How to make collard wraps

Collard greens are the lost vegetable of my twenties.

How does one lose a vegetable?

Way before the fame of it’s trendy cousin kale, this leafy cruciferous was a staple green of the northern hemisphere. Where I was living.

Now before you ask I can’t for the life of me remember what I did with them in those days. It was the vegetarian-work-hard-play-hard-not-so-good-at-cooking era. I’m guessing they were thrown into endless stir-frys and beany stews.

Now thanks to a local grower we are reunited.

I’m excited for several reasons.

First they’re generous. Big broad leaves are perfect for wraps.

With a nice dip or spread in the fridge, grated carrot, steamed sweet potato and fresh herbs I’m good to for lunch.

They make a great alternative to bread.SAM_2174 (Small)

Second, collards are known for their antiinflammatory, cholesterol-lowering properties. They are high in fibre and are an excellent source of vit C, A, K, calcium and iron. And have good levels of protein, magnesium and omega-3 fats.

Next time you see them a the farmer’s market – grab them.

For easy rolling trim the lower portion of the spine off. Fill with your favourite fixings. And roll like a burrito.SAM_2176 (Small)

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Not your average lentil stew

To be fair, no lentil soup/stew is average. They’re usually beyond comforting and tasty.

And convenient.

But don’t you have to soak the lentils?

People often ask this and the answer is “you can, but you don’t have to.” It’s about improving digestibility. The bigger the bean the greater the need for soaking. Chick peas yes. Kidney beans absolutely. Lentils, not so much.

I don’t soak mine. But I do wash them well.

A favourite fast lentil soup is washed red lentils cooked in stock 1:4 ratio with chunks of potato and sliced leeks. Simmer all together until cooked. Season with tamari soy sauce and top with handfuls of fresh coriander, rocket or whatever greens are in the garden.

I could eat it everyday.

But when I’ve got a little more time in the kitchen this is the recipe I dig out. It’s especially good for filling up blokes!

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Lentils + quinoa = protein & iron

1 C organic brown lentils
5 C vegetable stock/water

½ C stock or water
2 C onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ tsp cayenne
2 bay leaves
½ C red quinoa

¼ C chopped parsley
2 C tomatoes, chopped
¼ C tomato paste
1 Tbl fresh rosemary, minced (½ tsp dry)

1. Rinse the lentils. Bring them to boil in salted stock or water. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 40 minutes or until cooked.
2. Steam sauté onions until translucent in ½ cup of water/stock. Add garlic, cayenne, bay leaves and quinoa. Stir the mixture until the onions and quinoa give up their liquid.
3. Add parsley and tomatoes. Bring to simmer and stir in tomato paste.
4. Mix in the lentils and their liquid. Simmer 15 mins.
5. Add rosemary, salt and pepper to taste.
6. Stir in more stock/tomato juice/water as needed.

Serve with a dollop of cashew cream and garnish with fresh parsley.
Variations: Swap the quinoa with bulghur wheat and wilt in baby spinach leaves before serving.

For another tasty mid winter stew try this spicy cabbage and kumara hotpot 


A warming winter stew

Eek cooked cabbage!

Not the nicest of thoughts for some of us. But paired up with golden kumara, peanuts, ginger and cayenne all your memories of soggy cooked cabbage will be forgotten.

During the winter months this dish is a weekly staple in my kitchen. It’s a throw-it-all-in-the-pot type meal and goes well over couscous or quinoa topped with fresh coriander. Adjust the hotness to your liking.

SAM_2081 (Small)West African Peanut Stew

1 large onion, chopped
¼ cup vegetable broth
½ tsp cayenne
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 large golden kumara (sweet potato), cubed
1 large can tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
1 Tbl fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbl fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 Tbl peanut butter

1. Steam saute onion for about 5 minutes until soft, add more stock as needed.
2. Stir in the chilli, garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the cabbage, sweet potato, tomatoes, stock, salt, ginger and coriander.
4. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until sweet potato is tender.
5. Stir in the peanut butter and simmer gently.

Serve topped with fresh coriander.

