A gluten-free weekly meal plan

This month’s meal plan is dedicated to the gluten-intolerant amongst us. As a society, Westerners are extraordinarily wheat-dependent, so even if you’re not coping with celiacs in your household, you still might want to incorporate a few of these meals into your repertoire. Besides which, they’re all super yummy (as always, click the photos or the links to go to the recipe)….

MONDAY

And we’re off! Starting with meat-free monday and this tomato & lentil soup. Obviously, don’t serve it with bread!

A monday detox to push through any weekend overindulgence.

A monday detox to push through any weekend overindulgence.

TUESDAY

Slow cooker chicken satay is so yum and really easy. Just double check that your peanut butter is gluten free and use a naturally fermented soy sauce (they’ll be GF on the label). Thickening slow cooker meals with corn flour near the end is a nice GF alternative to adding wheat flour earlier in the process. And it works better (I think).

Slow cooker chicken satay

Slow cooker chicken satay

WEDNESDAY

Wrap these beef & lentil fajitas in gluten-free wraps and double check that your sauces are all ok. Rolling them up in foil makes them instantly more fun and kid friendly as the kids focus on munching and peeling rather than investigating the contents. Plus, the foil holds everything in place. SCORE.

Beef & lentil fajita recipe

Beef & lentil fajitas.

THURSDAY

Make sure you have an extra cup of rice leftover from Tuesday night and you’re able to easily whip up this zucchini slice. I love a simple mix & bake later in the week once we’re all getting tired. To ensure the rice will still be safe, make sure you set aside a cup of it as soon as it was cooked on Tuesday. As soon as the steam clears, pop it into an airtight container and chuck it straight into the fridge. OR, you can always pop it into the freezer.

Zucchini slice

Zucchini slice

FRIDAY

These chickpea flour fritters are the perfect relaxed Friday night tea.

Great finger food for toddlers.

Great finger food for toddlers.

SATURDAY

A BBQ is a great idea and super tasty. This week has had a lot of vegetarian food, so you might want to pop some lamb or fish on the BBQ and serve it with this coleslaw….

Just chopping, no cooking. Love.

Just chopping, no cooking. Love.

And for a treat? Well, it doesn’t matter what food intolerance you deal with – this coconut & mango tapioca dessert is gluten and dairy free. And if you like, you can swap out the caster sugar for coconut sugar.

Proof that dairy-free, gluten-free desserts are possible!

Proof that dairy-free, gluten-free desserts are possible!

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Do I love my thermomix now? An update 15 months later….

Someone just posted on my old post – Do I love my thermomix (you might be surprised), asking for an update on how I’ve settled in with my machine. I was fairly strident in my skepticism back then, so it seems only fair to fill you in on how I’ve gone, long term. It’s been 15 months now, so the novelty has worn off and I can assess its usefulness without my mind being swayed by the TM hype.

So here’s the truth…. I don’t use my thermomix very often. But when I DO use it, it’s fantastic. But I can get by without it for days on end.

My husband calls it the $2000 egg poacher, since I’ll go for a couple of weeks doing nought with it but bunging on a bit of breakfast. ‘But what a breakfast!’, I say. Perfectly soft-boiled eggs. Almost. Every. Time (colder water temps in winter meant I had to up the cooking time – learned that the hard way one morning, cracking open an almost raw egg).

Needless to say, husband raises an eyebrow and checks out the space on the wall where his $2000 television could have been proudly mounted. He’d probably have watched that for more than 5 minutes every week or so.

BUT. (And there’s always a but, isn’t there.) I LOVE TO COOK. So pots and pans are a bit joyful for me. Stirring sooths my soul. Chopping calms me down. Cooking is some strange therapy. I totally understand, though, that many people hate cooking and feel the nightly need for food production as a weight of concrete pulling them into the depths of mediocrity. And for those people, then the thermomix is a brilliant device. You need no kitchen flare to produce a good meal. Apparently the new model even tells you what to do next, so you need not even worry yourself with the tedium of recipe reading. GOLD.

And I’ll confess that mid-week, when all the shite is flying everywhere, the TM has saved my skin on many occasions. For me, this is where the machine shines and this is the theory behind the recipes that I chose to convert for my Thermomix ebook (check it out here). It’s perfect for those mid-week food production nights when you just want everyone to just shut up, eat and go to bed.

