Quarantine baking: spiced banana bread / muffins

When life hands you mushy overripe spotty bananas – put them to good use!

This recipe has no added sugar due to the overripe bananas being naturally very sweet, but if you’d prefer something sweeter, add 1/2 cup of brown sugar as well. 

Ingredients 

  • 3 very overripe mushy bananas (the more spotty the better)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 + 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 + 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ginger

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C
  2. Mix the wet ingredients
  3. Add the dry ingredients
  4. Pour into loaf tin or muffin cases and bake until a skewer comes out clean (will take ~ 25 minutes for the muffins but about 45 minutes for the loaf; start checking with a skewer as soon as the top is browned).

Caring for yourself in quarantine

It’s hard to ignore the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic, which at times can seem scary, challenging and unpredictable. While I am not a public health physician, I am a critical care doctor and will be directly responsible for looking after some of the sickest COVID-19 patients here in Australia. That is, when I eventually make it out of quarantine.

Alas, I took an ill timed jaunt to New Zealand and missed the quarantine cut off on the way home, and am now stuck in my apartment for the next 2 weeks. Am I happy about this? Not particularly. Is it necessary? Absolutely. While I want to be straight back out their at the coalface with my colleagues, if there’s any chance I could make someone else sick then it’s not worth the risk.

As a young woman I am statistically likely to be okay if I catch the virus. But that’s not the point.

If you’ve seen the chaos that occurs when everyone bombards the supermarket at the same time to buy toilet paper and hand sanistiser, you can understand how this situation is less than ideal. Many people miss out due to a lack of supplies and resources, even those who just went to the shops to buy tonight’s dinner rather than quarantine supplies. Once you understand that, you can understand why all us medics are panicking – because that is exactly what will happen to our health care system if we’re not careful. The only difference is that instead of tissues and pasta, we’re talking about ventilators and ICU beds (which we don’t actually have enough of by the way). This time you’re not just risking going hungry, you’re risking death from cardiac or respiratory failure. And those people who just popped in because they had something not covid related, like a heart attack or a major car accident or appendicitis? They’ll miss out too, with potentially disastrous consequences. And that’s without including the immunocompromised and elderly patients who are most likely to become seriously ill from this disease.

So when you see all us doctors and nurses jumping up and down on social media, to the cry of “this is not just a common cold!” at least now I hope you’ll understand why.

But back to quarantine, and note I don’t just mean social distancing. I mean the whole “looks like I’m not leaving the house for 2 weeks” situation. If I leave the house I’m risking the health of those around me, and a hefty $13,000 fine from the government. So I’m staying put for now – and hopefully I’m also staying sane.

Here’s my list so far on the tips and tricks I am learning while I am stuck here!

  • Have a routine – While you’re stuck at home for 2 weeks, it may be easy enough to take a conference call in your underpants or exist exclusively in gym gear. But at least get into some sort of a normal routine (breakfast, exercise, put on normal clothes, answer emails etc), which has been shown to decrease anxiety in times like this. I enjoy the late night Netflix binge as much as the next person, but just don’t do it all day and night.
  • Stay social – This one is the worst for me. As much as I enjoy my own company, I’ve also missed having my friends and family around (for a while now given my recent exams). So instead of texting, try FaceTime or having a wine and cheese night over Skype with your girlfriends. Keep your group Whatsapp chat going, or just bombard your siblings with virus memes via text (sorry not sorry boys!). Remember that we’re all in this together!
  • Keep exercising – I am a gym junkie so the thought of giving it away as well as missing my taekwondo classes was one of the worst quarantine impacts for me. However, a yoga mat, some heavy resistance bands and a few youtube HIIT and pilates videos later and I am back in business. I signed up to Barre Body’s online platform and while it’s not the same as my usual reformer pilates, I will happily make do with the absolute burn that comes with Barre! In addition, instead of running, my new cardio routine is to vigorously dance around my room in my pijammas, which I feel is good for your health both on a physical and spiritual level (although I’m not sure the neighbours the floor below agree!).
  • Don’t destroy your diet – I was very fortunate that in the lead up to my recent exams, I started doing Hello Fresh because I didn’t have the time to shop for groceries or menu plan. I am SO thankful I have continued this now, as I am one less person fighting over ingredients that someone else may need. I am well aware that this is not a luxury that every family can afford, it just happened to be what was right for me. I also find that you can make the meals into 3 or 4 servings by adding extra rice or vegetables, which means most of my boxes last the week. At least I know I’m eating vegetables and protein every day. I’m also progressing slowly through a packet of Tim Tams in the fridge which are being dutifully rationed each day, because balance is important.
  • Get a breath of fresh air – If you have a balcony (which thankfully we do), then chuck on a mask and get outside for some sun. If you can’t do that, then at least open the windows and let the breeze flow through. There’s nothing worse than feeling stale and stuffy when you’re stuck indoors.

