Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Magic in a mug

I hosted girls poker last night and I may have had half a glass of wine more than I needed. Consequently breakfast this morning needed a little magical power to get me going.  This recipe is a take on the cake in mug theme (loads of versions out there on Pinterest &  the web). I have ever so slightly adapted it from Delighted Momma.  She follows a paleo diet so has a lot of recipes that are low or no starch.

 Blueberry & maple syrup Muffin in a Mug

3 tbs of ground almonds (almond meal)
1/2 tbs maple syrup
1/2 tbs honey
2 tbs unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2 tbs fresh blueberries
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp baking soda

Put all the ingredients together in a microwaveable mug or small bowl & mix.

Zap in the microwave for approximately 2 minutes and then tuck in, remembering that food comes out of the microwave hotter than the surface of the Sun...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cinnamon and coconut muffins (starch free)

My diet has resulted in me spending more time browsing Pinterest for recipes. I use it like a search engine & have found it to have better results than 
Google (in this instance).  I came across this great blog, Slim Palate which has many delicious recipes which happen to be low or no starch. They are well written and have beautiful photos - but get this - he is a 17 year old boy!! Wow! Very impressed; note to self must improve my photography skills...

Cinnamon Coconut muffins

This recipe is adapted from Joshua's at Slim Palate, the original is here

1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tbsp almond meal (ground almonds)
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 - 3/4 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp coconut milk
dash of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 345F and grease a muffin pan. This recipe makes 6 muffins.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl mix the wet ingredients then add to the dry. Give them a good mix. Spoon into a muffin tin (with or without cases) and bake for 15-20 mins until a skewer comes out clean. NB: mine took nearer 15 mins. 

These little beauties are fantastic! I am so excited that my first coconut flour experience is a positive one; they are light and fluffy, a similar texture to using regular flour.  Ohhh the possibilities..........

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Starch free Tahini Grissini

Unlike my husband, I'm not a massive bread fan, however I have been missing eating bread products. Its the texture as much as anything and something savory.   Whilst trawling the internet I came across this interesting recipe for Tahini bread and thought it was worth a shot. A little difficult with the dubious google translation from Hebrew but I think I got the measure of it. I have made a few alterations from the original recipe.

Tahini Bread

1/2 cup of tahini
1 tbs almond butter (optional, apparently!)
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar

Preheat oven to 360F.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to form a very sticky dough.  

Shape as desired; the original recipe makes this quantity into two rolls.  Then sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 15-20 mins until they look done.


They have a great crunchy, crumbly texture and a strong savory taste (from the tahini). Mr did make a rather rude face when he tried them, but I think they are a good option for me.

I can think of may different variations - adding grated parmesan, chilli flakes, fennel seeds or sesame seeds on top.......

Anyone know any other no starch 'bread' products? 


A new grey room - Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray

Yes you read it right; another room in our house has been slapped by the grey brush. I can't seem to get enough of it, and also can't think of another colour that I would want..so there you have it.

Contrary to popular decorating trends we have added some walls thus have divided off the hallway from the front sitting room and created a family/ TV room from what was the dining room adjoining the sitting room at the back of the house.  We feel this was a win win for us as we've gained a room and made the sitting room a more usable shape and size (long rectangle as opposed to a long L shaped!).

Our previous home in the UK had small rooms so I found it easy to decorate & dress the new TV room.  It is a really cosy room with a great outlook onto the garden. 

TV in use!

The sofa is Karlstad from Ikea as is the footstool from a very long time ago.  The rug is Rugs USA.

Here is a close up of the wall colour, Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray. I think it is my favourite gray of the house!  The kilim cushion is from this seller at ebay. The poster is by our very talented friend Neil who is The Handmade Cyclist. If you love bikes like we do you will love his artwork.

My Grandma's nursing chair with Nicki McWilliams custard cream cushion (its a British thing in case you are confused!) sits in the corner next to the TV. The curtains are also Ikea.

Connie & I made up this globe, well I allowed her to do the colouring in...which sits on a thrifted table with my tape measures and pliers on the wall next to it.

The view into the 'grown up' sitting room with my beloved mini Bertoia chair.

Have you got the grey/gray bug? Whats your favorite gray? 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chocolate chip & walnut almond cookies

We are off camping for a few days to the beach and as any camper knows you need plenty of scooby snacks on a camping trip.  

Chocolate chip & walnut almond cookies

This recipe is adapted from here

 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
3/4 cup of soft brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups of almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
1/2 tsp of baking soda
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of walnut pieces

Set the oven to 375F.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs together in a separate cup then gradually add to the sugar and butter, beating all the time.  Next mix in the ground almonds, salt, baking soda & vanilla extract.  Lastly stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.  NB: the mixture is moister than normal cookie dough. Dollop tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto a lined baking tray.  

They don't spread as much as normal cookies so squash them in.  Bake for 10-12 mins or until they begin to brown.  Leave to cool on the tray for at least 5 mins as they are quite soft to start with.  This quantity & size made nearly 30.

Not a regular chocolate chip cookie but pretty tasty nevertheless!  

A No Starch Diet (NSD) and Ankylosing Spondylitis

I am British and with it come several very British traits.  Talking about the weather, moaning, drinking Earl Grey tea, you get the idea.  Other traits I have which I blame on my heritage are an inability to talk openly about myself and not wanting to make a fuss (apart from to my husband, of course!). One could call it a stiff upper lip I suppose....

