Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dairy Free Spelt Chocolate Chip Muffins

Dairy free spelt chocolate chip muffins

I actually can't remember the last time I baked anything with chocolate chips. Being dairy free my chocolate choices are quite limited and I tend to stick with blocks of 85% cocoa chocolate like Lindt or Green & Blacks which are naturally free of dairy.

But when I spotted these dairy free chocolate chips in the bulk section of the my health food store I had to grab some and make something for the boys. And what else to bake but chocolate chip muffins?!

I got 10 from this recipe but you could easily make 12 instead (I normally would) just by making them slightly smaller.

This is a simple and delicious recipe that is free from wheat, dairy, nuts and refined sugar.  Perfect for the after school munchies!

Spelt Chocolate Chip Muffins (Dairy free)

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 ts vanilla extract
3/4 cup rice milk

Dry ingredients:
1 2/3 cup wholemeal spelt flour
3 ts baking powder
pinch salt

1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips
2 tbs chocolate chips, extra

Preheat oven to 180 degrees / 160 degrees fan-forced.

Line a muffin tray with paper liners and set aside.


Thermomix instructions - add the wet ingredients into the bowl and mix for 5 secs / SP 4.

Add the dry ingredients and mix for 5 secs / Sp 4, scraping down the bowl if needed.

Add the 1/2 cup chocolate chips and mix for 4 secs / SP 3 / Reverse.


No thermomix? Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the wet into the dry and mix until just combined.  


Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray and sprinkle the extra chocolate chips over the top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the top springs back and they are evenly golden brown.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Makes 10-12 depending on the size of your muffin tray.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Pineapple Mango Salsa (SRC)

BBQ Pork Chops with Pineapple Mango Salsa from

It's Secret Recipe Club time! I know it can't just be me, but the last Monday of the month seems to come around so quickly! Each month around 120 bloggers are assigned a blog in secret to peruse and choose a recipe to make. Today is Group D's turn to reveal their assigned blog and recipe.

This month I was thrilled to be assigned Fantastical Sharing of Recipes by Sarah who happens to be the fearless leader of the Secret Recipe Club. Sarah is married to Nick and they have 3 beautiful children, 2 cats and a dog. Definitely a full house! She is also a serious recipe hoarder and her blog is packed full of delicious sounding, family-friendly comfort food.

I liked the sound of the Atomic Hashbrowns but the kids aren't keen on spicy food so the Chubby Hubby Potatoes would be more their thing, though I've bookmarked both to try later. I was also really tempted by the 40 Clove Garlic Chicken and Classic Cabbage Rolls. But it is summer here after all and I just couldn't face any hot food so I started looking for something cool.

It has been stinking hot here the past few weeks. We've had a couple of 36 degree days (around 96 F) and it is just miserable being in the kitchen when it's that hot. So many times I've planned my meals for the week and then not made any of it because none of us felt like eating much. BUT not this time.

These barbecued pork chops topped with pineapple mango salsa were calling everyone's name. Is there anything more summery than this? (apologies to anyone knee-deep in snow right now).

Succulent pork was the perfect pairing for this light, fresh salsa. The kids loved having fruit for dinner and miracle of miracles, Mr 5 actually tried some pork! This is the kid that won't touch any meat except salami.

Thank you Sarah for such a simple but delicious recipe. This is one of our new family favourites.

Pineapple Mango Salsa
Recipe from Fantastical Sharing

1 1/2 cups fresh sweet pineapple, diced
1 mango, diced
1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
2 tbs fresh coriander roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
pinch salt

Place all ingredients into a large glass bowl and toss to combine.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving with grilled meat.

Menu Plan Monday (22nd February)

Menu Plan Monday

Can you believe this is the last week of February? At this rate it will be Christmas before we know it!

We have most nights free this week but I also have a lot of work to do while the kids are at school and day care, and definitely don't want to be spending too much time on food preparation.

Are you following me on Facebook yet? I posted a pic of my big bake-off yesterday to get prepared for the week. All that baking means that lunchbox snacks and afternoon teas are already taken care of for the entire week which is awesome. I love feeling organised!

