The palaeontologist and the triceratops

My daughter told me last week that she going to go to university to study dinosaurs and their bones. I’ve had this gift in the cupboard for five months waiting for her. It’s a dinosaur bone excavation kit, where bones are chiselled away, dust brushed and skeleton cleaned then assembled to make a replica dinosaur. I pulled it out. She was absolutely delighted and kept gasping with surprise, exclaiming that this was so cool throughout the whole activity.

She loved working out what bone would belong to what part of the animal as we discovered them together. The excavation process is very dusty! So once the bones were washed and the cherubs showered, the assembly was finished.

What a fantastic activity. She has requested a Tyrannosaurus Rex for the next project. We are looking forward to it 🙂

This was a great learning experience, led by her interests and involved discussions of geography (where dinosaurs lived), ecology (how they lived, ate etc), geomorphology (laying of materials on top of bones to preserve them), word recognition (reading and listening), anatomy (what goes where) and safety (tools and materials palaeontologists use in the field).

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Mango chia pudding (nutrient rich, dairy free)

This pudding is deliciously smooth, rich and fragrant. What a beautiful and healthy dessert, rich in omega 3 omega 6, protein and fibre. I dish this up as a dessert with sliced fruit and also fill reusable pouches for lunch boxes. There’s never any left over. My cherubs love to help make this.

In a blender, blend for 5 minutes (with liquid and mango added first):
2 cups frozen mango
1 x 440 gm tin full fat coconut cream
2 rounded dessert spoons of coconut sugar (if required, can omit)
2 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut
4 rounded tbsp chia seeds

After this mixture has been blending for about 5 minutes, top up to approximately 2L mark of your blender with soy milk. Scrape any chia seeds free that are stuck to the side of the blender. Blend for another 5 minutes, until thickened.

Spoon into a serving dish and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve topped with sliced fruit. For lunch boxes, pour into reusable pouches. The amount in this recipe makes 6 x 200 ml pouches and a small serve for one.

I use 200 ml pouches because both Dad and the children take them for lunch. Yum!

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Creamy basil pasta sauce (vegan deliciousness)

This pasta sauce is so easy. Just process and stir through cooked pasta. This meal takes as long as the pasta takes to cook! This is a new weeknight dinner for us. Our whole family gobbled this and had seconds.

Ingredients
3 loose handfuls of raw cashews (not soaked)
1 bunch of basil
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 lime juiced + zest of whole lime
2 cm slice of vegusto mild aromatic vegan cheese
1/3 tub tofutti dairy free cream cheese
5 tbsp rice bran oil
4 tbsp water

Method
Place 500 gm dry pasta on to cook.
In a food processor, process cashews to fairly fine crumbs.
Add remaining ingredients, excluding water, about 1 tbsp oil and zest. Process until fairly smooth. Add zest and pulse briefly to combine.
With processor running on low, dribble in oil followed by slowly adding oil to emulsify the mixture.
Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
Strain pasta, retaining a cup of hot cooking water. Return pasta to cooking pot.
Stir sauce through pasta gently to combine, adding cooking water to combine if required.
Serve with halved cherry tomato and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Yum!

I made a half batch for our family’s dinner and gave a jar of sauce to my brother because he’s a wonderful person. He’s a chef by trade and people rarely cook for him. I like to though. I added these preparation instructions with the jar.

Maybe you could make a batch to share with someone you value too?

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Waste not lunch patties (rice and chickpea)

My mother is a beautiful person, yet one of those people who doesn’t realise their value to the world. She made me some containers of vegetarian chickpea curries that I have kept in the freezer. The last two were used last night.

The leftovers weren’t enough to feed our family again and I had a mountain of rice so I combined the following to make patties. These are dairy, egg and nut free and very delicious 🙂

Left over curry
4 pieces wholemeal bread in a processor in the patty mix
4 pieces wholemeal bread in a processor for crumbling outside
Vegan chicken stock powder
Pinch sea salt
3 small eschalots (tiny brown onions) processed until fine
Orgran no egg – egg replacement powder sprinkled on top of mix.

Method
Combine all mix ingredients
Roll patties of desired size in fresh breadcrumbs
Shallow fry in non stick pan until golden both sides

I served these for lunch and will freeze them for lunches during the week.

No waste patties. Delicious. Have a lovely week xx

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Easiest muesli slice

As I was cuddling my daughter before sleep in the dark recently, she started whispering her hopes to me. She asked if we could make a slice together, with nuts and chocolate melted in the microwave and spread on top. It was such an adorable request I said yes and cuddled her before she drifted to sleep.

The next day after work I found this recipe on the “Oh She Glows” website and bought the ingredients. When I collected my cherub from Childcare she was very excited that we had all the ingredients to make her imagined slice.

This recipe is almost an exact copy of the Oh She Glows recipe, except I have substituted easily accessible ingredients available at the supermarket and customised to our family’s tastes.

Ingredients
1.5 cups mashed banana (4 large lady fingers)
2 teaspoons vanilla paste/extract
2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup sultanas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pepita seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches crushed sea salt
3/4 cup dairy free dark chocolate

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan forced). Line a Lamington tray with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl mash the bananas and add the vanilla. Stir to combine.
3. Stir in the roles oats.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
5. Pour into pan, press down firmly with the back of a wooden spoon. Bake for 25 minutes until the edges are golden and pull away from the pan.
6. Allow to mostly cool in pan. While you gradually melt the chocolate in the microwave.
7. Drizzle top with chocolate, spread evenly and sprinkle with flaked almonds.

My children made most of this with my supervision. It’s so delicious, we’ll definitely be making this again without the nuts (substituting more seeds) and chocolate to make it Childcare friendly. Yum!

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Let’s dance

Sometimes when life gets a bit serious, the only thing for it is to dance. I mean turning the music up loud and singing and laughing with the little cherubs. We have gotten through witching hour with giggles by dancing to the following playlist.

The songs in highest rotation at the moment are:

“Girls just wanna have fun” Cyndi Lauper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIb6AZdTr-A

“It’s raining men” The weather girls! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5aZJBLAu1E

“Greased lightning” megamix, soundtrack from the movie Grease. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x21g8j_john-travolta-olivia-newton-john-gr_music

“Do Wah Diddy Diddy” Manred Mann https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFDmst7ULGI

So don’t worry neighbours. If you hear these songs pumping out of our house, we are just shaking off the day 🙂

Hope you have a great week xx