Veggie Pasta Bake with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Trying to get my toddler to eat vegetables every day is a really challenging. Considering I have been giving her green vegetables every day since she started eating, she still decided that green foods are yucky. I’m not sure how she got so picky, but I guess it’s normal for most toddlers. She also isn’t a fan of chewy her food, so if it’s not soft it comes back up. She also hates anything pureed, since she isn’t a baby anymore. Strangely pasta, rice, meat and biscuits seem to get chewed and never come back up. Despite this not eating vegetables in this house is non-negotiable. So I’m trying to normalising it as much as I can, so it doesn’t become an issue. I try not to hide the veggies, but rather serve them in a way she would prefer. Sometimes that means having something else on the table that she likes and can eat between bites. Other times we reward with stickers or shovel it down while she watches her favourite Disney song clips or TV show.

So this recipe was created to get my daughter to eat her most despised vegetables. Cauliflower and broccoli seem to be the most disliked. Green beans get choked on and leafy greens are picked out. Now when I prepare pasta or noodle dishes I try to steam the vegetables first and put them in at the last minute. That way they are soft enough but still retain their nutrients. The crunchy bread top is her reward between eating all her greeny mouthfuls. This is also a great recipe if you need to empty the fridge.

This is also a great recipe if you need to empty the fridge or just want to incorporate many vegetables into one dish. You can add or subtract depending on what you have or like to eat. If you like your cheese you can always add some grated pecorino, crumbled feta or your favourite vegan melting cheese before baking.

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Spaghetti Squash with Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce

Just because your trying to skip gluten, grains or just want a more nutritionally dense meal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Italian flavours. Spaghetti squash is an amazing vegetable that when roasted has an amazing stringy texture that can lend itself as a pasta substitute. I love big bold pasta sauces with wine. This sauce doesn’t take long to prepare and will go perfectly with any other pasta or substitute.

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Spaghetti Squash with a Sun Dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash (90g -100g)

olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic, cloves diced

1 red chilli, diced

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 can good quality tomato pulp (I used Mutti)

1/2 can filtered water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

pinch raw sugar

2 tablespoons red wine (I used Lambrusco)

8-10 black olives

8 basil leaves, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

2. Cut off the stem of the squash, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove some of the guts. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Heat a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add onion, garlic and chilli. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.

4. Then add sun dried tomato and saute for another couple of minutes. If you like add some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes or olive oil.

5. Add the tomato pulp, water,  sea salt, black pepper, raw sugar. Bring to a light boil, then leave to simmer.

6. Add the red wine and black olives. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is cooked. Add more sea salt and pepper if you need to the sauce.

7. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to produce small strains of spaghetti.

8. Before serving, add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir it through to them let it wilt.

9. Top the Spaghetti Squash flesh with the sauce.

*Serves 2

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Spelt Pumpkin Baked Donuts

I was so inspired by my recent visit to Nodo, I decided to create my own baked donuts. Mine aren’t gluten-free however, they are vegan, soy-free and nut-free. They are also made from mostly spelt and with fresh pumpkin, so they nutritious and easier to digest. Coconut sugar also works beautifully in them, so they are just sweet enough. I hope you like them!

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Winter Potato topped Bean Casseroles

Winter seems to have come early in Brisbane. So it’s time for winter casseroles to warm these bones. I love topping casseroles with creamy mashed potatoes or sliced potato. It just gives a casserole another yummy layer and a bit more heartiness. I prefer to use Dutch cream potatoes, as they mash well and soften well when cooked. These two casseroles are easy to put together but need a bit more time to prepare the ingredients before baking.

 

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Tempting Italian Tempeh Recipes

Have you seen tempeh in the supermarket, heard of its wonderful health benefits but not known what to do with it? Or have you bought it, tried to cook it and vowed never again? That actually did happen to me the first time I tried it. But then after cooking it again using some trusty recipes I feel more comfortable cooking it.

All these recipes are Italian inspired, cooked in rich tomato sauces. I found this is my favourite way to cook tempeh, as it has a very meaty in texture but it needs strong flavours to make it tasty. Chickpea or Fava tempeh should also work for these recipes.

What’s your favourite way to cook tempeh?

