Monday, May 30, 2016

Meal Plan Monday (30th May)

Is it cold where you are? Winter weather has well and truly arrived which means one thing around here ... comfort food! But winter warmers don't have to be heavy and loaded with carbs. Slow cooked meats, soups and hearty vegetarian dishes packed with warming spices all hit the spot perfectly.

Last fortnight was cheap for us as we used up some of our stash of freezer food. This turned out to be a good thing because we had a bit of a disaster and discovered our chest freezer in the shed had been accidentally turned off after a power surge and we lost bags full of food. So frustrating! Not to mention costly.

We're still keeping things simple this fortnight and our only meat purchases are a whole organic chicken (bought from Woolies for just $15 on special), 2kg of gravy beef and some bacon. The mince and sausages are from our freezer stock we buy in bulk every few months (luckily we hadn't gotten around to transferring all this meat to the outside freezer or we would have lost the lot).

Have you ever had a freezer disaster?

On the menu ...

Monday - Vegie-loaded Spaghetti Bolognaise with zucchini and beans

Tuesday - BLTs on homemade spelt rolls

Wednesday - Slow-cooked Beef Madras with veg

Thursday - Vegan macaroni cheese

Friday - DIY

Saturday - Pumpkin soup and hash browns

Sunday - Spelt Pizza

Monday - Lasagna (gluten and dairy free)

Tuesday - Sausage and veggie bake

Wednesday - Dhal with rice and greens

Thursday - Chicken and sweet potato bake

Friday - Brinner

Saturday - Veggie soup with foccacia

Sunday - Roast chicken with veg

What's on the menu for you this week? Do you have some favourite winter-warmers?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Curried Tuna Mornay (and how to choose the best tuna!)

Curried tuna mornay - and how to choose the best sustainable tuna - from

We're going retro with this one! Is there anyone who didn't eat tuna mornay sometime growing up int he seventies or eighties? It was a staple at my house but mum always made it with canned cream of celery soup in it which is not something I choose to eat these days.

(If you're interested Rachael Ray has a delicious homemade cream of celery soup recipe - it is loaded with dairy though - must experiment with a dairy free version!).

I haven't made mornay for the kids for ages so it was high time to bring it back into the rotation.

How to choose the best canned tuna

But before we get to the recipe, let's talk about tuna.

Do you have canned tuna in the pantry? And importantly, do you know how that tuna was caught?

According to Choice there are 2 things to think about when buying tuna.

1. Look for a sustainable species of tuna:

Read your labels carefully and look for skipjack tuna, which may also be called Katsuwonus pelamis. Avoid the commonly seen yellowfin tuna which is considered by Greenpeace to be 'near threatened.'

2. Look for sustainably caught tuna:

You want to look for 'pole and line caught' tuna, which should be noted prominently on the label.

Check out this Greenpeace guide to tuna brands in Australia. While I have never seen the number one pick (Fish 4 Ever), it is nice to see Safcol and Coles brand tunas rounding out the top 3. Are you surprised about which one is in last position?

So check your pantry. What brand is your tuna? Have you ever actually read the label on a can of tuna?

Oh and make sure you choose tuna in spring water, in order to avoid the vegetable oil most tuna is packed in. Because even the brands that mention olive oil on the front of the tin also contain a large proportion of vegetable oil. Yuck.

Back to the mornay and I decided to mix things up a bit and add some curry powder. This was largely to please my curry-loving husband who also happens to hate 'mushy' food (and yes he would include tuna mornay in that category).

The result? An easy and delicious dinner that (just about) everyone gobbled up in record time. Still can't convince Mr 5 to have either tuna or any sort of sauce on his pasta but ... 

My Curried Tuna Mornay

1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 carrot
2 zucchinis
100g butter or extra virgin olive oil
50g white spelt flour
350ml rice milk
1-2 ts curry powder
1/2 ts salt
425g can sustainable tuna in springwater

Place onion, garlic, carrot and zucchini in mixing bowl and chop for 4 secs / SP 6.

