Posts tagged allergies

This dinner WINS nutrition (and the kids love it)

Walnuts are generally considered to be a pretty fantastic nutritional addition to the modern diet (unless, you know, you’re like anaphylactically allergic to them, in which case they’re a deady-bones type addition and worth avoiding). They’re full of awesome quantities of most stuff that’s good for you including omega 3 fatty acids and a range of minerals.

General consensus seems to be that introducing nuts to non-allergic kids is safe from 12 months. Serving kid-friendly pasta like this recipe is a good way to reap the health benefits without choking your little loves on whole kernels.

Also, this dish is like ‘Where’s Wally?’, except in a ‘Where’s zucchini?’ kind of way. If you have one of those fancy contraptions that will turn vegies into pasta twists then feel free to swap out all the pasta in this recipe. However my kids do love the tooth feel of a bit of traditional pasta and I find the zucchini just melts through effortlessly.

As is, this recipe is a total win-win-win at my place, but as always, I won’t take offence if you change it up to suit your household.

Herbs and capers 'adult' this dish up to schmancy levels.

Herbs and capers ‘adult’ this dish up to schmancy levels.

Broccoli & zucchini pasta with walnut sauce

This is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe.

1 1/4 cups whole walnuts (toast them in a dry frying pan if you have a few minutes, but don’t fret if you can’t be bothered)
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how stinky you like to be)
1 slice bread (no crusts) – soaked in 1 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
250g dry linguine or spaghetti
1 head broccoli – cut into dainty florets
2 zucchinis – use a peeler or mandolin to slice them thinly lengthwise then use a knife to cut them into long strips that are a similar size to your pasta.
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Add the walnuts, garlic, soggy bread, milk and oil into a food processor (my little mini one just manages to fit everything). Season well and blitz to form a smooth sauce. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. BUT – add in the broccoli 4 minutes before the end of cooking and then add the zucchini 2 minutes before the end of cooking.

Drain the pasta & veggies. Return to the cooking pot and tip over the walnut sauce. Mix through well. Season super well (this dish really does need tonnes of salt & pepper).

Mix through the parmesan. Serve the kids as is – adults might like to add some torn basil, parsley, anchovies or capers.

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids (this portion size is dainty as the dish is rich – serve with a side salad).

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Ohh! It's called

Ohh! It’s called “Kitchen Collection”

There's a section on basics, then a chapter for snacks and lunchbox items...

There’s a section on basics, then a chapter for snacks and lunchbox items…

Then it's the serious business of DINNER, since that happens tediously often...

Then it’s the serious business of DINNER, since that happens tediously often…

I've converted a bunch of recipes so that there's oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions...

I’ve converted a bunch of recipes so that there’s oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions…

Next chapter is full of ways to feed friends and family....

Next chapter is full of ways to feed friends and family….

And I finish off with celebrations with recipes for all kinds of dietary needs.

And I finish off with celebrations with recipes for all kinds of dietary needs.


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My fruit-bowl runneth over with sloppy bananas

Usually when my fruit bowl is all a-quiver with a mass of mushy bananas, I cook this banana bread, which uses up a few in one go. HOWEVER it’s full of nuts, so not lunchbox-friendly, which is why this NEW banana-hoovering recipe has been making a few appearances at VSHQ.

Let’s not kid anyone – this is no bread, this is CAKE. And a yummy one too, complete with passionfruit icing. Mmmmm. Freeze a few pieces and you’ll be ahead for lunchboxes when school goes back for term 2. Sweet.

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Nut-free, a litle piece of this in the lunchbox will be pretty popular.

Nut-free, a litle piece of this in the lunchbox will be pretty popular.

Lunchbox banana cake

50g butter, softened
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup oats
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup icing sugar
Pulp 1 passionfruit

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 14x28cm loaf tin with baking paper.

Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl. Use hand held beaters to cream them together until well combined. Tip in the egg and beat until well combined.

On a slow speed, mix through the combined flour/baking powder. Use a spoon to add in the oats and banana.

Scoop into your prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and the top springs back with touched.

Leave to cool completely, then sift the icing sugar (to remove lumps) and add just a little passionfruit at a time until you have a good icing consistency. Ice and leave to set.

Cut into 8-10 pieces.

Freezes well. Also makes great cupcakes.

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Bugger it, they can eat biscuits all year

My back-to-school stress dreams started about a week ago. After one particularly gruelling night time panic, involving lists, school bells and missing leopard-print vests, I wrote a quite funny blog post which was subsequently lost when my laptop carked it.

