Monday, 20 May 2013

Japanese Curry Rice

What a gorgeous sunny day! Hubby assured me it was supposed to rain today, so it's always a 'happiness boost' when the day turns out to be a good one... not to mention a bit of bonus Vitamin D which is always welcome.

This weekend we had Japanese takeaways on Saturday, and while I struggle to find anything that fits the bill of gluten and dairy free, Hubby always goes for broke and gets the Katsu Curry. I have always avoided ordering Japanese curry after checking out the ingredients list on a pack of the curry you can buy in the supermarket, which is the most common kind used. It is full of all sorts of long words and MSG, so this weekend I finally made it my mission to find a recipe I could use to recreate the same flavours at home but without all of the added nasties.

I managed to find a website ( where the chef had created exactly what I was after. I made a couple of small changes and so last night for dinner we had Japanese Curry, made from scratch using nothing more than ingredients commonly found in most pantries. Easy! The only catch is that it does take a little bit of time, so it's not the kind of meal you will be wanting to try as you are rushing in the door an hour before you want dinner on the table and frantically trying to get something together. In saying that, it was probably about an hour and a half from the very start (taking stuff out of the fridge), to being on the table, so it's not too awful, and there was a bit of downtime while things were cooking.

Japanese Curry Rice


For the roux:

3 Tbsp butter
 (you could try using coconut oil if you wanted to go totally dairy free)
1/4 C brown rice flour
2 Tbs garam masala (or curry powder)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust according to your spice threshold)

fresh ground black pepper

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce (I didn’t use it as it has gluten, but it would add a nice depth of flavour)

For the curry
2 tsp oil

2 large onions sliced thin
800g chicken into chunks (you could also use beef, shrimp, or any protein you like)

3 carrots cut into chunks

4 cups water

3 large waxy potatoes cut into large chunks

1 can of apple puree

2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala

1 cup peas


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat and add the onions. Saute the onions until they are golden brown and caramelized (about 25-30 minutes). Turn up the heat to high, add the chicken and brown.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the roux. For the roux, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and garam masala (or curry powder), stirring until you have a thick paste. Add the cayenne pepper and some fresh ground black pepper and incorporate into the roux. Add the tomato paste and worcestershire sauce (if using) and combine. Continue to cook until the paste starts crumbling. Remove from heat and set aside until the meat and veggies are ready.

When the onions are ready add the carrots to the onions, and the water then bring to a boil. Skim off any foam or oil that accumulates at the surface then lower heat to medium and add the potatoes, pureed apple, salt and garam masala (or curry powder). Simmer for about 30 minutes or until you can pass a fork through the carrots and potatoes and the meat is tender.

To make the curry, just ladle about 2 cups of liquid into the roux then whisk until it’s smooth. Pour this mixture back into the other pot and gently stir until thickened. Add the peas and heat through.
Serve over rice or noodles, or if you prefer to go grain free serve with shredded cabbage or cauliflower rice



Moist Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Oops, it took a while to get back with the recipe for the zucchini bread! Sorry to anyone left hanging...posted the pictures and then ran away! This recipe is great because, other than taking a few moments to get the liquid out of the zucchini, this really is a one bowl, pour and mix kind of recipe. My favourite kind!

Without further ado, here it is:

Moist Chocolate Zucchini Bread 

(recipe adapted from

Nut free, gluten free, dairy free, grain free

         1.5 cups grated zucchini (approx 1-2 medium zucchini)
         2 eggs, whisked
         3/4 cup sunflower butter (or nutbutter if you prefer)
         1/4 cup raw honey or date puree
         1/4 cup cocoa powder
         2 tablespoons coconut flour
         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
         1 teaspoon cinnamon
         1/2 teaspoon baking powder
         1/2 teaspoon baking soda
         pinch of salt

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (170C fan bake).
2. Grease and line a loaf tin.
3. Shred your zucchini. Use the shredder attachment of a food processor or just got do it the old fashioned way and use a grater (bonus workout too!)
Once your zucchini is shredded, you need to remove the excess liquid. There are a few ways you could do this, and do whatever works for you, but my method was to grab a clean tea towel, place all the zucchini in and then wring all the liquid out over the sink. Get as much liquid out as you can (another bonus workout!)
4. Place zucchini in a bowl with the rest of your ingredients. Use a large spoon to mix well until all the ingredients are combined and you have a deep chocolate color.
5. Pour your ingredients into your prepared loaf pan
6. Place in oven to bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when you poke it. 
7. Let cool, cut and serve!
            This is really yummy straight out of the oven (after a couple of minutes cooling of course!) It is a great way to get a few bonus veges into your day, and it us not very sweet so can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a healthy snack.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Turkey San Choy Bao

What a beautiful sunny morning after all of the average days we have had this week! Today reminds me of growing up in Christchurch with the crisp morning air and the sun shining. Here's hoping the sun stays out for the kids to go to the park this afternoon - they were keen this morning, but I managed to convince them that it would be a lot more fun once the playground had had a chance to dry off in the I have to follow through!

We still managed a nice little outing this morning to the farmers market though - the local Parnell one isn't the biggest in town, but it's quite nearby and has a nice range of veges, and the all important raw local honey that we use a lot of. This mornings' haul included a couple of beautiful aubergine (eggplant), some nice fresh mesclun, some of the all important raw honey, some lovely spray free local grapes, and a big bag of apples.

Last night I promised the recipe for the San Choy Bao that the kids demolished for dinner. I think the excitement of eating out of lettuce cups and being given the okay to eat with their hands and make as much mess as they wanted added to their enjoyment of the meal.

Watch out master chef - here I come!!! 

Turkey San Choy Bao

1 tbsp coconut oil (or whatever oil you like to use for cooking)
500g turkey mince (or any mince that makes you happy - beef, pork, lamb, chicken, veal - whatever suits!)
1 cup frozen peas
2 medium size carrots, peeled and grated
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped, grated or crushed - however you like it
1 tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)
1tbsp oyster sauce
1tbsp coriander flakes (or 1/4 cup fresh coriander if you happen to have it)
1/4 tsp chilli powder (adjust to suit your spice tolerance)
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten well
8 lettuce cups, rinsed and patted dry (Iceberg works well for this as the heart of the lettuce has great cup shapes, but we only has cos in the fridge which also works, just more like a long spoon than a cup! Cos also has a far greater nutrient profile than iceberg).
A selection of veges to top it with. We used diced cucumber and sliced tomato, but you can add anything at all.

1. Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook for a couple of minutes until softened.
2. Add mince to frying pan and cook until lightly browned
3. Add carrot and peas and cook for a minute or two to soften. 
4. Add aminos (or soy), oyster sauce, coriander and chill. Mix in well and cook until vegetables are tender and mince is cooked through. Season to taste
5. In another small frying pan (or in the same frying pan once the rest is cooked, if you prefer a one pot approach like I do - the less dishes the better!) heat a small amount of oil over medium heat and pour in beaten egg to create a thin omelette. Cook for around 1 minute then flip and cook for another 30 seconds or so until just cooked. Roll omelette up and chop into thin slices.
6. Prepare to serve. Put lettuce cups (or spoons!) on the plate and scoop mince mixture into the cups. 
7. Top with sliced omelette and other veges. 
8. Dig in - best eaten with hands and a big mat on the floor, or the handheld vacuum nearby!

The great thing about this dish is that you can totally play with it depending on who you are serving it to. I kept things simple for the kids by adding peas, carrots and salad veges, but if I were making it for a table of adults I would use, for example: eggplant, red onion, fresh coriander and fresh chilli.

The other thing that I made yesterday was a great gluten free, dairy free, nut free chocolate zucchini bread. I used a recipe from a website called 

I had a bag of very suspect zucchini that needed to be used immediately or they would be in the bin, and I hate wasting food. I had also just made that lovely batch of sunflower butter, and as this recipe used both zucchini and sunflower butter it seemed the perfect choice! The recipe also appealed because it was one of those 'throw everything in a bowl and mix' kind of recipes that I am a HUGE fan of!! The only time consuming part was grating the zucchini and removing the liquid but even that only took a few minutes.

 Everything in the bowl, ready to mix

 Mixed, and ready for the pan

 In the pan - time to cook!

 Cooked! Now for the worst part of baking...waiting for it to cool down

Moist, delicious and nutritious - perfect!

