Recipe: Sweet Hearts

IMG_3276Ok … they are jam drops … for my sweet hearts!

But they are also vegan, grain-free and sugar-free (except in this case, for the jam) and they went to school in my kids lunch boxes as a Valentines treat. And there is a few left over for me.

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There’s not really that much I want to say about them, except that sugar is not required for sweetness …and I love how simple they are.

IMG_3269I also love how we mark them with our thumbs to make a little place to spoon the sweetness into. From my heart, to the fruits of my heart …

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Grain-Free Sweet Heart Jam Drops

INGREDIENTS

150g almond meal

50 g honey / maple syrup

50 g coconut flour

100g coconut oil / butter

2 tsp vanilla essence

your favourite jam: sugar-free if possible.

METHOD

Whizz everything except the jam together in the food processor until it is just combined.

Press mixture down on a non-stick surface and use a cookie cutter to make shapes. Before you lift the cutter, squish your thumb into the middle to make a shallow hole. Use a spatula to lift the shape on to your baking tray.

Spoon a little jam into each hole and bake at 150C until golden on top.

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Recipe: Vegan Bean Burgers

IMG_2864What to do for dinner when all you have is left over salad from lunch, a handful of lonely vegetables and a tin of kidney beans? Bean salad or bean burgers is about your only option! As it happens it was just the right dinner for a hot summer evening, easy to make, quick to eat and very tasty. With a glass of home-made lemonade with mint and blueberries, and followed by a night swim in the pool = perfect.

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Bean burgers served cold with slices of mango, yogurt, hommus, fruit salad and toasted nuts makes an amazing breakfast too. Sounds crazy to put a curried burger and hommus with fruit salad but it works a treat.

VEGAN BEAN BURGERS

1 tbs coconut oil

1 onion

1 large clove garlic

2 celery stalks

1 carrot

1 400g  tin kidney beans

1 tsp mild curry powder

salt and pepper

a little coconut flour to thicken and bind

METHOD

Finely chop onion, garlic and celery. Soften in coconut oil. Grate carrot and add to mix with the curry powder. Stir until the carrot is soft.

Add mixture to a food processor with drained kidney beans, seasoning and a little coconut flour (about 1 tbs). Blend until the mixture is smooth. Add a little more coconut flour if the mixture is too soft.

With wet hands, roll into burgers and put in the fridge for half an hour to firm up, then shallow fry in a little more coconut oil. The burgers are very soft and difficult to cook at room temperature (at east when room temperature is over 30 degrees!) so keep them in the fridge until just before you are ready to cook them. Serve hot or cold with hommus, yogurt, fresh salad topped with toasted nuts … and eat any leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. Better still, make a double batch and freeze some for later.

Recipe: Home Made Lemonade with Mint and Blueberries.

IMG_2853I’ve become a recluse. It is too hot to go outside and too hot to do much of anything, really – except go for a swim. This week we’ve gone to three different waterholes for a splash, a good long soak in the Brunswick River, and of course in the pool every day, which is like a warm bath with 30 degrees water temperature. There is little point getting dressed, my toddler is naked all day and the other two just keep their swimmers on. Our poor chooks are seeking refuge under our deck. I wouldn’t want to be wearing feathers right now.

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In the meantime I’ve been laying on the couch reading my book, eating salads and drinking a variety of cool drinks: iced coffee, iced chocolate, smoothies, fresh juices and lots of water. Today’s sweet cooling drink was home-made lemonade with mint and blueberries. No sugar.

It is tangy and sweet, fresh and revitalising. Lemon and honey are a great combination hot or cold, but with blueberries and mint it is delicious. I recommend teaching your children to make it, then you don’t need to leave the couch.IMG_2852

Home Made Lemonade with Mint and Blueberries

INGREDIENTS

1.5 litres cold water

1/4 cup hot water

2 heaped tablespoons of honey

juice from 2 lemons

a few mint leaves

fresh blueberries

ice

METHOD

Mix the honey with the hot water in a cup and stir until the honey melts into the water. Pour into the cold water with the lemon juice and stir well. Add mint leaves and sit in the fridge for a while to chill and let the mint leaves mingle flavours with the lemon. To serve pour into a cup with ice cubes and a few blueberries. Find a hammock and a good book and enjoy.

