Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Vanilla Cupcakes

My 4 year old has recently been shown to have a gluten and dairy intolerance.  The gluten I can handle, to some extent, as we have pretty much already eliminated most gluten from our diet.  Bread is a bit tricky however, and I’m finding myself spending a fortune on a gluten free loaf that doesn’t contain additives and vegetable oils.  It is definitely time I start investigating making my own gluten free bread I think – watch this space!!!

Dairy, on the other hand, for a child who’s favourite foods were cheese and yoghurt is a bit of a nightmare.

I have to say though, after a trip to the supermarket to investigate my options, I was mortified.  I mean, seriously, all the products marketed gluten and/or dairy free are FULL of chemicals, vegetable oils, preservatives and a plethora of other numbers that I don’t even really want to look up.  I mean what are the manufacturers really saying – ‘hey your poor child clearly has a sensitive digestive system, I know let’s take the gluten/dairy out of this product and flood it with crap- I’m sure it will go down wonderfully’.  Keep in mind that most of these products are directly marketed at our kids.

So, I have decided that I simply have to spend even more time in the kitchen than I already do and get creative with my cooking and baking so that I can feed my children the kind of food they deserve, despite their intolerances (bearing in mind that my children could be the fussiest kids ever).

One of my new creations are these delicious vanilla cupcakes that are gluten, dairy and sugar free.  I trawled through the internet and cookbooks looking for such a thing and couldn’t find it, so I have made up my own and am proud to say that not only do I find them absolutely delicious but MY KIDS DO TOO!  And they seriously take about 5 minutes to pull together.  Winning!  So give them a go – they are delicious on their own, but you could add chocolate chips, banana, blueberries, cacoa powder (1/4 cup would be good) – whatever you like really.  You could omit the dates and they are a delicious savoury base for breakfast muffins.

Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Vanilla Cupcakes

(serves 18 mini cupcakes)

You will need:

1 ½ cups almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten free – from health food stores)

2 organic/free range eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup macadamia, coconut or olive oil

¼ cup milk of your choice (I used almond milk)

½ – 3/4 cup of pitted dates

How to pull it together:

Put all ingredients in your food processor and blitz until well combined (dates in particular).

Spoon into mini cupcake papers and bake in a moderate oven (about 180 degrees) for 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Careful – they tend to burn easily on the top.

Enjoy!

 

Quinoa, Kale and Haloumi Salad

Quinoa, Kale and Haloumi Salad

I really don’t need to say much about this recipe – the simplicity of these amazing and nutritious ingredients really speak for themselves.  It’s a great one to serve at a BBQ or to make up at the beginning of the week for lunches.  It’s seriously tasty!

Quinoa, Kale and Haloumi Salad – serves 4

What you will need:

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa – I have used both white and red with this recipe  – it depends what kind of mood you’re in really …

1/2 – 1 bag of baby kale

500 grams haloumi (thinly sliced)

1/2 cup flat parsley leaves (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet, smokey paprika
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a jar shake up the lemon juice,  paprika and olive oil with some sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.  (you may wish to play around with this according to your taste)

How to pull it together:

Cook up your quinoa by bringing 1 1/2 cups of quinoa and 3 cups of water to a boil.  Once boiling turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes.  To add flavour you could add some lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.  You might also like to cook your quinoa in chicken stock rather than water – I haven’t tried this but it sounds delicious!

While the quinoa is cooking, brush the haloumi with a little olive oil and cook in a hot pan until golden.

Once the quinoa is cooked, toss through the baby kale and parsley with the dressing until well combined.  Top with the golden slices of haloumi and serve.

Enjoy!

 

Everything Tastes Better With A Dollop Of Pesto!

Everything Tastes Better With A Dollop Of Pesto!

I LOVE the smell of fresh basil – it sends my taste buds and endorphins crazy!  I also love whipping up a batch of homemade pesto – not only because it is super quick and easy, but it tastes delicious and adds zest and oomph to anything, it is super healthy, and when you make your own you can make sure you know what goes into it.  (Most commercial pestos use harmful vegetable oils rather than olive oil.)  So now I make my own!

