Posts tagged lunchbox

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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Cake stall SOS

Do you think the best part of election day is the food? Of course I would, what with me being both a pig and a glutton – nothing thrills me more than a display of home-made baked things or a sizzling BBQ with the waft of bacon.

If you’re lucky enough to be voting in a church hall, then you might just get a home-made jar of jam or lemon butter along with your piece of democracy. Most of us will trundle along to our local primary school where nabbing a bacon & egg roll or sausage in a bread will mean our hands are full enough that we can happily refuse the ‘how to vote’ pamphlets. Then after casting your vote, come out and buy up big at the cake stall. For the school, it’s one of the best fundraisers of the year.

No doubt if you have school-aged kids then have had the note home requesting that you whip something up for sale. Life being the busy thing it is though, you probably don’t have time to help out… or do you? YOU DO! I’ve got your back sisters – these cake stall donations are all simple, quick AND delicious. Click the pics to go through to the recipes…


The easiest cupcakes ever.

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Biscuits

Microwave marmalade.

Microwave marmalade.

...awwwwww, transported straight to Queensland.

Pineapple cakes.

May the best man win….

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Eau de Vegie Smugglers

I’m thinking of launching a Vegie Smugglers fragrance. If it’s good enough for Kylie, then it’s good enough for me.

The scent will be based on all my favourite smells – toasted coconut, topped up with freshly toasted flaked almonds. Round it off with freshly ground coffee, meringue and a touch of gin with lime and I’m shoving all my best wafts into one, saleable potion.

I suppose the bottle will have to be lime green, and possibly shaped into an artistic impression of a zucchini. If I make it out of flexible plastic and add some batteries, I can offer mothers both a good smell and a happy day.

But I’m having trouble with the name. I’m trawling all the celebrity scents to find inspiration. I could go atmospheric, like Antonio Banderas’s ‘Mediterraneo’, or try to entice you, like Cher’s ‘Uninhibited’ or Britney’s ‘Hidden Fantasy’ (excuse me while I vomit a little in my mouth). Or even onamatapeic like Katy Perry’s ‘Meow’.

What do you think? Do you have any other enticing ingredients that need to be considered? Or good name suggestions? Possibly I’ll stick to simple. Maybe just ‘Delish’, just like these dairy-free coconut muffins.



Coconut mini-muffins (Dairy-free)

These are delicately flavoured treats that freeze really well – perfect for lunchboxes. After a couple of days they dry out a little but will revive after a quite zap in the microwave.

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
270ml can coconut milk (full fat)
Desiccated or shredded coconut to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line mini-muffin trays with paper cases.

In a large bowl, combine the flour (no need to sift), oats, coconut & brown sugar.

Whisk together the eggs, oil and coconut milk in a separate bowl or jug. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until just combined, then divide into your muffin cases until full (the mix doesn’t rise overly much). Sprinkle a thick layer of extra coconut over the top and bake for 13-15 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Makes 36ish mini-muffins.

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Muffin mania

Geez I make muffins a lot. Probably once a week. Possibly because I’m too lazy to cut up a whole cake (and also the fact that my oven is too crappy to cook a whole cake well). I love the fact that with minimal kitchen skills I can create so many varying culinary delights. They can be savoury for lunch, as a side dish with a soup, or of course, sweet and fantastic for lunchboxes and afternoon tea. You can make luscious large ones, mini ones that freeze well for lunchboxes or use pattie pans to make ‘muffin tops’ that look nice and large but are actually only a small amount of batter.

Since they’re so simple to make, you can get the kids onto cooking them and quite possibly they’ll stay focused for the entire recipe before getting bored and wandering off to cause destruction elsewhere.

Here’s a selection to try this week, while the kids are looking for things to do…

Cheese muffins

Cheese & vegie.

vegie smugglers choc chip almond and banana muffin

Choc chip, almond & banana.

Ready for this arvo & tomorrow (if there are any left).

Oat & berry.

vegie smugglers apple and sultana mini muffins

Apple & sultana muffin tops.

