Monday, April 25, 2016

Healthier ANZAC Slice

Healthier ANZAC Slice from

It just wouldn't be Anzac Day without Anzac Biscuits. I did a round-up of healthy Anzac biscuits on Friday and then posted on Facebook yesterday that I also made some Really Healthy Anzac Biscuits. But I couldn't just leave it at that!

We had friends around for breakfast today and I wanted to make something sweet to finish our meal. A quick search found lots of different recipes for Anzac Slice and I chose one to tweak. This is still very sweet and definitely a sometimes food but overall far healthier than the regular white flour and golden syrup varieties.

It went down a treat - this recipe is a keeper!

Healthier Anzac Slice
Adapted from Cooking in the Chaos

130g white spelt flour
90g rolled oats
65g shredded coconut
150g butter
120g rice malt syrup
40g coconut sugar
1/2 ts bicarb soda

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

Grease a slice pan (mine was 15 x 23 cm) and line with baking paper.

Mix together the flour, oats, coconut and coconut sugar in a large bowl.

Place the butter and syrup into a small pan and melt over medium heat. Add the bicarb and stir as it bubbles and froths. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for approx 20 minutes or until golden brown and pulling away from the sides. Leave to cool in the pan before slicing into squares (12) or bars (16).

This is a really forgiving recipe and you can easily swap out the flour or sweeteners for whatever you happen to have.


Chili with Beef, Chocolate and Pumpkin (SRC)

Slow cooked Beef Chili with Chocolate and Pumpkin from
This month marks the last official month for Group D in the Secret Recipe Club. Group D has been my home within SRC since I started back in February 2013 so it feels a little strange to be moving on!  Next month I will be in Group C which posts on the third Monday of the month and I'm really excited to discover a whole new group of blogs and bloggers.

This month I was absolutely delighted to be assigned Lavender and Lovage by Karen, who is truly living the dream dividing her time between England and France. Karen's blog is absolutely beautiful and she has recipes for everything from simple home cooked favourites to regional specialities to fabulous breads and desserts.

I've had Karen's blog before and last time I chose to make her Saffron and Cardamom Sweet Buns which were so amazingly good my kids still talk about them! This time I wanted something seasonal and luckily Karen has some wonderful Autumn recipes to choose from.

I loved Karen's description of Autumn in Bonfire Chili with Beef, Chocolate and Pumpkin - she speaks of crisp misty mornings, crackling leaves, log fires, fireside suppers and hot chocolate. Where I live Autumn simply means that night time temperatures might finally slip into the teens but don't get too excited because it could still be 30 degrees during the day! I really do think I live on the wrong continent.

I initially planned on baking her Harvest Apple Cake which is a wonderfully simple apple sponge cake that would be equally good for afternoon tea or dessert. 

But whether it was from dreaming of being in a true northern hemisphere Autumn or just the fact the recipe sounded so intriguing, I ended up choosing to make the Bonfire Chili. I've never made a chili quite like this one with chocolate and pumpkin and when the weather actually turned cool and rainy it seemed it was meant to be.

I chose to make the chili in the slow cooker which I love doing at any time of the year but has become my default these days as it makes dinner time so much easier to have a meal sitting there ready to go. We served the chili with some plain rice but it would be equally delicious with corn chips and cheese.

It was a hearty and warming dish to have on a cool night and my Mr 7 cleaned his plate not once, not twice but three times! I've never used chocolate in a savoury recipe before although I know it's quite common in Mexico. The chocolate made the sauce much richer and more complex without being overly chocolate-y. My husband also gave it the thumbs up despite hating pumpkin with a passion and having to pick around it to get his serve.

Slow cooked Beef Chili with Chocolate and Pumpkin from

Slow Cooked Beef Chili with Chocolate and Pumpkin
Adapted from Lavender and Lovage

1kg casserole beef, diced into large chunks
2 medium onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
500g pumpkin, diced the same size as the beef
1 small red chili, finely sliced
2 ts ground cumin
2 ts ground coriander
1 ts dried oregano
1/2 ts cinnamon
1/2 - 1 ts chili powder
500g tomato passata
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs coconut sugar
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans
70g dark chocolate (I used Green & Blacks 70%)
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into the slow cooker and mix well.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

Serve with rice.

Serves 6-8

Thank you Karen for a lovely recipe and a wonderful final month for Group D!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Turning 7

I can't even believe it but my big boy turned 7 yesterday. 7! We couldn't be prouder of this kind, curious, funny boy with the infectious laugh and big heart. Love him to bits!

No birthday party this year (we've decided to alternate birthday parties for the boys and he had one last year which I talked about here), instead he took some cupcakes to share with his classmates and we had family over for birthday cake and pizza - his choice.

