Friday, 28 February 2014

Chicken and Chips


Easy dinner alert! This one is fantastically child friendly and oh so tasty for the grownups too. I served this 'family style' (on plates in the middle of the table) and the kids really enjoyed dishing up what they wanted and using the dipping sauces for all of the vegetables. Best of all, the meal is so quick and easy to make.




Chicken and Chips

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

Ingredients:

Chicken
600g Chicken Tenderloins (or chicken breast cut into strips)
1 tsp garlic powder (or fresh grated garlic)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp paprika
1/8 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp tapioca flour

Chips
6 potatoes or kumaras (or a few of each as I used), cut into thick wedges or slices
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 220C. Line a baking tray with baking paper
2. Heat a large pot of water until boiling then boil chips for around 5-10 minutes until tender but not soft. Drain water.
3. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, turmeric, coconut oil, salt, pepper and parsley. Mix well to combine. Pour the mixture over the chips and stir well to get a good coating over the chips. 
4. Pour the chips out onto the oven tray. Bake for around 20-30 minutes until golden and crispy.
5. While the chips are cooking, Prepare the chicken. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, salt, paprika, coconut oil and tapioca. Mix well to combine. Add the chicken to the bowl, and mix everything together well to ensure a nice even coverage of coating over the chicken. 
6. In a large frying pan, heat about 1 tbsp oil over a medium high heat. Add chicken and cook one side until browned, then turn and cook the other side. Check to ensure that chicken is cooked right through. If you have particularly thick slices of chicken you may like to finish the pieces in the oven for a few minutes if they're not quite cooked through. You will be best to cook the chicken in a couple of batches in the frying pan so that they brown nicely instead of boiling. 
7. Serve the chicken with the chips, a great big fresh salad of your choice, and a couple of dipping sauces. We had homemade garlic aioli and homemade avocado sauce.

Garlic Aioli (using homemade mayonnaise)
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (you will need 1 egg, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup very mild tasting olive oil)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
juice of half a lemon

First make the mayonnaise. In a blender, combine the egg, vinegar and salt. Blend for about 10-15 seconds until smooth. VERY slowly add the oil in a tiny trickle while the blender is running. It will take a few minutes to add the whole cup of oil, but if you are not patient the mayonnaise will not work. Trust me….I have made many failed batches due entirely to being in too much of a rush!
Once you have made the mayonnaise, remove 1/2 a cup of it into a small bowl (keep the rest in the fridge). To the bowl, add the garlic, salt and lemon juice. Mix well to combine.

Avocado Dip
1 ripe avocado
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a small blender or food processor. Blend until well combined. Season to taste

Enjoy!

x


Monday, 24 February 2014

Ginger Crunch

Wow - I knew ginger crunch was popular, but the teaser post I popped on Facebook last night drew in an avalanche of love! Obviously I am not the only one who has a weakness for this divine little sweet treat, and there is even more to love with this version which is full of nutrients and whole foods and leaves out all of the refined sugars and flours that the traditional version is loaded with.

It is amazing how much more efficient your brain can be at 2 in the morning right?! Does anyone else do their best thinking then?! We are currently in the middle of weaning my youngest off of her night nappies, so I am spending a fair amount of time cruising the house at 2 in the morning changing sheets and wiping down a sleepy little girl. Combine this with the mother of all colds that has hit this week, and sleep was a lost cause once I finally got back in to bed (my ear was THROBBING!) and spent the next forever (always feels like forever at that time of night) tossing and turning. With all that tossing and turning my mind was ticking over and I suddenly thought - wouldn't coconut butter be SO good with ginger to make a yummy crackly topping for a ginger crunch? Seriously, food is always at the top of my mind… really have to get a hobby that doesn't involve eating!

So obviously one of the first jobs to do in the morning was to turn those ideas into reality, and I think the end result was pretty darn amazing… and just so you are fore-warned, you will not be able to stop eating this! Best of all, it's made from all raw ingredients, so a little hit of freezer time is all that is required (and even that is not 100% necessary, it just adds firmness to the slice)

The ginger crunch is gluten, dairy, grain and soy free, and free of refined sugar. The sweetness comes from the addition of dates and a touch of maple syrup. I have added both fresh and ground ginger for a real ginger kick. If you are a fan of ginger but don't like it to be really strong, you can dial back the ground ginger in the recipe to give it a little less oomph. The fresh ginger also adds to the nutritional benefits of this treat - ginger is an amazing little wonder food which a fantastic aid to digestion and has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties.



