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

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Autumn breakfast options

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Here we are back in coverage, enjoying a beautiful autumn on the east coast while parking up for the next couple of months in Kaikoura while himself does some work to restore the local rail network after earthquakes last October. It has been a busy 2 weeks of travelling from the bottom of the South Island up to nearly the top of the South Island while catching up with friends and family along the way.

Many of the aspects in our life took a back seat (such as school work, blogging and journalling) to the travels and socialising however domestic life continues regardless of the location or dwelling.  Dishes still need to be done, floors swept – yes, swept as we lack any modern devices at the moment to assist … soon though my dreams may become reality 🙂 – and food prepared.

I have continued to make our bread, which is a bit of a staple food now, and as I let you know the other week our ferments are still on the go.  Another staple I have been making at the moment is muesli so that now that some of the other cereals have been used up we have an option besides toast in the morning.  Muesli is a great autumn transition food before the winter porridge appears and is also a fantastic way to get a few more nutrients into themselves without much effort on my behalf which makes it a very appealing plan!

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Warm and toasty out of the oven … hard for themselves to resist especially with some creamy raw milk we were given!

This muesli is super easy as it is really just chucking in what ever you like and then drizzling with oil before baking in the oven, of course you can also have a raw version by omitting the oil and oven part.  I have been making muesli for a few years with a honey and oil drizzle, then when the price of honey went up and we noticed the effects of honey on our youngest I began to just use oil without any objections.  What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you I say! 🙂  I do add a few dates chopped up and coconut so that is a fair bit of sweetness to soothe the soul.  Below is what I use to create our morning muesli however it is really just a guide for you to explore and create your own, dependent on tastes. I don’t use a measure either (sorry), rather I just chuck in a bit of everything with oats being the majority of the mix

Morning Muesli

Oats – largest portion

Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Sesame Seeds

Desiccated Coconut

Dates – chopped

Almonds -raw

Olive oil or similar (optional: omit if you want raw muesli)

  • Mix everything thoroughly, especially the chopped dates as they will clump together if not mixed into the dry ingredients.
  • Drizzle olive over the top and mix well again.
  • Bake in an oven at around 200 C, watching and mixing occasionally until it is golden brown.

Play and enjoy.  Until next time I hope this finds you all basking in the sunshine of life.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Easy Gluten Free Bread

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I have tried a variety of recipes for Gluten Free Bread it has to be said …. all with varying degrees of disaster!  I am a lazy cook by nature.  It needs to be fairly basic with not much brain power required.  It needs to be quick and easy.  I need to have the ingredients in the cupboard or readily available at the local shops.  Yes … I’m sure the sour dough, gluten free bread is delicious and very edible however I am almost guaranteed to forget about feeding the starter and it is way too much thought needed by me in advance of actually getting to eat.

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Fresh out of the oven!

Then low and behold a miracle occurred!!  Yes … I’m fairly easy to ‘wow’ when it comes to food.  While down at my local organic shop the other week I noticed a recipe sheet for Gluten Free Bread that seemed to tick most of my boxes.  Mix, cook and eat all on the same day. 🙂  Turns out it is also a pretty good loaf of GF bread too!

Thought I would share it here for you all to try and let me know your thoughts.  It lasts for a few days pretty well if stored in an air tight container.  I even tried freezing a few slices to toast at an even later date with success and without it all falling apart on me.  Sorry to the original recipe writer as the shop didn’t source it and then I have done my usual adaptations.

Gluten Free Bread

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 Tbsp Dried Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 Cup White Rice Flour
  • 1 Cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 Cup Chickpea Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Tapioca Flour
  • 8 tsp chia seeds
  • 8 tsp boiling water
  • Sprinkle of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil

– In a large bowl whisk the water, yeast and honey and leave for 10 minutes to activate.

– Add all dry ingredients apart from chia seeds and mix well

– Mix chia seeds and boiling water then add to bread mixture with the oil.

– Mix well and pour into a lined bread tin.

– Leave to rise for 10-15 mins.  It doesn’t rise much on baking so if you want a bigger loaf then leave it to rise longer before cooking.

– Bake at 170 C for 45 minutes.

-Enjoy!!

Hope this finds you happy, healthy and enjoying some warm bread. 🙂

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Becoming Healthy Chicken Soup

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I have been a vegetarian for a long time now however my family are a long way off being veggie.  So whenever themselves are unwell, as the case has been over the past week, then we get to brewing up a big pot of chicken soup.  Chicken soup has long been a ‘kitchen cure’ for colds and flu, even the scientists have proved that it does have benefits, and it is quick and easy comfort food when you are feeling under the weather.

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Homemade soup and bread for lunch.