AND WHAT ABOUT ALL THAT OTHER WHIZZERY-BANGERY THAT IT DOES?
Yes, it does do it, and it does do it well. If you are dealing with food allergies and creating everything from scratch then I can see how much you would love your thermie. I have used it to mill sugar and I use it to mill brown rice into flour. And it’s absolutely-freaking-fantastic at all that. Yesterday, I used it to easily make a fantastic strawberry jam out of some soggy old cheap berries that were definitely no good for eating. GOLD.

But if you’re thinking about buying a thermie, I would keep in mind that rarely does a contraption truly change our behaviour. If you think that a TM will help you eat more vegies, you’re wrong. If you think a TM will allow you enough time to bake bread from scratch, you’re wrong. If you think a TM will save you money, you’re wrong.

If you’re making broader lifestyle changes, then a TM might assist you with those. Going gluten-free is a little easier. Cooking every night from scratch is a little easier. But a thermomix is a lot like a gym membership – forking out the money is NOT ENOUGH to motivate you to truly change your lifestyle if you’re only half-hearted.

If you want to make bread, a breadmaker is a wonderful thing. A $40 rice cooker is essential and does a wonderful job, as does a $40 mini-food processor. For less than $200 I can have all the kitchen help I need to make lasting changes in my lifestyle.

I’d recommend giving some of those gadgets a go before making the big thermomix commitment.

Oats, but not wheat. And quite yummy, too.

Oats, but not wheat. And quite yummy, too.



Wheat-free blueberry muffins

1 cup brown rice flour (brown rice, milled in the TM on 9 for 30 seconds)
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
2 tsp chia seeds
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup fat (either oil of your choice or melted butter, cooled)
1 punnet blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180C – line 12 muffin holes with paper cases.

In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the egg, milk & fat together. Pour into the dry ingredients. Combine well then mix in the blueberries.

Use spoons to divide the mixture evenly between the muffin holes. Bake for 30-35 minutes until firm and golden.

Makes 12.

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Can’t cook? Or too tired to cook? Try this.

Now where is this year going? And how did this term slip by so quickly! I don’t know about you, but for us this last week or two of term is a bit fraught. Possibly the cupboards are empty, the kids are tired and motivation is low. But there’s no need to hang up the healthy food towel. Before you dial a takeaway, make the most of your pantry stash. This shakshouska, is way cool and is more compiling than cooking. Served with a bit of bread, it keeps everyone in my house pretty happy.

A nice alternative to toasties or baked beans.

A nice alternative to toasties or baked beans – and just as easy.

Pantry tuna shakshouka

Younger kids might like a version of this with just a few spoonfuls of tomato, an egg and scattered ham.

800g crushed tomatoes
180g tuna in oil (with chilli, too, if your family like it)
4 spring onions (I’ve usually got some hiding in the bottom of the crisper drawer)
1/3 cup roasted capsicums (also tip in a bit of the flavoured oil)
Sprinkling of capers (if you like them)
4 eggs

To serve: parsley (from the garden), salt, pepper, sourdough (for dipping).

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place your individual dishes or ramekins on a baking tray (to make handling easier).

Divide the ingredients between your dishes, in quantities that will suit each diner. Finally, scoop a bit of a dent in the mix and quickly crack in an egg.

Bake for 15-25 minutes until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

Serves 4

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Win a Kambrook food prep system

This nifty gadget could be yours.

This nifty gadget could be yours.

It’s been a long wait between giveaways! In fact I don’t think I’ve run one all year (I’ve been too lazy to organise and administer them, sorry!) But this week I break the drought with a very awesome prize from Kambrook.

I actually got in touch with them looking for a new mini-food processor. Mine is making all kinds of weird noises after 5 years of being flogged to death, so time for an upgrade. Very kindly, Kambrook thought they could do something even better and sent me their X Blade Pro Food Prep System. At first glance I was aghast at the larger size of this thing. It’s some kind of mini-food processor on steroids, in fact it’s really a neater doesn’t-need-all-the-bench-space version of the more traditional food processors, but after mucking around with it for a couple of weeks, I’m IN THE GROOVE with this appliance. The motor purrs like a kitten and the stick blender function has some serious grunt.

When do I use it? The stick blender is perfect for blitzing soups. Just stick it into the pot or slow cooker and away you go. So insanely easy. Try it on this pumpkin, corn & lentil soup.

vegie smugglers pumpkin and lentil soup recipe

Pumpkin, corn & lentil soup.

