Easy Carrot, Pineapple and Sultana Muffins (dairy free)

IMG_4586A few years ago we had a pod with a number of food allergies and intolerances.  We had members with FPIES and Anaphylaxis and a few other pesky intolerances as well.  As anyone who has dealt with allergies would know, finding alternate foods can be difficult and sometimes stressful.  Whipping up things yourself means you can be certain that nothing on the black list has been thrown in.   When searching for baked goods that were egg or dairy free ( the same goes for gluten free) the texture of them would often be quite tough, slightly reminiscent of cardboard, with a hint of foam cup.  I set about searching for tasty recipes and stumbled upon an old muffin cookbook my mum had copied from a neighbour in the 80’s.  This recipe was in it and after some adapting to suit the allergies we were dealing with, it became an absolute winner.  The greatest thing about the recipe is that it can be tweaked a number of different ways, to suit your particular allergy or tastes and will still remain moist and delicious, due to the addition of the carrot and the pineapple.  No styrofoam mouth feel here.  They are super easy to prepare, just some quick mixing and folding and have been a hit with our little and big people for years

Head to the list of tweaks at the end, to adapt the recipe to your own needs.  Sultanas are not everyone’s bag but were added as our little people are obsessed with them.  

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup white sugar

2/3 cup light olive oil

2 large eggs

1 and 1/2 cup plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla ( I use the vanilla bean paste but you could easily use vanilla extract)

1 tablespoon plain coconut yoghurt 

1 cup finely crated carrot

1 cup crushed unsweetened pineapple well drained

1/2 cup sultanas

Method:

1.  Preheat your oven to 190 Celsius or 375 Fahrenheit

2.  Line a 12 hole muffin tray with muffin cases

3. In a mixing bowl combine sugar, yoghurt, oil, vanilla and eggs.  Beat this together lightly with a fork.

4. Grab another mixing bowl and a medium size sieve.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into the mixing bowl.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl with the sugar and oil mixture.  Stir a few times to moisten, then fold in the grated carrot, drained pineapple and sultanas.

6. Mix until just combined.  Don’t go overboard with the old mixing here or you’ll end up with muffins that taste like hockey pucks. 

7. Spoon the mixture into your 12 muffin cases.  This mixture rises quite a bit so it’s safest not to fill your cases right to the top.

8. Pop your muffin tray into your preheated oven for 20 mins. 

9. Once done leave the muffins to cool for about 15 min, this makes uncasing them easier. 

Tweaks: 

  • You can omit the sultanas and add 1/2 cup of chopped dry roasted, unsalted almonds or unsalted macadamia nuts instead.  Unsweetened coconut flakes are also a delicious substitute but you might like to omit the cinnamon if you go this route.
  • This recipe works well as an egg free muffin, simply substitute the eggs for egg replacer
  • If you are fine with dairy you can use full fat plain yoghurt

 

Baby brain, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve done?

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I’ve always been prone to a Bridget Jones style moment.  I’m partial to day dreaming and my brain is constantly workshopping too many things, all at once, meaning that a task at hand may not always be getting sufficient attention.  Luckily, important things get my direct focus, however, less significant things can often turn into a clumsy moment. 

When I fell pregnant for the first time, my tendency for the ridiculous grew. I would grab my garage door remote and confidently point it towards the boom gate at the entrance to a shopping centre and look on perplexed as the boom gate sat unresponsive.  I would completely forget pin numbers to bank accounts I used daily (for years, mind) and be stuck on the bank hotline for an age trying to remember security questions I had chosen, to recover the pin that I had forgotten.  The lovely lady on the bank hotline would assure me that I had once chosen these security questions myself (in a former life, with a former brain, I hasten to add).   “What was your middle brother’s first girlfriend?”, “What was your favourite song in school?” she recites.  I explain to lovely hotline lady, there must be some kind of misunderstanding, these must be someone else’s questions.  We end up having to go through my credit card transactions to prove I am, in fact, me.  Luckily, after five transactions, I recognise one of them and I can retrieve my pin.  I am still, however, locked out of my hotmail account, they deemed my knowledge of myself to be too poor to reinstate my access. 

I had vaguely heard about ‘baby brain’ but I had also heard people, mainly men in my workplace staffroom, poo-pooing the phenomenon.   To my great relief, I read this year that researchers at Deakin university have since declared that baby brain is in fact a real condition, their studies showed that “General cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning were significantly reduced during the third trimester of pregnancy” (Pregnancy really does make women more forgetful: Study, SMH, January 15, 2018).

