Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Little Ghosties!

The malls are very confusing at the moment - we went to Sylvia Park over the weekend to hit up The Warehouse for some halloween costumes for the kids and had to walk through the mall full of Xmas decorations to get to the halloween stuff. Scary! Xmas is still 2 months away! Can someone please slow time down just a teeny tiny bit to give us all a little room to breathe?!

Anyway, Halloween costumes were successfully purchased (I would love to say that I am creative enough to make them, but sadly I used up all of my domestic skills in the kitchen department and have basically zero talent when it comes to sewing). On the way to the shop the girls were all excited deciding what it is they wanted to be - I think the final decision was a dragon and a butterfly. However, when the costumes were right there to make the final selection their instinctive little girl ways kicked in and we came home with Tinkerbell and Snow White! Girls will be girls!

This morning was another busy morning in the kitchen coming up with ideas for halloween treats that were more clean than the standard processed stuff that comes in huge bags in all the shops. I posted on facebook the link to the Monster Cookies I made a while back which are bright green and should be sufficiently 'ghoulish' enough to make the cut for our little party. Find the recipe here 

Then there are these little coconut ghost balls that I made today... These are easy to make, and depending on what combination of nuts and fruits you use will be more kid friendly or more adult friendly. I used a lot of dates and apricots in this mix to make them nice and fruity for the kids. They are then simply dunked in coconut butter and rolled in thread coconut. Little chocolate chips are the final touch to make some eyes. The balls keep well in the fridge.

Little Coconut Ghosties

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy free and (apart from the little choc chips) free of refined sugar

1/2 cup raw almonds (can use whole or sliced)
1/2 cup dates (either Medjool or dried)
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup dried figs
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp coconut oil
Optional: 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey if you like it sweeter. I left it out as the fruit makes it very sweet already, but taste the mix and add as needed.

1 cup coconut butter (either freshly made or softened if it's out of the jar) Here are the instructions for how to make your own
1 cup coconut thread
a handful of chocolate chips

1. Chop the almonds, dates, figs, apricots roughly to make a little less work for the blender. In a small blender or food processor blend the almonds, dates, desiccated coconut, figs, apricots, vanilla and coconut oil until well mixed and fairly smooth (or you can leave it a little more chunky if you prefer)
2. Roll the mixture into balls of a size you can choose (I used about 2 tsp mixture per ball).
3. Place the balls on a plate and place in the fridge to chill
4. If your coconut butter is not already melted, melt it down by either putting the jar into a bowl of hot water, or heat the desired amount in a bowl over a small pot of simmering water.
5. Dip each ball into the coconut butter. You can now either roll straight away in the coconut thread, or you can put them back into the fridge to harden and do another coat of coconut butter before rolling in the thread. It depends on how much time you have and how much coconut coating you want. When you have rolled the balls in the coconut thread, stick the eyes on while the coconut butter is still wet. Place completed ghosts on a plate in to harden in the fridge. 
6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until you need them



Monday, 28 October 2013

Pork and Vegetable Lasagne

Wow, what a gorgeous weekend! Labour weekend is always a little bit special for me and hubby - although our wedding anniversary day changes each year, we still think of it as Labour Weekend...it was the Saturday of labour weekend 4 years ago that we tied the know under a gigantic palm tree on Waiheke Island - a tropical island wedding but without having to travel so far!

It has been a very social weekend catching up with lots of family, plus hubby has been out playing tennis and has a friend from out of town here so it feels like it's been one of those weekends of eating and planning to eat! Now it is time to start thinking about Halloween on Thursday. The kids are still pretty young so we don't really do trick or treating but this year we have organised to have an afternoon party with a few friends. This gives the kids a chance to dress up, play a few 'scary' games, eat a bit of halloween themed food and still get to be a part of the action. I hope we also get some trick or treaters come to the door - the girls love to see the older kids dressed up. I'm putting a plan in place for a few 'clean' halloween treats, so I will try and get the recipes sorted for those asap.

In the mean time, here is a nice recipe to start the week off. Although the weather is more summery now and doesn't really scream 'Lasagne', this is a far lighter, cleaner version and is ideal for making early in the week as it can be easily reheated for lunches or a second dinner. Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free and free of refined sugar this is a delicious vegetable packed dinner which is easy to make, and easy to eat!

Beautiful colourful layers - ready to go in the oven

 Fresh out of the oven and bubbling away nicely...

A saucy little picture...

Pork and Vegetable Lasagne with Coconut 'white sauce'

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

1 tbsp coconut oil
500g pork mince (you can use any mince you like here - chicken, beef or lamb will work just as well)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 large white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water
2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
1 tsp mixed herbs, or herbs of your choice
1 eggplant, thinly sliced
1 large kumara, thinly sliced
2 zucchini, sliced into long strips
1/4 of one whole pumpkin, thinly sliced 
1 cup kale, stems removed
salt and pepper to season
1 tomato, thinly sliced

1 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp coconut flour
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180C. 
2. Prepare your vegetables as instructed - the more thinly sliced the vegetables are the faster your cooking time can be.
3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add onions and garlic and fry for a few minutes until softened. Add the mince and cook until starting to brown. Add the mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, herbs and stock or water. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the mushroom are softened. Remove from heat. 
4. While the mince mixture is simmering you can prepare your 'white sauce'. In a small pot heat the oil over a low heat. Add coconut flour and whisk to combine with the oil. Add the coconut milk and whisk well to allow the flour to combine with the milk and to ensure any lumps are broken down. Add the mustard, coriander, paprika and seasoning and simmer gently until the sauce thickens. 
4. In a large baking dish, begin with a layer of mince mixture. Follow with a few layers of vegetables - you decide what you want where. I did eggplant, kumara, zucchini, pumpkin, kale but just do whatever works for you. Repeat the layers. Top the lasagne with the coconut sauce, then finish with a layer of tomatoes for decoration.
5. Cover the baking dish with tinfoil and bake for around 40 minutes or until a knife passes easily through the lasagne. Remove tinfoil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until top has browned.
6. Serve with a fresh salad and steamed green vegetables. 

Note: I just did one layer of the coconut sauce on the top of the lasagna, but if you would like to have more sauce, double the quantity and add a layer of sauce after you add the first layers of vegetable, but before the second layer of mince. Yum!

Also, please feel free to play around with the types of vegetables you use here - just pop in what works for you and your family. 



Thursday, 24 October 2013

Mega Nut Truffles with Coconut Shell

It's Friday therefore it's time to start enjoying some of the finer things in life - truffles are one of those things! Get your teeth around one of these nutty truffles for a mid afternoon treat that won't blow your blood sugar sky high. These little babies are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free and free of refined sugar. In fact, they are low in sugar, high in protein and good healthy fats from all those gorgeous nuts, and packed with natural goodness.

The truffle 'insides' themselves are really easy to make, and if you want to take it to the next level you can coat them in coconut butter to give them a gorgeous crispy shell that you can crunch through to get to the soft gooey centre. Mmmmmm!

Mega Nut Truffles with Coconut Shell

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

1/4 cup whole raw cashew nuts
1/4 cup whole raw pecans
1/4 cup whole raw walnuts
1/4 cup whole raw almonds
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp cocoa powder (try and use a good quality one to get a nice rich chocolate flavor)
5 medjool dates (or use about 8 regular dried dates soaked for 5 minutes in hot water)
4 tsp coconut oil (or you can just use boiling water which I used)
1/2 cup coconut butter (either shop bought or make you own - find the recipe here)

- You can use any combination of nuts that you like. You can stick to one variety if you prefer or make your own blend)
- You can add some maple syrup, honey, or sweetener of your choice if you prefer the truffle mixture a little sweeter. I was happy with it as it was, but I wasn't after a super sweet treat. Everyone will have different ideas of how sweet they like it

1. In a small food processor or blender, blend the nuts, desiccated coconut, cocoa, dates, and coconut oil (or water). Blend until smooth and creamy - or you can leave it kind of chunky if you prefer.
2. Roll the mixture into balls (about 2 teaspoons for each ball, but really up to you depending on what size you want). Place balls onto a plate and freeze or refrigerate until hard
3. If your coconut butter is hard, you will need to melt it. I find the easiest way to do this is to heat a small pot of water over a low heat, then place a heat safe bowl with the coconut butter in it over the water. Stir until the coconut butter has melted.
4. Remove your truffles from the fridge or freezer. Roll each truffle in the coconut butter (you will need to work quite quickly as the coconut butter will start to harden from having the cold truffles dipped in. 5. Place the truffles on the plate (line it with baking paper so they don't stick) and place back into the fridge or freezer. Don't worry if they look a little messy - you can either enjoy them in their rustic form, or you can do a second coat (I did) repeating the same process as before.

Although the whole process with the coconut coating sounds a little drawn out, ir really doesn't take very long at all. The truffles set really quickly in the freezer, as does the coconut butter. It probably took me about 45 minutes in total to make these including chilling time and that included making a batch of coconut butter halfway through.



Bunless Burger and Shoestring Fries

What a fantastic day! Hubby and I celebrated our four year anniversary so this evening we took the kids out for a dinner date with us - we had a great evening, and the kids were really well behaved. It is so nice that the kids are now at the age where we can take them out for dinner and all sit down and hang out together. My oldest is 4 and a half, and the little rascal is 2 (3 in January) so it will only keep getting easier too.

We ate at Wildfire which is a Brazilian Churrasco (Brazilian BBQ). It is basically big plates of delicious vegetables, seafood and succulent meat all unlimited and bought to your table. The waiters walk around carrying big skewers with meat on and they cut it straight off the bone on to your plate. The kids most enjoyed playing with the 'traffic light' - there is a little wooden indicator on the table, one end green the other end red. When you want more food you turn it green side up, and when you are full and need to take a break you put the red side up. Great idea!

Cooked hubby his usual hot breakfast this morning, but as it was a special occasion I decided to jazz it up a little with some bacon (don't usually have time to make anything more than an omelette with a few vege leftovers thrown in. Lucky man!! Today I made him an egg and coconut milk omelette with capsicum and spinach, topped with avocado, chilli sauce and a side of bacon. He had just been to bootcamp early in the morning so it was a good way to send him off to work after a hard morning!

Last night we had burgers and fries for dinner - yum! Bunless burgers, using field mushrooms instead of buns with vietnamese chicken patties, shoestring kumara and celeriac fries, and roasted eggplant strips. The meal was divine, the kids loved it and hubby was in burger heaven. He loves a good burger, and he totally rated these ones so they can go down in the books as 'fun for the whole family!'. The meal is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, egg-free and free or refined sugar. Delicious, clean, nutritious and really easy to make!

Bunless Burgers with Shoestring Fries

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

500g Chicken Mince
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, roughly chopped
1/2 a red chilli (or more if you like it spicy)
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped into florets
1 tbsp lemongrass, finely diced
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tbsp coconut oil
8 field mushrooms, whole with stems removed
2 tomatos, thickly sliced
8 large lettuce leaves (I used cos lettuce but any variety is fine)

2 avocados (remove skins and mash)
juice of a half a lime or lemon
1 tsp chilli powder or sauce
salt and pepper to taste

2 kumara, cut into thin chips
1/2 a celeriac, cut into thin chips (or potato or another root vegetable of your choice)
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1 eggplant, cut into strip about 1cm thick x 6cm long
1 tbsp salt


1. In a small blender or food processor, combine garlic, onion, zucchini, chilli, broccoli, lemongrass, white pepper and fish sauce. Blend until smooth and well combined to make a paste. In a medium bowl combine chicken mince with paste and coconut flour. Mix until well combined. Cover and set aside in the fridge for a couple of hours (you can use straight away if you don't have time to wait, it just allows the flavours to develop nicely if you marinade it for a bit).
2. In a colander or sieve, place eggplant and salt (mix well to coat all of the eggplant in salt). Sit over a plate or bowl for around 20-30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 200C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. In a large bowl, combine kumara, cleriac, melted oil, turmeric, salt and pepper. Mix until oil and spices cover chips well. Place on a baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
4. When eggplant has been resting for around 20-30 minutes, rinse really well under cold filtered water and squeeze all of the excess liquid out. Place on a baking tray. On the same baking tray, lay the mushrooms 'gill' side up, and spread a little bit of oil on. You can also season with a little salt and pepper, or add any herbs you like. Bake the mushrooms and eggplant for about 15 minutes until tender and golden.
5. For the burger patties, take the prepared chicken mixture and split into 8 patties, about 2cm thick and 8cm wide. Over a medium heat, heat half the oil (1tbsp). When hot, place 4 patties and fry until golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side, frying until they are cooked through. Repeat the process for the other 4 patties.
6. To assemble the meal, place one mushroom down, top with chicken pattie, a couple of slices of tomato, then a dollop of mashed avocado (mash avocado with lime or lemon juice, chill and seasoning). Top with a lettuce leaf and finely another mushroom. Serve with fries and eggplant on the side.



Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Balinese Chicken and Vegetables with Cauliflower Rice

I was searching for something the other day (can't even remember what is was - don't think I ever found it!) and hunting through old boxes of junk and came across some old recipe cards that I must have picked up from the supermarket (Countdown to be specific for anyone looking for the original recipe). Yes, I am a recipe hoarder! So far this year my xmas wish list consists of recipe books and kitchen equipment. There is a theme here!

