Thai pumpkin soup

Hello soup weather!

I’ve been making this delicious, comforting soup for the past couple of years.

It is an absolute winner with Peter and I and Will. I’ll be honest though … It isn’t a favourite with the other small ones. 2 of them tolerate it … One of them will have a taste but that’s as far as it goes. 🤦

Ah well, you can’t win ’em all … And I’m delighted to have a freezer stocked with lunches!

  • 1.5kg butternut pumpkin
  • 400g sweet potato
  • 2 heaped tbsp sunflower seed butter
  • 1 heaped tbsp red thai curry paste (I like the Ayam brand)
  • 200ml coconut cream
  • 2L hot veggie stock

Place the curry paste into a hot saucepan and stir until fragrant.

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Home grown veg plus curry paste home made from homegrown lemongrass, chillies, onion and garlic – makes me SO happy!!

Add in the diced pumpkin and sweet potato and stir to coat the veggies in the paste.

Add in the stock and bring to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are very soft.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut cream and the seed butter.

Use an immersion blender to blend until silky smooth.

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We like to serve with fresh damper 😋

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Makes about 10 serves and it freezes and defrosts well.

Enjoy 😊

Chicken, black bean and carrot burgers

Building your own burger is always a fun, messy, dinner.

Mostly we go with a veggie burger patty but we mix it up sometimes with this chicken burger.

The beans and carrots work to bind the patty without egg and they also mean you can spread the meat further and significantly boost your fibre intake too.

  • 4 large chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 420g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds
  • olive oil to cook

Chop and steam the carrots until they are soft.

Place the chicken thighs in your food processor and process until chicken is evenly minced (speed 5, 10 secs)

Add in beans and carrots then aminos and thyme. Process further until well combined (speed 4, 10 secs)

Add in the nutritional yeast and hemp seeds and process until just combined. (Speed 4, 5 secs)

If you have the time pop the mixture in the fridge for half an hour before you make patties. It will help them hold together better when you cook them.

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Ready for the frying pan

Form heaped tablespoons of the mixture in to patties and place into a hot, greased pan.

Cook until golden on one side, then flip and cook on other side until cooked all the way through.

You can also spray with a little olive oil and bake in a 200C oven for about 20 minutes, flip them over and cook for a further 10 mins or until cooked through (keeps the stove top much cleaner! 🤣)

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Serve on your bread of choice with your favourite burger toppings.

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He likes his with pineapple, tomato, capsicum, lettuce, cheese and egg. The lot!

I like a leftover patty on its own topped with avo for lunch.

Makes about 12

Enjoy 🙂

Butternut butter bean sausage rolls

Sausage rolls are a massive favourite with my kids … and husband!

They are easy to make in bulk, and freeze and they are perfect for hiding veggies, so it is nice to know that they can be a slightly healthier option for my family – Obviously they’re still wrapped in pastry so they’re definitely a ‘sometimes’ food!

This is a simpler version of my veggie loaded sausage rolls and are Harry’s current favourite 🙂

I use Chevup sausages in my mix. They are a skinless, gluten free, Aussie beef sausage with about half the saturated fat of normal sausages – I feel much happier about using them than the questionable sausage mince that is commercially available. You can find more details about them here.

The sausages I use have great flavour, so if you are using regular beef mince, there is a note below the main ingredients for a couple of extra things for you to add.

Gluten, egg, dairy, nut and soy free pastry is the next issue. There are many GF pastries out there but they are often really disappointing. Obviously use the one that suits your diet and that you enjoy.

I have used this pastry from the Gluten Free Bakery:
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And it does a pretty good job. But ….

if you live in WA you really, REALLY have to check out Busy Bees Gluten Free pastry (I buy from Weigh n Pay in Woodvale)! It is amazing! It comes in a long roll and it handles just like wheat based pastry. It is soft and easy to work with and even non GF people have been happy to eat it!