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Kidney Bean Casserole with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

Now the weather is cooling down its time for stews, soups, and casseroles. This is one of my favourite casseroles. It’s easy to make and I just love the Cheddar Dumping Topping. You can swap the beans for cannellini beans or chickpeas. You ca also empty the vegetables from your fridge and use what you have on hand.

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Kidney Bean Casserole with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

(vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew:

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 large brown onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 bunch shallots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 red capsicum, diced

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 can good quality tomato pulp

2 zucchini (diced)

2 cups cooked kidney beans

2 cups vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Dumplings:

200 g self-raising flour

100 g grated Cheezly White Cheddar Style/vegan or organic cheddar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

6-7 tablespoons ice cold water

5 tablespoons vegan butter

 

Method:

1. Heat a large oven proof pot with olive oil. Then add onion and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes and as it starts to brown, add celery and shallots and cook for a further 5 minutes.

2. Add carrots, capsicum and white wine. Continue to cook until the wine is absorbed.

3. Add the paprika, liquid smoke, lemon thyme, bay leaves and parsley.

4. Saute the vegetables for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato pulp. Continue to cook until the carrots start to soften

5. Add the zucchini, kidney beans, liquid stock, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then leave to a simmer for 30 minutes.

6. In the meantime preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

7. Before placing the stew in the oven, prepare the dumplings. In a large mixing bowl add flour, cheddar, and parsley. Then add the butter and mix it through with your hands. Then add cold water one tablespoon at a time, until it forms a dough.

8. Roll the dough into about 12 balls.

9. Top the stew with the dumplings on the outer edge.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, then serve.

*Serves 6

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Frosting

Today was my beautiful girl’s 2nd birthday. I can’t believe that this little person has been in our life for such a short time but has brought us so much joy. I couldn’t imagine life without her now.

She was so excited about her big day. Ever since it was her father’s birthday she knows that birthday equals cake. She was extra bubbly and a little bit cheeky and frustrating at times, but nothing took that smile off her face. I had grand plans of getting her a build-a-bear, but after she rearranged the store we reconsidered. She was still very happy that she got to sushi train and that her cousins came to visit.

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I wanted to make something special for her big day. I also wanted to trial my recipe before her big troll party on the weekend. These strawberry cupcakes feature a surprise strawberry center and the frosting is spiked with strawberry jam. According to the family, they were delicious. Octavia really enjoyed her as well. The only thing I may change before the big day is to use white sugar instead of coconut sugar. This is only to allow the natural food colouring to change the colour of the cupcake. I did try a bit in the batter but that caramel colour would not budge.

I also made a batch of mini cupcakes for Octavia’s kindy class. I used the same recipe but just cut the strawberries in halves or quarters and cooked the 36 cupcakes for only 12 minutes.

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Frosting

(vegan, nut free)

Cupcake Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups unbleached plain flour

1 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp himalayan sea salt

1 cup soy milk or other plant milk

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

12 frozen strawberries

Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegan butter

3 cups powdered sugar

½ cup smooth Strawberry jam

natural red food coloring (optional)

100’s & 1000’s (natural coloured, optional)

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Sweet Potato Soup: two ways

The humble sweet potato makes a regular appearance on our dinner table. It is so nutritious and contains high amounts of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, carotenoids. We eat a lot of them at the moment since its one of the few vegetables my toddler will eat on her own accord. We usually roast them whole or in rounds. I also love to add them to soups to both thicken and add sweetness. These are a couple of my favourite sweet potato soup recipes, which are sure to satisfy the largest appetite.

 

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Favourite Eggplant Recipes

Eggplant has to be one of my favorite vegetables. Whether it’s fried, grilled, or baked, it always makes a meal hearty and comforting. I mostly use the larger common variety as they are nice and fleshy and great to stuff, layer, and fry.

These are some of my favourite go-to eggplant recipes, which are all vegan and gluten free. The Rolled Eggplant with Cannellini bean Pine nut Filling is nice to serve as an entree for a small dinner party and is sure to wow. My Eggplant Parmigiana is a one-pot casserole, which is great to feed a crowd. The Eggplant Katsu with Japanese Curry is a twist on a Japanese classic and a great midweek meal.

Another one of my favourite eggplant recipe which isn’t my own, but I love to serve at all our events is Roasted aubergine with sumac and tahini dressing. It’s one of those dishes that everyone wants the recipe for and easy to prepare in advance.

