Happy 1 year Anniversary Maple Tulips! The month of May marks one year since I first pressed publish on Maple Tulips. Over the past year I have published a collection of posts ranging from Canadian, Dutch, Portuguese, Irish, French and Italian cooking including breakfasts, brunches, dinners and desserts. There has been a little bit of everything with the inclusion of family celebrations and holidays throughout the year. It has been an enjoyable adventure which I plan on continuing. So what should you expect from the next year of Maple Tulips ….
Some of the most enjoyable and also most popular blog posts have been the cake baking blogs. My blog post on Bolo de Laranja (Portuguese Orange Cake) is one of the top posts on the blog and also a favourite of mine. On a recent family holiday to Portugal, I made the orange cake using Portuguese ingredients, including massive navel oranges, which proved to be much sweeter and juicier than the ones available in Ireland.
I love baking and I especially love baking with fruit as is evident from my baking posts which also include Dutch Apple Cake, Tarte au Citron and Jalousie aux Pommes. I believe that home baking is a much healthier alternative to store-bought processed foods that are readily available. Through my baking I have also become increasingly aware of the quantities of refined sugar and flour that go in to making delicious cakes and I am keen to find even healthier ways to bake. That being said, I am not a fan of what I would describe as health food bakes. Desserts that are stripped of all their sweetness and packed full of dates and nuts instead with no dairy, no eggs and no flour. That’s just not my brand of baking. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at the dessert section of the Happy Pear cookbook. Those two lads are fantastic at making heart healthy dinners and salads but they obviously don’t enjoy dessert.
I think I have found a solution to my healthy baking dilemma so that I can bake my cake and eat it too. I have recently invested in a new baking book called Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose. It seems to be a happy medium when it comes to baking with traditional baking recipes that include eggs and dairy but with healthier flours and natural sweeteners. Amber is a New Zealand native who utilises ingredients like honey, maple syrup and fruit to naturally sweeten her cakes as an alternative to refined white sugar. She also uses spelt, buckwheat, rye and nut flours as an alternative to refined white flour. I already experimented with using spelt flour in pizza dough earlier this year so I am keen to try this in baking. The cakes and desserts in her book are just as mouth-watering and delicious looking as the ones in my Rachel Allen Bake cookbook, so I am keen to see if they taste as good as they look and I will be sharing my baking with you on the blog.
I have also used my blog to explore different cultures through cooking. After vacationing in Portugal numerous times, I have developed an interest in Portuguese food and desserts. On my most recent trip to Portugal I purchased a Portuguese Cataplana. It is a copper cooking pot shaped like two clam shells that are hinged together. The cataplana is a Portuguese pressure cooker traditionally used along the Algarve for cooking seafood. It is traditionally used to cook dishes consisting of clams and pork. Since returning home I have used it to cook Irish mussels in a seafood and chorizo Bouillabaisse. It seems like the perfect item for cooking local Irish seafood and I plan to feature it on the blog again this year with more seafood recipes.
The past year of cooking and blogging has given me a lot of time to focus on food and healthy eating as well as to explore the world of food blogging and eating trends. I have come to the conclusion that my approach to food is one of health but primarily one of balance. I am not someone who excludes entire food groups in the name of healthy eating, instead I am someone who includes as many healthy foods in my diet as possible while reducing foods that aren’t as healthy in an attempt to find balance.
My approach to food is one of nourishment for the mind, body and soul. I believe that healthy cooking using fresh whole foods should nourish your body, create enjoyment for your soul and avoid wreaking havoc on your mind by adhering to strict rules. I think healthy eating should also be complemented by a healthy mind-set and life style. These are both things that I try to achieve through the practice of mindfulness meditation and yoga. Over the next year, I hope to bring some more elements of my mind body approach to health and well-being to the blog. I have also picked up another book by Amber Rose and two other women Sadie Frost and Holly Davidson called Nourish: Mind, Body and Soul which speaks of a holistic approach to caring for yourself through good eating, well-being and exercise. This speaks to my approach to health and wellness and I look forward to sharing their advice through the blog.
I have decided to further develop my interest in whole foods cooking and healthy eating by taking a Diploma course in Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching through the Institute of Health Sciences. I am interested in expanding my knowledge on health and nutrition for myself and my family as well as utilising my interest in health and cooking to start a career as a nutritional and lifestyle coach. Throughout the course of my studies, I will be sharing my new found knowledge on health and nutrition through my blog.
Lastly, Maple Tulips is now on Facebook so please like my page.