Inspirational businesses: Interview with Lisa McInerney from Mummy Made It

A little while ago I had a chat with fellow cook book author Lisa McInerney from MummyMade.It

Cooking for a free-from person is hard enough, and it’s even harder when they’re fussy! (This goes for adults as well as children;-) So if you’re having trouble getting your kids (or yourself) to eat your veggies, then you’ll love some of Lisa’s ideas (she’s very creative!).

In this chat we talk about the types of veggies you can hide in desserts and the kinds of veggies that don’t work so well as well as a whole lot of other useful to know baking tips.

When I say creative, I really do mean creative. For example Lisa has had success with hiding spinach, and cauliflower and she’s been experimenting with hiding broccoli in desserts too. I’d love to hear which ideas you find the most intriguing. For me, I was pretty impressed with how she hid spinach in a popular dessert. (Yes. Spinach).

Anyway, check out the video here:

Has Lisa given you some ideas to try out in your next batch of muffins? Let us know below or over on Facebook or Instagram:-)

How to make a homemade dairy & soy-free margarine alternative that spreads and melts!

(Our dairy and soy free homemade butter/ margarine alternative)

Every now and then I get asked to create a recipe for someone and usually I relish the challenge. So last year when I was asked to create a margarine alternative, I liked the idea and it was one of those recipes on the “to create” list for awhile, but frankly I thought it was a bit beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, I had some basic ideas about the “bits” of the recipe I’d need to bring together, e.g.:

  • a saturated fat (like coconut oil – a saturated fat is one that’s solid at room temperature)
  • an oil like olive oil, safflower oil, flaxseed oil. (An oil is a fat that is a liquid at room temperature) basically combining the two would help make the margarine a soft solid. Also, coconut oil is one of those fats that melts when it gets warm, so adding the coconut oil to the mix and spreading it over a freshly baked scone (dairy, soy, gluten and egg free of course;-) would allow it to melt (Yuuuum!)
  • I would need something that would help hold all the ingredients in my butter alternative together
  • as well as something to contribute to a creamy / yellowy colour and an opaque appearance (without adding too much external flavour because margarine and butter are creamy but they don’t really have a strong flavour).

It was the “something that would hold the oils together” which had me a little stumped. Commercial margarine alternatives usually contain lecithin which is an emulsifier (basically it holds the different parts of recipes together).

While I’ve seen soy lecithin in stores, I wanted to avoid soy (mostly because it makes me itchy) and so that left option 2: sunflower lecithin. The only problem is that I’ve never seen sunflower lecithin in my local supermarket or my local health food store (and I’ve got two local health food stores which have a pretty good range of options). When creating recipes for Alternative Chef Kitchen and The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Recipes Series I really wanted to stick to ingredients that people could find relatively easily. So I found myself wondering about what I could use and essentially put the recipe in the “too hard for now” basket.

(my Butter Bean Butter garlic bread:-)

Anyway, a few months ago Glenys and I were troubleshooting a part of her Tasty Cheese recipe and as we were talking about options, I suggested trying butter beans. We thought it might work, so I went home and gave it a go and voila! It solved our cheese problem and as I tasted the butter bean blitzed with coconut oil, I knew I’d found the solution to the margarine problem too.

After the first experiment was a success, and I was trying different ways of making the margarine, I decided to try cashews and sunflower seeds (because blitzed cashews hold coconut oil and other liquids together really well in vegan cheesecakes and sunflower seeds are a great emulsifier in rice milk). So I soaked some cashews and sunflower seeds and what do you know, that worked too!

The last challenge was getting the flavour right, because although a pinch of turmeric will give you a yellow colour, you can’t add too much or you’ll be overpowered by the taste of turmeric (I like the flavour, but when I’m eating a scone and re-living childhood memories of butter melting I don’t especially want turmeric overpowering that experience;-). Anyway, I managed to figure that out too (with a pretty simple solution that you can find in the supermarket or health food store, and if you make some of our other recipes, you’ll probably already have on hand).

