Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Vegetarian Lasagne

And so another meat-free Monday has passed, and another successful dinner was created - again approved by my meatavore husband who once, not so long ago, assured me that if a meal doesn't have meat it's not worth eating! So to get his approval on a vegetarian meal is definitely a sign of high praise indeed! So far, meat-free Monday has gone well, although I'm sure that we will hit a low one night soon...will keep you posted!

This Monday we had a yummy lasagne which was gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and sugar-free made with sliced vegetables layered with a spicy tomato sauce, and topped with a 'white sauce' made from cauliflower and tahini.

You can choose any vegetables you fancy, or whatever is in the fridge (as I did!), so don't feel that you have to follow the recipe too closely.





Vegetarian Lasagne

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

Ingredients:
Vegetables
2 zucchini, thinly sliced length ways
1 eggplant, sliced into 1cm rounds
1/2 a buttercup pumpkin, peeled and sliced into thin slices
2 cups spinach or silverbeet leaves
1 beetroot, peeled and thinly sliced
4 large portabello mushrooms, sliced

Tomato Sauce
1 tin of tomatoes (400g)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp chilli (more or less according to personal preference)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp coconut oil

White Sauce
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
juice of half a lemon
1 cup cauliflower puree (steam or boil about 1.5 cups cauliflower florets, and blitz until smooth)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Firstly prepare you vegetables. Get them all sliced and ready, then it is best if you pre-cook them a little. This saves time when cooking the dinner, but is not 100% necessary. You can just increase the total cooking time of the whole lasagne (by about double) if you choose not to pre-cook. Pre-cook them however you like - I steamed-baked them (I popped them on a wire rack in a baking dish with a few centimetres of water in the bottom, then covered the baking dish with foil and baked in a ot oven for about 15 minutes). You could also roast them with a little oil for a more roasted taste to the dish (more of those caramelised edges to create yummy flavours), or you could simply steam them on the stove top or even fry them.
2. If you haven't already used your oven to cook the vegetables, pre-heat your oven to 200C.
3. To make your tomato sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat on the stove and add the garlic and onions. Cook gently for a few minutes until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, chilli, paprika. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes until sauce thickens and flavours are well developed. Remove from heat, and stir in parsley. Set aside.
4. To make your white sauce, combine the tahini, lemon juice, and cauliflower puree in a small blender or simply mix it the old fashioned way (by hand)! Season to taste.
5. To construct your lasagne, pop down a layer of tomato sauce in a baking dish, then layer the vegetables in any order you like, top with another layer of tomato sauce, then another layer of vegetables and finally top the dish with the white sauce.
6. Cover the dish with tin foil, then pop in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes (or 45 mins-1 hour if the vegetables are not pre-cooked), then remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until top starts to brown a little. You may prefer to increase the heat or even change to the grill function at this point if you would like to increase browning.
7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little more finely chopped fresh parsley to garnish.

Serve with a green salad and maybe a little mashed potato or kumara, or a helping of quinoa or rice if that's more your thing. My salad was just a very simple little number made with rocket, broccoli, and avocado.

Enjoy!

x

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Kale Stuffed Chicken Thighs

The other night we were watching something on TV about the rise and rise of Kale as a popular vegetable - we had a little giggle when the man growing it said that he would never be able to sell it at a rural farmers market as every time farmers see it for sale they laugh and say it's cow food! Just goes to show that there are different strokes for different folks...what we think of as a trendy new superfood, the farming community see as not much more than a weed!

Anyway, on the programme I saw some really fabulous looking dark red curly kale and I commented to hubby that I really wish I could try some just for something a little different - and lo and behold when I went to the supermarket the other day there was a big old bag of dark red kale right there on the shelf. Yay! So I snapped up a bag and then had to find something to do with it!


And so the idea for last nights dinner was born - Kale Stuffed Chicken Thighs. These little beauties are made from delicious moist chicken thighs stuffed with a blend of kale, pine nuts, portabello mushrooms, garlic, and lemon zest. We had it served with cauliflower mash, roasted brussel sprouts, and topped with a garlicky tomato sauce. Delicious! There are so many options for variation with this dish - you could use chicken breast instead of thighs, you can play around with the filling ingredients, and you can serve it with rice, potato mash, baked potatoes or baked kumara - so many options! In the filling, you could use spinach or silverbeet instead of kale (just in case you can't get kale or you consider it cow food!), and if you're not a fan of mushrooms you can pop in maybe something like pumpkin or capsicum, or if you tolerate dairy you can have a bit of cheese mixed in (feta would be yummy, or good old cheddar if you prefer something a little more oozy!).


