VEGEEEEMMMMIIIITTTTTEEEEEE

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness!! My excitement is off the charts right now. I can make our own Vegemite!!! It’s Gluten Free, It’s Oh. So. Tasty. It’s Healthy (!!) and it tastes better than the real thing.

For those who aren’t Australian, you might not get my excitement right now. That’s ok. I’m sorry for you. Vegemite is the stuff many of us grow up on here. It’s salty, with the right amount of butter it’s creamy, and it’s addictive. In fact, it’s one of the things Mr Incredible has missed most about not being able to eat wheat – the store bought replacements are very ordinary – one of them smelt so bad I wanted to puke whenever he opened the jar.

Now though, HOOORAY! With 4 ingredients we can make the stuff at home. Stoked.

The ingredients is thanks to this post on Thermomix’s recipe community.

Ingredients

  • 70 grams Black Tahini Paste or black sesame seeds
  • 50 grams tamari sauce
  • 5 grams Nutritional Yeast Flakes, or 1 Tablespoon
  • 5 grams apple cider vinegar, or 1 teaspoon (I use Braggs)

Method

  1. If you are using black sesame seeds, mill them until they become a paste
  2. Add all ingredients to Thermomix mixing bowl (or a high speed blender) and mix for 20 seconds at speed 3. Scrape down and repeat.
  3. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Homemade "vegemite" on homemade bread

Vegan Cheese? Yes Please!

While on a recent holiday to Tasmania we popped into a shop selling vegan cheeses for Mr Incredible. They were delicious and he could eat them ALL… the price though was extreme. $20 or so for a small round. Crazy right? Especially when you can make it sooo much cheaper with very little effort at home. Thanks to the blog at Minimalist Baker I’ve adapted the recipe to be quick and simple with the aid of a thermal cooking machine, like the Thermomix (which I love!).  Hooray!!!

Ingredients
  • 2 cups (240 g) raw cashews
  • 2 garlic cloves – slightly crushed with a knife
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, plus more to taste
  • 1 lemon peel (no white pith)
  • 1 lemons, juiced (1/4 cup)
  • 180 grams water
  • 2 Tbsp  nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp (around 25grams) olive oil
To serve
  • 2 Tbsp (8 g) finely minced fresh dill

Method

  1. Place cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for 4 hours on the bench or overnight in the fridge
  2. Once soaked, drain cashews thoroughly and add to thermie. Add minced garlic, garlic powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, nutritional yeast, salt and olive oil.
  3. Process speed 5 for 30 seconds, scrape down sides
  4. Then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon zest for tartness, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, garlic for zing, or salt for flavour and balance. Depending how large your lemon was, you may need to combat the extra zest with more yeast flakes.
  5. Process on speed 9 for 20 seconds until very creamy and smooth
  6. Drain ingredients through a nut bag/cheese cloth over a bowl and squeeze
  7. While in bag/cloth form the cheese into a “disc.”
  8. Place in refrigerator to set for at least 6 hours, preferably 12, or until excess moisture has been wicked away, and it holds its form when released from the nutbag/cheese cloth.
  9. To serve, unwrap from bag/cheesecloth and gently invert onto a serving platter. Reform with hands or cheesecloth as needed, then coat with chopped herbs and a bit more lemon zest (optional). It is fragile, so handle gently.
  10. Enjoy chilled with crackers or vegetables. Cheese will hold its form for 1-2 hours out of the refrigerator, but best when chilled. Leftovers keep well covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Cooking Notes
*If you’re in a hurry, you can quick-soak the cashews by covering with boiling hot water and letting soak for 1.5 hours. Drain and proceed with recipe as instructed. However, for this recipe long soaking (for 12 hours in cool water) is best because the cashews slowly soften rather than being shocked, yielding a softer, creamier cheese.
*Recipe adapted from Maple Spice and RawMazing.
* Garlic powder and fresh garlic are both used because they offer different flavors (dried is more intense while fragrant, fresh is more intense/spicy).

 

Road stop inspiration: Beetroot, Carrot, Cabbage, Ginger and Apple salad with a honey & lime dressing

We had an impromptu visit to the Hunter Valley last weekend to help out some older friends. He was about to go in for an operation and we found out over a cup of tea that they were about to pick up a load of hay so was unable to help. From previous experience, loading bales can be tough work and I volunteered our services to help with the loading and re-stacking in their shed. Aside from the fact that we SO enjoyed it and got a tractor ride for the kids as thanks and a tour around their farm, it was worth the 5 hour return drive just for the time to chat to Mr Incredible. I don’t know about you but I find since having kids we can tend to connect when driving and chatting in a way we don’t manage to around the house with everything else going around. I wonder if this is where the traditional Sunday Drive sprung from – regardless, it works for us.

On the way home from our journey we stopped in for a snack at one of the healthier road stop options and it was there that I saw their version of a grated salad of raw beetroot, carrot, ginger and apple. While I didn’t purchase it there, I was inspired to make it myself at home. In browsing further recipes, I came along one which had a lime and honey dressing which I’ve adapted below to also include some apple cider vinegar.IMG_4979.JPG.jpeg

What is super about this recipe is that it’s now become my go-to lunch. I make a big batch of this one day and then scoop some out and add some of the shredded chicken that was cooked as part of our bone broth that week, some spinach leaves from our garden, a few pieces of avocado and some roasted almonds. Super yummy and super good – warning though – it’s RED and you’ll see evidence of that a day or two later!img_4982-jpg.jpeg

My Grated Salad with honey, lime and apple cider vinegar dressing.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 beetroot
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 apples (cored)
  • a good thumb of ginger
  • 1/4 red cabbage

Dressing Ingredients

  • Juice of one lime (3-4 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. In a food processor with the grater attachment, grate all your salad ingredients
  2. In a separate bowl, jug, mix up your dressing
  3. Place your salad components in the bowl you’ll use to store it in and toss your dressing through.
  4. Store it in the fridge and use as desired over the next 4 days.

Cooking notes:

  • this also really works for dinner with some toasted almonds and chicken / seared tuna with a bit of rice if desired.
  • having this in the fridge is fantastic because I WANT to come home and eat some if we’re out and about.
  • this salad is surprisingly filing!

Easy lunches: Gut Soothing Bone Broth with a whole chicken

Mr Incredible and I have been reading Dr Michael Moseley’s “The Clever Guts Diet” and finding some great ways to implement a better diet for our gut health (and reasons to do so). One of the best things about the book is really easy to follow recipes that are easy to do. One of them is the recipe for “Gut Soothing Bone Broth” – I’ve made bone broths before but using the carcass of a chicken and then cooking that overnight. What I LOVE about this recipe is that it basically poaches a whole chicken, which you then strip of its meat for when you want chicken throughout the week – salads, omelettes, sandwiches, a quick dinner etc. It’s perfect for our lifestyle and is a way we can waste less but use more.

We utilise organic chickens for this – but a note for those looking to save a penny or two, check when your supermarket’s organic chickens are going to expire and pop in the day before this happens – this is how we get our ethically sourced, organic meat at 30-70% off. I base my shopping around the discount routines of the grocers I go to and utilise my deep freezer to its full! IMG_4965.JPG

Gut-soothing Bone Broth from Dr Michael Mosley’s The Clever Guts Diet

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium organic chicken
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves – crushed
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 2 chopped celery sticks
  • 3 sliced zucchinis (or one big one!)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of live (raw) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 slices of root ginger
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric (or sliced fresh)
  • sea salt and black peppercorns

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover them. Bring the pan to the boil, then lower the heat, put the lid on and let it simmer, ideally for 6-8 hours but for at least 2-3 hours, topping up the liquid with water as required
  2. Take the chicken out and place it on a platter to cool. Remove all the meat from the carcass and place it in the fridge for use throughout the week.
  3. This broth will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or can be frozen for up to 1 month. Aside from using in recipes, it can be sipped as a warm drink and works well with a squeeze of lemon and a little salt.

Lunchbox safe: nut, dairy, gluten and sugar free muesli bars – which are delicious too!!

Mr Incredible just got the following text message:

Cooked these. They’re awesome and may not be any left when you get home…. shall I save you one??

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Made with banana as a binder and whatever you have in the cupboard, these muesli bars are incredibly versatile and super duper delicious. In fact, with the fruity undercurrent and chewy texture they remind me a little of the roll-ups I had as a kid. They’re also super easy to make – no electronic equipment required except for the oven. I’ve passed this recipe on to friends who “don’t bake” as they’re really that simple and satisfying.

Thanks to a friend for sharing this incredible idea – we make these almost daily at the moment and each batch is always gobbled up faster than I can believe. I’ve adapted the recipe from Eat Your Greens.

Pick and mix Banana Muesli Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • optional 1 tsp vanilla / honey / maple syrup
  • * 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • * 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • * 1/3 cup sultanas
  • * 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • * 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 3 mashed bananas (to the puree stage)

* These ingredients are interchangeable with what you have in your cupboard – if your school allows nuts you can also add chopped almonds, cashews, walnuts etc.. You also don’t need exact measurements – again, just use what you have and ensure that there’s enough banana to cover the ingredients. To be honest, now I’ve made them so many times I’m not even measuring the ingredients out!

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced oven 180 for non fan-forced).
  2. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-by-9-inch square pan (I use a silicone pan so this isn’t needed)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients
  4. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until they resemble a puree and add the vanilla / honey / maple syrup to this if you want to use it (I find it’s sweet enough without)
  5. Pour the bananas over the oat mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are evenly moist.
  6. Press mixture evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until firm and lightly browned on the edges.
  8. Cut up and place on a cooling rack (they hold quite a lot of moisture so a cooling rack is better than cooling in the pan or on a plate).

 

Cooking notes:

  • You can store them in an airtight container for a couple days, but I recommend wrapping them individually and freezing them in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months if you don’t think you’ll eat them that quickly.
  • Mine were quite thin, If you wanted them thicker like a commercial muesli bar, you might need to add more ingredients and another banana to cover the mix. Try it as it is the first time though – then get your confidence up and experiment.
  • The chia seeds also help to bind the mixture – if you leave these out it might not work as well.
  • These are super easy to make with kids!
  • The more I make these the more I take short cuts and still have success. I now mash the bananas in a bowl first, then just top all the dry ingredients on top and mix it together – less washing and works just as well.

Hummus that works – and tastes oh. so. good.

I’ve had a mixed relationship with making hummus. When Adventure Girl started solids I would make it often and while it was on the chunkier side, we both quite enjoyed it. Upon reflection though it was after a friend came over for lunch and couldn’t stand it that I stopped making it so much… she was right, it was rather strong on the garlic even if I had done that on purpose. Criticism sticks and after a few bad batches I decided just to buy it (a great grocer in Sydney makes it additive free and delicious so it was just as good to buy although not as cheap).

We’ve been eating A LOT of hummus lately though. It just works with so many things – for dinners with baked potatoes or our hummus and lamb dish that we still eat on an almost weekly basis even though it’s mid-winter. It works for lunch or breakfast on the easy oatmeal loaf I’ve been making twice weekly since returning from NZ, or it’s delicious with crackers and cheese as an afternoon snack. We’re eating so much of it right now that what my stomach craved had run out… disaster! Did I dare to try again? Especially with the memory still fresh of my last batch that was way too strong on tahini… Thank you Google for directing me to the most genius recipe on Inspired Taste. This recipe has a different method from anything I’ve tried before AND it opens up the path to use peanut butter instead of tahini! This is brilliant as we always have peanut butter on hand (I buy in bulk whenever the good stuff is on sale and I use tahini so rarely it sets like a rock in our cupboard. This switch worked so well  – no peanut taste but oh. so. delicious. hummus. Creamy, light (I really couldn’t believe how light this method makes it) and spreadable. Adventure Girl and Dash ate it with a spoon. I may have also.

Hummus  by Joanne (on inspired taste)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tin of chickpeas (I use Honest to Goodness no BPA tins)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of tahini OR peanut butter
  • 1 small, minced, clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste if needed)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of water, depending upon texture

Method

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peanut butter/tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.
  3. Add the chickpeas and process for another minute.
  4. Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency.
  5. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Notes:

  • Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.
  • You can cook the chickpeas yourself and then use them to make hummus – I have done that once or twice before but it’s a long process including overnight soaking.
  • Please, please, please don’t skimp on the blending time – it’s what makes this hummus better than the rest.

Signs of refreshment: Baking Everyday Oatmeal Bread from Simply in Season

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I think we all have signs that indicate we’re feeling refreshed. For some it might be having the emotional energy to make a phone call, for others it’s winding down enough to sit and read a book, for others still it might be the desire to get out the paint set or get dressed up and go out for dinner. For me I know I’m feeling refreshed when my creativity returns and I bake spontaneously or feel like writing (hello again dear blog and friends of this blog!).

After returning from New Zealand last night, I woke up with a desire to bake some bread. Not just put bread in the machine and then watch it rise in the oven, but really bake. The inspiration for this was my sister-in-law’s incredible loaf that I could have devoured quite selfishly on my own, slathered with butter and munched on with utter delight to my heart’s content. It really was that good. Not just any bread, this was a darker loaf, incredibly moist and filled with goodness. Along with wholewheat flour and oats it contains a healthy serve of molasses, which apparently has the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product and contains vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium (according to Healthline.com).  I also really enjoyed making this with Adventure Girl and Dash. They found the punching  of the dough especially fun!

9780836194944The recipe for this comes from the cookbook I’ll be saving up for next Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind. It’s the sort of cookbook that informs as well as provides incredible recipes and focuses on seasonal food that’s locally grown and ethically produced. Right up my ally. It’s a compilation of different recipes which was refreshing as well. The recipe I’ve featured here for instance is not by the author but the author has given credit to whom contributed as I do below. I also liked how the book focused on seasons but successfully makes the north/south hemisphere divide. Living in the southern hemisphere I often get frustrated with the seasons being sorted by months. While I know I can simply compute that June in America or England (etc) equates to our December, sometimes I do get confused. Also, my brother and his wife are exceptional cooks so any cookbook that they use often is high on my list.

I wonder what signs you have that you’re in a relaxed state of mind? I’d love to hear so feel free to comment below!

Everyday Oatmeal Bread by Janet Steiner (from Simply in Season)

Ingredients and Method (combined as within the original recipe)

Recipe makes two large loaves

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats (or whole oats, or 12-grain cereal, etc)
Combine and let stand 30 min.

3/4 cup molasses (or maple syrup)
3 Tbsp butter or oil
2 tsp salt
Stir into oatmeal.

2 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbsp active traditional yeast
Mix in a large bowl until dissolved. Add oatmeal mixture. [Note: do make this a large bowl as it’s what you’ll be using to form your dough in]
6 cups bread or all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
Work in flour to make a medium-soft somewhat sticky dough. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth. Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled about 1 hour. Keep covered with damp cloth while rising. Then punch down. Divide into two, and shape into loaves. Embellish tops of loaves with seeds (sesame, sunflower, hemp, etc) if desired. Place in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise again, about 45 min. Bake in preheated oven at 400 F/200C/180C (fan forced) for 5 minutes and then reduce to 350F/180C/160C ( about 30-35 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped.

Notes:

  • If you’re trying to cut down on carbs this is NOT the recipe for you. The very smell of this bread cooking was enough to make me salivate
  • You can increase the wholewheat flour ratio if you prefer (I used 3 cups wholewheat and 5 cups unbleached white bakers flour)
  • According to other blogs featuring this recipe, it also works well with adding in nuts, seeds and grains or using a grain mix instead of the oatmeal
  • This really is a recipe you can make with kids (at times!). Involving them in the punching of the dough or giving them their own piece to kneed/use like play dough is a fun and contained way of involving them.