So I’ll have to leave the humour to your imagination and rather than try to rewrite it, I’m giving you a DIY blog post. Just fill in the blanks based on your own family’s back-to-school situation…..

On the first day of school, I have to go _____________________ to get __________________ for _______. Then I’m off to _________________ because _________________ needs _______________ and I’ve only got until _________________ to fetch them. After that we’re off to __________________ for ______________. I’ve got _______________________ planned, but we’ll see how we go. I might have to resort to plan B, where ______________________________________ and ____________________________________________. Then I’ll nip into work for a bit because I’ve got _____________________ at _______________ which really needs some ____________________ before _______________. We should be home by _______ when I’ll get _____________ to __________________ and practice _______________________ before ________________________. I think that’ll work nicely with just enough time to eat ______________________________________ and do a bit of _________________ before bed.

And so we’re back into the school year. Good luck!

Nut-free, lunchbox perfect.

Nut-free, lunchbox perfect.

Gingerbread (good luck) biscuits

Perfect for the summer lunchbox, these sturdy biscuits are packed with seeds, making them nutritious, nut-free AND delicious.

1 cup seeds (I use a combination of flax, pumpkin, sunflower & chia – skip sesame seeds which are becoming more of an allergen problem)
30g butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp treacle
1 cup self-raising flour (wholemeal flour works well, too)
1 tsp each of ginger, mixed spice & cinnamon (or cassia is great)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Add the seeds to a blender, mini food processor or thermomix and blitz them, to break them up a little (this helps hide them a little AND better helps your body absorb the nutrients). Set aside.

Use hand held beaters (or a mixmaster if you have one) to cream the butter and sugar for a minute or two, until it resembles the texture of soggy sand. (NOTE: traditional ‘creaming’ is to help dissolve the sugar, however these quantities don’t allow that to happen, we’re just giving the mix a good start).

Add the egg and use the beaters to combine it in well. Also beat in the treacle. Tip over the flour & spices (I don’t bother sifting) and use the beaters on a low setting to mix it through (a deep bowl stops flour going everywhere).

Remove the beaters, tip in the seed mixture and use a spoon to mix it through evenly. Roll the mix into 26ish even-sized balls (wear kitchen gloves if you hate getting your hands dirty). Place on the trays (allow some room for spreading) and bake for 10-12 minutes until just firm and springy. They harden up more as they cool and you don’t want them rock hard the whole way through.

Makes 26ish.

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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)….


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.


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


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.


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


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

Great finger food for toddlers.

Great finger food for toddlers.


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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The best gluten & egg free cookies

Look, it’s not that I’m horribly up-myself, but I do think that these might just be the best gluten & egg-free biscuits around.

My daughter’s BFF is your classic, allergic-to-everything child, and a fussy eater to boot. Over the past couple of years I’ve tried a bunch of recipes on her, all of which have resulted in a screwed up face and that awkward moment of a well-brought-up child who doesn’t quite know how to tell her friend’s mum that she’s unable to swallow the baked good that was made especially for her.

Anyway, I’ve been working on this recipe for a while and I was finally confident enough to present them to Miss F’s BFF. After her first tentative nibble, I was beyond thrilled when she declared that these were actually DELICIOUS (possibly the look of surprise on her face could have been a bit insulting). And then she ate three, with gusto. Seeing her stuff her little skinny face I was so happy that I jumped about a bit, which also resulted in an awkward look from said child as she watched her BFF’s middle-aged mum being weird.

Admittedly, these biscuits/cookies are not even a little bit healthy. They’re all butter, sugar & chocolate, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to whip up something for the ‘special diet’ child that is so great that everyone else is fighting her for them.

Finally, a big, fattening, gluten-free win.

Finally, a big, fattening, gluten-free win.

Gluten & egg-free choc chip cookies

1¼ cups gluten-free plain flour
½ cup corn flour
¾ cup caster sugar
¾ cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp water
1½ tsp bicarb soda
¾ choc melts, roughly chopped (a combination of white and dark is delicious)

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

In the large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar and coconut.

Place a small saucepan over low/medium heat and melt the butter and golden syrup, stirring often. Combine the water and bicarb together well then pour it into the butter mix and stir so that the mixture starts to foam. Pour it into the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine.

Mix through the choc melts. Squeeze together golf ball size quantities. Place on the trays, flatten slightly and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. (Allow room for spreading).

Makes 30ish

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