Gluten free cookies for kids on the go (& adults)


There are a couple of occasions when my oil free mantra goes out the window – garlicky oil drizzled on homemade pizza – or worse the temptation of a hot chip.

Yes I’m imperfectly perfect.

So these cookies are one of the few recipes in these pages that contain coconut oil.

1 Tbl chia soaked in 3 Tbl waterSAM_2060 (Small)
1 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
2 Tbl shredded coconut
1 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
2-3 Tbl molasses sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Prepare your chia ‘egg’ by soaking the chia in water, stir and sit for 10 minutes.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt & coconut in a large bowl.

3 Soften the oil and mix in the sugar. Add the vanilla essence & chia egg.

4. Mix well.

5. Work the mixture with your hands if necessary. Make balls & flatten with a fork.

6. Bake for 9-12 minutes at 180.

PS those brown bits in the photograph are imperfectly stirred lumps of molasses sugar which come out all gooey + delicious + perfect :)

For more baking without egg ideas check out this post: How to substitute eggs

A classic dish made healthier

In the last throes of summer there are still aubergines about and plenty of beans to try this oil free version of ratatouille.

That’s right I did say oil free.

Many a pan has been overheated with great gulps of olive oil added to fry off the aubergine – ending in a rich and I won’t say not-delicious stew.

But we’re not going to do that to ourselves or our pans and I personally like this lighter version.

SAM_1939 (Small)This ‘tui’ is my template for a quick summer dish. Serve over your favourite grain, new season potatoes, or polenta.

Like Nigella I do not salt my aubergine and can’t tell the difference – there the similarity ends!

Serve with a walnut Parmesan to take this simple dish to the next level and check out the many variations below.

1 large onion, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
Handful of basil leaves
1 cup vegetable stock/water
2 sticks celery, cut 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large aubergine, quartered lengthways and sliced
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into strips
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or 1 large can
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbl lemon juice
2 Tbl capers, optional
1 Tbl tomato paste, optional

1. Heat 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and steam saute onions, peppers, celery and garlic slowly, adding more stock as needed to prevent them sticking.
2. Add beans, bay leaves, tomatoes, basil, aubergine and rest of the stock, adding enough to just cover the vegetables. Cover and simmer. After about 20 minutes mix the stew adding a little more liquid if necessary.
3. Add seasonings, tomato paste, lemon and capers.
4. Top with walnut Parmesan.

Variations: Add white beans, capsicum, zucchinis, olives, mushrooms, red wine. Vary the herbs using marjoram, rosemary.


Gluten-free fast food that's healthy

Time stealers.

They have a habit of turning up at the end of the week. And they steal more than time.

They steal energy, motivation, and that I’m-never-eating-crap-food-again intention from earlier in the week.

It’s in these moments that something quick and delicious can divert your longing for a fast food fix.

We’re a bit of a noodle family. Our noodles of choice are buckwheat, rice, quinoa and occasionally standard wheat pasta.

Usually combined with something equally as quick. Gingery carrots with chilli; spring onions + greens; peppers and tomatoes ….

SAM_1940 (Small)Quick cooking is good. Gluten-free, quick cooking is even better. But noodles made from only beans + water, GENIUS!

Nothing else. Not even salt. Bless them.

What a simple way to add more plant-rich protein to your meal.

There’s fettuccine made from mung beans, noodles made from aduki beans, spaghetti made from black beans, and others.

For a quick dinner rough mash steamed broccoli + garlic + avocado. Mix through mung bean fettuccine and top with fresh basil and seasonings.

Check out your local health food store for the Explore Asian range of noodles and pastas. I’ll be dashing off to Putiputi Ra in Whangarei this week to beat the rush!

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Gluten free zucchini fritters


How to make egg-free gluten-free fritters

I have to confess. Egg-based dishes like fritters and omelettes were a favourite fall back for impromptu brunches and quick Sunday night dinners.SAM_1874 (Small)

Convenient. Tasty. Adaptable.

But fritters without eggs?

Thankfully there’s an alternative that boasts protein without the cholesterol.

Chickpea flour.

Other cultures have been on to this, like, forever. And the super big bonus is that chickpea flour is gluten free.

Zucchini Fritters

With a little preparation this gluten-free dinner will come together in a synch. 

I mix the chickpea batter in the morning, cover it and let it rest over the day. Standing the batter allows the flour to absorb the fluid.

You can let it stand it for as little as 1/2 an hour if you’re on the fly.

For a low-fat version use only water in the batter and bake the fritters on baking paper.

Close to dinnertime soak the chia seeds. Next grate the zucchini and let it drain in a sieve (not essential but works well with high-water content veges – squeeze out the water before adding to the batter).


1 cup chickpea flour

1/2 cup coconut cream

1/2 cup water

1 Tbl chia seeds, soaked in 3 Tbl water

1 large zucchini, grated

2 cloves garlic, pressed

Handful parsley

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

1. Mix chickpea flour, coconut cream, and water together (I use my blender). Stand.

2. Soak chia seeds in water for about 15 mins, stir occasionally.

3. Grate zucchini, drain, squeeze.

4. Mix the chia, zucchini, garlic, parsley, chilli flakes, salt and pepper into the batter.

5. Drop spoonfuls into a hot, well oiled pan. Rice bran oil works well at this heat and the better your pan the less you need to use. Cook both sides until nicely browned, about 2-3 mins.

Serve with your favourite chutney or guacamole.

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Pasta stuffed with cashew basil cream

Rich, creamy and nutritious, these shells will be gracing our Christmas table this year. They feel a little bit fancy, a little bit decadent and are easy to assemble. A serving of 2-3 stuffed shells is ample when served with salads and vegetable sides. SAM_1806 (Small)

You will need:

Big pasta shells

2 jars of pasta sauce or whizz up 2 cans tomatoes

Filling (this is enough for ~18 shells):

1 can cannellini beans rinsed & drained

1 C cashews

Handful fresh basil

Handful fresh spinach or kale, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Bring a big pot of water to boil for pasta shells. Cook them only until tender – do not overcook as they may split – they will finish cooking in the oven. Drain.

Combine all filling ingredients in your food processor and process until smooth. Scrap down the sides as you go.

Pour one jar of sauce in a baking pan.

Stuff the shells using about a tablespoon of filling for each and place on top of the sauce.

Cover with second jar of sauce, cover and bake for about 20 minutes.

For a gluten free option hollow out zucchini, fill with cashew basil cream and bake.

Merry Christmas!


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Simple summer soup

When I want to combine all the flavours of early summer this is the soup I crave. Simple, tasty and flexible.

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1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, chopped

2-3 new potatoes, scrubbed, halved and sliced thickly

1 zucchini, chopped

Handful of green beans

2 tomatoes

6 cups water/vegetable stock

1 C fresh basil leaves

1/2 roasted cashews

  • Roast the cashews in a medium oven for ~ 10 mins (watch them carefully).
  • Saute onion, garlic and carrot. Add potatoes and water/stock and bring to the boil. After five minutes add zucchinis, beans and tomatoes and simmer until potatoes are cooked.
  • Blend half the soup with roasted cashews and fresh basil.
  • Season well.
  • Serve with walnut parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

Psst parmesan used to be my cover-up-anything-solution and was one of the last types of dairy I stopped eating. Thankfully this walnut/yeast alternative not only tastes great, it comes without the high acidic rating of its dairy cousin.

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Related links:

How to replace dairy


How to make chocolate mousse in 5 minutes

Simple and elegant, this chocolate pud delivers dreamy delight with accents of surprise.

Play with the amounts of cacao powder (rich in nutrients but you can use cocoa), sweetener and spices to suit children and double-chocolate lovers.

Avoid overripe avocados as they will dominate the flavour.

Throw it all in and adjust. You can’t go wrong.

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1-2 large, ripe bananas
1 avocado
¼ cup raw cacao powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbl maple syrup
1 Tbl water
Pinch of cardamom (optional)
Pinch of chilli (optional)


Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Serve in a pretty glass and top with berries.

With my desire for a simple Christmas, this recipe will undoubtedly grace our table.

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