Coming Soon: Personal Tips and Curated Recipes

As I myself hate anything long-winded, overly-positive or excitable, I will try to keep this short, sweet and informative. After some thinking, I have decided to monetise a few documents which I have been working hard on, and will soon put together properly. The reasons will be elaborated a little more in my newsletter, so if you have not already, definitely sign up for updates and details, including date of release (sign-up link is stuck to the top of the blog).

I hesitated for a long time to monetise anything on here. As many of my long-time readers know, the only things I did monetise were my mini local catering business which I was forced to suspend during the ongoing pandemic, and a thin book I published years ago. That said, after years of blogging, dabbling in recipe creation, photography and now balancing academia with other facets of life, I feel it would be crazy to continue blogging without sharing any of the invaluable information about things I learned during my PhD (on the link between gut health and mental health) and life in general, alongside some recipes I have never disclosed before, that have contributed to the optimisation of my work-life balance and health, despite the occasional depressive or anxious episode. I say this after helping an Oxford friend and even someone at home in Singapore with my recommendations, too.

I used to receive messages on my (now-inactive) Instagram account, about how I stay ‘fit, slim and healthy’ despite my love for baking. I responded with eat in moderation and enjoy sweets once in a while, but I knew deep down that there is so much more to it than just that. It also slightly saddens me that most of us still equate health with very specific formulas and sizes. Now, I feel ready to share my story of health-related ups and downs, tips, as well as additional insider recipes which have stuck with me through years of blogging.

How will it work?

You simply have to click on the tab in the side menu entitled ‘curated recipes and holistic guide‘. There will be 3 documents I will share (as of now):

  1. A guide to a balanced lifestyle and my signature recipes outside my baking hobby, including some personal and specific tips which have helped me tremendously over the years, for balance and overall wellbeing despite loving my sugar. I will include tips and tricks derived from my own self-help experimentation and personal epiphanies*
  2. A curated selection of 10 of my go-to simple breakfast and brunch recipes, with vegan substitutions
  3. A curated selection of 10 fusion recipes, which will also have vegan substitutions

*To make clear, this is not a definitive health guide. This little guide will contain some tips which work well for me and have done so for others, but nothing is restricted and no rules are advocated. You also get recipes and fun stuff inside, not a boring book on how often to eat a doughnut.

And why are these documents special? How are the recipes different from the ones on your blog?

More information about what will be included in the guide will be shared via my newsletter, including some personal health routines I stick to and what is the ideal drink to go with this particular french toast.

Despite being in the health sciences, I will not share anything too specifically health or science-related, because there are too many similar eBooks and such out there, and I acknowledge my current role as a doctorate student who is not warranted to give out any professional advice like a doctor or ‘life coach’ is able to. I provide something a little more all-encompassing, criss-crossed with some specific ideas and personal tidbits that I have never shared online before.

If you have been following this blog for a while, you would know I am always willing to offer recipes for free. Yet, some of the curated recipes I will share are veiled with a hint of secrecy and history, the sort my mum will tell me ‘not to share’, but now seem ready to show themselves. Further, the holistic guide includes some personal anecdotes which I have never shared online before, not even on my previous Instagram account or newsletter, derived from my own experience and research. Every free alexcrumb recipe, blogpost and newsletter is a product of my own experimentation, my heart and soul, so any support will be appreciated.

Stay tuned,

Alex

Soft Matcha Cookies

The first of 2021, and the first of many to come. This cookie has a beauty that one must taste to find, much like how you have to look closer at someone to realise the delicate point of a nose or dual-toned eyes. A soft, even-toned cookie, the silent, good kid at the front of the classroom. An experiment born from the convenient coincidence of craving something simple and light, while lacking ingredients to make something more complex anyway. It is plain, without even a hint of vanilla. Just the slightly bitter, grassy notes of matcha laced into a cookie, sugar still painted with the earth from which it came.

Some brief German sightseeing over the festive period while going walkabout

I think I won over my boyfriend’s housemates with these soft, mildly chewy matcha cookies. Matcha is not a huge deal here in Germany, much unlike the overly priced matcha lattés you find in almost every café in London or Singapore. The amount of matcha powder added is just right for 12 small-medium cookies, about the same amount needed to make a potent cup of matcha tea.

Recently I re-discovered this matcha powder, which I first used 2 years ago after being introduced to it here in Germany. It is sharp and earthy enough, and works brilliantly in tea or baking, while being extremely affordable. Highly recommend.

Look at those juice insides. I hope you like these delicate, delicious matcha cookies as much as I do.

Soft and Chewy Matcha Cookies

Ingredients (makes about 12 small cookies)

1 tsp matcha powder

165g plain flour

Pinch salt

1 tsp baking powder

165g white sugar

113g soft butter (vegan substitution: same amount of vegan butter/margarine)

1 egg (vegan substitution: 2 flax eggs– mix 2 tbsp ground flaxseed with 5 tbsp water in a small bowl and set that aside to gel for 2-3 minutes before using)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 190C and line a baking tray with baking paper. You may need two baking trays if yours are thin or small.