But wait, there’s more – there’s also a mashing attachment which makes light of that little job. Try this vegie mash

Stockpile portions of mash in the freezer.

Stockpile portions of mash in the freezer.

And then there’s all the functionality of a regular mini processor but at the larger size – which is perfect for those of you with more than 2 kids. PLUS it also comes with all the attachments for slicing and dicing which saves you a heap of prep time.

It’s a good piece of kit and if you’re cooking for a larger family then this is kitchen gold.

I’ve got one to give away, too (worth $149.95). To win, you must be a Vegie Smugglers subscriber (sign up if you’re not) and you must be living in Australia (so that Kambrook can ship your prize to you). I’d recommend that you go and like the Kambrook Facebook page. Then pop back here and let me know in 25 words or less why you REALLY need one of these and what you’d make with it. As always, I can be swayed by a bit of humour and tales of how many children you’re trying to feed.

Entries close 9pm Thursday September 18, AEST. Winner will be notified by email. ****THANKS EVERYONE FOR ENTERING! COMPETITION NOW CLOSED – CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER JENNY S! YOUR KAMBROOK PRIZE IS ON ITS WAY.

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Coconut, coconut, coconut, coconut & banana cake

Vegie Smugglers banana and coconut cake

And sprinkle a bit of coconut on top, too.

Ain’t life grand when you discover that all of life’s woes can be solved by one little ingredient. No more will I battle with dementia, mouth sores, irregular periods, bloating, stubbed toes or mismatched socks, because I have discovered COCONUT.

Only a blind sheep could have possible missed the whole coconut-thing. Actually, not even a blind sheep, since every sheeple I know (including me) is well and truly caught up in the craze and is trading all their coin for a trolley full of 44-gallon drums of the stuff. But is it worth it? And is it actually healthy? Rather than paraphrasing the entire internet, if you’re interested to know more, then go and read this, or this, or this, or this. They are all good articles that seem pretty balanced.

If you can’t be bothered clicking around then here’s my summary…. coconut oil should be bought ‘virgin’. It’s expensive and full of saturated fat. But it’s thought some of this fat is beneficial. But the science isn’t conclusive and keep in mind that nutrition information is currently changing more often than Kimye’s outfits.

Seems like it’s a great ingredient to have in your cupboard, but one to use in moderation (I know, back to that ol’ boring mantra). For lactose-intolerant me, it makes a great butter substitute in baking and treats, when I’m after a coconut flavour. It works well with some Asian stir-fry dishes, but generally I’m happier with olive oil.

This recipe though, is a complete homage to coconut. It uses coconut oil in just the way I like it – dairy-free cake that last well for several days and can also be sliced and frozen, ready for lunchboxes. Even better, the evocative coconut taste is so divine that it inspires me to don my grass skirt and coconut-bra, and hula the day-away.

Coconut & banana cake

So there’s not much that’s healthful in this cake (it IS cake), but it is a fantastic way to use coconut and all of your overripe bananas (and it’s dairy-free)

2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup sugar (I’ll leave it up to you – raw sugar will give you an amazingly white cake, coconut sugar gives is a more molassas-y flavour)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
165ml can coconut milk
1 egg, lightly whisked
3 overripe bananas, peeled, mashed
Sprinkle of shredded coconut.

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 14x20cm loaf tin with baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, coconut and sugar.

Combine the melted oil and vanilla extract. Stir in the coconut milk and also your egg (add the egg last so that the warm oil doesn’t start to cook it). Pour this wet mix into the dry one. Combine well then also mix through the banana (this mix is more a dough than a batter).

Plop the dough into your tin. Push it out to fill the corners and even the surface. Sprinkle over the shredded coconut.

Bake for a total of 55-60 minutes. Cover with foil around the 40 minutes mark to avoid burning.

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Sounds fancy, actually easy. And yum.

By Thursday nights I am tired. The last commitment of the day is picking up big girl from Junior Guides at 7pm. And then we all pop on our jammies and flop together on the lounge for some quality food TV.

Possibly the kids don’t give a toss about world cuisine, but the chance to stay up until 8.30 means they’ve got a new-found love of SBS travel/cooking shows. Over the past couple of years we’ve watched Adam Liaw tour Japan (I’m hoping to retrace his steps some day), Rachel Khoo relishing France and at the moment we’re enjoying Shane Delia travelling Turkey, which takes me back to my own travels there in the 1990s. I remember how new and exotic the flavours and smells were.