Being a wholefood and low sugar family birthdays always pose a dilemma for me. While we don't want to take an 'anything goes' approach, we also don't want to restrict treats when to me, having something once a year on your birthday is the very definition of a treat.

So while these recipes definitely contain more sugar than is normal for us, they are also free from artificial additives and full of less-refined ingredients such as spelt flour, raw cacao, coconut sugar and grass-fed butter. And I'm totally ok with that.

Mr 7 was very clear that he wanted mini chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing for school, and chocolate number 7 cake with vanilla icing and sprinkles for home.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

125g melted butter
100g coconut sugar
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
170 g white spelt flour
2 1/2 ts baking powder
40g raw cacao
2/3 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 150 degrees fan-forced / 170 degrees Celsius. Line 2 mini cupcake pans with 36 paper cupcake liners and set aside.

Place all ingredients into a large bowl, in the order listed, and mix with electric beaters for about 1 minute until smooth and well combined.

If you have a thermomix, place all ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix for 30 secs / SP 4, scraping down the sides as needed.

Spoon heaped teaspoons of mixture into the prepared tins, filling each just over half full.

Bake for 9-10 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed lightly. Do not overcook!

Makes 36

Chocolate Icing

90g softened butter
1/3 cup raw cacao
1 1/2 cups powdered coconut sugar (grind coconut sugar in thermomix or high powered blender until as fine as icing sugar and measure after grinding)
1 ts vanilla extract
1 tbs coconut milk

Hoppers 00s & 000s to decorate

Grind the coconut sugar first and then measure out 1 1/2 cups, reserving any extra for another time. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Pour 00s & 000s into a small bowl.

Spread icing on the top of each cupcake then dip lightly into the sprinkles to decorate.

I'm told the cupcakes went down very well at school!

Next was his birthday cake for home. Now I've tried many recipes over the years and I knew that not all of them would work for a shaped cake like this one. I need something that wouldn't fall apart when it was sliced. Rather than reinvent the wheel I decided to tweak a few recipes I've made before and come up with my own.

Wholefood Chocolate Sheet Cake

400g white spelt flour
100g raw cacao powder
2 tbs baking powder
250g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 ts fine sea salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
500g rice malt syrup
250ml water
1 ts vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius / 150 degrees fan-forced. Grease a 23 x 33cm tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Place all ingredients into a large bowl and using electric beaters, beat together at low speed until combined, then on high speed for 2 minutes until smooth and glossy.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approx 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

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

Vanilla Icing

125g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup organic icing sugar*
1/2 cup powdered coconut sugar (see chocolate icing above)
1 ts vanilla extract
1-2 tbs coconut milk

Combine all ingredients in thermomix or large bowl with electric beaters and beat until smooth and pale.

*I have experimented using all coconut sugar for the icing before and while the flavour was amazing it was quite caramel in colour which was not the look I wanted here. Next year I will be pushing harder for a chocolate icing so I can use all coconut sugar and some avocado as well.

I used a template to cut out the number 7 shape and did a crumb coat and second coat of icing before decorating with Hopper's 00s and 000s which are free from artificial additives.

So that's it. Our sweet but additive free birthday cakes for our sweet Mr 7.

How do you handle birthday parties at your place? Do you have certain foods that you just won't serve or does anything go?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (18th April)

Is is starting to get cooler where you are? The weather is definitely changing here and we are loving the cooler Autumn nights. It means that soups, casseroles and slow cooked meals are well and truly back on the menu. Yippee! My big boy turns 7 this week and he has chosen homemade pizza for his birthday dinner with birthday cake for dessert.

On the menu this week ...

Monday - Slow cooked roast chicken with cinnamon sweet potato and greens

Tuesday - Leftovers from freezer

Wednesday - Pizza and birthday cake

Thursday - Slow cooked beef madras

Friday - Grain free pancakes with bacon

Saturday - Hash browns with poached eggs and avocado

Sunday - Baked veggie spring rolls

Monday - Sausage and vege bake

Tuesday - Lemon and coconut dahl with rice

Wednesday - Spaghetti bolognaise

Thursday - Chicken and cauliflower risotto (with leftover roast chicken)

Friday - DIY

SaturdayPumpkin and apple soup with focaccia

Sunday - Nasi goreng

What's on your meal plan this week?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dairy Free Chocolate Panna Cotta

Well I don't know where the last week has gone! The kids went back to school on Monday and we've been easing ourselves back into normal routine. Early starts in the morning, less time to cook, homework to do - I'm sure you all know about that!

If you've been following me on Facebook you will have seen my whoops moment today. You see there was a blackout a few nights ago and the next morning our oven wouldn't turn on. Which is a pretty much a complete disaster for someone who bakes as often as I do! Anyway after stressing for a few days about whether we could replace it now or survive without one for a while, I realised I hadn't reset the clock on the oven after the blackout and as soon as I did, voila! It worked! Whew.

Today though I'm sharing a recipe which doesn't require an oven and was so delicious my kids haven't stopped talking about it!

While panna cotta is traditionally a dairy-laden dessert, this version gives you the same ultra creamy result with coconut cream. This is essentially the richest, creamiest most luscious custard you will ever eat, with the gelatine allowing it to set enough to be turned out while still having a bit of a wobble. Just gorgeous.


Dairy Free Chocolate Panna Cotta
Adapted from The Nourished Psychologist

400g coconut cream
200g non-dairy milk (rice or coconut work well)
2 eggs
20g coconut oil
1/4 cup raw cacao
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 ts vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 ts Great Lakes gelatine

Place all ingredients into the Thermomix and cook for 7.5 minutes / 80 degrees / SP 4.

Pour mixture into 4 cups or ramekins and place in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Serve topped with berries.

No thermomix? No worries. You can make this on the stove top by following the link above to the original method (I did make a few changes to the recipe).

Makes 4

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dairy Free Strawberry Muffins

Dairy free Strawberry Muffins - wholefood - free from wheat and refined sugar - from

I feel like I've lost my baking mojo a little over the past few weeks. The kids and I have all been taking turns to get sick and I just had my first exam of the year, so time and energy has been pretty low. Every weekend I've just been baking the essentials of bread, a couple of snacks for the week and prepping some dinners.

Today though I was inspired to whip up something yummy for the boys to have for afternoon tea. The sun was shining, I had nowhere to be and there was a punnet of strawberries calling my name!

We are huge fans of strawberries but it's rare that I cook with them, they just never seem to last long enough.

Did you know that strawberries are one of the highest spayed crops? So if you can't get organic berries then washing them well is essential. I tip strawberries into a bowl, cover with water and a splash of apple cider vinegar and leave them to soak for 5 minutes before rinsing. Easy. If you have an abundance of fresh strawberries you can wash them, trim the tops off and freeze to use later.

The boys loved these muffins. They are light and sweet and packed with fresh strawberry flavour. I would like to say I know they'll freeze well but there weren't any left for me to find out!

I got 8 full muffins from this recipe but you could probably stretch the mixture to 12.

My Dairy Free Strawberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 ts baking powder
1/4 ts salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup non-dairy milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 ts vanilla extract
1 punnet strawberries, washed and quartered

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 160 degrees fan-forced. Place 8 paper liners in a muffin tray and set aside.

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and use a whisk to combine.

Place the wet ingredients into a jug and whisk together until smooth.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently until only just combined. Fold through the strawberries reserving a handful to scatter on top of the muffins.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray, about 2/3 full, and top with reserved strawberries.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and the top springs back when pressed lightly.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Makes 8

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What are whole foods and why eat them?

What are whole foods and why we should eat them from

Not too many years ago we were a typical household, spending a fortune at the supermarket every week and coming home with piles of packets, jars and cans. The pantry never seemed big enough to hold all the packaged food and if I'm honest, I liked seeing the pantry full - it gave me a sense of security.

Fast forward to when our first child was ready to start solids and I had no idea what I should be feeding him. The advice was to start with processed rice cereal but that never sat quite right with me. Surely just plain fruit or vegetables would be better? We then discovered quite quickly that he was intolerant to wheat and dairy and did an overhaul of the ingredients we bought for him, even if not so much for ourselves.

How important is our diet to our overall health? 

It was only when we were trying for our third baby and suffered two devastating miscarriages along the way that we really began to look at what we were eating. We wanted to be as healthy as possible and it didn't take too much research to tell us that diet has a massive impact on physical and mental health.

The turning point for me was finding Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar and reading Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. I realised we had fallen into the trap of pseudo-healthy processed foods - high sugar, high carb, low fat filler foods with very little nutritional value. All the veggies in the world weren't going to balance that out! We had to do a major overhaul and start fresh. It was time to eat cleanly.

What is clean eating?

Clean eating is all about refreshing your eating habits and really getting back to basics. Embracing fresh, whole foods and choosing the most natural and healthy option from all the food groups. The term whole foods refers to foods that are are as close to their natural state as possible with minimal or no processing or additives. They are clean foods that retain their nutrients and nourish the body. As an example a tomato is a wholefood - tinned tomato soup is not!