Hot fluids in general are great for helping clear all those ‘blockages’ in the sinuses and re-hydrating you.  If you pop in a whole heap of other kitchen cures you will have a great healing meal.  Thyme for coughs, Sage for sore throats, garlic for its antibacterial properties, ginger for its anti-inflammatory  properties (and loads more beside) and a whole heap of vegetables along with chicken on the bone makes an awesome meal to help the healing along.  If nothing else though soup is incredibly comforting when you are feeling yuck.

Lots of families have their tried and true recipes however if you don’t here is one to start you off.  After that experiment and enjoy!!

Becoming Healthy Chicken Soup

  • Chicken on the bone (I use 2 chicken breasts with the skin on)
  • Garlic (the more you can sneak in the better)
  • 1 large onion
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried sage leaves
  • Ginger (fresh is better however ground is fine)
  • Vegetables of your choice – chopped or diced depending on your preference.

-Chop the garlic and onion finely.  Fry off little with some olive oil in a large pot.

-Add in the chicken and brown a little.

-Add in the vegetables for a quick fry then add in the herbs, stirring to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom.

-Cover with water and gently boil until the vegetables are soft and the chicken cooked through and is beginning to come away from the bone if knocked.

-Take the chicken out of the pot and get all the meat off, including the skin, then chop and return the meat only to the pot.

-Allow to sit for a bit before serving.

-Enjoy.

Hope this finds you all healthy, happy and enjoying your home comforts

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

 

Sprouted

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Years ago a good friend let me know how she sprouted wheat for her chickens because it had a higher nutrition value and so, being all for having healthy chickens and yummy eggs, I began sprouting wheat for our wee brood.

Our 3 day sprouting process for the chooks

Our 3 day sprouting process for the chooks

It seems though in the years of having sprouts around the place my friends began to believe that they were for me.  It wasn’t until a recent comment about how good I was with my nutrition and sprouting that I realised and had to confess!! The truth is that I’m not actually that flash with my own nutrition all the time. I often need wake up calls – like feeling that I have somehow duped my friends – to get me back into healthy eating 🙂

So, feeling a little guilty and under nourished, a have begun sprouting for me and the family along with the chooks. 🙂  It was really as simple as a buying a lid from our local organic shop, some water and choosing what to begin with. We have only embarked on chickpeas at the moment which have been a hit with a very fussy young one – Yay! They are so yummy on my salads that I keep wondering why I never did it earlier.

Chickpeas on the go.

Chickpeas on the go.

Anyway…….. They are tasty and good for you so I thought I would share a few sites with more insights into the goodness of sprouts to hopefully inspire us all and give some food for thought, myself included. 🙂

10 Reasons to eat sprouts

Why Sprout?

Should you sprout your food?

Hope this finds you all sprouting great ideas and enjoying life.

Arohanui

Y

Bring in the new and out (hopefully) with the old!

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I’m just back from very relaxing 5 days over the hill at my Mum’s.   With a fairly haphazard internet connection (actually that is probably being overly generous) I was un-able to get into my e-mails or work easily for the whole time and…….  It was FANTASTIC!!  I was able to enjoy just being, knitting by the fire while watching t.v. which is a real treat as I don’t have one at home :),  and reading without feeling guilty about doing work for the biz each night.

My knitting projects while away.

My knitting projects while away – a hat, a horse and a donkey along with the beginnings of another hat.

The best part of being away however was that I created a new habit. You see I am (or should I say was), and have been for a very long time, a post-dinner snacker.  There I have said it! 🙂  I know I’m not alone, it is just that my ‘snacking’ can often turn into an hour long, or longer,  munch while I work or talk.  Usually it is part of my procrastination plan – you know the one – it is where you are procrastinating over work and in order to feel ok about the said procrastination you make yourself busy with something else.  My something else is invariably food!

My ‘snacking’ is often healthy enough, it is just the sheer amount which I am eating and the fact that I’m not actually hungry when I begin that is the problem.  I also feel terribly guilty about it as I know it isn’t good for me.  In doing this most nights of the week I don’t ever give my body a decent chance to absorb as it is always ingesting and digesting.  It wasn’t intentional that I stopped my night snacks while away, and maybe that is the secret behind it working – it just happened 😉  A combination of busy hands, catching up with Mum, T.V. and the kitchen being in a different area of the house all helped I guess.  Usually whenever I make a conscience decision not to snack I end up spending the whole evening thinking about food only to rescind my decision by the second night!

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My new evening ritual

Now that I have gone a whole week without snacking it feels great.  A hot drink (or two) is the most I’ve had in the evenings lately and I’m feeling so much better on waking each morning. I had read a long time ago about the body’s cycles (8 hours each of appropriation – ingesting and digesting, absorption and elimination) and I immediately understood the value of sticking to these yet the practical application of this theory continued to elude me!  I’m not going to jinx it now by saying that is the end of my evening snacks (A wise woman once told me ‘Never say never as you only end up looking the fool’) however I am hoping that this marks the beginning of a long lasting healthy new habit.

Hope this finds you enjoying your evening full of joy and happiness.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Six weeks in and ……

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So it has now been 6 weeks since I have begun this sugar free lifestyle.  I haven’t really keep count,  as it just feels like a nature part of life now, it’s  just that someone asked me the other day and I really had no idea so decided to count it up 😉  It has taken a bit of work to be sugar free at times especially in double checking labels of food that we had regularly and replacing them for homemade versions when I found they contained sugar, pre-made tortilla is a perfect example of this. However on the whole, with the cupboards set up with heaps of sugar free foods it has been pretty easy. 

I got through Easter sugar free (though not fructose free as I had some dried currents in our homemade hot cross buns) and a weekend away then last week a few bit of sugar did creep in.  Some as part of meals out (stewed fruit given to us, cream sweeten up and in a salad dressing) and some through choice (curry paste with less than 3gm per 100gm).  I have got to say that while there was a bit of guilt I do try to work on the 80/20 rule in life so figured that as long as the serves were small and I wasn’t making a habit of it, things were all good.  The thing is that I really noticed the difference in my moods on the day after having that wee bit of sugar.  I suddenly felt irritable and a bit volatile along with a mild headache which nagged ever so slightly at me. Thankfully I had a few Bach Flower Remedies to get me through along with a bit of tapping and by the following day I felt good as gold again 😉  Maybe it was coincidence that I had those feelings all in the same week as I had bits of sugar, maybe …….. and then again maybe not.  I certainly felt calmer when no sugar was in my diet that is for sure and it has been a good reminder of why I really began this – to improve my health and well-being (emotionally and physically).

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What was left of the second batch minus the crosses as little ones were eager to begin munching.

My journey to giving up sugar has been a gradual one in improving my health, until this final cutting off of all sugar (apart from fresh fruit) that is.  When we decided to have kids I gave up alcohol, luckily for me I was pregnant 2 weeks after that so I had to continue with that sugar loss 😉  From there a realisation that wheat was playing havoc with my stomach made me reduce baked goods. My daughter then developed eczema and while there were no allergies it seemed that the more processed i.e. the more ingredients in it, the more she flared up.  So that meant that I began reading labels more and once you read those labels it isn’t long before you are buying food stuffs without sugar.  I was however still a big fizzy bubbly (soda) drinker, tomato sauce user and a humongous honey hogger!  These were my staples for coping, and feeling normal, until I read an article last December about how fizzy drinks can deplete the calcium in your bones not to mention what it does to your teeth.  Being a runner – well that is what I call the thing I do in the mornings 😉 – I didn’t want to be breaking any bones so the fizzy bubbly was the next to go.

That left my trusty friends honey and tomato sauce (ketchup), along with fresh and dried fruit giving me most of my sugar hits.  It is at this point that I read about Sarah Wilson’s book. ‘What??!! Give up fruit and honey?’ ‘She must be mental’ I thought.  It planted a seed though. A seed that niggled at me and grew till I eventually went to the library to order her book.  It was then that I found and read David Gillespie’s book and the rest is history 😉  No more tomato sauce and no more honey!  I can hardly believe it some days.

I have kept in the fresh fruit for a snacks if needed (dried fruit has been left a bit abandoned on the shelf except of Easter buns)  and use this in baking. It just comes down to preferring to use naturally occurring products versus processed, like dextrose, for me.  I save the dextrose for those occasions, like my Mum’s birthday cake, when the receiver really just wants to taste a yummy sweet baked good and not banana dense wholemeal option 😉 My experiments with the glucose syrup, which I found out is made with completely GM free corn from NZ thanks Queen Fine Foods, have not been that successful so that has be ditched too.  I’m happy to have fresh fruit, mostly oranges, pears and kiwifruit now, as the sweeter in my life (baking  and raw) instead of all the other stuff.  I can go into shops and walk down the lollie (sweets) aisle with ease and even the chocolate section isn’t a big attraction anymore.  I do still have cravings for food however it is just that food, not the sweet sugar stuff that I used to think about.  Usually nuts can quell it pretty fast, thankfully, along with my trusty Bach Flower Remedies 😉

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The past 6 weeks have certainly been an interesting journey into what works best for my body and also just how much I don’t miss all those sugar laden foods when I am eating whole, nourishing foods. Here is to continued health, vitality and enjoying life.

Till next week.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz