I want that one…

I have never had to limit my diet (apart from a week without meat recently). I eat whatever I want. Whenever possible. I need to eat regularly to maintain my weight at the moment (thanks breastfeeding!) and to keep my marriage (hello hangry).

Yet, this week we started an elimination diet to help nut out a few thing going on for our dear little Possum. We were pointed in the direction of the RPA Elimination Diet. One post on my trusty Natural Parents Facebook page and I had a copy of the handbook and the cookbook on loan! Thankyou Blue Mountains mummas! Thank goodness I’m now well into the swing of meal planning, so at least planning out our low food chemical dinners were depressing, but organised.

So what are we cutting out? I didn’t think Possum had any serious allergies so opted for the Low Food Chemical elimination diet which meant we were keeping in dairy, gluten, eggs and nuts. However, after one day on this elimination diet and having an egg and rice pie for dinner, poor little Possum broke out in a rash all over her trunk which lasted over 12 hours. So no more eggs for us now. And because of that, at the end of the week, we are going to go the whole hog. Strict Elimination Diet. Words I hoped to never say.

We are keeping a thorough food and symptom diary, which for me basically says “feeling cranky and hungry”. I’m so mopey. I feel a bit like Andy in Little Britain…

Last night we had crumbed fish and roast veg for dinner. If I stuck to the low chemical foods only we would’ve had potato, swede and iceberg lettuce. Wow. So delicious and enticing. But we bent the rules and included green beans, butternut pumpkin and sweet potato. Making the fish involved first dipping the fish in fake flour (gluten free), then fake egg (egg replacer aka potato starch) then fake breadcrumbs (rice crumbs). Tasted pretty good considering.

Tonight was Lamb and Celery Satay which used a sauce made from cashew paste (surprisingly cashews are a low food chemical food and allowed as long as you can eat nuts), citric acid, sugar, salt and garlic. Not bad really.

Tomorrow night is marinated lamb kebabs. And then fish on Friday again.

Sigh.

Only another 28 days to go…

It’s the lunches and snacks that are a killer. Thought I was doing well when I found cottage cheese was on the list, but read the ingredients and it has preservatives in it!!

Anyone else been down this road?

Glad we are doing it though as we have already found one culprit for causing Possum some issues. Fingers crossed it’s just the one!

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Meat Free Week #4: Cashew! Gesundheit…

Mmmmmmm toasted cashews. I love me some nutty curry. Apologies for the lame joke, this 2 weeks at home with a snotty 10 month old for company means my conversational skills are plummeting. We did manage to get out of the house to take my bestie some coffee and cake for her birthday! Happy Birthday Sweetpea!

Tonight’s Cashew Curry was so simple and tasty. A no brainer, thankfully! And a Possum success! The recipe only has cauliflower, beans and tofu as the curry fillers so I added red capsicum, zucchini and carrot. Possum ate two pieces of tofu and plenty of veg (except for the cauliflower and beans).

Legoman liked this straight away, and thought it was one of the Spice Tailor packets. I take that as a compliment as they are super tasty. The crazy thing is, I used Keen’s Curry Powder. That wonderful flavour mix that is normally reserved for curry egg sandwiches (one of my favourites, on fresh white bread with crispy lettuce). No fancy curry powders or mixing or grinding needed. I would highly recommend this as a family meal.

Cashew Curry

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Expensive items were a handful of cashew and some organic tofu. But still works out cheaper than eating meat.

Time Factor : EXCELLENT.One pot wonder. Quick prep. Then let it simmer in the pot until veg is cooked to your liking. I cooked it a bit longer than the recipe suggests to get the veg nice and soft for Possum.

Complexity : LOW. Super easy. Use whatever veg you have available or is cheap.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. A lovely mild curry that everyone will enjoy. The cashews give the curry some lovely buttery sweetness.

Mess : LOW.One curry pot, one rice pot and a chopping board. Hurray!

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. I was nice and full after a bowl but was hungry again an hour later, but a little piece of my fudgy choc-orange slice filled the gap well.

Possum Friendly? YES. Not too spicy for bubs, loaded with good fats from the coconut milk. Just don’t give whole nuts until a few years old. Possum enjoyed the variety of veg in tonight’s meal, you can tailor to suit your family’s likes and dislikes.

Would I make it again? Yes. A great midweek simple meal. If you were having meat and time was tight, you could pick up a BBQ chook and chuck that in (obviously not whole, that would just be ridiculous. I kind of wish someone would do that now).

