Garlic spinach

This month, I thought I’d share a simple side that we love. Most weeks we’ll get a bunch of spinach or baby spinach in our veggie box. I have a few different ways I use the spinach (see below) but most of the time this is how we prepare it:

( By the way, the measurements as with most of these simple sides are pretty flexible – just add the lowest amount then taste it and see what you prefer)

Garlic Spinach

  • 1 bunch of baby spinach (washed) or 1 bunch of spinach washed thoroughly – don’t leave gritty bits!) and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or 3 if you really love it)
  • salt (I’ve got Himalayan at home, but use whichever salt you prefer).
  • olive oil

Optional

Juice of 1/2 -1/4 lemon

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan. When the oil is hot, grate the garlic cloves into the pan.
  2. Once the garlic has browned, add the spinach and a small sprinkle of salt.
  3. Cover the pan with a lid, and cook until the spinach has wilted. Give it a quick stir every 30 seconds or so. It won’t take long to cook at all.

Serving suggestions

Wilted spinach goes well with everything (ok… almost everything;-) We tend to serve it with beans eg. Mushroom lentils,  or in warmer weather 4 bean mix salad, and roast veggies.

A couple of other ways I cook spinach includes adding it to omelettes (including egg-free omelettes) and also serving it fresh with my favourite Indian dish Chana Masala.

What is your favourite way to eat spinach?

Mushroom and lentils a great winter side dish

Considering it’s now officially winter, I thought it was a good time to share some of our warmer winter side dishes.

Mushroom and lentils is one of our go-to sides. They’re really quick to prepare and they taste yummy. Here’s how we make them:

Mushroom and lentils

  • 5 large mushrooms (or more if you really like mushroom) cut into thick slices and then cut into half
  • 1 brown onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cans of lentils
  • Porcini salt
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Brown the onion in some olive oil in a frying pan.
  2. Next add the mushrooms and a generous sprinkle of the porcini salt (this is the secret ingredient. We get this salt from a store in the Adelaide Central Markets – but if you have another salt you love, then give that a go). Cook the mushrooms until they begin to reduce a little in size and turn a golden colour on the edges.
  3. Add the lentils (rinse and drain if you’re using canned lentils, or alternatively you could cook them from scratch).

Options

You could replace the lentils with any bean you like. We often cook chickpeas, but it’s nice with cannellini beans and butter beans too.

Serving suggestions

We serve this with steamed veggies, and often we’ll serve it with home made chips (sweet potato or white), simple roasted veggies and gravy.

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Simple Tasty Roasted Veggies

As the weather cools down, I thought it was time to start sharing some warmer recipes. So keeping with the simple free-from family-friendly recipes theme  and the the no fuss no frills kind of food that people actually eat every day, today’s recipe is the ultimate simple wholesome free-from dish.

Cooking free-from family friendly food doesn’t have to be tricky or tasteless (and it doesn’t have to take you hours upon hours in the kitchen!).

When it comes to simple, you can’t go past roasted veggies. I love that the preparation time is usually less than 15 minutes, then I can leave them to cook while I do other things.

This is how I make them at home.

Simple, Healthy Roasted Veggies

  • baby carrots (quartered, length wise – or just leave them whole if they’re really tiny)
  • beetroot (sliced into “chips”
  • pumpkin (or butternut) roughly chopped
  • potato (or sweet potato) roughly chopped
  • smoked paprika (a generous sprinkle)
  • Italian herbs (eg. I’ve got a blend with basil, oregano and parsley) or alternatively you can add fresh or dried rosemary (my favourite)(a generous sprinkle)
  • salt (Just a light sprinkle)
  • olive oil

Basically, just scrub and chop the potato, peel and chop the pumpkin and peel and slice the beetroot. I quarter the carrots so they look like long skinny chips or if they’re young enough, I leave them whole.

I drizzle the olive oil over the veggies (I don’t usually measure it, it’d be about 1-2 tsp), sprinkle the salt, smoked paprika and rosemary (or commercial herb mix) and then stir it all through with my hands.

I put it in the oven in a non stick dish for about 30 minutes on 150 degrees C and then on 180 degrees C for a further 20 mins (I usually put them in the second time after giving them a bit of a stir and while I’m steaming some green veggies and or making a salad eg. Four Bean Mix Salad or casserole of some kind).