This week we will be eating ...

Monday - Veggie-loaded Spaghetti Bolognaise

Tuesday - Veggie fritters

Wednesday - Chicken stirfry

Thursday - Slow cooked shredded pork

Friday - DIY

Saturday - Brinner (pancakes, eggs, bacon, mushooms)

Sunday -  Homemade pizza

Have a great week!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Curried Veggie Slice

Curried vegetable slice

A few weeks ago we realised our fridge was suddenly not cold anymore so I baked up a storm, trying to use up everything that I could before it went bad. This was one of the results and it was absolutely delicious!

It's basically my take on a classic zucchini slice. Unfortunately not one of my children will eat zucchini slice, something I've found incredibly frustrating as it's such an easy meal and can be served hot for dinner or cold in lunchboxes.

I did have a small win with this recipe though, as after leaving out the bacon, swapping some of the veggies and adding some curry powder I called it a Curried Veggie Slice and my 6 year old loved it! Go figure.

I ate some for lunch straight away and froze the rest in single serves. It's been brilliant for my lunch on study days when I need something quick and filling.

Have you had any luck changing the name of something to get your kids to like it?

Curried Veggie Slice

1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
450g grated vegetables (I used sweet potato, carrot and zucchini*)
6 eggs
50g extra virgin olive oil
100g wholemeal spelt flour (or rice flour to be gluten free)
1 ts baking powder
1 tbs veggie stock paste
1 ts curry powder
1 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (or a handful of grated cheese if not dairy free)

Grease and line a 20 x 30cm slice pan with baking paper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / 160 degrees fan-forced.

In a small bowl beat the eggs, oil, stock paste, curry powder and nutritional yeast until well combined. Place all other ingredients into a large bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the top  and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown and just set.

Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving or refrigerate until needed. Great for lunchboxes.

*make sure you squeeze out the excess liquid from the zucchini before adding it otherwise your mixture will be very wet and the slice won't bake properly.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (15th February)

We have a busy week with a few school functions and doctors appointments so dinners need to be easy and quick. Lots of components are already in the freezer like the meatballs and the chicken for the risotto. We usually do our DIY night on a Saturday but it needs to be on Wednesday this week. Being flexible is key!

Here's what is on the menu for us this week ...

Monday - Pork meatballs with rice noodles and greens

Tuesday - Chicken and corn risotto

Wednesday - DIY

Thursday - Curried sausages with cauliflower rice

Friday - Scrambled eggs, mushrooms and toast

Saturday - Homemade pizza

Sunday - Roast chicken and veg

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chocolate Bliss Balls (Nut free, Coconut free)

Chocolate Bliss Ball nut free coconut free

Well love it or loathe it, today is Valentine's Day!

We don't really celebrate it as such but do tend to have something a bit more special for dinner and I will often bake something chocolate-y for us all to enjoy. This year, being determined to keep some treats in the freezer at all times for school lunches and afternoon tea, I decided to just make a batch of chocolate bliss balls.

Yep another bliss ball recipe. I love them! They really are perfect little morsels of deliciousness.

Our school doesn't have any nut restrictions so I don't really need to make things nut free but I think it's good to mix things up a bit so we're not eating the same things all the time. I tend to avoid dates as they are so high in fructose but as a treat now and then (and especially on Valentine's Day) I'm not going to worry about it, especially as they are also a great source of fibre and oh yeah, they're delicious!

The only reason these are coconut free is that we were almost completely out of coconut! Totally unheard of in this house as there is usually coconut in all forms - coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut oil, coconut water, shredded coconut and desiccated coconut #coconutaddict.

So whether you are celebrating Valentine's Day or not, I hope you had a wonderful day!

My (Nut free, Coconut free) Chocolate Bliss Balls

3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs raw cacao
1 ts vanilla extract
1/4 ts sea salt
1/2 cup dried dates
2 tbs coconut oil

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until the mixture is sticky and clumping together (TMX 10 secs / SP 8).  Using wet hands, roll the mixture into balls and store in the fridge or freezer.

Make approximately 16

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Frozen Peanut Butter Cream Pie (Dairy Free)

I absolutely love peanut butter. I know lots of people do but unlike most people it's not something I grew up eating. In fact I don't ever remember having it as a kid. I do remember craving it when I was pregnant though and ate stacks of spelt toast with peanut butter and a sprinkle of sea salt all 3 times!

We only buy the good stuff these days, that is freshly ground 100% peanut butter with no oils or salt or anything else added. It's brilliant on crunchy green apple or even just straight from the tub on a spoon.

I was in the mood for something sweet and cool and peanut-buttery and came up with this gorgeous pie for dessert one weekend way back when I should have been packing for our move. I made it again last month and it was equally delicious. A crunchy chocolate base topped with smooth and creamy filling that was almost like ice cream. Yum!

I splurged on medjool dates for this which you can find in the fresh food section of Coles and Woolies near the herbs. You could definitely use regular dried dates instead they may just take a little extra blitzing for the filling to become really smooth.

This sets hard in the freezer so be sure to take it out at least 20 minutes before serving.


My Frozen Peanut Butter Cream Pie (Dairy Free)

200g raw almonds
75g medjool dates
20g coconut oil
20g raw cacao
pinch salt

Place all ingredients into the food processor and blitz until the mixture forms sticky crumbs (TMX 30 secs / SP 5). Press the mixture into the base of an 8 inch spring form pan lined with baking paper and place into the freezer while your prepare the filling.

200g natural peanut butter
60g medjool dates
270ml coconut cream
30ml milk of choice
20g maple syrup or raw honey

Wipe out the processor (no need to wash it) and add all ingredients. Process until smooth, around 30 seconds to 1 minute depending on your machine (TMX 30 secs / SP 7). Pour over the prepared base and place back into the freezer to set for 4-6 hours or overnight.

Remove from the freezer at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

Monday, February 8, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (8th February)

How did your meal planning go last week? Did you need to make any changes to your plan? We did!

I hadn't bargained on just how hot it was going to be and with temps in the high 30s for a few days, I had no desire to turn on the oven, or even eat dinner at all those nights to be honest.

Our baked chicken drumsticks became slow cooked teriyaki chicken in lettuce cups, and our chicken and corn risotto became chicken and salad rolls. Much more appropriate!

So even when you've made your menu plan don't be afraid to switch things up a bit if they're not working. Oh and make sure you check the weather forecast too!

What's for dinner this week ...

Monday - Sausages with pumpkin quinoa salad

Tuesday - Zucchini fritters

Wednesday - Veggie-loaded Dairy Free Lasagna

Thursday - Slow cooked Beef Madras with cauliflower rice

Friday - Pumpkin soup with focaccia

Saturday - DIY

Sunday - Roast chicken with roast veggies

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Bircher Muesli

Our kids have swimming at 8am every Sunday morning. Yep, we must be crazy! Actually it's not so bad. The classes are a little quieter at that time and let's be honest with young kids it's not like we ever get a sleep in!

Breakfast is important every day but on Sundays it's especially important as it has to be quick, easy and nourishing to give the boys lots of energy for their swim.

One of our favourites is bircher muesli aka overnight oats. Everyone has their own version of bircher muesli and this is mine. Unlike most others it does not include yoghurt or fruit juice, instead it has rice milk with cinnamon, red apple and raw honey for sweetness.

Adding seeds is a great way to increase the nutritional value - the sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium, pumpkin seeds are especially high in zinc and chia seeds provide fibre, protein and omega 3s.  Oh and they taste great too!

This is a great alternative to cereal or porridge and the possible variations are endless.

My Bircher Muesli

2 cups rolled oats
4 cups rice milk
1 ts cinnamon
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 red apple, grated (per person)
raw honey to serve

Place the oats, milk cinnamon and seeds into a large bowl and stir to combine. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, serve up into bowls and top with grated apple and a drizzle of honey.