Kale Stuffed Chicken Thighs

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

Ingredients:
Chicken:
6 chicken thighs, trimmed of yucky bits
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (heat gently in a small pan over a medium heat until just golden)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
salt and pepper
2 cups kale, stems removed, lightly blanched (cook for about 1 minute in simmering water)
1 cup portabello mushrooms, sliced and sauteed 
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon

Tomato Sauce:
1 large tomato, diced (or half a tin of crushed tomatoes if you don't have fresh in the fridge)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced or crushed
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 220C. Line a roasting pan with baking paper
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the pine nuts, turmeric, paprika, cumin, garlic, kale, mushrooms, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. Bliz until a stuffing type texture is achieved - kind of a little bit chunky still, but well combined and a little sticky
3. Lay your chicken thighs out on a board, one at a time, and spoon about 2 tbsp of kale mixture into the middle then roll up. You can secure it with a toothpick if you choose.
4. Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium/high heat. Place the thighs in the pan and sear until golden brown. Remove from pan and place into roasting pan. Pop in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (cooking time will vary depending on the size of your thighs and the length of time you have them in the pan to start with), so you will have to just check them before serving to ensure they are cooked through.
5. While the chicken is cooking, you can make the tomato sauce. Using the same pan that you fried the chicken in (that way you get the flavour from all of those yummy pan juices in your sauce). Heat over a medium heat and add the tomato. Add the garlic as well, and cook for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes have broken down a bit. It's up to you how saucy you would like it - cook for a short time and you will get a chunkier, firmer sauce, and if you keep cooking more juice will come out and the tomatoes will break down more. Remove sauce from the heat when it is at the consistency you like and stir in the parsley and lemon juice.
 
Serve the chicken on potato, kumara, or cauliflower mash (here's a recipe for the cauliflower mash http://www.keepingitreal.net.nz/2014/05/simple-meatballs-with-cauliflower-mash.html), and dollop sauce on top. We had ours with oven roasted brussel sprouts - you can choose whichever vegetable accompaniments take your fancy!
 
Oh and before I go, I have to share a picture of the kids on their first trip to the snow! They had a ball, and they were completely blown away by the whole experience. I am a Christchurch girl, so it seems like such hard work going to the snow from Auckland, but it was totally worth the effort when we saw the excitement on their faces!
 
We've arrived!

Posing with 'Olaf' (for anyone with kids you will know who Olaf is!!) - our little mutant snowman!
 
Enjoy!
 
x
 
 


Friday, 18 July 2014

Kelp Noodles with Tahini and Poached Chicken

So anyone who has been reading the blog lately will know that kelp noodles have become my latest addiction - and coupled with my ongoing need for copious amounts of tahini, I decided the time had come to marry the two up and indulge two cravings in one hit! I have eaten kelp noodles on and off for a few years now, but just in the last couple of weeks have eaten them again after they fell off the radar for a while. Not only have I found a new love, but I have also inadvertently found something that the kids love too! They have a great, firm texture and I think that this is what the kids like (although to be fair, the kids pretty much like anything that's a noodle - I think it's just the fun of eating them!)

Tonight for dinner I made the noodles with a tahini dressing and served them with poached chicken, carrot, and avocado.

Not shown in the picture was the side of wilted silver beet and mushrooms pan fried in garlic and chilli that we also had with it. It wasn't the most cohesive meal so you would probably have thought it a little random if I'd taken a picture of the 2 of them together! Hubby was having a steak for dinner and the silver beet worked really well with his meal, and it was super tasty, so I had some too. Wasn't in the mood for steak, hence the chicken in my meal.

This dish is free of gluten, grains, dairy, nuts, soy, and sugar. It can be made very easily and quickly, and although there are a few ingredients that you may not necessarily have in the pantry they are all ingredients that are readily available, and maybe things you could add to your 'to try' list if you haven't already tried them! The meal makes a lovely light dinner, or would be ideal for lunch. This is a good one to make to take along for a pot-luck lunch, or to make for visitors.

