Archive for the ‘Homemade Mondays’ Category



I love the look of this cake. It reminded me of a beautiful cake I once ate, made by an ex-colleague of Russian origin.  It was her birthday and she treated us with 2 types of cakes.  Strange but true, I could not remember what the other cake was, maybe because the lemon and poppy seed cake was uncommonly found in the bakeries in Belgium while the other one was too common? It has been 7 years since and the poppy seed cake remained steadfast in my head.  Unfortunately, I never got round to getting the recipe from my ex-colleague 😦


Great Substitute


I was searching the net for the recipe that once brought a smile to my face. Surprisingly, there are LOADS!!!  So, it’s not so common, after all 🙂

Poppy seeds are relatively expensive and their association with opium does not make it a flattering choice of ingredient to use as direct consumption.  Instead, I found a better substitute and it’s healthier and a lot cheaper!  And not only that, I found the perfect recipe, thanks to Nicole Weston of Baking Bites.

Baking Bites opted to use chia seeds over poppy seeds and I thought that was a PER-FECT substitute, by the way!  I have a plastic tub of 500g chia seeds in my kitchen pantry, which I normally used to sprinkle on my yoghurt, salads and soups.  They are tasteless but are said to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and are also high in fibre, protein and other nutrients.  In other words, chia seeds are packed with nutrional benefits, which I’m always opened to, id est, a supplement in its natural form.




Ingredients –

Adapted from Baking

(Note: the measuring cups used in this recipe are the US measuring cups)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used ANCO self-raising flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature (or ca 113g)
1 cup sugar (I used granulated sugar)
2 large eggs (I used 3 small eggs)
1 Tbsp lemon zest (of 1 lemon)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (of 1 lemon)
1 cup plain, greek-style yoghurt (I used 2 tubs of 125g each)
2 Tbsp chia seeds





  1. Preheat oven to 350F (177C or ca 180C). Lightly grease a round cake pan and line the base with parchment paper (I used a 20cm diameter baking tin)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by lemon zest and lemon juice.
  4. Stir half of the flour mixture into the lemon mixture, followed by the yoghurt and chia seeds. Stir in remaining flour mixture, stirring just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain and seeds are well-distributed throughout the cake.
  5. Pour batter into cake pan and spread into an even layer.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. (Note: the length of baking time depends on the type of oven you own. At 45 minutes, my cake was not set completely. I lengthened the baking time to another 5 minutes which turned out perfect)
  7. Allow cake to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and peel off the parchment paper, then reinvert the cake on the wire rack to cool completely.

Nicole Weston recommended dusting the cake with icing sugar.  I’m totally impressed with the result!

Simple but absolutely gorgeous. YUMS!   





Verdict: The usage of yoghurt as part of the cake ingredients, moistened the cake beautifully.  The tartness from the lemon cuts through an otherwise overly sweet cake. Yoghurt and lemon go so well together and the chia seeds made a most wonderful substitute to poppy seeds.  I loved the little black spots. It made a mundane-looking lemon cake into something more eye-catching 😉


Please give this recipe a try. For all I know, it’s a keeper! 

This post is linked to the event Little Thumbs Up (May 2015: YOGURT or YOGHURT) organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Cheryl of Baking Taitai


I am also submitting this post to Homemade Mondays Week 131 hosted by Sarah of Frugal by Choice, Cheap by NecessityAubrey of Homegrown & Healthy and Kelly from The Sustainable Couple


Have a great week !


At the of age of 17, he wrote his first Science book, “Schitterend!” (Brilliant!) about the Universe and the theory of Evolution. He was 18 and the youngest nominee for the Eureka. At age 21, he published his second book, “Fantastisch!” (Fantastic!) on Evolution and Neuroscience. Fantastic! was also nominated for the Eureka. By age 25, he became the author of 3 Science Books and had invented a new food model for his patients to slow down ageing and reduce the risk of ageing-related diseases. This achievement won him the title of ‘Person of the year‘ in his home country, Belgium.


Dr Kris Verburgh is the author of one of the most controversial books, “De Voedselzandloper” (The Food Hourglass), which is available in 9 languages.

As you can see on the coverpage of the book, the 2 triangles interlocking at the pointed tips are quick summaries of 2 pyramids (“hourglass”).  One pointing up with its hierarchical strata of foods which we should consume more of and the top half tapering downwards indicating foods we should eat less of. Not many University Professors are in agreement with Dr Verburgh’s theory. As a result, he had to resign from the University he graduated with magna cum laude.


