Christmassy Snacker balls

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I know, I know …… it is way too early to be thinking about Christmas!! Themselves however have had other ideas and they are super excited about it.  They have even been buying each other presents and because of their excitement they have also been giving them to each other already.  Clearly they are confident that there will be a supply of gifts coming on the actual day from us and others :).

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Seedlings in our handmade, compostable pots

All their chatter about December has started me thinking ahead though and what we are actually going to do this year which is a bit overwhelming, in the middle of work, at times. Thankfully in between all the Christmas talk they have been busy growing seedlings and getting their own garden plots ready.  Today they got the frames all built with the help of himself, and began transplanting everything in.  It has been great to see how eager they are to grow and care for their little seedlings and how excited they are to have their own gardens.  Long may it last and fingers crossed that we have some delicious fresh, garden grown peas, beetroot, lettuces and carrots for our dinners soon.

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Herself and her new māra kai (garden)

Anyway …. with another week of Infant Massage to make snacks for and themselves chatter about Christmas kai I thought I would do a bit of a twist to my usual Snacker Ball recipe (click here to see that one).  As regular supermarket cherries aren’t actually vegan due to the colouring in them I have opted for cranberries to give it a ‘cheery, red’ look.  However you could always swap them out for cherries or other fruit and even add a bit of almond essence for a more ‘christmassy’ taste.  It is one of those recipes that you can play around with easily to get it just how you and yours love it. So without further ado  ….. here it is 🙂

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Some extras for themselves

Christmassy Snackerballs

  • 1 Cup dried dates
  • 1 Cup cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 Cup boiling water
  • 2 Cups desiccated Coconut
  • 3 Tablespoons black chia seeds
  • 2 Tablespoon psyllium husks
  • 100gms dark chocolate (broken up into small pieces)

-Soak the dates, chia seeds and cranberries in the water for 10-15 mins and then mash into a smooth paste – of course if you have a blender this is easier 🙂

-Stir in the other ingredients and mix until fully blended

-Shape the mixture into small balls (makes around 50 with this recipe) and put into a container.

-Refrigerate and enjoy

Hope this finds you all calm and without any Christmas stress mounting.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Crochet Cake – DF, GF, SF delight

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My plan was to share a new recipe on here today …. that is until I got word at the 11th hour that the Infant Massage Course  I was running (through the local Women’s Centre who needs a minimum number of participants) could go ahead.  Then it was all guns blazing to organize everything, including baking some morning tea!

Kapiti Nov 2019 Infant Massage photo

Looking forward to meeting everyone tomorrow 

So I thought I would share, and make, an old favourite to take the pressure off a bit.  This cake got its name after I continually made it for a series of crochet ‘catch-ups’ we were having as a safe option for the GF amongst the group.  It is in fact a very simple and delicious gluten free, diary free and sugar free cake which, if served warm, can also be used as a yummy dessert.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as everyone else does …. it has sparked a big discussion between themselves now that we have happy chickens producing our eggs.  Are eggs, produced by happy hens, which occur regardless of what we do (a bit like fruit on a tree) allowable on a vegan menu?   I think that debate will go on for a bit!!

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Crochet Cake – aka diary free, gluten free, sugar free delight

1.5 Cups dates

1.5 Cups of boiling water

1/2 Cup Rice Bran

2 eggs

2 ripe bananas – mashed

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp GF baking powder (2 parts cream of tartar, 1 part baking soda, 1 part arrowroot)

1 Cup rice flour

1/2 Cup desiccated coconut

  • Soak dates in the boiling water for 10-15 mins (in a large bowl) before mashing into a smooth thick paste.  If this is still a bit watery you can heat it slightly.
  • Mix in olive oil to the date paste and stir until blended.
  • Add eggs and bananas to date/olive oil mixture and mix until blended fully.
  • Add all the remaining dry ingredients and mix until everything is blended.
  • Line a cake tin with baking paper and pour in the mixture.
  • Bake at 180C for 50-60 mins or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Near the end of baking you may want to cover the cake with tin foil to allow it to keep cooking without the top getting too dark. It does take a while to get it fully baked.
  • Enjoy warm with yogurt/whipped cream or allow to cool on a rack to enjoy later.

Hope this finds you enjoying lots of natural sweetness in your life and sunshine to warm your days.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Veggie Flatbread

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After a week of off and on rain is has been nice being in the garden a little, watching the strawberries turn red, the washing blowing on the line, themselves gardening and the chickens scratching.  Yes …. after what felt like an eternal wait for themselves we have got ourselves a little brood.

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The latest addition to the whānau

There was so much discussion about breeds and so much searching that I thought they would never decide however in the end, due to their first picks not being available, they went for a brown shaver each. In the meantime I had posted on FB about bantams and someone replied, so we quickly went from no chooks on Wed, to two on Thursday then four on Saturday!  They are taking their time getting used to each other, tending to stick in their pairs for now 🙂  I don’t think the Shavers had been outside at all so the first couple of days for them was quite funny to watch as they discovered wind, sun, rain, bird song and of course themselves snuggling them like crazy.

Anyway onto the recipe you say … and I shall.  This week is a great one for using up leftover veggies.  I have been experimenting with a biscuit recipe that called for mashed pumpkin and ended up with loads of leftovers.  Bread is one of my big loves, even though the feeling isn’t always mutual, so what better to make than flatbreads to get a bit of a doughy fix.  It is another super easy one that you can adapt to suit the tastes of your whānau (family).  I used mashed pumpkin and buckwheat flour this time however I have also made kumara and rice flour ones for a sweeter version and also plain old spud ones. Of course the flour you use is also interchangeable for those gluten munchers among you 🙂

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Frying flatbreads in the pan

They don’t take long to fry up if you already have the cold mashed veg so are great for an on the spot snack or addition to any meal … even breakfast.  Themselves really love them and heap all sorts of toppings on.  I’m sure you’ll find them a hit in your household too.  I haven’t put any amounts in this recipe as it really just depends on what you have …… any amount works as long as you get the doughy consistency to be able to shape your ‘discs’ for frying.

Veggie Flatbread

  • Mashed Veg (kumara, pumpkin, potatoe or any combo)
  • GF flour (buckwheat or rice works well)
  • Oil – for cooking)
  • Salt and/or herbs (personal taste to dictate here)

-Add salt and/or herbs into the mashed veg as you desire.

-Mix in enough flour with the mashed veggies to form a soft dough. It may still be a little sticky but this will work out with a bit of flour as you form into discs.

-Spoon or grab out balls of dough which you can then flatten (going around in your hand) into discs, using more flour to help. If the dough is soft and sticky then make a little thicker.

-Fry in the pan with a little bit of oil if desired until brown on each side.

-Enjoy with salad bits or whatever your favourite topping is 🙂

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Quick and Easy Pasta

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I had great plans for getting on here over the past few weeks with recipes to share, honest I did.  However, as life sometimes goes, nothing really panned out how it should.  The recipes either went slightly wrong or the end effect was not quite as delicious as the picture had you believe.

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Enjoying the garden in lieu of jobs I should be doing!

Aside from that life took over again as we celebrated our youngest’s birthday, celebrated our youngest great nephew’s birthday, caught up with family and remembered my mum on the first anniversary of her death.  It has been a whirlwind of activities and emotions which has seen me tend to coast through each day rather than set a plan. Trying out new recipes wasn’t really high on the priority list though with an upcoming Infant Massage Course in Nov I was happy for the distract ….. and the tasting opportunities 🙂

So I thought that I would at least share something with you … a very quick and easy pasta salad dish which himself stole and copied from some restaurant many years ago.  It has transformed over the years as our eating habits have changed which is just the kind of recipes I love.  Now instead of regular pasta and feta we have plonked in GF pasta and tofu along with whatever mixture of veg, olives and tomatoes take our fancy.  It really is an easy one to do and great if you have to prepare a meal ahead of time as you can have it cold or warm and as everything is pretty much optional you can be creative and make it just how you and yours like.

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Ready to serve

Stolen Pasta Delight

  • Packet of Fusilli – GF or regular
  • Red onion
  • Capiscum
  • Tofu (can replace with feta and add in last)
  • Fresh tomatoes  (chopped into large cubes)
  • Olives
  • Olive oil (for cooking in and drizzling on afterwards if you wish)
  • Zucchini (chopped)
  • Mushrooms
  • Anything else you want to pop in 🙂
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Dried Italian Herb Mix

-Boil the pasta until it is el dente, strain and leave to cool

-Fry up the onion, mushrooms, capsicum and zucchini until they are close to being s

-Add in the  fresh tomatoes and tofu with a little bit of Dried Italian Herb mix and continue to fry off until you can see the tomato is cooked.

-Remove from the heat and blend gently with the pasta and other ingredients (olives, sun dried tomatoes, feta etc).

-Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil leaves and drizzle a bit more oil on if you wish.

-Enjoy

Hope this find you happy, healthy and enjoying each day as it comes.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Nannan’s Mt Peel Chutney

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Feijoa season is upon us here in NZ and we are consuming them by the dozen! They are one of my favourite fruit and one that until very recently you never saw in the supermarket which made it all the more special and tasty when they were in season.  One of the best things about them though is that there is never any doubt when they are ready as they fall when ripe and lay just waiting for you to come along and collect them.

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Monster Feijoas from a neighbour

However even I have limits of how much fresh feijoa I can consume, so when we were gifted a huge box of huge feijoas it was time to search out my chutney recipes.  I do have a great feijoa recipe (shared it a while back if you want an alternative) which is super easy however as I was searching for my paper copy of it I stumbled across a chutney recipe from my grandmother which looked like it might just hit the spot on this occassion.

The thing that really appealed to me however was the name (Mt Peel Chutney) as I just been doing a bit of research on the Māori name for Mt Somers, where our family originally settled, to add to my pepeha. for my next Māori lesson.  While they are different places they are in the same area, for those of you outside NZ, or Canterbury, Mt Somers is only about 40 min drive to Mt Peel, and our family worked, had land and lived all around that area.  So …… I’m guessing this recipe may just be a family one, as I couldn’t find anything online with same name. Well that’s my story now anyway and I’m sticking to it 😉

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Ready to bottle up

Below is the feijoa version of this chutney that I have made though the original recipe actually says 2lb fruit (just under a kg).  As feijoas are quite ‘juicy’ you’ll see that I have increased the amount of fruit to 1.5 kg just to give it a bit more chunk rather than liquid.  Being my usual, time efficient, self I simply top and tail the feijoa and roughly dice. Then once the mixture has boiled and softened I give it a quick mash to help blend it all.  I have also used coconut sugar for the first time, not because I think it is better than sugar (honey is out for the vegan’s on the bus) but because himself has decided he doesn’t want to eat refined sugarcane anymore ….. always keeping us on our toes that one!!

Anyway here it is and I’m sure you will be able to adapt it to your own kitchen supplies and preferences, just as I constantly do. 🙂

Nannan’s Mt Peel Chutney – Feijoa version

400 gm coconut sugar

500 gm raisins

750 ml white vinegar

1.5 kg feijoa (topped and tailed then diced)

4 cloves garlic

A few good grinds of salt

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Optional: If you like a really spicy chutney then add in some fresh chopped chilies

  • Boil fruit, sugar and vinegar together till soft and brown.
  • Give a quick mash or blend if you want a smoother chutney.
  • Take off the heat and add the seasonings. Stir well
  • Bottle and label.  Heat jars in the oven before hand to sterilize and avoid cracking with hot chutney.

See, couldn’t be easier …. just my kind of recipe!!  Hope this finds you relaxing and easing through life with joy.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

GF, Vegan Lasagne

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The cold, wet weather has started, daylight savings has ended and the comfort foods are being sought out!  Himself has had a bit of a fascination with Garfield over the last year and we have been searching loads of charity shops for Garfield bits and pieces to help his need to create a ‘collection’ however one of the things that stands out in most of the books is Garfield’s love of lasagne.  This has brought up quite a lot of discussion as we had never had it … even when there were more meat eaters … and themselves have been left wondering what all the fuss is about.

Corrected garfield with words

 

Then the other week at a Maths Club shared meal lasagne (the meat version) appeared on the menu and herself finally got to sample it.  She was smitten and loads more discussion about why Garfield loved it so much occurred which then brought up the next question ‘how could create a GF, vegan version to suit the whole family?’.

We already had a ‘tince’ (tofu and onion mashed into a tomato sauce) which himself had created for his tince pie and then for our spaghetti tofunaise.  So it was really just working out how to get a good white sauce to create layers for a vegan lasagne after we spotted some gluten free and vegan lasagne sheets in the local supermarket.

We have made white sauces before however due to us mainly having rice milk in the bus the sauce has still been quite sweet. On our initial attempt we did try coconut and almond milk thinking this may help it be more savoury along with some nutritional yeast however it was still not quite right. In the end it was Soy milk that did the trick and gave us a good white/cheese sauce …… it has been a while since I tried ‘proper’ cheese sauce so I guess it is down to personal taste here though we did get our meat eaters approval so it can’t of been too far off!

