Archive for All recipes

Where to shove a bunch of silverbeet

I’m always on the look out for healthy snacks for the kids. Since silverbeet is currently in season ($3 or less for a good bunch), it seemed like a good idea to see what I could whip up with it.

As with all my recipes, I’m keen to incorporate the vegetables with as little manipulating as possible, so rather than blanching the leaves, I chop them finely instead, give them a light saute with oil and soy sauce, then I mix through the eggs and it’s ready for a quick bake. The result is like a crustless quiche – gluten free and vegetarian.

The first time I made this recipe it seemed entirely UNLIKELY that the kids would have anything to do with this ugly, green thing. BUT I was wrong. Feeding it to them as a starter (cashing in on their pre-dinner hunger), they gave this a happy thumbs up and came back for more.

Just goes to show that it’s always worth giving things a go – you never can 100% predict what the kids will & won’t like.

vegie-smugglers-spinach-bites

Silverbeet eggy bites (gluten free)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch silver beet. Washed well.
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce (use a GF soy sauce if you need)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 eggs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
8-10 baby bocconcini

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Set aside.

Use a large knife to trim the silver beet leaves off the stalks. Discard the stalks, stack the leaves and start hacking away until it is all finely shredded/chopped.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil then carefully place in the silver beet. It will sizzle and shrink. Use tongs to gently turn it over it so that it wilts evenly for a few minutes before sprinkling over the soy sauce. Stir through for another minute then set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the mustard and eggs. Stir through the grated cheese and mix in the cooked spinach. Transfer contents into your tin. Spread evenly and push the bocconcinis into the mixture so the tops are just poking out.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Serves 2 adults & 2 kids as lunch or part of a larger meal (it’s nice with salad & bread – although that kind of kills the GF vibe, doesn’t it!).

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Other ways to cook with spinach or silver beet?

Try out my vegetarian lasagne, or these cute little filo cheese & spinach sticks.

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A 30-minute lamb dinner-winner

More interesting that your usual savoury mince but just as popular.

More interesting that your usual savoury mince but just as popular.

Here’s an easy dinner idea that takes all the kid-friendliness of savoury mince and gives it a little Middle-Eastern twist. Using the naan bread as a base is a bit of Veggie-Smuggling sneakiness – keeping a visible lure ingredient to tempt the kids to dig in.

The idea is that to get to the bread, they’re having to get in a mouthful of mince mixture which should hopefully be enough to tickle their tastebuds and get them scoffing away.

Better yet – this 30 minute meal smuggles eggplant and mushrooms and is a quick one-frypan affair. Bliss.

Citrus lamb mince on naan

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
500g minced lamb
1 eggplant, finely diced (peeled first if your kids are iffy with eggplant)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 carrot, grated
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
Rind of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 tsp honey

To serve: Greek yoghurt, mint, coriander, naan bread. Chopped cucumber and tomato are also great.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil and when hot, add the onion and stir frequently for 6-8 minutes or so until turning golden. Add the mince and break up the lumps until it is entirely browned. Toss in the eggplant and stir regularly for a few minutes. It’ll absorb all the lamb fat and start to soften. After several minutes, add in the garlic and spices. Combine well and once fragrant add in the rest of the ingredients. Lower the heat and leave everything to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Since the mix is pretty dry, you do need to keep an eye on it and give it the odd stir so that it doesn’t burn.

Serve topped with yoghurt, herbs and bread.

Serves 2 adults & 2 kids

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Do your kids like mince? Try my savoury mince recipe. Or my classic bolognaise. Or this fajita mix is delish!

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What the ‘wellness’ bloggers are not telling you about happiness

Hasn’t the world of healthy eating become boring lately. With all the emphasis on particular ingredients, exacting methods of preparation and overwhelming ground rules, there’s just not much space left for food to be fun.

Remember the good old days, when you could tuck into a piece of Sara-Lee cheesecake and just enjoy it? Not any more.

These days it has to be a homemade raw cheesecake, made with organic ingredients that you’ve sourced ethically then churned and milled yourself. And the results are yummy, but the method so onerous that some of the enjoyment seems to slip away.

Cooking has become the latest way to prove your superiority, your discipline, your martyrdom. Despite our luck at being surrounded by so much plenty, we apparently need to abstain. Food seems to have become the latest guilt stick with which we are supposed to constantly beat ourselves.

And beat ourselves up, we will. Because, let’s be honest – who has the time to live with such holiness? It’s just not possible in my real world.

For each post I read about some an essential health concoction that I MUST make for my kids to thrive, my guilt increases as I inevitably end up in the supermarket buying the Friday night fish fingers (not every week – just the crazy busy ones). And I’ve kind of had enough of it.

For a thought provoking read, grab a copy of “The Gluten Lie”. I don’t agree with all of it, but it is an interesting reminder of how food messaging has twisted. There is now so much fear and guilt around this whole topic. We’ve lost perspective entirely, as we get caught up in the specifics of tiny nutrients – as if particular enzymes or antioxidants are the key to a happy life.

Just enough omega 3 and all your woes will be gone. You’ll get that job, have nicer children, be sexier.

And of course it’s not true.

When I started this blog, my focus was to find recipes that got fussy kids eating vegetables and enjoying healthy food. And as the years have gone by, it sort of hasn’t been ENOUGH anymore. But what about fermenting vegies? Or activating nuts? Am I considering salicylates? What about protein supplements? And how dare I use a teaspoon of sugar to make something more kid-friendly? Don’t I love my children? Don’t I want the best for them and my family? Don’t I want happiness?

But it turns out that I am quite happy. Focusing on positive and inclusive attitudes to eating has changed two formerly-fussy kids into ones who now enjoy a huge range of good food. We eat with glee. We relish life and all it’s bounty. Basic healthy eating and home cooking gives us the energy to walk on the beach, swim in the ocean, huddle together in cafe booths (enjoying whatever treat we want). We talk. We fight. We piss each other off. We achieve stuff as individuals and as a family. We get stuck into life with as positive an attitude as we can. Because food isn’t the only way to happiness in our household – balance is.

And even as the wellness movement dominates the food world, the fact remains that only one in 20 Australians eat enough vegies, so it seems to be a shame that the basic, simple message to eat right, has been hijacked. In our quest for individual health perfection, we’re losing bigger health war.

For me, healthy eating has become too complicated. And it just doesn’t need to be. Just eat lots of delicious food, full of good stuff. Every day. With joy and gratitude.

Here’s five basic recipes that introduce a bunch of vegetables that can start your kids onto a lifetime of happy (and guilt free) eating… (click the pics to visit the recipe)

Basic multi-veg mash.

Basic multi-veg mash.

mini meatloaves

These mini meatloaves are a complete hand-held meal (and they freeze well).

Noodle salad

Noodle salad for a flavour burst.

Easy to make. Easy to eat. Chicken pasta bake.

Easy to make. Easy to eat. Chicken pasta bake.

And I can see what vegies are in here, too, but the kids can't.

Cute little fish cakes – perfectly sized for toddlers.

Enjoy.

If you love slow cooking, you'll love my latest e-book!

If you love slow cooking, you’ll love my latest e-book!

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Aaaahhhh. Fiji. And what I learned from resort holiday fun.

Mana Island, Fiji

Mana Island in all it’s glory!

In a happy chance my return from Fiji coincided with some winter sunshine and a cheap bulk buy of passionfruit at my local fruit shop. Which resulted in these sweet little morning tea treats that have me closing my eyes and drifting back off to the tropics (scroll down for recipe).

This trip was our first family-resort holiday. Usually we’re a van-park type of family, but stuff it, I hate winter and a few days of heat seemed entirely MEDICINAL. Of course the credit card may not agree for the rest of the year.

But we did create some pretty amazing family memories. With my kids a bit older, we skipped the kids club in favour of family frolics and some pretty adventurous snorkelling afternoons. It was so impressive to watch the kids step up, overcome some fears and get stuck in.

We moved about, but our favourite place was Mana Island – I can’t say enough good stuff about it and it’s still currently under renovation. It will be incredible in another six months or so.

And my tips for taking kids to a resort holiday in Fiji?

• If possible, find flights that don’t have you up for bus transfers at 3am. Or 2am. It kind of squishes some of the fun out of a short trip.

• Take a bunch of muesli bars and snacks to tide them over from buffet to buffet.

• Smother everyone in sunscreen all the time. Don’t trust the kids to do it themselves (speaking from experience).

• And even though the big resorts want you to tip when you pay the bill, slip cash to the staff who’ve been awesome. It makes a big difference to fantastic people who’s daily pay is about what you’d pay for a couple of beers. I find being the affluent-Aussie-in-poorer-countries thing quite awkward. The lady who was bringing me my cocktails by the pool had four kids under six and worked 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. And she smiled the whole time.

Lesson learned.

vegie smugglers passionfruit coconut madeleines

Regular patty pans will do instead of madeleine trays. And sorry for the rubbish pic – I was too lazy to dig out the good camera

Passionfruit & coconut madeleines

3 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar (or golden caster)
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
4 passionfruit (juice & seeds). Use 3 tbsp tinned passionfruit if you can’t find fresh
75g melted butter
Icing sugar to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease madeleine or patty pans with HEAPS of butter – or they’ll stick.

Pop the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk for several minutes until lighter and thick (sounds tedious, but very good for tuck shop lady arms).

Sprinkle over the flour and coconut and fold through gently. Stir through the passionfruit and butter.

Scoop tablespoon quantities into the trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and springy (these don’t rise much).

Leave to cool for several minutes before turning out and tossing in a bit of icing sugar (optional).

Makes 30ish.

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For another tropical treat, try my delicious little pineapple cakes.

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Easy pumpkin soup (only 4 ingredients!)

Easy pumpkin soup (only 4 ingredients)

Isn’t it lucky that we’re never too old to learn stuff.

Important stuff, too, like the fact that Youtube videos on how to cut your own hair make it look deceptively simple. I learned that this week. And that a new mirrored splash back will cause your cat to MELT DOWN as they fight a territorial war with the new cat who has moved into their kitchen (don’t even ask why he’s on the benchtop). And that the end of term is a tiring time for everyone (mummies included).

