Disaster baking… STOP – you can save them!

choc muffin pancake leaving out syrup

“Mum, WHAT did you put in these?” the 4 year old asks with a face that looked like she had eaten dirt.

It was not so much what I had put in them, as what I’d left out.  Ever had that horrible batch of muffins or cupcakes or cookie where you forgot to put in the sweetener?  Well today was my turn and here is what I did to save them.

Breakfast was supposed to be our healthy chocolate muffins.  Yes, for breakfast.  Made with kidney beans and only maple syrup as a sweetener, these delights are a pretty normal breakfast food in our household.  Anyway, I had nothing else prepared so I tasted them to see just how bad they were, and they were beyond bitter.  I reluctantly headed over to ditch the lot, when I suddenly thought ‘pancake muffins’.

That is just what we did.  A pool of maple syrup and some fresh fruit turned our muffins into a sweet treat and I didn’t have to feel annoyed at wasting my time and our money.

“Mmmm.  Mum, you should do this again.  Make the muffins but leave out the maple syrup so we can have pancake muffins more often.”

Philipa Gleeson-Payne


DO NOT throw away your lemon peels!

lemon zest peels

How to Make Your Own Lemon Zest.

 Recipes with a lemon flavor often ask for ‘lemon zest’.

Here is a quick introduction to lemon zest:



The post above says not to use the pith, just to use a microplane to get the outer zest of the peel.  Well, I’m telling you now that I DO grind up all the peel, including the pith, and have not had a problem at all.  Why do I use it all?  For me, a busy mother of 4 it is quite simple:  it saves me time and money.  I make it in bulk, and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Here is a quick guide to how I make my own lemon zest without wasting any of the lemon:

1.  I usually juice 10-12 lemons using an electronic juicer (this can be done with a hand juicer of course as well).  I strain the juice for better consistency and all the pulp, and a few of the peels I keep to make cleaning sprays (I’ll cover that in another post).  Pour the juice into an airtight container and store in the fridge for a long time (I’m not sure how long, mine gets used within a couple weeks).

2. I place the peels on a baking tray while preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  I put the peels in the oven for about 15 minutes then turn off the oven and let them continue to dry out a little longer.  (You can omit this step.  It will just mean your zest is more moist and will not keep for as long, and may be more likely to have an effect on the texture of your baking).

3. I cut up the peels into small pieces about an inch long and place in a food processor and process until crumbly.

lemon zest cutting lemon zest peel pieceslemon zest in processorlemon zest in hand




4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and keep for a month of more (again, I’m not sure how long, mine is used up in this time.  The drier it is, the longer it will keep).

Some of my recipes make use of lemon zest, and unless I specify otherwise, THIS is the zest I use and the results are fantastic!

If a recipe is better with only microplaned zest, then I’ll be sure to specify this and you can use the method I’ve linked to above.

Happy Zesting!!!!!

Philipa Gleeson-Payne


Are Healthy Snacks after the Game disappearing?

Last weekend it was our turn to provide the snack for the baseball team after our son’s baseball game (9-10 year olds). So, being the responsible parent I do my best to provide a good, high energy snack while keeping it a delicious treat. I bring Double Chocolate Chip Muffins made with kidney beans and avocado (not that I told the boys this), Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (again I neglected to elaborate on the ingredients), fresh fruit cups and freshly made juice (carrot, celery, apple and grape). Everything was prepared myself using my own recipes which are all gluten free, dairy free and free of any refined sugar.

Now before sharing the reaction, let me say that we are about half way through the season, and every game but one, the parents on ‘snack duty’ have all given the children between $1 and $2 to spend at the league’s snack shack. The typical snack would be popcorn, a soda, a hotdog or some other processed snack food they have enough money for.  I’ve even seen kids use their tokens to buy ‘ring pops’!

So, as the game ends, I roll up with my big cooler full of healthy snacks and lay things out for them to select.  As they boys are released from their pep talk, they approach cautiously, not quite sure what they were in for.

There were a lot of ‘what’s that?’ questions and I described the food as simply as possible.  Basically said they could take a ‘chocolate cupcake’, a ‘piece of cake’ and a tub of fruit each, and that they had the choice of water, or fresh carrot juice.   Seriously, the kids all jumped at the idea of a chocolate cupcake (I think all but one), but were totally unsure about the lemon poppy seed cake, and were not on board at all for the juice, but didn’t take water either.

I helped them along a bit, as did our son.  “I’ll take a juice!”  he exclaims enthusiastically, something he has grown to not only expect, but is disappointed and concerned if he misses his two glasses a day.  I prod the kids:  “Really?  NO ONE wants to take a glass of juice?  Are you kidding?  It’s like drinking pure gold!”  “I’ll try it” says one, and then as he takes his first mouthful is delighted.  “mmmm, this is REALLY good”.  “OK, I’ll have one then”  says another kid, and eventually all but 2 or 3 end up with a juice in their hand.

I get the same cautious approach with the lemon poppy seed cake (made with cashew nuts) but managed to encourage a couple kids to at least break of a little piece and see what they thought.  “What have you got to lose?  I ask.  “You don’t like it, no harm done.  If you do, then there is yet another great snack you know you like”.

After about 10 minutes of the boys all sitting together eating together and talking about the food (already better than immediately dispersing to grab a crappy snack at the kiosk) I am left with half the fruit, a few muffins, and very little of the cake.

Now, perhaps more interesting than the kids’ response, was when I approached the adults with what was left and offered it to them.  NONE of them were interested in trying any of the food OR even the juice!  Seriously, I can tell you this food is totally delicious, and for a bunch of men who have been standing around coaching and umpiring for 3 hours, you’d think a ‘real’ juice would be appealing?

In contrast, I got responses including “Ummm, no thanks, I’ll be fine” in tones that were definitely expressing a sense of being unsure of what I was serving.  This was not helped when I told one of the Dad’s (the father of the kid who took nothing at all, not even the fruit bowl) what was in the baked goods.  I told them that they needn’t worry about the kids eating ‘cupcakes and cake’, that they are all free of any refined sugar, gluten free and dairy free.  That they are high in protein and are healthy enough to eat as a meal.

The response I found the most disappointing perhaps:  “I think it is too late for us to change our son’s eating habits now”.

Seriously?  A ten year old? Do we really believe that or are we just too lazy to put in the work to facilitate change?

I offered that our kids really only became convinced over the last year about putting their health first and eating good fresh food.  That even myself and my husband have changed our approach to food dramatically.  He seemed surprised but not convinced.

So what do you think?  I know it can be done, I hope to inspire people to better health.  I’d love to hear discussion about how you may have managed to change your children’s commitment and attitude toward healthy eating.  What is the norm with your sports teams snacks?  Do parents have a roster to provide snacks each game?  And if so, what do they bring, or do they give money to spend on something of their choice?

As a funny conclusion, as one kid was being rushed off by his father, he hadn’t finished eating and so juggled his fruit, his juice and his remaining cake along with a few other belongings as he stood up.  As you may imagine, this resulted in half a cup of bright orange carrot vegetable juice being spilled all over his white baseball pants!  Oooops.  I guess I may be cursed in that household for time to come for providing such a healthy snack….. but it won’t stop me doing it again!


Let’s start talking!

So I have so many people waiting for me to get this blog up and running. It’s my personality to get everything ‘all set up’ before starting. In reality, things rarely get to the point I feel they are ‘ready’ and so it doesn’t get off the ground.

Today I’m just going to get started. Jump straight in, and start blogging! I’ll iron our the wrinkles as I go and learn in the process.

Bare with me. Here goes nothing!