (2⁄3 cup) wholemeal spelt flour (or wholemeal plain flour)

25g (1⁄4 cup) raw cacao powder (see Tips)

1 tsp baking powder

120g (7 tbsp) preferred brown sugar (see Tips)

200g butter, chilled, cubed (see Tips)

1 egg

2 1⁄2 tbsp jam of choice

PREPARATION

1. Place all ingredients, except jam, into a food processor or high-powered blender and process until mixture balls around the blades.

2. Transfer onto a floured work surface or a silicone mat and lightly shape into a ball. Divide dough into two portions and form each portion into discs, then wrap in plastic wrap and place into refrigerator for 1 hour to firm.

3. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

4. Using a rolling pin, roll out each dough portion to a 4mm thickness. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter (approx. 7cm), cut out biscuits and transfer onto prepared trays. Gather off-cuts, gently re-roll (to 4mm thickness) and cut out remaining biscuits (approx. 40 biscuits total).

5. Using a smaller heart-shaped cookie cutter (3cm), cut hearts out of half of the biscuits, so they have a heart-shaped hole in the centre.

6. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until cooked. Biscuits will be slightly soft.Transfer onto a wire rack to cool.

7. Once completely cooled, spread ½ teaspoon of jam over each whole biscuit and sandwich together with remaining (heart-shaped hole) biscuits to serve.

TIPS

If you don’t have spelt flour or wholemeal flour on hand, you can use regular plain flour. The wholemeal adds a fibre boost to these biscuits.

If you prefer, you can use regular cocoa powder in place of the raw cacao powder. Use your preferred brown sugar in this recipe, either regular brown sugar or a less refined option such as rapadura sugar (panela) or coconut sugar. (Note that the weights of these sugars can vary, so the gram measurement will be more accurate than the cup measurement.)

Try to source organic, grass-fed butter, as it’s the more nutritious choice. You can store these biscuits in the pantry in a sealable container for up to 1 week.

The biscuit dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

VARIATION

Cheat’s version: If you’re short on time, you can bake these biscuits as jam-free rounds. Simply form each of the two dough portions into a 20cm log shape.

Place into the refrigerator for 1 hour to firm, then cut into 8mm-thick rounds and bake as per the recipe (omitting step 8).

Courtesy of Sweet Nourish by Louise Keats. 

The combination of banana and peanut butter is one of my all-time favourites. These lovely, nourishing cupcakes are a great way to use up any ripe bananas in your house. Try to source a lighter-flavoured extra virgin olive oil for a milder flavour. Alternatively, you can use coconut oil (see Tips).

MAKES 12

INGREDIENTS

Banana cupcakes

2 eggs

80g (1⁄3 cup) milk or freshly squeezed orange juice

90g (1⁄4 cup) pure maple syrup (see Tips)

120g (1⁄2 cup) extra virgin olive oil (see Tips)

170g ripe banana, mashed

60g (1⁄2 cup) almond meal (ground almonds)

200g (1 1⁄4 cups) wholemeal self-raising flour

1⁄4 tsp baking powder

1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon

Peanut butter icing

250g cream cheese, cubed, softened

95g (1⁄3 cup) smooth peanut butter (see Tips)

1 1⁄2 tbsp pure maple syrup (see Tips)

Banana chips, for decorating (optional)

PREPARATION

Banana cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Line a 12-hole standard muffin tray with paper cases and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk (or orange juice), maple syrup and olive oil. Stir through mashed banana and almond meal until combined. Sift in flour (returning any sifted out husks to the bowl), baking powder and cinnamon, and stir until combined.

3. Divide mixture between paper cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of each cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut butter icing

4. Use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add peanut butter and maple syrup, and beat until well combined and fluffy.

5. Pipe icing (using a round 1cm nozzle) or spread icing with a small spatula onto cooled cupcakes and decorate with banana chips (if using) before serving.

TIPS

If you prefer, you can replace the maple syrup in the cupcakes with brown sugar, rapadura sugar (panela) or coconut sugar. You can also replace the extra virgin olive oil with coconut oil (melted).

For the icing, you may need a fraction more or less syrup depending on the sweetness of your peanut butter. It’s preferable to use a brand of peanut butter with no added salt or sugar (or, better still, make your own). If your peanut butter does have added sugar, you might like to cut the syrup quantity by half.

To make a thinner icing, add 1–2 tablespoons of milk in step 4.

VARIATION

Nut-free cupcakes: Skip the peanut butter icing and replace the almond meal with a ground seed mix, such as a mixture of sunflower seeds, pepitas and linseeds.

Dairy-free cupcakes: Skip the peanut butter icing and use the orange juice option instead of the milk, or replace the milk with almond milk.

Courtesy of Sweet Nourish by Louise Keats.

There’s a health revolution occurring globally centred around Green Smoothies. The word is spreading and our ears are opening to the “Popeye” effect of leafy greens and the Green Smoothie, which is a convenient, tasty and simple way to consume significant amounts of greens.

Leafy greens are the most deficient of food in today’s diets.  A Green Smoothie can be the perfect way to increase your consumption of daily greens. Most of us wouldn’t have the time, patience or fortitude to eat a very large amount of leafy greens on a plate. However, if we blend the same amount into a smoothie, the perceived intake seems minimal, it is far more palatable and it can be consumed relatively quickly. Even our children are participating and loving the “green monster” revolution.

Here are some of the many health benefits that can be attributed to having Green Smoothies:

  • WEIGHT LOSS: The fibre and water consumed in a Smoothie provides perfect sustenance to maintaining fullness and hydration.
  • REDUCED CRAVINGS: Nourishing Green Smoothies will naturally crowd out desire for junk food.
  • ENERGISED: They provide a powerful boost of nutrition, loaded with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.
  • IMMUNE BOOSTING: Blending leafy green vegetables and fruit makes digestion easier and nutrients more accessible, while providing an antioxidant-rich meal that provides the body with the best defence against disease.
  • CLEAR SKIN: They’re high in fibre which is essential for good colon health. This allows the elimination of toxins the right way instead of through the skin.
  • ALKALISE: They have an alkalising effect on the body. In modern diets people consume large quantities of meat, dairy, refined sugar and grains, thus creating a more acidic disease-thriving environment in the body.
  • DETOX: Greens are rich in chlorophyll, providing oxygen to the body’s cells. Chlorophyll is known as a blood purifier and detoxifier.

To make a Green Smoothie the only thing you need is a good blender and some fresh produce – leafy greens like spinach, kale and silverbeet blended up with some fruit and water. Here’s how you too can try out the Green Smoothie.

  1. Use your favourite fruit such as a banana, avocado or mango as the base
  2. Select a leafy green vegetable – start off with a light tasting one such as spinach
  3. Avoid dairy products
  4. Try adding Chia or Flax seeds which are rich in omega 3 and high in protein
  5. Keep your blender countertop so you’re not reaching into the cupboard everyday.

Tip: As you become accustomed to the taste reduce the amount of fruit keeping in mind you want to enjoy the taste and look forward to the next one!

The following smoothie recipe has been a regular feature on my breakfast menu!

Dandelion’s Daily Special 

  • 4 silverbeet leaves
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 2 banana frozen
  • 2 Tablespoon flaxseeds
  • 3 cupsl filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon Macca not essential
  • 1 cup ice
  • Blend until desired consistency is reached and serve

So why not jump on board, get those blenders out and start making green smoothies!  Do it for a week and see how you feel.  You won’t want to miss a day!