In a large bowl, cream together the soft butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, using a whisk or spatula. I used a metal fork and then switched to a rubber spatula to really work the two into each other. This will take 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the pinch of salt and the egg.

Place a sieve over this bowl and sieve in the flour, baking powder and matcha powder. Using a rubber spatula, fold in your dry ingredients until you get a smooth, playdoh-like consistency. It may be easier to use your hands towards the end. It should be soft and pliable, the dough holding together easily when squeezed, neither too dry nor too sticky and wet.

Roll small balls of dough with your hands and place the balls on your prepared baking tray. You should get around 10-12 balls. Slightly flatten the tops with two fingers. The cookies will not spread much, so you do not have to worry about placing the cookies far apart. Bake them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and let them cool for another 10 before serving. Best served plain, with black coffee.

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Peanut Butter Banana Marshmallow Grilled Sandwich

Having woken up from a deep heady nap that lasted all of 1 hour, I finally feel motivated to share this. Sometimes I get ideas that I know may have been attempted before or seem too simple to write about, but even these should never be left behind, especially if they taste this good. I struggle to remember that it’s not about whether your idea has been attempted before, it’s about how well you do it.

I recently read an article about why people with anxiety or depression should not be eating processed, inflammatory foods so as not to increase inflammation in the body- one of the root causes underlying the mechanisms of neurological disease is inflammation. I have always known this, and would not stir at the accusation of me being something of a hypocrite, waxing lyrical the good fortune of nutrition and a plant-based diet, while I myself write lengthy blogposts about sugar. I understand, I do, but having experienced the terrifying nature of what restricting entire food groups can do to my own health (orthorexic tendencies, heightened anxiety in social situations centred around a meal), and trying to cut out sugar entirely many times, I know that such drastic measures do not cut it, at least for me. Which is why I promote these recipes not to promote diabetes, but rather a sense of moderation, to let people know that yes, it’s ok to have this cookie once in a while, and you won’t die. And of course you can whip out the stevia or trivia as substitutions if that suits you better…

Sandwich time. Speaking specifically about toasties, I ate these regularly in primary school, and was relieved to not have to pack lunch in high school because God forbid I got another one. Only kids eat these anyway, right? Yet, squidged between my regular Asian lunches of mixed economy rice, I found myself buying the occasional (tuna mayo) sandwich. Then university rolled round. One of my close friends offered to share his delicious-smelling toastie with me. I reluctantly tried the deceivingly simple concoction of cheese and tomato, and could not help the wave of nostalgia rippling through my body as I sunk my teeth into the pressed, golden bread, glossy on the underside with the perfect hit of mayonnaise, and I do feel that mayonnaise is the underdog in a lot of classic favourites. Here I replicate something similar for the sweet tooth- you can do this in a toastie maker of course, but I decided to do it on a stovetop for adaptability.

Why not jazz it up by pressing a croissant with the same combination too?

Ah, an unreal crisp. Golden, buttery bread giving way to a soft, goo-on-goo inside. Once again, so simple, such child’s play. And yet, so satisfying. Given the pandemic and all the political nonsense in the world now, it feels good and right to return to what grounded us as children- a safe and familiar haven. As humans we like to seek out patterns and familiarity, to some degree. This may be an element of that. Little things like making toasties and sharing them with coffee may even help us rewire our brains for positivity and excitement.

Note: you can use bread that is not white of course, but white toasting bread is usually the optimal shape for toastie making, readily absorbing the melted butter that you brush on top and letting the heat penetrate its pores when the toastie maker is ready.

Peanut butter Marshmallow Toastie

*indicates a vegan or gluten-free substitution that will be mentioned below the recipe

Ingredients

2 thick slices of white bread*

1 tbsp butter*

2 tbsp peanut butter

half a banana, sliced

handful of marshmallows, each sliced in half*

*vegan sub: use vegan butter or vegetable oil instead of butter (I suggest staying away from avocado oil as the flavour is too strong and will overwhelm the rest of the flavours). Use vegan marshmallows instead of regular marshmallows.

*gluten-free sub: use gluten-free bread

Directions

Take one slice of bread and spread one side with butter. Repeat with the other slice of bread (around 0.5 tbsp butter on each slice). If you’re using a toastie maker, use slightly less butter. Make sure your butter is soft before spreading. Then spread 1 tbsp of peanut butter on the other side of each slice of bread. Now have your two slices facing you with the peanut butter sides facing upwards. Put the banana slices on one slice of bread and the cut marshmallows on the other. Then sandwich the bread slices so that the banana and marshmallows face each other on the inside of the sandwich.

Heat your pan on medium heat and press the sandwich down. Use a spatula to press it. After around 4 minutes check the underside of the sandwich with your spatula- it should be golden-brown and the marshmallows should look melty. Flip the sandwich over and press down again. Cook for another two minutes. The banana should be soft and the peanut butter and marshmallows should be soft and melty. Cut whichever way you want and enjoy alone or with a strong coffee.