Slow Cooked Porridge – with apple, cinnamon and maple syrup

20140714-090914.jpg

The Best Winter Breakfast. EVER!
This morning we woke to the most delicious aroma of cinnamon and apple wafting through the house. If you ever needed a reason to get out of bed on a chilly morning, this is it!
J5 declared “yummy!” And R2 took one look at his bowl and said, “don’t like porridge.” Which is typical, but I managed to dot a small amount on the bottom of his lip from the spoon and watched his scowl turn into a smile declaring, “I do like porridge!”
Bowls were licked clean and with basically no effort at all, little bellies were sent off to kinder warm and content.

*Note: as this this breakfast cooks itself over night, it will only work if you’re a bit of a night owl like me as it will be ready in 6-7 hours. I put it on before bed at 11.30pm and it is ready to eat when we get up at 6.30am.

SLOW COOKED PORRIDGE with apple, cinnamon and maple syrup
Serves 4

1. 2 cups of rolled oats
2. 2 chopped apples – I used red delicious as that’s what I had but any variety will work fine.
3. 2 tablespoons maple syrup
4. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
5. 4 cups of water

Combine in your slow cooker/crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
Dish into bowls and let stand for a couple of minutes while it cools and thickens a little.
Serve as is or with milk, extra honey, chopped almonds, fresh grated apple… Etc
Enjoy the goodness 🙂

Check out my facebook page

Advertisements

Lentil Pot Pie

Before I moved in with and married my husband, I ate very little meat. I suppose I was a student then and couldn’t afford a lot of it. I also lived in lots of share houses over the years with vegetarians, and with communal cooking, it was generally just easier to cook vego. Canned tuna and chicken were probably my main meat source, maybe a lamb kebab after a big night out… although I did waitress at a few cafes and probably had a beef salad here or there and a good weekend fry-up with bacon.
These days, we eat a fair amount of meat. I was seriously anaemic earlier this year and it really knocked me around so I have been more conscious of the amount of iron I’m getting in. That, and I live with 3 meat loving males.
I still aim for about two, sometimes three, meat free dinners per week. Always ‘Meat Free Monday’ and generally an omelette, a frittata or something bean or vegetable based else where. The reality is, organic or good quality, grass fed meat is more expensive but ethically, it is all that I’m willing to buy. I like to think the animals we eat have had a good life and have been treated well. Factory farming is an absolute disgrace and it is pleasing to see the beginnings of a move away from that sort of food production in this country.
Anyway, as I said, my men love their meat so I tend to entice them into their vegetarian meals by making them hearty and with simple flavours. This one is a real people pleaser… Especially if it’s a little chilly where you are!

20131125-212307.jpg

Lentil Pot Pie (Serves 4)

4 large potatoes (or sweet potatoes) peeled and chopped.
* I used red potatoes tonight as they were on special and for a bit of a treat. We eat very few potatoes, usually opting instead for the sweet potato for its low GI (slow release energy) properties.
1/2 an onion, diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1.5 cups diced vegetables (I use frozen peas, corn and carrots in this, as they are kid friendly, quick and easy)
1 tin organic tomatoes or 4-6 diced fresh tomatoes
1 tin organic brown lentils, drained and rinsed. (look for BPA free tinned goods. I use the Global Organics brand)
1 tablespoon organic BBQ sauce. (I use the Macro brand)
Cracked sea salt and pepper (use pink Himalayan, Celtic sea salt, or Murray river salt – hasn’t been stripped of all it’s nutrition!)
Optional: Vegan butter, plant milk, olive oil, vegan cheese etc… for mashed potatoes.

20131125-213916.jpg
Here’s How

Boil your potatoes in a large pot.

Gently sauté onion and garlic.

* if using fresh diced veggies instead of frozen, add now and sauté.

Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil then reduce heat.

Add frozen veggies, lentils and BBQ sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes.

20131125-214858.jpg

Fill individual ramekins (or one large oven proof dish) dividing the mixture as you see fit. I put a little less in the kids ones.

Mash potatoes to your liking – I add grass fed butter, salt and pepper and a splash of full cream, organic milk.

Top each dish with potato and if using, a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Place under a grill or in a hot oven to melt the cheese.

20131125-215939.jpg

Enjoy 🙂

Check out my Facebook page!

Garlic and Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

20131120-154832.jpg

HERE’S HOW:
Smash four, fat garlic cloves and combine in a clean jar with 4 teaspoons of dried rosemary (or 1 or 2 sprigs of fresh) and approximately 2 cups of good quality extra virgin olive oil to fill the jar.

Place lid on tightly and leave for flavour to infuse at least overnight.

Store in a dark pantry or for small portions, if you prefer, transfer to ice cube trays to store in fridge or freezer.

To be honest, I’m not sure how long it will keep for as I’ve always used mine from the pantry within a few weeks but I should think at least 6 months. If in doubt, halve recipe and use a smaller jar.

This is delicious for roasting vegetables, lamb or beef, using in pasta sauce and risotto, or sautéing vegetables such as mushrooms and tomatoes.

Why not make a lovely gift tag and give someone a jar for Christmas?

Enjoy 🙂

Checkout my Facebook page

Meat Free Monday – Beans, Greens and Rice

The sun makes me a much better person. After a long and miserable winter, Spring has a lot to answer for here, with nonstop dreary overcast skies, rain and unexpected cold snaps. Honestly, at one point last week I had to stop and remind myself that we are coming into summer here, not winter.
Finally today though, sun glorious sun!
As well as feeling happier in general, I got so much done today. Four loads of washing, washed, dried and folded, the house cleaned and vacuumed while the kids happily played outside, took the kids for a ride on their bikes, watered the garden, went for a well needed walk, alone, I might add! Just what the doctor ordered.
And of course, I cooked dinner… I was speaking to a friend the other day, (a mother of three boys and a hungry husband) who is trying to introduce at least one meat free meal per week. But she says she struggles to fill her men up and finds them sniffing around the kitchen after dinner. I recommend including a good source of protein via eggs or legumes and adding fat to satiate that appetite like olive oil, avocado, cheese, butter etc…
This dish keeps my menfolk full and happy 🙂

20131118-202338.jpg
BEANS, GREENS AND RICE
2 garlic cloves, fined chopped or minced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 capsicum (pepper) or 1/2 each of two colours. (I used 1/2 red, 1/2 yellow)
1 zucchini, diced
1 can organic cannelini beans, rinsed
1 jar organic passata (or two tins diced tomatoes)
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups baby spinach
Fresh leafy herbs to serve such as basil, or parsley
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste (I use pink Himalayan salt)
1- 2 tbs Extra virgin olive oil*

*Note:I used garlic and rosemary infused olive oil. You can find the recipe for this on my Facebook Page in November 2013.

20131118-205024.jpg

Here’s How:

Sauté your vegetables in the olive oil on a medium – high heat until slightly softened

Add passata, salt, pepper and dried herbs and turn heat up to high

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium- low and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Add beans and cooked rice and heat through.

Stir through baby spinach and turn off heat immediately.

Serve topped with fresh herbs and grated cheese if you wish.

Enjoy 🙂

COCOA POPS (WITHOUT THE CRAP)

20131104-203258.jpg
My little four year old has recently discovered commercial television in the mornings, and has abandoned the family friendly, quality viewing on ABC 4 KIDS, in favour of cartoons like “The Power rangers” and other typical, action packed boy shows. This in itself, is fine. What I’m really not enjoying though, is his exposure to the brainwashing of relentless advertisements.
Every morning, it’s “can you buy this mum? Can we get that? Can I have those?”
Argh!!! It’s bad enough when the “Toy Sale” catalogues arrive. He takes them to bed at night, pouring over every page and adding junk item after junk item to his wish list.
Now, I’m guilty of perusing the junk mail myself and making mental wish lists, but as an adult, I understand that in life, we can’t have everything we desire. (Thank goodness! Every cupboard in my house is bursting at the hinges as it is!)
But it’s harder for kids to accept that.
Especially when a magical fat man comes once a year and fills their sacks with desired goodies.
As a parent, it’s not always fun saying no, no, no. No we can’t go there, no you can’t have that, no you can’t eat that because its full of crap that will give you rashy cheeks and turn you into a lunatic…
So when he came to me this morning saying “Look mum! Cocoa pops! Just like a chocolate milkshake! Only crunchy! Can you buy them? Pleeeeease!!! I want those for breakfast!”
Today, instead of saying no, I said “yep, we can have cocoa pops, I’ll make you some.”

Cocoa Pops (without the crap)

Organic puffed rice – nothing added (I use the “Abundant earth” brand from the health food aisle in Coles supermarket )

Chocolate Milk

In a blender, combine:

1 litre (4 cups) almond milk (or milk of your choice)

1 Tbs cacao

1 Tbs maple or rice malt syrup

Pour desired amount over a bowl of puffed rice and reminisce your childhood.

Or at least feel like a good parent for reaching a happy healthy compromise 🙂

Note: While ridiculously better for your kids than store-bought cocoa pops, I still don’t think it’s an ideal choice for breakfast every day. It is free from refined sugars, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives which is awesome, but its still not very nutrient dense. Adding some protein like a sprinkle of chia seeds would be beneficial and topping with some sliced banana and or blueberries would be great for some extra fibre, vitamins and antioxidants!

The chocolate milk will keep in a jar for a couple of days or you could gently heat it on the stove and have hot chocolates for afternoon tea. Yum!

20131104-214554.jpg

Enjoy 🙂

Checkout my Facebook page

Beautiful Bone Broth

20131005-104338.jpg

Dear lovely Vegan friends, look away now.

I’ve been making my own nourishing, flavour packed stock for about a year now and as well as being so good for us, it adds such a depth of flavour to so many meals. Well, actually, I’ve recently learned that what I’ve been making is in fact broth not stock. The difference apparently being that meat stock is the product of slow cooking pieces of meat (such as a whole chicken) in water flavoured with some veggies, herbs, salt and pepper, while bone broth is as it sounds, a flavoursome broth made from roasted bones, slow cooked in water, also flavoured by veggies, herbs, salt and pepper.
Both are delicious and full of healthful gut healing and immune boosting properties. As the meat or bones are cooked, their nutrients are slowly released into the water – vitamins (particularly the B vitamins) amino acids, nourishing fats and minerals. Meats cooked in water are a good choice for people with digestive issues as they are easier to digest than roasted, grilled etc…
This is hardly a new concept or surprising info. What’s the first thing people crave when they are sick? A comforting bowl of soup. One of the oldest, most popular home remedies for healing all ailments and ills, is a hearty chicken soup.
For more information about the healing benefits of Broth/stock I highly recommend checking out “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS) by Dr Natasha Campbell-Mcbride.
Now, lets get down to business and make some broth!
I should add, for the record, that making broth/stock is so easy (especially if you have a slow cooker) and costs basically nothing. You’ll wonder why you ever bothered with cubes and cartons.

20131005-103543.jpg

YOU WILL NEED

* 2 carrots, halved

* an onion, quartered

* 1-2 celery sticks, halved

* any other vegetable scraps you have or those that are looking tired in your crisper.

Note: Throughout the week as I cook, I collect things like celery tops, broccoli and cauliflower stalks, kale and silver beet stalks and stems and store either in the fridge or freezer to add to the stock.

* 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

* 1 teaspoon good quality salt (pink Himalayan or Murray river if in Australia)

* 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

* 2-3 bay leaves

* 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs

20131005-155857.jpg

* And most importantly, BONES!

20131005-163512.jpg
It is important that your bones come from healthy free range animals – apart from the obvious ethical issues – you’re not going to get a lot of nutrition from a malnourished factory famed animal.
Until recently, most of my stock was made from chicken (bones) as it was the easiest free range animal to source locally. Drumsticks in particular are always a hit with my kids. They’re cheap, easy to cook and the meat falls easily away from the bone. When I’m making stock, I usually request that the meat is cut away from the bone rather than chewed and sucked dry! Mind you, after being re-roasted at a high temp in the oven and then slow cooked for 24 hours, I’m pretty sure that any bacteria from our eating would be well and truly killed.
Recently, good old social media put me back in touch with an old school friend who shares similar concerns and ideas around food and nutrition. She put me onto a local farm who deliver to my door, delicious bulk orders of beef and lamb from ethically farmed, grass fed animals. Check out http://www.braelandsbeef.com I also received a huge box of bones with my order for free. Some went to the dogs of friends and families, some into the freezer for a later date and some straight into the oven to roast for what would be the richest, darkest, best broth I’ve ever made!

20131005-164038.jpg

HERE’S HOW

* Roast bones (in a couple of knobs of butter, coconut oil etc…) at 200 dc (390 F) for about 30 mins or until nicely browned

* place all other ingredients in the slow cooker (crockpot)

* add your roasted bones

* fill with water, making sure all ingredients are well covered

* for chicken bones – cook for 12-24 hours
* for larger beef or lamb bones – cook for 24-72 hours.

Note: The finished broth pictured (from beef bones) was cooked for 40 hours.
You may need to top the water up once or twice during cooking.

20131005-171346.jpg

* When the broth has finished cooking, remove all ingredients from pot with a slotted spoon and discard.

* Ladle the liquid through a strainer (sieve) into a jug and pour into clean glass jars.

20131005-174318.jpg

* fill the jars leaving about an inch from the top. (This is important as the liquid may expand while freezing and if too full, cause your jar to break.)

* store in the freezer for a least 3 months but probably a lot longer. Mine is always used by then!

20131005-174811.jpg

Enjoy the goodness 🙂

Keeping things simple

These days, I like to have a protein packed, hearty lunch such as this which has me fully fuelled to keep up with two energetic little boys. It also leaves room for a simple dinner, something satisfying and flavoursome but also easy to digest.
This soup is so family friendly. It’s easy to make, extremely cheap, deliciously sweet and as my mum used to say about soup, “will warm the cockles of your heart…”

20131002-140534.jpg

CARROT, ORANGE AND GINGER SOUP

1kg (2lb) carrots
1 orange (juiced)
1 knob of ginger 2.5cm (1 inch)
1 garlic clove
1 leek
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cups good quality stock
2 tbsp coconut milk/cream to finish

Note: I would have garnished with some fresh parsley (or coriander/cilantro would be lovely too) but mine has gone to seed in my garden!

HERE’S HOW

* Slice, dice and chop all of the vegetables

* Sauté leek, ginger and garlic in a large cast iron or heavy based pot

* Add orange juice letting it heat in the vegetables

* Add carrots and stock and bring to a boil

* Cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until carrots are tender

* Blend (with a stick blender in the pot or transfer to a blender.)

* Finish with coconut cream and fresh herbs if you have some handy.

20131002-143932.jpg
Another note: I first saw this recipe (or something similar) years ago in a food magazine. At the time, I was a struggling student and this was the perfect budget meal to keep me going. It keeps well for up to 5 days in the fridge or you can share it with your family or your equally broke sister as I did back then. There are most likely many versions of this soup all over the Internet, but this is how I like it.

20131002-145028.jpg
Enjoy the goodness 🙂