Friday, 24 May 2013

Sammiches! Easy Linseed Bread.

As much as I'd love to take credit for this, it's not a new idea. There's a bunch of linseed (or flax, same deal) bread recipes out there on the interwebs, but not many of them are particularly nice.

While this one isn't perfect, its taste and texture is worlds better than any other recipe I've tried before, and I'm sure adding some almond or soy flour could improve this further still. I just didn't have any in the house.

Also, fairly certain this is gluten and yeast free.

You'll need:

  • 2 cups of linseed (flax) meal (you can get this in 500g bags in the health food aisle at Coles)
  • One tblsp of sweetener
  • One tsp salt
  • One tblsp baking powder
  • 4 big free range eggs
  • 5 tblsp olive or peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup water

Bready, set, go!

Mix dry ingredients together first. Now is the time to add other types of flour if you want to (sub out equivalent amount of the linseed meal), or maybe even other extras like parmesan cheese, garlic powder, chia seeds, or herbs.

Add eggs, oil, and water, and mix thoroughly. A whisk is useful here. I didn't include process photos, because quite frankly, it looks disgusting. If you've got something that looks like brown slop with bird seed, you're doing it right.

Spoon the mix into a loaf tin, and bake at 180°C for 40 minutes. Of course this will vary depending on your oven, so keep an eye on it towards the end.

Once out, let it cool for a little, then tip it out onto a wire rack and chop it into slices. I'd recommend thin slices, because it's quite a rich and heavy bread. A big, fat slice can be a little too much.

Carb Count

Because linseed is full of indigestible fibre, this entire loaf clocks in at 11g effective carbs, and 1,882 calories. I managed to get 16 slices out of my loaf, so that evens out to less than 1 carb per slice.

Vegemite, tomato, and cheese sanga.

Unfortunately, as low carb as this may be, bread is still a "sometimes food" for me. Too much makes me unreasonably hungry, bloated, and stalls my weightloss. So I'm going to freeze this in bags of four slices and defrost in the microwave or toaster as needed.

Cheers, bread. It's nice to have you back in my kitchen!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Low carb for the time poor.

I apologise for the longer-than-usual absence of recipes, and I also apologise for the fact that this post won't contain a recipe either.

Life likes to get ridiculously busy from time to time. Or all the time, if you're unlucky. For a student household, that's assignment season.

My life right now.

There's a huge range of convenient heat-and-eat options for those counting calories or fat, but what about those of us counting carbs?

The obvious answer is to cook ahead of time and freeze individual portions, but who is that organised?

While junk food is quick, convenient, and tasty, I've found it can seriously hamper my brain power. It's hard to concentrate when something's sitting in your stomach like a big old rock. I'm currently nursing a food-over from a wild weekend of poor nutritional choices, and it sucks.

Here's a few of the low-carb, no-prep meals we've tried over the past few weeks:

Barbecue chicken and salad
The old staple of chicken and bread rolls - without the bread rolls. There's an ever-improving pre-packaged salad section in most supermarkets, just keep an eye on the sugar content in the dressings, and leave out any crispy noodles or croutons. This is a great, quick meal for around $15 for the two of us, and we get leftover chicken to munch on later.

Kebab plate
Most kebab shops are quite happy to put kebab contents on a paper plate for you, without the bread. They're usually pretty generous with the ingredients, so it can be a really big feed. Good option for when you need to source lunch in a food court, and don't feel like mortgaging your home to afford a piddly little container of Sumo Salad.

Weight Watcher's frozen Beef Burgundy
I thought I'd give this a go, and I didn't think much of it. In my books, it's barely food. It's processed out the wazoo, and left a suss plasticy taste in my mouth. It is, however, just about the only frozen "diet" meal you can get that isn't full of potato, rice, noodles, or pasta. It's just meat (I use the term loosely) and veggies in a red wine sauce. It's a small-but-adequate serving, with only 13.5g of carbohydrate.

Steggles Frozen Wing Things
Easy as. A big bag of frozen chicken wings. They're pre-cooked, so all you have to do is thaw a few in the microwave, and you've got an easy lunch. They're $9 a bag in Aldi, and we usually get 3-4 lunches out of them. A little bit too salty I think, but not enough to really put me off.

Coles Italian eggplant and zucchini bake
A little pricey, but because they're fresh, you'll see them reduced to clear a lot. They should be in the fridge section near the lasagnes and garlic breads. It's a cheesy, hearty, flavoursome, and vegetarian friendly meal, at around 25g of carbohydrate per container. I've been known to buy a few at a time and freeze some for later.

And my all-time, absolute favourite...

Pre-packaged vegetarian curries
I cannot rave enough about these babies. They don't require refrigeration, and you probably don't even need to heat them up if you don't have a microwave handy. When heated, they're almost like a thick, hearty soup. Great winter food, and excellent for work lunches.

There's quite a few brands to choose from: Pattu, MTR, Maharajah's Choice, and Tasty Bite. Pattu has been my favourite so far, as it's usually really cheap (around $2 a box), tastes pretty authentic, and comes in a plastic pouch you can put straight in the microwave. Tasty Bite, as nice as it is, would have to be the one I like least. It's about $4 a box and isn't spicy enough for me. I end up drowning it in Cholulua Hot Sauce.

My precious stash.

I would recommend buying these from an Indian grocer (either Raj's Grocer or Indian Rice 'n Spice in Newcastle). Not only is it usually cheaper, but you're supporting small business, and there'll be a bigger variety to choose from. If you live in a regional area and that's not an option, you can get a small variety of Tastybite and Maharajah's Choice in the Asian food aisle in most supermarkets, usually up high above the Indian curry pastes.

What about dessert?

Easy. Diet jelly. It's right there in the supermarket with the normal jelly, and it's not overly expensive. Mango passionfruit and peach apricot have been the best I've tried so far. Yes it does require a little preparation and forethought, but it's simple enough to make up when you boil the kettle for your morning coffee.

And that, along with many handfuls of nuts and breakfasts of protein shakes, is what we eat when we have no time for anything.

I'm sure there's plenty more options out there, especially in terms of frozen fish and seafood if that's your thing. Please feel free to comment with your convenient-yet-still-healthy finds!