Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Quinoa Hash Browns, and be kind to each other!

As a mother, I try to keep abreast of healthy eating options.  We all do.  We join parenting websites, healthy eating blogs, and Pinterest so we know how to make our Acai berry, quinoa chia puds look like rainbows. We constantly assess our parenting based on what we find on the web, and usually find ourselves wanting.  So we try harder and seek answers from our peers via chatrooms, forums and Facebook pages.

The problem with this is that many of us are very judgemental of each others journeys.  We believe that the information we have gotten from our painstaking research is better or more complete than the information our peers have gotten from their painstaking research.  Unfortunately, for every eating plan, way of life or super ingredient out there, there is as much research to say that it is rubbish as there is to say it is the answer for perfect health.  We also need to consider that we all have different goals and ideas of what is healthy.

I remember a conversation with a close friend, that we had when our children were very little.  We met for a picnic, and both brought food to share.  We brought Christmas pretzels and chips, they brought cake and chocolate (this was prior to our knowing about Miss A's allergies!).  I was worried about my children eating cake and chocolate due to the high sugar and fat content.  I allowed them a small amount.  My friend was concerned about his children eating pretzels and chips due to the high salt and carbohydrate content.  This struck a chord with me in that we were both trying to be the best parents we could be, but we were coming at the problem from opposite angles.

One of the chat pages I belong to had a similar discussion yesterday regarding soy.  Several mums were asking about soy as a substitute for dairy in the case of lactose intolerance.  What they received as advice was a minefield of polar opposites.  From people telling them that soy is a great milk substitute, people saying that only Japanese soy is ok as fermented, people saying only unfermented Australian soy is ok, and people saying all soy is bad and every male child that drinks soy will grow man boobs.  I am not even exaggerating!  This very quickly dissolved into personal attacks, but the most confronting problem was that all sides of the argument had scientific evidence to support it.  How can this be?  I don't know, but it is very frustrating.  How can we as consumers have any idea of what to feed our families, when even the experts can't agree?

All I can say is that we need to be respectful of each other's points of view.  All of us who are dealing with healthy eating issues and allergies and intolerances are doing our best.  We are researching as much as we can and picking out what we can handle and making do with what we cannot.  Because of this, we all need to be supportive of each other and not attack other parents for doing their best.  Just because a child has packets and additives in their lunch box does not mean they are less loved or cared for.  It means that today his Mum gave him biscuits and muesli bars for lunch.  Just because a lunch box is all healthy, hand made food does not mean that child is brainwashed and missing out on treats.  It means that her Mum is trying to feed her healthy alternatives to hopefully make her healthier and happier.  Or that the child is allergic to everything and her mother has no choice.....

Rant over!  Now here is a really yummy breakfast idea that has quinoa in it.  I don't know if this means it is healthy, or that we will now live forever for eating this Superfood, but it tastes good and provides a different grain for those who are gluten free.

I got this recipe from a blog called A Beautiful Mess, made a few obligitary changes and now it is a regular in our house.  I use a pancake maker, a cheap electric appliance that I got from a cheap shop, to make my hashbrowns.  This means that apart from a small amount of spray oil on the hotplates, there is no added fat.  They are lovely fried in butter, not so lovely fried in Nuttelex.


1/3 cup tricoloured quinoa (any quinoa will do, but this one looks prettier)
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups grated raw potato
1 egg
Season All to taste
Chives to taste
Optional - 1/2 cup grated lactose free cheese

Place quinoa and water in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil.  As bubbles start to appear, cover and turn down the heat to low.  Leave simmer to 10 mins.  Turn off the heat, and leave covered for 10 mins so that the quinoa can absorb the water.

In a bowl, mix the potato, egg, SeasonAll, chives, cheese (if using) and quinoa.  When combined, place spoonfuls either into Pancake Maker and cook until golden.  Can also be fried in butter, nuttelex or presumable coconut oil.  Flip when a golden crust forms on the bottom.

Great served with eggs and bacon.

Thursday, 12 February 2015


It has been hot here the last few days.  Hot and humid.  I really hate the humidity, and it makes me quite grumpy.  This makes coming up with fab dinner ideas nearly impossible.  I recently had a birthday, a big enough number not to disclose here, and got a great cookbook for my Thermie called Quirky Cooking by Jo Whitton.  She had a heap of dietary issues and has made up the best recipes to compensate.  I decided to try her Spelt Bread.  Miss A has never tried spelt, but I thought it was worth a go.

I made up the dough and it rose beautifully!  Like no GF dough as ever risen!  I was so excited!  I split into 12 small dinner rolls and baked.  The smell of baking bread that isn't GF is divine!  I had nearly forgotten the joy of kneading dough and stretching and moulding of elastic wheat dough.  It was a heavenly experience.

