Thursday, 19 December 2013

Larb Moo (Pork Salad)

Well, isn't Christmas just the biggest time sucker of the year! I feel as though I have been sorely neglecting this blog and instead spending loads of time stuck in traffic and running around town tracking down that 'one last present' for the random person you forgot about or that difficult relative that you put off until the last second! 

On the plus side, I think I am finally done, and there is a mountain of presents stacked under the tree waiting for delivery to the various receivers which will be a trickle effect over the coming week as we catch up with all of our family and friends. This is the fun part that makes it all worthwhile! 

I am going to put aside the dishes, the rest of the wrapping, folding the washing…oh, and sleep!… to quickly pop up this recipe for a thai Larb Moo (Pork Salad). We were having a hectic day the other day and I had some pork mince and not a lot of time, not to mention it was a blazing hot day and the humidity must have been closing in on 100% so it was not the time for an intensive or heavy meal. I was in the mood for something light, tasty and fast, so salad it was to be. 

I didn't add any chilli to my Larb as I was serving it to the kids, but I will put it in the recipe (optional of course) as it does round out that flavor balance that makes Thai food taste so good. The secret is in getting the right balance of sweet, sour, salt and spice so the addition of chill, even just a small amount, can really give you a total taste explosion. Traditionally, this dish is made with chicken mince, so you can easily use that instead, or any mince you like. I have also used less traditional vegetables in the salad, purely based on what we had in the fridge and what I know the family will eat. You can decide which vegetables are going to work for you.

Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free and can be made within 30 minutes…the perfect week night speed-meal!



Larb Moo

Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:
500g Pork Mince (or any mince of your choice - chicken also works very well and is the traditional choice)
1tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp lemongrass, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 fresh red chill, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup blanched broccoli
1 carrot, cut in half lengthways then thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 cups baby spinach, wilted
1 cup fresh coriander, roughly torn
1/4 cup fresh mint, roughly torn
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, cut in half lengthways then thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients (broccoli, carrot, spinach, coriander, mint, spring onion, and cucumber).
2. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, fish sauce and oil. Mix well to combine, then pour over the salad. Toss the salad well to combine the dressing.
3. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the coconut oil. 
4. Add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chill and cook whilst stirring until the aromas are released. 
5 Add the pork and cook for about 5 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the heat. 
6. On a large serving plate, place the salad. Top with the pork mixture, then garnish with fresh coriander or mint. 

Enjoy!

x


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Brandy Truffles - Adults only!

Here's one for the grown-ups! I know that by adding brandy to these truffles it is not strictly clean eating, as alcohol shouldn't really feature heavily in a clean diet, but it's xmas! And brandy truffles are so very festive! Other than the small amount of brandy though, these are moist, decadent truffles that are totally clean and very addictive. You could substitute the brandy for orange juice or coffee. 

I borrowed the base ingredients for this recipe from the huckleberry farm newsletter, which was originally from www.nomnomnosh.com - and was instantly addicted. The recipe is for a brownie, but I decided to make it into truffles for that christmasy vibe. The recipe is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free and uses only a small amount of coconut sugar to add sweetness (although you can use any sweetener you like). 


Raw Chocolate Brandy Truffles

Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free

Ingredients:
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup cacao powder
2 tbsp coconut sugar (or your choice of sweetener - dates would work well)
2 tbsp cacao butter (you can buy this from most whole food stores - it is expensive, but you only need a small amount)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla extract, vanilla paste or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
zest of one orange
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Directions:
1. In a blender or food processor, blend the almonds until a coarse flour forms. 
2. Over a low heat, bring a small pot filled with a little water to a gentle simmer. Place a heatproof bowl over the pot and gently melt the coconut oil and cacao butter. 
3. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for dessicated coconut and mix well to combine. 
4. Take heaped teaspoons of mixture and roll into balls. Place the coconut onto a small plate. Drop the balls into the coconut and roll gently to coat. 
5. Place the balls into the fridge or freezer to set. 

Enjoy!

x

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Chocolate Brownie Santa Hats and Roasted Herby Mixed Nuts

The christmas cooking, tasting, planning and eating has begun! I have started to trial a few homemade christmas treats and gifts. The first on the production line was Chocolate Brownie Santa Hats for an early christmas picnic to celebrate with hubby's stepsister who won't be able to make it to the big family celebration. These were a hit with the kids in particular, and are gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free and free of refined sugar. The best part is that these are really easy to make, and utilize the gorgeous fresh strawberries that are in abundance at this time of year.


Chocolate Brownie Santa Hats

Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar

Directions: 
These santa hats are really just a combination of 2 super easy recipes - Chocolate Brownie Bites (recipe adapted from http://www.health-bent.com/treats/paleo-brownie-cake-bites), and my totally addictive Homemade Coconut Butter

Bake the brownie bites and allow to cool. If you don't have coconut butter already made, whip up a batch while you are waiting for the brownies to cook. The coconut butter will need to be firmish so that it doesn't run everywhere when you put it on top of the brownies (as mine started to a little as you can see in the photo). 

Take the green stem off of 15 medium sized strawberries. Once the brownies are cooled, put a dollop of coconut butter on top (you may have to use a sharp knife to level the tops if they are not flat enough for a strawberry to sit on). On top of the coconut butter, place a strawberry. Either serve straight away, or if you are waiting, place in the fridge. This will keep the strawberries cool and also allow for the coconut butter to set (the heat at this time of year can make it soften quite easily!).



The next recipe I have been putting together today is a big tray of these incredibly moreish Roasted Herby Mixed Nuts. Yum! I put together a mix of raw nuts, added oil and freshly chopped herbs, and roasted gently. I then place them in a small glass jar with a Christmas bow, and voila - yummy homemade christmas gift! You can use any mix of nuts that you like. These nuts are not only a great gift, but would also be an ideal addition to your pre-dinner snacks for your christmas party.


Roasted Herby Mixed Nuts

Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:

1/2 a cup each of any combination of raw nuts (I used cashews, hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts).
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (I used half thyme, half rosemary. You can use dried if you don't have fresh available)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
a couple of grinds of black pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 150C. Line a cookie tray (with slight sides) with baking paper.
2. In a medium bowl, place all of the nuts and the oil and mix to combine.
3. In a small bowl, combine the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Tip the herb mix into the nuts and mix well to ensure a nice even coating.
5. Place in the oven, and cook until light golden brown (about 10-15 minutes, but keep a close eye on them as they can turn quite easily.