Thus I do not talk about the fact I have AS (Ankylosing Spondylitis) unless prompted and if I do I would say I feel uncomfortable doing so.  I was diagnosed at 16 so it has been part of my life more than not and I have just got on with it.  I have taken every type of NSAID in the book over the years.  For the last 10 years I have been on Enbrel (apart during pregnancy & breast feeding) which has allowed me to be relatively pain free and I am an advocate of biologics, they work for me.

I am sporty and active and AS has not impeded my lifestyle in any way.  I can really only think of two incidents in my life when my AS has prevented me from doing what I want - surfing (impossible to do when you can't extend your back) and being asked to leave a yoga class as the instructor said it was not suitable for me in my condition?!

Recent events have made me reevaluate my attitude to my AS (namely a nasty mountain bike crash which really hurt) and possibly the big 4-0 coming next year...Wouldn't it be nice to wake up feeling refreshed not sore? Stand up straight(er)? Not be tired all the time? Have an immune system that works? Not get migraines (here's hoping!)?

So whats the No Starch about? Why the diet?  I have never ever dieted in my whole life (I don't really believe in diets) not even given up booze for a week (which wouldn't be a bad idea) so the thought of eliminating starch from my diet is a whopper of an idea to execute.  There is a school of thought that AS is triggered by a particular bacteria (Klebsiella) that lives in the gut. This bacteria feeds of starch. Remove the starch & remove the inflammatory process and thus the symptoms of AS.  If you would like to a better description read here.

I am including dairy and sugar as I just don't think it will be realistic for me and my family to cut these out (also worried I may completely waste away if I did). It is day 3 now and I am hungry! Teething problems, I'm sure.

I have found a couple of great blogs of fellow No Starch Dieters (thanks Kara!) and I'm confident that I will find my way.  Really I am just explaining why there will be lots of no starch recipes to follow....

Courgette (zucchini) spag bol - my first no starch meal

Thanks for reading, and putting up with me talking about myself...!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Double duty Ikea hack

Double duty table - Ikea hack
The DIY train is rolling again. I am moving my sewing 'stuff' from the sitting room into the spare bedroom. The room is used when we have visitors from the UK (more often than not with our large family!) which adds up to a few months a year.  It seemed logical to give the room another function. 

I wanted a table that could sit at the end of the bed and be useful for guests then modified to become a sewing table and/or desk when life returns to normal.  Introducing the Vika Kaj from Ikea. The lower leg height is perfect to sit at the end of the bed and then it can be raised for sewing/crafting/office needs.  Double bonus I found a table with these legs on Craigslist in Redlands.  Not so pretty is she?

I paid $50 for it, not cheap for a Craigslist find (but cheaper than new).  The black laminate wasn't going to stay so it required a mini make over. Due to the hefty price I delved into the burgeoning paint stores in our garage to refinish her.  After looking at this blog post from Yellow Brick Home (link in name) on how to cover laminate I felt confident of  the transformation (and decided to adopted their two tone idea).  I used a sample pot of Behr paint color matched to BM Elephant Gray on the side of the table, bog standard white eggshell for the top & Rustoleum Lagoon spray paint for the legs (left over from painting a filing cabinet which is now the bedside table in this room).  All covered with 3 or 4 coats of poly finish.

With the legs at the lowest it fits at the end of the bed. Then all you do is turn them to raise the height of the table, very useful in my mind :)

An easy transformation; not technically a hack, more of a repaint. Definitely a double duty table.

Happy weekend folks!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thrifty & Craiglisty finds

I had the good fortune to find myself at the Long Beach Antique Market this Sunday, and what a Flea Market it is! Predictably massive & jam packed full of flea like treasures. In my opinion it is better than the Rose Bowl Flea Market; not quite some many staged stalls & more you can have a good rummage through.

Only coming away with 3 items and my pocket a mere 35 dollars lighter ensures a visit again very soon (weather permitting).

This little guy fixed his steely glare on me & I couldn't leave him behind.

My next acquisition was a set of pool balls for the princely sum of $15. I'm dead chuffed with these as I've been on the look out for ages.   I saw many at the Rose Bowl for $6 a ball, tusk.  Just need to get a glass jar big enough to display my shiny coloured balls...

The final item purchased was this; I'm not 100% sure what it is but AstroRay one side & turquoise target spaceship the other - whats not to love?! It has been added to my plate collection on the kitchen wall.

With leftover cash burning a hole in my purse I called Ed, a Craigslister who had a number of items I was watching. I arranged to meet him at a local lock up. Lock up, mid afternoon, dubious sounding slightly out of it unknown guy...I felt a teensy bit uneasy. Quick text to Mr with the address just in case we weren't home when he got back that evening... Rest assured Ed was a good guy, just not very many teeth (3 I think) but whoaa what a lock up! It was crammed with goodies. Mainly of the old tool variety which is what I had gone for.  I wish I could have spent the afternoon there....
Aren't these pliers great? (OK just me then).  I think they look kind of prehistoric & the middle one is definitely a relation of the steely eyed parrot.  I plan to hang them on the wall in our new TV room. No idea quite how yet...

Just look at the markings on that one!!! OK - I am sounding weird now (Ed thought I was some tool aficionado! ha!)

 A battered red chest which I hope will be home to our board games etc. when I can find the right place for it.

Any idea what these are? Clue - back on the tool theme...Yup vintage tape measures. Now, I really do love these. My poor quality photo doesn't do them justice.  Behind them is my final purchase from out of the lock up - a percussion drum box thing.  Sounds & looks lovely. I couldn't resist.

Purse another $35 lighter and me incomparably happier. 

Here they are in their new home.

What do you have collections of? Some else got any old tools?!