  • 8 Chevup sausages
  • 250g butternut pumpkin
  • 400g tin butter beans (drained)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds
  • 2 tsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 4 sheets of your puff pastry (1 used 3 regular and 1 ‘everything free’)

If you are not using the Chevup sausages, use

  • 450g beef mince, plus
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp mild paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic flakes
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos

Finely blitz the pumpkin. (Speed 6 for 8 seconds, scrape down and repeat).

Add the additional flavourings and oil, if not using chevvups and process again (Speed 5, 8 seconds)

Add the sausages or mince, to the processor and process until it is quite smooth (Speed 6, 10 seconds at a time, scrape down in between).

Add the butter beans and process until well combined (speed 5, 10 seconds, scrape and repeat)

Add the nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, salt, aminos and herbs and then process again until evenly combined and fairly smooth (speed 6, 10 secs, scrape and repeat)

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Cut the pastry sheets in half and divide the mixture up between the sheets.

I find it is best to place it in a thin line down the middle of the pasty.

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Roll the pastry over the top of the mix to form long cylinders.

Lay on a lined baking tray with the join side facing down (helps the join to hold together as it puffs).

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Cook in a preheated 210C oven until meat is cooked and pastry is puffed and golden brown. (Use a short burst under the grill to get them extra golden and flaky). Takes about 35-40 mins in my oven.

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Enjoy 🙂

Vegetable Dhal

Lentils are such an amazing food! They are really inexpensive, easy to use is a wide variety of meals and they pack a serious dietary punch when it comes to fibre and protein. They are one of the star foods for improving your gut health! A really valuable and budget friendly addition to your diet.

Like most of my meals that were inspired by other cultures, this is one you’re unlikely to find on the menu of an authentic Indian restaurant – but it is fragrant and delicious!

  • 2 cups red lentil
  • 1/3 cup French (puy) lentil
  • 2 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 rounded tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 1/2 cups hot veggie stock (I use Massel for a store bought option)
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream
  • 2 large carrots, grated (roughly 1 rounded cup)**
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach, roughly chopped

**you can use an equal quantity of grated pumpkin or sweet potato here if you’d prefer

Rinse and drain your dried lentils

Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan and add the onion, cook until soft.

Add in the ginger and mix well to combine.

Add in the dry spices and fry well until fragrant.

Add in the lentils and stir well to coat the mix. Add in the grated carrot and combine again.

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Add in the hot stock, stir well and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan as they are absorbing the stock.

Add in the coconut cream and chopped spinach, stir well and cook until the spinach is wilted, but still bright.

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Serve warm with your choice of ‘bready’ accompaniment – we used suitable wraps that we brushed with a little garlic oil, sprinkled with salt and popped under the grill until they were toasty and brown.

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Makes about 4 adult serves.

Enjoy 🙂

Pumpkin Meatballs

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 😮 Now they are a very firm family favourite.

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.

  • 1kg beef mince
  • 1 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed (kidney beans and black beans are great too)
  • 300g pumpkin
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt
  • A few grinds of pepper
  • 1/2 cup GF bread crumbs**
  • 1 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 600ml tomato pasata
  • 1/2 cup hot veggie stock
  • Good pinch pink salt flakes
  • Fresh basil
  • Pasta of choice to serve

**for a deeper savoury flavour and to further boost the nutritional value of this meal, instead of bread crumbs, I often use 1/3 cup of Nutritional Yeast, 1/3 cup of hemp seed.

Roughly cut the pumpkin and place into your processor, then process until very fine. (Speed 5, 8 seconds, scrape down and repeat).

Now add in the beans, herbs, salt and pepper in your food processor and process until well combined. (Speed 4, 10secs)

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

Whilst processing (Speed 4), add in the beef mince through the top chute, then continue mixing until well combined and fairly smooth. Blitz for a little longer or at a higher speed if you want less visible ‘bits’.

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 (or make bigger patties)

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this version has kidney beans and I have left them a little chunkier in texture

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

*Recently when we’ve been making these I’ve been baking them to avoid the crazy splatter on my stove. Brown them with the oil in the frying pan then pop them in a big baking dish, pour over the pasata and stock, top with basil and then cover with alfoil. Place in to a preheated 200C for 25 minutes.