As I reached my due date for my first baby, I thought it was crucial to get my hair done, as from what I’d heard, leaving the house after having a baby was going to be impossible.  I booked in with my local Toni and Guy, as my regular hairdresser was booked out and I had convinced myself the baby was going to come early (I wish!) and the hair situation was dire.  The lovely English hairdresser was chatty and helpful and as he finished my foils and went to prep for my blow dry, I took the free moment to grab my phone and check on my messages.  As I reached into my bag my fingers suddenly felt icy cold, and my hand brushed a wet plastic bag as I fumbled around to locate my phone.  How on earth did ice get in my bag I thought?! I hoisted the sack of a handbag onto my lap, I may have grunted, such was the size of my girth at this point and opened the bag wide open to get a good look at what on earth was going on.  There, tangled between my headphones, sunglasses and tissues was a plastic bag housing a very large, frozen, fillet of salmon.  Bemused by the fish in my bag, I tried hard to think about how it could have gotten there. My brain felt like marshmallow,  it seemed impossible to spark the neural pathways into gear to get to the bottom of this caper.  As I stared at my sodden hair in the mirror I willed my brain to get into gear but I was getting bupkis.  I decided to utilise the ‘retrace your steps’ method that had become common place in the last nine months and went through every action since leaving the house that morning.  Shower, check, breakfast, check, getting dinner out of the freezer and putting it on the bench. Bingo! I remember putting the salmon out to defrost. Thank Christ. I had absolutely no recollection of putting the frozen fillet in my hand bag but after taking stock of my recent brain fog it was entirely believable.  The relief of finally solving the fish in bag scenario was quickly replaced with sheer terror as I realised I had been sitting in the hairdressers with a piece of defrosting fish at my feet.  What if the hairdresser had smelt something fishy and thought it was me!?  He’d have to assume it was, as what kind of lunatic walks around with fish in their handbag!?  Maybe he would be compassionate because I was with child. One could only hope.  I was grateful that I only had to sit through a blow dry and then I could flee, post haste.  What good luck it was that it wasn’t my regular hairdresser.  I could potentially be safe in the knowledge I would never see this dude again.  I placated myself with these thoughts as I sat through the final moments of my blow-dry.  Nevertheless, I slowly and discreetly used my foot to push my handbag as far from my seat as I could manage, just in case any pungent fish fumes happened to catch his nostrils. 

The fish incident was my first foray into motherhood brain meltdown.  As the years passed in a blur and I had subsequent children, things like buying a sandwich and leaving it on my car bonnet and bolting off to rhyme time were common place.  Strange men would gesticulate from their car windows when we were stopped at an intersection, I’d in turn lock my doors in fear of some kind of car jacking, only to realise after, that they were trying to alert me to the coffee I had left on my roof.  Then there was the time a man sidled up to my table in a coffee shop, I had braced myself for the usual pleasantries of “oh your son looks so much like mine” or “you’ve got your hands full” but instead he started describing the exact make of my car and said I’d left the door to the passenger side wide open on the street. I certainly hadn’t remembered doing it but it definitely sounded like a bad case of baby brain. 

Do I feel better knowing that the smart folks at Deakin have proven it to be a real thing?

I guess, but I already knew it was real.  

image by Martine Payne 

pod tales- your story series

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“We escaped communist occupied Czechoslovakia in 1948.  We had found a man that knew what part of the barbed wire fence on the military guarded border was loose and could be crawled though.  We fled in the dead of night, through heavy rain, to increase our chances of not being seen.   I told my parents I was going to flee with my fiancé, but he didn’t tell his parents.  My Mum and Dad were sad and cried but they understood that we would have better chances if we left.  My Grandma said it would be the last time I would ever see her.  That was very hard for me, she was my everything and I loved her so very much.  She had lived with my parents and myself, in our one bedroom apartment, for my whole life.  She died two years after we fled and I never saw her again.   

We originally wanted to go to America but the quota was full, we ended up on a flight to Australia in 1949 after some time in a German refugee camp.  We were placed in the migrant reception camp at Bonegilla and from there we went to Sydney.  We liked it so decided to stay.  My husband and I could have retrained and worked in the same fields that we had back at home but we were 29 and wanted a family and needed money, it made sense to have our own business and open our own cake shop.   My husband had done his bakers training alongside his university degree.  His father was a baker and insisted all his sons get their baking qualifications. 

I was pregnant not long after arriving in Australia and had my first daughter in 1953.  I didn’t know all the things I needed for a new baby but our next door neighbour, an Anglo Australian woman, who had two teenage daughters, said she would organise everything for me.  She knitted me lots of outfits and brought lots of baby things into the cake shop for me.  They were very lovely people.  I had my daughter at the Royal Hospital for Women in Paddington.   They took very good care of me, except at one stage, they were so full they put my bed out on the verandah.  It was a completely open verandah with no fly screens or protections from the elements and it was cold at night.  I had to tell them I needed a bed indoors, I had bad bronchitis, I couldn’t be out there all night in the middle of winter.

I didn’t drive so didn’t meet the mothers at my daughter’s school much.  I stayed and   worked in the shop.  I had one day out a week to the city, that was nice, I would do my shopping and go to David Jones. I enjoyed it.  We had Sundays off and we would see our other Czech friends we had met once we had settled in Sydney.  We had one dear friend from home that we met by complete chance in Sydney.  We knew he had escaped Czechoslovakia but heard he had gone to South Africa.  We were walking down George St in the city and suddenly saw him in a camera shop window. It was unbelievable. We were so happy to have found each other”. (Sydney, Australia) 

IMG_4139                                    Woodstock migrant reception centre, Sydney 1949