Scrape down the sides, add the butter and cook for 8 minutes / 100 degrees / SP 1 / measuring cup off.

Add the flour, milk, curry powder and salt and cook for 6 minutes / 100 degrees / SP 1.

Puree 20 secs / SP 8.

Add the tuna and cook for 3 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 1 / Reverse.

Mix through cooked pasta and serve.

No thermomix? Prepare your sauce in a medium saucepan. Melt the butter and sauted the grated vegetables. Once tender, sprinkle over the flour and cook until it is dry, about a minute or so. Add the remaining ingredients, except the tuna, and cook stirring continuously for a few minutes until a smooth sauce forms. Add the tuna, turn down the heat to low and let simmer for a few minutes or until everything is cooked and warmed through. Add your pasta and enjoy!

Do you have a favourite dish from your childhood?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Top 10 things I make from scratch (and no longer have to buy) now I have a Thermomix

Top 10 things to make from scratch with a thermomix

So unless you've been living under a rock you will have noticed a LOT of publicity lately regarding the Thermomix and some safety issues.

Without getting into that at all (although I will state for the record I have had mine for nearly 2 years without any problems) I thought I would share my experiences with a Thermomix.

First of all there have been very few days in the past 2 years that we haven't used it. On a typical day we use it for our breakfast (either porridge or a smoothie), perhaps make a batch of dough for bread, whip up a soup, mix something up for afternoon tea and make dinner with it.

Our record was the first Christmas we had when it and made 11 different things in a day including a sponge cake, jelly, lemon curd, custard, coconut cream, mayonnaise, gravy and quinoa!

I've heard a lot of people say it and it's totally true - if you want to get away from processed food and start avoiding additives, having a Thermomix will help you make food from scratch quicker and easier.

While I have always made a lot of things from scratch, having a Thermomix has allowed me to completely stop buying a number of products that I always just took for granted as being things that 'you just buy'.

Well not any more!

Top 10 Things I Make From Scratch 

(and No Longer Have To Buy) Now I Have a Thermomix

1. Bread

This is the biggie. After years of dabbling with bread making  I have finally made the switch and 100% of our bread is homemade. Sandwich loaves, wraps, focaccia, rolls, scrolls and pizza. You name it, I make it. The Thermomix does amazing dough and it is quick and mess-free. Not only that though I feel 100% happy about the ingredients. No nasty vegetable oil or preservatives here.

2. Nut milk

We've been dealing with dairy intolerances for years now and whichever way you look at it, nut milk is expensive. There are some brands that I like but really it is so easy to make your own and for a fraction of the cost. We buy nuts (usually almonds) in bulk and make a few litres of nut milk at a time. Fresh, delicious and cheap. Gotta love that.

3. Soup

Ok so you don't need a Thermomix to make soup. I've been doing it for years without one, but I like smooth soups and it was always a bit of a palaver to tip hot soup into a blender or risk a soup-cano with a stick blender.

Previously if there were some boxes of soup on special at the supermarket I would always grab a couple to stash in the pantry for a quick lunch, but not anymore. While I always chose ones with ingredients that looked good (no numbers), it was still a really long time since those vegetable were in the ground.

Being able to chop, cook and then puree all in one and have soup ready on the table in about 20 minutes is brilliant. I make at least 1 batch a week all year round (even in summer) and love that I'm getting so many veggies into all of us. 

4. Stock

Just like with soup, it was so easy to grab a box of liquid stock to have on hand. I always made my own chicken stock with leftover chicken bones but there was never enough to have in the freezer.

The very first thing you make with your consultant when the Thermomix is delivered is a vegetable stock paste, and it has become a staple at our place. Loaded with veggies and herbs, I always have a batch on hand in the freezer. It provides not only flavour but seasoning as well, and with its salt content it never freezes hard - perfect for scooping out a spoonful to add to soups, curries and casseroles.

5. Dishwasher powder

Yep that's right, we use the thermie for more than just food! The dishwasher powder is actually a recent addition to our repertoire, but we haven't purchased dishwasher tablets for 6 months now.