Do you like roasted veggies? what is your favourite way of preparing them? Do you have a favourite seasoning? Let us know (either comment below or let us know in the comments below or over on facebook, or instagram🙂

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Italian Zucchini Stew

There are certain times of the year when you just feel like you’re inundated with zucchini. I’ve tried making various recipes over the years and recently I’ve come back to making this oddly named zucchini stew I used to love my mum cooking when I was a kid. It’s such a simple dish, but tastes really yummy and it’s quick to make.  Recently I asked my mum what I could call it in English as I only know it by the name mum calls it in our Italian dialect (which to be honest is totally phonetic and couldn’t even be spelt if I tried). Anyway, mum laughed and said it roughly translates to “Zucchini Purgatory” (there are a lot of these oddly named “traditional” recipes in our family;-)

So anyway, call it whatever you like: Zucchini Purgatory, or Zucchini Stew, this is what you need to make a batch:

Zucchini Stew

  • 2 large zucchini diced
  • 1/2 – 1 brown onion (depends on how much you like onion – leek sliced finely works really nice too)
  • 1 really large yellow squash (or 6 or so small ones) diced
  • handful of fresh Italian parsley (chopped)

Method

  1. Prepare all the veggies and then brown the sliced onion in some olive oil in a saucepan.
  2. Once the onion is slightly browned (or as brown as you like it), add in the zucchini and the squash (you can make this without zucchini by the way, that’s how mum always did it. I’ve just been adding the squash recently because I like it and we’ve been getting them in our veggie box).
  3. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on medium – low heat stirring occasionally until the zucchini  and squash are cooked. Add in the chopped fresh Italian parsley about 5 mins before you take it off the heat.

We serve this as a side with left overs, eg. Flat dairy-free Pizza (you can get some recipe ideas in our Pizza episode too), and 4 Bean mix salad. While it’s not the kind of thing you’ll serve at a fancy dinner party, it’s one of those comforting “makes me think of mum” recipes.

We’ve got so many oddly named recipes (mostly the odd names have evolved not just from our dialect, but from my brother in laws, sisters, nephews and kids changing the name over time… eg. Originals. No we aren’t talking about the TV show spinoff from the Vampire Diaries, it’s what we call zucchini fritters;-) We’ve also got Woofrit an evolved name for deep fried pizza dough 🙂

Do you have any oddly named recipes like this? We’d love to hear them and the stories behind them:-)

In the mean time, if you’d like more recipes and every day free-from family friendly food inspiration, enter just enter your name and email address below and join our newsletter, or check out our recipe books:-).

Gluten-free Tabouli

Tabouli has to be one of my favourite green salads.

Last year I went about creating an alternative I could take to our large family functions that would suit all our needs (eg. no lemon for me, no gluten for my niece with coeliac disease) and I came up with this one.

Lemon and Gluten-free Tabouli

  • 1 large bunch English (curly) parsley chopped
  • 1 large bunch Italian (flat leaf) parsley chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (I grate this as I can’t chop it small enough)
  • 1/4-1/2 red onion (or spring onion if you like) finely sliced
  • 1/ cup chick peas
  • 1 large red tomato diced
  • 4-5 sprigs of mint chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup Brazil nuts (chopped)(see note below if you can’t eat nuts)
  • 1/4 cup almonds (chopped)(see note below if you can’t eat nuts)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (chopped)(see note below if you can’t eat nuts)
  • olive oil (drizzle)
  • optional: drizzle of apple cider vinegar

Method

Just mix it all together and enjoy! I make an extra large batch up so I can use the left overs for lunches and to serve with dinner.

Options/ alternatives

  • If you cant have nuts then add extra chick peas and 1/3 cup of plain activated buckinis (if you like the crunchy texture)
  • If you can have lemon just squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon instead of vinegar.

This recipe is what I call a “meal salad”. It’s pretty nutritious to enjoy by itself, but it’s also nice as a side with left overs or BBQ food (eg. our veggie sausages).

Also, I’ll often serve this with takeaway (like special fried rice or hot chips) while it doesn’t make the take away healthier, it helps us not eat quite so much and it adds some green to the plate too:-)

 If you’d like more salad ideas you could check out this Ultimate BBQ Post.

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Our Family’s Favourite Four Bean Mix Salad

I don’t know anyone who enjoys standing over the stove in the summer…. especially the Australian summer (hello, 43 degrees C.. Personally I think it’s just wrong when the temperature outside our body is warmer than inside but that’s another whole discussion).

