Pumpkin Meat balls

This dinner was so well received by all of my kids that I was actually a little bit shocked!

The 2 big boys had seconds and asked for thirds, the 2 little ones totally cleaned their plates (including actual licking!). Ellie even asked if she could have them for her birthday dinner ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

They are pretty simple to make, they make a lot and it’s easy to have a meat meal but use only a little meat whilst boost it with a good serve of veg to help meet our daily targets and to really increase the fibre content – Good for your health and good for your budget too! I think they key is to make the mixture fairly smooth.

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 300g pumpkin
  • 1tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt
  • A few grinds of pepper
  • 1/2 cup GF bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 500ml tomato pasata
  • 1/2 cup hot veggie stock
  • Good pinch pink salt flakes
  • Fresh basil
  • Pasta of choice to serve

Peel, dice and steam the pumpkin (speed 1, ST, 10 mins).

Place the pumpkin, butter beans, beef mince, herbs, salt and pepper in your food processor and process until well combined and smooth. (Speed 4, 10secs, scrape down and then speed 5 for 15 seconds).

Add in the bread crumbs and mix again until well combined (speed 4, 8 secs)

Place mix into the fridge for at least an hour, but up to overnight.

Using a heaped teaspoon of the mixture, roll the meat balls.

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Heat the oil in a fry pan and fry meatballs on each side until golden.

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Add in the pasata, stock, pinch of salt and basil and simmer gently for 5-6 minutes before turning balls and simmer for a further 5-6 minutes or entirely cooked through.

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Serve on your favourite pasta and top with a little cheese that suits your diet.

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We use a mixture of GF pasta and steamed green beans as our base

Makes about 24 balls.

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Lean, Green and Mean soup

This soup originally started as a way to use up my remaining veggies before I did the grocery shopping the next day. Stretching my budget, reducing food waste and packing in the veg – lots of my favourite things! We loved the combination so much that we’ve just kept going with it!

Fabulous dietary fibre, an amazing array of natural vitamins and a decent source of protein too – this one is such a great lunch for cooler days in winter.

It make about 10 serves and freezes well.

  • 1 large head broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1kg sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 2L hot stock
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (75g)
  • 3 tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp Garlic olive oil

Heat oil in a large pot, add in the sweet potato.

Cover sweet potato with hot stock and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes before adding in the cauliflower and broccoli. Place lid on soup pot and allow to simmer for about 12 minutes.

Add in the spinach and seeds (if you don’t like bits, you are best to mill your seeds before you add them) and simmer for a further 3 minutes.

Add in the nutritional yeast and use an immersion blender to blend until the soup is fairly smooth.

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Serve warm on it’s own or with a your bread of choice.

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Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

 

A serve of 2 ladles has approximately: 177.8cal, 27.89g carbs, 5.64g fat, 7.08g protein and 3.48g fibre

Mushroom and Lentil Bolognese

Bolognese has long been a favourite dinner in our house.

We have a pretty non-traditional version, but it works for us – there are always 6 empty plates and 6 happy tummies when it’s on the menu.

Easy to make, a massive serve of veggies, great fibre and it’sย  a very budget friendly meal, that cooks up in bulk and freezes well too.

More recently as we are reducing the number of meals we eat that contain meat, we’ve moved from making our standard beef mince bolognese, to this vegan version.

The kids haven’t blinked an eye with the transition, in fact, Harry recently requested it as his birthday party dinner – hope you like it too!

 

  • 1 finely chopped medium brown onion
  • 2 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp minced chillies (depending on your heat preference)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 2 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed (we also use black beans)
  • 2 400g tin lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 3-4 cups mushrooms (a mixture of types is good to give textural variety)
  • medium sweet potato or pumpkin (roughly 2 fist sized pieces), peeled and diced
  • 3 large handfuls spinach
  • 700 ml tomato pasata
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 cup stock (we use the vegan, but beef stlye stock by Massel for a store bought option)
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • spaghetti or pasta that suits your diet to serve

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Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the onion and stir until soft.

Add in the chillies, mixย well and turn down to low heat.

In your food processor (or with a knife if you have the patience!), pulse the mushrooms until you get a fine chop. Add the mushrooms to the onion mix in the hot saucepan. Stir them in well to coat in onion mixture.

Add in the lentils, plus the stock, tomato paste and red wine then stir well to combine.

Meanwhile, in the food processor blitz or grate the vegetables, spinach and beans. Add in the pasata to help bring the mix all together. Process more or less depending on how smooth you want your sauce.

Add the veggie and pasata mix to the mushroom and lentil mix in the pan and stir well. Bring to a very gentle simmer, then add the fresh herbs. I tend to finely chop the basil before stirring through, but I leave the rosemary on it’s stems, just bruising the leaves before adding it to the pot, just remove the stems when you serve. Simmer for about half an hour, stirring regularly.

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Serve on your choice of pasta, zucchini noodles or a bed of steamed green beans โ€“ add cheese of choice to top if you like, or even sprinkle with nutritional yeast.

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Serves about 10 adults (freeze left over sauce in an airtight container for a couple of months)

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Lemongrass chilli chicken

Being able to pick some of the components of our meals from our own garden gives me such great pleasure! One of the things we have in abundance at the moment is lemongrass. Together with our chillies (which are incredibly hot ๐Ÿ˜ฎ) and garlic, it makes such a delicious marinade and poaching sauce.

  • 5cm lemongrass (just the centre core)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3cm ginger, peeled
  • 1-2 small chillies (depending on your heat preference)
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp neutral tasting oil
  • approx 700-800g chicken thigh, skinless and boneless
  • 1/2 cup hot chicken stock
  • 120ml coconut cream
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 large handfuls sugar snap peas
  • rice to serve

To make the sauce, place the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, amino, lime juice, sugar and 1 tsbp of oil into a small, powerful blender and blend until quite smooth.

Slice the chicken into strips and place into a bowl.

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Add in 1/2 of the sauce to the chicken and mix well to cover evenly. Cover the meat and place in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to a day.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a heavy based frying pan, then add the chicken and allow to brown.

Mix together the remaining half of the sauce with the stock and coconut cream. Pour over the chicken and allow to simmer for another 6-7 minutes, or until the chicken is almost cooked through.

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While the chicken is cooking, finely shred the carrot and peas.

Add the shredded veggies to the chicken and the poaching liquid, stir well.

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Place the lid on the frying pan and allow to cook for a further 2 minutes, so that the veggies at still crunchy.

Serve with your favourite rice.

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Makes about 5 adult serves

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

To make a vegan meal with the same flavours, you could replace the chicken with a firm tofu.

Packed Pikelets (pink and green!)

Our little people eat pikelets in many forms. Mildly sweet ones (hotcakes) for breakfast are on the menu probably once a week, but more recently we have changed it up a bit and have added in a more savoury variety.

Our kids love them – Harry describes them as a cross between a hotcake and a cheese toastie …. both things he loves!! They are very filling and make a satisfying lunch, they’re nutritious – and they freeze and defrost well so you can make them in advance for lunchboxes. They even work well as a side serve at dinner time.

This recipe makes about 20 – I often double it so that I have enough left to freeze!

  • 1.5 cups spelt flour – I do half wholemeal (OR 1 1/3 cups plain GF flour and 1 tsp psyllium husks)
  • 1/2 cup heaped mixed seeds (I use pumpkin, flax and hemp)
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • pinch pink salt
  • 2 tsp GF baking powder
  • 1.5cups milk of choice
  • 30g light tasting oil/vegan butter, melted
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp aquafaba OR 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup baby spinach OR a handful steamed beetroot
  • OPTIONAL: Handful GF ham/left over chicken/corn kernels

Place the seeds, yeast, salt, paprika and baking powder into your processor/bullet/blender/thermal cooker and process until very fine (Speed 8, 6 secs, repeat if necessary).

Add in the flour and process to combine (Speed 4, 10 seconds). Then set the dry mix aside.

Blitz together milk, vinegar, aquafaba and oil in your processor/bullet/blender/thermal cooker until frothy (Speed 6, 8 seconds).

Add in the spinach or beetroot to the milk mix and blitz until the mixture is smooth (Speed 8 10 seconds, scrape down and repeat). You will have very brightly coloured green or pink milk at this point!