Recipe: Almond Bread from Cooking Pot

photo (16)Here’s one of the most delicious almond bread recipes I’ve tasted. My friend Dominika made it for me to try at our playgroup – it wasn’t for everyone because it isn’t vegan, but all the same I only managed to get one slice before it vanished off the plate! It was very yummy. This recipe makes a moist loaf of grain-free bread, which I am very excited about. The other almond breads that I have made have been so dry that even a cup of tea isn’t enough to make them palatable … this one has eggs and cottage cheese in it, which makes it so tasty and light. It slices well and I think it is going to be a great morning toast with butter, a yummy morning tea with peanut butter, and a delicious accompaniment to lunch with a bit of labne spread. Dominika has shared the recipe with me and said I could share it here too. Some things are too good to keep to yourself.

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I’ve just been involved in a great big recipe share with Dominika and many friends which has culminated in a great new phone app called Cooking Pot. This is the first time I’ve ever endorsed a product other than my own on the blog, but I’m excited about this one because I know it has lots of awesome recipes in it like this almond bread one. It’s been created by my friends Dominika and Justin and they’ve been collecting and compiling lots of amazing recipes to help you plan your meals, or to help you use up those left over ingredients in the fridge so that you are not wasting food. Dominika and Justin have two little girls, they grow their own vegetables and raise chickens in their backyard (and a guinea pig or two). The health of their family is their priority, and so all these recipes on their Cooking Pot app are there to create awesome meals with wholesome ingredients. I’m pretty proud to say that many of my recipes can be found on Cooking Pot too – and my recipes have been created with the best of health-full intentions so I’m happy to endorse it!

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Cooking Pot has many uses:
– you can select the ingredients you want to use and find a variety of recipes to match
– after selecting the recipes you want for the ingredients you have, Cooking Pot will then compile a shopping list for the rest of the ingredients you will need, and you can add to this so it is pretty handy to take with you when you do your shopping.
– you can browse the recipes according to different labels – you will find recipes for all kinds of different needs: food intolerance,vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free. More recipes are being added all the time.
– having recipes at your finger tips allows you an easier way to plan your meals for the week – and a great way to find something tasty at the end of an exhausting day when you are not feeling inspired about dinner.
You can read more about it, and download it by going to the website, itunes, or the facebook page. Cooking Pot is available for iPhones or iPads. I think iPads would be great in the kitchen … use a recipe stand to prop it up, and easy to wipe clean. Much better than bringing my laptop in, which is what I sometimes do when I can’t be bothered to write a recipe down! I’m not a very neat cook 🙂

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Almond Bread

(grain-free, sugar-free)

INGREDIENTS
    2 1/2 cups almond meal
    1/4 cup olive, hempseed or sunflower oil
    1 tub (7 oz) dry curd cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 Tbsp hulled hemp seeds
(I didn’t have any hemp seeds so I used 1 T flax and 1 tsp chia unground – use what you have)
    1 tsp flaxseeds or ground chia seeds
    1/4 tsp good salt
    3 eggs
METHOD
Mix all ingredient together and bake at 180C for 1 hour.
If toothpick doesn’t come out clean reduce to 130C and bake till done.

Recipe: Polka-dot Cake

IMG_2787In all my efforts to make cakes and muffins and cupcakes without grains and sugar this has to be the simplest and most satisfying cake I’ve made. I made it today – very spontaneously to celebrate Fete des Rois, or Festival of the Kings, because today is Epiphany. Epiphany is the end of the Advent story when the three wise men arrive to pay their respects to the Holy Baby. They treated Jesus as they would an earthly king by falling to the floor and presenting him with expensive gifts.

Had I given myself more time to organise it I would have had a crown ready and perhaps some games but that was not to be today. You can read about our past Fete des Rois celebrations. Today, however, I had forgotten all about it. January 6th, already? How did that happen? I didn’t realise until the afternoon so I quickly made up this cake for afternoon tea. I couldn’t find the right recipe I wanted in all my books and scribblings because they were either too complicated or I didn’t have the ingredients –  so I cobbled one together with the ingredients I had and it worked.