Anyway the end result was a very comforting and filling meal which the whole whānau (family) …vegans and meat eaters alike …. enjoyed.  Below is the basic recipe we used however we have also layered in spinach leaves and/or other veg like grated carrot or courgette.  Whatever tickles your fancy and leaves you feeling satisfied will work with this easy recipe.  I’ve tried my best to give you accurate measurements of ingredients where I can however as you know (if you follow my blog) I’m a bit of an experimenter and a ‘chuck it in’ kind of cook …… so it gives you a chance to play 🙂

Vegan Lasagne

  • GF pasta sheets (or regular if this is a necessity)
  • Vegan cheese (we used Veesy Vegan cheese as it is a softens a bit more like melted cheese)

‘Meat’ section

  • Tofu (at least 300gm size block)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Powdered Veg stock or herbs
  • Mushroom (optional)

-Fry off the chopped onion, mushroom and garlic until soften

-Add in diced tofu and powdered veg stock and or herbs to flavour and stir as it cooks a little

– Add in enough tomato paste and water to cover the tofu and cook over a low heat briefly

-Turn off the heat and mash the tofu mix.

-Add more tomato paste and/or water if needed to create a good consistency for layering into the lasagne (not too dry and not too wet)

‘Cheese sauce’ section

-Melt the coconut oil and take off the heat to mix in the flour

-When the oil and flour are a smooth paste then add the milk and mix well (all off the heat)

– Stirring constantly put the sauce back on the heat and continue cooking, and stirring, until it thickens up.

-Take off the heat and add in the nutritional yeast and stir well.

-Add more soy milk, if you wish, to get the sauce to a good consistency, ensuring there is enough of it for all the layers.

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Ready to layer up

Putting it together section

  1. -Layer the bottom of an ovenproof dish with pasta
  2. -Cover the pasta with a layer of tofu mix
  3. -Cover the tofu with a few slices of cheese. You can also layer in your spinach etc here if you wish.
  4. -Cover the cheese with white sauce

-Repeat steps 1-4 until you get near the top of your ovenproof dish.

-Finish off with a layer pasta with tofu mix (or just tom paste if you’re running low of tofu mix) on top and slices of cheese at the very top.

-Bake in the oven for at around 30 mins at 180-200C

-Enjoy with salad or other veg as you wish 😉

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Ready to eat

Hope this finds you enjoying warm, hearty meals with those you love.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Christmas Cake!

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The sun is out here in Kaikōura and it is finally feeling like Christmas is on its way!!  So of course with Christmas comes the proverbial cake.  Last year we just missed out on having a cake as I didn’t think I had a recipe, then low and behold as I was sifting through the recipe book I came across this beauty.  I have actually had this recipe for a long time, since my sugar free time four years ago, without realising that it was actually vegan.  At the time it lost out to another recipe, as I was still eating eggs, only to be found the other month when I was searching for birthday cake recipes.

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Enjoying some pre Christmas sunshine …. homeschooling outside 🙂

Sadly, I can’t remember which book I got the recipe from all those years ago and I have altered it quite a bit over the couple of times I have baked it (both four years ago and now) so if you recognize it please let me know so I can credit the original correctly 🙂  I have halved the recipe so that it fitted into my bread loaf tin which also meant that it was consumed in a timely manner.  As with many GF vegan recipes the sooner the munching is completed the better … we stretched it to three days to see what it was like with success though day three wasn’t as yum as day one and two’s munching 🙂

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Decorated and ready to go in the oven

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while I like simple and quick recipes. This one is a little out of the norm for me as it required cooking and mashing some kumara prior to mixing everything in one pot …. thankfully I survived the ordeal as it wasn’t quite as daunting as it seemed when I first read it 😉  I figure one extra dish for some yummy Christmas cake was worth the effort ….. at least once a year that is.  The almond essence and decoration definitely gave it that Christmassy look and taste while using the vanilla essence instead, and flagging the decoration, produced a good fruit cake for any occasion.

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 …. now for the munching to begin

So here is it for you to play around with and enjoy over this festive season and beyond ….

A Merry Vegan Christmas Cake

1 Tb maple syrup

250 gm of raisins or sultanas

1 Cup of water

1 small apple (peeled and grated)

62 gms chopped almonds – or in my case bashed almonds 😉

1/2 cup of mashed kumara (doesn’t matter if it is cold or warm)

1.5 Tb olive oil

1 tsp almond essence (vanilla also works fine if you just want a fruit cake)

3/4 Cup rice flour

3/4 Cup buckwheat flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

extra almonds to decorate – optional

  • Bring maple syrup, fruit and water to the boil in a large pot then remove from the heat.
  • Add apple, bashed almonds, kumara, essence along with oil and mix well.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well again.
  • Pour into a baking paper lined tin and gently press in extra almonds to decorate.
  • Bake at 160 C for 45 mins and then leave to cool in the oven for the next 15-20 mins before placing on a cooling rack.
  • Store in an airtight container and enjoy.
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Even got a thumbs up from the non-vegan among us!

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas/Holiday season enjoying the good things life has given you and remembering lots of special memories.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz