Posts tagged recipe

Your reminder to take care of yourself


Blue skies. Palm trees. Sunshine.

It’s been MANY months since I last blogged, neatly reminding me of the fact that this has been a tough year.

I think all of us have those moments where life seems to collapse. Unexpected events, illness, death, mental health issues, self-imposed mummy breakdowns. Awful things that can actually be helpful from time to time – they keep you humble and living consciously. They make you stop the autopilot, question everything and slowly piece together new solutions.

When you tackle them right, you come out of them stronger, with the knowledge that life goes on, love always wins, and small daily actions make the biggest difference to long-term happiness. I’ve come to realise that some habits are crucial for my general well being. I’m sharing them. Because maybe you’re having a tough time and can’t find the perspective you need to shift things. So consider this a reminder of helpful life choices that will help the sun reappear in your world.

  1. Yoga. I’ve banged on about it before, but this is the thing that helps me the most. It can ground, energise or sooth  me. Mostly I use – they have all yoga styles in classes of varying lengths, so there’s no reason for me to miss too many days. Here’s a link to one of my favourite teachers and a practise I use OFTEN….
  2. Meditation. Again, you don’t have to spend long on this. Often a 5 or 10 minute session will do. Check out the Insight Timer app. It’s awesome. If you need to check out for a few days, try the Brahma Kumaris centres.
  3. Exercise. High intensity gym-stuff isn’t my thing. Walking is basically all I do (you don’t even need activewear). I walk alone or with my hubby and kids. Walking in nature is nearly my favourite thing. We’ve been doing that a lot.
  4. Good food. In times of crisis, a burger is not your friend. Chocolate will not save you. I promise. Shoving as many healthy ingredients into your gob is the best way to feel good. Perhaps cooking doesn’t appeal, but there’s still a bunch of easy recipes that barely cause a mess and that taste great. Try these…

Green smoothie. A cliche, yes. But a great way to start the day.

vegie smugglers breakfast ice cream

An easy and excellent breakfast idea.

Easy pumpkin soup (only 4 ingredients)

Easiest pumpkin soup, ever.


Shakshouka makes a great brunch, lunch or dinner and uses up anything you’ve got in the pantry.

  1. vegie-smugglers-quesadillas

    Vegie quesadillas – easy. Yum.


5. Feed your brain something new. By this I mean, make sure you’re reading something interesting, studying something that gives you new skills, listening to music that affects you, spending time (even 15 minutes) being creative or watching Love Island and having a laugh. New stimulus leads to new thoughts and keeps life fresh.

Starting new habits can seem like a hassle, but please keep going. So many mums work exhaustively to keep their kids healthy, but do nothing for themselves. Fuss over yourself a bit. You’re worth it.


It also feels good to finish off any projects. Like this one – I’ve had this on the go for a couple of years, but I’ve finally finished it. It’s everything I’ve learned about feeding fussy kids! Find more details over at the shop.

Toddler Recipes: What (and how) to feed fussy eaters

Advice on how to get your toddler eating a wide variety of vegetables with 26 clever recipes that smuggle the healthy ingredients in.


And while I rarely post here, I am still about a bit on Instagram and Facebook.

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All the latest recipes – breakfast, treats & dinner, done.

Regardless of how busy a family is, the annoying truth remains that people want to be fed, every day. So while term 1 ended up being kind of crazy at VSHQ, recipes were made and food was scoffed.

The plan was to take lovely proper photos of these recipes before I posted them, but along with darning the hole in my favourite Seed jumper and filing my tax documents in a logical system, it’s just never going to happen, so here’s all the recipes that kept us going (with dodgy iPhone pics)…


Banana & frozen raspberry smoothie

2 small overripe bananas
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
2 tsp berry nutrition powder of your choice (there’s a massive range in chemists these days)
Several dollops of greek yoghurt
Enough milk to make it the consistency you like.

Pop everything in the blender/food processor & blitz.

Serves 2


Quick bacon, pea & pasta soup

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan on med/high heat.


250g bacon
1 red onion
2 sticks celery
1 big carrot (all finely diced).

Sauté 10-15 mins. Stir sometimes.

Stir in …
2 tsp Italian herbs.