There are a couple of foods always on my list of things to try, and I encourage my hubby and kids to do the same. When we are at the supermarket, I love to let the kids loose in the produce department and allow them to pick out a couple of random fruits or vegetables that they don't usually eat. We then bring it home and decide on how they would like to eat it (sometimes it requires a little googling!) and we give it a go. Lot's of fun, and even if they don't like it, they really enjoy the whole process of the choosing and cooking.



Kelp Noodles with Tahini and Poached Chicken

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

Ingredients:
1/2 packet kelp noodles
1/2 avocado, diced
1 carrot, grated with a peeler into wide strips
large handful of fresh coriander to garnish

2 tbsp tahini
juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove fresh grated garlic)
salt and pepper
about 1 tbsp water

2 chicken thighs, diced
1 cup chicken stock (you could also use coconut milk, or water)
3 cloves garlic, grated
large handful of fresh coriander

Directions:
1. In a small pot, gently heat the stock, coriander, and garlic. Add the chicken, and poach gently until cooked through. Remove the chicken and coriander with a slotted spoon and set to one side.
2. In the same pot with the stock, heat the kelp noodles (you could also do this in a pot of water if preferred) until warm.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the dressing (tahini, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper, and water - you can adjust the amount of added water depending on how runny you like your dressing).
4. Drain the noodles, and add the carrot, avocado, chicken and coriander mix, and dressing. Mix together until noodles are well coated.
5. Serve in your favourite bowl, and garnish with fresh coriander.

Enjoy!

x

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Spaghetti and Meatballs

A healthy take on an old classic - Spaghetti and Meatballs is a classic with the kids and adults alike. Our family were no different - the meal was very popular!

These lamb meatballs are very simple, but have added carrot to boost the vegetable content for the kids, and the sauce can be adapted to suit your palette. Add or subtract vegetables to suit your family's tastes (or to suit what you have in the fridge!)

The meal is free of gluten, grains, dairy, nuts, soy, and sugar. I served the kids meal on gluten-free spaghetti (there are a few around these days so look for a good quality one that isn't full of all sorts of rubbish), and I served mine with kelp noodles - they can be found at most good health food stores and are a great option for anyone who prefers lower carbs or has sensitivities to any of the commonly used gluten-free flours that can be found in the pasta. 

With Gluten-free spaghetti...


 With kelp noodles...

Spaghetti and Meatballs

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

Ingredients:

Meatballs
500g lamb mince
3 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 carrot, grated
1 tsp coconut oil, for frying

Sauce
3 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 eggplant, cut into 1cm cubes
1/2 a butternut pumpkin, cut into 2 cm cubes
4 portabello mushrooms, diced
2 cups kale, roughly chopped
1 400g tin tomatoes
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock (or stock of your choice), or water
1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking dish with baking paper. 
2. Take the first six ingredients (mince, garlic, oregano, tomato paste, mustard, carrot) and combine in a bowl. Shape into meatballs and pan fry in the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat until lightly browned on the outside. Place in the baking dish and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until cooked through.
3. While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. In a large frying pan or pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes until aromatic. Add the eggplant, pumpkin, and stock or water and cook until softened. Add the mushrooms, kale and tin of tomatoes. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender. Add the meatballs to coat in the sauce, and serve on top of pasta of your choice (spaghetti, kelp noodles, or any pasta you fancy)

Enjoy!

x


Chilli Cabbage with Kale and Egg

Well, if there's one thing that this meat-free Monday experiment is making me aware of, it's how quickly the weeks are going by!! By giving a 'title' to a day, it really makes that day seem to come around so much more often!

Here is another little dish that I whipped up last Monday - it would be perfect as a side dish, or a lunch, or you could add a whole bunch more vegetables and serve it with some steamed rice or cauliflower rice to have it for a scrummy main meal.

The meal is free of gluten, grains, dairy, nuts, soy, and sugar, and is so ridiculously jam packed with nutrients that you will feel like a whole new person after eating it! Maybe not, but your body will certainly thank you for all the goodies you're feeding it, and you will feel very virtuous!

