Whole Wheat Orange Poppy Seed Loaf

It is amazing the lengths I will go to convince myself that cake is healthy. I told myself I could eat this for breakfast, was delighted by how guilt-less this was, and was convinced that no sugar meant no bad stuff.

Take this loaf for instance. It’s got olive oil and whole wheat flour so I merrily ignored the sugar that goes into it and said meh, at least there’s no frosting.

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I stick by my beliefs. Life is too short to be suspicious about cake. Tofu, yes. But not cake, never cake. If it doesn’t have the usual suspect ingredients, tell yourself it’s healthy, eat a slice (or three) and go run it off.

Note to self: must run.

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After my insane hunt for poppy seeds, I decided it was time to bring out the little bottle and do something else with it. When I saw this recipe, I knew I was home.

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Guilt-Free Blueberry Pancakes (Eggless, Sugar-Free)

They say if you fail, try and try till you succeed. In my life so far, this motto has not applied to algebra, chocolate abstinence or sensible shopping. But it has applied to pancakes.

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When I first tried these pancakes, I struggled to think of a name for the disaster that ensued. The batter was think enough to become cookie dough, the blueberries stuck to the pan, the pancakes broke into multiple tragic pieces. And I was left picking up sticky crumbs and fragments of my heart.

What went wrong that day will remain my life’s greatest mystery. Because the second time around, they were SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!!!! How I love Despicable Me :)

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Blueberry Skillet Cake

Remember that gigantic batch of frozen blueberries I hounded every shopkeeper in this city for? It served me and you, very well.

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That stock of blueberries is coming to and end and I decided a blueberry version of this cake was in order. A basic, super simple, buttery batter, filled with tangy blueberries, baked to a nice crust in a skillet. Served with vanilla ice cream that melted way too fast.

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It’s the kind of cake you can fill with pretty much anything you want. Any berries you like, maybe even chocolate chips or M&Ms. Great cakes have no rules.

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Creamy Hung Curd Dip with Zucchini Chips

As a child, I apparently LOVED curd. And bananas. An abnormal amount of love. Legend has it bananas had to be hid from me. And curd, well no one minded me loving it. Good bacteria and all of that. Then I entered the troubled teens and decided they were both among the ghastliest food items I could put in my mouth. I mean, when there’s pizza, why eat anything else.

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Now in my 20s, with metabolism and immunity taking a serious hit after years of hostel food and Maggi dinners (sob), both curd and bananas have come back into my life. Miracle foods and surprisingly, I now like them an acceptable amount, unlike certain crazed toddlers I can think of. I still prefer eating bananas like this though. I like curd with chia seeds (look at me all evolved), but my favourite form is hung curd. It makes a great cheesecake and is the foundation for that gloriousness called shrikhand.

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I’ve actually been making this dip for a while, but when I saw that zucchini could be turned into CHIPS, I decided my dip needed something like that, worthy of being dipped in it. Zucchini is fabulous with chocolate too by the way.

This creamy, lightened up version of a traditional cream cheese dip went delightfully well with this crispy, mildly spiced zucchini chips. Getting older, healthier and braver.

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Chocolate Oat and Speculoos Fudge

I grew up on a healthy diet of Malory Towers and St Clare’s. Boarding schools that came into my life way before Hogwarts did, thanks to Enid Blyton and her magic. Books that I devoured so fast that on my 10th birthday, I was done with the one my parents got me a couple of hours after they gifted it to me. We went back to the bookstore and got me the next one.

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I loved a lot of things about those books. But what I loved most is the food those girls ate at their slumber parties. Some were strange things that I probably wouldn’t go anywhere near in real life, but they sounded delicious at the time. Some were just ‘plump tomatoes’ or ‘crisp apples’ that sounded like the mot delectable things ever known to man. And then there were the cakes, the sandwiches, the biscuits, the puddings.

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All I wanted to do was have my own slumber party. And so we did. Every so often between the ages of 9 and 11, our little gang of girls would meet up at any one of our houses and our Moms would enthusiastically take up the task of feeding us at midnight, knowing fully well we’d be struggling to stay awake. There were cakes, sandwiches, chips and my Mom’s famous chocolate fudge (no ‘tongue’ or ‘boiled eggs’; we weren’t as evolved as the girls in the books).

Unfortunately, the recipe for that seriously good fudge is tucked away somewhere in her elaborate recipe books and is apparently very fiddly. At the age of 10, I just assumed it was the most obvious thing to make at all times, not realising that ’69 grams of sugar’ had to be measured out each time.

Then I grew up. And butter, cream and dark chocolate became both my greatest loves and biggest guilt-inducers. I found this recipe that is a healthier spin on traditional fudge. It is delicious. My ten-year-old, Enid Blyton toting self would have approved.

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Baked Mozzarella Sticks

I, like most people in the world, dream of deep-frying anything that can be deep-fried. Because in my head, like in the heads of most people, things taste better when dunked in hot oil, mercilessly browned and delectably crispy.

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Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on which side of the calorie-acceptance line you stand, I’ve lately discovered a certain aversion towards a number of things deep-fried. (French fries, please don’t ever leave me). The dream largely tastes great only in the dream. I can’t stomach even the thought of deep-fried Snickers and a too-slick burger can put me out of action for days.

Maybe my digestive system got less fun the older I got.Maybe my stomach is just trying out to balance out the copious amounts of chocolate I don’t seem to be averse to.

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So I began making churros that were baked, falafel that’s baked. And discovered my digestive system is probably doing me a favour by making me eat less grease, right?

Also, the stuff tastes phenomenal.

These mozzarella sticks are a delicious, slightly nerve-wracking alternative to the fried version if like me, you’re using shredded cheese and not the easy-to-peel-off string cheese.

But, gooey melty cheese is good no matter what!

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Double Chocolate Banana Bread (Eggless)

It’s a terribly dark Monday. So I decided to make you the darkest cake of them all.

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It has chocolate two ways. Banana. Whole wheat flour. Not a lot of sugar. No eggs. Few things make me feel good on a Monday morning. This cake just shot to the top of that list.

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