Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Seven

Currently I have a crumble pie baking away in the oven, a cup of tea by my side, and some science podcasts playing on my iPhone. In other words, a perfect sleep-in Sunday wake up before I head off to one of my best friend’s homes for a catch up over lunch. Later this afternoon I’m planning to have a long walk along the bay, and perhaps indulge in some sunset photography. Sundays should count. Often they become about busily getting things done before we all head off to work on Monday, but I want to challenge each of us to make Sundays count. Find a ritual that makes Sunday feel important and treasured in your life. Are you Sunday brunch people? Sunday long runners? What makes your Sunday count? Let’s have a Nourished Life every day of the week. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Seven:

valentines dayMonday: Today was full of lots of wonderful things! My Mum and Dad celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary (happy anniversary Mum and Dad!) and Chris started in a new position at work! I am so grateful that he has been given this opportunity and grateful that other people are recognising the hard work he puts into his job.

Tuesday: Such a great run tonight! I tried a new route and found a whole row of pretty houses to look at while I ran past. I was grateful for the musical talents of a young lady I ran past who was sitting out on her porch practicing her guitar. There is so much hidden talent in the world. Also today, Yum. Gluten Free Magazine featured my Red Velvet Cake recipe on their Facebook page and I had more people visit the blog than ever before! I am so grateful for all the support I have had since starting this little place on the internet.

Wednesday: Holy tired Amy tonight. When I got home from work I didn’t even have the energy to make it through my ‘just 30 minutes’ of exercise. This was the first day all year that I didn’t get out to exercise! I was on a streak for sure, but sometimes you need to just listen to your body and let it rest. I was grateful to Chris for taking care of me, and putting me to bed, and making sure I got lots of sleep.

Thursday: Tonight Chris and I went for a long walk along the water before dinner and watched the seagulls pick their way through the tidal pools. I am grateful for our walks and the talks we have while we are out there. After our walk I got to work on a cake job I had. I was grateful for a chance to stretch my creative wings in a new way, but I am always reminded by these jobs that I am not cut out for a career as a cake decorator!

evening walkFriday: Today I came home to find that Chris had bought me a huge bunch of gorgeous red roses and some of my favourite chocolates (Lindt 85% oh yeah). I am so grateful for the thoughtful man I have in my life, and the way he makes me feel special every day.

Saturday: Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Today I started my day with my first Valentine: my Mum! We had breakfast and coffee at the markets and enjoyed long chats about everything. I am grateful that I have a Mum who is also one of my closest friends. Today’s topic of conversation: letting yourself believe that you deserve happiness. So many big thoughts to sort through about that. After a sweaty run and row at the gym Chris and I headed off to see ‘The Kingsman’ and eat our body weight in popcorn and m&ms. This is our sort of Valentine’s Day! Tonight we walked along the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, which is where we ended our first date. I am grateful that Chris and I make Valentine’s Day our own and just let ourselves do our kind of love every day. I am grateful for you sweetheart and the way you make loving easy and extraordinary at the same time.

city 2 14-02-15Sunday: Today I enjoyed an extreme sleep in. I have just wandered into the kitchen and made pie, and we are heading off to see some friends we haven’t caught up with in a while. I am grateful for the chance to see one of my best friends, and my family, and just sit out on the deck on a Sunday and celebrate life.

Also this week:

Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week?

Top Ten Gluten Free Treats For Your Sweet This Valentine’s Day

Florists are hurriedly filling their shelves, rose petals dripping to the floor; chocolatiers present rows of gleaming handmade creations for lovers to gift to each other; and restaurant staff starch tablecloths, polish cutlery until it gleams, and cook plates of perfect aphrodisiacs. These are all beautiful ways to show your love on Valentine’s Day, but I’ve always been more of the homemade type. Something made with hand and heart for the one you love. The time is the gift, and love is a verb.

Here are my Top Ten Gluten Free Treats for Your Sweet this Valentine’s Day from Thoroughly Nourished Life:

Two forks and a plate with a massive slice of my Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting would be a sweet end to Valentine’s Day.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOr how about two spoons and a tub of my Irish Coffee Ice Cream? Chris and I bonded over our love of whisky, so this would be a perfect Valentine’s Day treat.

Irish Coffee Ice Cream | Thoroughly Nourished LifeNeed a vegan salty sweet treat for your beloved? Tahini and Peanut Butter Cookies would be welcomed by anyone – bonus points if you wrap them up in a cute little box with tissue paper!

Peanut Butter and Tahini Cookies | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeNeed a little spice in your life this Valentine’s Day? (Don’t worry, this isn’t about to turn into that kind of blog!) Try my Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!

Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeChocolate and Peanut Butter, not since Romeo and Juliet have there been two more meant for each other. Here in my Peanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Peanut Glaze, rather more successfully than those teenage lovers, chocolate and peanut butter are united in heavenly doughnut form.

Peanut Butter Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOh so you aren’t going away to a tropical island with your lover for Valentine’s Day? Neither am I, but I’m tempted to bring the tropical home with a batch of Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream. These gluten free cupcakes are also perfect for a Gal-entine’s Day celebration too! Perfect for that Sex and the City / Friends marathon!

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeHow about some pure, lustful, lush chocolate indulgence? My Frosted Peppermint Brownies are an aphrodisiac for sure….(leave out the mint and candy canes for pure chocolate sin…)

Frosted Peppermint Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIs your sweetheart a cookie monster? I’m lucky that I have found a fellow cookie monster to love, and my Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of our favourite indulgences. Best when paired with binge watching Parks and Recreation.

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comBreakfast in bed, or maybe brunch in bed in your plans for this weekend? My Zucchini, Carrot and Walnut Pancakes (with plenty of maple syrup) are a sweet and wholesome start to the day.

Zucchini, Carrot, and Walnut Pancakes | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAnd now, for the pull-out all stops, don’t bother going out for dinner, just grab a fork and your stretchy pants and let’s eat in bed, piece de resistance – Chocolate Brownie Cookie Dough Layer Cake. It’s over the top, it’s more than over the top. It’s magnums of champagne, 25 carat diamond, a thousand red roses strewn on white silk sheets over the top, but sometimes, that’s exactly what love needs to be.

Chocolate Brownie Cookie Dough Layer Cake 3

And a few more love-ly links from around our internet world:

  • Just in time for our Lady and the Tramp Valentine’s Day re-enactments, Not Quite Nigella gives us perfect Bean and Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs. The call it bella notte….
  • Red Velvet is Chris’s current love language, and doughnuts, well of course, doughnuts are the ultimate symbol of love – they look like a hug after all. Lynn from Fresh April Flours combines the two in her delightful Baked Red Velvet Doughnuts.
  • If a jar of Nutella is one of your ultimate couple foods (just add two spoons for happiness) – this Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake from Urban Bakes is the perfect up-your-game treat for Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! And even if Valentine’s Day isn’t your thing, I hope you have an extra sweet weekend too!

Cream Cheese Swirl Beetroot Brownies | Gluten Free

Beetroot adds a smoky, earthy background to the dense chocolate of these brownies, and a sweet sharp cream cheese swirl is the perfect decadent finishing touch. Cream Cheese Swirl Beetroot Brownies are an indulgent gluten free treat perfect for sharing with your special someone.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI wanted to call these heart beet brownies (get it?), but I thought that might be a little too cheesy for you all. If there is a holiday that encourages us towards cheesiness, Valentine’s Day has to be it. I know it’s not really a holiday, and companies make a lot of money off gifts, chocolate, and flowers just for the sake of one day, but isn’t it nice that even in today’s slightly cynically-bent world that we can still find time to celebrate love. The desire for love is universal, and I don’t just mean romantic love. I mean love as in finding someone, or ones, who really see you and accept you just as you are, but are invested in helping you to reach a higher form of yourself too.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAs a wise man once said ‘Love is the only shocking act left on the planet.’ To stand in front of someone, a lover or a friend, just exactly as you are and let all the walls down is difficult. And when that person sees you raw and scarred and shining your own light and finds room in their heart to take you in without asking anything of you in return, then you have found love. I have that love in my life in many different forms, and to be reminded, even one day a year to celebrate those people who let me love them, and love me in return, is a valuable thing.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeNow, about these brownies. Beetroot is the plant world’s gift to chocolate baked goods. Baked, cooled, and pureed into thick magenta paste and then added to melted midnight black chocolate, beetroot is chocolate’s perfect Valentine. You can’t taste the beetroot here, but it adds a little earthy magic that highlights the slightly bitter notes of dark chocolate. These aren’t brownies for the faint of heart. They are rich, dark, deep in the earth brownies that require coffee and fine plates. Brownies that hit that spot of craving for dark chocolate.