Pesto is great as a dip with carrot sticks, spread over some salmon fillets (check out this yummy recipe here), in a mountain bread toasted wrap with some poached chicken or smoked salmon, tossed through zucchini pasta as a meal or salad (see how to make zuccini pasta here), mixed with some olive oil and vinegar for a zesty salad dressing, tossed through roast veggies or added to some scrambled eggs for a twist – there is just so much you can do!

Here is my simple recipe.  Feel free to play around with the quantities (the quantities here are really only a guide – the amount of basil for example might vary according to the size of the bunch etc (I tend to use as much as I have)…  You might also wish to experiment with the ingredients.  I love a lemony zesty flavour but the lemon isn’t a necessity here.  Also you might want to add some chilli (flakes or fresh) or play with the greens (think coriander, parsley, etc) or the nuts (think cashews, walnuts, pistacchios, macadamias) or even the cheese (think fetta, goats cheese, gruyere – oh yum!).

PS – I have added a Thermomix version below for those wanting to use their Thermomix or Bellini …

Basil Pesto

What you will need:

1/4 cup pine nuts dry roasted (you can do this in the oven on some baking paper or in a non-oiled pan on the stove – keep an eye on them – they can burn quickly!)

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves

2 small garlic cloves (or 2 teaspoons good quality organic minced garlic)

3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

How to pull it together:

Place the pine nuts, basil, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Gradually add the olive oil while the motor is running in a thin stream until well combined.

pestoprocessor

If using a Thermomix:

Put an approximately  65 gram (2 ounce) chunk of Parmesan into the mixing bowl and blitz, speed 10 for about 8 seconds or until evenly grated.

Add the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix speed 6 for about 3 seconds or until it reaches your preferred consistency.

You will end up with a deliciously chunky pesto.

thermomixpesto-300x300

Notes and tips:

You can freeze the pesto for up to 4 months in an airtight container.  (You could also freeze in a seal-able ice cube tray for easy portion sizing.)

Drizzle with a little olive oil to cover.  To thaw, place in the fridge for 3-4 hours, stir to combine and serve.

Enjoy (and if you haven’t already don’t forget to head over to my facebook page and LIKE it!  You can also follow me on instagram @theshrinkinghubby xx

The Mummy Win – My Struggle To Feed Our Fussy Children

The Mummy Win – My Struggle To Feed Our Fussy Children

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned on here before just how fussy our children (we have 3 girls aged 3,4 and 7) are when it comes to food.  They have all had the very best of starts – I breastfed each of them for 6-9 months depending on when they had had enough of me, I was so pedantic about introducing only the very best organic produce (including a broad range of fruit and vegetables) to them when they were ready to start solids.  Yet somewhere along the way, each of them became impossible at meal times.

Having said that I have definitely noticed some recent gains with them and in particular with my 7 year old who is FINALLY becoming more open to accepting the right kinds of food.  And considering she was the fussiest of all 3 as a toddler I am going to draw the conclusion that perhaps fussiness in children is a little bit developmental and that taste buds definitely have the ability to evolve.  I also think that despite their defiance there is massive benefit to sharing and demonstrating our passion about healthy food with our kids, because as they get older they will become more rational about their food choices and with that comes the choice to be healthy based on what they have learned from their parents.

I wanted to write this blog post to share my daily experiences with my kids and food because I know that I am not alone.   The Shrinking Hubby and I eat a wonderful, varied, delicious and highly nutritious diet and our kids see this – yet they refuse to join us!  I have been making a concerted effort this year though to try and gain some ground when it comes to their nutrition.  So today I wanted to share some of the positive experiences I have had lately. I like to look at my small victories with food as ‘Mummy Wins’ and if I can get 1 or 2 of these ‘Mummy Wins’ in each day then I can sleep well at night knowing that I am making a difference and have made a positive contribution to my children’s health.

I want to stress here that I am very conscious of focussing on nutrition for health reasons rather than body image.  It is frightening how conscious most young girls are of their body image from a really young age.  Furthermore, our kids know that their father went through a massive body transformation before they were were born so it is definitely something that we talk about from time to time.  We make a point of making sure they see us enjoy healthy foods to feed our bodies rather than deprive ourselves of food to lose weight.  It is a subtle but important difference and the last thing we want to do is encourage unhealthy body image in our children.

Here are some of the recent Mummy Wins I have had with our kids.  I hope that these humble steps towards improving our kids’ nutrition encourage you to keep trying to encourage healthy eating habits in your families.

  • The Juice

I’m going to start with ‘The Juice’.  You may have read about my new found passion for juicing here, and Little Miss 7 decided that she wanted me to start making her a daily juice too.  However she made it very clear that I was NOT to put any green vegetables in her juice.  I made her a combination of orange and carrot to start, which she complained about at first (as you can apparently smell the carrot), however wolfed it down each time I made it.  She then requested the inclusion of green apple which I happily obliged with because once a tinge of green was included I granted myself a little bit of license and added a cucumber in as well!  She loves the new version, and I get so much joy from her asking for her daily juice each day.  We were discussing adding vegetables in her juice this morning and believe it or not my stubborn fussy daughter has agreed to try kale in her juice tomorrow!  Definitely a Mummy Win!

  • Healthy pancakes

We recently had a family holiday where they served a decadent breakfast buffet each morning.  For my children the highlight of this buffet was the pancake station where they offered not only sweet, white and floury pancakes and waffles but also ice cream, syrup and chocolate sauce to go with it all.  My absolute nightmare – and this was for breakfast!  Against everything I stand for I admit I allowed my 7 year old to indulge once or twice (after she ate a relatively healthy fruit and weet bix ).  When we got home they were begging for pancakes for breakfast and so we made them our healthy version of pancakes (recipe here) with the addition of a tablespoon of chia seeds and I have to say they were just as successful as the ones from the hotel.  Now THAT felt like a Mummy Win …

  • Salmon and miso

This is one of my  favourite dinners to feed them and it is so quick and healthy I thought I’d share it here as a Mummy Win.  I made this the other night, and instead of fussing and whining, the 3 of them cleaned their plates (even the greens – except for Miss 3!).  I boil up about a litre of filtered water and add a couple of tablespoons of organic miso paste.  When that is boiling I add a salmon fillet and cook for 2 minutes.  Then I add a couple of bunches of organic soba noodles and cook for 2 minutes.  Then I add some broccolini and beans and cook for 2 minutes.  So once the miso is boiling it is 6 minutes all up.  Mummy Win.

  • Zucchini in the mornay

All 3 of them love tuna mornay  (I make a white sauce with some organic butter, spelt flour and raw milk, add a tin of drained tuna and serve with brown rice) however the lack of green bugs me.  So I have started peeling an organic zucchini (or 2 if they are little) and grating it (I use the food processor to save time).  I sauté the grated zucchini with the butter before making the sauce.  They (all 3) wolf it down.  This one is a great one to double and freeze half – great for those busy days.  Mummy Win.

  • Rewards

I know that some might say that blackmail isn’t the way to go, but if the promise of dessert (usually fruit and yoghurt) or a sticker on their star chart can get them to eat a couple of beans or a stick of broccolini I am going to take that as a Mummy Win too.  The trick is to be very firm (and consistent).  And the feeling of watching them chew down those vegetables whether or not it involved bribery?  Mummy Win.

  • Rolled oats for breakfast

My 7 year old has decided she loves porridge for breakfast because I sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on the top and it caramelises.  I know how bad the sugar is, but if it means that she eats a bowl of organic unstabilised oats with  raw milk before a busy day of school I am much happier with that than one of the other  processed cereals with much more sugar than that in them.  Mummy Win.

  • Kale in the brownies

I recently discovered that even though they know that there is a whole bunch of blended kale in their chocolate brownies, they will still eat them.  If I bake the brownies myself I am in control of the ingredients and I have been playing around with organic dark chocolate, organic butter, sugar substitutes and different flours i.e. no vegetable oil, cane sugar or nasty additives.  Mummy Win.

  • Mashed potato

My 4 year old is OBSESSED with mashed potato.  I cook up a couple of organic potatoes (peeled and chopped) in a pot of salted boiling water with a head or half a head of chopped organic cauliflower (which I add about halfway through the potatoes boiling) until tender.  Then I drain and mash it all up (or even better put it in the blender/food processor so it is silky smooth) with some organic butter and milk and she is none the wiser.  Mummy Win.

