Posted on Leave a comment

Holy burrito!

When we transitioned to a whole foods plant based diet, I started by adapting our favourite meals. This was the easiest way of getting us all used to it, rather than introducing totally new dishes.

We’ve always loved burritos. I think it’s the idea of filling your wrap with colourful yumminess and eating with your hands, which is fun for the kids and us!

This was one of the first plant based dishes I made. I didn’t really follow a recipe, I was just thinking about how I could make them taste as good as possible. I had to include some good fat, but my 2 boys and husband don’t like avocado in its whole form, they’ll only eat it if it’s in a smoothie where they can’t taste it. So a guacamole was a no go for the topping. Nuts and seeds contain good fat so I thought why not blend some seeds and hide them because who puts seeds on a burrito!

We like spicy food, so you may need to reduce the quantities of spices if your kids aren’t used to them. Once I’ve made the spice mix, I save some so that my husband and I can add more to our own burrito.

I don’t add a cashew sour cream to these burritos because there’s enough fat from the sunflower seeds. Plus the raw salad is quite cooling and adds texture.

Feeds 2 adults, 1 tween and a toddler.

Ingredients:

Filling:

1.5 cups brown rice, cooked

1 reduced salt veg stock cube

1 can black beans

1 chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Splash of balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup water

Spice mix: 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp mixed herbs, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tps salt, 1/2 tsp onion powder

Salsa:

1 red or Orange pepper chopped

2 cups lettuce or spinach, shredded

Cucumber, de-seeded and chopped

2 tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped

2 tbsp coriander, chopped

Juice of half a lime

8 Wholemeal or corn wraps

Method:

Cook the rice with the stock cube as per packet instructions

Pour the tomatoes and seeds into a blender and pulse until seeds are ground

Add the tomato mixture, onions, garlic, beans, balsamic vinegar and spice mix to a saucepan or frying pan with the lid on. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes stirring occasionally

Meanwhile prepare the salsa

If you want warm wraps, put them in tin foil and heat in the oven for 10 minutes

Remove the lid from the pan with the bean mixture. Cook on a medium heat for another 10 minutes with the lid off so the liquid reduces.

Now everything is ready, assemble your wraps and enjoy 😋

Posted on Leave a comment

Surprise baby finger food!

I’ve been experimenting with finger food for my 10 month old daughter. It’s been a bit hit and miss, basically because she’s a princess and wants to be fed. No matter what I tried, she had no intention of holding food for herself!

I’ve had so many fails in the kitchen and still do. I’m a perfectionist by nature so I find it hard when a recipe doesn’t work first time or meet my very high expectations. I’m lucky that the boys in my family love being guinea pigs for me. They love recipe testing and always make me feel good when they try and love my creations.

So imagine my surprise when I created these muffins; my toddler turned his nose up at them and my baby literally grabbed one from me and gobbled it up!

They’re really light, moist and easy to eat. I didn’t cook the fruit or veg first because my baby is into textures at the moment. You could cook and puree them if you like and add some extra flour; up to half a cup.

My eldest son loved them and asked if he could have them in his lunch box. I’ve stored some in the freezer for him. We found them quite sweet, but if you’re into more sweetness then add a tablespoon of pure maple syrup.

I always use silicone muffin holders. I find it so much easier to pop the muffin out of them. Also there’s no need to grease my tray.

This recipe is inspired by My kids lick the bowl.

Ingredients:

1 cup wholemeal flour

1tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground linseed & 3 tbsp water mixed and left in the fridge for 10 minutes)

1 cup plant milk (I used rice milk)

2 medium carrots, grated

2 apples, grated

1.5 bananas, mashed

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 200°
  • Prepare your flax egg
  • Grate the apples and carrots. Mash the bananas
  • Mix the dry ingredients together
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and don’t forget your flax egg! Mix well.
  • Spoon into muffin holders. Fill them all the way to the top. The muffins will rise but will sink once cool.
  • Cook for 20 minutes or until the muffins are firm on top.
  • They will seem a little under cooked at first but once cooled they do hold together really well.

Enjoy! xx

Posted on Leave a comment

3 ingredient cookies!

My family has been missing cookies so I had a think and whipped these up today.

They took me all of 15 minutes to prepare and they taste really good. They’re crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. The dates give natural sweetness so there’s no need for any other sweetener. The boys and hubby gave their approval so I think they’ll be a weekly treat in their lunch boxes.

I made 11 cookies out of this mixture. Jamari and I ate some before I realised I hadn’t taken a picture!

Ingredients:

1.5 cup of dates, soaked in hot water (unless you’re using fresh dates)

2 cups of almond meal

1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

Method:

• Preheat your oven to 190°

• Soak the dates with boiling water for 5 minutes

• Put the dates in a food processor and pulse until they’re broken down. You might need to add a little of the water you soaked them in.

• Add the almond meal and vanilla. Pulse until combined.

• Spoon the mixture onto a lined baking tray. The mixture will be sticky. Shape into a rough circle with wet hands.

• Bake for 12 minutes or until the cookies are brown and crisp on the outside.

Enjoy!

Posted on Leave a comment

What the health?!

Before we started this way of eating, I did lots of research. I was worried about protein, fat, and if my children would get enough vitamins. Then I thought to myself, these were the same things I was worried about before we went plant based and we were already eating whole foods and loads of veggies!!

There is so much information about the whole foods plant based way of eating, I was getting bamboozled!

It’s not to be confused with veganism, which is a way of life encompassing not only food but animal exploitation in every form. As much as I hate how animals are treated for humans to eat, we can’t afford to replace our leather couch or our shoes and all my handbags. Not that I use a handbag any more; Fiorelli and Guess don’t make handbags big enough for nappies, wipes, snacks and the kitchen sink you need for 2 kids under 3!

So I joined plant based Facebook groups, searched the web and got advice from a good friend who was already doing it. I also watched a few movies again; Forks over Knives, Earthlings and What the Health.

In my humble opinion the film Forks over Knives has the most scientific information about why this way of eating is best for us. I really liked the way Dr Caldwell Esselstyn explained the lifestyle and the health benefits. He talks about the China Study and his own longitudinal studies he had done with his patients. What he says really resonated with me and so I was convinced this was the right way to go.

I’ve ended up taking bits and pieces from different places.

  • Rawtillwhenever (high carb hannah) focuses on a high carb, low fat diet. She has some amazing cookbooks which I’ve purchased and taken lots of inspiration from. I try to eat at least one raw meal a day or at least encompass a raw element.
  • Forks over Knives focuses on prevention/management and reversing chronic diseases such as diabetes, Heart disease and high blood pressure. The diet does not allow oil.
  • Plant powered families with Dreena Burton (on facebook) is all about sharing insights and tips on raising plant based children. They have great resources regarding nutrition for children and good ideas for family meals.

So We’re only 5 weeks in but it feels like we’ve been eating this way forever. I can’t imagine going back to eating animal products and processed food.

I’m so proud of all of us, especially Jamari and Stephen. They’ve both really embraced the food and the reasons we’re doing it. We have given Jamari a choice however. When he’s at school, at a mate’s place or a social function he can make his own choices. In the first few weeks, he had an ice cream, a sausage and a piece of chicken. Afterwards he complained of a stomach ache and commented on how different it tasted. This week he had his first cooking class at school as part of tech. He told his teacher he was vegan so didn’t want to add the cheese or salami to the pizza they were making. I was extremely proud of him. It’s the first time he’s owned plant based eating. Previously he’s told people ‘my mum says we don’t eat animal products’.

We’re not totally perfect though, Stephen and I are still having a beer or wine at the weekends. And we’re still partial to chocolate; Whittakers 70% cocoa dark ghana is the new favourite!

I’m really look forward to the next few months as I learn more recipes and continue to feel so much better. I’ve also got another round of tests coming up in the next few weeks. I’m really interested to find out if eating this way has made any difference to the sarcoidosis.

So watch this space for more updates, tips and recipes.

Thank you for all the kind words and encouragement, it means a lot.

xx

Posted on 2 Comments

Yummy one pot curry

I made this curry by accident a few weeks ago. It was the day before shopping day and our veg box delivery from Food Together New Plymouth. My fridge and cupboards were pretty bare, it was 3.30pm and I was stressing about what to cook for dinner.

I just threw some onions, carrot, potatoes and chick peas into a pot with some veg stock, a few spices and a can of coconut cream at the end. I was expecting everyone to say how it wasn’t as nice as the other meals we’d been having, but hubby and the kids all asked for more!! And so the one pot curry was born.

It’s evolved a bit now as I’ve played with the flavours, but it’s still really simple and you don’t have to stand next to the stove stirring every 5 minutes.

We don’t have this with rice because of the potatoes, but you could leave them out and serve the curry with brown rice if you wanted. We love that this curry has lots of sauce and it’s bright and flavoursome.

This will work with any vegetables you have to hand.

I now make 2 pots of this; one with the ingredients below and the other I add some red curry paste for hubby and I. All 3 of our kids enjoy spicy food but we like our curry hot and spicy!

Serves 5 (2 adults, a tween who eats like an adult, a toddler and a baby) with leftovers.

Ingredients:

8 medium boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed

1 brown onion, chopped

5 medium carrots, chopped

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces

1 bag spinach, washed

3 cloves garlic, chopped (I use minced garlic from a jar)

1 veg stock cube or 1 cup of liquid stock

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp onion powder

1tsp cumin

2 tsp garam masala

6 cups Water (approx)

Method:

  • Put potoatos, onion, garlic, carrot and lentils in a large pot with the veg stock. Cover with water and bring to the boil.
  • Add the spices and reduce the heat once it’s boiling. Simmer until the potatoes are soft but not crumbling and the lentils are soft. You might need to add a little more water at this point
  • Add the cauliflower and let simmer for 10 mins
  • Add the coconut cream, stir and add any more spices after tasting.
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

We add salt to our own meals if it’s needed.

Enjoy and try not to burn your mouth!!

Posted on Leave a comment

Carrot & cumin hummus

We have hummus pretty much every day. I use it as a spread on wraps for hubby’s lunch, the kids have it in their lunch boxes and I have it with quinoa bread.

This recipe is so good, you’ll be making it every week like us! Plus there’s no oil in it so you can eat as much as you like. Chick peas are so versatile and will go with anything! Instead of carrots, you can use cooked orange kumera, or cooked beetroot.

We love garlic, but if you don’t then reduce the amount you put in. Whatever flavour you like, play around with the spices to get it just right.

It’ll keep in the fridge in an air tight container for 3-4 days.

Ingredients:

3 medium carrots, chopped

1/4 cup of water from boiled carrots

1 can of reduced salt chick peas or 1.5 cups of dried chick peas (cook them first!!)

1 tbsp tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

3 cloves of garlic

1.5 tsp cumin

1 tsp onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

• Chop the carrots and boil in a covered saucepan

• Once they’re cooked, drain the carrots but save the water. Put the cooked carrots in a food processor and pulse a few times to break them down.

• Drain and rinse the chick peas. Save the aquafaba for making mayo!

• Add the chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder and some carrot water to the food processor with the carrots. Pulse, slowly adding some water until smooth and its reached your desired thickness. You may have to scrape down the sides a couple of times.

• Taste as you go and adjust the flavour as needed.

Serve straight away or keep in the fridge for later.

Easy as!

Posted on Leave a comment

Banana & blueberry breakfast slice

This is a great slice to make at the weekend for the following week’s breakfast. It’s really filling and full of delicious flavours. It’s great for when you’re in a rush in the mornings as it holds together really well and can be eaten on the go. It’s also great for lunch boxes.

It’s also very versatile so you could replace the blueberries with chunks of apple instead. If you don’t have apple juice, just use water or fresh orange juice to soak the dates.

We eat a slice of this for breakfast with a small smoothie.
Ingredients:
• 1 cup dates
• 1½ cups apple juice
• 3 cups rolled oats
• ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• 1½ tbsp baking powder
• 2 ripe bananas
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup frozen blueberries
• ½ cup walnuts

Method:
• In a small bowl, soak the dates in the apple juice for 10 to 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°. Line a 9 × 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, making sure the sides are covered. Cut slits in the corners of the paper so that it overlaps and lies flat.
• In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of the rolled oats with the cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder. Mix and set aside.
• Place the remaining 1 cup of rolled oats, the bananas, and the vanilla extract into a blender. Remove the dates from the apple juice and set aside. Strain the juice, add it to the blender, and blend until creamy.
• Add the dates to the blender, and pulse a few times until the dates are in small pieces.
• Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredient bowl. Mix well. Stir in the blueberries and walnuts.
• Using a spatula, pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
• Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving or cool completely and store in the fridge.

Posted on Leave a comment

This bread is awesome!

I came across this recipe in a plant based group on Facebook. I was a bit sceptical, but after making it a few times and adjusting the seasoning to our liking we have a winner! I had to play around with the oven temperature to get the right colouring and texture. We like it chewy. I also prefer to use a silicone baking mat rather than parchment paper.

I make this at least twice a week and store it cut up in an air tight container on the bench. Believe me when I tell you that it only lasts 2 days! The kids snack on it between meals, I put some in their lunchbox with my homemade hummus and I have some with my lunch. It’s great to take out on picnics too.

I also use it as a pizza base and it’s devoured in minutes. It’s really tasty, filling and satisfies our bread craving.

Give it a try; you’ll also be hooked!

Posted on Leave a comment

A sweet treat

Since going plant based I’ve really missed my sweet treats. I’ve got such a sweet tooth and on a bad day I had no problem munching my way through a few home made brownies!

I regularly make bliss balls with nuts and seeds, but I needed something which didn’t have the added fats.

My boys love these too, so I usually put half of them in the freezer out of sight!

This recipe is super simple and only takes around 30 minutes to blend and roll. This might seem a long time; but I usually have 2 little people around my ankles wanting my attention. Without any ankle biters around it’d only take 15 minutes max.

You can keep them in the fridge for a quick hit or freeze them to make them last longer. You can roll them in coconut like I do or use chopped nuts or chia seeds. The texture is smooth and more truffle like, which seems much more indulgent and naughty!

Bliss balls:

15 dates

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2-3 tbsp of peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)

1 tsp Vanilla

Method:

Mix all ingredients in food processor until it forms a ball. Roll into smaller balls. Roll in shredded coconut.

Simple!!

Posted on Leave a comment

Lunch boxes

So I thought I’d share a bit about my kids Lunch boxes. This isn’t to tell you how to pack it or what to put in it, but just to give you some ideas.

Even though we’ve only been plant based for just over a month, we’ve been eating whole foods for a long time now. I’ve also been focused on rubbish free Lunch boxes for about 2 years.

My inspiration came from Claire Deeks. She runs Dom’s kitchen and she’s so passionate and real! She’s actually just moved back to Taranaki, which is really cool. She’s not plant based or vegan but she’s an advocate for real food, truthful labeling on food and she has some great lunchbox ideas.

So I use a Yumbox for Josiah who’s 28 months (yes I am that mum who still uses months!!). I find that I can fill it up with lots of different foods and he can pick and choose what he wants. He usually eats a little of everything, but always wolf’s down the fruit and veg first…go figure.

He can open and close it himself and he’s always really excited to open it when its full. It has sealed compartments when it’s closed, so things like yoghurt don’t leak out. Other liquids which are more watery like the juice of tomatoes do leak so I put things like that in a silicone muffin holder.