 

If you want cheese on top, remove alfoil and sprinkle with grated cheese then return baking dish to oven for the last 10 minutes

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Makes 19 patties or about  30 small meatballs

If macros are important to you here are some details:

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*The above macros are based on making 19 patties, that are served with the pasata and 120g of cheese spread over the whole dish – so each serve is 1 meat ball with some sauce and a little cheese. These are also the macros when using the nutritional yeast and the hemp seeds in place of the breadcrumbs.

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

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’s  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)
  • a first sized piece of sweet potato or pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 3 large handfuls spinach
  • 700 ml tomato pasata or a large tin of peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste OR preserved tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 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, mix 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, 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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Adding in the preserved tomatoes to boost the flavour!

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Serve on your choice of pasta, zucchini noodles or a bed of steamed green beans – 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 🙂

 

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 😮) 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 🙂

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

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 😉 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
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 100g sunflower seed butter
  • 8 cups hot veggie stock (Massel for store bought)
  • Optional: fist sized piece of sweet potato, peeled and diced

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 🙂

Black Bean Chilli

We have made a conscious effort to reduce our meat consumption recently. And for us that has meant a boost in our bean intake … Good thing we love beans!

This recipe hits all the right marks for us. It is delicious, nutritious, budget friendly, fast and easy to make, fits all of our allergies and it is very filling and satisfying… Even for the biggest carnivore 😉

It is even one of those meals, made from regular pantry staples, that you can throw together in the morning and the flavors get even better when you reheat it in the evening. Wins all ’round!

  • 2 x 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 350-400g gold sweet potato, small dice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • medium brown onion, diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced chilli
  • 1 rounded tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups (500g) pasata
  • 1 cup hot veggie stock

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy based pan.

Add in onion and fry until golden.

Add in the garlic and chilli and fry for a further minutes before adding in dry spices.

Fry for about 2 mins, mixing well, before adding in the sweet potato. Mix well to cover in spice mix and fry for a couple of minutes.

Add black beans, pasata and stock, mix well and bring to a simmer.

Simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

We serve this one over either brown rice or roasted cauliflower and top it with slices of ripe avocado, drizzled with a squeeze of lime juice. Yum!

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Sweet potato, quinoa and cranberry salad

Being that it is the school holidays, it must be time for our traditional family ladies lunch! I am so thankful for wonderful women in my family and being able to meet with them still 🙂

This was the delicious salad we shared …. Just quietly, I may have made extras so there would be dinner leftovers 😉

  • 1 medium gold sweet potato
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1 packed cups spinach
  • 1 cup quinoa (which ever colour you prefer)
  • 2L hot water plus 1 tsp stock powder
  • 1/2 large ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pink salt flakes
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp aquafaba (liquid drained from a can of chick peas)*

*replace the aquafaba with water for legume free, the dressing will just not be quite as ‘fluffy’.

Soak the quinoa in a pot of water for 1 hour then drain and rinse it really well.

While the quinoa is soaking, heat the oven to 200C.

Peel the potato and dice it in to roughly 3-4cm cubes. Place them in a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in pre heated oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until golden.

Remove the potato from the oven, add in the seeds, and toss to coat them, then return to oven for a further 10 minutes.

Cook the quinoa in the weak stock by bringing it to the boil and simmering gently for about 15 mins, the drain and set aside.

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All prepared in advance to take out with me

To make the avocado lime dressing, place the remaining tbsp of olive oil, the lime juice, pinch of salt, maple syrup, aquafaba (or water) into a blender/bullet/thermal cooker together the the avocado and blend until smooth and light (speed 4, 8 secs, scrape down, speed 5, 10 secs)

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So tart and creamy!

Chop the spinach, and fold it through the warm quinoa.

Top with the potato and seeds.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and then sprinkle the cranberries over the top.

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Serve immediately and enjoy 🙂

For a delicious variation on this dish we use pumpkin in place of potato, pomegranate seeds in place of cranberries and slivered almonds in place of pepitas.