So anyway, I found a recipe card for Balinese Chicken which sounded super yummy. The recipe was for a BBQ plate, but I have adapted the recipe a little to turn it into a full clean dinner meal. The end result was succulent chicken that was crispy on the outside and moist and tender underneath served with vegetables in a spicy, aromatic sauce. Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free and free of refined sugar this meal is sure to be a hit with the whole family!

 Chicken having a little simmer in its saucy bath... not yet beautiful, but just you wait!

Mmmmm crispy chicken!

The finished product... Fresh, vibrant and delicious

Balinese Chicken and Vegetables with Cauliflower Rice

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

2 onions, roughly chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp honey (optional, it's just for flavour balance, but can easily be left out if you prefer)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
6-8 pieces of chicken (drumsticks or thighs will be best, with bone in)
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk

1 cup pumpkin, cut into 1cm strips
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 a red capsicum, cut into thick strips then halved
1/2 a cup of snow peas, trimmed

2 cups cauliflower, chopped into small florets
1 or 2 cloves of garlic (depends on how much you like garlic!)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small blender or food processor, place the onions, chillies, ginger, tamarind, honey, and salt. Blend until smooth. Put to one side while you prepare the chicken.
2. Heat the 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for around 4-5 minutes, turning regularly until golden on all sides.
3. Add your prepared spice paste to the pan with the chicken, and cook for a couple of minutes, moving the chicken around to coat it in the sauce.
4. Add the water and coconut milk, bring to a simmer then reduce heat and continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 230C and line a baking tray with baking paper.You can also get your vegetables ready during this time. (chop vegetables and make cauliflower rice).
5. Once the chicken has simmered for 20 minutes, remove each piece of chicken from the pan (leaving the sauce behind) and place it on the baking tray. Pour the sauce into a bowl and set aside. Place the chicken in the oven and cook for around 10-15 minutes until crispy and golden and cooked through.
6. While the chicken is in the oven, you can cook the vegetables. In the same frying pan that you used for the chicken, heat the remaining tbsp of oil over a medium/high heat. Add the pumpkin and broccoli and stir fry for a few minutes until they start to soften slightly. Add capsicum and snow peas and fry for a minute, then add the sauce that you have sitting aside back into the pan. Fry for a few minutes until sauce is hot and vegetables are tender but not soft (or cooked to your liking).

To make the cauliflower rice:

1. Place the cauliflower florets into a food processor with the garlic 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 the cauliflower and fry until softened. If the cauliflower sticks to the pan you can add around 1/4 cup of water or stock to loosen it up. 
4. Season with salt and pepper, add any other flavours you like (great with a dash of turmeric or paprika and just a squeeze of lemon juice), and you are ready to serve.

Note: Tamarind paste is easily found in your local asian supermarket, or probably in well stocked regular supermarkets. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Homemade Coconut Butter

Last night I made some more coconut butter (I am SO addicted to that stuff!) and I realised that although I have tacked the instructions on to another post, I do not have an official 'recipe' for coconut butter that is easily accessible. I use it in a fair few recipes so it makes sense to have a little spot where I can just show you a link and you can easily find it without having to wade through other stuff. Coconut Butter is one of those things that you can by for I think usually about $10 a jar, or you can buy a packet of desiccated coconut from the supermarket (make sure it's one of the preservative free brands - I use SunValley, Pams or Ceres) for only a few dollars and then whip your own up. There are no other costs as this is one of those fantastic 'one ingredient' things to make. There are a crazy number of websites that also have this same information, so this is by no means original - and some will even have other things added in - but this is how I make it and what works for me. So, without further ado, here is the recipe!

Homemade Coconut Butter

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

1 bag of desiccated coconut (300g)

1. Empty the packet of coconut into a high powered blender (it will work in a food processor too but may just take a little longer and you may prefer to make it in two batches so as not to overwork the machine)
2. Blend on high for around 4-5 minutes until the mixture becomes liquid. You may have to stop and scrape the sides a couple of times.
3. Once you have a lovely liquid consistency you can either use straight away in baking or spread on toast or apple slices for a wonderful snack. I find the best way to eat it is with a large spoon!! If you are not using it straight away, pour into a glass jar with lid and store in the pantry.

The coconut butter will harden once it cools, but you can easily melt it back down in a pot of sitting over a bowl of hot water if you need it soft again. Otherwise, it is great to dig chunks out for a quick energy boost if you need a snack. Another alternative is, instead of pouring the whole lot into a jar, get some icecube trays and pour into the moulds. Once hardened, pop out and you will have an instant fudgy treat. If you are choosing this option you could add some flavours when you blend the coconut to make all sorts of varieties of fudge. The options are limitless!!



Friday, 18 October 2013

Avocado Bread

The kids are off with their grandparents for the weekend, I am sitting on the deck in the sun, with the stereo cranking, a cold glass of sparkling water with lemon beside me catching some of that early evening sunshine that makes spring so special. What a wonderful way to finish a very relaxing day! I went for a visit with my wonderful cousin and spent a few hours there chatting up a storm over a refreshing cup of peppermint green tea and snacking on some more of the chocolate coconut bites that I made the other day (http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/2013/10/chocolate-coconut-bites-with-raspberry.html). I came home mid afternoon and made myself a yummy lunch of stir fried bok choy, baby spinach and asparagus with chill and ginger topped with grilled salmon, and when hubby gets home we are off for an evening of Indian culture at the Diwali Festival in Aotea Square with my brother and his beautiful wife. A fantastic day for recharging the 'mummy batteries' but by tomorrow morning I will definitely be ready for the kids to come home...I miss them!


Further to our recent bread experimentation, I thought I would share another bread recipe. This one is a little different, and although not hugely 'avocado-y' tasting, it does have that hint of sort of sweet earthiness that those wonderful avocados have. I got the idea of avocado bread from the blog tgipaleo.com and experimented with some different ingredients to make the loaf pictured below.The bread was a total hit with the whole family, even my youngest who wouldn't usually touch avocado with a 6 foot pole. The great thing about this bread is that it is totally nut free which makes it a safe option for putting in kids lunches with all of the nut-free policies around, plus the obvious of it being safe for anyone with a nut allergy to eat.

As well as being nut-free, the bread is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free and sugar-free. It is also wonderfully soft, moist and not crumbly. It bends well and makes great sandwiches.

