Pea, mint and feta fritters…

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These fritters are a perfect simple dinner for the hot weather we’re currently experiencing. When its 40 degrees outside dinner needs to happen fast.

Quick to make, delicious eaten hot or cold and all ready in a flash with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Make a big batch and have some for lunch the next day although I doubt they will last that long. Serve with a big salad, some tomato chutney or some yoghurt or tzatziki.

Pea, mint, broccoli and feta fritters

Makes approx 20 fritters

5 eggs
1 cup milk (soy, dairy or almond)
1 1/3 cups self raising flour (gluten free flour works well)
pepper to taste
4 cups frozen peas, thawed and roughly mashed
1/2 bunch of mint, finely chopped
1/2 head of broccoli, finely chopped
200g feta, crumbled
6 spring onions, finely chopped

In a large bowl  whisk together flour and pepper. Mix in milk and eggs till well combined and no lumps remain. Stir in all other ingredients.

Heat olive oil in a shallow frying pan. Drop a large tablespoon on mixture into pan and cook for about 2 minutes or until brown then turn the fritter and cook briefly on the other side.

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Tahini biscuits…

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My eldest daughter Zoe has an obsession with tahini. She loves it in all it’s forms. I’ve been making tahini salad dressing, black tahini banana bread and now I’ve whipped up a batch of tahini biscuits.

Tahini is the paste of ground sesame seeds. It has a lovely nutty taste and is a fantastic source of calcium.

If you’re looking for a refined sugar free, gluten free, vegan and delicious biscuit to have with your afternoon cup of tea I urge you to give these a go.

Tahini Biscuits 

90mls maple syrup
90mls treacle (you could use honey, molasses or golden syrup here)
90mls tahini
zest of an orange
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups oat flour (this can be made by processing rolled oats in a food processor until your get a flour consistency. Alternatively, you could use plain or GF flour instead)
150g almond meal
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds or flaked almonds for dipping

How to..

With an electric or stand mixer blend together maple syrup, treacle, tahini, orange zest and vanilla. Beat for a few minutes until well mixed and fluffy.
Mix in oat flour and bicarb soda.

Roll into teaspoon size balls and roll in seeds or almonds. Flatten slightly and place on baking tray. Refrigerate for 30 mins.

Heat oven to 180 degrees. Bake biscuits for 10-15 mins.
Cool on trays.

Sticky, chewy date and nut bars …

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Looking for something to get you through the 3pm slump ? Look no further !
These easy to make, gluten free, vegan bars are just the thing. They come together in about 10 minutes and require no baking so are perfect when you’re baking on the run.

Sticky date and nut bars

1/2 cup honey, maple syrup or rice malt syrup
1/2 cup nut butter – this can be any nut butter or a combination. I like to use 1/2 peanut
and 1/2 almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats) – if you are gluten intolerant make sure your oats are GF
1 1/2 cups nuts – use what you like here – almonds, pecans, walnuts – if you have time toss them around in a frypan for a few minutes to toast them and bring out their flavour
2 cups dates, pitted
1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces chopped finely (optional)

Melt honey/syrup and nut butter together in a small saucepan over low heat. When melted remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Blitz dates in a food processor till it forms a paste. Don’t worry if there are still some lumps. Place date paste in a large bowl.
Place nuts in food processor and pulse till roughly chopped. Place in bowl with dates.
Add rolled oats and chocolate if using. Mix well. This is easiest done with clean hands.
Pour over butter/syrup mixture and mix well.

Line a slice pan with being paper and spoon in mixture. Top with another piece of baking paper and squash flat with hands or rolling pin till about 1 1/2 cm thick.

Chill in fridge or freezer till cold then slice into small bars. These are quite rich so small bars are best. Store in fridge or for longer term storage you can place in freezer and thaw as wanted.

Feel free to change the ingredients to suit your taste. Try replacing some nuts with seeds, dried fruit or rice puffs.

 

Anzac biscuits … vegan, GF and delicious…

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If you’re looking for something to have with a cup of tea you can’t go past Anzac biscuits.
This recipe has been adapted to suit vegans and those who are wheat intolerant without losing any of the traditional yumminess.

Chewy, wholesome, perfect for lunch boxes or to share around.

To up the nutritional content I’ve included some almond and flax meal and reduced the sugar. These are so easy to make and would be great way for kids to have a go at baking !

Recipe makes about 20 biscuits

1 cup rolled oats (check to make sure these are GF if intolerant)
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or cane sugar if you don’t have this)
2/3 cup coconut flakes (or desiccated coconut)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
1/4 cup maple, golden or rice malt syrup
125g butter or butter substitute eg Nuttelex, coconut butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Method

Mix together all dry ingredients and stir well to combine.
Melt butter and syrup in *medium sized saucepan over low heat. When butter has melted turn off heat and stir in bicarbonate of soda.

