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!