Serves 4-6

Monday, February 1, 2016

Menu Plan Monday and my top tips for meal planning

I'm a huge fan of menu planning and it is one of the key reasons we have been able to stick to our food budget as a family of 5 on a single income. We actually plan and shop fortnightly but we have our weekly menu printed and stuck on the fridge.

Not too many years ago we were regular supermarket shoppers who didn't plan meals and didn't budget for food at all. We ended up at the shops at least three times a week and nearly always got to 5 o'clock without a plan for dinner. Since then we have had 3 children, cleaned up our diet and bought a house, so our shopping habits had to change as well.

It has taken a few years but we now buy our pantry staples like flour, oats, nuts, seeds, oils and dried fruit in bulk through a co-op every quarter, we buy most of our meat in bulk direct from the farm and store it in a chest freezer in the garage, we get our fruit and veg from the markets and just get our basics like dairy, pasta, rice etc from the supermarket.

While we would love to buy only organic it is simply not possible financially but we make the best choices we can. Our meals are all quite simple, made from scratch and family friendly. Now that the kids are back at school I also plan for school lunches and after school snacks and try to spend a few hours on a Sunday baking and prepping for the week to save time. There will nearly always be a broth simmering in the slow cooker, some bread baking in the oven and some treats like biscuits or muffins ready to stash in the freezer.

Our dinners for this week are below but in reality I also plan breakfasts, lunches and snacks as well. I find it is a great way to stay organised but also ensures that you are not eating the same things over and over again.

You can download my FREE blank meal planning template here that you can fill in yourself. If you are new to meal planning it can feel very daunting but having a planner ready to go will help. Before you start planning you can also use the template as a food diary to record what you're eating for a week and then use that information to help you plan. 

My Top Tips for Successful Meal Planning

1. Take your time - set aside an hour to write your meal plan for the first time. Gather up your favourite cookbooks and magazines, set yourself up with a notepad or laptop and make yourself a cup of tea.

2. Personalise - first go through your calendar and mark down any functions you have on that week. It could be working late, after school sport, playdates or anything else that will impact on the time you have available to cook. You probably don't want to plan a roast for those nights if you won't be home until dinner time!

3. Cook once, eat twice - this is a big one! I have learned that buying and cooking in bulk makes a huge difference to how smoothly the week runs. For example, if you want to have spaghetti bolognaise one night always do a double batch and freeze half of the prepared sauce straight after dinner to use another night for spaghetti, lasagna or turn it into savoury mince by adding some extra chopped veg and a teaspoon of curry powder (this is brilliant served on toast for a quick dinner).

4. Sunday afternoon prep - think about what can be prepared ahead of time. I always use Sunday afternoons as prep time for the week. I will get a batch of broth or a stew on to bubble away in the slowcooker, roast a chicken and shred the meat ready for 2 meals like risotto or enchiladas and bake some snacks for school lunches and afternoon teas. You can also chop veggies, marinate meat and make meals specifically for work lunches.

5. Stick with what works - if there are some meals your family is guaranteed to eat make sure you include some of them! Maybe try just 1 new recipe per week and if it's successsful add it into your regular rotation. We often don't plan anything at all for a Friday night and it is marked as DIY on the planner. Everyone chooses their own dinner and it could be leftovers, eggs or something from the freezer.

And one extra tip - don't throw away your completed menu plans! Gather all your completed meal plans in one place to refer to next time you sit down to work out your week's meals. They are great reminders when you are stuck for ideas and if you are really strapped for time you can just repeat the whole week!

Our dinners this week are ... 

Monday - Baked chicken drumsticks with mashed potato and greens

Tuesday - Vegie-loaded Spaghetti Bolognaise

Wednesday - Curried sausages with cauliflower rice

Thursday - Chicken and corn risotto

Friday - Homemade fish and chips with salad

Saturday - BBQ with friends

Sunday - Homemade pizza

Do you meal plan? What's for dinner at your place this week?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at

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