So today I thought I’d share one of our family’s favourite summer recipes.  I got the Four Bean Mix Salad recipe off my sister years ago. I’ve changed the way I make it recently (because of changing food sensitivities eg. I’ve started getting irritated skin from lemons which I’m not too happy about because I love lemons… so instead of making lemonade I’m making… salad;-).

Anyway, I love this recipe because it is super quick to make. Yes. I realised I didn’t have a photo, so I just whipped it up and it took less than 5 minutes (including taking the picture). It’s also pretty yummy. You really can’t go past simple healthy whole food. The added bonus is that its suitable for a range of dietary needs too!

So I think this recipe will be a winner with anyone who is busy and doesn’t have hours to spend in the kitchen.

This is what you need…

Simple Summer Four Bean Mix Salad

  • 1 can of organic 4 bean mix
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (quartered or dice 1-2 large red tomatoes)
  • 1/4 red onion finely chopped (or more if you like it)
  • Your favourite dried herbs, eg. I’m using an “Italian Herb Mix” (I’ve got a commercial blend at the moment which has oregano, basil, parsley and marjoram which is really nice).
  • Optional: olive oil, vinegar (eg. apple cider) or lemon or lime juice if it suits your diet. Though lately I’ve just been making it “plain” no oil or vinegar (or juice). I’m just adding more tomato and it’s lovely and refreshing.

Top tip

I’ve been making up a double batch and using the left overs for my lunch (I work at home and often forget lunch when I’m working so having something made up helps to save time during the day too). Also it’s great to have ready-to-go in the fridge for the nights when we come home late from sports and the kids are hungry and we don’t have time to cook something labor intensive.

Serving suggestion

You can just eat it plain, or alternatively, I like to serve it with roasted veggies, steamed greens and or fried rice.

The Ultimate Guide to Fun Free-from Themed Kids Birthday Cakes and Parties

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You might be wondering how you can make children’s parties fun when they’ve got food sensitivities?  I’ve been scouring the net and I’ve come up with a few great themed cakes which will suit almost any cake-decorating skill level (with an option at the end for how you can still achieve an “out of this world” party vibe even if your cake decorating skills are not your forte;-).
I hope you enjoy these great free-from cakes and party food ideas. The recipes and directions to make them are in the links provided.
Enjoy!
Lisa 🙂

Super hero cakes:

Spider Man by Lisa White from Alternative Chef Kitchen

happy birthday

Iron man by Mummy Made It

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Animal inspired cakes:

Dinosaur cakes by Rebecca Mugridge from Happy Healthy Lunchboxes

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There are some fantastic party ideas in this post by Bek. If you’ve got a dinosaur crazy kid check it out!!

Owl cake by Mummy Made It

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Star wars inspired cakes:

Star wars Light Sabre Cake by The Nourished Psychologist

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Disney  and fairy tale princess style inspired cakes:

Snow White Cake by Mummy Made It

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If you want to decorate and make a cake but decorating and baking just really isn’t your thing…

icing on the cake

To get some simple and elegant cake decorating tips
Check out this short interview with Rachael Guthrie winner of the USA based Cupcake Wars Kids TV show in 2015.

Rachel cupcakes 2

If you still want a fun vibe but don’t want to bake or decorate a cake then check out these ideas…

  • Decorate other stuff – I’m not a natural cake decorator (which is probably evident haha;-) but I am pretty creative, so Brenton and I decided to turn our left over IKEA boxes and trampoline into the Millenium Falcon for my Star wars obsessed son.  All we needed was some spray paint, a black texta and some gaffa tape. The other little elements (like the cockpit and the satellite dish were an old lampshade and our cat’s Shakespearean collar from the vet. We covered the back of the trampoline with an old sheet (the rest of it became my costume) and we used blue gaffa tape for the light. The staircase from a cubby house became the landing for the falcon. The whole thing cost us about $15 and took us a couple of hours to make. (And it was fun!)