Ginger Crunch

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

Ingredients:

Base
1 cup raw cashew nuts
8 medjool dates (or dried if you don't have medjool)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated (you can eliminate if you don't have any fresh ginger, but it really boosts the flavor!)
2 tsp ground ginger
zest of 1 lime (or lemon)
3 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 cup almond flour

Topping
1/2 cup coconut butter, melted (make you own, or you can buy from most health food or specialty food shops)
2 tsp ginger
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Directions:
1. In a food processor or blender, combine the cashews, dates, both types of ginger, lime zest, and maple syrup. Blend until well combined and almost smooth but with a little bit of texture left
2. Tip into a bowl and add the almond flour. Mix well to combine
3. Press the base mixture into a small baking tin or quiche tin. You will find it easiest to either use a tin that has a removable base, or make sure line whatever you use with baking paper or glad wrap to make sure you can get it out. You can even make it in a bowl or on a plate - it doesn't really matter! You will want the base mixture to be about 2-3 cm thick.
4. Once the base mixture is in the tin, pop it in the fridge or freezer to chill.
5. In a small bowl, combine the coconut butter (make sure it's melted - if not you can stand the bowl over a pot of simmering water for a couple of minutes to allow it to melt) then quickly add the ginger, maple syrup and vanilla essence. The addition of the other ingredients will cause the coconut butter to firm up so stir it quickly to ensure you get a nice even mix before it firms.
6. Remove the chilled base from the fridge and press the topping on (you can use either your fingers or the back of a spoon). Place back in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to allow the topping to 'set'.
7. Dig in!

Enjoy!

x

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Banana Coconut Fridge Fudge

My husband has a seriously good immune system! Every time the girls and I come down with a cold he  seems to manage to avoid catching the bug. Some people have all the luck! To be fair though, I can pretty much pinpoint the moment at which the bug was passed on to me…I was going in for a kiss on the cheek with my eldest daughter at bedtime (thinking the cheek was a safe option when she had a minor case of the sniffles) and she decided to turn it into the biggest sloppiest kiss ever right on the lips. Arrgghh! Within 24 hours my nose was blocked and my throat had the scratchiness to it that is just downright annoying. I was having a bit of a whinge to hubby about it - I'd rather be at either end of the spectrum…100% well, or 100% sick (as in bedridden, properly sick) than all of this in-between nonsense. I find it really frustrating to be not really sick enough to time off from the long list of things to do, but to just generally not feel at the top of my game in doing all of those things. He disagreed and thought it was horrible being properly sick, but I think it sounds great! Forced to lie in bed and do nothing at all but read books and feel sorry for myself - it's the ultimate fantasy!! 

Anyway, enough about out sniffles - they're a bit of a non-event, just a little annoying blip in the road that is making us all a little cranky. 

The perfect antidote to general crankiness is catching up with girlfriends. This week has been a great week for it - coffee with my wonderful friend yesterday, straight on to visit another friend who has just had her 3rd baby (they're so SMALL!!), and then today another catchup with another amazing friend. 

For todays catchup, I made a little treat for us. This fridge fudge was simple to put together, only contains a handful of ingredients, and can be made with or without the chocolate topping, depending on whether you want it to be a little something you can munch on any old time to fill a gap during those peckish moments, or if you want something a little more sweet and decadent. I added a little maple syrup to the mix as I was going for the more decadent option, but you could leave it out if you want to reduce the sugar content. 



Banana Coconut Fridge Fudge

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

Ingredients:
1 large ripe banana
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
3 tbsp maple syrup (or honey), optional
4 squares of dark chocolate (70% or higher), melted

Directions:
1. In a food processor or blender place the coconut butter, banana, cocoa powder, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. Remove from the blender to a bowl, add the desiccated coconut and mix well to combine. 
2. Place tbsp amounts of the mixture into moulds, or place the whole bowl into a baking tin. 
Refrigerate for a few hours to set (you can put them in the freezer if you are short on time). If you have gone with moulds, remove them. If you have chilled it in the baking tin, remove and cut into squares. 
3. Dunk each piece of fudge into the melted dark chocolate (optional, but very tasty!). Place back in the fridge for a bit to set the chocolate. 

Enjoy!

x

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Pork Sliders

So I asked hubby yesterday what he wanted for dinner…always an interesting question as sometimes he asks for something pretty simple, and other times I think he enjoys thinking up something that is a little left of centre just to see if I will rise to the challenge. Well, he severely underestimates the level of my competitive nature!!! So yesterday when he said "how about little mini burger" I set about making some little mini buns and putting together some mince mixture for some little wee patties. Ha!

I made these little buns myself using a recipe from http://mylivingnutrition.com/2013/03/09/the-perfect-grain-free-burger-bun/ which I then modified by swapping the yoghurt for coconut milk and omitting the honey. They were very easy to make and turned out really well, although I would say you would have to double the mixture if you wanted to make enough buns for a family of 4, as the recipe as it stands only made 4 little buns. Depends on how many sliders you want per person though - you could just serve one burger with a nice big salad and maybe some homemade oven fries. The recipe isn't the most cost effective, so bulking the meal out as I described will be a far more cost effective option for those who are working to a budget (like most of us!). Alternatively, you could grab your favorite pre-made slider buns from the supermarket (Bakeworks do a really good gluten-free pull apart loaf which works really well for this, or I think they sell regular slider buns in most supermarkets).

Lovely little buns…

One for the kids (nice and simple with just tomato and cucumber...

...And 2 for hubby (he couldn't pass up a little bit of cheese in his, but obviously you will leave it out if you don't eat dairy.