To this deep, dark beetroot brownie batter we add dollops and swirls of sweet and sharp cream cheese. Not so much to overwhelm, but just enough to provide a creamy contrast. Each bite is a mouthful of dark dense brownie with a tiny cheesecake ripple. These brownies are elegantly simple. Decadent enough in themselves to not require any frosting or extra add-ins. They are lush and classic and perfect for a chocolate treat for the one you love.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI took these brownies to a dinner with Chris’s family over the weekend, and we returned with an empty pan. His sister (hi Rosie!) even snuck a container of the leftovers into her handbag before she left. I stood in the kitchen and ate one and a half of these while sipping on a cup of tea. When you feel comfortable enough to start cutting brownie slivers in half in front of people, you know you have found love.

Cream Cheese Swirl Beetroot Brownies

Gluten Free | Makes 20-24 brownies | Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days

Ingredients

  • 400 grams (to yield about 300 grams, cooked) whole raw beetroot, scrubbed
  • 75 mL sunflower oil (or other flavourless vegetable-based oil)
  • 250 grams dark chocolate (I used 75%), chopped
  • 75 grams cocoa
  • 50 grams buckwheat flour
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 40 grams hazelnut meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 125 grams cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Wrap beetroot in aluminium foil and bake for an hour, or until beetroot are tender in the middle when pierced with a skewer. Allow to cool completely before peeling. Once cooled roughly chop and use a food processor or blender to puree to a smooth paste (you can add up to 1 tablespoon of water if required).
  2. Preheat oven to 180C and line a 9-inch (22.5 cm) square tin with baking paper. Set aside until required.
  3. In a medium bowl beat together beetroot puree and oil.
  4. Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second bursts, stirring well in between bursts, until smooth and melted. Allow to cool and then mix into beetroot mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together cocoa powder, buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, hazelnut meal, and baking powder.
  6. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  7. Reduce speed to low and add beetroot mixture. Add dry ingredients and mix until completely combined.
  8. Pour brownie batter into the prepared pan.
  9. In a small bowl beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar, white rice flour, and milk and beat until smooth.
  10. Place small drops of cream cheese mixture in a checkerboard patter on top of brownie batter. Use a thin knife or skewer to pull gently through the mixture in a zig-zag fashion to create swirls. Don’t overmix as this will ruin the swirl effect.
  11. Place into preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
  12. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Are you a beetroot and chocolate lover? How are you spending your Valentine’s Day?

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free

Fluffy and moist with just a hint of chocolate and deep red colouring, this gluten free red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting is the perfect special treat, especially when topped with vanilla-laced cream cheese frosting.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeRed velvet cake is a little like love itself. When you first come across it, you don’t know how to categorise it. You can appreciate its beauty, the feeling of sinking into it, but try to examine it more closely and it flies apart into elements so disparate that you can’t fathom how they come together to form the wondrous whole. Luckily for us, red velvet cake proves a lot easier to examine and recreate in our own kitchens. The recipe for love, I leave to you all to figure out for yourselves. Mine involves 1 tall, geeky ginger + 1 nerdy, cookbook obsessed brunette = love. The recipe for a lush, gluten free red velvet cake with tangy, vanilla scented cream cheese frosting, that, I can help you with.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI wanted to give you a red velvet cake for Valentine’s Day. To show my love for you all, and your support here on Thoroughly Nourished Life. Like any project of love, it took some experimenting. Third time round, I figured out the formula for a fluffy, moist, tightly crumbed cake with a stunning deep red hue. Red velvet isn’t a cake for everyone. This cake walks the line between chocolate and vanilla. You will keep going back for slice after slice just to try and figure it out. I’m okay with that.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThe secrets of love, those I also have no idea how to solve, the secrets of the perfect gluten free red velvet cake, those I can decode. It starts with creaming butter and sugar to pearled perfection. To that we add eggs, a decent dose of vanilla, and pillar box red food colouring. This cake uses a simple mix of three gluten free flours, and these are added to the mix along with cocoa powder, and the key ingredient in red velvet cake’s moist and moreish texture – buttermilk. Buttermilk, combined with baking soda and a touch of lemon juice, gives this cake it’s lift and the tender crumb that defines red velvet cake from merely a red-coloured vanilla cake.

After your cake is baked and cooled, then the magic happens: you whip together cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla essence, and lemon juice to create dreamy cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting is the perfect dancing partner for red velvet cake. The tangy, smooth cream cheese contrasts with this cake and highlights the balance between vanilla and chocolate to perfection, like a delicious, velvety tango for your taste buds.