This is his lunch box today:

He has:

  1. Frozen peas
  2. A plum
  3. 2 pumpkin & blueberry pancakes (these were frozen when I put them in)
  4. Mixed nuts
  5. A bliss ball
  6. Kalamata olives
  7. Chocolate zucchini muffin

My eldest son is 11 and he uses a Goodbyn hero. We like this one as it has a bigger compartment along with 2 smaler ones. It also comes with 2 little containers for yogurt or nuts etc. He likes it because when his fruit is cut it doesn’t go brown!

His lunch for today:

  1. Chocolate zucchini muffin
  2. Apple
  3. Nectarines
  4. 3 pumpkin & blueberry pancakes
  5. 2 bliss balls
  6. Chick pea & corn burger with salad & vegan mayo (wrapped in a paper towel)

I usually do some bulk cooking on a Sunday which includes food for the lunch boxes. This saves so much time when packing them up. Plus I know they’ll eat it, so I don’t have to contend with a full lunchbox coming home.

One of the perks of being plant based is that in the warm weather we don’t have to worry about food going bad.

Happy lunchboxing 😀

Both lunch boxes were purchased from the lunchbox queen.

Recipes for bliss balls, pumpkin & blueberry pancakes and carrot & cumin hummus coming soon!!

Posted on Leave a comment

The dreaded outing…..

So it’s been a month since we embarked on our WFPB journey and going out with the kids is like a military operation! Where are we going? Will there be non compliant food there? Will people offer said food to my toddler? Will he just grab the food? Will people think I’m rude for bringing our own food? I’m definitely getting better at not apologising for our change in diet, but it does evoke some strong opinions from people. Anyway, i digress. This needs to be a whole other post!
Back to packing food. Not only do I have to prepare a toddler lunchbox, a meal for the baby but I have to take snacks for me and a ‘tween’ if he’s with us. Now, I know some might say that it can’t be that hard just chuck some fruit and veg in and ‘she’ll be right’. I wish it really was that simple. Yes, we do eat lots fruit and veg but the amount we need to keep us full won’t fit in my over sized, over priced baby bag let alone a Yumbox!
It all comes down to checking nutrient content and ensuring we get all we need for the day. Plus the food has to be appealing because we all know how fussy 2 year olds can be! I have found over the last month (with lots of trial and error) that spending one day a week prepping lunchbox food is what really helps me. I usually do this on a Sunday, as hubby is home to help entertain the brood. Or if by some miracle both toddler and baby are sleeping at the same time during the week, I’ll do some cooking then.
I have learned and found lots of new recipes for lunchbox fillers, but just to ease us into it I adapted a few tried and tested recipes.
  • Pancakes are always a winner, whether sweet or savoury. My kids’ favorites are banana & blueberry and pea and broccoli. You can make a big batch and freeze them. Add whatever fruit/veg you like and put them in a container with baking paper separating them.
  • Baked Rosti. Mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about them. We love courgette (zucchini for you non-British folk) onion and potato. These also freeze well, but they don’t last long enough for me to freeze them! I had these for morning tea today with some mushrooms and peppers from my garden…yummy.
  • Chick pea chocolate cookies. Yes you read it right; chick peas! these are so yummy, your family won’t know they have chick peas in them. This recipe is adapted from Nadia Lim, and I have omitted the coconut oil. These also freeze well. My toddler has a batch of these in the day care fridge for when they are having a treat.
Give them a go and see how you and the kids like them. Let me know what you think.

Broccoli & pea pikelets:

1.5 cups oat flour (oats ground into flour. I use my nutri bullet but a food processor will do fine)
2 tablespoons of LSA (Ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds)
1 cup of frozen peas
1/4 head of broccoli finely chopped
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (not to be confused with brewers yeast!)
Pinch black pepper
1 cup almond milk (or other nut/milk. Have some more available to thin out the mixture if needed)
Add any other spices you’d like. Mix well. Mixture will be thick so you can add more milk if you like.
Spoon mixture into a hot non stick frying pan, spread out a little and cook for around 2 mins each side just until lightly brown. 