Pork Sliders

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

Ingredients:
500g Pork mince (or mince of your choice)
2 shallots, roughly chopped (or half an onion)
2 cloves garlic
1 zucchini, roughly chopped
a handful of fresh coriander
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp coconut aminos (or gluten-free soy sauce)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 egg 
1 carrot, grated
2 tbsp coconut milk powder (or coconut milk)

Directions:
1. In a blender or food processor, add the shallots, garlic, zucchini, coriander, fish sauce, coconut amines, salt, pepper and egg. Blend until well combined.
2. In a large bowl place the mince. Add the blended shallot mixture, the grated carrot and the coconut milk powder. Mix well with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are evenly distributed
3. Shape small balls of mixture into patties (about 2 tbsp). Place on a plate and refrigerate until needed.
4. When you're ready to cook. Heat about 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Place the patties in the pan and cook until each side has browned nicely and the patties are cooked through (about 3-4 minutes each side depending on the size of your burgers). 
5. Place the patties in the buns with your choice of filling (we used tomato, avocado and cucumber) and add any sauces you like. We served it with a simple green salad with lettuce and radish. With the burgers being so small they are easier to manage if you don't overdo the fillings.

6. For the buns, see the link at the top of the page for the original recipe. I modified it slightly so here is my version
1/4 cup coconut milk
4 eggs
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl. Place dry ingredients in a bowl and give a little mix to blend. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix well until all ingredients are evenly combined. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes to allow the coconut flour to absorb some of the moisture (don't be tricked into adding more liquid when you are mixing, as the coconut flour is very thirsty and will soon make the mixture more firm). Place tablespoons of the mixture on a lined baking tray and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 160C for about 20 minutes until golden brown

Enjoy!

x

Monday, 17 February 2014

Stir-fried Prawns with Eggplant

Hubby surprised us the other day by cooking dinner! The kids and I were out for a playdate and got home to find that dinner was nearly made and all we had to do was set the table and dig in - bliss! The only downside was that I had already defrosted some prawns that I was planning to use and so they had to be used up - it's a tough life when you HAVE to cook a prawn dish!

With all of the cheap eggplants around at the moment I seem to have started hoarding them which means that there is always at least one that needs using up - so I put the prawns with the eggplant and came up with a simple, tasty, quick meal that I had for lunch but it would be ideal with rice or cauliflower rice for dinner.


Stir-fried Prawns with Eggplant

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

Ingredients:
400g prawn meat (I used pre-frozen ones from the supermarket, but if you want to be fancy and can find fresh ones they would be a real treat!)
1 large eggplant, peeled then cut into 1 cm cubes
1 yellow or green chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced (optional)
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, grated
2cm knob of ginger, grated
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp coconut aminos
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 cup water or stock
a couple of grinds of pepper
a handful of fresh coriander
coconut oil

Directions:
1. In a large frying pan, heat about 1 tsp oil over medium high heat. Add the prawns, and cook for a couple of minutes until they start to turn orange. Remove from the pan into a bowl and set aside.
2. Heat about 1 tbsp in the same pan (once prawns are removed). Add the eggplant and fry for a couple of minutes until it start to soften. Add garlic, ginger, chilli, coconut aminos, oyster sauce and water. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring frequently until eggplant is nice and soft. Add the spring onions and tomatoes. Put the prawns back in the pan, add the pepper and cook for about 2-3 minutes until flavors are well combined.
3. Remove from the heat, add the sesame oil, give it a mix in then plate up. Top each dish with a big bunch of coriander.

As I mentioned above, you can serve this meal with rice or cauliflower rice to turn this into a more substantial meal. I also had it as leftovers and added a big handful of baby spinach while I was reheating it to add some greens - delicious!

Enjoy!

x

Nutty Muesli

Every time I go to the supermarket I get almost tempted to buy those big gorgeous bags of gourmet muesli that you see, but then I look at the price tag (some of them are as much as $18!) and it goes straight back on the shelf! Hubby came with me the other day and was also tempted, but I assured him I could make something very similar for I'm sure much less. I have no idea how much this cost to make, but I'm sure it's less than $18! Plus, the brands that I saw all had sugar added, and this one only has 1 tbsp honey which is totally optional (as well as the dried fruit which gives loads of sweetness).

This is a really versatile little jar to have in the cupboard. My girls love a wee bowl of this when they get home from Montessori for something quick and nutritious to munch on and get them through until dinner. It is also a wonderfully filling breakfast served with some almond milk or a splash of orange juice and topped with fresh fruit and even a dollop of coconut yoghurt.


Nutty Muesli

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

Ingredients:
1/4 cup raw hazelnuts
1/4 cup raw cashew nuts
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried pears
1/4 cup dried prunes
1/2 cup coconut chips
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp honey (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a baking tray with baking paper
2. Take a clean tea towel and place all of the nuts (hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans) on it. Take a rolling pin or something else heavy and give the nuts a good smash - this bit's fun! give them a good wallop until the nuts are broken into rough pieces, but not pulverized.
3. Place the nuts in a large bowl. Add the chopped dried fruit, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Mix well.
4. In a small bowl, combine the almond butter, orange juice and honey. Mix well, then pour over the nut mix. Give the whole thing a good mix around until the wet mixture is evenly distributed over the dry.
5. Pour onto the baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes. You will need to keep an eye on it and give the muesli a mix when it starts to brown.