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  • Create some themed gameseg. For my daughters Frozen party we “froze” when the music stopped, kept the snowflakes (white and blue balloons with snowflakes drawn on them) from touching the ground and played pin the carrot on Olaf. For my son’s Star wars party we set up a Jedi training camp – by turning an old bike helmet some orange paper covered with cellophane, a tennis ball tied to a string  and a $2 light sabre from the shops into a “use the force” station. My son also came up with a  “pin the head on C3PO” game. For that we used the C3PO poster he had with some C3PO heads and blue tak.

jedi-training-centre

  • Dress up with your kids – If your child has a lot of sensitivities which makes themed food really really tricky, don’t underestimate how much your kids love it when you dress up with them. My daughter almost fainted with excitement when we surprised her by dressing up too for one of her birthday parties, and my son absolutely loved it when we dressed up for his Star wars party. The costumes were inexpensive and pretty easy to put together. My son wore his gi from Aikido, the boots are my husbands work socks and the “pack” on his belt was a phone holster. My daughter’s costume was an old sheet with a fancy (inexpensive) belt. My costume was an old sheet with some old belts tied together and an old top which we cut off the sleeves to for the “arm bands”. For the “staff” I used the handle from our Enjo broom. My husband wore his work pants, old work boots a shirt and a vest with a Han Solo-esque water pistol. The great thing about this is we’ve got costumes for down the track parties and when the kids want to play dress ups and to use for events like book week at school.

white-family-starwars-party

Of course it’s not just the cake and decorations, you’ve usually got other snacks on offer at parties too. These are some of our free-from  snacky options:

Crackers  eg. Corn chips without corn.

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Dip. We’ve got a whole lot of  dip recipes in our The Alternative Kitchen book and our Hoummus Episode

Hoummuses

Plus for some other party food ideas you could always make Jelly, Chocolate or Ice lollies check out our Kid’s Party Food Episode here.

And if you’re wondering about how to make grown up parties fun then check out our Cheesecake episode and our Chocolate Cakes episode for a couple more ideas.

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chocolate-cakes-composite

If you love these ideas and want to check out more free-from friendly recipes enter your name and email address here and we’ll keep you up to date. We plan to bundle our Alternative Chef Kitchen recipes into a Sweet treats and cakes recipe book in 2017 so if you join our mailing list, we’ll let you know when that one is available too:-)

 

Dairy-free cheeses for pizza toppings

pizza2

When you’re diary, soy, gluten, egg or meat free you might think you have no options when it comes to cheesy pizza toppings.

Well, allow us to change your mind on this matter.

Over the years we’ve tried a few different products and home made/ whole food options and these are some of our favourite:

1. Tasty cheese alternatives:

We’ve listed a couple of options in this post here about cheese alternatives you can slice and this post here about cheese alternatives you can sprinkle. My personal favourite is the Vegusto No Muh Piquant (though the mild is nice too). You can buy these cheeses from vegan produce stores, some health food stores and some supermarkets and some online retailers. P.S The vegusto is also really nice sliced on crackers with tomato, in burgers and sprinkled on tacos or nachos if that suits your diet.

2. Melty cheese alternatives:

We’ve talked about few options for cheeses that melt in this post here. My personal favourite in terms of taste and texture is the Biocheese. I’ve found if you cover the recipe with foil for about 20 minutes or so it helps it to melt, and then if you remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes or so it allows the cheese alternative to brown and gives you that glorious melted cheese look. As with the tasty cheese alternative options, you can buy most of these commercial melty cheese alternatives from vegan produce stores, some health food stores, some supermarkets and some online retailers (see links above in part 1).(P.s. The sliced Biocheese also melts nicely on bread, in toasted cheese and vegemite sandwiches and on top of Lasagne or Cannelloni if it suits your diet).

3. Home made whole food options:

  • Cashew Cheese

Without a doubt cashew cheese is one of the easiest and tastiest options.

One of our favourite recipes is this one here based on Glenys’ cashew cheese from our Lasagne Episode. This one is great dolloped on the pizza (and it’s really nice as a dip too with crackers or veggies sticks or even used as a spread). If you’d like a more subtle cashew cheese then check out Glenys’ ricotta style cheese and for another creamy cashew cheese recipe you could check out Hayley’s cashew cheese from our The Alternative Kitchen book.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups soaked cashews
  • 1 tbs Nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tsp Apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • Herbs of your choice
  • water for blending if required (aim to keep the amount added down to a minimum. Add a little at a time)

Method

Add all the ingredients into the food processor and puree until smooth. (For a better result, stop the processor routinely to scrape the sides down). Store in the fridge.

Use within 3 days (discard if there is any sign of discoloration, pinkness or spoiling).

  • Mayonnaise

Another way we get around having cheese on top of pizza’s is to use a few small dollops of mayonnaise around the edges of the pizza (this goes really nicely with mushroom and onion sauteed with a little porcini salt;-). If you’ve got issues with eggs then you might like to check out our egg -free mayonnaise recipes in our The Alternative Kitchen book for some recipe ideas.