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Mini Chocolate Raspberry Surprise Cupcakes with Chocolate Avocado Frosting

One of my favourite desserts to make for parties and family get-togethers are these mini cupcakes. They are great to serve on the dessert table or when you have an event where you need to bring-a-plate. They look quite impressive and plentiful and everyone will be happy they got to try one.

This recipe is a hybrid between Chloe Coscarelli’s Yoga Cupcakes (Chloe’s Vegan Desserts) and Angela Lidden (The Oh She Glows Cookbook) Chocolate Avocado Frosting. I cook a lot from both of these books. So I often take inspiration from these recipes and make them mine own. I have used the Chocolate Avocado Frosting to make Angela’s Double Layer Chocolate Fudge cake. It was so lovely, moist and decadent. I found that it goes perfectly with these cupcakes. Everyone who has tried them can not tell that it’s not a traditional frosting and that it has avocado and no icing sugar. I usually have heaps leftover, so I enjoy it as a chocolate mousse dessert when everyone goes home.

The photos of these cupcakes are from Octavia’s first birthday.  They were one of a few different vegan dessert options. I made the Cupcakes, Vanilla Star Cookies, Cherry Hand Pies, Buckeyes. The Baklava was made by a friend and the Strawberry Shortcake Cake with Buttercream with made by Cloverly Cupcakes. The cake was tasted amazing and was huge. What I love about their vegan cupcakes and cakes is that they are made from wholemeal flour, organic raw sugar and natural, non-processed ingredients where possible. This was a little while ago so it won’t be long until I have to do this all again for her second birthday.

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Zucchini Pancakes

Pancakes are one of those meals that you can whip up anytime when you don’t have much on hand. I prefer to eat savoury pancakes unless  I am having them for dessert or second breakfast. My daughter absolutely loves pancakes. It’s one of the few things that she will eat on her own in it’s entirely. Luckily she hasn’t experienced the sweet side of pancakes yet and prefers to eat even plain pancakes with peanut butter.

This recipe is a quick one that is stuffed with fresh zucchini and lightly spiced with cumin. It’s great for picky eaters who won’t even notice the taste of the zucchini (they may notice the flex of green though). But as long as it tastes good there’s no harm right!

I served these pancakes for a quick dinner with sauteed paprika corn, avocado, and cherry tomatoes. They would also be nice with salsa or tomato relish, a side salad and guacamole.

Zucchini Pancakes

(vegetarian, dairy free, nut free, vegan option)

Ingredients:

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup unbleached plain flour or light spelt lflour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1.5 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1 egg or 1 flax egg

1 cup plant milk, preferably unsweetened

freshly cracked black pepper

olive oil to cook

Method: 

1.Grate the zucchini. Squeeze out the moisture from the zucchini. I used a few paper towels to do this.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cumin and sea salt in a mixing bowl and whisk.

3. In a separate bowl beat the egg, add the milk and whisk.

4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and whisk until smooth.

5. Stir in the zucchini and cracked black pepper.

6. Heat a crepe maker, cast iron pan or nonstick pan and add olive oil to coat.

7. Cook each pancake for a couple of minutes on one side and when bubbles start to form, flip over on the other side for another minute or until cooked through.

* Makes 4 big pancakes

 

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Chocolate Berry Overnight Oats

In this hot Australian summer the last thing you want to eat is a hot bowl of oats at the moment. I prefer to soak the oats overnight and enjoy them chilled the next morning. Overnight oats are one of the quickest and easiest breakfast to make. They are great for busy people who don’t have time to make breakfast.

To make overnight oats you only need to combine a few ingredients in a sealed container. Then place in the fridge overnight and enjoy the next day (or at least 4-5 hours later).

To prepare overnight oats you just need these few ingredients:

  • rolled oats, with or without chia seeds mixed in
  • plant-based milk
  • mashed banana/frozen berries/coconut yogurt
  • any spices or other fruit (dried/fresh)
  • sweetener such as maple syrup, agave or honey

There are so many flavour combinations you can make. Chocolate Berry Overnight Oats is one of my recipes. The cacao gives a slight caffeine hit to wake you up and the berries are full of antioxidants. If you find your oats aren’t as sweet as you may like, then hold off adding the sweetener until you just about to eat it them.

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