I had some meatballs in the freezer, pork and vegetable from Ottoway Pork, that flatten into beautiful little mini hamburger patties.  These went beautifully with our rolls to make yummy little sliders.  In case you haven't been bitten with the 'slider bug', a slider is two or three tiny hamburgers served in many restaurants at the moment.  I am not quite sure of the point, a normal size hamburger hits the spot the same, but these things seem to be everywhere.  They worked well for tonight as my kids only manage one of them.  Spelt rolls are much more filling than their GF counterparts.

Unfortunately, Miss A has had a gut reaction to these.  Within an hour of comsumption, her gut was swollen and hard.  I hope this is a small reaction so we can consider introducing again in a month's time, but if not, it was worth the try.  Any possibility of expanding her diet is worth the risk.

I will share the recipe anyway, you may be able to tolerate it where she cannot.  Just be aware that spelt is a type of wheat, and does contain gluten.  It is a more ancient form and can be more easily digested for a percentage of the population, but not for everyone.

100g brown rice
400g white spelt flour
2 tsp dried instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
40g olive oil
1 egg
230g water, room temperature

Place brown rice into Thermomix mixing bowl and mill 1 min/ speed 9.

Add all remaining ingredients and mix 6 sec/speed 6.  Then knead 2 min/knead function.

Transfer dough to Thermomat and let rise until doubled in size, approx 30 mins.

Roll into 12 balls and place together on a tray lined with baking paper.  Bake 30 mins, 200C.

Non-Thermomix Option
Use brown rice flour instead of brown rice.  Mix and until smooth in a mixing bowl, knead until smooth on a pastry sheet or floured surface.  To rise, place in an oiled bowl in a cold oven on the middle rack.  Fill a roasting pan with boiling water and place on bottom of oven.  Shut door to keep in all the steam.  Allow to dough to rise for 30 mins.  Remove roasting pan before baking.

To turn into these cute sliders, I added butter (because it is yummy!), cheese, nomato sauce (recipe here) and lettuce.  For Mstr H's to be dairy free, I used Nuttelex and soy cheese on his slider.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Lamb Shanks

No one can resist the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness of Lamb Shanks, as they fall off the bone, yum!  Well, I tried them in the Thermomix tonight, and it was a triumph!  A tall order, you might say, without the use of onion, garlic, tomatoes or red wine, but some how I managed it.

I used a recipe by Thermo Dreaming (here), but obviously had to change nearly all the ingredients, save the actual shanks themselves!  I also tweaked the cooking time, but this is depending on the size and number of your shanks.

My kids LOVE lamb, it is one of the few meats I can guarantee will be gobbled up in no time, and plates licked clean.  Couple this with the delicious sauce, that has no dietary naughties in it, and we are on a winner.

I served this feast with mashed potato from the Thermomix Basic Cook Book and frozen veg in the microwave.  Don't judge me, it has been a long day!


4 Lamb Shanks
600 ml Nomato Sauce (recipe here)
1 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
2 tbsp Gluten Free Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Meat Stock Paste (Basic Cook Book)
1 Leek, chopped into lengths
300 ml Water
40g Olive Oil (or oil of choice)
SeasonAll to taste

Place leek into Thermomix bowl and chop for 3 seconds/Speed 7

Add Olive Oil and saute for 3 minutes/100C/Speed 1

While leek is cooking, place shanks into Varoma and sprinkle with SeasonAll.  Add remaining ingredients to the bowl, place Varoma on top and cook for 60 minutes/Varoma/Speed 2

Check shanks, and if meat pulls away from the bone easily, they are done.  If not, add more cooking time.

Place shanks and sauce into Thermoserver, clean bowl and make Mashed Potato, as per Basic Cook Book.

Non-Thermomix Version
Saute leek in a frypan in oil, add sauce ingredients and cook for 10 mins, until bubbling.  Place shanks into a large casserole dish, cover with sauce, cover and bake at 200C for approx 1 hour.  I have not tested this cooking time, so they may need longer.  Make mashed potato as you would normally.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

First Day Back at School

Well, it is the first day back at school for Master H (Year 5) and Miss A (Year 3).  We are lucky that they have both kept the same teacher as last year, so no need to break in a new one!  I love that we already have a good rapport and working realtionship with both teachers in regards to dietary and health needs.  Makes life so much easier!

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the first day, with hair brushing, tieing new shoes and making sure all new drink bottles and hats are labeled, the kids didn't feel like a proper breakfast.  As they both love the King William Chocolate smoothies from Boost, I have made a fair copy that they enjoy on those days when they don't want to eat.  As this had a lot of milk in it, I had to change it up a bit this morning to cater for Master H not being able to tolerate dairy.

I will give you both recipes to do with as you will, my kids love them!


1 cup milk
1/3 cup Greek Yoghurt
1 banana, frozen
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
4 tsp Sustagen Gold Dutch Chocolate
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 handful ice cubes

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Makes two small smoothies.  The frozen banana makes it creamy, and the Sustagen Gold is packed with vitamins.