Avocado Bread

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

1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chia seed meal (blitz chia seeds in a coffee grinder or mini food processor to create a flour from the whole)
1/4 cup psyllium husk
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup avocado puree (should be about 2 medium avocados)

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper, or grease with coconut oil or butter
2. Puree avocado with a blender (a stick blender works really well, but a standard blender will also work). Make sure the avocado is totally smooth with no pesky lumps
3. Combine dry ingredients (coconut flour, salt, psyllium, chia seed meal and baking soda) in a medium bowl.
4. In a small bowl, combine eggs, water, apple cider vinegar and avocado.
5. Pour wet mixture into dry and mix until combined.
6. Spoon mixture into the loaf tin and smooth down.
7. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until browned and firm to touch.
8. Eat while still hot from the oven for that wonderful warm bread sensation, or leave to cool and use for sandwiches or toast as needed.



Thursday, 17 October 2013

Fish and Chips - Oven Baked Fish with Garlic Fries, Coleslaw and Kale and Broccoli Pesto

Who doesn't love the old classic fish and chips?! Here is a clean spin on a classic kiwi favourite...

Baked Fish with Garlic Fries, Coleslaw and Kale and Broccoli Pesto

When I was in Seattle a couple of months ago for my brothers wedding, we went to a baseball game (such a cool experience - the quintessential american outing!), and at the stadium there was a tonne of yummy food - one of the best being the garlic fries...YUM! They were basically hot chips but smothered in a garlic and parsley sauce

Not exactly appropriate for a clean eating blog, but just thought if I was writing about them it would be rude not to put a photo in too! I love the apple wedges they give you - could only assume they were to freshen the breath after a serious garlic hit! 

Anyway, those fries inspired me to want to make something similar but clean and nutritious, as I am totally sure that the ballpark version was not exactly ideal from a health point of view! I was really keen to recreate that amazing flavour explosion though, and think that what we ended up with was pretty close. 

I served the fries with fresh gurnard that I dunked in a coconut flour batter and then oven baked, although you could pan fry it as an alternative. This would give it a more authentic 'battered fish' look and texture. There was also a fresh green and purple cabbage coleslaw and a delicious kale and brocoli pesto. I have a load of kale that has suddenly come up in the vege garden and had a very sad looking piece of broccoli in the fridge. What better way to get your leafy greens in than to blend the two together for a delicious accompaniment that really worked well with the fish. 

Baked Fish with Garlic Fries, Coleslaw, and Kale and Broccoli Pesto

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


Oven Baked Fish:

4 fish fillets (we had Gurnard but you can choose any variety)

1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove of crushed garlic
1tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
salt and pepper to season

Garlic Fries:

4 medium potatoes
2 large kumara (if you don't want potato, just use 4 large kumara)
6 large cloves of garlic, or 8 small, crushed or finely sliced
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 large handful of parsley (about 1/4 of a cup)

Kale and Broccoli Pesto:

1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup kale (any variety, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped)
1/2 tsp salt
a couple of grinds of black pepper
2 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp fresh coriander


1 cup purple cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup green cabbage, finely shredded
10cm length of telegraph cucumber, cut into thin strips
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tomato, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp cumin powder
salt and pepper


1. To begin, prepare your fries. Put a large pot of water on to heat over a medium high heat, and preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. 
2.  Cut your potatoes and kumara into chunky fries (about 1.5-2cm square). Place the fries into the pot of boiling water and parboil until just starting to soften.
3. In a bowl place the garlic, parsley, coconut oil and salt. 
4. Drain the water from the par-boiled fries. Pour the garlic sauce over the fries and shake or stir to ensure even coverage. Be careful as you don't want to break the fries up too much.
5. Place the fries on the prepared baking tray and bake for around 25 minutes or until crispy and golden. You will need to turn them a couple of times to make sure they cook evenly. 

6. While the fries are cooking, you can prepare you pesto, coleslaw and fish. 
7. For the pesto, place all ingredients in a small blender or food processor and blend until well combined. Taste, and add more salt, pepper or lemon depending on how you like it. You may also want to add a little more water if it is very thick. I blanched the kale and broccoli before blending, but that was more to take some of the peppery-ness away from it to make it more kid friendly. It will be fantastic with raw veges too.

8. To prepare the coleslaw, place all of the vegetables in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the lemon or vinegar, oil, cumin and seasoning and mix to combine. Pour over the coleslaw and mix to combine.

9. Leave the fish until the end as it does not take long to cook, especially if you go with the option of panfrying. 
10. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs gently then add the coconut flour, coconut milk, water, garlic, lemon juice and zest, and seasoning. Whisk together until well combined. 
11. Ensure fish fillets are clean and free of scales or bones. Take each fillet and dunk it in the batter to coat well. Place on a lined baking tray if baking and repeat with all four pieces. Place in the oven and bake for around 10-15 minutes. If you prefer a bit of browning to crisp it up, you can finish the fish under a hot grill for a couple of minutes, but be careful to keep a close eye on it. If you are pan-frying, heat about 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Place the battered fish in the pan and cook until just opaque inside, and golden brown on the outside. 

Note: If you like a really garlicy flavour and you're not afraid of a really strong raw garlic taste (delicious but intense!) you can cook the fries in the oven first, then pour the garlic and parsley sauce over just before serving. I chose to cook them with the sauce on as cooking the garlic gives it a more mellow flavour making it a little more suitable for the kids. 



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Chocolate Coconut Bites with Raspberry Surprise

It's getting late, and it's time for bed, but before I hit the sack I thought it would be rude not to share the goodness that I created this evening! It's a little bit naughty, but oh so nice...a little sweet treat for humpday!

This week has been all about bread in our kitchen, with hubby and I trying to perfect the ultimate loaf so come today I really just felt like something a little bit sweet and treat-ish...

I dare you to try and stop at one!

Chocolate Coconut Bites with Raspberry Surprise

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

1/4 cup dark chocolate (either chips or break up your favorite bar)
5 tbsp coconut butter
2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp maple syrup (or honey, or date puree or eliminate if you prefer)
6 frozen raspberries

1. Set up a double boiler on the stove (a small pot with water and then a small bowl set over the top - the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Heat over a medium-low heat until water is gently simmering.
2. In an ice cube tray or cake pop mould, place a raspberry in each of 6 holes. Put aside while you make the chocolate mixture. If you would prefer your raspberries to be a proper surprise (ie completely hidden inside the chocolate, see the notes below)
3. In the bowl place the chocolate and coconut butter. Melt until smooth. Stir to ensure coconut and chocolate are evenly combined
4. Remove bowl the heat (careful, as it will be very hot!). Place the remaining ingredients in the bowl and mix well. The mixture will start to thicken very quickly so you don't want to muck around too much here, although it it does get too thick you can always place back over the hot water for a minute just to soften it again). Put a scoop of chocolate mixture (about 1 heaped teaspoon) over each raspberry and pat down to ensure the chocolate surrounds the raspberry.
5. Place in the fridge or freezer to set. It will take around 10 minutes in the freezer or about 20 minutes in the fridge.
6. Pop out of the moulds and serve straight away. Keep in the fridge in an airtight container to store. 

- This recipe makes 6 bites, so you can double or triple the recipe  to make the quantity you need
- If you would prefer to make the raspberries a proper surprise that is encapsulated in the chocolate you just need to modify the order in which you put it together. Instead of placing the raspberry in the mould at the start, begin by placing a layer of chocolate mixture, then put the raspberry in, then put more chocolate mixture over the top and press down to make sure it surrounds the sides properly as well. I left mine popping out because I love the colour of raspberries and wanted to see them, plus thought it would look better in the photo if you could see the raspberry!



Monday, 14 October 2013

Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free Bread

Before I get into my bread revelations, I have to quickly share my latest find - a fantastic new (or new to me!) fruit and vege shop that is tucked away in a little group of shops where I discovered a multitude of wonderful and different fruits and vegetables that I have dreamed of using but rarely found locally to my house. I saw a sign as I was driving by for cheap avocados. I cannot pass up an avocado deal so thought I'd pop in to grab a couple. I'm so glad I did! Not only did I find the avocado, but I got a HUGE celeriac for $3 (makes awesome mash or fries), a golden beetroot (can't wait use it!) purple carrots (the kids love carrots, and they love purple, so couldn't possibly go wrong!) and red baby kale leaves. They also had loads of other wonderful leafy greens that I will be going back for, as well as a great selection of fruits. And all really well priced. Don't you just love those great little finds - the ones where you feel like you're the only person in the world who has discovered this wonderful secret...although if you're anything like me you will find that in fact everyone in the world already knows about it and I'm just a bit slow on the uptake!

 What is prettier than a bench full of gorgeous fresh vegetables!

And now for the bread...

My belly aches from all of the bread I have been eating in the last 2 days!!!! I have been in touch with a lovely lady called Anna via email, and we have been sharing recipes. She gave me a recipe for her current favourite bread and raved about it, so naturally I wanted to try it out!

The recipe was fantastic, but being the difficult person that I am, I decided to make a few changes just to put my own spin on it and add in a few of my own healthy substitutes. What came out of the oven was a gorgeous loaf of hot, moist, light tasty bread. One of the best things about this bread is that it is bendy (but not chewy)! That is an odd description of bread, but what I mean is that you can bend it to make sandwiches or (in hubbys case) wrap around sausages! This is often difficult to achieve with gluten/grain/dairy free breads - they do have a tendency to be a little crumbly.

Hubby has been on the hunt for a good bread substitute for those times when nothing but bread will satisfy his cravings, so we are going through phases of research and experimentation. Yesterday I made 3 loaves and to be honest, although I am posting this one today, I am still experimenting to get the ultimate loaf - I have a few ideas that I am working on so watch this space! I have also been working for a few weeks now on perfecting a yeast based loaf. I know that there are plenty of people out there who have problems with almond meal due to nut allergies, not to mention that it is not ideal for school sandwiches due to nut restrictions in schools and preschools. I am yet to perfect that recipe - I keep ending up with a delicious looking loaf that is soggy on the inside....good things take time!! (and lots of trips to the supermarket for ingredients!!). Although one of my passions in life is baking of any kind, baking bread has not been something I have done a lot of in the past, and my inexperience with the science of yeast based bread is showing. I think a bit more reading and a lot more baking will eventually reveal the perfect loaf...oh my goals in life are just so inspiring!

Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free Bread


1 cup almond flour
½ cup psyllium husk
¼ cup chia seed meal (grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder or small blender to make a powder – you can use flaxseed meal instead)
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp coconut flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
5 eggs
¼ cup coconut oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar


1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a bread pan with baking paper, or grease well with coconut oil or butter.
2. Mix dry ingredients (almond flour, psyllium, chia seeds, salt, coconut flour, baking soda) in a large bowl. 
3. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl (beat eggs lightly then add apple cider vinegar. Melt coconut oil with honey if honey is hard, and add to egg mixture - ensure oil is not hot, warm at most, when you put it in as you don't want to cook the eggs)
4. Add wet to dry and spoon into bread pan. Smooth the top, and if you want to be fancy, score the top with knife to make 3 or 4 'slashes' in the top.
5. Bake for 35 minutes until browned and firm to touch.

Note: Psyullium husk will be available from most wholefood stores, and I think the Ceres Organic brand is often available in the baking section or health food section of your local supermarket.



Sunday, 13 October 2013

Chicken and Vegetable Pizza with Cashew 'Cheese' and Guacamole

This year in keeping with the eating real food lifestyle we have embarked on, I have decided to make a conscious effort to find more time to plant a vege garden. I have done a little bit each year, with mixed success but this year I am going to make a resolution to grow more than just a whole load of zucchini and mint!

Now you may be reading this thinking that is not such a big deal, and shouldn't any good 'clean eater' be eating home grown vegetables? Well, you haven't seen my lifetime of efforts with anything green and growing! When I was a uni student my Mum bought me a small plant called a Flaming Katie (yes Mum, my name is Kate and I do have a fiery temper at times...got the joke!). The plant had pretty little yellow flowers on it and it took pride of place in my lounge. Being a uni student there was not a huge amount of effort put into decoration of the lounge so I felt pretty proud of my little plant. Anyway, due to either too much water, or a lack of water, or too much sun, or not enough sun (I had no idea what I was supposed to do with this little living thing in my lounge - so I swung between watering it every day with a big cup, to not watering at all for days or weeks, and full sun to deep in a corner of the room!) the poor little thing just shrivelled up and died. I didn't want to tell Mum that the plant she had gifted me had met its end (who has seen the scene from that Kate Hudson movie where the guy kills their 'love fern'?!!), so I very cleverly went down to the local plant shop and bought another one. Or at least, I thought I was clever! Anyway, turns out my Mum doesn't have the best memory which served me well in this instance as I proceeded to go through about 3 more of these plants before I finally gave up hope and confessed to my Mum that I couldn't seem to keep it alive. Mum, bless her lovely naivety, was totally surprised and had no idea that I had been killing them and had not even noticed that about once every 3 months my plant would suddenly be breaking out in a beautiful bloom of flowers that were a different colour each time! Since those days I have gained a little more gardening experience, but not much. For the most part, anything that grows well in our garden does so out of sheer good luck and perseverance on the part of the plant!

In order to get the ball rolling, my eldest and I put a few seeds into trays yesterday to get some seedlings going. Today, I cleared away some of the jungle that was growing over our vege patch and dug in some blood and bone (no idea why, I just remember my parents doing that when I was young!), and planted a couple of pumpkin seedlings my stepdad-in-law gave me. If I could just ask everyone to cross their fingers, I may in time have some pumpkins to be proud of...maybe!

That is a little bit of a digression from Pizza, so I'll get on with it!

The other night hubby was craving Pizza, so being the good little wifey that I am, I decided to go about making one that was family friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free, sugar-free...and I think the end result was pretty successful! A huge thankyou to the wonderful Petite Kitchen for the recipe for the base - I have made my own in the past, but the other day I used her recipe to make some bread rolls for lunch and they were so yummy that I decided to make the recipe into a pizza base (with a couple of minor modifications!) www.petite-kitchen.com

You would think that a pizza without flour or cheese was not really a pizza at all, but hubby was seriously impressed! I don't like to rate these things too highly, as I know that everyone has different ideas of what good food is, but on this one I am dealing with somewhat of a pizza expert...hubby has eaten a LOT of pizza over the years (he's no connoisseur - his all-time fave is Hawaiian!), but for him to say he loved it meant that it must have been a pretty good resemblance of a pizza!

I served the pizza with a side salad of cabbage, cucumber, orange and purple carrot with a lemon and olive oil dressing. This recipe made 1 large and 3 small pizzas, or 2 large pizzas.

Three small size bases (about 15cm in diameter) baked an ready to top.

Chicken and Vegetable Pizza with Cashew 'Cheese" and Guacamole with Cabbage Salad

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


(you can use pre-made bases of your choice if you do not want to make them, but these are so easy and you won't be disappointed)
6 tbsp psyllium husk
8 tbsp coconut flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed herbs
8 egg whites
1 cup boiling water

Pizza Toppings:
500g chicken tenderloins
1 capsicum, any colour
3 large portobello mushrooms (the flat dark brown ones)
4 tbsp tomato paste (divided evenly over all pizza bases)
1/4 cup jalapenos (optional)

Cashew 'Cheese':
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
juice of half a lemon

1 avocado, mashed (after removing pip and skin)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 a tomato, finely diced
1/2 a spring onion, finely sliced
a pinch of chilli powder, or a couple of drops of tabasco sauce, or half a fresh red chilli finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cabbage Salad:
1/2 a cup of red cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 a telegraph cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 medium sized orange carrot, grated
1 medium sized purple carrot, grated (you can just leave it out if you can't find purple carrots!)
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 a tsp ground cumin
1/2 a tsp ground coriander (or 1 tbsp fresh coriander)
salt and pepper to taste


Pizza Bases:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper (or grease with butter or coconut oil)
2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (psyllium, coconut flour, baking soda and herbs). 
3. In another bowl, separate the egg whites (save the yolks for other yummy goodies!), and whisk until slightly frothy. 
4. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix, then pour the mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. 
5. Mix well until all combined. 
6. Add the boiling water, and mix well. 
7. Divide the mixture in half, and either use each half to create 2 large pizza bases, or use divide the mixture evenly to make as many bases of whichever size you would like. 
8. Place your chosen sized piece of 'dough' on the baking tray and press down into a circle shape until about 1cm thick. Repeat process as necessary depending on how many bases you are making.
9. Bake for around 20 minutes until browned and firm to touch.

Pizza Toppings:
1. In a large frying pan, heat coconut oil over a medium heat and panfry chicken tenderloins until cooked through. You can either flavour simply with salt and pepper or you could add whichever seasoning you wish ( I used a little bit of paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander and a pinch of chill). 
2. Slice mushrooms and capsicum into thin sticks, and finely dice jalapeƱos

Cashew 'Cheese':
1. In a small blender or food processor place all ingredients.
2. Blend until smooth and creamy. If it seems a bit thick, add either a little more lemon juice or a little more water depending on your taste preference. 

1. In a bowl, mash avocado, and add tomato, spring onion, lemon juice, chilli or tabasco. Mix well and season to taste.

Cabbage Salad:
1. Prepare all vegetables as directed above, then place in a bowl. In another small bowl, combine ingredients for dressing (lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper). Combine dressing with vegetables and mix well.

To Assemble the Meal:

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place pizza base on a baking tray and spread tomato paste over the whole base. 
2. Top with mushroom, capsicum, cooked chicken, and jalapenos. 
3. Place in the oven, and cook for around 10-15 minutes until vegetables are cooked, and pizza is hot.
4. Remove from oven and top with dollops of cashew cheese and guacamole.
5. Serve with cabbage salad.



Thursday, 10 October 2013

Chocolate Chip and Banana Cookies

The weekend's close enough - it's time for a sweet treat!!!

These cookies are incredibly moreish, and you can either eat them straight out of the oven (give them 10 minutes to cool down or the molten chocolate chips will burn your mouth...speaking from experience here!), in which case they will be soft, and 'melty' and oh so good, or leave them to cool completely and they will crisp up and become more biscuity. I would recommend making enough that you can try them both ways!

I used chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand which is gluten, dairy, nut and soy free - check them out here http://www.lifehealth.co.nz/categories/food-and-beverage/enjoy-life-chocolate-chips) or you could cut your favourite chocolate into chunks and make a more chunky, chocolatey version! If you wanted to be a little more restrained and keep away from the chocolate you could replace the chocolate with raisin or chopped up dates.

Other than the obvious treat side of having the chocolate in these cookies, they really are still wholesome and nutritious! They are gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free and depending on which type of chocolate you use they have either minimal or no refined sugar.

Chocolate Chip and Banana Biscuits

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

1 smallish banana, well mashed
2 tsbp coconut flour 
2 tbsp almond flour (you could replace with another type of flour if you can't or won't do nuts)
25g coconut oil, melted
1.5 tbsp tapioca starch (or substitute with 1 egg and half a tbsp coconut flour)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp honey or maple syrup (optional, depending on how sweet you like it - you could also add a little more if you like things sweet)

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a baking tray with baking paper
2. In a small bowl, mix together coconut flour, almond flour, tapioca, desiccated coconut, baking soda and chocolate chips.
3. In another small bowl, mix together banana, coconut oil and vanilla. Pour into dry mixture and stir until well combined
4. Form mixture into 'patty' shapes using about 1-2 tbsp of mixture depending on what size you like. 
5. Cook for around 10-12 minutes until golden brown. 
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool. You can eat these still warm for a softer cookie, or leave to cool completely and they will become slightly crispy.