(Our gluten, dairy, soy and egg free scones with Butter Bean Butter – it melts! Sooo yummy!)

Part of the problem was solved by making sure I had the right oils e.g.

  • the right type of coconut oil (e.g. refined coconut oil as it doesn’t have a coconut taste) and
  • the right unsaturated oil (I’d suggest avoiding strong flavoured oils like extra virgin olive oil unless you love it – but even then that can be a bit overpowering;-)

These were the basic steps for the three butter/ margarine alternatives I created:

  • the Butter Bean Butter
  • the Cashew Margarine and the
  • Sunflower Seed Spread

I had to add in some extra tweaks for each recipe:  and you can find those tweaks and the recipe for each of the three butter alternatives in our ebook  The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Sandwich Fillers.

I should add that these recipes are really easy to make (no butter churners or elbow grease needed!;-) Though you’ll need either a food processor or really good stick blender.

I’m still having fun experimenting with this butter/ margarine but so far I can tell you that it’s not just great on scones (recipe for those above coming soon), and it’s also great on baked potato and garlic bread too:-)

Anyway, I’m off to experiment some more. If you’d like the recipes, just click here. As our book is available on all major online ebook retailers. If you’re dairy and soy free, and you’ve been missing butter, we’d love to hear what you think:-)

 

Creamy Dairy-free Green Salads

 

Spring always makes me think of Summer (yes I know there’s another 3 months to go, but I can’t help to feel optimistic and think of warmer times to come… and consequently lighter meals too).

Pre-dairy free day’s I used to love Greek salad and fetta. Last year I discovered a new vegan fetta which is made without dairy and soy (but it does contain nuts) and I was overjoyed.

Creamy green salad was back on the menu!

So here’s how I make my dairy-free creamy “Greek” salad.

  • 1-2 “sticks” of vegan fetta broken up into smaller pieces
  • cos lettuce (rinsed, and chopped)
  • 2 red tomatoes (diced)
  • a sprinkle with Italian herbs
  • Optional some olive oil and vinegar (although I find adding a little of the oil from the cheese jar provides the tang and oil and I don’t need to add more).
  • 1 small cucumber diced (my hubby doesn’t like cucumber so I often make it without, but if you like cucumber, add cucumber)
  • tiny pinch of salt

It’s pretty easy.

On the days I don’t have any vegan fetta in the fridge, I use wedges of avocado instead.

Here’s the fetta I use (I’m not an affiliate of the company by the way, I just found it while I was perusing the shelves at my local vegan store:-)(this is a pic I took last year, hence the expiry date:-)

If you’re  dairy free and missing cheese too I’ve done a series of posts on my favourite dairy free cheese alternatives which you might like to check out and we’ve also got some recipe ideas in our Lasagne episode and in our Season 3 Creamy dairy free potato bake episode.

If you’d like more green salad ideas, check out my Gluten and lemon free tabouli and also some of the recipes in our Ultimate free-from BBQ post here.

Enjoy!

Sauteed greens and beans

One of my favourite warm fry-ups is this very simple dish. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare (and the kids eat it too so that’s an added bonus;-). It’s great as the main part of the meal, and also works well as a side with roast veggies, steamed corn, and a piece of pizza. You can also toss some gluten -free pasta or noodles through it too.

Here’s what you need:

Sauteed beans and greens

  • 1 bunch of kale (washed de veined and then chopped)(If you don’t have kale, spinach or silverbeet works well too)
  • 2 red tomatos (chopped)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (grated or minced)
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 (400g) cans of white beans (rinsed and drained)(eg. Butter beans, cannellini, or our favourite: chickpeas)
  • tiny pinch of salt (we love porcini salt but use whichever salt you prefer).

