A quick easter treat – bunny tails!

vegie-smugglers-bunny-tails

Sick to death of Easter eggs? Needing a bit of crafty-cooking to fill in half an hour of school holiday time? Why not whip up some of these bunny tails. They’re easy as, too. Just melt some white chocolate (I’m lazy and do mine in the microwave, but feel free to use the bain marie method over simmering water). Dip cut slices of banana into the chocolate then toss them into a bowl of coconut (desiccated or shredded – whatever you have on hand will do) and coat well. Transfer onto a plate and leave to set in the fridge for half an hour.

Chocolate is an inevitable fact of Easter life and one that I don’t fight too much. Especially in this week before, I just let the kids get excited and have fun. At least with this piece of the sugar-a-thon you have an activity that you can do with them and you know that a couple of nutrients might be making into them, too.

DISCOUNT

I’m having an Easter sale! 15% off storewide, until midnight, April 17, 2014 (AEST).

Wishing you all a wonderful break.
x

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The best recipes for busy parents

This is my cookbook collection. I'll be doing well to cook 3 recipes from each.

Here’s all my cookbooks. I haven’t even cooked once from each one.

Should you ever find yourself in the midst of a toilet-paper emergency (ie, there isn’t any), solve the deficit by grabbing your nearest cookbooks, tear the pages into strips and wipe your be-hind with those.

Why? Research has shown that people only cook an average of three recipes from each cookbook they own, meaning that there’s a good chance that the pages randomly ripped out won’t be crucial to your future.

Most certainly, my cookbooks are the exception, right? I’ll consider myself a success if you’ve whipped up 5 or 6 recipes from each of mine. However considering that most of my books are now ebooks, maybe reconsider using them for bog roll – your ipad might never be the same again afterwards. Although I’ve heard immersion in a bag of rice fixes most device misadventures.

Sadly there’s no research on recipe usage on websites. Possibly it’s the same, but a website is so much harder to flick through. To save you time, here are the three recipes that I cook from Vegie Smugglers the most often. And if you like these, you might want to check out all of my products, here.

Classic noodle & cabbage salad - a summer staple.

Classic noodle & cabbage salad – a summer staple.

Chicken & udon soup. Especially good after sickness or overindulgence.

Chicken & udon soup. Especially good after sickness or overindulgence.

Berry & oat muffins. Freezer & lunchbox friendly.

Berry & oat muffins. Freezer & lunchbox friendly.

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Is that something green in your teeth (and thumb)? PLUS a discount offer on a great product

Part of the ongoing challenge of feeding kids well is getting the balance right between educating them about food but not making nutrition into such a big issue that they’ll grow into teenagers who rebel and reject us and our quaint “here, have a carrot stick” ways. I think I sometimes do tip into the food-nazi zone. Like when my 6-year-old pushed his spoon through his noodle soup and questioned, “Where’s the protein?” it seemed obvious that we’d had one healthy food lecture, too many.

Luckily, there are more subtle ways of making food education part of the every day. Growing stuff is a perfect way to educate kids quietly. A nice way to practice what you preach.

Problem is though, that some of us have green thumbs and others don’t. I don’t. I’m too sporadic with watering, too forgetful. I’ve got possums and snails and caterpillars that love to party, gorging their green little asses on my outdoor sweat & tears.

All of which adds up to making me a perfect guinea pig for Matt, who offered me a bit of Vegepod salvation.

Generally I avoid PR posts and I’m proud to say that I don’t get paid to talk about anything on this blog (I make a coin by selling my products, instead). So if I do, it’s because it’s a product I like, generally from a small, local business that is working hard with minimal budget to promote big ideas.

Rather than blabber about the Vegepod itself (you can visit the website and find out all about it, instead), I’ll just show you this pic of what I’ve managed to grow in just over 5 weeks. With my little microclimate under the hood, I’ve even got late season basil underway, long after my other stuff in pots has all gone to seed.

Hand clap!

Hand clap!

Best yet, is that the kids are totally excited about the more exotic stuff that we’re now managing to grow. I’m always astonished at how much more enthusiastic they are about eating something that they’ve picked themselves. This silverbeet is a perfect example.

And if you’re interested in a Vegepod, Matt has offered VS readers a 10% discount by entering “smugglers” into the coupon field. Offer expires April 6.