This recipe makes about 4 or 6 biscuits depending on how big you make them. Simply double, triple or quadruple the recipe depending on how many you need…I tried to only make a few as I can't be trusted with freshly baked biscuits in the vicinity!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Pumpkin Cookies and Pumpkin Fudge

As you can probably see from the title of this post, I am on a pumpkin bender!! There was a slightly dubious looking pumpkin in the fridge that was in desperate need of some tender loving care, and it seems that my facebook feed is chock-a-block full of of pumpkin recipes to coincide with autumn in America. I was feeling inspired, so decided to have a bit of a play around (ie. grab a bowl, throw stuff in and cross fingers and toes that it turns into something edible!!).

The results were very tasty, and even my little 2 year old who is totally against pumpkin being in her vicinity when it comes to dinner was more than willing to feast on these delights!

Pumpkin and Raisin Cookies 
(Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar, no added fat)

Pumpkin and Coconut Fudge
(Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar, no added fat)

As prep for making these, it is handy to already have some pumpkin puree on hand. The easiest way to do this (short of buying it in tins!) is to cut up a chunk of pumpkin (any variety will do, just have a play around with which variety you prefer the taste of) into small pieces and steam it until very tender. Then simply puree it (ideally using a stick blender, but you could mash it through a sieve or try a regular blender if you don't have a stick blender). Voila, homemade pumpkin puree! If you make a decent amount of it, you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days and make all sorts of goodies, or it also freezes well, so it's something you can make in bulk if you know you're going to be using a lot of it. The best way I know of to freeze it is to spoon it into ice trays and allow to freeze, then pop out into a freezer bag to store. Instant portion controlled free flow lumps of pumpkin. 

Pumpkin and Raisin Cookies

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

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp tapioca starch
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
120g (1 small can or about 1/2 a cup) of apple puree 
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp maple syrup (more if needed - the amount may depend on the variety of pumpkin you use, or the needs of your sweet tooth!)

1. Preheat oven to 160C
2. If you have not already pureed your pumpkin, do so now following instructions above
3. In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, baking soda, tapioca, ginger, mixed spice and raisins. Mix well.
4. In another bowl, combine egg, apple puree, vanilla, maple syrup and pumpkin. Mix well. 
5. Tip wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until well combined
6. Form mixture into small balls (about 1 heaped tsp) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Flatten gently with a fork
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden and firm to touch.
8. Allow to cool then dig in!

Note: To make these a little more decadent, swap the raisins for dark chocolate chips, or even just a dark chocolate bar chopped into rough chunks. Yum!

 Flattened out and ready to cook

 Fresh out of the oven - golden and delicious!


Pumpkin and Coconut Fudge

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


1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
1/2 up coconut butter (see link here to find out how to make this super easy, addictive substance http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/search/label/Coconut%20Butter)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp mixed spice


1. Place all ingredients in a bowl, and mix until well combined
2. Spoon the mixture into a greased or lined small baking dish or bowl, or form into small balls (if you haven't eaten it all already - it's really good!)
3. Freeze or refrigerate (depending on how impatient you are!) until set.

Note: This recipe makes about 9 small pieces about 1cm deep and 2cm square, but you can double, triple, or quadruple the recipe if you want more - and you will want more!

Close up!



Monday, 7 October 2013

Sag Aloo and Keralan Cabbage with Spiced Squid and Garlic Chilli Sauce

We have just returned from one of the best family holidays we have had. It was such a simple little getaway, we didn't go far, and we spent a grand total of $9 the whole trip (excluding travel costs) which is about as simple as it gets, but we had a total blast and have come back feeling refreshed and shattered all at the same time!

Earlier in the week, hubby and I decided to take the kids away to Waiheke Island as a 'mid-school holidays' getaway. The kids have been really good all week, and we don't make the effort to get away as often as we should. We are extremely lucky that my in-laws have a holiday home on the island, so we just keep an eye out for cheap deals on ferry trips, and away we go. As we were only going for 2 days and 1 night, I packed all the food we needed and the only money spent was an ice block each for the kids after a long play on the beach, and a coffee for hubby on the morning ferry on the way there after an early start!

We are refreshed from having lots of time in the sun, sand and fresh air, and shattered from exactly the same thing! Hubby and I have also come home a little crispy - we are so worried about putting sunblock on the kids, and always forget about ourselves! Not a good example for the kids, and a lesson to both of us that we have to lead by example. I find spring the hardest time to remember about sun protection...it is the furthest thing from my 'winter-brain' that has been in hibernation and starved of strong sunshine for so many months! The 2 days we were there could not have been more summery, and we spent heaps of time in togs on the beach - the weirdest thing was that while we were working on putting in some beach hours, we had friends posting on facebook about having a wonderful time down the country skiing - we sure do live in a crazy little country!

Total change of topic now - Food!

Earlier in the week, I found a recipe in a magazine for an Indian Sag Aloo courtesy of Jamie Oliver. As I'm sure I've probably mentioned a thousand times, he is one of my food heroes (there are a few!) and I have always enjoyed tinkering with recipes he makes - they are usually essentially clean and fresh so generally I only have to make simple substitutes to remove gluten/dairy etc. A Sag Aloo is a gorgeous, aromatic dish made with potatoes and spinach with a nice spiciness to it.

The recipe for Sag Aloo got my mouth watering for an indian feast, so I decided to put together a kind of 'indian street food' kind of dinner (sadly I have not made it to India yet, so I am only imagining what the food there might really be like, but this was my interpretation!). I paired the Sag Aloo with a cabbage and coconut dish (Keralan Cabbage, some spiced squid (not very indian, but felt like eating squid that day!), and a yummy chilli and garlic dipping sauce. I served the dishes with some fresh cos lettuce leaves as a bit of a vessel for eating it in. This is also a fantastic budget meal, using potato and cabbage as the main ingredients. All of this deliciousness is gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free and nut-free.

I wanted to make life easier while I was cooking this dinner, so I went with the option of frozen spinach as I happened to have some in the freezer. As it does not take a lot of cooking time in the dish itself, and I only had the bunched up kind, not the free flow, I decided to give the cooking process a helping hand by steaming it first to pre-cook it before adding to the meal. Here is a photo of why you should not try and cook too many things at once...
 I burnt the pan to a crisp! Smoked spinach is NOT tasty, and my sneaky little time-saving effort really took a lot of time as I then had to not only start from scratch with the spinach, but I had a very nasty pot to deal with! Not cool! Thankfully with a bit of baking soda and vinegar (what can that mixture not fix!), a scourer cloth and a bit of elbow grease, the pot was saved. The nasty smoky smell lingered around the house for a couple of days though!