Thankfully there are salves for all these issues. Luckily my ‘haircut’ looks ok once blowdried in it’s new daringly short style. A squirt bottle of water can keep cats off bench tops. And veggie-filled recipes DO exist that are incredibly easy to make and soothing to eat. Like this one. Perfect for tired kids. Perfect for tired mums.

Easy Pumpkin soup

1 litre chicken stock (salt-reduced)
8 cups (about 1.1 kg) of evenly cubed vegies (you can use all pumpkin, but I like about 800g pumpkin & a couple of big carrots)
1 tbsp Italian herbs
425g can baked beans in tomato sauce (salt-reduced)

Pour the stock into a large pot and bring it to the boil. Add the vegies and herbs and reduce to a strong simmer.

After 10-15 minutes the vegies should be tender (you can easily pierce the pumpkin with a skewer). Tip in the beans and sauce. Stir them through to heat up then remove the pot from the heat.

Use a stick blender to whizzy it all up (or transfer to a traditional blender when cool).

Serve with bread, pumpkin seeds, or last week’s cheese & sweet potato rock cakes.

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids.

And if you struggle to get your little kids to eat soup, click over to the Mother & Baby blog where I’m discussing how to make this genre a success with small kids.

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If you like this recipe, why not try…
Roasted carrot & parsnip soup
Pumpkin & red lentil soup
Green split pea soup

***PLEASE NOTE THAT I’M TAKING A BIT OF FAMILY TIME FROM JUNE 26-JULY 7. THE SHOP IS STILL OPEN, BUT HARDCOPY BOOKS WILL BE SHIPPING AND EMAILS WILL BE RETURNED WHEN I GET BACK – THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING ****

If you love slow cooking, you'll love my latest e-book!

If you love slow cooking, you’ll love my latest e-book!

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This lunchbox idea solves soggy-sandwich-syndrome

If you’ve hit mid-year and find yourself all adrift and out of sandwich ideas then this healthy recipe is the rope thrown to you by the lunchbox coast-rescue-guard-lifesavery-people.

A batch of these will brighten up the drabbest lunch bag and keep the kids vaguely inspired for the rest of Term 2. A double batch will do lunch boxes and then can be reheated and served with a soup…. (keep watching listeners, there’s an insanely good recipe for that coming next week).

Can you tell I’ve settled back into the land of the cooking? I have. And quite cheerily, too. There may have even been a bit of humming going on whilst I whipped these up.

And before you say, “AS IF I’m going to BAKE for their lunches”, I’ll just remind you that this recipe is prepared in about 10 minutes, especially if you get a gadget on your side. And the kid’s containers will come home empty, SANS crusts, half eaten bits or slobbery seconds. So, worth the effort, I say.

healthy lunchbox ideas - cheese and veggie savoury rock cakes
Cheese & kumura rock cakes

75g butter, cubed, left to soften
3/4 cup self-raising flour
60g grated cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated sweet potato (kumura)
1 egg
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Let the butter soften in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the flour and use your fingertips to rub it together (usually takes a couple of minutes – you could do this in a food processor if you prefer).

Tip in the cheese and veggies. Mix well.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg and mustard. Tip this into the flour mix and combine. The mix should now be ‘dough’ like and should hold together well.

Use your hands to press the mixture into 8 even-sized patties. Place on the tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked through

Makes 8.

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How to make it through winter with warm toes….

Welcome to winter, day one. Are you over it yet? The good news is that there’s only about 91 days to go until our feet start to thaw and the little wafty bits of pollen plug up our sinuses.

In the mean time, I’m going to spend the next three months wearing bed socks and cursing the impulsive moment that saw me chuck my old kitchen blinds (I blame pre-renovation enthusiasm rather than stupidity), without checking in the budget to see if I could afford to replace them this year. Winter mornings are gonna be chilly.

Hopefully next week I’ll be back with THE BIG REVEAL – the new kitchen is due to be completed this week! Excited much? Me, yes.

Then I’ll be back onto cooking up these recipes, which are tried and true ways to cheer you up and keep you thriving through the winter…

Warm porridge with this tasty topper

This 1 minute recipes adds oomph & pizzazz to your daily porridge.

Tomato & lentil soup

Love your body with this nutrient-packed tomato & lentil soup.

chicken and tarragon one pot winter warmer by vegie smuggers

Chicken & tarragon (or thyme) one pot keeps everyone happy, from grown-ups to toddlers

Mmwwwwaaaahh aah aah aah aaaaaaaaaahhhhh

Pecan chelsea buns have no benefit, except for the gifting of extreme HAPPINESS to those of us still daring enough to enjoy sugar & flour.

This is my new favourite slow-cooker soup - you'll find the recipe in my new e-book!

This is my new favourite slow-cooker soup – Tuscan minestrone that smells OUT OF THIS WORLD and tastes even better. You’ll find the recipe in my new e-book!

If you love slow cooking, you'll love my latest e-book!

If you love slow cooking, you’ll love my latest e-book!

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