If you are making as a gift, allow the nuts to cool, then place into a small jar and tie a christmas themed ribbon.

Enjoy!

x

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Grilled Prawns with Fish Fingers and Avocado Dipping Sauce

One of the best things about summer is the delicious seafood and those long lazy evenings with a big plate of fresh morsels. The hot weather means that a meal of seafood and fresh crisp vegetables is all that's needed for a gorgeous dinner. A couple of nights ago my very generous mother-in-law dropped off a parcel of banana prawns (also known as big humongous suckers!). We made a delicious meal by simply grilling the prawns on the BBQ Au Naturel and serving them with a garlic butter dipping sauce.

I also made fish fingers - snapper cut into chunks then coated in coconut flour and pan fried, served with an avocado dipping sauce. The meal was completed with blanched green vegetables and a big fresh garden salad. The perfect summer meal!

I borrowed the avocado dipping sauce recipe from a book called Quick and Easy Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield.






Grilled Banana Prawns with Fish Fingers and Dipping Sauces

Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:
10 large prawns (cleaned, then either left as is, or threaded onto skewers)
l large or 2 medium snapper fillets, cut into large chunks or 'fingers'
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
zest of half a lemon (optional)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil

25g butter or coconut oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and grated
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 avocado
juice of 1 lime or lemon
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil (optional, depending on how ripe your avocado is)

Directions:
1. Start by preparing your dipping sauces. In a small blender or food processor place the avocado, lime juice, garlic, mustard, pepper and salt. Blend until smooth and creamy. If the sauce is a little bit too thick, add a small amount of oil at a time until it becomes your preferred consistency (I didn't need to add any but it will be up to personal preference). Scoop the dip into a serving bowl and set aside.
2. In a small pot over a low heat, melt the butter and add the garlic and parsley. Once butter has melted, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Mix well to combine. Pour into a small serving bowl, and set aside.
3. To prepare the fish place coconut flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and lemon zest (if using) onto a large plate. Use a fork to blend the ingredients until well combined.  In a large frying pan, over a medium heat, heat 1 tbsp of the coconut oil. Take each piece of the fish that you have cut into chunks and toss it in the coconut flour mixture. Place into the hot pan. Repeat until half the fish is in the pan. Cook on one side until golden then flip and cook the other side until the fish is cooked through. Remove the fish from the pan and repeat the process with the other half of the fish pieces. You can do them all at one time, but I find they cook better if you don't overcrowd the pan. Place all the fish pieces on a large serving plate.
4. To cook the prawns, either cook on the BBQ on a medium heat for about 2-3 minutes each side, or grill on the stovetop if you don't want to use the BBQ.
5. Serve the meal with blanched green vegetables (we had asparagus and broccoli) and a fresh green salad (we used lettuce, tomato, cucumber and capsicum).

Enjoy!

x

Monday, 9 December 2013

Crispy Roast Chicken With Herb Butter, Cauliflower Mash and Vegetables

I'm pretty sure there must be a list out there somewhere that has the 'top 5 food cooking smells' on it, and somewhere on that list would have to be Roast Chicken…it's definitely up there with fried garlic and onions, hot baked bread, and bacon. 

This roast chicken was incredibly easy, and served with cauliflower mash, roast potatoes and carrots, and steamed broccoli, it was a delicious, nutritious meal that went down well with both hubby and the kids. Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free and with the option of dairy-free, this meal is a great midweek staple that will impress but truly takes very little work at all! Because I used a butterflied chicken, the chicken was cooked in about 35-40 minutes so it can easily be whipped up after a long day which there seem to be a lot of at this time of year!



Crispy Roast Chicken with Herb Butter, Cauliflower Mash and Vegetables


Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (either buy it butterflied, or butterfly it yourself by cutting through the back bone with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, and then flattening out. You could also cook it whole, but the cooking time will be longer).
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil (softened)
1/4 cup fresh or dried mixed herbs of your choice (I used fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and dried oregano)
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp butter, coconut oil or olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic, grated)
1/8 cup coconut milk or 1/4 cup coconut milk powder
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. In a small bowl, combine the butter, herbs, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 
3. Now for the messy part - using your fingers, gently separate the skin of the chicken from the flesh. You will create a pocket between the skin and flesh. Grab a lump of the butter and stuff it in the pocket. Massage the skin in order to spread the chicken around evenly under the skin. You will find that it will be on your fingers and some will ooze out, but this is a good thing - some of the butter mix on the outside will help to crisp up the skin. Repeat this process with both breast and both thighs - basically anywhere where there is thick flesh and skin that can be peeled off. 
4. Place the chicken in a roasting dish and cook for about 35-40 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy, and the juices run clear (pierce the chicken with a knife in the thickest part and allow some juice to escape. It should be clear with no pink to it).
5. Chop the chicken into quarters or rough chunks, depending on how many people you are serving.
6. Serve with Cauliflower Mash (see recipe), roast potatoes (or kumara), roast carrots and steamed greens

7. To make cauliflower mash, bring a pot of water to the boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, add cauliflower and cook until tender. Strain water, then add mustard, butter or oil, garlic and coconut milk. Mash well, or puree with a stick blender (I used this to make a really nice smooth mash, but you could also use a regular masher if you want a slightly more chunky mash). Season to taste


Friday, 6 December 2013

Cambodian Grilled Eggplant with Pork

I found a gorgeous recipe book in the library the other day called Authentic Cambodian Recipes. I am a sucker for the cooking section of the library, and even more so for books that are a little bit different and feature a type of cuisine or a style of cooking that is a break from the norm.

Always a sucker for eggplant, I soon honed in on this delicious sounding pork and eggplant. Light, fresh and delicious, the meal was super easy to make and was really smooth on the palate while still picking a flavor punch. Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, we served this with a fresh coleslaw for an easy Friday night dinner


Cambodian Pork and Eggplant with Asian Inspired Coleslaw

(Pork recipe borrowed and slightly adapted from Authentic Cambodian Recipes written by Sorey Lang with Kanika Linden)
Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

Pork and Eggplant - 
2 large eggplants
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
400g minced pork
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 eggs, beaten
handful of coriander, beaten

Coleslaw-
1 cup red cabbage, finely sliced
1 cup green cabbage, finely sliced
1 cup cos lettuce, finely sliced
1 tomato, cut into chunks
10cm length of cucumber, cut into matchsticks
4 carrots, peeled and grated
large handful of coriander, roughly torn
Juice of 2 limes (or lemons)
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated
salt to taste
pinch of white pepper
1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)

Directions:

Pork and eggplant -
1. Grill eggplants at 240C for 15 minutes until skin is dark and flesh is soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Peel skin and discard. Roughly chop the flesh and set aside.
2. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large frying pan. 
3. Add onions, garlic and pork. Cook until pork is just cooked through (5-10 minutes). Stir frequently to prevent from sticking to the pan.
4. Season the pork mix with the fish sauce and pepper
5. Add the eggplant and eggs to the pan. Mix ingredients well to combine then remove from the heat.
6. Serve immediately, garnished with plenty of fresh coriander. Serve with coleslaw (recipe below) and rice or cauliflower rice if desired.