Optional

  • Pasta (eg. gluten free pene or spirals)

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and then add the garlic and cook until it has turned a golden colour.
  2. Next add the chopped tomato and cook them down until they become a little soft and mushy and the juices begin to caramelise a bit.
  3. Next add the chopped kale (or other green) with the pinch of salt. Stir and then cover with a lid for a few minutes until the kale begins to wilt. (Stir every 30 seconds until the kale is ready).
  4. Add the white beans and stir through then cook until the white beans have heated through.
  5. If you’d like to add pasta, cook the pasta separately and then once it is ready add it when you add the beans so it can mix through and heat up with the rest of the veggies).

 

This is such a simple recipe, most week nights during winter when we don’t have a hot meal like Lasagne or a pastry-less pie to eat, we tend to cook something like this up or the Mushroom and lentil dish.

We’ve got even more main meal ideas and delicious warming sides for winter in our season 3 episodes (like creamy dairy, soy and nut free potato bake, yellow split pea dahl, black rice risotto and more, or you could check out this post with tips for easy healthy meal planning and more main meal recipes here.

 

Alternative Chef Kitchen Jackfruit “Waldorf” Salad

My Jackfruit Waldorf Salad:-)

The first time I tried a Waldorf salad was at my local seaside chip shop when I was a teen. (I loved it, and the memory has stayed with me over the years). That version had the classic ingredients along with BBQ chicken (which back then, I loved. Sadly, nowadays, my body doesn’t love the chicken any more).

A few years ago I began seeing jackfruit recipes online and the first time I saw this fruit which looked like pulled-meat I thought of that yummy Waldorf salad. At the time, I’d searched around my local shops (and a few not local ones) for jackfruit but didn’t have any luck and so I shelved the recipe idea…Until last week, when I found jackfruit on the shelves of my local healthfood shop (woo hoo!).

So…this is jackfruit…. it really looks like meat! But unlike a lot of other vegan friendly meat alternatives, it’s  naturally gluten and soy free (it’s a fruit). Taste wise, it’s pretty mild, and it’s hard to describe. In my opinion, it doesn’t have a strong taste. There is a slight crunchy tang to it, but mostly I couldn’t help but think it was a bit like artichoke hearts (but more chewy). So far I’ve found it takes on the flavours of the dish you add it to reasonably well (eg. my Hearty Lentil Stew ) and it was great.

Anyway, yesterday we’d had a busy day and I didn’t have time to make a long-winded dinner, but I did have celery, apple and mayonnaise in the fridge and so I thought it was as good a time as any to try to recreate that Waldorf salad from the chip shop (ACK style).

So here it is:-) If you like Waldorf salad, but you’re free-from… you could give this one a go:-)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of drained and rinsed original jackfruit (I haven’t tried canned, but that would probably work too).
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small pink lady or fugi apples
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon mayonnaise suitable for your diet (see note below if you can’t have egg, soy or dairy and would like some options).
  • OPTIONAL – 1/2  cup chickpeas

Method

There’s really not much too it, just chop the apple, walnut and celery, and rinse and drain the jackfruit (and chickpeas if you’d like to add a little extra plant based protein to the dish). Mix it all up in a large bowl and then add a generous tablespoon of mayonnaise.

The quantities are just a guide, have a play to make it the way you like it:-)

If you can’t have nuts, I’ve got a couple of ideas…. so leave me with it and I’ll get back to you:-)

I made our salad last night with a commercial mayonnaise because we finally found one that doesn’t make me itch, but if you’re having trouble finding a mayonnaise suitable for your diet because you can’t tolerate egg, you could try one of the recipes from our The Alternative Kitchen: A beginners guide to cooking without dairy, soy, gluten, egg or meat book there are 3 mayonnaise alternatives without egg in there.

Anyway, that’s all for this week!
P.S. Season 3 is coming soon! If you’re not on our newsletter list and would like some notifications when our next episode is released (and other news) just enter your details below:-)

P.P.S. I’m not being paid to write this post. I’ve just shared the packaging picture because it makes it easier to find when you go shopping (and I was expecting to find it in a can if I ever found it here in Adelaide, rather than a vacuum sealed package in a cardboard box). Also I’m just sharing this post because I was so excited about finally finding it here in Adelaide that I thought I’d share it with you guys:-)

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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