  • Grated veggies

While it’s obviously not the same in flavour as a tasty cheese, grating carrot and or zucchini and sprinkling it over the top of pizza’s with a little nutritional yeast can also give a pretty and colourful effect (as well as adding a few more veggies on to your pizza).

So there you go! We hope this post gives you something new to sprinkle on your pizza.

By the way, if you’d like some easy ways to sneak some extra veggies into your pizza toppings, to make nutrient packed pizza bases or to make the quickest gluten, dairy, soy and egg free-pizza based you’ve ever made in your life, then check out our Pizza Episode.

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“Corn” chips without corn, gluten, dairy, soy, egg or nuts!

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We’ve been on a bit of a Mexican theme over here at the moment with our Taco Episode and last week in the newsletter I shared a recipe for Free-from Nachos. So when a viewer asked us a couple of months ago if we could come up with a corn chip which was:

  • corn free
  • gluten free
  • dairy free
  • egg free and
  • nut free

And it also had to be CRUNCHY.

We said “sure!”

So if you’re craving a crunchy corn chip alternative then give this recipe a go:

Crunchy corn-free corn chips (without dairy, soy, gluten, egg or nuts)

Ingredients

  • 1 400g can of Butter beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/3 + 1/6 cup of Brown rice flour (see note below)
  • 1/6 cup of tapioca
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds in 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional yeast flakes
    1 tbs Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Salt

Method

  1. Soak 1/2 cup chia seeds in 1/2 cup of water for 10 minutes (while you’re preparing the rest of the recipe).
  2. Add butter beans, oil, nutritional yeast, garlic and salt to a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Add the thickened chia and water mix to the food processor and process until the chia is mixed in with the bean puree (this could take a minute or so – you want to avoid having one big blob of chia).
  4. Add 1/3 a cup of brown rice flour to the food processor and process again (the mix will begin to dry out and start to take on the appearance of a dough – this is good this is what we are aiming for).
  5. Add the tapioca and half the 1/6 cup of brown rice flour  and process again. The mix should really begin to resemble a dough now.
  6. Transfer the mix to a bowl and sprinkle the remaining half of the 1/6 cup of brown rice flour over the dough and mix it in with your hands. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. If you need to dust the dough with a little more flour here you can.
  7. Break the dough into 3 portions and roll each into a ball.
  8. Tear off 2 large squares of grease proof paper, sprinkle a little brown rice flour over the paper and place one of the dough balls onto the centre of the square. Sprinkle a little more brown rice flour over the top of the dough ball and then place the other piece of grease proof paper on top (basically sandwich the dough with grease proof paper so you can roll it out flat with a rolling pin without it sticking.
  9. Roll the dough out to about 2 mm thick and then remove the top sheet of grease proof paper. Place the rest onto a tray and bake in a fan-forced pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes.
  10. After 20 minutes, take the tray out and turn the rolled out corn chip mix (without corn)  over to help the under side dry out too, and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes (or until they’re golden brown and crispy).
  11. Once they’re  cooked, leave them to cool and then store them in an air tight container to maintain their crispness.

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(This is how the dough should look)

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(This is how to score the mix so you end up with triangles)

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(This is how they come out!!)

These are so yummy and I think they’ll become a regular snack in our house. If you can’t tolerate beans or you’re looking for a commercial option check out this post here. That’s all for this week, if you’d like more recipes, and ideas for cooking with alternatives plus updates when we release new episodes then join our newsletter list here.

Happy cooking!

Corn chip alternatives (gluten and corn free)

Recently we were asked by a viewer if we could share some corn chip alternatives for people who can’t tolerate corn. So I put on my detective hat  and put together a couple of corn and gluten-free options.

1. Home made Corn-free corn chips (without corn, dairy, soy, gluten, egg or nuts).

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3. More home made corn chip alternatives (without corn or gluten)

You could try these Nocho chips (love the name) by Thermo foodie and the chef.

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4. Commercial corn free options

If you don’t mind a commercial option, I’ve got to say I do love the flavour of these Rice and bean “corn chips”. There are a couple of flavours and a few different brands of corn chips without corn available nowadays so make sure check out the gluten-free section in your local supermarket.

corn-chip-alternatives

 

So there you go!

If you’re looking for some recipe ideas to serve with your corn chip alternatives, check out our Taco Episode for some yummy salsa and guacamole ideas or our Alternative Nachos post for a recipe idea.

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