Coleslaw-
1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbages, lettuce, tomato, carrots, cucumber and coriander.
2. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, honey, water, fish sauce, garlic, salt, pepper and chill. Mix well to combine
3. Pour dressing over the combined vegetables and toss well to combine.

Enjoy!

x




Thursday, 5 December 2013

Creamy Chicken and Mushroom with Kumara Mash

I have just arrived back from the oral surgeon for my pre-consultation for surgery to remove an impacted wisdom tooth - all booked and ready to roll for mid January! I am predicting I may be posting plenty of soup recipes that week! Thank goodness there was no availability before Xmas - can you imagine having to sit through xmas day eating soup and pureed apples while everyone else feasts on all the wonderful delicacies that Xmas has to offer!

It sounds really sad, but in a way I am almost looking forward to the day of surgery as the op itself is booked for first thing in the morning so I will be drowsy for the rest of the day and will be forced to sit, relax and do nothing at all but recover! I have visions of sitting propped up in bed, watching movies, reading books and taking naps whenever the mood takes me - A girl can dream right?!!

Last night for dinner we had a gluten free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free version of  Chicken Alfredo - minus the pasta! Delicious, creamy and full of flavor this is a dish you can modify in so many ways. I added spinach and bacon to the traditional chicken/onion/mushroom combo, and I served it with kumara mash instead of the traditional pasta. There are some really good gluten-free pastas now available on the market for anyone who likes to stick with the pasta option, and there is also the choice of kelp noodles or making zucchini noodles for those who are opting for grain-free but prefer to stick to a 'pasta-like' option.



Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:
800g Chicken Thighs, chopped
270ml coconut milk
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 cup spinach, rinsed well and roughly chopped
4 rashers bacon (optional), diced
4 cloves garlic, grated or finely diced
2 tbsp coconut flour or tapioca
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper to season

Directions:
1. In a large pan, heat oil over a medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned.
2. Add onions, garlic, bacon and mushrooms and cook until softened.
3. Add coconut milk, spinach and coconut flour (add a tbsp or 2 to the coconut flour to make a paste before adding to the pan). Simmer for 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Season to taste

Serve with kumara mash, roasted pumpkin chunks, and steamed vegetables (I did broccoli and carrots - very kid friendly!)

Note:
To make kumara mash, chop 1 large or 2 small kumara, and add to boiling water. Cook until soft, drain water. Add 1 tbsp coconut oil, butter or ghee, salt and pepper and 1 tsp wholegrain mustard. Mash or puree until smooth - I like mine with a few chunks still in it, but everyone has a different preference. If it seems a little thick, add a bit of almond or coconut milk and mix in well to thin it a little.

Enjoy!

x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Seafood Kebabs with Kumara Chunks, Green Salad and Kale Chips

A lovely light, fresh meal last night for dinner - these hot summer days (today NOT included!) are screaming out for seafood, salads and great vibrant flavors.


Seafood Kebabs

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:
1kg mixed seafood of your choice (I used scallops, salmon and terakihi) cut into bite size chunks where applicable
2 large zucchini, cut into halves lengthways, then thickly sliced
1 green capsicum, cut in half then, half in the other directions, then thickly sliced
juice of one large lemon
1 tbsp dried (or fresh) dill
2 cloves garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. Thread seafood and vegetables onto kebab skewers in any order you choose. Place on a large plate.
2. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, dill, garlic, salt and pepper
3. Pour lemon juice mixture over over kebabs and turn the kebabs over a few times to make sure they are all coated. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so (longer if you have the time, or cook straight away if not)
4. In a large frying pan, grill pan or on the BBQ, heat oil over a medium heat. Cook kebabs for around 2-3 minutes each side until the seafood is cooked through but still very tender. You can baste with any of the marinade juices left on the bottom of the plate.

Serve with roasted kumara chunks (cut kumara into chunks, coat in coconut oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper then roast for about 20 minutes), green salad and kale chips

Enjoy!

x

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Pumpkin Custard

Quick post to share the recipe for the pumpkin custard that I promised to all the Facebook followers yesterday. Today got away on me a little bit, but better late than never right?!

After making the delicious pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving over the weekend (if you missed it, here's the link) I had a few leftovers - a bit of pumpkin, a bit of coconut milk and a bowl of egg yolks left over from something else I had made earlier in the week (can't even remember what it was).

I hate to waste food, so the mission was on to create something that would use up all of the ingredients. This little number can be eaten as a dessert custard (I added a tsp of coconut sugar to the top and placed it under the grill to turn it into a creme brûlée style custard), added to breakfast for a nutritious and filling way to start the day, or omit the sweetener and it can be a savoury side dish for a dinner meal.


Pumpkin Custard/ Brûlée

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar

Ingredients:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Optional: Additional 1 tsp coconut sugar to caramelise the top if you want to make a 'creme brûlée' style dessert

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 160C
2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, pumpkin puree pumpkin pie spice and vanilla essence
3. In a small pot over a low heat, heat the coconut milk and sweetener until warm
4. Remove coconut milk from heat and pour into egg mixture, whisking continuously until all well combined.
5. Pour mixture into 2 ramekins
6. In an oven safe dish (such as a small roasting dish or pie dish), place the ramekins then fill the oven safe dish with water until it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
7. Cover the ramekins with tin foil.
8. Bake for 20 minutes until starting to firm
9. Remove the tin foil and bake for another 20 minutes until custard has set, and top has become golden brown. Serve straight away with ice-cream if you want a delicious warm dessert, otherwise leave to cool then place in the fridge for a chilled breakfast and snack option.