I am sorry to be a total tease, but the kids are getting a little restless and they have been SO good while I've been typing this up. I will get the full recipe for this bread up later in the day. Time to hit up the park I think! 

Happy Saturday everyone 


Butter Chicken, Cauliflower Poppers and Banana Raspberry Icecream

Holy Feijoa season!! After this past week of crazy weather and getting back into the swing of the weekly routine, the kids and I finally managed to venture out into the garden. I could see a whole bunch of feijoas on the ground that needed to be collected before the birds and other garden creatures got to them. 2 shopping bags and a sore back later we finally had them all collected. Curiosity got the better of me so we got out the scales....16.5 kilos!!! If only we could sell them at supermarket prices - we'd make a fortune!  Haven't got any feijoa recipes for you today, but I can pretty much guarantee that the foreseeable future is going to see a lot of feijoa action in the kitchen.

Now that I have shown off the haul, time to get back to the recipes for today.

Last night was Indian night - I'm more of a tikka masala or tandoori girl, but hubby is all about the butter chicken. I found a recipe a while back for a home-made butter chicken, that is so delicious it keeps us both happy. As I am inclined to do I have tweaked the recipe a little to suit our needs (mostly just adding a whole bunch of veges). We finished the meal off with homemade banana/raspberry 'icecream' which is so delicious that you'll never know it's good for you!

 Cooking up a storm

 Cauliflower poppers - roasting nicely

The finished dinner - it's not really pretty, but tastes SO good!

Butter Chicken:

2 tbsp organic butter, or if you want to make it dairy free use coconut oil (technically it won't be 'butter' chicken, but it'll still be awesome!)
approx 500g chicken cut into chunks (breast or thigh - whatever you prefer)
1 tsp garam masala
1tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated 
1/4 tsp chilli (adjust according to your preferred level of spiciness)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon if you don't have sticks in the pantry)
1 can of tinned tomatoes (either leave them chunky as I do or puree them if you prefer a smooth sauce)
3/4 cup coconut milk
Juice of a lemon (adjust to taste)

Optional ingredients - I added a few vegetables as below so you can either use the same veges, or just whatever you like to eat or have in the fridge
1/2 an eggplant, diced into 1cm cubes
1 onion thinly sliced
a big bunch of silverbeet or spinach chopped roughly

1. Heat 1 tbsp butter or oil in a large frying pan. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned. 
2. Remove chicken from pan
3. Heat second tbsp of butter or oil and add all of the spices (gram masala, paprika, coriander, ginger, chilli, cardamom, cinnamon). Heat until aromas are released (a couple of minutes) - the kitchen will smell amazing!
4. Add chicken back to the pan along with all of the vegetables. Mix chicken, veges and spices together until well mixed in
5. Add the tomatoes and simmer for around 10-15 minutes, until veges are tender.
6. Add coconut milk and lemon juice and stir to combine
7. Enjoy! 

This recipe feeds 2 adults and 2 children easily. If you are feeding more adults I would recommend doubling the recipe. No problem if there are leftovers - it tastes even better reheated for lunch the next day!

I served this dinner with steamed brown rice, steamed carrots and broccoli, and 'cauliflower poppers'. 

Cauliflower Poppers:


1/2  head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tsps coconut oil, melted
1 tsp garam masala
pinch of salt


1. Preheat oven to 180C 
2. In a large bowl combine oil, salt and garam masala.
3. Place cauliflower florets into the bowl and use your hands to cover all florets with oil and spice mix
4. Spread out on a baking tray lined with baking paper
5 Bake in the oven for approx. 10-15 minutes or until browned. 

These 'poppers' are a great way to make cauliflower more interesting, are super easy to make, and you can play around with the spices used to suit the meal you are making. I used garam masala to tie into the indian theme of the dinner, but I often use turmeric to make yellow cauliflower for the kids, or you could make them moroccan, thai, mexican...or just oil and salt for a more simple yet still delicious option.

For the grand finale, time for some 'icecream'

 Blending it up in our super awesome blender - best kitchen purchase of the year!

The finished product - Yum!

