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

20180414_085045

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.

20180414_092815

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.

Collage 2018-04-15 11_08_03

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.

20180409_170647

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.

20180409_172940

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

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

20180409_173320

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.

20180409_174456

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.

20180325_171859-1

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.

20180324_161138

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

20180324_180025

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.

20180319_095409

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

20180319_095543

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Carrot Cake Pikelets

You might have already guessed …. but we are quite partial to pikelets here.

Pikelets, hotcakes, mini pancakes – whatever you like to call them, they are very popular with most kids and they are a terrific way to pack in a heap of goodies to make for a nutritious and filling snack – or breakfast! They freeze well, are portable and they are easy for little fingers to hold on to when they are learning to feed themselves.

We are enjoying these ones for afternoon tea today. They are a particularly terrific serve of long lasting fibre, with their mild sweetness coming from whole fruits. Hopefully we’ll have some left for lunchboxes!

  • 1 1/4 cup spelt flour (half wholemeal) OR 1 cup GF flour mix plus 1/2 tsp psyllium
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats OR shredded coconut
  • 1.5 tsp GF baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 small over ripe pear (it needs to be soft to the touch) OR 1/4 cup pear puree
  • 1/2 medium overripe banana
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 1 heaped tsp Sunflower seed butterย OR other nut butter

In your blender/processor/bullet/thermal cooker blitz the oats or coconut until they are a fine flour (Speed 9, 8 seconds, repeat if required)

In a large bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients, including the blitzed oats, with a whisk then set aside. (Speed 4, 8 seconds)

In your blender/processor/bullet/thermal cooker place; the carrot, banana, pear, dates, seed butter, vanilla and milk and blitz until very smooth (Speed 4 initially, then build up to speed 7 for 8 seconds, scrape down and use speed 9 for a further 8 seconds, scrape and repeat if required.

20180307_144439-1

Add the wet mix and the dry together and whisk or process until well combined and smooth.

20180307_145236

Place a tbsp of the mix into a hot, lightly greased frying pan. It is quite a thick mix, so you’ll need to spread it out with the back of the soon a little bit. Flip over when bubbles appear and cook until both sides are golden brown.

20180307_145934

Delicious served warm, on their own, with a little butter of choice or even some more seed/nut butter.

20180307_151630-1

These work well sandwiched together with a little butter as a filling lunchbox snack.

Makes about 15

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheesey broccoli damper

Anything ‘bready’ is likely to get the tick of approval here.

They don’t even bat an eyelid any more when the bread is a nontraditional bread colour – you know, like green ๐Ÿ˜‰

We have been doing spinach in scrolls for ages, but more recently, we’ve started to add in broccoli too. Broccoli is amazing stuff … here is what a recent BBC food report has to say about the humble broccoli:

“There have been many health claims over the years about broccoli and whether it could be labelled a ‘superfood’ or not, but its nutrient-rich profile does offer some real health benefits. Broccoli is a good source of fibre and protein, and contains iron, potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium as well as the vitamins A, C, E, K and a good array of B vitamins including folic acid”. (Oct 2017)

It’s also thought to improve cardiovascular health and even bone mineral density.ย  Label of ‘superfood’ or not – it’s pretty great stuff!

However …. despite my great love of the tiny trees, both cooked and raw, only 2 of my 4 kiddos likes it. Bummer.

Blended up in thrown in a damper is another story though ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • 2 3/4 cup spelt flour (half wholemeal)
  • 3 tsp gf baking powder
  • 1 heaped tsp pink salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dried Italian style herbs
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 100g broccoli florets
  • 75g spinach
  • 225mls water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

In your blender/bullet/thermal cooker place the seeds, yeast, salt, herbs and baking powder. Process until seeds until they’re fine. (Speed 8, 8 second, scrape down and repeat).

Add in the flour and process until combined (speed 4, 10 seconds). Then set the flour aside.

Now place in the broccoli, spinach, water and vinegar, then blend, blend, blend until it is smooth (speed 8, 8 secs, scrape down ย then speed 10, 10 secs).

20180225_115652

20180225_115923

Set the wet mix aside and return the flute mix to the processor. Add in the butter and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed – it’ll look a little like bread crumbs.

Add in the wet broccoli mix to the flour whilst processing (speed 4) and bring together to a dough.

Tip on to a floured surface and shape to a disc.

20180225_120735

Slash the top into 8 triangles and then place into a preheated 200 C oven for about 25 minutes or until well risen and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

20180225_123416.jpg

Serve warm with butter of choice.

20180225_124430-1

This is a great side to have with a yummy soup, or as part of a finger food style lunch … but we often enjoy it just on it’s own!

Slice and butter and tightly wrap any leftovers before freezing – it defrosts well.

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