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If you’re looking for a quick, easy, extremely versatile cake that is always delicious and can be super healthy, indulgent, allergy friendly or even a diabetics delight then this is the cake for you.

Let me give it to you straight, this cake will not win you first prize at the Easter Show but it will win you some major brownie points at home.

This is a wonderful recipe that i use for whipping up either a cake for myself and my friends or some mini muffins for my one year old son. Yep, that’s right, i can make a “cake” so healthy that i am happy to feed it to my baby. How do i do this?

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – and all you need is a bowl, a mixing implement and an oven – oh, and a cup measure is handy too!

Let me preface this recipe by saying that  i absolutely never use a whole cup of sugar ( actually i rarely use sugar at all), but feel free to make your own decisions based on the cake you choose to bake – that’s the beauty of this recipe.

The basic premise is this:

  1. 1 cup flour
  2. 1 cup cereal
  3. 1 cup wet ingredients (egg, milk, yogurt, ricotta etc)
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. 1 cup fruit

Mix all ingredients and bake in an oven at about 180C (or 160C fan forced). Keep an eye on this and adjust the temperature and time depending on your oven and the ingredients you have used.

It’s that simple. Really.

The person who bakes a fair bit and has that basic baking common sense will understand how to change the recipe to suit themselves. The rest of us, myself included, will sometimes need a bit of a helping hand, and for those people here are few things i have learned about each component of this recipe:

  1. FLOUR: If you don’t have self-raising flour, just use plain flour and add a teaspoon of baking powder. I also add more baking powder if i think the cake is a bit heavy and needs help rising.
  2. CEREAL: I generally use quick cooking oats as they cook well and you can’t see or taste them in the final product. You could also use Just Right, All Bran, Muesli or any combination of cereal you like. You could even use coconut or substitute some nuts if you like.
  3. WET INGREDIENTS: Take your measuring cup and just fill it up to the 1 cup mark with whatever you would like. Usually i use a mixture of skim milk and yogurt. If i want a better quality cake then i may use a mixture of 1 egg, melted butter and some milk. If you’re dairy intolerant then try soy milk. If you want something a bit different then try half milk, half ricotta.
  4. SUGAR: As i mentioned, i never use a whole cup of sugar, especially if the cake is for kids or babies. In fact, you can leave this component out of the cake all together. If you use flavoured yogurt or sweet apples or banana then you won’t even miss the sugar. I mostly add just a tablespoon of honey, golden syrup or maybe a quarter cup of brown sugar. If you do want the sugar but not the calories then try a sugar replacement.
  5. FRUIT: This is the really fun part! You can use fresh, tinned or dried fruit. Each will give you a different textured cake. You can even add nuts, coconut or grated vegetables for a savoury muffin. Mix it up a bit, try half a cup of one fruit and half of another with a few nuts thrown in. Just be sure not to add nuts to the kids muffins!

A few ideas to get you started:

  • Grated carrot, apple and walnuts with egg, milk and butter
  • Mashed banana and sultanas with milk and butter replacement (like rice bran oil or nuttelex)
  • Chopped red apple with milk and yogurt
  • Dried apricots, raisins, pinenuts and grated apple with muesli and yogurt
  • banana with brown sugar, butter and full cream milk
  • Chocolate chips and raspberries with cream and milk
  • Strawberries and ricotta

Choose the flavours you like or use whatever you have in the cupboard – happy baking!

Feeding a baby is difficult, however you choose to do it and although i am a big supporter of breastfeeding i make no judgment on the way others choose to feed their babies – whatever their reasons. Each person’s choice must be the right one for them and their family and it’s not open to inspection or judgment from anyone else. It’s for this reason that i thought everyone should mind their own business about my frequently feeding and regularly grumpy baby.

At six months my son still did not sleep through the night, in fact we had just been through about a month or so of hourly waking and only just managed to return to 3 hour sleeps at night (Woohoo!!!). It was at this point in time that people became surprised that i was still breastfeeding, and i was surprised at their surprise. He was fragile, helpless, he could not walk, talk, chew food – or even swallow more than a few spoons of puree or rice cereal without regurgitating – but he was expected to be holding his own bottle full of formula and sleeping all night on his own in his cot without any human contact…it didn’t make sense to me.

At nine months there was a definite shift. He slowed down his feeding and was eating more ‘real’ food and sometimes sleeping 6 or even 8 hours on his own but to my surprise my breastfeeding was now deemed not only inappropriate but unbelievable. My own best friend even remarked “how long are ya gonna be doin’ that for?” and the most popular one “what about when he gets teeth?”

Well, he has 2 teeth and just the same as i have taught him not to touch the oven and not to bang on the tv i have taught him not to use his teeth on me… by the power of the word NO!

Now that he is 12 months and i am still going it seems as though i begin speaking Swahili when i dare to utter the phrase “I’m still breastfeeding”. Somehow people go deaf or just simply don’t understand and i get replies of “what?” “sorry?” “STILL!” and my favourite, the ever quizzical “Ohhh…” followed by an uncomfortable silence.

It’s really a shame that breastfeeding isn’t the norm since all the evidence seems to overwhelmingly support this natural option. The World Heath Organisation even recommend breastfeeding until at least 2 and state that the worldwide average for weaning a child is 4 years but i’m not here to preach, just to share my story and hopefully discover a kindred spirit or two along my journey.