Note: 
- Try to use dried fruits that don't have preservatives added. The ceres organic range is great, and there are even some options in the pick and mix bins - just be careful what you buy.
- You can use any mix of nuts and fruit that you like. This muesli is a great way to use up bits and pieces that you may have lingering in the pantry - everyone has those bags of nuts and dried fruit that only have a few left in the bottom and have been sitting in the pantry for a while! Or, this is a good chance to get the kids involved. Take them to a pick and mix wall and let them choose the fruits and nuts that they like the look of then come home and whip up a batch of muesli that they can eat as a snack. 

Enjoy!

x

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Mmmm yum! Who doesn't love a good old fashioned plate of spaghetti and meatballs! I served these ones 2 ways - for the kids and hubby I put them on Gluten Free spaghetti (I used the San Remo brand) and for myself I made 'spaghetti' out of zucchini and carrots (using a spiraliser tool, but you could just use a grater and grate long strips. It will just be a little more like fettucini or linguine than spaghetti!).

Blending the mix - Gorgeous green!

 Beautifully browned and ready for their saucy bath and a bit of a bake

The final product - Meatballs in a tomato, capsicum and mushroom sauce on a bed of zucchini and carrot 'spaghetti'

Spaghetti and Meatballs

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

Ingredients:
Meatballs...
500g Beef mince (or mince of your choice)
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
2 handfuls of baby spinach (or any leafy green)
1 egg
salt and pepper
a handful of parsley

Sauce...
1 400g tin tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 capsicum (any color - I used green, but it doesn't matter which one)
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup water

Spaghetti...
1 large zucchini
1 large carrot
a drizzle of olive oil

Directions:
1. In a blender or food processor, place the garlic, onion, spinach, egg and parsley. Blend until well combined. 
2. In a large bowl, place the mince. Add the blended vegetable mixture and mix well to combine. Add salt and pepper to season. 
3. Take small handfuls of the mince mixture and shape into meatballs (use any amount you like depending on how large you like the meatballs. Place on a large plate. 
4. Heat a large frying pan with a small amount of oil over a medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook until gently browned on both sides. You may have to do the meatballs in 2 batches, as overcrowding the pan will make it difficult to brown them nicely. Once the meatballs are cooked, place them in an ovenproof dish.
5.  Preheat your oven to 220C. 
6. In the same frying pan you used to cooked the meatballs, add the tinned tomatoes and garlic. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, then add the water, mushrooms and capsicum. Cook for a couple of minutes, add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Pour the sauce over the meatballs. Cover the baking dish with tinfoil (or a lid of some kind) and bake for about 20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through, and the sauce is bubbling and delicious.
7. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare your spaghetti. If you are using GF spaghetti, prepare according to the instructions on the packet. If you are making the vegetable spaghetti, take he zucchini and carrot and using either a spiraliser or grater, create 'noodles'. You can either have the vegetables raw with the drizzle of olive oil, or you can plunge the spaghetti into a pot of boiling water for about 20-30 seconds so that they are only just cooked, then remove from the water and drizzle with the oil.

Serve the meal with steamed broccoli or a salad

Enjoy!

x



Thursday, 13 February 2014

Tandoori Chicken Kebabs with Coriander Relish

Indian - gotta love it! Such complex, delicious flavors. The kids loved this chicken recipe (as we all know, kids will eat anything if it's on a stick!) and hubby rated it in his top 4 meals - high praise indeed!


I served the kebabs with tandoori cauliflower rice, coriander relish (probably more of a pesto really, but with no nuts - not really sure what to call it, but it's YUM!), and a simple coleslaw. An easy dinner, packed with flavour.

Tandoori Chicken Kebabs with Coriander Relish

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

Ingredients:
5 or 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks (chicken breast would also work)
1 large clove of garlic, grated
2cm knob of fresh ginger, grated
2 heaped tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut milk
juice of 1 lemon

Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients (garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cinnamon, coconut milk and lemon juice). Add the chicken and mix well to ensure chicken is well coated. Cover and place in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight if you are super prepared!
2. Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
3. Thread the chicken onto skewers. Place on the baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
4. Serve with a simple coleslaw or salad over cauliflower rice (or steamed rice if you prefer) and top with coriander relish (recipe below). I added some of the tandoori marinade to the cauliflower rice while cooking to tie in the flavours


Coriander Relish

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

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh coriander
1 cup desiccated coconut
4 curry leaves (available from you local asian supermarket)
1 tsp dried chilli
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 fresh green chilli, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. In a frying pan, heat the coconut oil over a medium-low heat.
2. Add the coconut, curry leaves, chilli, cumin and fennel. Cook until coconut is toasted a light golden brown.
3. In a blender or food processor place the coriander, fresh chilli, mint and lemon juice. Add the toasted coconut mixture, then blend until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste, and if you find it is too dry add a little more lemon juice until you reach a consistency you are happy with. If you would like it a lot more liquid you could add some olive oil or water to create a more liquid consistency