Thankfully the rest of the cooking process was uneventful and, as you can see in the picture above, the meal turned out out to be fresh, clean, vibrant and delicious! (with not a hint of burnt smokiness to be found)...lesson learnt!

Sag Aloo and Garlic Chilli Sauce (adapted from the recipe by Jamie Oliver)

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

1 onion
2 tomatoes
a large handful of fresh coriander (keep the stalks for the sauce)
2 heaped tbsps Rogan Josh Seasoning (You can either buy some pre-made, or very easily make your own. Click here for the recipe http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/2013/08/rogan-josh-and-cauliflower-fritters.html)
Coconut oil
1.2 kg potatoes (or kumara if you do not eat potato), cut into 3cm chunks

200g frozen spinach (or fresh if you have it)

4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 fresh red chill, finely sliced
2 tsp cumin powder (or seeds if you prefer, I just happened to only have the powder in the cupboard)

1. Peel the onion and add with the tomatoes, coriander stalks, and Rogan Josh seasoning to a small food processor or blender. Blitz until smooth and combined.
2. Spoon the mixture into a non-stick frying pan with about a tsp of oil over a medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
3. Add potatoes to the pan with salt and pepper to season, then pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup water over the potatoes (enough to come about halfway up the potatoes, but not cover them). Bring to the boil, cover with a lid of foil, and simmer for about 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are just cooked through.
4. Remove the lid, then turn the heat to medium-high and reduce until all the liquid cooks away and the potatoes start o get crispy and golden (should be about 15-20 minutes). At about the 10-15 minute mark, add the spinach and make sure you stir the mixture regular as the potatoes are crisping up. Once cooked, serve in a large bowl, topped with coriander leaves.
5. While the potatoes are finishing off, you can make the garlic and chilli sauce. In a small frying pan, place the chill, garlic and cumin with about 2 tbsp oil, and fry until golden. Remove from the heat and serve in a small bowl to accompany the main dish.

Spiced Squid

1 bag of frozen squid rings, defrosted (or you can get fresh squid hoods and cut into rings if you want to be fancy and have gorgeous succulent squid. I went for the lazy option on this one, plus they were already in the freezer!)
1 tbsp Garam Masal
1 tbsp coconut oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to season

1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garam masala and cook for a minute or so to release the flavours.
2. Add the squid and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Squeeze the lemon juice over, then add salt and pepper to taste. Stir quickly then remove from heat and serve in a large bowl with optional coriander to garnish

Keralan Cabbage 

(I borrowed this recipe from a little cookbook called Superfoods, but I have misplaced the details of the authors name. I will try and track it down)
(Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free, nut-free)

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp curry leaves (these are available from you local asian supermarket)
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds (or powder also works if that's what's in the cupboard)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp desiccated coconut (or grated fresh coconut if you have it available)
1 onion, peeled and very finely diced
1/3 head of cabbage (about 2 cups), very finely shredded

1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over a medium heat
2. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, chilli, cumin, turmeric and ginger. Fry for a minute or two to release the flavors. This will smell amazing!
3. Add the coconut and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often
4. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring often, for around 5 minutes until the cabbage is just starting to soften.
5. Serve immediately.



Friday, 4 October 2013

Kumara Brownies

It's the weekend - woohoo! Really makes no difference in this household, as hubby has Sunday/Mondays off, and with the kids there are really no differences...no sleep ins, no lazy mornings watching trash TV in PJs, no leisurely brunch at the local cafe in the sunshine.

Wouldn't change it though! There is something wonderful about waking up early and getting those early morning cuddles that start the day off in such a wonderful way. 'The early bird catches the worm' is such a true saying - it's amazing how much more you feel you have achieved in a day when the day starts at the crack of dawn!

I have to give due credit though to the wonders of daylight savings. This morning the kids slept until 7.30....yes, you did read correctly and that is not a typo! I of course (because this is one of the untold wonders of parenthood) woke up at 6, and spent the time aimlessly doing nothing because I kept expecting the kids to wake up 'any second'! All the parents out there will know those days - when the kids finally sleep in, and for some hideous unknown reason you are awake with the birds and cannot even enjoy that extra hour of sleep no matter how hard you try because, just to spite you, you all of a sudden have been blessed with boundless energy on this given day that is never never ever present on the days that the kids are up with the birds as well. Just another one of life's unsolved mysteries!!

Right, ummm, where was I? Ok so Kumara Brownies! Nothing to do with daylight saving, or the oddities of parenting, but they are as a side not a great way to sneak some vegetables into those early rising little blessings that are the children. These brownies not only taste AMAZING but they are gluten-free, optionally dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free and free of refined sugar. They are moist and wonderfully chocolatey, and dangerously easy to eat! If you are looking for a tasty treat for the weekend then look no further.


I can't take all the credit for these ones though - I found the inspiration at eatdrinkpaelo.com.au. Made a couple of variations, mostly just because of what I had available in the pantry! The most notable change was to change from white to orange kumara. The nutritional profile of of an orange kumara is so much greater than the standard white ones (with the purple skins). If you can, aim to use the orange or gold where possible. I also happen to think they taste heaps better too, but that is just personal choice!

Kumara Brownie


1 orange kumara, peeled and grated
2 eggs (I use size 7, lightly beaten)
2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut sugar (you could just use 1/2 a cup of honey or half a cup of coconut sugar if you don't have both options available)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup butter (you can just use 1/2 cup coconut oil if you want totally dairy free, or 1/4 cup of coconut oil and 1/4 cup apple sauce for a lower fat version)
1 heaped TBSP baking powder
1/2 TBSP baking soda
1 cup cocoa powder
2 TSBP coconut flour


1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a square cake pan with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, add the kumara, eggs and vanilla essence. Mix to combine
3. In a small saucepan, over a low heat, melt coconut oil, butter, honey and coconut sugar until just melted. Allow to cool slightly.
4. Add melted ingredients to the large bowl. Sift in the cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. Mix to combine.
5. Add the coconut flour, and mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
6. Pour mixture into the prepared cake pan (you may need to use a spatula and flatten it down, as it is a fairly thick mixture).
7. Place in the oven and cook for around 25-30 minutes or until no longer wobbly in the centre
8. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan. Allow to cool, then cut into 5cm squares (or just grab a fork and dig in when it's still hot....YUM!)

Sneaky bonus ingredient: I had about 2 rows of dark chocolate leftover in the pantry, and I added it to the saucepan while I was melting the oil and sugar. This was just my little sneaky treat, and it added a little bit of depth of chocolateyness but can just as easily be left out. If you wanted to make this a little more decadent you could also drizzle melted chocolate over the top when the brownie has cooled