On a final note I say the following with my medical hat on here – use social distancing, avoid the crowds, WASH YOUR HANDS (regularly, and for 20 seconds minimum) and please stop touching your face. 

Easy Pumpkin Salmon Gnocchi

This is “cooking” for when you don’t have time to cook (i.e. me around exam time!).

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • Packet of store bought pumpkin gnocchi
  • 150g hot smoked salmon, flaked
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley and basil, finely chopped

Method

  1. Cook the gnocchi as per the packet directions in a pot of boiling water. Once cooked, drain and return to the pot but off the heat.
  2. While still warm, stir in the spinach, herbs, oil, salmon and lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Vegan Chickpea Stew

I was at a loss as to what to name this. It’s technically not a curry. It is more like a tagine in texture, just not cooked in a clay tagine pot. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious, earthy, and packed full of veggies!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 300g passata
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 small potato
  • 1/4 medium sized butternut pumpkin
  • 1/2 large eggplant
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1.5 tsp Ras el Hanout (or Moroccan spice mix)
  • 125g baby capsicums
  • 3 large carrots
  • Handful fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic chives
  • Spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes and brown rice to serve

Method

  1. Dice the potato, pumpkin, eggplant, capsicums and carrots into large chunks of similar size.
  2. In a large fry pan over medium heat, briefly sauté the garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
  3. Add the potato, pumpkin, carrots, 1/2 cup chicken stock and passata with the spice mix and bring to a simmer until soft (about 15 minutes).
  4. Add the eggplant, capsicums and fresh herbs, and continue to simmer until soft (about 5-10 minutes).
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the chickpeas. Serve with fresh baby spinach and brown rice, with cherry tomatoes to garnish.

Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Warms the soul as well as the belly!

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • 200g butternut pumpkin
  • 4 large carrots
  • 125g can coconut cream
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • Chives to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C and roast the pumpkin and carrots until soft and golden. Allow to cool slightly.
  2. Place the roasted pumpkin and carrot, sage, rosemary, stock and coconut cream in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Alternatively, place the mixture in a large bowl or saucepan and blend with a stick blender until smooth.
  3. Serve hot with chives on top.

Pie Maker Savoury Muffins

After a recent baking spree for night shift, I can now truly appreciate why people are going nuts over these pie makers!

You’d be surprised at what people can create in such a short space of time with one of these (a real bargain considering they’re only $29 from Kmart). For some epic recipe ideas, definitely look up the Australian Kmart pie maker recipe group on Facebook!

As part of my experimentation, I made an old recipe of mine, a cross between a muffin and a frittata – a fruffin if you will (because mufftata sounds a bit risky).

I made two different flavours of these by changing the spice, otherwise the base recipe is the same!


 

Ingredients (makes 12)

Method

  1. Turn on the pie maker.
  2. Beat the eggs, then add the milk, flour, yogurt and spice mix and stir well to combine.
  3. Place spinach leaves at the base of the pie mould, then pour 1/8th cup of filling mixture on top. Place a small piece of cheese, then add another dollop of filling mixture to cover.
  4. Cook in the pie maker until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes). These will cook more evenly the more full the mould is.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge if they don’t all get eaten!

Spiced Protein Porridge

Hooray! The weather is FINALLY cool enough for the first protein porridge of the season!

Ingredients (serves 1-2)

  • 3/4 cup rice flakes or oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp vanilla pea protein
  • 1/2 tsp chai spice (or cinnamon / cardamom)
  • Banana and almond butter for serving

Method

  1. Mix the rice flakes, milk, protein, flaxseed and spice together in a bowl.
  2. Microwave on high for 2.5 minutes.
  3. Serve topped with banana and almond butter. Easy!