Enjoy!

x

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Spicy Mexican Mince on Avocado Toast

Take a kiwi classic and keep it real! I was reading a magazine, perusing an article on easy midweek meals and came across mince on toast which got me thinking…

Came up with the idea of doing a take on Burritos or Torillas or Fajitas or something like that…all the classic elements of a mexican dinner, but just approached a little differently. And so Spicy Mexican Mince on Avocado Toast was born! I used Avocado Bread for the guacamole element, topped it with spicy mexican mince full of capsicum and coriander to make a Fajita type of filling, then served it with a simple garden salad of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. So easy to make and really delicious!

The classic meal - mince on toast...

…and it makes great leftovers on lettuce topped with guacamole!

Spicy Mexican Mince on Avocado Toast

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

Ingredients:
600g beef mince (or mince of your choice)
1/2 an orange capsicum, diced
1/2 a red capsicum
2 zucchini, diced
10 mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 onion, halved then sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, grated
1 green chilli, finely diced (you can use 1 - 2 tsp ground chilli powder if you don't have fresh chilli)
1 tin of tomatoes (400g)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil

1 loaf of Avocado Bread (find the recipe here), or toast of your choice. 

Directions:
1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions,garlic and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes until softened.
2. Add the mince and cook until no longer pink. 
3. Add the vegetables (capsicum, zucchini, mushrooms and carrot). Cook until vegetables are just soft, then add tinned tomatoes, cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano and seasoning. Cook for another couple of minutes until heated through and flavors are well developed. 
4. Slice the bread into thick chunks and toast lightly. 
5. Serve the mince on top of the toast, top with fresh coriander then serve the meal with a simple garden salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, all chopped and drizzled with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice a couple of grinds of pepper and a sprinkle of salt - you could add a few jalapeƱos just for a bit of interest).

If you don't want to make the avocado toast, top the mince with a simple guacamole instead. Mash a couple of ripe avocados, blend with the juice of a lemon, half a chopped spring onion or red onion, then season with a little salt and pepper

Enjoy!

x

Monday, 10 February 2014

Walnut, Apple and Fig Breakfast Slice


What to do with wrinkly apples in the fruit bowl? Bake them of course!

I am going through a bit of a walnut phase at the moment - can't seem to get enough of them! They are such a wonderful partner to apples, with the bitter-sweet notes of the walnuts and the sour-sweet notes of the apple then combined with the gorgeous sweetness of dried figs - yum! 

I kept this slice free of any added sugar, as I wanted something that you could grab a chunk of for a breakfast on the go that would fill you full of nutrients but not give you a sugar rush. The only sugar comes from the apples and the figs. If you would like to make this as a cake for more of a treat (the flavor combination would work really well for dessert or a yummy morning or afternoon tea snack) then you could add either some maple syrup or honey to add more sweetness. I made 2 versions (because one is never enough!) I wasn't 100% happy with the first one (still oh so tasty!), as it was the trial version, so when I made the second I made a few adjustments - success! 

Walnuts and figs alone are full of fanastic nutrients, such as the vitamin E, Omega 3, alpha-linolenic acid and anti-inflammatory properties in the walnuts, and the mega boost of potassium, dietary fibre and vitamin B6 found in the figs. Add the apples on top of all that goodness and you have a supremely nutritious little slice.

Take #1...

Take #2 - Yum!

Walnut, Apple and Fig Breakfast Slice

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

Ingredients:
6 dried figs (roughly diced) + 4 tbsp boiling water 
2 cups walnut meal (use about 2.5 cups of lightly toasted walnuts and blend until a flour like consistency is achieved)
2 tbsp tapioca flour
4 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut milk (or milk of your choice)
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
1.5 cups finely diced apple

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 170C. Line a slice tin with baking paper
2. In a small bowl, soak the figs in the boiling water for about 10 minutes
3. In a medium bowl, combine walnut meal, coconut flour, tapioca, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
4. In a food processor or blender combine eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk, vanilla and figs (including water) and blend until smooth. Some fig seeds will remain but that's ok.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well to combine. Fold in the diced apple, then spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin. Smooth the top, then bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and slightly firm to the touch.

Note:
 - You can eliminate the tapioca if you prefer not to use starches - just add an additional 1 tbsp of coconut flour
 - This makes quite a big slice - if you want to half it, and you are unsure whether to go with 1 or 2 eggs (always hard to half a recipe that calls for an uneven number of eggs!) then go with 2 eggs. The first one I made was a half recipe and I only used 1 but it didn't bind as well so I would use 2 new time around.
- If you would like to add some sweetness to make this into more of a dessert, try adding 1/2 cup of maple syrup (or honey, but the maple syrup flavor will work really well in this). You may need to adjust the level of other liquids so try halving the amount of milk to allow for this addition. 

