Archive for Kid friendly

Vegan Christmas Cake

This cake is a good mix of ‘easy’ + ‘Xmas-spice-fruity combo’.

And with molasses and not too much sugar I call it health food. Actually I’ve been known to call it breakfast!IMG_0199 (Small)

It’s not a long lasting cake but never needs to be!

675 g mixed fruit
450 ml water
150 ml oil (rice bran)
350 g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 Tbl molasses
1 lemon, zested
2 tsp ground mixed spice
75 g raw brown sugar
3 Tbl sherry or rum

  • Heat the oven 150. 
  • Grease and line a round cake tin. 
  • Mix all the ingredients, except the sherry and beat well until evenly mixed. 
  • Bake for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until risen and firm to touch. 
  • Allow to cool slightly in the tin, then spoon the sherry over the top and leave in the tin until completely cold. 

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Cookie dough truffles

Prepare to swoon. These truffles have been grabbing all the attention at school, after school, at talks and events.IMG_0068 (Small)

For parties I coat them in chocolate. More commonly they’re in the freezer nude for a quick high protein snack.

Play the secret-ingredient game. Few people will pick they’re made of chickpeas.

You need:

1 can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut sugar/molasses sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons tahini/almond/nut butter
1½ Tbl coconut flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of salt
¾ cup dark chocolate

1. Combine chickpeas, maple syrup, sugar, baking soda, tahini, vanilla, coconut flour and a pinch of salt in a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Transfer to a bowl and sit for 10 minutes. It helps the coconut flour absorb the moistness and will help with rolling.
3. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Freeze until solid.
4. In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Dip the balls into the chocolate until covered, then place back on parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Freeze.

For more truffly delights go here + here.

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Cranberry coconut truffles

Truffles are an excellent way of getting all manner of great ingredients into children. And importantly because they look pretty kids are usually keen to try them. Again. And again.IMG_0110 (Small)

Made with whole ingredients these balls are good filler uppers.

Thanks to Petite Kitchen for the inspiration.

2 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup ground almonds
¼ cup cranberries
¼ cup maple syrup
1 lemon, zested, juiced
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

1. Process all the ingredients. The mixture should be moist and stick together.

2. Roll into balls.

3. Coat in extra coconut if you like and pop them in the
fridge before serving.

PS They’re not just for kids!

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Energy balls that power pack your kids lunchbox

Sweet potato brownie

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Egg & dairy-free fruity loaf

As a child I remember bowls of dried fruit soaked in tea overnight ready for baking the next day. This recipe harks back to a rhythm and comfort of my mother’s kitchen.IMG_0099 (Small)

It’s hard to beat a thick slice of moist spicy fruit loaf. Of course in those days it was covered in butter. But it tastes just fine without.

Trust me. It’s delicious.

This loaf is based on the traditional Welsh Barabrith. Meaning a rich fruit loaf or yeasted bread made with tea.

Here we use health enhancing rooibos (red bush) tea for it’s antioxidants, minerals and flavour. It’s caffeine free and with less than half the tannins of normal tea it doesn’t impede the absorption of iron. Good news for vegans and women in general.

What no eggs? No milk?

Baking is often the new vegan’s Archilles heel. Don’t be discouraged.

Instead of egg we use soaked chia seed (chia gel). See here for a list of other alternatives.

You will need:

2 cups dried fruit (dates, raisins, prunes)
2½ Tbl molasses sugar
½ lemon, zested
400 mls hot rooibos tea

2½ cups wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 chia egg (1 Tbl chia seed mixed with 1/3 cup water. Let it sit for 10 mins)

Soak the fruit, sugar and lemon overnight in a big bowl. Cover.
Heat your oven to 190°C (375°F).
Mix in the chia egg.
Sift the dry ingredients into the fruit.
Mix well.
Pour into a greased and/or lined loaf tin.
Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a knife comes cleanly out.
Cool on a wire rack.

Stuff into lunchboxes!

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Rhubarb cake

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Sugar-free sweet potato brownie

Hail to Deliciously Ella for the idea of putting kumara (sweet potato) into a brownie recipe.

The satisfying starch works beautifully to fill up hungry children.IMG_0084 (Small)

The original recipe uses almond meal so can easily be gluten free.

I’ve changed it according to what I had in the pantry and it worked just fine. I’ve also added raisins instead of extra chocolate.

Importantly, how ever I make them I have queues of small boys lining up outside my fridge after school.

But first soak your dates.