Pour over …
1 litre chicken stock &
3 cups frozen peas.

When back to the boil, serve over cooked pasta. Top with pepper, herbs, Parmesan.

Serves 2 adults, 3-4 kids.


Corn & carrot fritters

Mix 1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp garam masala
2 cups corn kernels
1 large carrot (grated)
2 tbsp fresh herbs
2 whisked eggs
1/3 cup milk.

Fry in a med/hot lick of oil until golden each side.

Great topped with pepper, avocado, sweet chilli, cottage cheese & a squeeze of lemon.

Makes about 8.


Six-ingredient potato salad (dairy-free)

Put 1kg salad potatoes (unpeeled) into cold water (cut any bigger ones in half first).

Bring to boil. Pierce with a knife after 10 min to check cookedness 😄. Drain.

Meanwhile whisk….
1/2 cup mayonaise &
juice of 1 lemon in a salad bowl.

1 grated carrot &
1/2 fennel bulb (finely sliced).

Toss in hot potatoes. Season. Scatter 1/2 bunch dill.

Serve hot or cold.


Oozy chocolate, raspberry & banana muffins 

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar

In a jug whisk…..
1/4 cup oil (of your choice)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Wet stuff into dry stuff then stir in…..
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup chocolate chunks/chips
3/4 cup frozen berries.

Bake 180c for 30 mins. Makes 12.


I am chucking recipes up on Facebook and Instagram, so keep in touch there. And don’t forget that my gloriously gorgeous “Vegie Smuggler’s Kitchen Collection” cookbook, with its 125+ family-friendly recipes will become an e-book only mid this year. So if you want a piece of real-life Vegie Smuggling fun, get in quick. Visit the shop here.



Like these recipes? Check out my cookbooks to find a bunch more meals that your family will love.

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The end of parenting? It feels like it here.

Last year I looked at my kids and realised that they were growing up. Quickly.

All those hours of blood (theirs), sweat (mine) and tears (all of ours), spent on my parenting quest were reaching a crescendo. While I know that parenting never ends (just ask my mum, who still parents me brilliantly at 76), it was apparent that the first phase of raising kids was almost done. Miss F catches two buses to get to school. Mr M&P walks himself home. Both wash their own hair, wipe their own bums and can unpack the dishwasher without breaking stuff. There’s no more cuddling at the school gate or overt PDAs.  Especially in front of tween friends. I mean, like, muuuuuuummmm, like, you are, like, WAY embarrassing.

And I reached that curious point where I realised it’s time to take charge of my own life and try to negotiate my way back into my career. To update my qualifications I’ve headed back to uni for a bit of postgrad study. It’s a big culture shock considering the last time I studied I didn’t even have an email address, but so far the challenge is stressful awesome.

But I was kidding myself that I’d have to time to do it all. The kids, while increasingly independent still need constant care. There’s the domestics, a part-time graphic design job and this business to tend.

Which leaves bugger-all time for blogging. Especially about cooking, which I’m doing less of. So over the next few months my posts may dry up. Do keep popping by – as I find favourite new recipes I’ll be sure to share (like this insanely good stirfry, below).  They’ll probably be healthy, tasty  & quick meals that suit my older kids. If that appeals to you, you might want to subscribe so you don’t miss any.

And of course if your focus is still toddlers and fussy eaters, there’s always all the lovely cookbooks that you can buy here at my shop.

For me, this Vegie Smuggling journey has been entirely worth all the effort. Watching my kids happily tuck into a huge range of healthy food is one of my proudest parenting achievements.



Super easy stirfry

2 tbsp peanut oil (or olive oil is fine)
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp freshly grated ginger (use the jar stuff if you prefer)
1 red onion, diced
500g pork mince
1/2 eggplant, peeled, finely diced (I mean it – about a 5mm dice)
1 red capsicum, diced
1 small head of broccoli, cut into little florets or use a bunch of broccolini, slicing all the stalks thinly.
Snow peas

To serve: rice, coriander, basil, chives, chilli

Mix the oil, sauces, garlic and ginger in a ceramic or glass bowl. Add the mince and use a spoon (or your hand) to combine everything well. If you have time, leave this mix to marinate (you can leave it all day if you like).