***BONUS QUESTION! Did you miss the meat?Nope. Legoman did though. Personally, I quite like tofu in meals. It tends to just soak up sauces and flavours nicely without over powering. Seems that Possum quite likes it too.

Cashew Curry

Cashew Curry

And a little touch of cuteness…. Here is Possum gazing lovingly at a photo of her playdate pal from yesterday. Awwwwww.

Friends

Friends

Meat Free Week #2: I’d pay money for that

We are certainly off to a good start this week! Tonight’s Space Curry is a real winner! I knew we were onto something good when Possum wanted seconds, and thirds. Legoman said “I don’t even care there’s no meat!” and “I’d pay money for this!” as well as “I’d serve this to guests, especially *insert vegetarian friend’s name*!”. The way to a woman’s heart? Multiple compliments on her cooking. I sat there, my shirt covered in Possum’s snot, my hair half pulled out (thanks Possum), my teeth not brushed, I can’t remember if I showered today. But I was smiling.

Thankyou Meat Free Week!

The snot fest that is my daughter continues. And with it comes horrendous cabin fever. I had had enough today and so we ventured out to soak up the wonderful sunshine and for me to soak up some human contact (even if it is just with the lady that makes my coffee). Made the world of difference and Possum slept on my back on the way home. Added bonus was running into two mummy friends, a lovely benefit of living in a village.

I will apologise for the lack of food piccies tonight. Just as I had served dinner and was about to take the photo, my phone battery died. And I wasn’t going to wait for it to charge enough to take a piccie before eating. But picture this… A bowl of golden rice gently spiced with cardamom, coriander, cumin and turmeric. The rice cradling a rich curry with warm autumnal colours of garnet, terracotta and deep aubergine. A burst of freshness on top with a few leaves of fresh coriander. Contrasted with a tangy dollop of fresh yoghurt.

Or I could show you a picture of Possum’s dinner (whoops!).

Space Curry

Space Curry

Space Curry

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Cheap vegetables, canned chickpeas and some store bought curry paste and chutney. Made up a large batch and will absolutely be making this again and making use of the curry paste (I used Tikka Masala) and mango chutney.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Chopping and prep was pretty quick today (hurray!). I chose to cook this a bit longer than it said to in the recipe (I like curries the longer they’ve cooked for generally).

Complexity : LOW. A nice simple curry to make. I realised though that the recipe asks for spices and lemon rind but then doesn’t say what to do with them. So I googled the original recipe and found the answer. It goes in the rice! Here is the original recipe for your reference.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. This is a winner, a keeper, a recipe to share. Legoman was super impressed. He normally makes his views against chickpeas well known whenever I make something with them in it. Tonight, not a peep.

Mess : MINIMAL. One pot wonder and a rice pot.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. I guarantee you will either go back for seconds despite bursting at the seams or be sensible but happily satiated.

Possum Friendly? YES. She loved it! Especially the eggplant and the chickpeas, which surprised me. She also had a bit of yoghurt with her curry too (an essential addition I think).

Would I make it again? Yes, will have to invite some vegetarians over to show off this winner of a recipe.

***BONUS QUESTION! Did you miss the meat? Not at all.

To make up for the lack of food piccies today, here is possum attempting her escape… to get the magpie in the garden. She worked out she can slide the screen door open (not that hard really, might need to lock it soon…).

The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Pop chop on top and a rare raw treat

Ah sweet Sunday. How I love you. Family day, time to myself day, cooking day. Why must there be only one of you in the week! It has been 2 weeks since I’ve got to do the grocery shopping on my own, so today was savoured. I went to a cafe and drank my coffee while it was still hot! And read some of the newspaper (which was so depressing I had to stop). I had the lovely man at the fruit and veg shop carry my shopping to my car. I ran into friends and could chat without getting distracted. Trust me, I love my daughter beyond words. But to have a few hours just to myself is something rare and wonderful. The best bit? Coming home and having Possum give me a huge smile and a big sloppy open mouth heavy breathing 10 month old kind of kiss.

The second best bit? Having Legoman home so the two of them can hang out while I plonk myself in the kitchen to make stuff! Hurray!

Our meat free week starts tomorrow, so I thought we could have a lamb stew as a final meat farewell. I even made the recipe up myself. And we lived to tell the tale! Double rainbow!

I also finally got around to using the medjool dates I bought 2 weeks ago to make my first “raw” sweet treat. I have seen so many recipes for sweets and snacks using fresh dates and a food processor lately. My poor little Possum is absolutely terrified by our food processor though (can’t blame her really, it sounds like you’ve got your head stuck in a jet engine). So my opportunity to use the darn thing is reserved to her awake time when Legoman is home to take out for a walk outside. Basically Sunday afternoons between 3 and 5pm. I didn’t get round to taking a picture before putting the yummies in the fridge, but i did get to have a taste test. Delicious! Will have to make something again next Sunday between the hours of 3 and 5pm!

Medjool Dates

Medjool Dates

I will take the time to write out the two recipes from today for you. I’m really happy with how the lamb turned out and would love for someone else to give it a go and see if it worked out well for you too! The sweet recipe is super tasty and worth sharing! Enjoy!

Lamb and Quince Stew, Serves 4

8 forequarter lamb chops, torn or cut into 3 pieces each

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 brown onions cut roughly

4 cloves of garlic chopped

3 carrots roughly diced

2 potatoes roughly chopped

1/2 sweet potato roughly chopped

1 quince, peeled and chopped

3 cups of stock and 2 cups of water (I used 1 cup of beef stock and 2 cups of vegetable stock)

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees (celsius).
  2. In a large cast iron casserole pot, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium – high heat. Brown the meat in batches. Set aside.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook for a minute until starting to soften. Then add carrot and garlic. Stir for another couple of minutes.
  4. Add your chopped vegetables and quince. Stir to mix.
  5. Add your meat, spices and stock. Stir to combine (as best as you can stir chops…). Put on the lid and place into the oven.
  6. Cook for 2 hours.
  7. Serve with rice, couscous or quinoa. I suggest steaming some vegetables for on the side.

Fudgy Choc-Orange Pistachio Bars, makes 16 squares (taken from Taste Magazine March 2014, p77)

500g fresh medjool dates, pitted, halved

35g (1/3 cup) raw cacao powder

60ml (1/4 cup) cocnut oil

2 Tbsp LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond meal)

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh orange juice

3 tsp finely grated orange rind (I used my microplane)

75g (1/2 cup) dried cranberries

80g packet pistachios, toasted, chopped

Raw cacao powder, extra, to dust

  1. Grease and line the base and sides of a 11 x 21 cm loaf pan, allowing the sides to overhang.
  2. Place the dates, cacao powder, coconut oil, LSA, orange juice and orange rind in a food processor and process until smooth and well combined (mine turned into a giant ball).
  3. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cranberries and pistachio.
  4. Dust a little extra cacao powder over the base of the prepared pan. Spoon in date mixture and use a greased spatula (I found just my hands worked best) to smooth the surface.
  5. Place in fridge for 8 hours or overnight until firm. Remove from pan. Use a hot, dry knife to cut into squares (mixture will be sticky).

And now for the scale…

Lamb and Quince Stew

Affordability : MODERATE – EXCELLENT. In terms of meat dishes, stews are one of the most economical. They take advantage of lovely slow cooking cuts on the bone as well as combining with cheap veg like potatoes and sweet potato. Easy to feed a lot of people for not much. I picked up my chops on quick sale (I swear I have a special eye that can spot sale stickers from the car park). The 8 of them cost me $6.50. 

Time Factor : MODERATE. It does take a bit of time to chop everything and brown the meat. But once in the oven you can forget about it for 2 hours!

Complexity : LOW. Easy peasy. This would also work in a slow cooker if you have one. I’m not sure how to convert a recipe over to slow cooker use though.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Not an overpowering flavour, but not dull or boring either. Just lovely.

Mess : MODERATE. Browning the meat does send off a fair bit of fat splatter. But that’s easy to clean up. Otherwise this is a lovely one dish wonder.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Some steamed veg and carbs on the side complete this dish nicely.

Possum Friendly? YES. Low in salt (none added apart from whatever is in the stock I used). Slow cooked meats and veg are perfect to offer bubs as they as soft and easy for them to digest. The veg also would’ve soaked up all the goodness that comes from cooking with bones. Highly nutritious. Just pull some meat off the bones as the chop bones are quite sharp.

Would I make it again? Yes, I think I will. Maybe even for guests!

Lamb and Quince Stew

Lamb and Quince Stew

Pimp My Patty

The wonderful world of Pinterest, combined with the mighty force of Baby Led Weaning can lead to an overload of patty recipes. So many ways to combine things and fry things! So this afternoon I took some inspiration from Pinterest where someone had “pinned” an idea to combine tinned tuna and hummus to make a patty.

I pimped the patty.

Yes there was1 small tin of tuna and 1 Tbsp hummus, but there was also leftover 2 Tbsp quinoa (from yesterdays meatballs) and an egg yolk. The mix made 6 patties which I fried in ghee. And they were pretty darn tasty. I had 3 and Possum ate the equivalent of 2 but was offered 3. I think if you squished together all the loose bits on her high chair and on the floor you could’ve pieced together a whole new patty.

Are you familiar with the meme “Nailed it?”

So imagine seeing a lovely picture of patties… Now here’s how they actually turned out…

Nailed it!

Nailed it!

But the important thing is they are healthy and the critic loved them 🙂

Tuna Hummus Quinoa Patties

Tuna Hummus Quinoa Patties

Baby Led Weaning Recipe Win

Look at me go! Swimming lesson, check! Nutritous food made for my baby, check! Healthy homemade stock made, check! Excess baby stuff sold on Facebook, check! Swimmers washed before they grew mould, check! Pew pew pew!! Some days are easier to get stuff done. Hurray for today! (Just ignore the pile of dishes, the unpacked boxes or the trail of Possum destruction).

I’m wondering if it made up for my list of kitchen fails the past few days. I managed to grate my thumb into a middle eastern carrot salad which then turned out to taste like soap and smell like insect repellent (orange blossom water should carry a warning label). I also managed to pick a huge pile of kale from the garden to make kale chips for a guest, only to burn them all to a crisp. Then I also managed to make lentils and rice that smelt overwhelmingly like pee.

Making food for your whole family can be tricky. I always seem to find awesome recipes but then they either take too long, need obscure ingredients or have stuff in it that isn’t safe for babies such as honey. Plus I’m always a bit dubious about “kid friendly recipes”. They always seem to either leave out flavour all together or just be made up of bread, cheese or eggs. But I managed to find something that looked like I would eat it and it was a “baby” recipe, Beef Apple and Quinoa Balls. Awesome. Found some pork mince in the freezer, already had quinoa, just needed to buy an apple. The recipe calls for a couple of spices and some fresh herbs which made me hopeful these would be tasty little treats that my little one would enjoy (she likes things with flavour, funnily enough).

Pork Apple and Quinoa Balls

Pork Apple and Quinoa Balls

I was feeling organised today which meant I had these made up and had them in the oven before Possum woke up from her 30 minutes nap this afternoon. Managed to cook the quinoa while we were having lunch so it was cool and ready to go by the time I needed it. Can I just say though, coriander has a magical ability to work it’s way out of every little meatball I tried to roll. Cheeky, very cheeky. I am very grateful for the “cook time” setting on the oven as opposed to just using a timer. I got stuck with a sleeping Possum on my lap when I fed her after her nap, leaving me stuck in the rocking chair for an hour, listening to the beep of the alarm, knowing that the oven had turned itself off. Thank goodness!

I also managed to make chicken stock today! Was surprisingly easy and I could just leave it to bubble away for a couple of hours while I got on with other things. The nice thing about home made stock is it is salt free. An important point when cooking for bubs, but also just good for everyone’s health anyway. Cheap to make too. 1kg of chicken wings has made me 3-4 litres of stock using vegetables I already had in the fridge (carrot, celery and onion). Here is the recipe I used.

Knowing how productive I felt today, I’m preparing myself for a day or unexpected happenings tomorrow… what will happen to stop us getting to musical playgroup…

Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock

Beef Apple and Quinoa Balls

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Use whatever mince you’d like. I opted for some free range pork mince (500g) that I picked up on clearance for $3 at the supermarket. I already had a big bag of quinoa and the recipe uses lots of pantry staples. The recipe made around 30 small – medium balls.

Time Factor : MODERATE. You need to make the quinoa which takes around 20 minutes. Thankfully only takes a few minutes to mix together with your hands and make into balls. Then 30 minutes in the oven.