As much as it pains me to contemplate them leaving, I hope my kids grow to be curious about the world and want to head off on their own adventures. To encourage them along, I’ve been enjoying making these burek, which sound fancy, but are actually super-simple family food. Just a savoury mince wrapped in filo pastry, coiled up and baked in the oven. The kids just call them ‘fancy meatpies’, which isn’t so culturally sensitive but is pretty accurate.

meat & vegetable burek

Schmancy meat pies. Sauce optional.


Beef & vegie burek

You can make the mince ahead, to wrap and bake later in the day, or make these up and store in the fridge until it’s time to brush them with butter and bake for dinner.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
500g beef mince
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1 finger eggplant, finely diced (peel it first if your kids will fuss about the skin)
1 green capsicum, finely diced
Handful spinach leaves, this stalks removed, leaves finely shredded
2 tbsp parsley (optional)
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Filo pastry
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg, combined with a splash of milk for glazing.

The key to success with filo is to make sure it is completely thawed (if frozen) and at room temperature. Then it’s pretty easy to work with.

Heat a large frying pan over medium/high heat. Add the oil and pop in the onion. Cook, stirring often for 4-5 minutes until golden. Carefully place the mince in the pan. Use your spoon to break up lumps and totally brown all the meat (this take about 5 minutes). Add in the garlic and all the vegies for 2-3 minutes before scattering over the spices. Stir well and continue to move everything around regularly for 5 minutes or so. Move the pan off the heat and leave everything to cool for a bit (so that you can handle it easily).

Preheat the oven to 200C. Find whatever round dishes you have – make several small bureks or one large one – totally up to you.

Lay out your block of filo. Brush melted butter over the top sheet. Flip it over and lay it on top of the sheet below. Spoon a line of mince mixture along the length of the filo, about 3-4 cm in from one edge. Lift the top two layers of filo and carefully roll your pastry up into a long snake. Coil it around and squeeze into your round dish. (To make a large burek, just keep adding snakes onto the end until you’ve filled your dish.)

Brush with the combined egg/milk and bake for 25 minutes until golden.

If the filo bit sounds too hard (I promise it’s not), just scoop the mix into a dish, scrunch of some filo sheets and add them to the top, pie-style).

Serves 2 adults & 3 kids

Make a line of mixture along to whole length of pastry.

Make a line of mixture along to whole length of pastry.

Roll into a long cigar.

Roll into a long cigar.

Coil and squeeze into whatever oven-proof dishes you have.

Coil and squeeze into whatever oven-proof dishes you have.

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What are you eating this week? Maybe one of these?

As always, click the pics to link through to the recipes. And happy eating to you and your family this week….

MONDAY

Meat-free monday and I’m loving the simplicity of these chickpea fritters.

vegie-smugglers-corn-chickpea-fritters

TUESDAY

At least once during the week I turn to my slow cooker. Cooking with it is so simple that I find it a great way to get ahead. So you can make this lamb chop casserole on Monday and let it brew away in the fridge for 24 hours before reheating it for Tuesday dinner, which makes flying in the door at the end of the day with cranky post-oosh kids a whole lot more pleasant.

Saucy! Great for dipping into with bread.

Saucy! Great for dipping into with crusty bread.

WEDNESDAY

This potato/kumura bake can cook away over the afternoon. Serve it with sausage, fish or whatever protein gives you a thrill. A few carrots and peas on the side and my kids will be happy campers.

vegie-smugglers-pasta-bake

THURSDAY

I’m at home working on Vegie Smugglers on Thursdays, so early in the day I can get these Kulebyaka prepped and into the fridge ready for cooking later once we get home after the post-school activities run.

Crunch, yum. Crunch, YUM. Feet still cold though.

Crunch, yum. Crunch, YUM. My version of a Russian favourite.

FRIDAY

It’s ‘can’t be bothered’ day, so click through to the post for these easy egg tarts. The competition on this post is long over, but the joy of this super-simple dinner is still worth a million.

Bread tart cases.

Bread tart cases.

SATURDAY
If you’re in on Saturday night, how about a simple chicken curry? It’s comfort food that is gentle enough for the whole family. Adults can add some chopped fresh chilli and coriander to give it a bit of punch. Chuck on a movie and you’re in relaxation heaven.

Parents can add chilli & coriander.

Super-gentle chicken curry & rice.

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