Banana Raspberry Surprise 'Icecream'

3 frozen bananas 
1 cup frozen raspberries
a big handful of baby spinach (that's the surprise! Optional if you don't have any. Great way to get greens into the kids)
1 tbsp sweetener of choice (I used date puree, but you could use honey, stevia, whatever you like. This is also optional - all the bananas make it pretty sweet anyway)

1. Place all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor and blend until combined
2. Eat! This is such a great dessert, and the result is silky, smooth and creamy. You will not be disappointed!

If your food processor isn't handling the pressure of all of that frozen goodness it may help to add a little liquid (maybe almond or coconut milk). Your end product will probably be slightly runnier, but still delicious. I also softened the bananas a little before blending, just so as not to completely destroy the blender. This is a great way to use up old bananas. When you get those bananas in your bowl that are turning all sorts of nasty shades of brown, throw them in the freezer. I'm lazy, so I just throw them in as they are, skin and all, but if you are prepared it would save time in the long run to peel them and store them in a freezer bag. 

Keep an eye out tomorrow for some more yummy recipes - today I made a delicious Zucchini bread which made full use of the sunflower butter recipe I posted yesterday. We also had kid friendly turkey San Choy Bao for dinner which was a total hit with the kids, so I'll get a recipe written up for that too. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Sunflower Butter and Hummus

Sitting here in my new fluffy PJs with a hot cuppa after a hearty dinner - it must be winter!

On the menu tonight was made-from-scratch Butter Chicken, with Banana 'icecream' for dessert - I will post the recipes for this tomorrow - the night has kind of run away from me!

The school holidays are over, and life is returning to normal routines which has been a great relief in many ways, although it was lovely to spend some extra time with the kids.

With both kids at kindy now, packed lunches are becoming a bit more time consuming in the morning. Add gluten and dairy free for the kids, and nut free for kindy regulations to the mix and there are mornings when I stare blankly into the pantry waiting for inspiration to strike! Today I decided to get back into my routine of making homemade spreads for the kids to have on their toast or rice crackers.

Sunflower butter and hummus were on the menu for today - both tick all the boxes for the kids lunchboxes. Easy to make, tasty to eat, and nutritious - these spreads are a great addition to the arsenal.

Here is a picture of the finished products - terrible presentation, but we had to run out the door to ballet so I didn't have time to do much other than throw them in a container. The sunflower butter is a delicious alternative to any of the nut butters you usually use, and the hummus is a classic. Nice to make them at home and know that there are no nasty preservatives or other additives.

Sunflower butter on the left, hummus on the right 

Here are the recipes:

Sunflower Butter:


2 cups raw unsalted sunflower seeds
2 tbsp oil (I used coconut oil, but you could also use olive oil)
a couple of pinches of salt if you like some seasoning - not necessary if you prefer not to add salt to your food.

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Spread sunflower seeds onto an oven tray and bake for around 10-15 minutes until golden roasted. Keep and eye on the seeds, and you may need to mix the, around a couple of times as the ones at the edges may cook sooner than the ones in the middle. This step is not 100% crucial, however the nut butter will taste far better with roasted seeds than raw ones - it gives the butter a nice toasty flavour. Allow the seeds to cool for a few minutes before moving on to the next step.
2. Place the seeds in the bowl of a food processor (I used a high powered blender to speed the process up, but it does work in a standard food processor) and process. The mixture will turn become flour like in consistency and will then start to clump together as the oils are released. At this point, add the oil and salt and continue to process until the mixture turns creamy and smooth and moves easily in the bowl. This process will take a few minutes so be patient. If it does not start to come together it is ok to add another tbsp or 2 of oil to add a little more liquid. Blend for a couple more minutes until the mixture is really creamy. 
3. Enjoy! The kids and I were enjoying it straight off the spoon while it was still warm after blending, but usually we eat it on toast, or rice crackers or on slices of pear or apple. 

Speaking of eating it on slices of apple, our current favourite for snack time if Apple Donuts! Sounds complicated and unhealthy, but it's really super simple. Take an apple, get the core out (while leaving the apple whole, so either a de-coring tool, or a thin sharp knife will be needed) and the cut across the apple in thick slices. This leaves you with an apple slice with a hole in the middle. Either eat as is, or spread with a little nut butter or sunflower butter for a delicious, nutritious snack. I will take a photo next time I make them in case those instructions are confusing!