Heat a wok or large frying pan over your highest heat. Add a splash of oil and stir fry the onion for a couple of minutes until turning translucent and golden. Pop in the mince and use the spoon to break up lumps and brown it well. Chuck the eggplant into the pan. It will suck up any pork fat and after 3-4 minutes will be soft and yum. Don’t rush this stage – the eggplant just gets gorgeously gooey and takes up all the flavour, so make sure you cook it well now (uncooked eggplant is gross).

Finish by adding in the capsicum and broccoli for a couple of minutes, before mixing through the snow peas.

Serve over rice and top with plenty of fresh herbs & chilli (kids might like to skip this bit).

Serves 2 adults and 2 bigger kids.


Like this recipe? Check out my cookbooks to find a bunch more meals that your family will love.

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Super yum dinner with bugger-all cooking required

This blog made it into my dreamspace the other night, in one of those intensely real, detailed dreams that have you swept up believing that they are actually happening.

In it I was putting together a video-recipe (already farfetched considering I’d rather chew the toenails of strangers than appear on camera) full of horribly complicated instructions on how to bake the perfect roast potato. The essential first step was to puncture the entire spud by creating endless potato-gun pellets before boiling, drying, dipping in oil then baking until crispy perfection. Even in the dream I was thinking that locating an old-style toy for a single recipe was a bit of a stretch for readers, especially considering I only blog simple, everyday recipes.


Miss F demonstrates the first step of my dream-potato dish.

Still, the potatoes were insanely good, as is this week’s recipe. Thankfully this real-life recipe is at the opposite end of the preparation spectrum. Just marinade some chicken, then toss in a few extra bits and bake. DONE. And it’s super tasty.


Younger kids can have theirs chopped up and mixed through the rice. Adults can top with coriander & fresh chilli.

Indian baked chicken

This is advanced vegie-smuggling, since there’s nothing hidden. To serve younger kids, hack away at the finished dinner with kitchen scissors and mix everything through the rice, making it more of an Indian-fried rice type thingy.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp brown sugar (optional but recommended, honey also works)
700-800g chicken thigh fillets
3 large carrots, peeled, cut into thick batons
1 large red onion, peeled, cut into 8-10 wedges
1 cup peas

1 cup basmati rice
1 zucchini, grated

To serve: Mango chutney, pappadums

Mix the oil and spices and sugar all together in a glass or ceramic dish (since I’m lazy and hate washing up, I use an oven proof one that I’ll later roast everything in).

Cut any excess fat off the chicken and cut each fillet into about 3 even-sized pieces. Roll them into the marinade, cover and leave for as long as you’ve got (somewhere between 5 seconds and all day, depending on your schedule).

Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the cover from the chicken. Mix in the carrot and onions. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the carrot is tender and the chicken is cooked through. Toss over the peas and mix through. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the rice whichever method you like best (I use my trusty and beloved rice cooker). When just cooked, mix through the zucchini and leave it to cook with the residual heat of the rice for several minutes).

Serve the chicken on top of the rice, with a dollop of chutney and a papadum for crunch. Adults might also like coriander and fresh chilli.

Serves 2 adults and 3-4 kids.


Fundraising for a playgroup or daycare? You can sell my cookbook and keep 33%! Email me for more info….


Other chicken dishes to try…

Our favourite chicken pasta

Kid-friendly, one-pot chicken pilaf

Chicken sausage rolls – a Vegie Smuggling classic!

Slow cooker Chicken noodle soup.


Like this recipe? Check out my cookbooks to find a bunch more meals that your family will love.

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The dinner that looks pants but taste great

Food styling has never been my forte. When I photograph my recipes it’s always with the general urge to show a dish as it is, in all its everyday yumminess. Usually there are kids hovering and pestering, wanting to just get on with eating their dinner. Late in the day the light is often fading and quite often I end up snapping a not-great-shot and think, bugger it, IT WILL DO. The readers will get the idea and they’ll just have to trust me that if I’m bothering to post a recipe, then it is definitely worth trying.

Wraps, however, are my particular food styling nemesis. And it’s a shame that I can’t figure out how to make them look good, since they are kid-feeding-gold. I roll all sorts of combinations of healthy yum into them and they get scoffed nice and quickly. They can be messy, especially for younger kids, so take the time to secure them with a bit of foil. It’ll catch the drips from the end and add some fun – my kids enjoy peeling it away as they continue eating.