Thanks Matt & hope you sell heaps of Vegepods!

You don't have to hide vegies, so long as they're delicious!

You don’t have to hide vegies, so long as they’re delicious!



Creamed spinach

1 bunch silverbeet, washed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
150ml pouring cream
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
pinch of ground nutmeg
pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Drop in the silverbeet, a few leaves at a time. Use tongs to remove them after about 30 seconds. Transfer to a colander. Continue until the whole bunch is cooked. Set aside to cool slightly.
Squeeze out the excess water from the silverbeet, slice the leaves off the stems (discard stems) and roughly chop the leaves.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion for 6-8 minutes or until golden and soft. Toss in the spinach leaves and cream. Stir until hot, mix through the cheddar and sprinkle over the nutmeg. Season with pepper.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS as a side dish

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Those stinking, overripe bananas are your new best friend

At some stage throughout the week I find myself dashing into the supermarket to ‘grab a few things’.

The list of ‘those things’ was clear as day in my head while I was driving to the supermarket. But once inside the frenzied walls, surrounded by 40,000 products and a clock that is reminding me that I’ve only got 10 minutes to shop, pay and get to the school gate, my mind goes amazingly blank. All I’ll remember is that the list had four things on it, and that they were eclectic. So in a panic, I’ll grab milk, bananas, marinated tofu and tampons. Only to get home and find that I actually needed udon noodles, olives, deoderant and cat food.

After a few trips just like this, I end up with a dulux-colour-chart worth of banana bunches in varying states of decay. And despite lunchboxes, icecream and smoothies, I seem to constantly have a bunch of near-mush that is a degrading reminder of the inadequacies of my brain.

Lucky then, that I’ve got four sure-fire recipes that use them up in ways that transform my self image from harried, forgetful, middle-aged-woman to sexy and resourceful domestic goddess.

Click to visit the recipe…

Vegie smugglers banana bread recipe

Basis banana bread. Always delicious.

vegie smugglers choc chip almond and banana muffin

Choc chip, almond & banana muffins.

My kids will hoover this, will yours?

Carrot & muesli muffins

And finally, this piece of recipe gold….

Gluten free, egg free banana cookies

Gluten free, egg free banana cookies

’2 ingredient’ banana cookies

These are called ’2 ingredient’ since the only essential elements are the bananas and oats. Beyond that, you can add dried fruit, nuts and flavouring to suit your family.

2 overripe bananas, peeled
1 cup oats (gluten free is fine here)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup choc chunks (I just cut up choc melts)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a tray with baking paper.

Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl.

Add the oats, cinnamon and coconut to a mini food processor and blitz it up a bit to break the oats down a little.

Mix the oat mix into the banana, roll into balls, press onto trays and bake for 15 minutes until set.

Makes 16

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Enjoy watching your toddler feed themselves lentils!

Yes, it’s true, these little balls of deliciousness are perfect toddler food but they’re also a popular snack with older kids, too. The secret is that the sweet potato (or kumara), is ROASTED, so they’re rich and enticing which means the lentils aren’t noticed at all.

To get the mash, I chuck the whole sweet potato into the oven (don’t peel it or anything so tedious) and cook it for about an hour at 180C. Then, whenever you’re ready during the day, you can get onto making this super-healthy, egg-free snack.

Perfect for independent toddlers

Perfect for independent toddlers


Sweet potato, lentil & rice balls

1 cup roasted sweet potato
1 cup cooked brown rice (or white rice is ok, too)
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup cooked brown lentils (I use tinned – give them a good rinse)
1 tbsp tomato chutney (or beetroot relish is also good)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs are good, too)
Spray oil

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.

Mash the cooked sweet potato in a large bowl. Evenly mix in the rice, cheese, lentils and chutney.

Roll bite-sized balls of mixture, coat in the breadcrumbs and place on the tray. Spray them with oil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Turn once during cooking (if you can be bothered) and give them an extra spray of oil part way through.

Makes about 30

*THESE FREEZE!

Usually you’ll have more than one cup of mash after roasting a whole sweet potato. Just up the quantities of the other ingredients to suit and make a heap – these freeze well. Just remember for reheating that you need to thaw them then bake them in the oven – they go soggy in the microwave.