Baked Rosti:

3 medium potatoes
1 large courgette or a few small ones
1 brown onion
1 tablespoon Nutritional yeast
Pinch black pepper
Pinch of salt
Grate the veges onto a couple of clean, dry tea towels. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. Mix together in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. To arrange on the tray, I use an upside down cookie cutter. This way the rosti are all a nice round shape. Fill the tray and bake at 200 until the rosti are brown and a little crispy. This usually takes me around 35 minutes. 

Chick pea choc chip cookies:

1 can no added salt chick peas drained
1/2 cup nut butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons of LSA
1/4 cup dark choc chips (dairy free)
2 tablespoons water
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor except choc chips. You’ll need to scrape down the sides every now and then. Pulse until mixture looks like cookie dough, adding a little water to bind. Then add the choc chips and pulse to mix through. Wet your hands and roll mixture into small balls. I just use a spoon or I’ll end up eating the mixture! Place on a baking tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Press each ball down with a wet fork. Bake for 15-17 mins at 170. Cool on the tray. The cookies are quite crumbly when hot so I don’t use a wire rack. Store in the fridge for as long as they’ll last! 
Posted on Leave a comment

Our Journey

Hi and welcome! I thought I’d better introduce myself and my family.
I’m Simone and I’m married to Stephen. I’m originally from UK and my husband is from NZ. I’m a qualified Social Worker and trained in UK. I met Stephen in Birmingham in 2004 and we moved to NZ back in 2009 after we had our 1st son in 2006. We then went on to have 2 more children, another boy in 2015 and a daughter in 2017. Yes the last two are close together; 18 months apart in fact! We now live in beautiful New Plymouth, Taranaki. I am fortunate that I am able to stay at home with our children.
We’ve been eating plant-based food for a month now and we’re loving it. Well, the children and I are loving it. My husband misses meat and does eat it when he’s at work. I’m sure he sneaks in a pie once a week. He also still has milk in his coffee and for his weetbix (it is like cardboard!) He can’t stand almond milk, and that’s ok. I’m working on alternatives for him to try; this is a learning curve for all of us after all. Although Stephen isn’t 100% plant-based yet, he does eat all the meals I cook at home and he’s supportive of the change.
We changed to this way of eating for a number of reasons. One is for our health, the second is for the environment and third is the animals. I have a condition called Sarcoidosis and I recently had to have tests as I found a lump in my breast. Turns out the Sarcoidosis has spread throughout my body in my lymph nodes. It’s an auto immune disorder which causes inflammation. After doing lots of research about my condition and finding out that there is no cure; I concluded that I needed to change my and my family’s’ diet and lifestyle.
Now I come from an African background where meat, starch and vegetables are the normal diet. I’ve eaten meat, dairy and animal products all my life, but I’ve known for a long time now that they aren’t that great for our health. I needed a reason to change my diet and my condition was it.  A good friend of mine had embarked on a similar journey, so she suggested some documentaries to watch to get me started. I have to say, these documentaries have changed my life! If you’d like to watch any, they are: What the Health, Forks over Knives, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and Cowspiracy.
What is the WFPB (whole foods plant-based) diet? Well if the food has a mum and dad don’t eat it! I love that phrase from Forks over knives. Whole foods are foods which haven’t been processed; the whole apple, the bean or grain. Plant based means food which comes from plants and not animals, so no meat, dairy, honey or eggs. Eating WFPB also avoids oils and refined sugars. I love the Forks over knives webpage as it explains it so much more eloquently!
So here on my blog I’ll be sharing our journey, how to start eating a whole foods plant-based diet, recipes, information, places to shop, places to eat, our daily struggles, meal planning, ideas for the kids, lunchbox fillers and anything else fun!
Whether you’re thinking about changing to this way of eating, converted already, want to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet or you just want more information come and join me.