The traditional French galette des Rois is an almond-cream filled puff pastry type thing with the feve baked inside. The feve is traditionally a hard bean and whoever finds it in their slice becomes King or Queen for the day. My friend has been making a few delicious gluten-free versions of French regional cakes for our past fete des Rois celebrations. Today I thought an almond cake would do the job, and for the feve I used a date because I didn’t want my two-year old to end up accidentally choking on something small.

The cake was pretty colourful! I had intended to make the polka-dots with blueberries dropped in to the batter just before cooking, like a clafouti, but in a real Mother-Hubbard moment I discovered we had no blueberries or cherries or any other suitable fruit, not even any dried fruit except for the dates. All we had was Dad’s stash of Christmas candies and so I decorated the cake with candy covered chocolate polka-dots …. I know!! Not exactly sugar-free, paleo or GAPS but very pretty and very tasty. WITH the blueberry polka-dots this cake makes a very delicious breakfast served with yogurt and fresh fruit. Incidentally it can be made without the baking powder so it can be suitable for GAPS and paleo too. It might not rise but it will be more flat like a clafouti, which is how I make it for breakfast.

In any case the cake rose and cooked beautifully and we had a delicious afternoon tea with a bit of fun to go with it. As it happens I don’t think I will use a date again because when I cut the cake, I cut the date in half and then two people ended up with the feve in their slice – so we had two Kings this year!!

Here’s the recipe:

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Polka-Dot Cake

(grain-free and sugar-free … almost!)

INGREDIENTS

250g almond meal

1/3 cup honey/maple syrup

100g coconut oil

6 eggs

2 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp baking powder

blueberries or cherries / (in this case I used Smarties!)

something to use for a feve – don’t use a date! A large (clean!) coin, a dried bean if you don’t have little kids eating the cake, perhaps some trinket from the Christmas crackers?)

METHOD

Mix all but the last ingredient together and blend well.

Add the feve to the mix and pour it all into an oiled spring-form cake tin, making sure that the feve is well hidden and then drop in the berries/cherries/things you are using for polka-dots in a pleasing pattern.

Cook at 170C for about 25 – 30 minutes … sorry I didn’t pay attention to how long it was in there for. I took it out when the top was a light brown colour and the knife came out clean. Mine was in about half an hour I think.

Recipe: Raw Gingerbread

I’ve had so much fun with this recipe. I think it may be my favourite raw recipe so far. Definitely up there with the Cashew Crunchies and the Raw Banana Cookies. The mixture is so fragrant and in these days leading up to Christmas it is really putting me in the mood for the festive season. I’ll be making them again during Autumn for sure – there is something warm and spicy about these little yummies that suits Samhain too. I’ve been making these each week and nibbling on them throughout the day. It is quite rich and filling, even as a tiny gingerbread, and fortunately for me it appears to appeal to a more ‘adult’ palate as only my ginger-loving son is regularly asking for them. So between him and I we share the stash of gingerbread, guilt-free.

These can be made into cookies and then dehydrated, or they can be rolled into balls and kept in the fridge to eat raw. I’ve tried cooking them in the oven but the texture just isn’t the same, and they burn very easily unless you have it on the very lowest setting and are prepared to wait for hours – in which case it is better to use the dehydrator overnight, and get on with your life while they do their thing. Much more appealing than heating up the kitchen for hours in summer!

The last batch of gingerbread I turned into fudge because I wanted to eat them sooner. The nuts went into the food processor straight from their soaking water and spent a little too long in there so they started turning into nut-butter. The mixture was very soft. I added a bit of coconut oil to it when I noticed how squishy the mixture was, to help it firm up when cold. These turned out to be quite delicious and fudgy when rolled in spiced cacao powder and placed in the freezer to firm up a bit. I served them up at playgroup and I think my two-year-old was the only one who declared “I no like it”, and returned to me a pre-chewed gingerbread bite. But her opinion doesn’t count in this instance. Since learning this phrase, it seems she doesn’t like anything at the moment …

RAW GINGERBREAD

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup dates

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp dried ginger

2 cm ginger, peeled and grated

(FOR RAW GINGERBREAD FUDGE)

2 tbs coconut oil

1/3 cup raw cacao powder mixed with a little of your favourite spices (cinnamon/ginger/cloves/nutmeg)

METHOD

I like to activate nuts before I eat them – this involves soaking them overnight, then drying them in the dehydrator. It isn’t necessary but activated nuts are easier to digest and you can access more nutrients from them.