AND, they end up a bit like swords, which always keeps my son extremely happy.



Our latest hit dinner (that also doubles as a sword)

Extremely tasty and good for you wraps

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely diced
500g beef mince
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Mexican spice mix (or 1 tsp each cumin, paprika, oregano)
400g can kidney beans, rinsed, drained
2 large tomatoes, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled, grated or finely chopped
1 zucchini, grated or finely chopped
1/2 green capsicum, finely diced
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional, but recommended)

Serve in wraps with your choice of grated cheese, avocado, lettuce, jalapeños and sour cream.

Heat a large frying pan over medium/high heat.

Add the oil then pop in the onion, and cook, stirring often for 5-6 minutes. Place the mince carefully into the pan and use your spoon to break up all the lumps and brown it all over. This usually takes another 6-8 minutes.

Chuck in the garlic for a minutes before adding the spices. Combine them through the mince before adding in all of the veggies and sugar (if using).

MIx everything together well, reduce the heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes uncovered (you want liquid to evaporate and for this to be a pretty dry mix). If you have time, just let this simmer away for 45 minutes or so, while you repack lunches, solve homework problems or plow through the day’s family admin. Do give it all a stir every now and again to avoid sticking.

Serve on wraps. Sprinkle over cheese, then any extras that take your fancy.

Makes enough to feed 2 adults & 4 kids. Leftover mince freezes well and is also great on baked potatoes.


EVERYONE LIKED THIS? Other wrap dinners to try (and more dodgy food styling to check out)…..

Spicy chicken wraps.

Middle Eastern-style lamb

Beef & lentils

Fish & vegies

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Pea pea balls

Shhhhhhh. Can you hear that? That’s right…… Listen again……… Got it? Yep. The glorious sound of silence as the kids head back to school.

Just quietly, I might be missing them a teeny bit.

The stretch of free time does allow me some uninterrupted cooking before the end of the day though. These ‘pea pea balls’ are the latest hit snack around here. The fun name has the kids laughing enough that they’ve scoffed a few down before they even think to ask what’s inside.


Pea pea balls. Not poo poo balls.

Pea Pea Balls

2 slices wholemeal bread
1 1/4 cups peas (thawed if frozen)
400g can chickpeas. Rinsed, drained.
1-2 tbsp mint
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sumac (buy from good greengrocers – so delicious and worth getting your hands on – if you can’t find it replace with lemon zest)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
Pepper (optional)

Olive oil spray

Serve with yoghurt & sweet chilli sauce

Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper.

In a mini or full-sized food processor (or a thermy) blitz the bread into breadcrumbs. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until you’ve got a thick paste.

I’d say ‘roll’ balls of mixture, except it’s a sloppier mix than that, really you’re just going to use spoons to shape dollops into bite-sized pieces on the oven tray. Spray with oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip then over and spray again and bake for another 10-15 until golden and firm. Serve warm with yoghurt & sweet chilli sauce.

Makes enough to feed 4-6 people as a snack.


If you’re dreading getting back into the school lunchbox routine, pick up a copy of my Complete Lunchbox Planner. It has 40 weeks of easy menus & seasonal recipes. Visit the shop for more info.


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Five pie-hole fillers, perfect for toddlers AND husbands this grand final weekend

So it’s grand final weekend – a classic time to gather together and munch on some pastry covered pieces of something-not-quite-defined.

It doesn’t take too much effort to whip up your own morsels – these recipes all go far, contain sneaky vegetables AND taste incredible. PLUS all these recipes are classic finger food, suited to toddlers (as well as husbands)….

Click the pics to see the full recipe….

Sausage rolls and chips

Classic chicken sausage rolls.

vegie smugglers pork fennel apple sausage rolls

Pub grub style – pork & fennel sausage rolls.

Sweet potato & lentil balls - nice option for vegetarians.

Sweet potato & lentil balls – nice option for vegetarians.

Tuna, egg & vegie pastry pockets

Tuna, egg & vegie pastry pockets

rice paper rolls

Beef & peanut rice paper rolls.


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