10. If you would like to make this into a creme brûlée style dessert, sprinkle a tsp of coconut sugar over the top of the baked custard and place under a hot grill for a few minutes until caramelized. Keep a close eye on it! You can also use a small blow-torch if you are lucky enough to own one.

Enjoy!

x

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Banana Date Muffins

Yesterday was my father-in-laws birthday and as they live in the far south and we live central east we decided to meet in the middle at the botanical gardens for a picnic lunch. I had never been to the botanical gardens, and I was not disappointed…what a fantastic place! It was absolutely beautiful and the kids had a blast running around and checking everything out. There was a massive sculpture display on so there was some amazing art to look at, and the kids garden is such a well thought-out alternative to a traditional kids playground. There was a maze, a desert, a jungle and lots of cool little paths and walkways to explore.

One of the sculptures at the gardens - Hubby and the kids having an 'King Arthurs Sword' moment!

To turn the picnic into a birthday celebration it was decided that cake would be required. Being a stinking hot, gale-force wind kind of day I made the call that a traditional cake would probably not be the most practical idea, so we settled on making some muffins. There were a bunch of very dark brown bananas that were screaming to be 'caked' - decision made on the flavor!

The end result was these delicious, moist sweet little treats that were a hit with the whole family. Easy to pack for a picnic as muffins, but could quite easily be baked as a cake if you were wanting a more traditional birthday option. The muffins are also a good option to make into mini muffins and kept int the freezer to pop into school lunch boxes for a little sweet treat.


These muffins were gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and free of white sugar. They use coconut sugar, dates and the bananas for sweetness, and I have found this wonderful culinary coconut flour from Natural Abundance which I sometimes use that creates a really light fluffy cake. This is a fantastic product to keep in the pantry if you like to do a bit of baking. It is similar in texture to a very light, fluffy desiccated coconut.

Banana Date Muffins

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of white sugar

Ingredients:
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup culinary coconut flour
1/2 cup dried dates, roughly chopped
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted 
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a 12 hole muffin tin (or 24 hole mini muffin tin)
2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, sugar and dates).
3. In a blender or using a bowl and whisk, combine the wet ingredients (bananas, eggs, butter or oil). 
4. Combine the wet with the dry and mix well.
5. Put about 2 tbsp of mix into each hole of the muffin tin.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown 

Enjoy!

x


Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Crust

So as those of you who see my Facebook page will know, on Saturday we celebrated (belatedly) the wonderful Thanksgiving. My sister-in-law is American and has bought this wonderful tradition to our family, and now it has very much become a part of our lead up to Christmas. As with Christmas though, it is a very hot time of year to be cooking a massive feast and so this year we 'kiwified' it - we had a BBQ with an assortment of meats and seafood, and as an 'ode to turkey' I instead made turkey meatballs with a cranberry dipping sauce. Instead of green bean casserole, we had a fresh, crisp broccoli and asparagus salad, and in place of the traditional sweet potato dish, we had roasted new potatoes and carrots in ginger. Dessert was a little more traditional - pumpkin pie and apple pie…YUM! It wouldn't be thanksgiving without these two staples, and they were delicious served with cinnamon spice ice-cream and coconut raspberry ice-cream - all made clean of course! Here are a couple of pics of some of the delicious food that we feasted on…

 Broccoli, Asparagus, Spinach and Avocado Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds

 Roasted Paprika Potatoes and Chunky Zucchini

 Fresh Green Salad with Mesclun, Capsicum, and Cherry Tomatoes

Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry and Orange Sauce

Glazed Carrots with Ginger and Parsley

 Apple Pie in Walnut and Almond Pastry

Creamy Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Crust

This fantastic pumpkin pie recipe is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free and free of refined sugar. Traditional pumpkin pie has loads of cream or cream cheese and a pastry shell, but this clean version has a very simple filling made from pumpkin and coconut milk, and is served in a pecan crust. Divine!

Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Crust

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar

Ingredients:

Crust
2 cups whole raw pecans
1 cup desiccated coconut
8 medjool dates (or 10 dried dates soaked in 2 tbsp boiling water for 10 minutes)
1/2 tbsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter)

Filling
1 cup pumpkin puree (you can make you own from fresh butternut pumpkin, or use canned - see note below)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup (you can use half a cup if you prefer a sweeter taste)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (see note below)
2 eggs

Directions:

To make crust…
1. In a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients until well ground and sticky. It will take a few minutes for the stickiness to form - if you take it out too soon the mixture will be too dry and will not hold its shape well. If you find that it is not coming together, you can add another couple of dates or a couple more tablespoons of coconut oil to bring a little more moisture to the mix, but be careful not to make it too moist.
2. Once mixture has formed, press it into a pie tin with a removable base. Cover, and refrigerate for a few hours until firm. Once chilled, preheat oven to 150C. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make filling…
1. In a blender, add all ingredients (pumpkin, coconut milk, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice and eggs).
2. Blend until well combined.

To assemble pie…
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Pour the pumpkin pie mixture into the cooled crust. Smooth the top.
2. Cover with foil (make a little tent so the foil doesn't stick to the top like mine did as you can see in the picture!
3. Bake for 35-40 minutes until filling has firmed (it does not have to be fully set, just no longer liquid)
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
5. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow filling to set completely.

Serve with you favorite ice-cream (try this dairy free coconut one) or just on its own! For our thanksgiving dinner, I used the recipe for the coconut ice-cream the I just linked to, and added 1 tsp ground cinnamon and half a tsp ground ginger to make a cinnamon spice version which works very well with the pumpkin pie and apple pie.

Notes:
- If you prefer to use canned pumpkin, I recommend the Libby's brand from America. In Auckland I get it from Marthas Backyard, but I'm not entirely sure where you can get it elsewhere).
- To make pumpkin pie spice, I used this yummy blend from My Baking Addiction

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice

1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Store in a small airtight container in the pantry and use as needed

Enjoy!

x

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Blueberry Coconut Yoghurt

A few weeks ago I was in our local Huckleberry Farm and there was a rep there for CoYo. It's a relatively new product on the market, and it's a dairy free yoghurt made from coconut milk. The rep was there handing out tasters and my youngest and I made quick work and scored a taste of all of the different flavours. Very delicious! I decided to buy a tub as a treat for the kids, and a treat it will remain because although it is very tasty and I think it's a fantastic product, at $14.50 a tub it is a little on the pricey side for us to enjoy as a regular part of our daily food intake.