1 cup Quinoa and Chia milk (or your preferred choice)
2 tbsp Quinoa Flakes
2 tbsp Coconut Yoghurt
2 scoops Soy Vanilla Ice Cream
1 banana, frozen
4 tsp cocoa powder
1 handful ice cubes

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  

Voila! An easy brekky for fussy kids that tastes good.  Also a lot cheaper than buying smoothies, too!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Australia Day!

Well, it has been over a year since I posted on my blog.  A lot has happened this year that has made it difficult for me to find the time.  I suffered from exceptionally poor health, we struggled with Miss A's health as well, and she had two anaphylactic episodes.  We also found that she can go anaphylactic from the smell or touch of nut products, but does have time to use an epipen and get to hospital so that is good.  Master H has developed a lactose intolerance as well, so food has been fun.

Good news, I got a Thermomix!  Yay!  For those that don't know what that is, it is an all in one kitchen machine.  It makes cooking so much easier as you can mill your own seeds or grains into flour, crush anything from ice to fruit, knead dough, steam and boil, whip, make ice cream, so much!  I use it all the time.

My inspiration for blogging today is the beautiful Australia Day.  In true Australian form, we had a BBQ.  As the dairy free inclusion in our diet is only 3 days old, I was struggling to come up with an allergy free menu, that would satisfy our guests who eat 'normal' food.  What a challenge!  For starters, all the sausages I saw in the shop had onion and garlic in them so were not suitable.  I eventually found some British Pork sausages which did not have them in, but was thinking we would have to have a BBQ without the snags.  Sacrilege!

Here is what I came up with for a menu:
Hamburgers (recipe previously posted)
Potato and Mustard Salad
Potato chips
Quinoa crumbed chicken
Green salad
Pork sausages (British Pork from Ottoway Pork)
Pork patties (Ottoway Pork)
Oriental Rice Salad
Gluten and dairy free cheesecake
fruit platter
meringue nests (Coles)
assorted hamburger rolls, both normal and wheat free

The day went by so fast I did not get a chance to take any pics, but will add some at a later date if I make again.

First, the coleslaw.  This is a recipe from the Thermomix Community by daniellehcp.  Here is the link:

I made my own mayonnaise, in the Thermie of course!  It was super easy and really yummy.  The beauty of making my own is that I know exactly what is in it and can cater to our personal tastes.  The mayonnaise recipe is out of the Thermomix Basic Cook Book.  I just used vegetable oil.


250g Grapeseed or Safflower Oil
1 Egg, room temperature
1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
1-2 tsp prepared mustard (optional)
2 pinches ground black pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp salt

Place a jug onto the mixing bowl lid, weigh oil into jug and set aside.

Place egg, lemon juice or vinegar, mustard (if using), pepper (if using) and salt into mixing bowl.  Mix 1 min 30 sec/ Speed 4 while very slowly pouring reserved oil onto upturned measuring cup, letting it drizzle into mixing bowl to emulsify.  Transfer mayonnaise into bowl and serve immediately or transfer into an airtight jar and store in refrigerator.

Non Thermomix Method
Place egg, lemon juice or vinegar, mustard (if using), pepper (if using) and salt into a blender or kitchen whiz.  Mix slowly, as you drizzle oil through hole in lid to emulsify.

This Mayonnaise is not strong flavoured, so if you want more of a 'kick' you could probably add some lime juice or extra acid, and some spices.  If you are adding to salads with other flavours, it is perfect as it is!

Next I made the potato and mustard salad.  This is a quick, delicious salad that my cousin made.  Thanks Nicole!  It is easy, yummy and looks impressive.


6 potatoes, peeled
4 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise

Dice potatoes and boil until soft, drain and transfer to a large bowl.  Add mustard and mayonnaise while still hot and stir to combine.  Cut eggs into quarters, and add to the salad.  Mix softly to not break the eggs.  Chill or serve while still warm.

As some of the people at the BBQ dislike mayonnaise and mustard, I also cut potatoes into thin slices to BBQ so there was a plain option too.

I will also give you the recipe for the cheesecake.  If you don't have a Thermomix, you should still be able to do this by hand.  Just use your muscles to mix in the cream cheese nice and smooth, but a kitchen whiz could probably do it as well.

This is a recipe from the Recipe Community, but it is for a normal cheesecake.  I will retype the recipe as I made a few changes to it.  The original recipe was by shelleyjkemp.


150g Orgran Shortbread Hearts
50g Gluten Free Weet-Bix
50g Nuttelex

500g soy cream cheese
400g coconut condensed milk
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp gelatine
1/4 cup boiling water
250g strawberries, chopped

Coconut Condensed Milk
1L Coconut Milk
200g Rice Malt Syrup

Place the Coconut Milk and Rice Malt Syrup into the jug of your Thermomix (or onto the stove, but I do not have times for this).  Cook 90 mins/100deg C, Speed 4.  Transfer the Condensed Milk to a bowl to chill.