*The butter mixture will froth up and bubble to about double its size when the bicarbonate of soda is added so make sure your saucepan is able to hold this volume of liquid.

Roll together dessert spoon sized balls of mixture and place on baking trays allowing some room to spread during baking. Flatten slightly and bake at 170 degrees celsius for about 20 minutes till lightly browned.

 

Darcy’s excellent dinner … power bowl magic

Is there anything better than when you’re sitting around reading the Saturday paper in front of the fire and your utterly lovely daughter says “I’ve made a bit of dinner, want some ?’

The answer, hell yes please.

This is what came my way two minutes later ….

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Super yummy, healthy, nourishing.  The beauty of this kind of meal is that you can use whatever you have at hand and zing it up with her crazy good dressing.

In this version we had brown jasmine rice, steamed sweet potato rounds and spinach, fresh julienned carrots, seared tofu and thinly sliced nori. The nori really makes a difference so make sure you include it !

Darcy’s Power Bowl Sauce

2 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon tahini (we used black tahini but white is fine too)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

Mix it all together with a whisk and pour over your choice of yummy things.

 

 

Vegan Meringues…. weird chickpea magic

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Before you freak out at the thought of using chickpea cooking liquid to make meringues can I ask you to suspend your disbelief and give these a whirl. Not only do they taste great (not a bit like chickpea), they also contain a much smaller amount of sugar than standard meringue and would be a fun thing to do with kids. Known as aquafaba in the business, this liquid is a great all round egg replacer.

I used these meringues recently for a vegan cake I made and the consensus was that they are the business for vegans or anyone who can’t have egg.

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Aquafaba Meringues       Makes 80 small meringues

1/2 cup chickpea liquid – the liquid drained from a standard can of chickpeas
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place chickpea liquid and vinegar in a very clean bowl. Any trace of fat will ruin this so I like to wash my bowl well with hot soapy water before I start. Beat with a stand or electric hand held mixer for about 5 mins until stiff peaks form. Slowly add sugar one spoonful at a time whilst continuing to beat. Once all the sugar is incorporated add in vanilla.
At this stage you could also fold in flavourings such as coconut or almond meal if you’d like to.

Pipe or spoon meringue onto trays lined with baking paper and bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours at 100 degrees c. Small meringues will obviously take less time to cook than pavlova sizes and will feel dry to touch when ready. Once cooked open oven door slightly and allow to cool for another 30 minutes.

*** If you want to get creative you can tint meringue mixture with food colouring, pipe into different sizes and shapes or, like the photo above, you can paint food dye (you can use natural colourings) onto the inside of your piping bag, fill with meringue and pipe stripy meringues onto trays.

Really good choc chip biscuits…and why it’s great they are wheat free

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If you can’t tolerate wheat, are vegan or lactose intolerant I have the biscuit for you.

This little gems tick all the boxes – chewy with crispy edges, sweet and nutty.  Just because you have some dietary issues doesn’t mean you have to miss out.

These are not sin free – there’s sugar and chocolate and other wicked things but we all crave a treat now and then and these are so good.

Wheat has become a contentious topic. Lots of people find they cannot tolerate wheat without some nasty side effects like reduced nutrient absorption, bloating, pain, intestinal aggravation and headaches. For those living with Coeliac Disease it’s a total game changer.

About 50 years ago some serious modifications occurred to mass produced wheat making it a shorter, tougher grain. It certainly helped solve some issues of demand but left us with a grain that is much harder to digest and one that contains introduced proteins that were never originally there. Few of us have the enzymes necessary to break it down and this can lead to a situation where bloating and intestinal upset, inflammation, overactive immune responses and blood sugar spikes wreak havoc in our bodies.

If you are dealing with any autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s or Graves Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus or inflammatory bowel disorders you should stay well away from wheat. It is not your friend and is, in fact, feeding the immune storm driving your condition.

On a happier note – CHOC CHIP BISCUITS !!!!   There are lots of options in this recipe so tweak it to suit your own situation, choices or tastes.

Makes about 40 biscuits

2 eggs or 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal mixed with 100mls of water.
125gr butter, vegan butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup nut butter – I use almond
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster or coconut sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon each of bicarb soda and baking powder
2 cups of raw or roasted almonds
2 cups gluten free oats
2 teaspoons good quality salt
1 cup chocolate chips ( you could swap this for raisins, cranberries, nuts, crystallised ginger etc)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix together flax seed meal and water if using.

In a food processor blend the almonds till they become a fine meal. Pour into large mixing bowl. Process oats in same way to make oat flour. Mix in baking powder, bicarb and salt.

In a separate bowl use electric mixer to blend together butter and and nut butter. Add in sugars and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes. Add in flax seed mixture or eggs and mix till combined.

Mix together wet and dry ingredients then stir in chocolate chips. The mixture should be a bit sticky – if it’s too dry add a splash of milk.