The best part is that this can be put together very quickly, and is also a very affordable dish.


Chilli Cabbage with Kale and Egg

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

Ingredients:
2 cups cabbage, sliced (your choice of variety - any will work. I've used just regular cabbage, but Chinese or Savoy would also be great)
1 cup kale (either baby kale leaves, or large kale roughly chopped)
1 cup purple brussel sprouts (you could also use purple carrots or chunks of purple cabbage, or green Brussel sprouts if preferred)
3cm chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 red chilli (1 large or 2 small), thinly sliced - deseed if you like it less spicy, or leave out altogether if you're not a big fan of the stuff
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut aminos or gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hemp seeds (or sesame seeds)
1 hard or soft boiled egg to serve

Directions:
1. In a frying pan, heat the coconut oil over high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and chilli. Fry quickly for about 30 seconds until aromas are released
2. Add cabbage, brussel sprouts, and kale. Cook until just softened - add coconut aminos (or soy) and mix well. 
3. Remove from heat and add hemp or sesame seeds and sesame oil
4. Serve immediately with the boiled egg.

Enjoy!

x




Friday, 11 July 2014

Persimmon and Walnut Slice

I have a feeling I have made something similar to this before - probably last persimmon season! I love persimmon as it is one of those great fruits that is not overly sweet. I particularly enjoy them before they ripen, when they still have that crunch to them - so when they get really ripe I've pretty much lost interest! However, they are great to bake with when they are overripe, and they do get a little sweeter at that point. The flavour really lends itself to being blended with walnuts and date, and I also added a pear just for fun.

The recipe is free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, and refined sugar. There is a high-ish sugar content due to the fruit and dates, but it is all wholesome, nutrient rich sugar, so it is still a nourishing treat food that is full of goodness.

The best part about this recipe is that it is so ridiculously easy to make - just blend all the ingredients together and throw them in a baking pan...my kind of recipe!


Persimmon and Walnut Slice

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

Ingredients:
2 ripe persimmons, peeled
1 ripe pear, cored 
1 cup dates
3 eggs
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 cup walnuts
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp walnuts, crushed, extra for topping

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 170C. Line a square baking tin with baking paper.
2. Add all ingredients (except for the extra walnuts) to a high powered blender and blend until well combined. It doesn't matter if the dates and walnuts have not completely been blended, as it's kind of nice to have a bit of texture, but you can make it as smooth or as chunky as you like! If your blender isn't very strong, it may pay to soften the dates first by soaking in a little hot water first, and you may also want to cut the fruit up a little. I would hate to be responsible for being the cause of burning out anyone's blender!
3. Bake for around 45 minutes until firm. Keep an eye on it and if it looks as though the slice is getting too brown on top you may want to cover it with a little tin foil

This is a very moist slice, and I actually found the texture to be a little more firm the next day which was really nice - it tastes great the first day (and straight out of the oven of course!), but if is definitely one of those ones recipes that is just as good if not better on day two.

Enjoy!

x


Blueberry Muffins

Another kids birthday party, another excuse to bake a little something for my little rascals to have to eat at cake time...this time a yummy blueberry muffin, made with banana and coconut.

Free of gluten, grains, dairy, nuts, soy, refined sugar, these moist little muffins are a bundle of goodness!

You could substitute the blueberries for raspberries or any other frozen berries that you have in the freezer (or fresh if you feel like extending your mortgage!), and if you would like to make them a little more of a treat you could either add chocolate chips to the batter or drizzle them with a little melted chocolate. Decadent, but delicious! 

These muffins are also ideal for school lunches, and being nut free they will suit even those schools/kindy's with nut-free policies. They are nutrient dense enough to make a great 'breakfast on the go' of adults too - make a double batch and keep them in the freezer to grab when you need something quickly. Team with a quick green smoothie and you will have a nutritious, speedy breakfast. 