As I have become inclined to do (my inner cheapskate makes me curious!), I decided that it must be easy enough to make a similar product for less. Although the final product I came up with isn't quite as smooth and creamy as the original CoYo (largely because of the added chia seeds which give it a slight grainy texture), it has still been popular with the kids, and has a thick yoghurt consistency. I added probiotics to give the health benefits of real yoghurt, and used ground chia seeds to thicken it. Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, and free of refined sugar, this is a great alternative to amp up your breakfast, or have with a fresh fruit salad for a refreshing summer dessert.

The little bit of sweetener makes the good bacteria from the probiotics very happy which is fantastic for your gut health. You can leave the probiotics out and just make a delicious dessert straight away without having to rest the yoghurt if you prefer. The chia seeds act as a natural thickener, and boost give an added boost of omega 3 and protein to the yoghurt. The blueberries give you a healthy serving of antioxidants.



Blueberry Coconut Yoghurt
Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar

Ingredients:
1 270ml can of coconut milk (about a cup and a half)
1 tbsp ground chia seeds (use a coffee grinder to grind them - you can use them whole if you don't have a grinder, it will just create more of a crunch)
1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup (or 1/8 tsp stevia)
1/2 cup frozen (or fresh) blueberries
3 probiotic capsules

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until well combined.
2. Heat gently over a low heat in a small pot until just warm
3. Pour yoghurt into a bowl, cover and leave to sit for 24 hours in a warm, bright spot.
4. Once a slight tanginess has developed, keep in an airtight container in the fridge

Enjoy!

x



Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Coconut Curry Pork Stirfry

The last few days have been really busy and there hasn't been a lot of time for making much in the way of dinner. Tonight we had a pork stir fry with a coconut curry sauce which was simple, fast and delicious. Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free and sugar-free this meal is full of nutrients, wonderfully clean, and nice and light for a hot summers evening. I served it with coconut and chilli cauliflower rice, but you could serve with steamed rice if preferred.

Not the best photo sorry - the colors look a bit dull here, but the dish was actually quite vibrant looking!

Coconut Curry Pork Stirfry

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:
500g pork fillet, thinly sliced
1/2 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 large carrots, cut into diagonal slices
2 bunches bok choy, roughly chopped
2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup water or chicken stock

Directions:
1. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil over a medium-high heat.
2. Add the garlic,  ginger and curry paste and fry for 30 seconds or so until the aromas are released.
3. Add the pork and fry for a couple of minutes until no longer pink. Remove the pork from the pan and put aside.
4. Heat the second tbsp oil over the same heat and add the broccoli, mushrooms and carrots. Fry for a couple of minutes, then add water or chicken stock to create some steam. Fry until vegetables are just cooked (you want them to still be firm to the bite, and still vibrant in color)
5. Add the pork back into the pan with the coconut milk. Cook for a couple of minutes until all heated through and pork is cooked through.
6. Remove from heat, then stir in mung bean sprouts. Serve with cauliflower rice or steamed rice


Note:

To make the cauliflower rice, follow this recipe, but make these adjustments… When you are blending the cauliflower, add 1 roughly chopped red chilli with the cauliflower and garlic. Instead of adding chicken stock/ water while cooking, add 1/4 cup of coconut milk, and add 1 thinly sliced spring onion to the pan. Yum!

Enjoy!

x

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancakes)

Oh my goodness, these last few days have been the most amazing summer conditions! It's been a great weekend…playdate yesterday morning with wonderful friends, a relatives 2 year old birthday party yesterday afternoon, takeaways on the deck in the sunshine last night, swimming for the whole family this morning, a wonderful girls lunch in the sun for me today, and the kids are at the Santa Parade with hubby so I am home alone!! I just spent half an hour sitting out in the fresh air topping up vitamin D levels and getting stuck into the most wonderful trashy chick-lit book…cannot remember the last time that happened. A guilty pleasure! Felt it was about time I did some work though…the quiet time will be over soon and I'll feel bad for not having achieved anything!

Friday night was another one of those hot sticky evenings, so I decided a nice light meal full of fresh flavors was going to be in order. I am a huge fan of Vietnamese food (as anyone who has read a few pages of this blog will probably realize!) and really love the crispy vietnamese pancakes that a filled with yummy fresh, vibrant vegetables and herbs. Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free and sugar free, this meal is packed with protein, nutrients, vitamins and minerals and is sure to please kids and adults alone. The novelty of having a pancake for dinner keeps the kids interested, and as always you can adapt it by leaving out the chilli and any vegetables that they are no keen on and customize the meal to suit their needs.

I firmly believe in cooking one meal for the whole family, as I think that family dinner times are a really important way for the family to regroup at the end of the day and share everything that has happened. Obviously this is not always possible for every family, but we are lucky enough that hubby is home at 6pm and like any good housewife I have dinner ready on the table when he gets home!!! hahahah :) (just for the record I am not really the housewife type, it just works best for us to have our evenings work out that way, and hubby is really not the cooking type! His areas of speciality are more tech and outdoors - mowing the lawns, fixing the cars and keeping the TV/computers/audio systems running smoothly!).

Because of the one meal policy, I do sometimes have to make slight modifications in the meals along the way. I want the kids to experience eating a range of foods, flavors, textures and obviously get a full range of nutrients, however there are limits to what a 2 and 4 year old will willingly try or enjoy. So, as an example, where I put chilli in a meal I will often add it in at the end after I have dished up the kids plates so they are still eating the same meal without the spice, or in the case of a curry I will make it very mild, serve theirs up and then add more curry paste or chilli to ours. With vegetables, I will usually just plate the kids up everything then either remove the veges I know they just won't go near (mushrooms and obvious onions are pretty much no go), or I leave all the veges on the plate and ask the kids to just leave the ones they don't want to eat to the side. We do have one rule, which is that if there is a new food you have to at least give it a try before you say you don't like it. They only have to take one small bite, but I am just trying to encourage a willingness to at least give it a go. Sometimes they spit it out which is fine, but other times they are pleasantly surprised.

So, the point of this is that the kids really love eating some of these different foods, especially a meal like this one which is packaged a little differently - all wrapped up in a pancake! Please don't be put off by the long list in the recipe - their meal really is very quick and easy to make.





Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancakes)

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:

Omelette (this makes 2 large or 4 small pancakes)
6 eggs
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp tapioca starch (optional, just makes the pancake a little more crispy)
2 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt

Filling
600g uncooked prawns, shelled and deveined
2 pork schnitzel slices, thinly sliced (not the crumbed ones!) - optional. The meal can be meat free if preferred
2 tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped
2 cm chunk of fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice of half a lemon or lime
1 red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

1 large spring onion, finely sliced
1 cup mung bean sprouts
6 portabello mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice)
1 cup kale or spinach, roughly chopped or torn
1/2 red capsicum , thinly sliced
1 large shallot or half an onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

Filling:
1. In a large bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, salt, fish sauce, lemon juice and chilli. Add the prawns and pork. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. (you can cook straight away, but marinading it just develops the flavors really nicely).
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, shallots, capsicum and kale. Cook for a few minutes until vegetables are softened.
3. Add prawns and pork. Cook until prawns have turned red and pork is cooked through. Remove from heat.
4. Add half the mung beans and half the spring onions and stir into the mixture.

Omelette
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well.
2. Heat half the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
3. Add half the egg mix and swirl around pan to create an even coating
4. Cook for one minute (or until starting to bubble and egg is mostly all cooked). Flip and cook for another 30seconds to a minute on the other side. Pancake should be gently crisped and golden brown.
5. Repeat process with the other half of the mixture.

To plate:
Put one omelette on a large plate. Top with prawn mixture, then add a handful of fresh mung beans. Fold omelette over, top with the rest of the spring onions and drizzle with Nuoc Cham (vietnamese dipping sauce - see notes below). Serve with coleslaw (see notes below), fresh salad or vegetables of your choice.

Note:

My coleslaw was made of shredded cabbage, shredded lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber cut into matchsticks, roughly chopped tomato a tbsp of fish sauce, a tbsp lemon juice and a handful each of fresh mint and fresh coriander. You can use whatever quantities you like and add any ingredients you like.

Nuoc Cham is a very simple little dipping sauce. I eyeball the quantities a bit but I think the one I made had roughly 2 tbsp fish sauce, 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp water and 1/2 a red chilli finely diced. Put all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. You can add a little honey (about 1/2 tsp) if you like the sweet element, but I prefer it without.

Enjoy!

x






Thursday, 21 November 2013

Clean Nutella! Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread

I have just been pondering whether or not I am allowed to use the Nutella brand name in my title, but what the heck… I'm sure it means you all know what I'm talking about, and I doubt the people who make Nutella won't exactly be knocking down my door demanding their brand rights be adhered too!

I was looking in the pantry yesterday and found a bag of hazelnuts which were probably about due to be used. Never one to waste awesome ingredients, I thought of many different ways that I could use them, but settled on making some good old fashioned Nutella! I have never given the girls Nutella, partly because I prefer them to have savory spreads on their toast, and partly because the real thing is full of all sorts of rubbish, loaded with sugar and also has dairy which reacts badly to all of us.

 Gorgeous Roasted Hazelnuts

Smooth, creamy, chocolatey, nutty - yummy!!

Clean Nutella (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar

Ingredients:
1 cup whole raw hazelnuts
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp coconut milk

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 150C.
2. On a lined baking tray, roast hazelnuts for about 10 minutes until lightly golden
3. Pour hazelnuts into a blender or food processor and blend until it starts to combine and become buttery in texture. Add the cocoa powder, sweetener, coconut oil and coconut milk and blend until a creamy buttery texture is achieved. You may have to stop a few times and scrape the sides of the blender.

Enjoy!

x

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Vanilla Icecream

This delectable dessert came from a new little purchase I made a couple of weeks ago - yay for Briscoes sales! Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free, nut-free and free of refined sugar, this wonderful creamy treat tastes indulgent but is wonderfully clean and so so easy to make.

Prior to becoming dairy free, ice-cream was one of my biggest weaknesses. I realized when I was 18 that dairy was not going to be able to be a factor in my life, and made the decision to cut it out. My weak point however was ice-cream - I just couldn't seem to let it go! I would go on and off but a couple of years ago I realized that I had to quit properly. Every now and then I will sneak a spoonful out of my husbands bowl when he indulges, but for the most part I am pretty strong willed as I know that the side effects last a lot longer than the moment of pleasure! Since then, I have been seeking the perfect substitute, and generally just ended up eating sorbet if that icy cold craving came along. The problem with sorbet is that it is just lacking that delicious creaminess that comes with ice-cream. Then I discovered the joys of banana ice-cream! One ingredient, 2 minutes to make and I was sold - an easy, nutritious option that tasted almost liked the real thing and had that all important creamy texture. You can add any number of tasty ingredients as well, so it's super versatile. But, time went by and although I am still totally committed to my precious banana ice-cream, I wanted more! Enter the brilliant Nice Cream which you may have discovered at the supermarket. This wonderful product is ice-cream made with coconut milk instead of dairy - perfect! It is smooth, creamy and tastes amazing. We tend to keep some in the freezer for special occasions. The only drawback it that it is relatively expensive. Not prohibitively so, but pricey enough that you wouldn't want to be indulging too often. So, once again back to the wandering mind coming up with a way to have it all! This is where the Briscoes sale comes in…. ice-cream maker, reduced to $30! Perfect! Sold to one happy little ice-cream addict!

So, to cut a long story short, I had to experiment with my new toy. I decided to start off just with a basic vanilla ice-cream, but watch this space as I will no doubt be experimenting with all sorts of varieties! Although I used an ice-cream machine to churn the ice-cream into the velvety creamy treat that is in the bowl, you could just as easily make it without the machine, however it will take a bit longer and will not necessarily have the same texture.



Vanilla Icecream

(Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar)

Ingredients:
1 270ml can (a cup and a bit) of coconut milk or cream (I use the Ayam brand with nothing else added).
1 tbsp honey, maple syrup, or sweetener of your choice
1 tsp vanilla paste, or 1.5 tsp vanilla essence
2 egg yolks

Directions:
1. Heat coconut milk with vanilla and honey in a small pot over a low heat. Heat until hot but not boiling
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
3. Once coconut milk mixture is heated, slowly pour it into the bowl with the eggs while whisking continuously.
4. Freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate for a couple of hours until well chilled
5. Put in the ice-cream maker for 15-20 minutes until a smooth creamy consistency is achieved.
6. Serve immediately or put in the freezer if you are not using straight away. If you freeze before you serve, take it out of the freezer about 10 minutes before you want to serve it so it is not too hard

Alternatively, if you do not have an ice-cream make, freeze the completed mixture for a couple of hours and either fluff with a fork every couple of hours, or freeze then blend in a blender until a creamy consistent is achieved. If you go with the blender option, it will be best to freezer the ice-cream in ice cube trays or something similar so that you have small pieces to pop in the blender, and remove them from the freezer about 10 minutes before blending. This will reduce the strain on your blender and achieve a better result. You may also need to add a couple of tbsp of extra coconut milk if you are using this method just to create some liquid to make blending more successful.

