Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Forty-Four

I can’t believe it’s been a full week since we were on holidays. I’m not finding it hard to be back into normal life though because every part of the holiday was perfect in its own crystalline quality and exists as a beautiful memory of experience and emotion. I can’t wait to share our photos with you in some future posts, but for now there was a lot to be grateful for in our week of returning to normal life. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Forty-Four:wk 44 saladMonday: Today we landed back in Brisbane! I was grateful to Mum and Jess for meeting us at the airport with big hugs and congratulations. When we got home we discovered that Mum had sewed me a beautiful Halloween apron and she and Dad had created cute and spooky Halloween decorations for us! I’m grateful that they were so thoughtful when they heard that we weren’t able to stay for Halloween in the USA.wk44 apronTuesday: Back to work today! I was grateful to catch-up with my workmates and congratulate our two new dads in the office. There is so much to celebrate in life when you remember that the ordinary is always extraordinary.

Wednesday: This afternoon I was grateful for pushing myself just a little and making it to the gym for a run. I’m trying to keep my holiday exercise streak alive and tonight’s 8km run was absolutely perfect. So was the aftermath of lying on the couch watching Ice Road Truckers and nibbling on some Hershey’s Kisses 😉wk 44 treesThursday: I had the most lovely surprise today when my friends at work Jess and Chris brought me back a huge and lovely arrangement of flowers to congratulate Chris and I on our engagement. I am so grateful and touched that they would give us such a lovely gift of well-wishing.wk 44 flowersFriday: Today Jess and I resumed our Friday lunch dates – I missed them while I was away and I was grateful to talk about holidays and weddings and all the good things. After work I went for a sweet and sweaty Friday night run before getting back to my kitchen for a serious baking session! I am so excited for all the wonderful holiday and summer foods coming up – and to create recipes inspired by my holidays to share with you all. wk 44 granolaSaturday: This morning Mum and Jess and I made our return to the farmer’s markets where we feasted on gluten free bagels and coffee and stocked up on lots of fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. I was grateful to spend a few hours with my ladies to start the weekend. Fuelled up on bagel I had a fast and brilliant 10km run and spent a few hours in my kitchen. Tonight Chris and I joined the family for some Halloween fun! We got dressed up (I make a very convincing witch apparently) and spent a few hours having spooky fun with kids of all ages with Dad’s exciting Halloween display. I’m so grateful to have a family who really gets into the spirit of celebrations of all kinds. It was so much fun on a Saturday night. wk 44 cupcakesSunday: Today I had a well-deserved sleep in before a short sunny walk and then – brunch! Caroline and I enjoyed a brunch date in the sun at our corner cafe before she had to get back to marking high school home economics assignments (no fun!). I was grateful for a few hours of talking and catching up. This afternoon I have an important date with my couch, and then perhaps a little more work in the kitchen 😉 wk 44 brunch

Also this week:

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Forty-Four

I am feeling very relaxed this afternoon. Chris and I have had the last three days off. We have spent time with family and friends this week, eaten some great food, and found lots of everyday moments to be grateful for. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Forty-Four:

Monday: Today was hot, like 38C (100F) hot. In October. I don’t mind hot early summer days like this though, because come 3pm the clouds gather, the lightening plays in bright flashes over the airfield near my work, and the thunder rumbles overhead so loudly that the glass trembles in the windowpanes. I was grateful to go home and workout inside the house while I watched the storm roll out over the bay while we were safe inside.

Tuesday: There was merriment in the office today when I brought in Halloween decorated Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting. I was grateful to share a treat with my office mates. I love Halloween even though it isn’t too popular in Australia, and I was grateful that my colleagues were as eager to celebrate as I was. When I got home in the evening Chris and I went for a walk along the water to offset some of my cream cheese frosting tasting…

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Wednesday: We had a few documents to get out of the office today and I was grateful to sink my teeth into a big chunk of work. I need my brain to be stretched and my body to be busy to feel like I’ve had a worthwhile day at work and today was one of those days. When I came home from the office I shook out the kinks with a great run along the bay.

