Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Zucchini Brownie and Chicken Meatballs

Cracked it!! Made the brownie again, and this time it worked! Love it when that happens, and love playing around with the options to make it happen. Gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free, can be free of refined sugar, and best of all it has hidden vegetables.

It looks as though we are in for a rough couple of days, so it's time to hunker down, drag the slow cooker out of the pantry and fill the house with those wonderful wintery smells of comfort food.

Tonight on the winter menu was chicken and bacon meatballs with cauliflower rice (regular rice for the kids - they love cauliflower, but not in rice form).

Very easy to make, and the meal is gluten free, dairy free, grain free (optional), nut free - pretty much just a gorgeous meat and vegetable meal. Served the meatballs on cauliflower rice, with a side of steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower and brussell sprouts (yes, the dreaded brussel sprout...they can be made tasty!) and a small green salad.

We finally found a lovely bacon available from the supermarket which is proper bacon, free of any nasty chemicals (nitrates, nitrites etc). It tastes great too! Thank you to Hendersons for your yummy hand made original dry cure bacon. 

No longer do we need to make a special trip to the Sunday morning market just to get decent bacon. I love that supermarkets are starting to make more and more real food available. The more this food makes its way onto the shelves, the more I hope that some of the big companies see what's happening and start to change their products to remove some of the chemicals and toxins they so happily pump into many food products.

Chicken and Bacon Meatballs with Cauliflower Rice


500g chicken mince
6 rashers of nitrate free bacon
1 carrot, grated
1 egg
1 tbsp thyme (fresh or dried)
1/4 cup coconut flour (or gluten free breadcrumbs if preferred - use about 1/2 a cup)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
half an onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper

1 tin of tomatoes 
6 mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini sliced

Cauliflower Rice:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 an onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
juice of half a lime (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 200C
2. in a large bowl combine all ingredients for the meatballs through to the salt and pepper. mix well to combine, then shape into balls of any size you like. 
3. Place balls into a baking dish in one layer. Once the meatballs are in, pour the tin of tomatoes over the meatballs, and top with the mushrooms and zucchini.
4. Cook for roughly 20-30 minutes (this will depend on the size of your meatballs) until the meatballs are cooked through, and the veges on top are softened. I usually take the baking tray out of the oven about 5 minutes before it's ready to come out and give it a good mix up just to get the veges into the sauce and to move the meatballs around for even cooking.

While the meatballs are cooking you can prepare the cauliflower rice and roasted vegetables. If you are cooking plain rice, now is the time to put it on.

To make the cauliflower rice:

1. Place the cauliflower florets into a food processor and blend until fine crumbs are formed (do not overblend as you do not want to cream it). If you cannot blend it easily in one lot, do it in a couple of batches. It works better to have smaller lots in the food processor, and it works better if the florets are quite small. 
2. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. 
3. Add onion and garlic and fry until softened. I was working too quickly and browned mine which really doesn't matter, but the end results is just more 'brown rice' than 'white rice'!!
4. Add the cauliflower and fry until softened ( a couple of minutes). If the cauliflower sticks to the pan you can add around 1/4 cup of water or stock to loosen it up. 
5. Add lime juice (optional), season with salt and pepper, and you are ready to serve.

To make roasted brussel sprouts: 

This recipe is the same as the recipe I have used in the past to make roasted cauliflower (can be used for any vegetables!). 
1. Prepare about 1 cup of brussel sprouts (take off outer leaves, cut into halves or quarters depending on size). 
2. In a large bowl mix together around 1/4 cup coconut oil, any herb or spice you like (or whatever compliments your meal - for example when I'm making an indian dish I will usually use something like Garam Masala to flavor). For today I used paprika. Add salt and pepper. 
3. Put brussel sprouts in the bowl, and stir to get an even coating of the oil mixture. Place on a baking tray in a single layer, and roast (use whatever temperature you already have your oven set to if you're using it, otherwise about 190C or 200C works well). 
4. Roast for around 15 minutes, but check often as some of the outer leaves may start o get pretty crispy. These can be removed as they are cooked and kept in a bowl until ready to serve. 

The loose leaves that cook before the rest are another dish that you have made all without even trying...brussel sprout chips - Yum!!

Serve the meatballs on the cauliflower rice, with the roasted vegetables, steamed greens and a side salad. You could use anything for vegetables. This is just what the kids eat - our vegetable sides are very strongly dictated by what the youngest members of the house will eat!

 The sides - green salad with lettuce, tomato, radish and yellow capsicum (avocado and cucumber are officially too expensive, saw an avocado in the greengrocer yesterday for $5.49!!!!!)

The other sides - roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower

 The cauliflower rice - ready to go
The finished meatballs - they're not pretty, but they are GOOD!!
Voila - dinner is served!

Brownie recipe to come - I will edit this post to add it shortly. The kids were a bit restless last night so didn't quite get finished, hence finishing this post at half 6 in the morning!

Time to get this brownie recipe written up - I've been talking it up and so far all talk and no action! A few pictures of the process:

 All the ingredients in the pan - ready to mix

 In the pan - time to bake

 Cooked - no sinking spoon here!

Mmmmmmm chocolatey goodness....

Chocolate Zucchini Brownie 

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


1 cup coconut butter (directions below)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup honey
1 cup chocolate chips (divided in 2)
1.5 cups zucchini (about 2 zucchini depending on the size), grated and squeezed to remove some of the excess moisture
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup cocoa powder


1. Preheat oven to 180C (170 fan bake). Grease and line with baking paper a square cake tin
2. In a small saucepan, melt honey, coconut butter and half a cup of the chocolate chips over a low heat until combined. (Please note, this mixture is incredibly delicious so please try and refrain from eating the whole lot before you get to finish the brownie. Alternatively, make double so you can make the brownie and still eat the coconut chocolate honey mix...have your cake and eat it too!!)
3. In a large bowl place the zucchini, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa, coconut flour, other half of the chocolate chips and egg. 
4. Add the melted chocolate mix to the bowl and mix all ingredients until well combined.
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and smooth down with a spatula.
6. Cook for around 20 minutes or until no longer soft in the middle.
7. Cool in the tin, then turn out carefully onto a cooling rack. Alternatively scoop out the brownie while it's still warm and serve as a warm gooey cake. This brownie is one of those rare ones that is better if made ahead of time. It helps it to set and it becomes more manageable. 

Coconut Butter

Note: Coconut butter is available from most specialty health food shops, but it is very easy to make, and so so much cheaper. Basically you just need a bag of desiccated coconut (I use Sunfood or Pams as they are 100% coconut with no preservatives). Pour about half the bag into a high power blender and blend until it is liquid (about 5-10 minutes). It should come out looking a little like this....