Enjoy!!

x


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Crusted Broccoli Pesto Stuffed Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

This meal was intended for last night, but hubby called just before finishing work and suggested fish and chips on the beach - it was such a gorgeous night! Fish and chips (as in the kind from the fish and chip shop) are such a rare occurrence for us, but we have no issue with having the odd indulgence. The most important part of any way you choose to eat is that you still live your life and allow the occasion take precedence over the eating once in a while! In saying that, we do order from our great local fish and chip shop where we order fresh fish (they sell fresh fish so have lots of yummy varieties available) and get it plain grilled with no flour or anything else added. I packed a large salad to go with the meal, and then we had a few hot chips.

There will be people out there who disagree with this attitude, and there will be others out there that feel that taking a salad to a fish and chip night is defeating the purpose of the indulgence. Everyone is different! And that is what makes life interesting. Our thoughts on clean eating are that we strive to eat a whole food, real food diet eliminating gluten, dairy, most grains and processed food. However, we are still normal people who live in the real world, and we are still a family with young children who want them to experience all of the fantastic memorable moments that we all enjoyed as children. I think we can all relate to the joys of family fish and chip night, and thankfully by living in a warm climate near a beautiful beach we are able to take it one step further and enjoy that feeling of the sand in our feet, the fun style of eating, feeding chips to the seagulls, and then running around on the beach after the meal. Such a great memory!

Anyway, due to the impromptu fish and chip night, I had the chicken that was planned for last night half ready in the fridge so tonights dinner was pretty simple to put together which worked out well after a hectic day. Dinner consisted of a chicken breast, stuffed with broccoli pesto then crusted with a coconut flour crust, pan fried then oven baked. The chicken was served with mushroom sauce, fresh asparagus and a garden salad. Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free and sugar-free, this meal is a delicious summer meal, and makes a great addition to the repertoire for 'special occasion' dinners too! It is also a good option for a BBQ and the chicken can easily be made ahead of time.

For the kids, I simply left the mushroom sauce off (they're not big mushroom fans) and served them the rest of the meal - they loved it!



Crusted Broccoli Pesto Stuffed Chicken with Mushroom Sauce
(Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, sugar-free)

Ingredients:

4 medium chicken breasts
1/2 a red capsicum, finely sliced
2 tbsp coconut oil

Broccoli Pesto:
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup pine nuts, raw or toasted
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Coconut Crust:
1/2 cup coconut flour (you can use almond flour if you prefer)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic salt (look for a natural brand with no additives)
a grind of black pepper

Mushroom Sauce:
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp fresh thyme (or dried works too)
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. Start by making your pesto. In a small blender or food processor combine all ingredients. Blend until well combined and with a fine texture. Set aside.
2. Next, prep your chicken. Trim the breasts, then using a sharp knife, make a hole in the fat end of the chicken breast by inserting a sharp thin knife into the chicken and carefully cutting into the middle of the breast. You are aiming to create a pocket, so make sure the knife doesn't poke through the skin as you are creating the pocket. It will need to be as long as you can make it, but the thin end of the chicken can get a bit too thin so only go as far as you can easily make the pocket. Repeat with each chicken breast.
3. In the pocket, insert 1/4 of the capsicum. Once the capsicum is in, put 1/4 of the pesto into the hole. This is where things get a little messy as you will need to push the pesto into the pocket.
4. Once the chicken is stuffed, you can use a toothpick to close the end up.
5. Preheat your oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
6. On a plate, place all of the crust ingredients and mix to combine. In a large frying pan, heat the coconut oil over a medium heat. Take each of the stuffed chicken breasts, roll them in the crust mixture then place in the hot oil. Cook on one side until golden brown, then turn and brown the other side (this will take about 2 minutes each side). Once cooked, place the breasts on the baking tray. Place in the preheated oven a bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through (no longer pink on the inside and juices run clear).
7. While the chicken is cooking, you can make the mushroom sauce and prepare the vegetables. In a small saucepan heat the coconut oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, and gently sauté until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes until starting to soften. Add the coconut milk, thyme, mustard, water and seasoning. Cook until the mushrooms and onions are well cooked and the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and set aside until chicken is ready to serve.

Serve the chicken with a green salad filled with any fresh vegetables of your choice. I also served the meal with little steamed asparagus, but you can choose any green vegetables as a side. Take each chicken breast and slice into thick slices. You can serve whole, but by slicing it you show of the gorgeous colour of the broccoli and capsicum in the middle.

Enjoy!

x



Thursday, 14 November 2013

Kung Pao Chicken

Simple, tasty food that is cost effective and easy to make - what could be better for a midweek meal? Last night we had Kung Pao Chicken which was a winner with the whole family. Moist chicken, bright vegetables and crunchy nuts make this dish texturally enjoyable too. Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free and you can make it nut-free too by removing the cashews.

 So vibrant in the pan

A perfect mid-week meal - served with cauliflower rice, a sprinkle of fresh chill, and a wedge of lime

Kung Pao Chicken
(Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free and nut-free if you remove cashews)

Ingredients:
800g Chicken breast of thigh (boneless, skinless), chopped into chunks
2tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot 
juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil

2 carrots, sliced into thick diagonals
1 red capsicum, chopped into chunks
2 cloves garlic, grated
2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
4 spring onions, chopped into thick diagonals
2 cups of spinach, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews (you can toast them in the oven for 10 minutes to make them a little more crunchy)
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)

2 tbsp coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar)
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup chicken stock or water

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, tapioca, lemon juice, salt and white pepper. Set aside for a few minutes while you prepare your vegetables and sauce.
2. In a small bowl, combine the coconut aminos, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and stock or water and mix well. Set aside. 
3. In a large frying pan over a medium heat, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. You will most likely have pieces of chicken stuck to the bottom of the pan. Keeping the pan on the heat, use a little extra water or stock to deglaze the pan. This means that you pour the cold liquid into the pan which creates a steaming/sizzling effect which should loosen up the stuck bits. Ideally you want to keep these stuck bits as they will add flavour to your vegetables. 
4. Add the 2nd tbsp of oil to the pan, then add grated ginger and garlic. Fry for about 30 seconds to release the flavors, then add the carrot and capsicum. Cook for a couple of minutes until slightly softened, then add the spinach and spring onions. 
5. Cook for a couple of minutes until spinach has just started to wilt. 
6. Add the sauce to the pan, then add the chicken back in. Cook for about 2 minutes until flavours have combined, and make sure your chicken is cooked through (not longer pink in the middle, but still moist and tender). 
7. Remove the pan from the heat, and add cashew nuts. 
8. Serve with cauliflower rice (or plain steamed rice) and a wedge of lemon or lime. Sprinkle with the chilli. I fried mine for a couple of minutes in a small frying pan to release the flavor before I served it, but you can throw it on raw.