At first the difficulty was locating a cheap source of citric acid (the key ingredient in lots of natural homemade cleaning products).

You may know citric acid from those little containers in the baking aisle at the supermarket? Buying it that way will send you broke in no time, as it works out at about $34/kg. With some research I found a supplier selling 10kg buckets on ebay which works out at only $7/kg. Much better!

6. Washing powder

I've been making our own washing powder for about 3 years now, using a food processor to grate up the soap. The Thermomix of course does it better and faster! I like Dr Bronners soap bars and yes, our clothes are all perfectly clean with no chemicals!

7. Mayonnaise

Back onto food, this was another big one. Even though I knew the ingredients were less than ideal and it was a pain to make, I found it really hard to give up bought mayonnaise! That is until I discovered a cooked egg mayonnaise recipe on the recipe community site. Quick, easy and no stress about raw eggs.

8. Jam

Since going sugar free (or more accurately low-no fructose) back in 2012 we very rarely have jam. Mostly I will make a sweetener free chia jam but I do batches of 'real' jam sometimes as gifts and we always keep a little for ourselves. Making your own jam lets you control the amount of sugar and the quality of the ingredients. Get a great deal on a box of organic berries? Why not make some jam or a berry sauce for pancakes. Yum!

9. Nut butter

Have you seen the price of some nut butters at the shops? Outrageous! So much cheaper and healthier to just buy some organic nuts, roast them and grind them up. Smooth or chunky? You decide!

10. Curry

We love our curry in this house! The Thermomix is brilliant for preparing curry pastes in bulk which you can store in the freezer, and for simmering a curry for dinner even on a weeknight. Healthy and delicious and, as with just about everything you make in a Thermomix, I love that you aren't tied to the stove. You can walk away and do something else while dinner is cooking, confident that it won't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Love, love, love!

So that's it. My top 10 things I now make from scratch in my Thermomix.

Do you make any of these from scratch? Is there something from the supermarket you just can't give up?

If you are on the fence about getting a thermal cooker (and it doesn't have to be a Thermomix, there are a number of other brands available) and have some other questions please let me know either in the comments below or shoot me off an email! mywholefoodfamilyblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

I would love to hear from you!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chocolate Pecan Pie (SRC)

Wholefood Chocolate Pecan Pie - wheat free - no refined sugar - from

I've been doing a lot of baking lately but it's been all muffins, bliss balls and breads. It seems like aaaages since I've made a proper dessert - something the kids get really excited over and that seems a bit special.

As this is my first month with Group C in the Secret Recipe Club (after moving across from Group D) I thought I would celebrate and choose something sweet and out of the ordinary!

This month I was assigned The Avid Appetite by Rachel who lives in Jersey City with her husband and gorgeous daughter Penelope (the cutest name ever). I loved spending time on Rachel's blog and   apart from a love of food (obviously), found we have a quite lot in common such as loving overnight oats for breakfast to being a fan of both Castle and Gretchen Ruben!

I was really spoilt for choice when it came to selecting a recipe and there were loads that I bookmarked for later. I love the sound of her Vanilla Cinnamon Quinoa for a protein-packed breakfast, I'm intrigued by the Pumpkin Butter and my boys would go crazy for these Banana Bars with Chocolate Frosting.

It was the Chocolate Pecan Pie adapted from a Paula Deen recipe that really caught my eye though (I have a bit of a soft spot for Paula Deen after reading her autobiography a few years ago).

(Does anyone else remember 'pecan pie' scene from When Harry Met Sally?)

I was prepared to make a few changes in order to fit in with our wholefoods way of eating, and just a couple of simple switches later we had the most amazing, but not too sweet, dessert!

We LOVED this. Perfectly short pastry, sweet nutty filling with little pops of dark chocolate. What's not to love?

Try as I might though I couldn't get a clean slice. I mean, is there a trick to slicing a pecan pie neatly without all the nuts smooshing out the sides? Still the taste made up for the messiness. DELICIOUS!

