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

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.

Hot Nights: Cool Dinners with hummus and lamb

It’s been hot here. Real hot. Our outdoor thermometer has often read in the high 30’s and into the 40’s for the past month (for those working on Fahrenheit, 40 degrees Celsius is 104 degrees) with a few days of blessed respite. By the time it’s dinner I just haven’t felt like cooking, much less sitting down to a hot meal and outdoor BBQ’s are still not fun. Thankfully, we’ve had a few great meals up our sleeve which are table, toddler and fun friendly.

I’ve adapted this dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hummus Kawarma which is in his incredible book Jerusalem. This book is one of my favourites and while they’re not always applicable to weeknight dinners (see this post) the flavours speak for themselves.

My take on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hummus Kawarma

Ingredients

To marinate:

  • 300gr Lamb backstrap (last night I also used veal scotch fillet with success)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • good pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp za-atar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp salt

To serve:

  • A simple mix of chopped tomato and cucumber
  • Hummus
  • Flatbreads

Method:

  1. Chop lamb into small strips and set aside
  2. Mix all ingredients and marinate for at least half an hour in the fridge (I tend to do this around lunch time)
  3. About 30 min before it’s time to cook get your lamb out of the fridge so it’s not as cold before you cook it
  4. Bring together all your ingredients to serve and make sure they’re ready
  5. When the table’s set turn the stove on a medium high heat, put oil in a heavy frypan and cook your lamb (with all the ingredients it’s been marinating in) for about 4 minutes, stirring while it cooks
  6. Transfer the lamb to a separate bowl and with all the ingredients on the table each person serve themselves what they want: It’s very much a sharing dish and finger food fun.

Gluten Free Breakfasts on the go: Nigella’s Breakfast Bars

Mr Incredible, while being incredible in many ways is NOT incredibly good at getting out the door quickly in the morning.Since he was diagnosed as being allergic to wheat, this daily process has become harder. In my search to find an easy breakfast for him I chanced on this breakfast bar recipe by Nigella Lawson and I’m glad to say he loves it. Personally, I love it as it’s easily adaptable for whatever ingredients you have on hand – you don’t need to stick to Nigella’s recipe. Below, I’ve adapted it but you can see her original recipe here. I’m sure there’s a healthier alternative to condensed milk that you could use to bind this, but, as Mr Incredible likes it the way it is I’m not messing with what works (this time)!

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Breakfast Bars

Adapted from Nigella Lawson

Ingredients

  • 1 can (395mL) condensed milk
  • 250 grams rolled oats (not instant)
  • 425 grams of mixed dry ingredients (I use a blend of almonds, cashews, shredded coconut, chia seeds, sultanas, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds and walnuts).

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 130 deg Celsius and line a roasting tray with baking paper
  2. Warm the condensed milk in a saucepan on the stove
  3. While that’s happening, mix all the dry ingredients
  4. When the condensed milk is thinner, pour it over the dry ingredients and mix (with your hands or a fork)
  5. Spread the mix into your prepared tray and press down with a spatula (or your hands)
  6. Bake for 1 hour and cut into 16 bars (4 cuts in each direction) and store in an airtight tin

Market Day Inspiration: Carrot and Cashew Dip

Each week we visit our amazing local markets. I buy most of our fruit and veg from one of the stalls, and while it’s not organic it’s all chemical free produce. The best thing is that, along with being affordable, it tastes like food should. Carrots taste richer and sweeter, apples are amazing and quite frankly, we’ve never eaten as many mushrooms in our lives. When food is seasonal, picked very recently and sold by the grower (so you can ask questions about how best to cook, store and utilise it) it is at its best.

Last week, I wandered by one of the other stalls and found “juicing carrots” for $2/kilo… not bad for organic carrots that were perfectly edible but just a little odd looking. I bought them for juicing but decided to try something different as Dash’s vegetable intake has recently left much to be desired. As we all eat the same food in our household (except for Mr Incredible’s wheat free) I don’t cook anything special for the kids… Adventure Girl knows she won’t get dessert (yogurt or a gold kiwi-fruit which she loves) if she doesn’t eat all her food but Dash is a lot more choosy as well as being younger – he still gets dessert regardless!  With this in mind I created the following dip, which, I am pleased to report Dash devoured for afternoon tea AND dinner, along with roast pumpkin bites and cauliflower mash with some marinated chicken.

IMG_6304.JPGCarrot and Cashew Dip

An original recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 carrots
  • A handful of cashews
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of cumin
  • A Tbsp Olive Oil

Method

  1. Cut and steam carrots until soft (but don’t over cook)
  2. Blend all ingredients
  3. If too soft add more cashews and if too thick add cooking water or olive oil.

 

Oatcakes : better than rice crackers any day

In our search to cut more wheat out of our lives (while the kids and I can eat it fine, it’s less to buy if we all eat the same thing. And no, I haven’t decided if I want to read Grain Brain!). Sadly, rice crackers have become an all too familiar trade off in our household as we’ve compromised a wheat free diet with accessible snacks. Thankfully, I discovered how easy oatcakes are to make and how delicious they can be, especially when you include the satisfying crunch of seeds in the mixture. As an added bonus, they’re super easy to make and quite fun for the kids to help with… there’s no egg in the dough/batter so sneaky munching of the raw ingredients by Adventure Girl and Dash is ok.

Oatcakes.jpgI’ve been  a fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ever since my mother and I watched The River Cottage on telly before he/it became famous (i.e the late ’90s!). I loved the idea of a smallholding that, with the help of neighbours and surrounding people, can be self-sufficient… I guess it’s community-sufficiency. Grow what you can, swap/sell what you have too much of and all help each other out. A romantic ideal that grabbed me from a young age and still does. Within his book, River Cottage Everyday, this recipe, along with many other gems, is found… true confession though… when Mr Incredible went to eat them today there was only one left! The rest may have been consumed by me even though I really did make them for him 🙂

BILL’S RONA OATCAKES

Ingredients

  • 300gr Oats : 150gr blended to oatmeal and 150gr blended to porridge oats (or 150r of each)
  • 1/2 tsp sea/Himalayan salt
  • A few twists of freshly ground pepper
  • A small handful of seeds (I like pumpkin or sunflower)
  • 75mL extra virgin olive oil
  • 150mL boiling water

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Mix all the dried ingredients together in a bowl and make a well in the centre
  3. Pour the oil in the well and stir
  4. Pour in the water to bind it into a firm dough
  5. Work the dough quickly and if too watery add more oatmeal
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and rest it for a couple of minutes
  7. Roll out the dough on a non-stick surface until about 5mm thick.
  8. Cut into rounds and place onto a baking tray
  9. Combine and work the remaining dough to roll it out again and repeat the process until all the dough is gone. Try not to work the dough too much though as the more you handle it the crumblier it will become
  10. Bake for 20min and then turn the cakes over and bake for another 10 minutes.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack and enjoy! (I love to eat these with cheese and pickles)

Cooking notes

  • The oatcakes will keep for a week in an airtight container.