If you were to ask me if my Peter and I had any unusual identifying features to help you spot us in a crowd, I would wink and say to you, 'Look for the handsome middle-aged couple sporting bright shiny halos and baggy clothes.'
Jokes aside, over the last several months, we have stuck to our regime of healthy eating and exercise so very well that our clothes are beginning to hang off us like potato sacks.
Playing 'dress ups' is more fun than ever before. I find that I am now fitting into the old wardrobe I wore PRE-retirement and many of those outfits are actually loose on me. Happy dance time. Peter is the same - although I should point out that he has been trying on HIS old fashions, and not mine.
Hand on heart, I can tell you that I do not miss stuffing my face. Not one single bit. Nor do I miss gorging on chocolate, biscuits, ice cream, cheese or other kilojoule-laden indulgences.
I have switched to almond milk in preference to low fat, lactose free cow's milk - which affected my dicky stomach and played havoc with my LPR, anyway. Highly-spiced or deep fried foods are off the menu too - although I do admit to eating a Chiko Roll the other day, all in the name of research, you understand.
Similarly, I have pretty much eliminated bread, cakes and most other baked goods, unless they are made with gluten free flour.
As a result, I now rarely need to take Nexium tablets (esomeprazole) - the proton pump inhibitors that help decrease the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Previously, I was taking one to two tablets daily. I am so pleased NOT to be taking them, because in those who are 50 years or older, high doses or long term use of proton pump inhibitors can increase the risk of bone fracture in the hip, wrist, or spine. Not good.
For a range of reasons, I won't refer to this new way of life as 'clean eating'. Quite simply, Peter and I are eating good, fresh, nourishing food in smaller portions. We have also adopted the principles of mindful eating . That is, we pay attention to our bodies and eat only when we are feeling hungry and not because it is 'time'. We eat slowly and chew our food properly, rather than gulping it down - thus better appreciating the texture and flavour of what it is that we are eating. And, we stop eating when our bellies feel full and our appetites have been satisfied.
Yes, we have been good, but our halos are flexible - a little like the elastic in your best stretchy pants, if you understand my meaning. Most certainly, we still love dining out, and often visit any one of our favourite cafes for coffee and cake. But, instead of over-indulging, we share a muffin or small slice of cake, and I have peppermint tea in place of coffee.
It was on such a visit to our local recently that I first tasted a muffin made with matcha. I liked the flavour and texture so much that I was keen to create my own version.
I thought I would juzz up a standard muffin recipe with the use of an Aldi brand gluten free self raising flour, matcha powder, macadamia oil and sugar-free almond milk. For the streusel topping on the muffins, I combined some almond meal with macadamia meal, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and macadamia chunks.
My baking day experiment was a success and I have made the muffins a few times now - much to the delight of Peter and the friends and family who have popped in to visit lately. It's with pleasure that I share my original recipe with you.
STREUSEL TOPPED MACADAMIA MATCHA MUFFINS WITH ALMONDS (GLUTEN FREE)
2 cups gluten free self raising flour
1/2 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
1/4 cup macadamia oil
1 free range egg, lightly whisked
2/3 cup almond milk
2 level teaspoons Matcha powder
For the streusel top:
1/2 cup brown sugar (loosely packed)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla bean
1 tablespoon macadamia meal
1/4 cup ground almond meal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C. Prepare a muffin tin by lining it with paper liners.
Make the streusel topping by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, macadamia meal, almond meal, macadamia pieces and softened butter in a small bowl. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Set it aside.
In a larger bowl, combine the gluten free flour and caster sugar. Run a balloon whisk through the mixture to break up any lumps in the flour. Using a spatula, fold in the combined whisked egg and almond milk, followed by the macadamia oil. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.
Using a large serving spoon and a dessert spoon, divide the mixture evenly between the lined muffin cups. Spoon or sprinkle the streusel topping over each muffin. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer tests clean. Makes 9 large or 12 smaller muffins.
These muffins are best eaten on the day they are baked. That said, store any leftovers in an airtight container and warm them briefly in a microwave before serving.
Tell me dear readers, have you ever cooked with Matcha powder? What did you make? And do you ever play 'dress ups' (as in, try on your old wardrobe to see if things still fit?). Do please tell. I love hearing from you all. xxx
I'm Liz, a.k.a Bizzy Lizzy,
the writer, cook and traveller behind
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.