I did not buy Dr Kris Verburgh’s “Science” book, but I bought “De Voedselzandloperkookboek” (The Hourglass Cookbook), authored by Pauline Weuring based on the young doctor’s scientific theory of nutrition in slowing down the signs of ageing through what we eat, and losing weight in the process.


By the way, there is a catch. According to Dr Verburgh, he says, diets do not work and what does is educating oneself about what to eat with knowledge that is readily available. What we eat determines how fast we age. Basically, discovering thefountain of youth‘ is to avoid the typical diseases of ageing, which is anything from loss of eyesight to heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer or osteoporosis. 


Quotes from Kris Verburgh, MD


If you want to have the health benefits of healthy food, you have to do it your whole life. Not just for a period of time, but always


We can add more than 10 years to our lives if we know what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. That would keep us healthy well into our eighties


Ageing is a very complex process. We know that the rate of ageing is influenced by our genes and our environment and more specifically by how and what we eat. Powerful interventions that slow down the ageing process will come to see light in the coming decades. For now, the most potent tool at our disposal to impact the rate of ageing is our diet“.


Cakes and sweets should be replaced by dark chocolate and nuts


The Food Hourglass will show you how to immediately identify what is healthy and unhealthy food, and how to replace unhealthy foods with alternatives“.



Fountain of Youth


When I flipped through the pages of The Hourglass Cookbook, I saw a cake recipe!!! What’s a cake doing there? I exclaimed!


But then I realised it’s not an ordinary cake. It’s a cake recipe based on Dr Verburgh’s “fountain of youth” theory. Very interesting indeed.  No sugar. No flour. No butter. No milk.  Erm…how to make a cake without all the basic essentials?  Well, of course, the young doctor has the answer and the result? 




I made this healthy Banana Bread or Cake and was surprised at how moist and delicious the cake remained on the day of baking and subsequently. Anyway, the cake was gone in less than 48 hours! It was really light. I have made the cake twice already and was very pleased with the result both times.


Due to copyright, I am not listing the measurements of the cake. If you really want the recipe, leave your comment with a valid email address and I will get back to you personally or for readers who know me, please pm me😉

The ingredients used in the recipe are as following –

  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Eggs
  • Almond meal or flour *
  • Baking soda
  • A pinch of Salt


  1. Pre-heat the oven
  2. Combine the mashed bananas and dates in a bowl
  3. Beat the eggs with salt until light and fluffy 
  4. Fold in the almond meal or flour and baking soda
  5. Grease the cake tin with some baking spray
  6. Pour in the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven
  7. The banana bread is cooked when a toothpick pricked in the middle of the cake comes out clean
  8. Cool the cake on a cooling rack before cutting

*Almond meal or flour is a result of ground almond nuts (with or without skins respectively) which is the healthier option to a normal cake flour


Note: For more variations, you may want to add pure chocolate chips or chopped pecan nuts


Obviously the sweet taste from the cake came from the bananas and dates.  Very natural and healthy options, indeed. 


Oh by the way, I think I’m feeling young already.  Yay! Ha ha…!


According to Wikipedia, a popular Flemish TV chef said his diabetes is stabilized due to the Food Hourglass theory and he claims to have lost almost 8 kg (17 pounds) as a result.


Honestly, I am fascinated by the theory, but I have some issues. I do love a good steak with fries, an oven-baked pizza, a bowl of spagbol with lots of grated mozzarella, cupcakes/ muffins, cakes (chiffon, pound, Sarawak kek lapis), and the “bad” list goes on….


Oops! There goes my fountain of youth! LOL!


BUT… I will not stop baking this light and gorgeous Banana Bread.


I’m linking this post to the Little Thumbs Up (March 2015 – BANANA) event organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids)and Mui (my little favourite DIY) and hosted by Faeez of BitterSweetSpicy.



Homemade Mondays week 123 hosted by Sarah of Frugal by Choice, Cheap by NecessityAubrey of Homegrown & Healthy and Kelly from The Sustainable Couple 

Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking

Cook-Your-Books #21 @ Kitchen Flavours 

Tasty Tuesdays with HonestMum

Have a great week!


I don’t recall having lots of snowy winters in Belgium, and if there were, then they came at the least expected moments, rarely during the Christmas season. I have been in Belgium for almost 20 years and I have experienced, perhaps, once or twice of white landscapes between Christmas and the New Year.

Last month was rather mild with 2-digit temperatures of 11or 12 degrees Celsius, hence “too hot” for snowfalls, however, snow DID fall only for one day when the mercury dropped to minus 2 degrees Celsius on Sunday, 28th Dec 2014. And that’s about it! Now that we have flipped the calendar to another brand new year, we have also experienced lots of chilly weather the past three weeks.