As I've explained before, eating this way has been a journey of discovery for us and not something that happened overnight. We are now at the point where I make nearly everything from scratch including bread, but this has been a long time coming.

Great reasons to switch from processed foods to wholefoods

Living a long and healthy life is clearly the major reason to ditch the processed stuff but there are tons of other great reasons like:
  • boosting your nutrition which can boost your immunity and cut cravings, 
  • improving behaviour and mood by removing artificial additives like colours and preservatives
  • feeling fuller allowing you to eat less and lose weight
A wholefoods diet is not restrictive at all and in fact, no food is off limits. Want potato chips? No problem, just make them yourself with fresh potatoes and a good quality fat (these garlic fries were amazing). Want chocolate cake? Choose a recipe with spelt flour, nuts, 85% cocoa chocolate, butter, eggs and free from refined sugar (check out my Chocolate Orange Celebration Cake). It is amazing how satisfying these foods are when made from scratch with quality ingredients. And it makes it much easier to stop at just one piece!

Does it have to be organic to be healthy?

Something I get asked a lot is whether we eat organic and the answer is, no. Well not completely anyway. Budget-wise eating 100% organic is simply not possible for us.  There is no doubt that organic is better for you and if money were no object we would absolutely choose organic. However, organic is not the defining factor when it comes to whole foods. A carrot is a healthy and delicious whole food whether it is organic or not so don't let that stop you!

And speaking of fruits and vegetables, you may have heard of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen put out by the US Environmental Working Group. These are a great guide as to whether it is worth buying organic. Using a guide like this is a way to stretch your food budget further by only buying the organic food that is really worth it.

Free Printables

I have created a free printable of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 for you which are now in my resource library. Want access? Subscribe here for free instant access to all the materials in the resource library, with new content being added all the time!

Next week we'll be talking about how to set up your wholefoods kitchen including taking inventories of pantry, fridge and freezer so you're not throwing money away. If you like this post you can also sign up to get new posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (4th April)

Menu plan Monday - wholefood meal plan on a budget - from

Welcome to April everyone! Can you believe it? We're a month into Autumn and although the days are ever so slightly shorter and the nights a little cooler, it's still hot, hot, hot during the day.

We have one week of school holidays left and then it's back to school for the second week of this fortnight so our meal plan reflects that change. We leave at 6.45am on Wednesdays and Thursdays during term time so I like to have breakfast pre-prepared (things like overnight oats work well) and dinner either super-quick or in the slow cooker on those days. It is an absolute lifesaver and gives me the maximum amount of time to study without domestic interruptions (I feel like I should hashtag that!).

What we're eating this fortnight ...

Monday - Slow cooked chicken with potatoes and bacon

Tuesday - Lemon and coconut dahl

Wednesday - Spaghetti Bolognaise

Thursday - Veggie quiche

Friday - Brinner (brown rice pancakes and scrambled eggs)

Saturday - Homemade pizza

Sunday - Za’atar chicken with salad

Monday - Stir fry (with leftover pork from the freezer)

Tuesday - Shepherd's Pie

Wednesday - Slow cooked curried sausages

Thursday - Creamy chicken and avocado pasta (with leftover chicken)

Friday - DIY

Saturday - Burgers (with meat patties from the freezer)

Sunday - Dinner out with family

What's on the menu at your place this week?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding

Hot cross bun and butter pudding with leftover hot cross buns - dairy free - from

I am a huge fan of bread and butter pudding, it's the ultimate in comfort food. Making it with hot cross buns really takes it up another level though with the spice and sultanas.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit I actually made this batch of hot cross buns especially to make this pudding. Because there is zero chance I would ever get to make it because we never have leftover hot cross buns!

I used home made hot cross buns for this but of course any would do. Just make sure they are at least a day or so old so they soak up all the delicious custard.

And with that we say goodbye to hot cross buns for another year.

My Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding

6 leftover hot cross buns
1 cup coconut cream*
2 cups rice milk*
2 ts vanilla extract
1 tbs coconut sugar
3 eggs
6 ts marmalade*

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

In a jug beat together the coconut cream, milk, vanilla, coconut sugar and eggs until well combined.

Slice the hot cross buns through the middle and place the bottom halves in a greased deep baking dish. Spread each one with a teaspoon of marmalade.

Pour over half of the milk mixture, replace the tops of the buns and pour over the remaining mixture.

Leave to rest, covered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the buns to absorb about 1/2 the liquid.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and the custard is only just set in the middle (it should still have a wobble).

Stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

* if not dairy free you can replace with regular cream, milk and butter for a more traditional bread and butter pudding.

Do you ever have leftover hot cross buns? Or are you more likely to have a stash of Easter eggs hidden somewhere?
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