Thursday: Jess and I got out of the office for lunch today and as we sat and sipped our coffees I realised I am grateful to have such a good friend at work. Thursday was also my last day (Chris and I treated ourselves to a long weekend) and I walked out of the office with a smile on my face, ready to enjoy my three days off.

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Friday: The sunshine called to me outside the window this morning at 6a.m. Clearly, I am bad at this ‘sleeping in’ thing. I was rewarded with fine breezes and a calm clear bay view for my walk. When I got back I cooked up some Halloween treats to bring to my parents, and then Chris and I had a slow day before heading over for some Halloween fun with Mum and Dad. I was so grateful for all the effort Dad put into the decorations for his first ever Halloween spook-tacular, and grateful that Chris and I got to take part. I dressed in my ghoulish finest and Chris was a merry pirate indeed. We scared some little kids (Dad as Grim Reaper will do that), handed out chocolates, and had fun watching little goblins, witches, and a great gingerbread man face our scary display in order to win some chocolate.

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Saturday: This morning I woke up for a walk with my sister. I love these walks and talks with Jess, we cover miles and topics and I always feel clean and calm and sure after time in her company. I was grateful this morning for a visit from our family friend Cara. We have known each other since we were children, and her sunny personality is a delight every time we visit. This afternoon I came home and was grateful to start another great book. Chris and I wound down our evening with a natural disaster movie double feature. I am grateful this man doesn’t mind my obsession with weather based movies – there’s just nothing like a good storm!

halloween cookiesSunday: Sundays are my favourite days for walking along the bay; there are so many other people walking and running, families and little kids, and puppies of every kind. There is a pleasure in those moments of shared bliss, when you nod and smile at each other because you realise that you are so lucky to be right here, right now, blessed under an endless blue sky. I am grateful for Sundays, and our lazy afternoons filled with movies (today: Safe House), baking and napping.

Also this week:

Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week? How was your Halloween?

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

It was a dark and spooky night…all around the cottage nothing could be heard but the rustling of cupcake papers….

Halloween is almost here! Halloween isn’t a big thing here in Australia, but my family and I love any excuse to decorate the house (Dad has been working hard on decorations all year), dress up in silly costumes, and share a few sweet treats. These gluten free pumpkin cupcakes made an early appearance to get us in the Halloween mood last weekend – spicy, sweet, and with some cute and spooky sprinkles they were a Halloween hit.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

When I saw these pumpkin cupcakes on Jen’s blog I knew it wouldn’t be long until I needed to bring them to Thoroughly Nourished Life and give them a little gluten free makeover. You all know that I love spiced baked goods and the heady aroma of these cupcakes is delightful mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom. The butternut pumpkin (squash) I used added a sweetness to the cupcakes, and the brown sugar ensures that the cake stays soft and sweet. These are a very tender cake so they might appear a little crumbly. Just remember to cook them for the correct amount of time and allow them to cool completely before frosting and eating. The inclusion of ground chia seeds helps bind the gluten free flours without any strange tasting vegetable gums.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cream cheese frosting with cinnamon is the perfect tangy-sweet topping for the fluffy cupcakes. I used the same recipe as the frosting on my Chai Spiced Cake. It’s the perfect frosting to pair with anything filled with any of your spiced baked goods. I use it on cakes, cupcakes, and even baked doughnuts (coming soon to Thoroughly Nourished Life) – sometimes it’s a little too tempting not to just lick it straight off the spoon!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I love Halloween even though I am not a fan of scary movies, scary stories, or those weird plastic costume masks. I love a mild spooky night filled with shrieks that border on delight and fear, with a sweet reward at the end. This Halloween Chris and I will be spending the night with Mum and Dad taking part in the Haunted Driveway that my Dad has created. Although Chris isn’t too keen on Halloween (don’t worry, he’s learning) we have our costumes picked out (ghost bride for me, Dread Pirate Ginger Beard for Chris) and I can’t wait to spend the night tricking and treating the little (and big) kids in our neighbourhood.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Milk and Honey | Makes 12 cupcakes | Gluten Free