This recipe is adapted from The Real Food Chef by Dr Libby Weaver - there are so many hummus recipes out there though, and no matter which recipe you follow the final product really just comes down to your own personal tastes. Keep tasting as you go and play with the quantities of the ingredients until you find a balance of flavours that works for you.


1 cup (I just use one standard can) of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1.5 tsps ground cumin
2 teaspoons tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (you could use rice bran oil if you don't like the taste of olive oil)
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine chickpeas, garlic, cumin and tahini in a food processor or blend. Pulse until well combined. 
2. Slowly pour the oil into the food processor while keeping it running on low (or do as I do today when you are short of time and using a stick blender attachment like I was, you can just dump it all in - it still works!). Blend until the oil is well incorporated then add the lemon juice and give a quick pulse to combine. 
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

As I said above, if this combination of ingredients isn't to your liking, feel free to play around with it. Prefer your hummus a little more sour? Add more lemon. Like a bigger garlic hit? Throw in a couple of extra cloves. Experiment with different flavours too - maybe try adding some cooked beetroot or carrots to create something a bit different. Great way to sneak in some extra veges for the kids as well! 


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Coconut Milk Cake

Oops, I promised the recipe for the coconut cake, and all of a sudden it's been nearly a week and still nothing - sorry! School holidays are a real time absorber... the days have completely flown by. On the plus side it gave me a chance to make the cake again, this time pimped a little for Mum's birthday.

This time I made a classic round cake, and filled it with a raspberry filling (courtesy of a slightly modified version of a recipe from Libby Weaver's cookbook - she's amazing!) The final cake is a little rough around the edges (literally, as I didn't quite have enough time or icing to give it the polished finished I had visualised, but the flavor combination was great. The filling is totally optional, and has some ingredients that are less likely to be found in your pantry, but worth the effort if you're making it for a special occasion.

Here are a couple of pictures of the second cake....

 Cook little cake, cook!

 Split through the middle 

 The raspberry filling goes on...

 The top deck in place (the top is a little brown but that's because I didn't follow my own time guidelines and got distracted with the kids!)

Iced up and ready to go. Super fast finish on the icing so ignore the very hasty, untidy work...the taste makes up for it!

Coconut Milk Cake 



170g Butter
200g Coconut Sugar
4tbsp date puree or honey
4 eggs
1Tbsp Vanilla essence
100g Plain Gluten Free Flour
½ cup coconut flour
a pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
200ml coconut milk + 4tbsp
70g shredded coconut

Chocolate ganache:

8Tbsp Coconut Milk
2Tbsp Date Puree
1Tbsp Coconut Oil
100g Dark Choc


1.     Preheat oven at 180C. Grease and line a cake tin (I used a round 20cm springform, but you can use whatever takes your fancy).
2.     Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
3.     Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla essence
4.     In a separate bowl sift flours, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding flour mix with adding coconut milk.
5.     Add shredded coconut and mix until just combined.
6.     Bake for 30minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean.
7.     Allow to cool for 10 mins in the tin then on cake rack to cool completely before icing (and adding the filling if you're using it).

1.     Warm coconut milk and coconut oil gently in a small pan on the stovetop.
2.     Add chocolate and stir until melted
3.     Mix in the date puree.
4.     Transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge (or freezer if you are short on time) to cool and firm.
5.     Ice cake when icing mixture is spreadable consistency.

Raspberry Filling (optional): adapted from the Strawberry Cream Pie recipe in Dr Libby Weaver's cookbook 'Real Food Chef'


1.5 cups whole raw cashew nuts
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (or any kind of berry, but the raspberry does go very well with the coconut)
50g Cacao butter 
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
Juice of half a lime


 -   1. Melt Cacao butter gently in a small saucepan over a low heat until just melted.
-    In a high powered blender put all the ingredients (cashews, raspberries, lime, syrup, and cacao butter) and blend until smooth.
-    2. Split the cooled cake into 2 even pieces and spread the mixture evenly over the bottom half, all the way to the edges. Gently place the top of the cake back on, then ice with the chocolate icing. You can either go all rustic like my one, or you can make double the icing quantity (even just another half amount would do) and cover the sides of the cake too to give it a more polished look. 
     Only thing left to do is dig in and enjoy!