Wholefood Chocolate Pecan Pie - wheat free - no refined sugar - from

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Adapted from Paula Deen via The Avid Appetite

Shortcrust Pastry (my own recipe):

300g wholemeal spelt flour
2 ts coconut sugar
160g cold butter, diced
1/3 cup cold water, approx

Place all ingredients except the water into a food processor and blitz until it forms breadcrumbs. Add the water a little at a time until the dough comes together and forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough in between 2 sheets of baking paper, large enough to fit a 22cm tart dish. Either wrap the remainder of the dough and place in the freezer for another time or roll it flat and cut out cookies to bake at the same time as the pie. My boys love this!

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.


2 cups pecans
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tbs melted butter, cooled
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1 tbs molasses
1/2 cup coconut sugar
100g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt 85%)

Scatter pecans over the uncooked pastry shell.

Place the eggs, butter, syrup, sugar and chocolate into a mixing bowl and whisk together until well combined. Pour the mixture over the pecans.

Place the pie onto a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180 degrees and cook for a further 25 minutes or until set.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely.

Thanks for a great recipe Rachel! My family loved it.

Menu Plan Monday (16th May)

This fortnight's meal plan is full of cheap eats.

We're going though our stash in the freezer, bulking out our meals with loads of veggies as well as having a few vegetarian meals, and then rounding it out with some mince and sausages.

My husband scored an amazing array of fruit and veg for next to nothing on the weekend, including a box piled high with apples, oranges and butternut pumpkin for the grand price of $1!

Real food definitely doesn't have to be expensive:)

What's on the menu ...

Monday - Roast chicken with gravy and potato, pumpkin, broccoli and corn

Tuesday - Spaghetti and meatballs with beans

Wednesday - Hamburgers with homemade buns, lettuce, tomato and beetroot

Thursday - Leftover lamb curry with rice and Asian greens

Friday - Grain free pancakes with bacon and eggs

Saturday - DIY

Sunday - Homemade pizza with spelt bases

Monday - Leftover pulled pork with coleslaw and homemade tortillas

Tuesday - Vegan macaroni and cheese

Wednesday - Sausage and veggie bake

Thursday - Leftover beef ragu with pumpkin and greens

Friday - Leftover chicken with potato salad

Saturday - Veggie soup

Sunday - OUT

What's on the menu at your place this week? Did you score any grocery bargains on the weekend?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins - wheat free, dairy free, no refined sugar - from

There are some flavour combinations that just work.

And peanut butter and banana is definitely one of the best!

While peanut butter gets a bad rap sometimes (and of course if you're allergic you should steer well clear), it's actually packed with protein, potassium, magnesium and good fat that will help keep you full.

My Mr 5 has lots of sensory issues to do with food but he has always loved peanut butter so it's a staple at our place. We buy tubs of freshly ground peanut butter from our local health store, that is made from 100% organic peanuts, nothing else added.

Staying away from commercial varieties which are full of added salt, sugar and vegetable oils is a good idea. Most supermarkets will have at least one brand of natural peanut butter so check the health food section and get reading those labels.

Apart from sandwiches we add peanut butter to smoothies, spread it on celery and top with sultanas to make ants on a log and serve with apple slices. And now we can add muffins to the list because these were delicious!

My boys absolutely devoured these - they couldn't get enough and ate 3 each for afternoon tea (and yes still ate dinner afterwards).

Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/3 cup coconut sugar
pinch salt
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 160 degrees fan-forced. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and peanut butter together until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Add the oil, milk and vanilla and mix to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together with a fork until only just combined.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared tin and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and the top springs back when you press lightly.

Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with a big glass of milk and watch kids and big kids smile!

Makes 12.

Are you a peanut butter fan?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

No Knead, Overnight Artisan Bread

I'm a huge fan of making bread these days, but it hasn't always been that way!

Not too many years ago I was terrified of using yeast. It just seemed all too hard and that there was so much that could go wrong.

My first step to making homemade bread was with a breadmaker and bread mix. All the hard work was done for us, there was no kneading, no shaping and no worrying about getting the oven temperature right. Plus I loved the convenience of being able to set it the night before and wake up to fresh bread first thing in the morning. Is there anything better than the smell of fresh bread??

