Posts tagged veggies

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.

CLICK TO VISIT THE SHOP

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Living in a cheese-lover’s paradise

For some reason I’ve had ‘Gangsta’s Paradise‘ stuck in my head all week. And boy, doesn’t accidentally singing that out loud in Woolies make you look cool! Especially when you’re a white Australian woman on the elegant side of 40. SO authentic – I mean, the things I know about livin’ in da hood!

Possibly in another 15 years I’ll be up-to-date enough to be humming a bit of Kanye on my way into hospital when I’m arriving for my hip replacement.

All I do know is that even the toughest gansta would love a bite of this ultimate macaroni cheese, since it contains not one, but FOUR types of cheese. It’d be good for them too, since it’s packed full of white vegies, making it the most versatile colour-gang food, especially designed for particularly fussy eaters.

Word to your mother. Homies.

vegie smugglers four cheese macaroni cheese pasta bake

Macaroni cheese times four!

4 cheese pasta bake

250-350g macaroni (depending on how many you’re feeding)
50g butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 1/2 cups milk (warm the milk up in the microwave for a bit)
1 small head cauliflower
1 zucchini, grated
1 parsnip, peeled, grated
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff!)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Baby bocconcinis

Cook the pasta according to packet directions. Drain & set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a lasagne dish with spray oil and set aside.

Chop the cauliflower into small florets. Par cook, by steaming or microwave for a couple of minutes. I then pop it onto a large chopping board and hack away at it with my kitchen knife until it’s all in tiny pieces (you can also grate it).

Pop a large saucepan onto medium heat. Melt the butter then tip in the flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir it for a minute or so until it turns fragrant (it will start to smell like cooking biscuits). Gradually tip in the milk – really slowly at first and stir well the entire time. Initially it will form into a paste, but keep adding milk and stirring and it will loosen back out into a lovely thick sauce. For the best result, take your time and give your tuck-shop-lady arm muscles a bit of a work out. 🙂

Turn the heat off. Add the cheddar and parmesan. Use the residual heat to melt it through. Mix in the vegies and ricotta. Combine well and tip into your oven dish.
Smooth the surface. Press bocconcinis into the top.

Bake for 30 minutes or so until bubbling and the top is golden.

Serves 2 adults & 4 kids

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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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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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The best way to smuggle… tomatoes

Over on the Vegie Smugglers facebook page (yes, that’s a blatant, go and ‘like’ it advert), I’ve had a request for solutions to an ongoing tomato battle.

Raw tomatoes can be tricky and I’ll tackle them later. Let’s start with cooked tomatoes, which are a little friendlier to kid’s tastebuds. A recipe that works well is The best-ever vegetarian lasagne. But really, if you think of cooked tomatoes, bolognaise is the dish that springs to mind. The classic Italian dish is SO popular, that people make fun of it. But let’s remember that it’s a cliché for a reason. A million families across Australia wouldn’t cook it every Tuesday night if it wasn’t a ‘bums on seats till the bowl is empty’ winner.

Alas, Claire on Facebook admitted to supermarket-jar-dependence. Easy to understand. But not nearly as tasty (or healthy) as home-made.

My suggestion is to get the menfolk onto it. There’s something about being king of the kitchen and brewing a big pot of meat that seems to appeal to them. Get them cooking up a double batch this weekend and freeze lovely kid-sized portions. Then you’ll have a quick and healthy meal ready to rock whenever you need it. Most households have a bolognaise recipe that they swear by – this is my husband’s fine work. There are a lot of ingredients, but please don’t be deterred, give it a try and marvel at how good bolognaise can be.

Adam's bolognaise

Me Tarzan! This my meat (with red stuff).



Adam’s bolognaise sauce

3 tbsp olive oil
500g veal mince
500g pork mince
1 large brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, peeled, grated
½ red capsicum, deseeded, finely diced
1 large zucchini, grated
1 tbsp chopped basil
¼ cup chopped parsley
400g can chopped tomatoes
700ml passata (bottled tomato puree found in the supermarket near the Italian pasta sauces)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp tomato sauce
½ cup red wine (optional, but recommended)
1 cup mushrooms, finely diced
1 bay leaf
Salt & black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the veal mince and brown, breaking up lumps as you go. Remove from pan and set aside. Do the same with the pork mince using another tbsp of olive oil. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil and cook the onion gently over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and carrot and stir for 1 minute. Add the capsicum and zucchini and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Throw in the herbs for 30 seconds then add the canned tomatoes. Stir that through then add half the passata and cook until the sauce bubbles.

Add the veal mince, then the rest of the passata and the pork mince. Stir well then add the tomato paste, tomato sauce and red wine. Stir through the mushrooms, add the bay leaf and season to taste. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (simmer for up to an hour if you have time).

Serve sauce with fettuccine topped with parmesan and herbs.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 6 KIDS

KIDS ALSO LOVE IT when you serve this sauce scooped into cooked large pasta shells. No effort or fuss, they just pop them straight in – vegies and all.

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How to avoid the sneering barista

Where will you be this Sunday, will you be tucked up at home, savouring your children and some home-cooked treats, or will you be valiantly going forth and trying to deny that your ‘parent’ status has impacted on your café lifestyle?

Ah the joys of brunching out with children.

It goes something like this; stressful car trip, struggle to find a parking spot. Carry offspring to avoid stroller jam. Outdoor table so that tantrums blend into the traffic noise. Wedge kids into hard edged chairs. Mr Meat & Potatoes headbutts table (first of 7 times) and wails. Look around café and see it is half packed with family scenes just like yours and half packed with childless folk, who are hating us.

An unimpressed waitress finally appears to take order just as Miss Fruitarian screams “I WANT SMOKED SALMON”. Smile apologetically – you have no idea how your child learnt how to be so pretentious. Order raisin toast.

The service is slow, so the kids have played maracas with all the sugar sachets, sucked them, busted a few and put them back in the container before the food finally arrives. Inevitably the wee arrives then too.

Drag sugar covered-sticky child to the grotty bathroom. Child assures you “don’t worry, mummy, it’s just a little bit wet”. Fish out spare undies from bag (which also stocks baby-wipes, nappy bags, spare cars, books, crayons, notepads, water bottles and sultanas). Child then decides they actually need to poo. Settle in; try not to touch surfaces. Wait. Finally done. Dress, wash hands, back to find food is cold. Other child being restrained by partner who is grimacing but assures you they’re having a great time.

Eat cold food as partner goes straight to counter to pay – you don’t have time to wait for hungover waitress to get your bill. Back to car. Strap in. Drive home only to realise you left blankie behind.

Next time, do everyone a favour and just stay home. Make these healthy hashbrowns and avoid all those (other) wretched children.

Oven-baked, healthy hashbrowns.

Save yourself on Sunday mornings with home-made hashbrowns.

Oven-baked hash browns

The combination of onion and parsnip is absolutely delicious in this dish. Microwaving the whole vegies first speeds up the cooking time and gives a nice creamy texture.

1 potato
1 swede
1 sweet potato
1 parsnip
1 onion, peeled, grated
1 tsp parsley or chives, finely diced
Salt & black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for cooking

Preheat oven to 200C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.

Soften the vegies individually by cooking them whole in the microwave. Try 3 minutes on high for the potato, 2 minutes for the swede, 2 minutes for the sweet potato and 1 minute for the parsnip. Allow to cool slightly. Peel off the skins and grate the soft insides. Transfer to a mixing bowl, mix through the onion, herbs, seasoning and olive oil. Use your hands to combine well.

Form thin patties. Place on the oven tray, drizzle with oil and cook for 25 minutes, turning once during cooking.

MAKES 8

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Potato détente

At the risk of trivialising and being flippant about the Anzac legend and the atrocities of World War I, dinner time at my house does on occasion have me contemplating the war strategies faced by the German leaders of the time. Just as things calm down on one front, another opens up and just as the French are learning to sit still and eat their peas, the Russians start screaming “I don’t want anything mushy”.

What I’m clumsily saying is that the food and vegetable fight is fought on two battlefronts at my house. There’s the flavour battle, which is one I’m winning, thanks to my ever-growing stockpile of smuggling recipes. But then there’s the texture war. While Corporal Meat-and-Potatoes refuses mush or any soft food, Lieutenant Fruitarian fights anything too chewy or requiring too much utensil work and I struggle to find a happy balance.

Unlike the mums on the homefront in 1914, I do have a few mod cons working to my advantage, the freezer being a particularly useful one. Whilst I refuse to cook two dinners in one night, I do have to make textural concessions. I can get them eating the same piece of protein (ok, yes, perhaps it is just sausages), but potatoes for Mr Meat-and-Potatoes are best served chopped into chunks, tossed in oil and baked for 25 minutes and Miss Fruitarian gets a serve of this mash.

To avoid daily inconvenience, make a huge quantity of this recipe. Freeze large spoonfuls on oven trays and when solid, transfer to freezer bags for easy storage.

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

Vegie Mash

1 carrot, peeled, diced
1 swede, peeled, diced
4 potatoes, peeled, diced
1 zucchini, grated (peel first if your child is scared of green bits)
1 cup grated cheese
¼ cup milk
Olive oil
Salt & black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the carrot and swede and boil for 5 minutes. Add the potato and boil for 10-15 minutes more. Use a fork to test that the vegies are cooked enough to mash easily. Drain.

Meanwhile, place the zucchini in a microwave-proof dish, cover and zap on high for 1 minute. Drain any excess water.

Mash the carrot, swede and potato for as long as you need to get the texture your kids will enjoy. Stir in the cheese and zucchini – the cheese should melt nicely. Add the milk and olive oil as needed to get a nice creamy texture. Season to taste.

On a good parenting day, serve this with fish fillets baked in lemon juice and herbs. On a bad day, add drained canned tuna. On a terrible day, serve with an enticing dollop of tomato sauce and peas.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 4 KIDS AS A SIDE DISH

FREEZING & DEFROSTING INSTRUCTIONS
Scoop separate portions onto an oven tray, cover with a large freezer bag and freeze for a couple of hours. Once frozen, snap them off the tray and store in a freezer bag back in the freezer. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. Use within 1 month. Reheat in the microwave, stirring every minute until steaming hot.

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