An all time favourite - chocolate, bran & zucchini

Chocolate, bran & zucchini.

What other flavour combos are popular in your house?

We also like strawberry muffins (from Vegie Smugglers 1), Cheese & ham muffins (from Vegie Smugglers 2) and Blueberry muffins (from 10 quickbakes/10 sandwich spreads).

Comments (14) »

Choc-chip & chickpea cookies

So here is the recipe for the biscuits that made Mr Meat&Potatoes cry.

The sight of these freshly baked goodies had him so excited that he was dancing with joy and then he spotted the chickpeas and came to an abrupt and dramatic halt. It was the moment when he realised that THERE ARE ALWAYS VEGETABLES IN HIS FOOD. Even the biscuits. The tears came. He cried to me, “But why mummy, WHY are there always vegetables in everything?”

After a bit of explaining about how I’m the vegie-smuggling lady, and that surprise nutrition is kind of an occupational hazard, he sucked it up and ate one. Then asked for another. Because they taste delicious.

And that’s the thing, see. Kids need to learn that healthy food is normal and part of every day. They need to accept that while it doesn’t always thrill them, they’ve got no choice so they may as well eat it. And if it tastes good, they’ll learn that healthy food is normal and yummy.

These are also the biscuits that make Mr VS fat. Or so he says (just quietly, it could be the beer, prolonged commuting and lack of exercise). But he can never eat less than three of these at a time. I manage to stop after two, so long as I know that there will be one more of them with my cup of tea after dinner.

Even better, they’re a tongue twister. Try saying ‘choc chip & chickpea cookies’ a few times, fast.



Choc chip and chickpea cookies

100g butter, softened
1 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
1 cup brown sugar (use 3/4 cup caster sugar instead if you want to give the cooked biscuits a longer shelf life)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
1 1/4 cups wholemeal plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup choc chips (I like the dark ones)
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (I use tinned ones, just rinse and drain well)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line oven trays with baking paper (you’ll probably need 3 trays).

Use hand-held beaters or your mixmaster to cream the butter, oil and brown sugar together. Start with the butter, then combine in the oil, then add the sugar and whip for a couple of minutes until it’s lovely and creamy.

Add in the vanilla and egg. Beat well, then sift over the flour & baking powder. Fold it in (don’t worry, it seems like too much at first, but trust me it will combine in). Mix in the choc chips and chickpeas.

Use your hands (wet them slightly first) to roll ping pong-ball size quantities of mixture, press (& flatten slightly) onto the trays (allow a bit of room for spreading) and bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Makes 24ish good-sized biscuits.


Other biscuit recipes on Vegie Smugglers…

Anzac biscuits
Oat, sultana & sesame seed biscuits
Marmalade biscuits


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Freezer pleasers for a happy Term 2

Rhyming is big at VSHQ at the moment. Splat the flat rat yo brat attack. Good times, great rhymes etc etc. You get the idea, it feels as though I’ve emerged from the top of the Faraway Tree into rhyming couplet-land. There is no “let’s watch The Voice”, straightforward-style chat, more “It’s a great choice, to watch the Voice” type banter.

I suspect it comes with the extra time that school holidays bring. You know, there’s time to ponder such frivolous things and plan your next sentence. AS IF we have time to built poetry into our day during term time.

To help you navigate the upcoming chaos with ease and if you have a day spare (ie, in NSW, one of the two student-free days), why don’t you whip up some batches of these recipes. Pop them in your freezer, defrost whenever you need an easy dinner or a lunchbox treat and you’ll be so organised throughout Term 2 that you’ll have time, for rhymes so fine that kids divine will eat, not whine.


My kids love these so much, they don't care about what's inside.

Freeze individually and an instant healthy dinner is ready to go.

End the war with a stockpile of mash in the freezer.

Same goes here – frozen portions instantly add vegies to a basic dinner.

A sausage roll that Sam Kekovich would approve of.

Freeze these raw, then defrost and cook as normal.

These honey jumbles are from the new VS e-book.

These honey jumbles are from the new VS e-book.

And so's this muffin recipe, freeze, then add them into lunchboxes.

And so’s this muffin recipe, freeze, then add them into lunchboxes.

All the best for Term 2.

Comments (6) »

A giveaway from Lunchboxes with Love!

This month’s competition is courtesy of the fabulous and inspiring Cath at Lunchboxes with Love. She was an early Vegie Smugglers supporter, supplying me with props for my Lunchbox Planner e-book. We’ve been in touch ever since and I love watching her business grow. Go Cath!

Here’s what you can win…

All this could be yours!

All this could be yours!

• Sleek design, black Zippered Sleeve. Insulated, water-resistant and food safe (no lead, BPA, PVC etc). Rrp $30.
Bento-style Primary Lunchbox Set. Versatile, compact, and easy to clean (microwave & dishwasher safe). Pack and stack the containers in the fridge the night before. Store neatly in the cupboard when not in use. RRP $30.
• 10 Various Styled Leaf Picks. Gorgeous little picks to create a garden in your lunch. RRP $16.
Luv It! cutter that quickly cuts food into small bites, complete with a matching popper that instantly pops out fun shaped pieces – hands are clean, food is untouched. RRP $16.

See full details of all the products here.

With so much AWESOME, your kids will be eating up every little scrap of their lunches. Especially once you start whipping up recipes from my new ebook, “10 quickbakes plus 10 sandwich spreads”, which will be available in a day or two.

To be eligible to win all of these items from Lunchboxes with Love, you must be an Australian-based Vegie Smugglers subscriber, then, simply comment below on the items that are most popular in your kids’ lunchboxes. Inspire us all!

Entries close Monday April 22 at 5pm AET.


And of course, visit Cath at or at her totally popular Facebook page.

Comments (152) »

The best way to smuggle… apricots

I haven’t done one of these posts for a while. If you’re new to the blog, these are the posts where I tackle a specific ingredient. In the past I’ve offered solutions for tricky vegies like mushrooms, spinach and beetroot. You can view a full list here.

So apricots seem a bit lame in comparison, but I figure with summer drawing to a close, you’ve probably got a few of these guys about, possibly looking a little worse for wear. Chuck them in this cake and you’ve got a nice alternative to banana bread. If though, you’re inundated with aging bananas, then you can see a recipe for banana bread here.

Apricots magically disappear!

Apricots magically disappear!

Apricot slice

RECIPE EDIT: Please note that this recipes has changed since first being published. Originally I left out the egg! Huge apologies.

1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
½ cup LSA mix (or just almond meal is also good)
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup shredded coconut
5 fresh apricots, finely chopped (or use 10 tinned apricot halves – this is a better option than reconstituting dried ones)
140g tub apple puree (or peel & chop two apples, and make your own)
50g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly whisked

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 20x30cm lamington tray with baking paper.

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the LSA mix and sugar. Combine in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. It takes a while to get the mixture really combined. Depending on your apricots and apple puree, you may need to add a splash of grapeseed oil or 10g extra butter to hold everything together). Press the mix evenly into your tray.

Bake 30-35 minutes until springy to touch. Cool and cut into squares.

MAKES 30ish squares.

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How exciting! A competition! With a prize!

I’ve got a great prize today from Superfoods for Kidz. The lovely Vanessa recently sent me a bunch of their products to try and now it’s your turn to win some for yourself. If your kids are fussy, then a combination of vegie smuggling and popping these powders into some recipes will be all you need vastly improve the health of your family. This is what’s up for offer…

Worth $158!

Worth $158!

I run competitions rarely, and I don’t get paid to run them. I asked Superfoods for kidz to team up with me for this one because like to support local small businesses that are focused on helping the health of our community. You can read all about them here.

So I’ve been experimenting and adding the powders into heaps of things really successfully. The C Berry Blast was a big hit in this smoothie…

Bananas, yoghurt, milk & C Berry Blast powder.