Roll heaped teaspoons into balls and place on baking trays leaving plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 14-18 minutes at 180 degrees. Allow to cool on trays before moving to cooling racks.

If you don’t need 40 biscuits all at once you can roll mixture into balls and freeze. When ready to cook let them thaw for an hour or so then cook at usual.

 

My new favourite salad… beetroot, pumpkin and walnut

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We are heading towards warmer weather so what could be better than a new salad to try. Quick to pull together, satisfying, healthy – Nothing beats a big healthy salad for nutrients, taste, weight management and freshness. This one is my new favourite .. I hope you like it too.

Beetroot, walnut and pumpkin salad

3 cups diced pumpkin
3 beetroot – peeled and diced
2 cups walnuts
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of paprika or chilli
Small block of feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar ( I used a balsamic glaze because I like the sticky sweetness of it )
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Lots of salad leaves – whatever you have in the garden or fridge is fine.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place pumpkin and beetroot on a lined oven tray and bake until tender – around 30 minutes depending on the size of your pieces.
Melt butter in frypan and add walnuts tossing to coat. Add in salt, brown sugar and chill or paprika and stir until sugar is melted and nuts are coated well. Place walnuts on a baking tray and bake in oven for 8 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make dressing mix together balsamic, honey, lemon juice and olive oil. I put them all in a jar and give them a good shake.

Place salad leaves on a large platter.Drizzle over dressing, toss through to coat leaves. Add pumpkin and beetroot. Crumble feta over the top. Add walnuts. Serve.

You could vary this by adding some orange or tangelo segments, blue cheese, avocado or pine nuts instead of walnuts. Mix it up to find the version you like best. Make sure you send me your winning variations in the comments section.

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Spanish Omelette – dinner in under 30 minutes

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Need a quick go-to dish that will have dinner on the table in under half an hour ? Maybe looking for a Sunday morning breakfast recipe or a lunch box alternative to sandwiches ?

Here it is – Spanish Omelette – full of crispy potatoes, sweet onions, garlic and fresh eggs – YUM.
Traditionally, the potato would be cut into slices and roasted with the onion and garlic before being added to the eggs. In order to speed things up I have altered the recipe but the results are still just as yummy.

Spanish Omelette 

3 large potatoes or sweet potato
1 large Spanish (red) onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper
a good handful of parsley
a few sprigs of thyme (optional)

Method :
Heat a heavy based frypan and add a good splash of olive oil.
Cut potato into small cubes of about 1cm. Slice onions and garlic thinly.
Place potato in hot oil and fry for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add onion and keep cooking over medium heat until soft. When onions are soft and potato is crispy add garlic and cook for a minute or two. You don’t want to add the garlic too soon or it will burn and become bitter.
In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper and herbs. Pour into frypan over potato and onions. Cook over a gentle heat for about 5-10 minutes checking regularly to make sure its not burning on the bottom. Once most of the egg has set you can either flip the omelette or, if you have an ovenproof pan, you can place in oven or under the grill to finish cooking the top.

Serve with a good grating of sharp cheese, a big salad and some avocado. This also goes well with a dollop of chutney or relish.

Warm Kale and Pumpkin Salad …

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This salad ticks all the boxes. Warm and hearty, fresh and tasty. Leftovers are great for lunches. You can add whatever is in your fridge to change it up – feta, other vegetables, cranberries or pomegranate, nuts. With raw kale, barely cooked green veggies, healthy carbs and seeds you can’t go wrong.

Warm Kale and Pumpkin Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice ( I like to use some of both)
2 cups cubed pumpkin or sweet potato
2 cups of mixed green veggies – beans, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini
3 cloves garlic- leave skin on
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup stemmed and finely chopped kale
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of seeds – pepita, sesame, pumpkin
1 small bunch of kale, finely shredded
Sliced avocado
FOR THE DRESSING:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp honey
pepper to taste

*** Tip – If you like a creamy dressing place some of the avocado into the dressing ingredients and whiz in a blender.
Directions:

Put quinoa or brown rice on to cook as per packet directions.
Preheat oven to 180 C. Place chopped pumpkin/sweet potato and garlic cloves on trays in a single layer. Drizzle over a little olive oil and roast till soft – about 20 mins. Give them a shake every now and then to make sure they crisp up on all sides.
Place prepared greens in a pot of boiling water until almost cooked then remove from heat. Leave lid on to keep warm.
Chop kale and spring onions.

Make the dressing by whisking the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

When the pumpkin is done remove garlic cloves and set aside. Spoon the pumpkin and greens into a large serving bowl. Gently stir in the quinoa/rice and the cooked green vegetables. Add onions and kale.
Trim the end off each garlic clove and push the roasted garlic out and mash. Whisk the garlic into the dressing. Pour the dressing onto the vegetables/rice/quinoa and toss to coat.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle over seeds and serve immediately with sliced avocado.