Last weekend, Belgium woke up to an amazingly beautiful white landscape. The air was so fresh, the snow so white, crisp, light and fluffy to the touch. I was glad it snowed on Friday night leaving a picturesque landscape on Saturday. Here were some photos I took of our back and front yards.


A Temporary Hermit and a Frugal Lunch

Actually I had planned to do some shopping on Saturday morning, but with such cold weather, I had to retract my plan. I became a weekend “hermit”, hibernating in my warm cocoon instead. Did I like it? Of course I LOVED it!

Coincidentally, I received a text message from a girlfriend asking me what my favourite warm winter dish is. I have lots, but looking at the fact that it’s cold outside, a warm soupy dish makes the best comfort food.

Okay, it was a weekend. My pantry was running low of fresh vegetables and meats. Hmmmm…… what to eat? I opened the fridge and there was a bag of beansprouts I bought earlier in the week and half a daikon. I went downstairs to our cellar and opened the deep freezer. Lo and behold, a bag of frozen prawns and another packet of fishballs were staring at me. I smiled gleefully and knew immediately what I could conjure from all the available main ingredients.

And by the way, I always have reserved packets of noodles or pastas in my kitchen cupboard. They come in REALLY handy. And boy was I glad I still had a packet of bee hoon or rice sticks or rice vermicelli or rice noodle or whatever-way-you-want-to-call-it noodle that day.

And here’s the result of our frugally yummy and comfy lunch, an all-in-one bowl Bee Hoon Soup.


As this was an impromptu, flash-in-the-pan kind of cooking, I have no measurements, but only guestimates, which is also my middle name.

Ingredients for the broth
• 1 big Onion pricked with 4 cloves
• 5 cloves of Garlic
• 2 sticks Lemon Grass
• Kaffir Lime Leaves
• Ginger
• Star Anise
• Black Peppercorns
• Half a daikon (washed, peeled and cut in chunks)
• Water (pure guestimate for 4 eating adults plus a bit more for extra helpings)
• Chicken Stock Cube (if this was a planned dish, make your own chicken broth or vegetable stock)
• Salt and pepper to taste

• Bean Sprouts (top and tail)
• Coriander (or any fresh herbs of your choice. I happened to have some wilted coriander in my fridge that day…)
• Spring Onions (I always have these in the fridge. Remove the slimy brown bits and julienne them)
• Carrot (for colour – julienned)
• Frozen prawns (thawed, cleaned, deveined and boiled in small amount of water with half a stock cube and freshly milled black pepper. Set cooked prawns aside. Pour the cooked water from the prawns into the broth)
• Frozen fishballs (these can be added to the broth while simmering)
• 1 packet Bee Hoon (blanched in hot water or according to instruction)

• Hot Chilli Flakes
• Sesame Oil
• Shaoxing Wine (or any type of cooking wine or Whisky)
• Lemon Juice
• A dash of Brown Sugar, to taste
• Salt and Pepper, to taste

What was nice about this dish was it was an all-in-one-pot cooking. Just let the broth simmer away. Your kitchen will smell deliciously herby.


The soup is ready when you are absolutely sure of the flavour, taste and the right level of saltiness you want to scoop onto the bowl of Bee Hoon. Please note the blanched Bee Hoon is very, very bland on its own, hence, the soup or broth can do with a lot more seasonings. Be warned!

What I did to lift up the taste of my bowl of flash-in-the-pan Bee Hoon Soup was concocting a condiment to round up our Saturday “warm” winter dish. I must say, it was out-of-this-world, simple, yet delightfully delicious meal. My guys were completely bowled over. The warm broth combined with the extra heat from the homemade condiment almost instantly unclogged my older son’s stuffy nose. And mine, too. *sniffles* 😀


Luckily, I had the foresight to cook more broth and not just for 4 servings because my sons had second helpings!

I’m submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up, organised by Doreen of my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids. The January 2015 LTU theme is “Noodles and Pasta” hosted by Anne from My Bare Cupboard


I am also linking this post to The Great Britsh Store Cupboard: Cooking with Herbs Challenge – January 2015


I came across Sarah’s blog, Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity by chance. I love her sense of humour and her motto “live a champagne life on a sparkling cider budget“. Exactly what her blog is about. So here I am, linking my post to Homemade Mondays – Week 116 hosted by Sarah of Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity, Aubrey of Homegrown and Healthy and co-hosted by Kelly of The Sustainable Couple

Stay warm!