Add the wet mix to the dry mix and process to combine (Speed 5, 6 secs). If doing this by hand, use a whisk to beat until the mixture is well combined and light.

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If you want to add in any of the optional extras, chop them finely and fold them through here.

Spoon tablespoons of the batter into a hot, lightly greased frying pan. Cook until golden on one side until bubbles appear and then flip and cook until both sides are golden brown.

Makes about 20

Serve warm with your choice of topping – my kids love them with a slice of their cheese or a little sunflower seed butter. I sandwich them together with a little butter in the middle and freeze in a zip lock bag so they are ready to drop into lunchboxes.

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

As the cooler weather rolls around I am SO looking forward to soups featuring weekly on our dinner menu again.

I love soups for so many reasons; they are inexpensive, fast to make, you can make them in serious bulk for quick and filling lunches during the week, you can absolutely pack them with veggies, they can help you avoid food waste by using up your veg that might be otherwise past its best and they are easy to adapt for food allergies (I have even seen vegan, low FODMAP stock powders recently!)

This is one of our favourites … With a few little tricks it is a creamy, velvety comfort soup …. With none of your normal creamy ingredients ๐Ÿ˜‰ as well as its serve of fabulous dietary fibre, it’s also got some decent fat and protein to keep you going.

  • 1 1/2 large heads cauliflower (approx 1.2kg), chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 6 medium stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 400g tin butter beans, drained
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • Pinch pink salt flakes
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 20g (about 2.5tbsp) nutritional yeast
  • 100g sunflower seed butter
  • 10 cups hot veggie stock (Massel for store bought)
  • Optional: fist sized piece of sweet potato, peeled and succeed

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add in the onion and celery.

Fry, stirring regularly until onion is golden.

Add beans, cauliflower and herbs. Sweat down for about 3-4 mins. Add sweet potato at this point if you’re using it.

Add stock and bring to simmer, roughly 15-20 mins (until you can slide a fork easily into the veg)

Add salt, pepper, yeast and seed butter then use an immersion blender until the soup is perfectly smooth.

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Makes about 10 serves. Delicious on its own or serve with fresh crusty bread of choice.

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This one tendss to separate a little if you freeze and thaw but comes back together with a good stir.

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Per serve (10 serves per pot): 115cal, 4g fat, 10.1g carbs, 7.16g protein and 3.25g fibre

Seed butter bars

I am a big fan of snacking …. I am so active that 3 meals a day doesn’t work for me. I get shaky and hungry (and maybe a teensy bit cranky!). So I always make sure that I have healthy snacks readily available.

I love my bliss balls (especially the chocolate and salted caramel) and bliss bars, but I have been trying to teach myself to not always reach for sweet tasting stuff. These bars are based on my Choc Bliss Bars … just not chocolate and not so sweet ๐Ÿ˜‰ They are fabulous source of fibre (great prebiotics for your gut health), nutrient dense carbohydrates, amazing plant based fats and even a good dose of protein. The mild sweetness comes from dates, but you’re only getting 1/3 of a date per bar, so they are working more as a binder than a sweetener.

  • 1 cup sunflower seed butterย (or nut butter if your diet allows)
  • 8 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1.5 cup rolled oats
  • 90g pepitas
  • 20g flax seeds
  • 20g hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tbsp water

Place the sunflower seed butter, vanilla and cinnamon in your processor/thermal cooker and start mixing (speed 4). Whilst you are mixing add in the dates, one at a time through the chute at the top. Then continue mixing until the date is finely brown down and evenly distributed through the mix (Up to speed 7, for 8 seconds, scrape down and repeat).

Add in the oats and seeds and process until well combined (Speed 4 for 8 seconds, then to speed 5 for 6 seconds)

The wetness of your mix will be impacted by how runny your seed butter was and how moist your dates were, so if your mixture is not starting to clump together, add in 1 tbsp of water at a time and process again.

Tip into a lined tray (mine is 23cm x 29cm), spread out and firmly and evenly press down the mix.

Place it into the freezer for half an hour before removing and chopping in to bars.

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Makes 24 bars, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