Enjoy!

x




LSA Crusted Fish with Salad, Crispy Potatoes and Steamed Mussels

Saturday night is generally takeaway night in this house, but last Saturday we decided to do something a little different and took the kids out for a meal instead. They LOVE going out for dinner, and it is so nice that they are now at an age where we can take them out and know that is not all going to end in tears (theirs AND ours!!). The challenge is finding somewhere that is affordable, kid friendly, and has a good selection of food that is a close fit to how we eat - i.e. gluten/dairy free options.

Part of the fun of going out is to try new things though, so we do aim to be a little flexible when we are out - although we aim to ensure that each of us does not come away from any meal with any of the various reactions we get, we also believe that the kids should be given the chance to experience new things, and we don't want them to feel that their lives are overly restricted. We want them to feel that life is for living and we don't want their dietary restrictions to rule their lives.

In saying that, The Food Truck Garage was a fantastic place to take the family for dinner. It ticked all the boxes - affordable, kid friendly, and they were more than happy to adapt the menu to suit. The kids and hubby all had the fish burger which had an LSA crust - it was delicious! So obviously this got me to thinking that we could easily make something similar at home. In the mood for a light seafood meal, we got some fish fillets, fresh mussels and made a big salad and some crispy potato chips to accompany the meal - kind of a deconstructed Nicoise of sorts!

Oh, just realized when writing the recipe that there may be some of you out there that are wondering what on earth LSA is! LSA is a 'flour' or meal type of product (similar in consistency to almond flour) made from Linseeds, Sunflower Seeds and Almonds. It is a really great product to have in the fridge as it can be added to all sorts of dishes. You can buy it from the supermarket (Ceres do a really good one which is in the health food or baking section of most supermarkets) or you could easily make it yourself. Simply blend linseeds (flaxseeds), sunflower seeds and raw almonds until they make a rough flour.






LSA Crusted Fish with Salad and Crispy Potatoes

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

Ingredients:
4 small or 2 large fish fillets (I used Gurnard, but any white fish will do)
1 egg
1/2 cup LSA (you can buy from the shop or make your own)
1tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to season

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper
2. In a bowl, whisk the egg. On a plate or in a large bowl, combine the LSA, turmeric, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
3. Cut the fish into little nuggets (about 3cmx3cm).
4. Dunk each piece of fish into the egg then into the LSA mix then place on the baking tray.
5. Bake fish for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and just cooked through.

If you prefer, you can pan-fry the fish instead of oven baking it. I already had the oven on so chose to bake it. If you want to pan-fry, heat a tbsp or so of coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Pan fry the fish for a minute or 2 on each side until golden and cooked through.

To serve:
We had this meal with crispy potato chips, a large salad and a big bowl of steamed mussels.

For the chips, I thinly sliced some precooked leftover potatoes (about 1 cups worth), added a tbsp of coconut oil, 1/2 tsp turmeric, salt and pepper, coated the chips well, added a thinly sliced onion then oven baked for about 25 minutes until crispy and golden. The addition of the onion gave another crispy, sweet element to the chips.

For the salad, I used the usual array of vegetables (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radish, and sliced red onion) then threw in a handful of olives and some hardboiled eggs cut into quarters. I dressed it with a little homemade mayonnaise blended with the juice of one lemon, 1 tsp dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

The mussels were steamed in a simple mix of 1 cup water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1/2 red chilli, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Enjoy!

x


Friday, 7 February 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Plum Icing

This is seriously the best banana cake recipe ever! I used this for the base layer of my daughters birthday cake, and both adults and children alike raved about it. The cake is gluten, grain, dairy, nut and soy free. It is not a healthy option kind of cake, but when you have a special occasion or want to make something a little bit special this is definitely one to have in recipe archive.

I used the recipe from www.naturalabundance.co.nz who sell coconut culinary flour. This is basically an alternative to coconut flour that is a whole lot more light and fluffy creating a far lighter cake than regular coconut flour. Regular coconut flour is fantastic in so many ways and has so many different used, but it generally makes quite a dense, heavy cake. This cake is very light and fluffy - you won't be disappointed! I made a couple of adjustments to the original recipe, but essentially kept to the original…and then, just because it's plum season and we have a huge overload of them, I topped it with a plum and cashew icing. The icing is made with cashew nuts and stewed plums, which sounds a bit odd, but it's really delicious!



Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Plum Icing

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

Ingredients:
3/4 cup coconut oil
5 eggs (4 whole eggs, and one egg white)
2/3 cup coconut sugar
4 very ripe large bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups coconut culinary flour
4 tbsp coconut milk powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
between 1/2 and 1 cup of chocolate chips (depending on how chocolatey you want it). I use the enjoy life brand for and allergen friendly choice
about 1-2 tbsp boiling water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and then line a baking tin with baking paper (you choose if you prefer round or square)
2. In a large bowl, blend the oil and sugar together until smooth and well blended.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. For the 5th egg, add only the egg white.
4. Add the mashed banana to the bowl and mix well to combine.
5. In a small bowl, place the coconut milk, baking soda and baking power. Add a small amount of boiling water, just enough to make a paste (about 1-2 tbsp). The mixture will froth up. Give it a good stir, then add to the cake mixture. Mix well to combine.
6. Add the coconut flour, and mix well until batter is smooth and blended.
7. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
8. Pour the batter into the baking tin, smooth the top, and place in the oven.
9 Cook for about 30-40 minutes, until cake is golden and springs back to the touch.