To make the Raw Gingerbread Cookies, blend the nuts together. Add other ingredients and blend again! Blend until the ingredients are finely chopped and stick together, then take small amounts at a time, pat flat to about .5cm thickness on a baking sheet(to stop them getting sticky) and cut out shapes. I found a wet cutter got less sticky. Details can be added with a skewer or you might like to press small pieces of dried fruit on top to decorate. Lay flat on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate on highest setting until they feel firm to touch on top, turn and continue dehydrating until the other side is no longer soft. The cookies should be evenly dried throughout.

To make the Raw Gingerbread Fudge then soak the nuts overnight or at least for a few hours and blend them after they are drained. Mine became fudgy when I left them in the blender a little too long and they began to turn into nut butter. DON’T blend until you get nut butter (although that WOULD be yummy too!) but just until the oils are released and the mixture is softer. Add other ingredients and blend again and until well mixed. With wet hands roll mixture into balls and roll them again in raw cacao powder that you’ve added some of the spices from the recipe into. Keep in freezer until an hour before you are ready to eat them … although I have found that even keeping them in the freezer doesn’t really make them last longer because I eat them straight from there too ….

Recipe: Christmas Spice Museli

I’ve shown you my muesli recipe before – it’s pretty yum! I make it as the basic grain-free recipe in a large batch, then before toasting it I separate some for myself and add oats to the batch for the rest for the family. This time I added some extra spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and some VERY special dried fruit that I made on the day of the solar eclipse. I was inspired by the celestial happenings while I was chopping up fruit for the dehydrator … and then decided to cut them with the cookie cutters. Little stars and moons (or eclipsed suns if you choose to see them that way!)

After they were dried they looked like this. So pretty just in the jar! And such intense bites of deliciousness.

I had to add them to our muesli  – along with some dried goji berries and cranberries for a bit of colour. This is gold-plated muesli. And from each batch I make (because this one is already eaten!) I am saving some for presents. One jar of muesli doesn’t stretch far, but it is delicious as a topping on yogurt and ice cream too.

Recipe: Neapolitan Banana Ice Creams

Aren’t these pretty? Banana ice-cream isn’t new but it sure is yummy and easy. We’ve made these ones with three different flavours: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. They take me right back to my childhood – those idyllic days before dairy-free, sugar-free and additive-free became my norm, and the delight in scooping ice-cream out of a tub that has three different choices of flavours all at once – although I would always go for vanilla. Still do. I love chocolate but chocolate ice cream has always made me feel like I am eating cold mud (I think I must be quite alone in the world with that particular visualisation!) and strawberry ice-cream was sweet and lovely until that artificial strawberry flavouring kicked in and the coughing would start. I can’t believe I didn’t discover banana ice cream until adulthood!

NEAPOLITAN BANANA ICE CREAMS

INGREDIENTS

4 ripe bananas

1 cup coconut milk

2 tbs maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla essence

250g fresh strawberries

2 tbs cacao powder

METHOD

Blend up the peeled bananas with the vanilla, maple syrup and coconut milk. Whizz it all together until it is lovely as smooth. This is the base mixture for the ice-creams. No need to remove it from the blender, just spoon it out and into the moulds as you go.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of this mixture into the bottom of your ice cream moulds.

Add the washed and hulled strawberries to the base mixture left in your blender and blend again until it is all smooth and pink. Add more strawberries if you like it pinker.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of the strawberry mixture on top of the base mixture in the ice-cream moulds.

Add the cacao to the pink mixture left in the blender now. Depending on how much of the mixture you’ve used already, you may need to add another banana or some more coconut milk to make it go a bit further. Blend until smooth. The cacao will turn the mixture quite brown and chocolately. Smells delicious even now!