  • Pasta and cheese

My kids have all always been obsessed with plain pasta and cheese.  I have worked out a way to make this a nutritional win (and send extras to school with them the next day for their lunch in their thermos which they love).  I use organic gluten free pasta and when the pasta is cooked I drain, then t0ss it on a low heat with some organic butter, 1-2 free range eggs and a couple of tablespoons of ground white chia seeds (I grind them in a spice grinder).  Delicious.  Mummy Win.

  • Hiding Veggies

So as you can see from the above, I am an advocate of hiding veggies into their food, but then I sleep better at night knowing they’ve eaten them.  I also make them eat the vegetables in their original form so that they learn to get used to it.  By hiding I mean I blitz the raw vegetables (whatever I have on hand but zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots etc work well)  in my food processor before adding to bolognese, sausage rolls, risottos, meatballs etc … Mummy Win.

***

Morning juice with a *tinge* of green - Mummy Win!

Morning juice with a *tinge* of green – Mummy Win!

 

I am far from perfect but at least I am trying.  I would love to know how you get your kids to eat well – please feel free to comment on this article or on my facebook page www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby.  I look forward to hearing from you.   (And if your kids enjoy a varied and healthy diet with little or no opposition towards you then you are very lucky and should embrace it!)

Enjoy XX

Super Tasty and Healthy Sang Choy Bow

Super Tasty and Healthy Sang Choy Bow

This is one of our favourite mid-week staples.  It is quick to make, easy to double and freeze (usually get about 4 dinners from 1 quantity), tastes delicious and is really light – so is a great dinner to have if you feel you have been over indulging lately.  I have tried to measure the ingredients so that you won’t have to think too much, however due to the nature of the dish (i.e. throw whatever you can in) you may wish to play around with the flavours to suit your own tastes.   If we feel that there is not enough left over for dinner for both of us a second time I have been known to freeze what’s left and when reheating I add a can of organic lentils (well rinsed) to bulk it up.

I have also made this as a vegetarian meal with minced tofu rather than chicken.  I boil some organic firm tofu cubes for 2 minutes in a pot of boiling water then drain well and blitz in the food processor.  It becomes a similar consistency to minced meat …)

The cashews add a delicious crunch to this dish that the not so healthy versions might get from fried noodles …  Trust me – it is seriously tasty!

Healthy Chicken Sang Choy Bow – serves 4

What you will need: (again note that these quantities are all approximate and can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes or what you have on hand)

Coconut Oil

Aprox 500 grams (1 pound) organic/free range chicken mince (I use  a packet of Macro Free Range chicken mince from Woolworths)

5 Shallots or 1 onion or 1 Leek – chopped

1 chilli chopped finely (with or without seeds depending on how you like your heat)

1 clove garlic or 1 teaspoon organic minced garlic

2 carrots peeled and finely chopped

2 zucchinis (courgettes) finely chopped

2 sticks celery finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/2 bag of bean sprouts (optional) and/or 1/2 – 1 Bag of baby spinach leaves

3/4 cups cashews dry roasted

1 iceberg lettuce

Marinade: (shake in a jar or whisk in a bowl)

1 Tablespoon Kecap Manis

1 Tablespoon Tamari

2 Tablespoon Spiral Miso Hoisin (or organic Hoisin)

1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil

If you would prefer to make this dish completely clean, rather than using the kecap manis and hoisin, you could create a marinade from tamari, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and salt and pepper – have fun experimenting!

How to pull it together:

Heat a large pan/wok and add about 1 tablespoon coconut oil.  When heated add onion/leek/shallots and chilli with garlic and cook until translucent.  Add the remaining veggies (except for spinach and bean sprouts) and chicken and mix well until the chicken is browned.   Add the marinade ingredients and cook well.  (You can do all of this earlier and reheat before serving)

To serve:

Cut the iceberg lettuce into little cups.

Toss the roasted cashews, baby spinach and/or bean sprouts through your chicken mix and reheat until the spinach is wilted and the dish is nice and hot and then spoon into the lettuce cups and enjoy XX

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