We then moved on to just mixing and kneading the dough in the breadmaker but shaping and baking the dough ourselves. This meant we could make proper sandwich loaves and cob loaves rather than just the squat oblongs you can make in a breadmaker.

After lots of use our breadmaker finally gave up and died and we went back to buying supermarket and bakery bread, which was not ideal for a number of reasons - it's more expensive, it's not as fresh, and there are lots of questionable ingredients like preservatives, emulsifiers and vegetable oils to name a few.

But before we could fully commit to making all our own bread from scratch we took one important step - we cut back on the amount of bread we were eating.

Yep, that's right. 

I've dabbled with a Paleo style of eating and while going completely grain free is never going to work for my family, reducing grains (and especially wheat) can only be a positive step for our health.

I now make just 1 loaf of spelt and grain sandwich bread every week and that does sandwiches and toast for all of us for the week. I often also make one other type of bread, such as cheese and olive scrolls for lunchboxes or a focaccia to have with soup.

A few weeks ago we had friends around for breakfast and wanted to serve some fresh bread. I could have made an extra loaf the day before but it wouldn't have been as fresh, and as it was a public holiday there was no chance of nipping down to the bakery and grabbing a loaf that morning.

So I went searching and came across a basic recipe for a no knead, overnight artisan bread. This recipe seemed to pop up everywhere! With that many reviews I knew it had to be good and it was just what we were looking for.

If you're a novice bread-baker this recipe could be just the thing to help you fall in love with baking bread. Why?

1. It uses plain flour NOT baker's flour which you may not have at home
2. You don't have to knead it
3. You don't need a bread tin, just a large heavy oven safe pot with a lid

Just mix, rest and bake. Easy!

This made a fantastic loaf of bread - crackly crusty exterior with a chewy texture reminiscent of sourdough. Totally delicious and perfect for our breakfast of eggs, bacon, grilled tomatoes and homemade tomato sauce. Yum!

No Knead, Overnight Artisan Bread
Recipe from Don't Waste The Crumbs

3 cups plain flour
2 ts salt
1 ts instant yeast
1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature

Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Pour in the water and mix well to form a rough and shaggy dough (it will not be smooth).

Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the bench for 8-18 hours, or just overnight. It will be light and bubbly.

When you are ready to bake, flour your hands and a sheet of baking paper and tip out the dough. Gently shape into a ball, without kneading, and leave on the baking paper covered with a tea towel for one hour.

When the dough has rested for 30 minutes, place a large heavy oven-safe pot (like a Dutch oven) into the oven and preheat to 230 degrees Celsius.

After the dough has rested for an hour, remove the pot from the oven and carefully place the dough inside, still on the baking paper.

Put the lid on the pot and place back into the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and then bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (2nd May)

Happy May everyone! Can you believe it's May already??

This week is a special one for us with our anniversary on Wednesday. My wonderful mother-in-law is coming to look after the boys so we can go out the evening, probably for a quick dinner then a movie.

So we've factored in dinner out for us on Wednesday, then we're out for a BBQ with friends on Saturday night and then on Sunday it's Mother's Day! Should be a fun week :)

What we're eating this fortnight ...

Monday - Roast chicken with sweet potato, pumpkin and beans

Tuesday - Chickpea curry (leftover from freezer)

Wednesday - DATE NIGHT - sausages and wedges for the kids

Thursday - Curried sausages

Friday - Chicken and potato salad (chicken leftover from freezer)

Saturday - OUT

Sunday - Pulled pork with tortillas and coleslaw

Monday - Beef madras with rice and pumpkin mash

Tuesday - DF GF Lasagna (with leftover bolognaise from freezer)

Wednesday - Sweet potato and bacon risotto

Thursday - Slow cooked lamb and veg curry

Friday - DIY

Saturday - Sweet potato hash browns with poached eggs and bacon

Sunday - Leftover curried lamb wraps

What's on the menu for you this week? Leave me a comment with your dinner ideas ... I'm always looking for inspiration!

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