From me, to you, this Valentine’s Day. Red velvet perfection.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeRed Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Gluten Free | Makes one 7-inch (18 cm) cake

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon ground chia seeds
  • 80 grams buckwheat flour
  • 80 grams white rice flour
  • 80 grams brown rice flour
  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon liquid red food colouring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter and line on 7-inch (18 cm) round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the warm water and cocoa powder. Allow to cool and then mix in the buttermilk and chia seeds. Set aside until required.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the buckwheat flour, white rice flour, and brown rice flour. Set aside until needed.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer) beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. The butter and sugar should be very pale by this stage.
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  6. Add red food colouring, vanilla essence, and salt. Beat until completely incorporated.
  7. Turn mixer speed to low and beat in flour in three parts alternating with buttermilk and cocoa mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as required. Beat until just combined.
  8. In a small bowl mix together baking soda and lemon juice so that it foams. Quickly mix into cake batter.
  9. Pour cake batter into prepared baking tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating as desired. Use this time to make and refrigerate the frosting.
  11. To decorate the cake, split the cake into two layers. Use a serrated edge knife to make the job easier. Place one layer of cake on a plate and spread with half the frosting. Top with the second layer of cake and spread with the remainder of the frosting. Decorate with sprinkles, or as desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

 

  • 175 grams cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 3-4 cups of icing sugar

Method

  1. In a medium size bowl beat together the cream cheese, lemon juice, vanilla essence, and 3 cups of the icing sugar until smooth.
  2. If your mixture is too runny beat in the extra cup of icing sugar.
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before use.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeTell me, dear reader, are you a red velvet fan? What’s your recipe for love?

Gratitude List 2014 – Week Seven

This week I returned to work, and even though the days were filled with emails, spreadsheets, and documents, I focused on finding something I was grateful for in every one. I have been trying to stay true to my promise to gather every minute of time and it has made me more attuned to the stories happening around me all the time. I think there is a lot to learn from being present, and my gratitude lists are one way that I keep myself accountable for the days that pass. Here is my Nourished Life 2014 Gratitude List Week Seven.

Monday: Today was my return to work, and my sweet workmates had made signs for my desk to welcome me back to the office. It was a definite cure for Monday-itis and made up for the countless emails that needed attending to. I was grateful for the lovely thought and the gesture of welcome.

Welcome back to me!

Welcome back to me!

Tuesday: Today was all about the light. I was so grateful for the morning sunrise, the midday heat that meant lunch outside with a friend, and the evening sunset that bathed me with light on my second walk of the day. I am a creature of the daylight.

My sunset walk

My sunset walk

Wednesday: My Uncle Nigel was an unexpected but super welcome guest at our house tonight! Passing through town meant he could take some time to stop and have dinner with us and catch up. I am so grateful for the visit.

Thursday: Today I went back to see my surgeon – and he gave me the all clear! Although I still need to wait another week before I can ease back into running (watch here for progress) I am all healed up. I am grateful to have my health back again. Everything happened so quickly with my operation that I went from a faster running pace and feeling like I was making huge gains to nearly having to crawl to get around. It has made me more aware of the blessing it is to be able to move and not to take my health for granted.

Friday: Valentine’s Day! I love this holiday. The hearts, the chocolate, the chance to shout from the mountains that you love someone. I made cupcakes for work too. I am grateful for the darling man in my life who makes everyday shine brighter and who knows all my deepest secrets, shames, fears and dreams and loves me anyway. I am grateful for you Chris. Tonight we ate gourmet pizza and watched British quiz shows – our perfect date night.

Banana Cupcake 2

Coffee Banana Date Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Saturday: I love being down by the bay on a summer weekend. I got up early this morning and headed down for a long walk by the water. It was a perfectly relaxing start to the day. Chris and I went to dinner at the home of a new friend and her fiancé and had such a great time. I was grateful to have a great night and find that we had so many things in common. I can’t wait for the next time. (Also, I brought some delicious cookies that I will share with you all tomorrow.)

Walk 15_2_14

Far out on the bay

Espresso Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Sunday: Tonight I was grateful to end my weekend surrounded by people I love. Casey hosted a wonderful family dinner and as per usual treated us all to delights for the palate. My particular favourite was her glorious chocolate crème brulee and macadamia ice cream. I think I need to get my ice cream maker out again!

The week ahead promises to be just as full. We have a Hawaiian Shirt Day coming up at work to raise money for the Surf Life Savers, I have a bridal shower for a dear friend, and who knows what other adventures lay in wait.

Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week?

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Whether you are celebrating with your someone special, with your friends, or treating yourself to a night in on the couch I hope you enjoy this day and really feel the love that is all around you.

Chris and Amy bokeh

 

If you’re looking for some sweet treats for your sweetheart, why not try:

Happy Valentines Everyone.

Come back tomorrow for a new sweet treat to make over the weekend.