Complexity : LOW. The great thing about meatball recipes is how straightforward they are. And you can add or omit whatever you fancy. I once made really yummy lamb meat balls with dried apricot and kale in them.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Not our favourite in the curry flavours so far but tasty none the less. Lego Man said it tasted the opposite of acidic. They certainly were tasty and easy to eat but didn’t make me go wow. They did make Possum pretty happy though. She devoured two medium sized meatballs at dinner along with roasted sweet potato “chips”, tomato, cucumber, grapes and blueberries.

Mess : LOW. One bowl and two roasting trays. Just be prepared for sticky hands. Personally I love hand mixing stuff like this. I reckon you can taste the love.

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE – EXCELLENT. Depends who you’re talking about. They were great to snack on at 5pm while Possum ate her dinner, and it’s great to be eating the same thing as each other. Possum was certainly full and chose the meatballs over nearly everything else on her tray. The few grapes were gone before the meatball even made it to her tray!

Possum Friendly? YES. Very happy with how much she enjoyed these. They have been put away in 3-4 balls per bag in the freezer to grab quickly for lunch when out and about, or an easy lunch/dinner at home. Or maybe a snack for a hungry mummy. Being high in protein, low in salt and sugar, these are a great snack for a busy mummy. Much better choice than chips or chocolate.

Would I make it again? Yes but I would add more spice and some kind of onion or garlic to give it a bit more pow.

Possum approves

Possum approves

Fishy Friday #1

My lordy I am so over our weather at the moment. All I want is one whole day of sunshine. The reason? To dry our nappies! We have had rain for what feels like a hundred days in a row. I am over having 4 clothes drying racks up inside all day every day. I am over not being able to tell if Possum’s nappies are 100% dry. I miss the smells and crisp feeling of bringing towels inside after they have had a day of good Australian sun. I don’t like having to use a dryer so much. I was so hopeful this morning when we woke up to blue skies outside and beams of sunshine. After we gobbled breakfast the racks went outside. But after looking at the forecast for the day, back inside they came about an hour later when we had to leave the house. Bah! By the time we got home this afternoon it was raining, thundering and with mist so thick I had to slow down on the highway. Thankfully in the window of sunshine offered to us today, Possum and I headed to a Mums and Bubs exercise class held at a local park. I am going to be in a world of pain tomorrow!

But back to the food. We were planning fish and ratatouille tonight. But my day just didn’t have room for making something as time consuming as the recipe I had planned. So roast veg and leafy greens it was. I keep a bag of leafy greens in the fridge each week and try to add a handful to meals where there might be a bit of colour or veg lacking. Easy and I have found one which I like the taste of, not too many bitter greens.

The fish was flathead fillets cooked the way my mum does them. Simply shake the fish with some seasoned flour (I used spelt tonight, just because it was at the front of the cupboard). For seasoning I used turmeric, cumin salt and pepper (Possum’s version didn’t have salt). Fry the fillets in some oil (I used ghee) for a couple of minutes each side.

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I pulled some roast friendly veg out of the fridge and chucked them in the oven before Possum’s bath/bed routine so they were nicely done by the time we were ready to eat. I learnt the bottom of my oven is much hotter than the top (where the grill section is). Meant the carrots and pumpkin could cook at the same time without burning the carrots to a crisp.

Spiced Fish with Simple Roast Veg and Brown Rice/Barley

Affordability : MODERATE. Fresh fish will always be a little more pricey, but I think it’s worth it. It was still under $10 for enough for the 3 of us.
Time Factor : MODERATE. This was a dinner I could do in parts. Part 1 roast the veg. Part 2 put on the rice/barley. Part 3 cook the fish. Meals like this I find easiest to manage with a little one.
Complexity : LOW. Plenty of room for personal flair. To keep it even more simple you could just cook the fish as is, no seasoning. My roast veg were literally veg and oil. And I didn’t dress the greens.
Deliciousness : MODERATE. I found it tasty but learnt that Lego Man isn’t a fan of fish in general. The things you learn of the one you married!
Mess : MODERATE. Fry pan, saucepan and a couple of roasting trays. Instead of using a plastic bag to shake the fish (as my mum does) I used a large bowl and some tongs (didn’t feel like getting stinky fish hands two nights in a row).
Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Pleasantly full and not feeling heavy.
Possum Friendly? YES. Possum really enjoyed the fish tonight. I roasted her some zucchini too which she tried. Will offer her some of the roast veg tomorrow.

Would I make it again? Probably at some point. Might try and find some simple and fast other ways of doing fish. Suggestions?

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