Because I was serving this to the kids, I left the chilli out and served it sprinkled over the top. If you like the meal spicy, add the chilli in at the same time as you add the garlic and ginger (step 4). This will give the meal a delicious spicy kick - yum!

Enjoy!

x



Nutty Tartlets with Chocolate Filling

I had a wonderful friend over this afternoon and decided I wanted to whip up something for afternoon tea that was full of goodness but full of flavor. I found a recipe the other day for a chocolate pudding which sounded really simple to make and looked gorgeous and mousse-like in texture. The recipe uses gelatin to set, and can be made in about 5 minutes and ready to eat in about half an hour.

I didn't really want to make a pudding for afternoon tea so decided that the pudding recipe might work well as a little tart filling as a wee afternoon tea bite sized morsel. it would be ideal if you wanted to make a fancy little 'high-tea' style afternoon tea too. These delicious little treats are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and free of refined sugar.




Nutty Tartlets with Chocolate Filling

(Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar)

Ingredients:

Tart Shell:
4 medjool dates (or 6 dried dates, soaked in 2 tbsp boiling water for 10 minutes)
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup coconut butter (recipe here, or you could just use desiccated coconut, but the texture will be a little more coarse)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1tbsp coconut oil
juice of half an orange

Chocolate Filling: (recipe borrow from www.grassfedgirl.com)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp gelatin
1 tbsp water

Directions:
1. In a small food processor or blender, combine all of the tart shell ingredients (dates, cashews, almonds, coconut butter, chia seeds, coconut oil and orange juice). Blend until mixture is well combined and nuts are finely chopped. You can blend as little or as much as you want depending on the texture you prefer for your shell casing, just keep in mind that the more you blend it, the better it will stick together.
2. Press about 1 tsp of mixture (depending on how thick you like your shell, and how big your moulds are) into each hole of a cake pop mould, small muffin tin, or small tart tin (If you are using a muffin tin, line them first so you can get the tarts out. If you are using tart tins, make sure they have a removable base for the same reason). 
3. Place prepared tart shells in the fridge to chill while you make the filling. 
4. In a small pot combine the coconut milk, cocoa and maple syrup over a medium heat. Whisk gently until combined and heated.
5 Dissolve the gelatin in the water in a small bowl, then add to the coconut milk mixture. Stir until gelatin has dissolved into the coconut milk. 
6. When the mixture is hot, remove from the heat. Pour a small amount into each tart shell. Once all tart shells are filled, place the tarts back into the fridge until the filling is set (about half an hour to an hour). If you would like to fast track it, you can pop them in the freezer. 

If you have any filling left over you can pour it into a ramekin for a little bonus dessert!

Enjoy!

x

Monday, 11 November 2013

Chicken Cacciatore

I have been looking back through a few archives (i.e. my many many scraps of paper that I hurriedly write recipes down on while I'm cooking - followed by trawling through thousands of photos trying to find the picture that matches up! I must come up with a system!) and have found some great recipes that need to be shared.

This yummy chicken cacciatore was a great hit, and an easy meal. The bulk of the cooking time is in the oven which frees you up to do other things. You could also make this in a slow cooker for a real time saver - simply put all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning on low and come home to the divine smells that emanate from this dish! 

We had the meal with steamed broccoli, carrots and baked kumara and potatoes (one or the other is fine depending on your preference, but hubby and I prefer kumara, one child only eats potatoes and one likes both so I tend to make a bit of each just to cover all the bases!). The meal would be ideal with mashed kumara or potato (or any kind of mash would work well), however I kept the kumara and potato whole as my kids have an aversion to mashed anything. The mash would be great to absorb the delicious sauce from the casserole.

To make the meal a little more summery, serve it with a gorgeous green salad full of vibrant vegetables, and whip up a batch of avocado bread to mop up some of those gorgeous juices. 







Chicken Cacciatore

(Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Ingredients:
1kg chicken drumsticks
6 strips of bacon (whichever cut you prefer) preferable a chemical free variety such as Hendersons or one from your local farmers market
1/8 cup tapioca flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, sliced
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp fresh rosemary 
1 tbsp fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 eggplant
1 red capsicum
1 cup silverbeet or kale
2 tbsp capers
10 olives (green or black)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 150C
2. Heat oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan
3. Dust chicken with tapioca flour (this is easiest in a large bowl or large snap lock bag)
4. Place the chicken in the frying pan and fry until nicely browned. You may need to do two batches as you don't want to overcrowd the pan otherwise the chicken will not brown well.
5. When chicken is browned, remove from the pan and place in a large ovenproof casserole dish. Set to one side
6. In the same frying pan you used for the chicken, add the onion and garlic gently fry over a medium heat until softened and aromatic. Add the bacon and cook for a couple of minutes to brown slightly. Add the bacon, garlic and onions to the casserole pan with the chicken. If the onion sticks to the pan with the chicken juices, add a little of the chicken stock to de-glaze the pan and loosen up all of the bits that are stuck.
7. To the casserole dish, add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, herbs, vinegar, capers, olives, eggplant and capsicum. Cover and place in the oven for 1-1.5 hours. During the cooking time, check the pot a couple of times to make sure that all of the ingredients are sitting in the liquid so that you get even cooking. 
8. Ten minutes before you serve, add the silverbeet of kale and mix well to combine. Put the lid back on and pop back in the oven for 5-10 minutes. 
9. Remove from the oven and check that the chicken is cooked through before serving (juices should run clear). You should not need to add any salt as the capers, olives and bacon are salty already, but you may like to add a touch of black pepper.
10. Serve with steamed green vegetables and roasted or mashed kumara or cauliflower if you prefer. 

Enjoy!

x