Top up the rest of the ice-cream moulds with the chocolate mixture, place the handles and tops on the moulds and put them in the freezer overnight. It should be enough to make 12 ice creams. If you make these in the morning they might be ready by the time school is finished. It’s pretty fun to eat even if you get them out of the freezer too soon. Ice-cream on a spoon is just as tasty as ice-cream on a stick! If you do have some mixture left over, add some ice and coconut milk to the blender and drink it as a smoothie 🙂

Recipe: Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce (Paleo/GAPS)

One of the hard things about being on a grain-free diet is watching the family eat pancakes every Saturday morning. I love pancakes and every now and then I sneak one because they are so hard to resist. I used to make myself some grain-free paleo pancakes with egg and almond meal … but they really are not my favourite. I find them quite dry and I have to wash them down with a cup of tea. This morning however, I made myself some banana pancakes and I can’t believe I’ve forgotten about them for so long!

I used to make them for the kids for afternoon tea. It just didn’t occur to me that I could eat them for breakfast … and actually I am not really that fond of bananas, especially cooked bananas, but I cooked mine in coconut oil and drowned them in a home made blueberry sauce … and they were delicious.

Bananas are so cheap at the moment … at 99c per kilo I am buying up a couple of kilos at a time and freezing them for cooking with later. The ones I used today went soft before I had a chance to peel and freeze them but they were perfect for breakfast in these pancakes and enjoyed by 2 out of 3 children – the other one, like me, has never really developed a bond with bananas and was turned off when I mentioned what was in them. If I hadn’t said anything I’ll bet he would never have noticed. As for me, I am pleased to have rediscovered the joys of pancakes for breakfast!

This blog is fast becoming a place where we celebrate toddlers with food on their faces… sorry about that but I never get tired of seeing little ones enjoy their food!!

Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

PANCAKE INGREDIENTS

1 banana

1 large egg

1 tsp coconut oil

SAUCE INGREDIENTS

1 cup blueberries

1 tsp cinnamon

dribble of honey

1 Tbs butter

METHOD

Mash the banana and mix in the egg. If your egg is small you may get firmer pancakes if you add another egg.

Heat your pan (I like to use a cast iron skillet) and melt the coconut oil. Cook mixture as you would normal pancakes, turning when you see the edges firm and a few bubbles in the middle.

To make the sauce, mix blueberries, honey, butter and cinnamon together in a saucepan and bring to the boil, slightly mashing the blueberries, and cooking until it reaches a consistence you like.

Serve pancakes with sauce and fresh fruit.

Recipe:Raw Banana Cookies


I presented this recipe to playgroup this week but with dried pineapple instead of the chocolate chips that are pictured (don’t worry! You get to have the chocolate chips later on!) This recipe made 12 delicious cookies but of course I had doubled it for playgroup (and made the cookies a little smaller). They were so yum that I didn’t get a picture of them before they disappeared, but these are the ones that will appear next week 🙂

For the chocolate chip recipe I didn’t mix the chips in with the batter – just placed on top – enough for a bit of yum, in a pretty flower. The cookies themselves are pretty sweet so the chips are just for a bit of bling. These are vegan chocolate chips, which I am sure contain cane sugar so technically speaking these cookies are not sugar-free.

To make this recipe raw the cookies are ‘cooked’ in the dehydrator. They were done after one day and one night, at 70 degrees C, turning them halfway. They can also be baked in the oven for more immediate consumption! The benefits to dehydrating them means they preserve more nutrients and are more evenly dried out, whereas when you bake them they are still a little squishy in the middle, but equally yummy. Without the chocolate chips they’d be a good addition for a lunch-box treat (that is, if your child’s school doesn’t have a no-nut policy). They are a great after school snack.

RAW BANANA COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 small mashed banana

1/4 cup maple syrup (or a little less)

2 1/2 tbs water

1 tbs vanilla essence

chopped dried fruit of your choice / chocolate chips

METHOD

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Divide mixture into twelve parts and form into flattened cookies.

To dehydrate cookies: place cookies on a baking paper on the trays and dehydrate for 24 hours, turning the cookies and removing the sheet after 12 hours.

To bake the cookies: place cookies on a baking sheet into a preheated oven set at 160C for 20 minutes.