You will need:

2 cups pitted dates, soaked several hours to overnight
1 large orange kumara (sweet potato), peeled, cubed
1 cup wholemeal flour (or 1 cup ground almonds)
½ cup buckwheat flour
1 Tbl oil (rice bran or coconut)
2 Tbl dark chocolate cocoa (or raw cacao)
Handful of raisins (chocolate chips or hazelnuts)
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbl nondairy milk of choice
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F.
2. Bring kumara (sweet potato) to boil and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat until cooked. Drain well and set aside to cool.
3. In your food processor add sweet potato, soaked dates and oil. Mix until pureed.
4. Add flours, cocoa powder, vegan milk, vanilla essence, salt and baking powder. Process until smooth.
5. Mix in the raisins or nuts by hand.
6. Pour the mixture into a lined baking dish and cook for 25 minutes.
7. Test the middle with a knife to ensure it’s cooked. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
8. Cut into squares when cool. Keep in the fridge.

If you’re looking for another great lunchbox filler check out these energy balls.IMG_0088 (Small)

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Two ways with quinoa

This should read 202 ways with quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) such is the versatility of this seed.

Seed??2014-09-28 13.19.00 (Small)

Yes! It’s commonly referred to as a grain but is technically a seed – which is great if you’re looking for a non-grain grain.

Use it instead of rice, eat it hot or cold, sprout it, you can even replace your porridge with it.

Quinoa consists of 20% protein, is high in lysine and is a good source of iron.

I particularly like the black and red varieties but it also comes in white. Mix them up for an attractive salad base.

Cook it like rice at a 1:2 quinoa to water ratio. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 20 mins. Fluff with a fork.

Some say to rinse your quinoa before cooking to ensure the bitter-tasting saponins are removed (I’m told most will have been removed before it got to the shop).

And some say to dry toast the grains for a few moments in a hot pan to enhance the flavour. I do either depending on which I remember first!

Important: Always cook more than you need so you can throw together a quick nutritious lunch. Cook 1 cup quinoa:2 cups water and you’ll have enough for the following two dishes. Double as needed.


2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 can black beans
1 cup cooked quinoa
Lettuce cups lined with mint
Toppings – sliced avocado, red pepper, fresh coriander & cashew cream

1. Dry toast 1-2 tsps ground cumin
2. Add splash of vegetable stock and steam saute several cloves of minced garlic & lemon zest
3. Add 1 can of black beans and toss over heat for several minutes
4. Mix in cooked quinoa
5. Season with salt, pepper & extra chilli flakes to taste. Cool.


I love salads that make a meal requiring as much or as little as your creativity, time and pantry allow. The plainest version of this is still delicious and packed with good sources of plant protein. Top with the vinaigrette below or your favourite oil-free dressing.

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
Handfuls of fresh mesculin and herbs
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
Grated carrot/zucchini
Favourite salad items, eg, olives, cherry tomatoes, blanched beans, roasted garlic, piles of sprouts, toasted seeds …

Mix ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Top with THIS dressing.

SAM_2308 (Small)


The mayo-like quality of this dressing takes it many places.

1/4 cup cashews (soak for an hour if you can)
1/2 cup water
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tsp agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
Salt & pepper

Be sure to blend/process this dressing until smooth.

Please share with your friends. You never know they may make it for you!

You may also like Late Summer Quinoa Salad

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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

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 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.SAM_1771 (Small)

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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Energy Balls That Power Pack Your Kid’s Lunchbox

Are processed bars and snacks sneaking into your kitchen cupboards? Would you love to provide a healthier homemade version?

When my son and his friends gobble up these not-too-sweet-chocolatey treats I know they are getting sustained energy, omegas, iron and all manner of vitamins and minerals. SAM_1349 (Small)

Attention athletes, yogis and busy mums: these will keep you going too!

Take a stroll around school at lunch time and there’s a mountain of highly processed products being unwrapped.

The issues are obvious: sugar, fat, salt, chemicals and rubbish!

This type of fuel gets our children buzzing around the playground with the ensuing energy crash reserved for the classroom.

Short-term energy from fast release sugars = stimulation, not nourishment. And adults are not immune – think coffee, sugar, energy slump, coffee …

I’ve fallen into this trap myself. It’s called convenience.

How to make nutrient dense sweet treats

Luckily it’s as easy as getting out your food processor. Combine these three types of wholefoods into a complementary energy & nutrient kapow!

Energy Balls


1 cup chopped dried unsulphured fruits (dates & raisins; figs & apricots; or cranberries & prunes)

1/2 cup nuts and seeds (walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, chia seeds)

1 cup whole oats

1/2 cup coconut

1 Tbl cocoa/cacao or carob powder

1/2 Tbl vanilla essence

1/3 cup apple juice or water

  1. Finely chop the dried fruit in food processor. Add the nuts & seeds, then the oats, coconut & cocoa powder. Blend until fairly uniform.
  2. Slowly add vanilla essence and apple juice until the mixture combines.
  3. Shape into balls and roll in extra coconut. Refrigerate.

Mix n’ match your ingredients. My favourite iron- omega-rich combo is cranberry & prunes with walnuts, chia and pumpkin seeds.

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