Posts tagged ideas

From no-cake, to cake, in 5 minutes.

There are times when my tea looks at me, sitting on the bench and I can’t help but think that it seems very lonely. On Gourmet Farmer I heard the lovely quote, “A cup of tea without a biscuit is a wasted opportunity” and I can’t help but agree. But the problem is that I keep my cupboard lean and free from too many sweet temptations. To avoid additives and mucky weird processed food, I also have a general rule that I only eat baked goods that I’ve made myself.

Thankfully then, I’ve discovered this lifesaver of a recipe. It’s a cake that is prepared with a tablespoon measure and one jug then cooked in a large mug in the microwave. All in under 5 minutes.

So if you don’t use gluten, sugar or the microwave, please don’t email me or comment with a tonne of nasty abuse, just look away and come back next week – I promise you a healthier recipe then (or click here for my cocoa bliss balls). The rest of you, keep this on file for the next time your cup of tea needs a friend.

A few berries on top will make you feel more virtuous.

A few berries on top will make you feel more virtuous.

2-minute chocolate & coconut cake

1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk (or soy milk also works)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (melted butter would also work, but cool it a little)
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp raw sugar (or golden caster sugar or coconut sugar both also work)
3 tbsp self-raising flour

(I mix this together in a 2-cup glass jug, which makes it super easy to pour into the cup and then goes straight into the dishwasher).

Use a fork to whisk your egg in a jug or bowl. You don’t need the entire egg; especially if it’s a large one, so tip out about a quarter of it (don’t worry about being too precise!).

Whisk in the vanilla, milk and oil. Once combined, continue to whisk in the coconut, cocoa, sugar and lastly the flour.

Pour into a large mug and microwave on high for 2- 2 1/2 minutes (you might have to try a couple of times to find the timing that is perfect in your microwave).

Serves 2 kids, or 1 greedy adult.

new-book-on-sale2

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Enjoy dinner-time thrills and empty plates

Mealtime stress often causes us to lose our perspective, doesn’t it? Caught up in the angst of kids rejecting food we’ve slaved over, the misery of power plays over whether or not they are going to EAT THAT PEA or worried sick over whether our child is getting their nutritional needs met from one mouthful of meatloaf last Tuesday, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that food should be nourishing, happy and FUN.

I was reminded of this last week when I had a super-poshy dinner out at Sepia Restaurant. It was one of those Masterchef-y type places with foams and odd concoctions and food bordering on art and theatre. The dish that stands out was the mid-course sorbet, which arrived as a little perfect white globe on a huge dark blue dish scattered with icing sugar. It was the galaxy on a plate. Unsure how to approach it, or even what it was, I pushed my spoon into the sphere and it, like, EXPLODED. Sherbet-like substance in a range of colours sprinkled over the plate in a food event so fun and gorgeous that apparently I squealed. By that stage I was onto wine number 4, so possibly I can’t really tell you what it tasted like (it was citrus, I do recall), but the event was so memorable and damn fun that it was worth every extravagant penny.

And it reminded me, that sometimes it’s good to step back from nutrition and focus instead on food being fun. Make dinner enjoyable and you’ll have a much better chance of success when feeding your kids, too.

Sometimes it’s as simple of giving a slightly ugly dish a fun name, like this witches stew – a green split pea soup that my kids adore. Serve it in a black dish like a cauldron. Or place three of these traffic light swirls on a plate in a row and let them decide which colour they’re going to scoff first.

Simple presentation ideas can help your cause.

With the last of the basil (yes, gorgeously perfect out of my vegepod), I whipped up a pesto. My kids love it and it was even more fun when served through some squid’s ink pasta. Adults might baulk of the look, but the kids thought this was awesome and spent the meal scoffing it while trying to decide if it was monster’s intestines, mermaid hair or giant snot.

Food from Atlantis? Or deep space? Your kids can decide.

Food from Atlantis? Or deep space? Your kids can decide.

Possibly not the most flattering appraisal of my cooking, but a success, nonetheless.

The original pesto recipe is here. I also blitzed in a cup of cooked broccoli florets. It’s a super fantastic addition, an idea I stole from Collette at Cut out the Crap. Works brilliantly.

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Searching for food joy (for the whole family)

food-love2

Do you think the internet is good for humanity? Big question, I know, especially this early in the week, but it’s something my husband and I have been debating a bit lately.

Generally I think the internet is awesome. All that accessible knowledge. So many ways to open your mind, connect with people and experience worlds that were beyond us just 15 years ago. What a shame then, that so much of the internet tends to be a place of pointless extremes, dominated by violence, pictures of Kardashians, cats and people hating on one another. The intolerance and abuse from people hiding behind screens can be mind-boggling.