Blueberry Muffins

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

Ingredients:
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup coconut flour
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp honey (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 bananas
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or butter if you prefer that buttery taste and you're ok with a little dairy)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 170C. Grease or line a 12 hole muffin tin
2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut flour, desiccated coconut, and baking soda.
3. In a small bowl, combine the egg, honey, banana, vanilla essence, and coconut oil. Beat well until well combined
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry - gently fold in until ingredients are well combined
5. Add the blueberries. Gently fold in until evenly distributed through the batter
6. Evenly distribute batter into the muffin tin
7. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown
8. Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes in the tin. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack

Note: If you choose to add chocolate chips, add about 1/2 a cup (or as much as you like!) at the same time as adding the blueberries

Enjoy!

x

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Beetroot, Red Onion, and Pine Nut Pizza With Cauliflower Base

Oh geez - Just realised it's been over a week since I last posted! Sorry!

However, I will do my best to make it up with a couple of quick-fire dishes.

My studies are taking up a lot of my spare time lately, and now with the kids on school holidays there is even less quiet time in the house! We've been having lots of fun though - just got back from a couple of days over on Waiheke where we rode out the crazy storm that has been lashing the North Island - we even had the power out for about a day, and the ferries were cancelled so we were trapped! The kids had a ball though, and they enjoyed a change of scenery as well as a couple of wild, windy walks on the beach to blow away the cobwebs.

My last post on Facebook was for a delicious meat-free pizza dish that I whipped up for lunch last Monday as part of our Meat-Free Monday challenge - it was delicious! The base was a cauliflower pizza base which is a fantastic alternative to the typical doughy bread base of a traditional pizza, and adds an extra vegetable element to the meal. I then topped the base with a mix of red and yellow beetroot, pickled red onions, harissa paste, pine nuts, garnished with fresh basil and avocado. So yummy, and nice and filling. You could have this for lunch, or dinner and could easily add some meat or seafood if you wanted to bulk it up a little and add a little more protein content.

The pizza is free of gluten, grains, dairy, nuts, soy, and sugar.

Served with a fresh green lettuce, a light healthy lunch, or add extras for a delicious dinner

The base, pre-topping


Beetroot, Red Onion, and Pine Nut Pizza with Cauliflower Base

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

Ingredients:

Base
2 cups cauliflower rice (approximately 1/2 medium head of cauliflower, whizzed until ‘riced’ in a blender or food processor)
2 cloves garlic, grated (or 1/2 tbsp garlic powder)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs, or herbs of your choice
1 egg + 1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbsp coconut flour (or flour of your choice, but you may need to add a little more if not using coconut, as coconut flour is particularly thirsty)
2 tbsp psyllium husk (optional)
2 tbsp flaxseed meal (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Note: If you choose not to add the psyllium or flaxseed meal you may like to add a couple of extra tbsp of flour

Toppings
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp harissa paste
1/2 red beetroot (pre-roasted or steamed), sliced
1/2 yellow beetroot (pre-roasted or steamed), sliced
2 tbsp pine nuts
fresh basil/avocado to garnish

Directions:


Base1. Preheat your oven to 180C, and line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Start by ‘ricing’ your cauliflower if you haven’t already (place small florets of cauliflower in a food processor or blender and whizz up until a fine ‘rice’ forms). To save time, you may like to add the cloves of garlic in when you are whizzing up the cauliflower.
3. Place the cauliflower rice in a large bowl, and add the other ingredients (garlic - if you didn’t add it when blending the cauliflower, mustard, herbs, egg and egg white, coconut flour, salt, pepper, psyllium, and flaxseed meal). Blend until all ingredients are well combined.
4. Tip out onto the baking tray, and form into a pizza base shape
5. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Remember, you will be baking it again once you put the toppings on, so you don’t want to get the edges too brown just yet.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack if you are using later, or you can place your toppings on straight away and continue making your pizza as you like.

Toppings
1. In a small bowl, combine the sliced onion with the salt and vinegar. Leave to one side for about 10 minutes minimum, longer if possible. 
2. Rinse onions in fresh filtered water and squeeze to remove excess juice and place in a small bowl ready to pop on your pizza

To assemble:
1. Top your pizza base with the harissa paste, then the sliced beetroot, then sprinkle pickled onions and pine nuts over the top. 
2. Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes until base and toppings are all hot, and edges are golden brown. 
3. Remove from oven and serve topped with basil and avocado. 

Note - obviously the toppings I have in this recipe are suggestion...feel free to experiment and use any toppings you like!

Enjoy!

x