Bananas, yoghurt, milk & C Berry Blast powder.

A sprinkle of the choc berry blast has been gracing the top of our yoghurt and the kids were BEGGING me for the Berry choc chunk superfood bars. They’re a great snack size for younger kids and another great idea for lunchboxes.

And the Vital Veggie Powder worked a treat in these cheese & vegie muffins.

Cheese muffins

Perfect way to get vegies into a lunchbox.

Cheese muffins

1½ cups self-raising flour
2 cups grated cheese
125g can corn, drained
½ cup mushrooms, very finely diced
2 tbsp tomato relish
1 egg
¾ cup milk
60g butter, melted
Chives (optional)
2 tbsp Vital Veggie Powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 12x125ml muffin tray.

Mix together the flour, cheese, corn and mushrooms in a large bowl.

In a separate jug or bowl, combine the relish, egg, milk, melted butter and chives.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Divide between your muffin holes and bake for 25-30 minutes until very golden and cooked through.


To enter, you must be a subscriber to this blog. Then below, suggest how you would use the powders at your place. You don’t need to supply a full recipe, but links are always fun. And links to MY recipes are bound to be popular really, aren’t they!

And it’d be great if you’d support Superfoods 4 kids on Facebook.

Entries close 11pm AEST, March 6. Winner notified via email March 7 and published here.


Comments (81) »

A mummy-fail as my daughter gets fillings.

Friend & foe.

Friend & foe.

Like a plumber with leaky pipes or a cleaner who lives in squalor, it would appear that I am teetering close to the word ‘hypocrite’.

You see on Miss F’s recent trip to the dentist, we discovered that she needed not one, but two fillings. Both in baby molars, but ones that need to stay put for another 3-4 years.

Turning up for our second appointment, I was primed and ready for the SCORN. Dentists specialise in it, don’t they? This dentist, who appears to be extremely nice, still couldn’t help but have a bit of a dig.

“So, we need to discuss her diet.”
Sigh. Heart sinks as I prepare for battle, because frankly, I’m a bit perplexed myself at how she’s managed to accrue TWO holes when I do what I do.

“Does she drink juice?”
No. No juice.
“Soft drink?”
Very rarely.
“Does she eat too many sweets?”
We both look at my skinny-mini daughter, who quite frankly could use a bit of fattening up, and it’s pretty evident that she doesn’t eat too many sweets.

But the inquisition continued.

“Does she eat fruit?”
“Well, yes.”
“Much fruit?”
I refrain from explaining that her name in blog-land is Miss Fruitarian, but concede that yes, she eats A LOT of fruit. Breakfast, fruit-break, recess, afternoon tea and sometimes dessert.

And there you have it. It turns out the problem is fruit. That and more generally the dawdling pace at which she eats. We have a joke about ‘Little Lulu bites’. She takes the tiniest bite and can make something last for an eternity. My mum will verify that one time she took AN HOUR to eat a Tim Tam. She can stretch a lolly bag out for several days, a bunch of grapes takes an entire afternoon and an ice block will have melted before she can finish it. From now on, after experiencing the joy of the dentist’s drill, she’s pledged to eat a whole lot faster.

DS (Dentist Scorn) shared the Lolly Bag policy that she enforces with her kids. You have until the car pulls up at home to eat the lot. After that it’s gone. And she really wishes that there wasn’t a ‘crunch & sip’ type breaks so close to recess. It’s just more hours of the day when sugars are dwelling near children’s teeth.

From now on, I’ve been ordered to supply carrot sticks, celery & capsicum sticks for one of these breaks. No more grapes or stone fruits. Also, I have to encourage the kids to rinse their mouths with water after they eat. Apparently sugar-free yoghurt is a good way to finish or a piece of cheese that will help to neutralise the sugars.

Sheesh. Perhaps calling myself hypocrite is a bit harsh, but it was a reminder that just like motherhood, healthy living is a complex beast and one that you often feel you can’t quite succeed at all the time.

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