Plum Icing

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

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/2 cup stewed plums
1 tsp vanilla paste
pinch of salt
1 tbsp lime juice (or lemon will work)
1/8 cup honey or maple syrup (more if you like it sweet)

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. If the icing is too thick, you can add a little water or coconut milk (in small quantities at a time) to thin it down a little.
2. Pipe or spread onto cake immediately, then refrigerate the cake to set the icing.

Enjoy!

x


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pumpkin Seed and Coconut Energy Balls


At the same time as I was making my ABCC Raw Cookies, I also decided to whip up a batch of energy balls that were free of nuts. The kids are unable to have nuts in their lunchbox for Montessori so I thought it would be nice for them to have some of these in their lunch boxes, but had to think outside of the typical almond/cashew combo that typically makes up the base for energy balls.

These ones instead use pumpkin seeds and coconut butter, and have only a handful of ingredients. I rolled some of them in coconut and left some plain - both taste good, it really just depends on how much effort you want to go to! You could always throw the extra coconut in the blender when you are mixing them up if you like the extra coconut but can't be bothered with the extra rolling. 



Pumpkin Seed and Coconut Energy Balls

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

Ingredients:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
10 dates (either dried or medjool)
1/4 cup boiling water
1/3 cup coconut butter, melted (find the super simple recipe here)
1 tsp vanilla essence or paste
1/4 cup desiccated coconut for rolling 

Directions:
1. If you are using dried dates, pour the boiling water over them and leave to soak for 10 minutes or so to soften. Otherwise, add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until ingredients are well combined (you choose how blended you like it - sometimes a few chunks are yummy, but you may prefer a smoother texture). 
2. Take about 1/2 tbsp of mixture and roll into a ball. Place the desiccated coconut on a plate and roll the balls in the coconut to coat. Place the completed balls in the fridge to harden. 

Best stored in the fridge to keep them firm.

Enjoy!

x

ABCC Raw Cookies (Almond, Brazil, Cashew, Coconut)

I was in the mood for some bliss balls yesterday, but was getting a little sick of the traditional ball or slice options that I usually make. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for the messy hand scenario of rolling the little truffles. This time I rolled it into a log, chilled it for a bit, then cut into slices. Voila - cookies!

I've named these ones ABCC Cookies as they are made up of mostly Almond, Brazil and Cashew Nuts and then dipped in coconut butter. Easy to make, easy to eat!


ABCC Raw Cookies

Gluten, grain, dairy, soy and refined sugar free

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw brazil nuts
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
10 dates (you can either use medjool or dried)
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup maple syrup (optional depending on how sweet you like your snacks)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla essence or paste
1/4 cup coconut butter for dunking (here is there recipe to make your own - so easy!)

Directions:
1. If you are using dried dates, pour the boiling water over the dates and leave to soak for 10 or so minutes. Otherwise, place all ingredients except for the coconut butter in a high powered food processor or blender and blend until you reach a consistency you are happy with (some may prefer it a little more chunky, others may prefer a smoother blend). Once you are happy with the mixture, remove from the blender and place on a piece of glad wrap or baking paper. Roll into a log shape, and place in the fridge or freezer to chill and harden.
2. Remove from chiller, remove wrapping and slice into 1cm thick slices. 
3. Ensure your coconut butter is liquid enough for dunking (if it is hard, simply place the jar of coconut butter in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes, or place coconut butter in a small bowl and place the bowl over a small pot of simmering water)
4. Dunk the cookies halfway up and place on a plate lined with baking paper. Chill, then once coconut butter has hardened, dunk again. The second dunk is optional, but good if you like a thicker layer of coconut. 

Enjoy!

x

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Coconut Pork Chops with Nam Jim Coleslaw and Green Curry Sauce

It's really hard to make something as mundane as pork chops look or sound attractive, but don't be put off by the lack of glamour from these bad boys…they are packed full of flavor, and the coconut milk marinade ensures that they do not suffer from the typical 'dry out' that can easily occur with the humble chop. 

 The original version…coleslaw and chops, topped with the yummy sauce.