**Did you see that I’ve sold out of Vegie Smugglers book 2? Boo! But the good news is that you can buy a full digital copy for just $14.95. It’s the whole thing, complete with clickable contents lists, in a format that will never get dog-eared or ruined. See more here…

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Slow cooker chicken noodle soup

Things have been a bit crazy here lately. What with parties, activities, homework, pesky jobs, large mortgages, endless chores and stressed husbands, there’s barely been time for a glass of bubbles (well, ok, maybe there’s been one or two of them, too).

Possibly your lives are just the same as mine, so you may want to note down this slow cooker chicken noodle soup recipe. It’s as easy as they come and delicious, too.

Just what I need to get through a busy week.

Just what I need to get through a busy week.

Slow cooker chicken noodle soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly diced
250g bacon, rind and fat removed, roughly diced
1.5kg whole chicken (organic if you can afford it), washed, dried
3 mushrooms, thickly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
1.5 litres of chicken stock
1 tsp ground pepper, plus extra to serve
2 bay leaves, ½ bunch parsley (flat or curly), ½ bunch thyme (use kitchen string to tie all the herbs together so you can remove them easily at the end)
2 carrots, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
125g can corn, drained (or 1 corn cob)
¾ cup frozen peas
75g packet 2-minute noodles (discard the flavour sachet)
sliced spring onions, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, toss in the onion and bacon. Sauté, stirring frequently, for 7-8 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and the onions are soft. Tip into the slow cooker.

Pop the chicken into the pan, wing-side down. After 5 minutes, turn over and brown the other side. Toss in the mushrooms and garlic for another minute or so. Tip this into the cooker.

Also add in the stock, pepper, herbs, carrots and celery. Cook for 7 hours on low. Remove and shred the chicken (discard skin & bones) and return to the pot with the corn, peas and noodles for 30 minutes more.

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids

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Rude words and a giveaway from some awesome ladies

Mr M&P is worried. He came to me the other day with a brow fully crinkled.

“Mum”. He was obviously nervous about what he had to say. “Mum, do you know that you’ve got a cookbook with a rude word on it?”

“Really?” said I, unsure about where this was all going.

“Yes”. He dropped his voice to a whisper. “It’s called ‘Cut out the c-word’.” His eyes were wide as he conveyed this tidbit.

I tried not to smile, but couldn’t help it. He’d just seen a copy of ‘Cut out the Crap, which is Collette White’s wonderful series of cookbooks which have been following me around the house recently. Collette’s recipes take healthy eating a step further than mine. While I focus on variety and fresh produce, she is creating delicious gluten, dairy & preservative free recipes.

Collette and I have met via social media and it’s connections like this that dispel any worries I have about whether or not so much connectivity is a good thing. There’s a bunch of us ladies online who gather (admittedly, a bit away from public view) and workshop issues we have around hosting pages, running online businesses and wider life and health issues. I adore them all and every now and again I’m going to mention a few and encourage you to visit them. If you’re interested in health/wholefoods & alternative type things then go and check out some of their pages. Visit Collette at Cut out the Crap, Sonia at Natural New Age Mum, Alisha at Naughty Naturopath Mum, Kristin at Mamacino, Kelly Burch, Brenda Janschek, Jo at Quirky Cooking, Iwa at Additive Free Bites, Rebecca at 4myearth and Bek at Cooking with Bek. They’ll keep you entertained and inspired for a while!

I’ve got a giveaway too – a collection of fantastic things from some enterprising Australian women. There’s a copy of Collette’s Cut out the Crap for Kids. Some 4myearth products (including the fantastic bread bag), and Safety Food peelers and knives from the fabulous Jackie. I’ll chuck in a copy of Vegie Smugglers 1, as well.

Win all this!

Win all this!

Enter by liking up Collette’s page, Rebecca’s page and Jackie’s page. Then comment below, paying tribute to a local business you love. Or even promote your own venture. Competition is for Australian Vegie Smuggler subscribers only. Enter before 9pm Thursday March 6, 2014. Thanks everyone – this competition is now over – our lucky winner is Kristy who told us about Splatter Gallery in West Wyalong. Congrats Kristy!

Go you good things!

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