Clean and dry your jug.  Add biscuits to your TM bowl and crush for 5 secs, Speed 7.  Set aside.

Add Nuttelex to bowl and melt for 3 mins, 60 deg, Speed 1.  Add reserved crumbs and mix 3 secs, Speed 4.

Press into a lined 20cm Springform tin.

In a dry clean TM bowl, add the soy cream cheese and beat for 10 secs, Speed 5.  Add Condensed Milk and lemon juice and beat for 10 secs, Speed 5.  Mix gelatine with boiling water and add with chopped strawberries to TM bowl, mixing for 3-5 secs/Reverse/Speed 4.  Pour onto base.

Chill for at least 3 hours.

Serve with whipped cream or coconut yoghurt for dairy free.

Everyone loved the food, which left me with a sense of pride.  It took me a week to come up with the menu, with near insurmountable allergies, intolerance and fussiness to deal with, and I came out the other side with success.  It helps with all those times I fail, which when you have to change recipes so much does happen, often!

Let me know if you have any successes or failures.  It happens to all of us!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Sticky Pork Spare Ribs

Last day of school before the holidays today, which has led to two inconsolable children.  At our school, the Year 5's graduate on this day, and both of my kids have friends in this year level.  Mstr H in particular is losing one of his best friends today.  He knows we will keep in touch, but he is still very sad.  Consequently we are all in our PJ's watching movies for the afternoon to cheer them up.

I decided to try to make some comfort food in the shape of spare ribs for dinner.  If you love American style spare ribs, you know that these are not allergy friendly.  Yummy, but you will be sick for a week.  A friend of mine suffered with this recently.  I found this recipe by Donna Hay, and after tweaking out the nasties, this is my attempt to make a yummy sticky dinner that is gluten free, fructose friendly and delicious!

1/2 cup GF Tamari Hoi Sin Sauce or Teriyaki Sauce (Ayami)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup Tamari Oyster Sauce
1 handful garlic chives, snipped into small pieces
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 cup water
2kg pork spare ribs

Mix all the sauce ingredients together.  Place the ribs in a baking dish in a single layer and cover with the sauce.  Cover with alfoil and bake at 180C for 1 hr and 15 mins.  Remove the foil and bake for a further 25 mins.  Increase the heat to 200C and cook for 20 mins.  Serve with chips and steamed green veg.  Yumm!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Party Share Plates

Miss A's class was having a shared recess today.  This is where all the Receptions and Year 1s take in a plate of food to share.  Obviously these sorts of situations can be stressful with dietary issues, and there is no real right way to tackle them.  Because of the stress that can be felt, I thought I would share with you what I do to give you ideas for tackling your own challenges.

Firstly, I like to take a selection of food so that if there is nothing else she can eat, Miss A has some variety to choose from.  Given all the yummy-looking food that will be there, it also needs to be presented nicely.  She misses out on so much, the last thing she needs is to share an ugly plate of food.  I also try to make the plate healthy-ish, but palatable so she doesn't feel unsatisfied.

For this recess, I decided to make watermelon trees, choc dipped strawberries and some gluten free chocolate muffins.  I cheated and used the Orgran Chocolate Muffin mix.  Usually for this mix I add a grated zucchini, it makes it really moist and yummy with the hidden veg to add nutrition, but from past mistakes I have realised that these things are an aquired taste born from necessity.  None of Miss A's friends appreciate this sort of effort so her food ends up being passed over by the other children as 'yukky' or 'strange'.  Instead I made as per the packet instructions and used a delicious chocolate butter frosting to top.  The recipe for the frosting I got from google, but cannot remember the page.  Feel free to let me know if it is your recipe and I will give credit.

It is 1 cup butter and 1/2 cup cocoa, whipped until smooth.  Add 5 cups pure icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence and continue beating.  Gradually add small amounts of milk until the desired consistency is reached.  I made this as a soft frosting to be extra gooey and yummy for little people.  If you have never choc dipped a strawberry, just melt some choc melts (I used dark, but white or milk work too), and dip the strawberries in, leaving the green leaves at the top.  Place onto some baking paper on a tray and put in the fridge to harden.  The chocolate will not stick to the baking paper so this works perfectly.

You don't need to do a sweet platter, nice savoury platters are easily achieved with your favourite quiche slice recipe, popcorn and veg cut into sticks, or popcorn, cheese and ham sticks and gluten free jaffas makes a lovely supper.  Lots of ideas to get creative with.  With important thing is variety and presentation.  This is what makes it bearable for little people who can't eat off of anyone else's plate.

Let me know your ideas in the comments.