I cop a bit of hate myself. My website and my food philosophy aren’t extreme enough for many folks online. Breaking some of the current healthy eating taboos, I admit to eating all kinds of ‘poison’. A bit of sugar. A bit of gluten. Often I eat just for fun, rather than taking a strict nutritarian stance and quite often, I eat meat.

Usually I suck it up and take the abuse with a grain of salt – admiring the vehemence with which my various e-pen-pals argue their causes. Their devotion and commitment to a single philosophy does impress me and sometimes I worry that my laissez-faire attitude needs to be tightened up a little. But last week I was reading, “14 Habits of People with a healthy relationship to food“. Turns out I have nearly all of these habits. The one that particularly jumped out was, “swear by everything in moderation.”

Hallelujah.

And that’s me. I swear by everything in moderation and I keep food in perspective. No amount of kale can replace a glass of wine (and laughs) shared with good friends. And how lucky we are to live in such an affluent society that this whole food debate is even possible.

So here’s the thing. I’m not a gluten free site, although often my recipes happen to be gluten-free. If I have GF suggestions, I’ll list it in the recipe. And if I don’t, possibly you’ll have to come up with your own substitution, or skip the recipe and find something else to make.

I’m not a dairy-free site. Although I am personally lactose-intolerant. Many of my recipes ARE dairy-free and dairy-free substitutes are pretty easy to manage.

I do cook with eggs and nuts. If you’re dealing with a nut allergy, you’ll have to skip those recipes rather than emailing me demanding a nut-free version. If you’re wanting to swap out eggs, here’s a good article here to give you a range of options.

I do cook with meat.

As a 41-year-old educated woman, I’ve made that choice. I understand the ethical, environmental and health implications of my choice. There’s no need to try to convert me. The irony is not lost on me that the most abusive messages I receive are from people trying to protect animals from violence. Perhaps the animal-advocates should quit using that tactic – save the abuse and instead just seduce me with links to vegetarian fare that I can’t resist. Because, actually, I eat vegetarian food all the time. I love the creativity and diversity of it. Lots of recipes on this site ARE vegetarian, including these falafel burgers, which just happen to be egg-free and suitable for vegans, too. There’s no dairy and I’m offering some GF suggestions (although I’ve not tested them). They’re high fibre and easy to make.

Despite all that, I eat these burgers because my whole family thinks they’re delicious and they fit in perfectly with my extreme food philosophy of moderationarianism.

Something for everyone.

Something for everyone.

Falafel burgers

1 piece sliced bread (or about 1 cup of GF breadcrumbs)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
handful of parsley (optional)
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1 small red onion
1 carrot, roughly chopped
juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup plain flour (I’ve not tried, but I strongly suspect that besan flour would be perfect here)
oil spray
bread rolls (obviously optional – use a GF wrap if you prefer), salad and barbecue sauce (also optional – a bit of plain yoghurt would also do), to serve

Use a food processor or mini-processor for this recipe.

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

Blitz the bread, garlic, spices and parsley together to make flavoured breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl.

Pulse the chickpeas to a paste and add to the bowl. Repeat, using the pulse function to chop the onion then the carrot. Drizzle the lemon juice over and mix in well. Sprinkle over the flour and use your hands to combine.

Shape the mixture into eight equal patties. Place on the baking tray, spray with oil and bake for 25 minutes, carefully turning once during cooking.

Serve on rolls with salad and barbecue sauce.
MAKES 8 PATTIES

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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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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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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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Shhh! It’s an apology letter from the tooth fairy!

The Sylvanian dude gives you an idea of the scale.

The Sylvanian dude gives you an idea of the scale.

From time to time I like to chuck a bit of craft or a free printable thingy up on the blog – something that will make the plight of parenting that little bit easier.

And I’m feeling a bit honored today, because I’ve got something extra special to share. You see, I’ve been contacted by the tooth fairy who asked me to pass on this PDF printable.

I don’t know about the tooth fairy in your neighbourhood, but my one is an extremely busy, multi-tasking fairy who sometimes can’t make it to all the houses scheduled in a night. It is devastating, first thing in the morning, to see your upset child as they realise that rather than a shiny coin in the spot where their tooth used to be, there’s just… well… the weird old tooth still sitting there. So this letter can rectify that situation. Invariably, the tooth fairy always remembers to stop by the following night – often with an extra dollar and this little apology letter.

A magnifying glass may be needed to read the text, which says sorry for the delay and encourages them to brush their teeth a little more thoroughly each morning and night.

Download it here!

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