Of all the friends, family and general public opinions i have come across that are surprised and bewildered in my choice to breastfeed i can unequivocally say that there is just as much, if not more, support for me to continue and this comes in the form of The Australian Breastfeeding Association, local hospitals,  family care cottages, local midwives, early childhood centres and anywhere you see a ‘breastfeeding friendly’ sticker.

I respect a person’s right to choose and in return i make my own choices.One day i’ll stop breastfeeding… one day…

As a mother i feel the urge to ensure my baby is properly nourished. I choose to do this by feeding him breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I also choose to breastfeed.  When i began breastfeeding him as a newborn ,a whole year ago, it was expected and considered normal. No one commented or gave us funny looks if i was feeding him. I had a newborn, he was hungry, i fed him and that was that.

He was breastfed at cafes, restaurants, bus stops, parents rooms and sadly i also fed him in a few public toilets. I promised myself i would not be ashamed to feed my baby anywhere anytime but sitting opposite 3 elderly men in a doctors waiting room and in a crowded bowling club with my grandmother and all the other elderly people was too much for me. It wasn’t their fault, it was mine, i was too self conscious. I wish now that i hadn’t been. I wish that i’d had the strength and assertiveness to simply feed my baby, or at least move to a different chair so i would feel more comfortable. I wasn’t really prepared for how self conscious i would be with my breasts in the public arena and my baby was never comfortable with his face covered up – and why should he be?

When he hit 3 months it was still considered fairly normal to be breastfeeding but I had a somewhat ‘windy’ or ‘colicky’ baby who regularly appeared unsettled and would feed often, sometimes up to 10 or 12 times a day. This led others to the conclusion that he was obviously always hungry and needed either solids or a bottle of formula and once i was even told by an 80 year old woman to “feed him a chop!”  To all these people i simply replied that my son was breastfed and if he needed an extra feed or a top-up then that’s what he got. Regardless of my sleepless nights i was very determined.

At one stage we went through what i now know was reflux and he was waking hourly, even at night. When i took him to the doctor she suggested i switch him to an anti-reflux formula. When i told her that i was still breastfeeding she didn’t know what to recommend…in the end she suggested a food thickener in some expressed breastmilk, but it didn’t work. After reading the whole internet (seriously!) and using my powers of deduction and motherly intuition i decided it could be an intolerance to cow proteins found in milk and other dairy products. I went off dairy and the reflux stopped.

I guess i just felt that i was constantly justifying my choice to breastfeed and that the bottle-feeding Mums had it easy – after all no one offered them advice if they fed their baby a bottle and then offered them more after another hour or so, but if i did the same with my breasts then there must be something askew. Of course now i know i had it wrong. My realisation came when my first Australian Breastfeeding Association magazine arrived and i found that women who didn’t breastfeed often had feelings of inadequacy, guilt and constant justification, not to mention the constant barrage of washing, sterilising, boiling, measuring and the extra money needed to buy formula.

Neither group seemed to have it easy and i concluded that feeding a baby is hard work, no matter how you do it.

Well, i was enjoying feeding my baby, no matter how hard it was. I knew that either option would have its difficulties and i had made my choice, but i wasn’t sure for how long…

This is my very first entry on my first blog… I’ve been toying with the idea for a few months now and couldn’t decide if it was simply a way for me to procrastinate a little longer over the things i really must be doing with my life or if it was actually a worthwhile experience in expanding my life, only time (and many procrastinated hours later) will tell.

Over the past year or so  i will admit that i feel like i have slipped a little. Although i have undertaken what could possibly be called one of life’s biggest challenges – motherhood – i have also become blissfully unaware of life outside my glorious little bubble of existence. I used to live my life on the very outskirts of my bubble, demanding admittance to the bubbles of others and frequently bursting the bubbles of those that had become trapped and seemingly listless. Now i understand that sometimes people are actually happy within their bubbles. These things take time, patience and care to build. They often contain what we find most valuable and fragile within our lives and i think people become scared to explore further or share what’s in their bubble for fear of bursting.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m not complaining, i love my little bubble with all my heart and soul. Within it is a mix of family, friends, a one year old boy, a wonderful husband, many cooking adventures.  Its taken much time and energy to prepare and create this safe and beautiful oasis and i have reveled in it for many months now and whilst i do not wish to burst my bubble i do wish to expand it, invite people in and also pop in and out a bit more.

It sickens me to admit it, but husband and I are a perfect pair, each making up for the others shortcomings. He is my rock and i am his rocky-road, he is the bread and i am the milk. Together we compliment each other and with our new addition we make a not-so-neat little tripod. Our son is a great big ball of active and alert energy. He is certainly not, and nor has he ever been, the lay down, chill out, eat & sleep kind of baby i had envisaged. He is however an absolute delight, but who doesn’t say that about their own children, and i can honestly say that i have not missed a moment of his first year. I can honestly say that because i am quite sure i was awake for most of it. Although it was hard, it was also amazing and he has taught me a lot about my about myself, i would not trade it for anything…except maybe eight hours of uninterrupted sleep…

Retrospectively i suppose the blog could have been titled Milk, Bread & Eggs to include our son and any other additions we make to our family in the future, but to me the phrase “Milk&Bread” says all i need it to. It represents the basics of family life, the joys of feeding a baby, the delights of cooking a meal and the so-called “bringing home the bacon”! Its tradition vs new age philosophy. It questions the common gender stereotypes and the boundaries (if any) of femininity and it’s all tested by someone who has always considered herself kind of a feminist and who is now a stay at home.

…thus represents my bubble, my wonderful little bubble that will expand more and more each day with new adventures in family life, cooking, teaching, working and hopefully much, much more.

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