Hubby's version - with the addition of steamed rice

Coconut Pork Chops with Nam Jim Coleslaw and Green Curry Sauce

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

Ingredients:
6 Pork Chops (or other type of chops, or another cut of pork such as loin)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp white pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
2cm knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
2 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 spring onion, finely sliced

2 tsp curry paste
1 onion, finely sliced
2 zucchini, halved lengthways then sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock (or stock of your choice)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
pinch of pepper (white or black - you choose)

1/2 cup cabbage, grated
2 carrots, grated
1/2 head of broccoli, finely chopped or whizzed in a food processor until crumbs form
2 radishes, grated
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1/2 a cucumber, roughly chopped
1 avocado, diced
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup water
1 green or red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced

Coconut oil for cooking

Directions:
1. In a large flat container, mix the coconut milk, white pepper, garlic, ginger, chilli and fish sauce to create your marinade. Add the meat, cover and refrigerate for as long as you have (preferable at least a few hours, but less if you haven't got that kind of time). About 15 minutes before you are ready to cook, add the lemon juice and spring onion to the marinade.
2. To make the coleslaw, combine all of the vegetables (cabbage, carrots, broccoli, radiated, tomato, cucumber and avocado…or whichever vegetables you like! When making a coleslaw you can't really go wrong - just throw in what ever is in the fridge). In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the dressing (garlic, lemon juice, fish sauce, water, chilli and spring onion). Pour the dressing over the coleslaw - I like to do this about 15 minutes before serving as the salty, sour dressing will wilt the vegetables a little and blend the flavours really well.
3. To make the sauce: In a small pot, add about 1 tbsp coconut oil and heat over a medium heat. Add the curry paste and fry for about 30 seconds to release the aromas. Add the onion and zucchini and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often so the food doesn't stick. Add the chicken stock to stop any burning. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are softened, then add the coconut milk, fish sauce and pepper. Simmer gently until it is cooked to your liking (depending on how cooked you want the vegetables).
4. In a large frying pan, heat about 2 tbsp coconut oil over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chops. Cook until browned on one side (about 3-4 minutes) then flip and cook until browned on the other side. Your cooking time could vary quite a bit depending on the thickness of your chops, so you will have to keep an eye on them to ensure you don't overcook the chops. If you have very thick chops and they are getting very browned on the outside but still not quite done in the middle, you can finish them in a hot oven for about 5 minutes to ensure they are cooked through. You want the meat to have the faintest hint of pink but no blood. 
5. Serve the chops on top of the coleslaw and smother with sauce. If you like rice, you can serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

x

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Veal Osso Bucco

A while back I was doing the groceries and came across Veal Shanks. I have a habit of buying interesting ingredients and then hiding them away in the freezer for 'one day' when I find a good recipe or get struck by inspiration for a meal idea. I knew that the most common use for veal shanks was Osso Bucco, a traditional Italian dish which cooks the shanks slowly with vegetables and creates a succulent meal full of rich flavors and meat that falls off the bone (literally in my case…it was impossible to plate the veal as it kept falling off the bone when I transferred it from the pan!).

We ended up with a dinner that the whole family really enjoyed - even my notoriously fussy youngest couldn't get enough of the veal, despite an initial hesitation. It was so tender that she found it really easy to chew which is a common complaint with young children and meat. This meal would be perfect for really young children, as both the meat and vegetables are so tender they literally just fall apart.

 Veges in the pan…

 Time to add the browned shanks…

 Cook for 90 minutes and everything gets all gorgeous and infused with flavor.

 Serve with a simple steamed broccoli and avocado salad…

 …roasted zucchini, (and potatoes and kumara from the Osso Bucco)...

…and voila, dinner is served!

Hubby is not a fan of Veal, so he had the vegetables from the Osso Bucco and I fried a Sirloin steak for him instead.

Veal Osso Bucco
Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

Ingredients:
4 Veal Shanks (you can use any meat you like - pork or lamb chops would also work well)
2 large onions, cut into quarters
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into thick chunks
6 small potatoes (or substitute for kumara or pumpkin if you don't eat potato), halved or quartered depending on size
1 large kumara, peeled and cut into large chunks
a handful of fresh thyme (or about 1 tbsp dried)
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary (or about 2 tbsp dried)
2 tbsp fresh or dried oregano
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Get out a large roasting dish or casserole pot. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over your meat
2. Prepare all of your vegetables and place in the roasting dish or casserole pot. Give them a good mix around so that you have an even distribution. Sprinkle the herbs over the top. Pour the vegetable stock and water into the pan
3. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat with a little oil. Place the meat in the frying pan and sear both sides until golden brown
4. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. If you are using a roasting dish, cover the dish with tinfoil. If  you are using a casserole dish place the lid on. Pop it in the oven and cook for 90 minutes. 
5. Remove from the oven and serve! I made mine earlier in the day and simply reheated it in the oven for about 15 minutes just before serving. You could even make it a day ahead, or make a big batch and freeze. 

Serving suggestions:
 - we had ours served with roasted zucchini and a broccoli and avocado salad. I also removed a couple of the potatoes from the roasting dish and popped them in the oven with the zucchini to roast for the kids who love roasted potatoes. You could also remove them and turn them into really tasty mashed potatoes (or kumara) which would be great for mopping up some of the juices from this meal. We are not really a mash family (kids have never liked it - don't know why!), hence why I kept mine whole, but I think it's more traditional with mash.
- The broccoli salad was simply half a head of broccoli, very lightly steamed, then combined with a chopped avocado. I drizzled some macadamia oil and lemon juice over it (olive oil will work just as well), then a sprinkle of sesame seeds (sliced almonds would be great too) and a pinch of salt and pepper. So simple, but SO tasty!

Enjoy!

x