Healthy veggie bites and back to school lunch ideas

The Reject Shop asked me to come up with some back to school ideas for them recently. It really got me thinking.

 

About how my eating habits have changed since I was at school. And to be honest, they’ve pretty much stayed the same. I still LOVE food, I don’t think I’ve ever been a fussy eater.

 

It helped that my mum always made the best lunches. I was the girl at school with lunches that other people envied – leftover schnitzel wraps, salad sandwiches piled high with delicious fresh vegetables, spag bol… she set such a high precedent that I worry that I’ll disappoint my future children! My own mother set the lunch bar so high that it makes me evaluate my work lunch choices much more harshly than most.

Gumbo and rainy day comfort food

bowlThe weather has not been kind to Sydney this week. Earlier in the week it was so uncomfortably humid that leaving the haven of my air-conditioned house made me immediately hot – the air was syrupy with humidity. I made my watermelon and feta salad to cool down on Saturday and had planned to eat the leftovers today.

That was an optimistic plan, because today we had rain; persistent, cold and accompanied by wind.

On the plus side, it was good weather for baking! I baked a lemon and coconut cake similar to these little beauties, and one of my new favourite recipes, gumbo.

Vanilla caramel crisp cupcakes and unlikely combinations

packetHalloween is all about the creepy and unusual. These babies are in no way creepy (they’re mostly delicious) but they are unusual. I’m bucking the Halloween trend of faux blood and ghouls and doing my own bright and airy, Australian Halloween. Check out my non-spooky pumpkin bundt and choc-pumpkin cupcakes.

So, before you judge the combinations of flavours, have a think about the salted caramel craze. It’s huge. Salted caramel milkshakes, salted caramel sauces, salted caramel fudge, it’s everywhere. The beautiful mixture of salty and sweet just works.

Omelette waffle and new toys

aboveI bought a waffle iron. I could not be more excited. The minute I got home from buying it I made this recipe. Things just taste better waffle-shaped! I got it from Wheel and Barrow, on the recommendation of Alice from Close Encounters of the Cooking Kind. (Thanks Alice!)

So even though I had intended on posting this tart today, I can’t. This waffle omelette (wamelette? Omelaffle?) needs to be introduced to the world. I’m too excited about it.

This all started because of my trip to Mooberry, where I had delicious plain waffles drizzled in melted milk chocolate – so simple, but SO good. But now that I’ve got my own waffle maker, there is no end to what I can make!

Garlic and artichoke conchiglie and a Menulog giveaway

ingredientsYou may or may not have put up with me whinging about my lack of oven recently. The oven seems to have miraculously fixed itself for the moment, but while it was out of action, I had to get creative with everything.

I love baking (stating the obvious slightly, I know) because my dinners tend to be baked, not just my desserts! Lasagnes, roasts…I even like to roast most of my vegies that I make into soups. So having no oven was a struggle.

Pretzels and new things

tearI have a confession to make. I don’t like pretzels. Those little salt-laden little knots that always make their way onto dip platters. I just can’t stand them. They’re too salty and brittle – they dry out my mouth with such speed that it creeps me out.

I know, I’m sorry. But in the interest of full disclosure, I needed to let you know!

So when I set out to make my own, I knew that they weren’t going to be spindly and hard, they were going to be plush, pillowy little tangles of dough. And without too much salt!

These little knots do not disappoint. (I refrained from writing “do knot disappoint,” just fyi.)

Roast eggplant soup and Snoods

aboveI have almost worn out my favourite snood in this chilly weather. If I could somehow permanently attach the snood to my neck, I would. It’s glorious.

When it’s not festooned around my neck, it drapes itself over my knees at work. It makes me look like a nanna, but my knees are so damn warm that I don’t even mind. The days that I leave the snood at home, I feel like a part of me is missing. My décolletage, exposed, catches the frosty weather and longs for the snood.

I really love my snood.

Roasted cauliflower soup and immunity boosters

bowlI mentioned in my last post that my brother’s girlfriend wasn’t well. She’s starting to get better, and I kind of want to claim her recovery.

I made her super muffins (packed with antioxidants and vitamin C) and this soup, which only contains ingredients aimed at boosting the immune system. There are no sugar or dairy products in here, just hearty vegetables and delicious spices. I hate to get all informative, but I so rarely post “healthy” things that I get excited when there are actual benefits (other than deliciousness) to my recipes.

Cauliflower, the star ingredient, is packed full of vitamin C to aid your recovery. It makes up the bulk of the soup, and the gentle roasting gives it a beautiful taste. Cauliflower is also anti-inflammatory.

Carrot, ginger and cumin soup and yearning

As the weather cools down, my body yearns for swaddling clothes and hearty meals. I fulfilled both of these desires over the weekend – dressed in a big jumper and flannelette pyjama pants, I concocted this glorious soup.

pour

It’s the kind of soup that you need good, crusty bread with. The kind of soup that tantalises you with its smells as it bubbles away. It turns out that this is the kind of soup that converts non-soup eaters into soup devourers! My younger brother initially refused the offer of soup because he’s “not a fan,” but he ended up converting after watching everyone else consumer theirs eagerly.

The cumin and ginger make this soup really sing. I’ve never been tempted by a carrot soup, I always thought they sounded bland, but this soup is a game changer! It’s thick and hearty and flavoursome, attributes which make any soup a winner in my books.

Carrot and ginger soup

Serves sixbread

  • 3 cups carrot, chopped
  • 1 brown onion, roughly diced
  • 1 cup sweet potato, roughly diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock


group
Pop the carrots, onion and sweet potato into a heavy-bottomed pan with 2tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir them regularly to stop them from burning.

carrotWhen the veggies are soft, add in the ginger and garlic and cook for a further two minutes.
Add in your salt and pepper, followed by the stock, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 45 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter. You can simmer the soup for a shorter amount of time if you prefer a thinner soup.



Serve straight from the stove top with a dollop of sour cream.basket

done

Quinoa breakfast cups and gluten thoughts

aboveI’ve been trying to cut back on gluten in my life. Laughable, right? I bake nearly every day and I LOVE gluten. The more I look into gluten free options, the more I realise how hard it is to cut it out of your diet.

I’m not doing too badly – I don’t miss bread as much as I thought I would; I actually have to have a think about the things I put into my body; I’m enjoying the challenge of looking for alternatives.

But I like soy sauce, I like chocolate and lollies, I like oats! But most of all, I like the versatility of flour – it’s in cakes, pastries, cereals, gravies, my mother’s delicious omelette and most of the foods I like to eat.