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Foodie Mama: Best Iced Birthday Cake, Thermomix Cookbook and a Healthy, Nut-free Chocolate Recipe

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All the delicious fare that Foodie Mama Ghillie James has been loving this month!

Singapore is a foodie’s dream, isn’t it? There aren’t many countries in the world where you can nip out of your house and within just a few minutes take your pick of food from every country you can imagine and choose from hawker all the way up to Michelin starred. This month I’ve met the inspirational Lebanese health guru and author Fouad Kassab tried some delicious single origin chocolate from the Philippines and munched on freshly harvested live mussels which were delivered to my door. Move over baked birthday cakes, I have also found the ultimate kids ‘iced’ birthday cake.

Move over Mr Sponge, the best birthday cakes are ice cream all the way!
Our little red dot’s very own Island Creamery makes ice cream like no other. From local favourites such as The Tarik and pineapple tart flavour to fresh banana and nutella, they contain no nasties and are freshly prepared on the premises. I’ve bought many of their ice cream cakes over the years too (my cake decorating skills are similar to Donald Trump’s leadership skills). Only recently, however, did I try out their custom-made service for my three year old son’s party (ice cream being most young children’s favourite foods). Our Paw Patrol themed cake was filled with cookies and cream ice cream and covered in fondant. Following the Paw Patrol design I sent over to the letter, the end result was fabulous and the ice cream centre a massive hit with both the party guests and their parents! And even more exciting..they deliver so you don’t even need to worry about the size of your freezer!

Cookbook Challenge
Over the F1 weekend, I met Fouad Kassab. He’s a Lebanese Chef, one half of the partnership Quirky Cooking with Australian blogging queen Jo Whitton and the author of a new book called Life Changing Food (think Ottolenghi and Hemsley and Hemsley rolled into one book). The recipes are really exciting and all gluten-free, with plenty of salads, kids healthy snacks and the most amazing butter chicken recipe (yes a healthy butter chicken!). It’s clever and reflects Kassab’s interesting health journey as he made himself well again through altering his diet to a whole food one. Inspiring man and fab book! You can buy it on the Thermomix website, as all of the recipes have Thermomix instructions as well as conventional.

Cracking product alert!
As well as being inexpensive and sustainable did you know that mussels are also really really good for you? Brain and immunity boosting, they contain high levels of highly desirable long chain fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). which improve brain function and reduce inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. Mussels are also a brilliant source of vitamins. Plus they give you a shot of important minerals, such as zinc, which helps build immunity. Mussels even contain levels of iron and folic acid to rival red meats. The only thing to watch is that they are pretty high in cholesterol.

Straits Market have now introduced freshly harvested moules to their already exciting range of home-delivered seafood and (don’t faint) at $9.80 per kg, it could be said that they are, for Singapore standards rather a bargain too! My recommendation is to keep it simple and cook them with finely chopped onion, garlic and a dash of white wine. Finish with a splash of cream and a handful of chopped parsley. For variation try adding leek and bacon in place of the onion, and cider instead of wine.

A new find – unsweetened chocolate
Even your favourite 85% organic top of the range chocolate bar will still contain added raw cane sugar, which for most of us is a guilty pleasure we are willing to have every once in a while. However a new product that I have found – Malagos Unsweetened Chocolate is a great option for those who require a completely sugar-free chocolate or would just like to take control of their kids sugar intake – adding honey, fruit puree etc in place of some of the white stuff. Containing only fermented dried single origin cacao beans these chocolate nuggets are as pure as you can get and highly nutritious too. They are not suitable for replacing a cheeky chocolate square after dinner (they are VERY bitter) but are a great ingredient for baking with. See my not completely guilt free but healthier biscuit cake recipe below. You can buy them from Four Seasons Organic, Great World, Therapy Market, 112 Katong – Windsor Shop, British Club, The Hollandse Club, The German Market, Bukit Timah.

A healthy nut free chocolate treat for active kids!
Try to use raw honey when possible. It’s still sugar but it contains lots of vitamins and minerals, all destroyed in processing everyday honey. Rather than adding nuts, the addition of some cacao nibs adds an extra nutrient hit (Cacao nibs are high in flavenoids. They have more antioxidant activity than tea, wine, blueberries and even goji berries!)

Ingredients

  • 100g unsweetened chocolate
  • 120g butter
  • 75g raw honey
  • 75g dried fruits such as raisins, sultanas or dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp cacao nibs (optional)
  • 225g digestive biscuits, halved

Put the chocolate, butter and honey into a heatproof bowl and either melt over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave until the chocolate is 3/4 melted. Leave on the side to finish melting. Meanwhile weigh out the fruit, seeds and nibs if using and set to one side. Crush the biscuits until crumbly but not totally powdered (a few chunky bits is good!). Add to the chocolate along with the fruit etc and mix well. Spoon into a lined 8 inch square tin and chill for 3-4 hours, then cut into squares.

Finding good eggs in Singapore
Though we are surrounded by a lot of choice here, it’s sometimes hard to establish the origins of products from a welfare point of view. Attempting to buy food that is ethical is not only often quite expensive, it’s also confusing.
Eggs are a hot topic for this very reason at the moment as although there are many packages stating ‘cage-free’, it’s not necessarily a guarantee that the eggs have been produced by happy chickens! Cage-free might mean not battery fed, but it doesn’t always mean space, light or stress free. And don’t be fooled by the oh so natural brown packaging either! In England I am used to buying eggs that state free-range. According to the RSPCA, legal requirements for free-range eggs ensure a minimum amount of space and litter for the hens: no more than nine hens a square metre, 10cm of feeder a bird and one drinker for 10 birds. But free range is not a label we see in Singapore due to the government regulations.

So, which are the best eggs to buy? Having done some reading and some tasting, I’m hanging my hat on New Zealand produced Nature’s Best cage free eggs, which you can buy from Cold Storage and Sasha’s Fine Foods. They have the NZ SPCA blue tick as well as the internationally recognised RSPCA Good Egg seal of approval. They taste good too! Price wise they are more expensive but ask yourself the question..if you are willing to spend more money on a piece of Aussie beef or a bottle of wine, why aren’t you happy to spend a dollar or two more on better tasting eggs from happier chickens?

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