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes

  • 40 grams brown rice flour
  • 40 grams white rice flour
  • 40 grams almond meal
  • 50 grams buckwheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds, ground
  • 115 grams butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

For the frosting

  • 125 grams cream cheese (full fat is best), softened
  • 50 grams butter
  • 3-4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (a decent sprinkle)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Sprinkles for decorating (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line 12-hole cupcake pan (1/4 cup capacity) with cupcake papers.
  2. In a medium size bowl whisk together brown rice flour, white rice flour, almond meal, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In a small jug combine buttermilk and ground chia seeds. Allow to sit until required.
  4. In a large mixing bowl use a hand mixer to beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
  6. Turn mixer speed to low and beat in half the flour mix until just combined. Add buttermilk and pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated and then mix in the rest of the flour until just combined.
  7. Divide batter evenly among cupcake papers.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  10. To make frosting: beat together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add 3 cups of icing sugar, spices and milk. Beat until combined. You want a slightly stiff mixture. If frosting is too loose add extra cup of icing sugar.
  11. Spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with your choice of tip. Decorate cupcakes as desired and then sprinkle with decorations (if using). You could alternately use a knife to frost the cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Tell me, dear readers, how do you celebrate Halloween? Is anyone else dressing up?

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes for One (gluten free)

Halloween is less than a week away, so let’s talk about what scares us…

I’ll go first. I am scared of birds – all birds: chickens, magpies, budgies, anything with wings has me ducking (no pun intended) for cover. I am scared that one day my cat is going to realise that we are all scared of his awesome power and use it to take over the world. I am scared of spooky movies, that weird Kraft cheese that comes in a jar (how….why…), the chemicals in bug spray, taking the rubbish out to the bin in the dark, and crawling into bed alone. I am scared of snakes and lizards and things that crawl.  I am scared of life passing me by too quickly without me remembering to seize each day and put my mark on it somehow. I am scared of missing out on adventures, leaving some corner of the earth unexplored, of losing my love of letting go and getting gone.

DSC00984There is nothing scary about these pancakes though – apart from how healthy they are! I was inspired by a post I saved a little while ago by Top with Cinnamon, but in honour of the approaching spooky season I decided to give them a little pumpkin and spice treatment. These aren’t sturdy pancakes (like these), but rather delicate and light – a breakfast (or dinner – no judgement) that won’t weigh you down. Subtly spiced with cinnamon and cardamom, and although they contain banana they don’t taste like it. These Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes are a breakfast that nourishes that part of your soul that needs pancakes (I can’t be the only person who has this part) and nourishes your body without filling it up with excess sugar. Pancakes you can feel good about!

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Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes for One (gluten free)

This recipe was adapted from ‘2 Ingredient Healthy Pancakes‘ by Top with Cinnamon

Makes about 8 small pancakes (~3-inches across). Serves One. Choose your favourite toppings; I used berry jam and some sliced strawberries and topped the stack with some Greek yoghurt.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup puréed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of cardamom
  • Toppings of choice ( see above)

Method

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the whole egg, egg whites, puréed pumpkin, banana, and vanilla essence until well combined.
  2. Sprinkle over buckwheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and cardamom and beat with a whisk until thick and fully incorporated.
  3. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and spray lightly with cooking oil.
  4. Spoon a small amount (I used about 2 tablespoons) of mixture onto the pan. Bubbles will rise to the top as the pancake cooks. Once most of these have popped (about one minute), flip over and cook for thirty seconds to one minute. Use a thin spatula as the pancakes are very delicate.
  5. Remove to a plate, keep covered until the rest of the batter is cooked.
  6. Pile up on a plate and top with your favourite pancake accessories. Perhaps try some honey, Greek yoghurt and berries, or for a weekend breakfast perhaps ice cream and maple syrup.

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So dear reader, tell me, what are you afraid of? Or, better yet, have I tempted you into making pancakes for breakfast this weekend?