Category Archives: Sweet cooking

Family lunch boxes and mama’s remedy

I have my children’s head cold. This one has actually taken hold a bit so along with the family’s lunches, I have made myself a hot toddie.

Mamas hot toddie
In a mug add juice of 1 lime or 1/2 lemon
Add 1 tbsp rice malt syrup
Add generous nip of rum
Top with boiling water
Stir to combine

This lunch includes:
Mango smoothie
In a blender, combine until very smooth
3 ripe mangoes sliced
4 tbsp quick oats
4 tbsp white chia seeds
4 tbsp rice bran oil (optional)
Top with soy milk.
Add to reusable pouches

Carrot and sultana wholemeal biscuits
Fruit box
Vegetarian schnitzel sandwich
Crackers with Vegemite




Apple and pear cake

I adapted this recipe from one that included egg, dairy and a huge amount of sugar. I changed it to suit our needs. I don’t have dairy and the children’s childcare is an egg free centre. This one is moist and delicious. I freeze in portions for lunches. My lunch stash in the freezer is referred to as “the bakery”. Enjoy!

1 cup self raising flour
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar (lower GI than regular)
1/2 cup quick or rolled oats
2 large apples diced (about 1 cm)
1 large pear diced (about a cm)
125 gm dairy free margarine/rice bran oil
2tbsp white chia seeds soaked in 2 level cups of soy milk in a bowl for 10 minutes
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Toss fruit in flour, oats and sugar
2. Melt margarine in microwave and add to chia soy milk mixture with vanilla
3. Add liquid mix to dry mix. Stir to combine well.
4. Pour into greased and lined tin
5. Bake 180 degrees 35 – 40 minutes or until top golden and skewer comes out clean.




Two birds with one stone rice pudding (dairy free)

This is hands down the easiest way I make rice pudding.

While making dinner I cook a double batch of rice using the absorption method. I prepare rice for the main meal and make a dessert in one saucepan. It only takes an extra 5 minutes.

The bonus is that it is quite healthful so I pack a little serve for lunch boxes.

Add 2 cups of white rice to a large saucepan. Top with 3 cups of boiling water. Stir to separate grains. Cover and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Stir rice and cover again. Cook for another 5 minutes on very low heat. Turn off and let stand with lid on for 5 minutes. Your rice base is done.

I then portion it into our family’s dinner bowls and keep a little extra in a glass dish for later.

To make the pudding, roughly level out the remaining rice in the saucepan. Don’t pack it down. Top with full fat soy milk 2 – 3 cm above the level of the rice. Add 2 tsp vanilla extract. Add maple syrup to taste, bearing in mind that it won’t taste as sweet when it’s cold. Stir on low heat for a couple of minutes to combine flavours. Transfer to a glass serving dish to thicken.

If it seems too liquid, don’t worry. It will thicken as it cools.

Done. Easy.



This is very nice with vanilla poached pears, warm or cold.

Banana choc chip muffins with pear (vegan, high fibre)

These are lovely, moist in the middle, crispy on the top, with little sweet surprises from the chocolate and pear. We made these after breakfast then headed to the creek to eat them and enjoy some quality outside play. What a wonderful morning!

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan forced)

In a large bowl combine until well combined:
3 very ripe bananas mashed
2 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1 generous cup soy milk for 10 minutes
3 tbsp dark agave nectar
1/3 cup dairy free choc chips
1/3 cup rice bran oil

Mix in 2 cups of wholemeal self raising flour.

Spray oil 12 cup muffin tin and divide mixture evenly between the holes.

Slice a pear thickly. Trim slices to fit on top of muffin mixture. Gently place pear slices on top of mixture. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly pressed.

Enjoy 🙂

Note: to transport warm from the oven, I tie them into a cotton napkin or clean tea towel. 20150108-214832-78512465.jpg




10 days in the life of a lunch box




Hi! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog so I thought this one should be full of lunchbox ideas. I am a working mum and I highly value healthy home made food for my children. I make a lot ahead. We even have a box in our freezer called “the bakery” and I’m reminded if it’s running low! We use cooler bags with small containers generally. We also have a stainless steel lunchbox for my eldest used in place of all the containers. Maybe you might enjoy incorporating some of these lunchbox components.

Lunch boxes are always packed the night before and everything put in the fridge for morning. It’s the only way I have found that works in our house.

Here are some ideas below that I regularly use and my children love. The photos aren’t always great because I assemble the lunches at night – no pinterest worthy photos here, just basic, healthful food to fuel growing bodies 🙂

Baked tofu, cheese and vege sticks.
Creamy soy milk jelly pots.
Dairy free, egg free “cup cakes” (date and apricot is a yummy combination).
Free range egg and spinach wholemeal sandwiches.
Coconut and vanilla chia pudding.
Wholemeal, dairy free scrolls.
Celery boats with dairy free cream cheese and sultanas.
Crackers with cream cheese and vegemite.
Yoghurt topped with fresh fruit.
Zucchini slice, cherry tomatoes and pepitas.
Savoury vegetarian muffins (insect shaped silicone molds have proven very popular).
Stemed vegetables with yoghurt dip.
Pasta salad with creamy sauce or plain with fresh vegetables mixed through.
Oven baked pita bread with hommus topped with peas.
Steamed corn on the cob.
Avocado splashed with lemon juice (slice in skin for easy scooping).


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21 nutritious breakfast ideas ready in under 5 minutes!

Need some inspiration in the morning? Some days I look at my cherubs and wonder- what am I actually going to feed you in the next 5 minutes? So, here is a list I developed to remind myself that yes, one can easily put something healthy and substantial on the table at breakfast. Yes, all of these ideas can be prepared in under 5 minutes. I have done it myself!

  1. Sourdough toast with apricot jam and cheddar cheese. Apple slices on the side.
  2. Turkish bread toasted with vegemite. Green grapes on the side.
  3. Vegetable mini muffins with vegan (or dairy) cream cheese.
  4. Pumpernickel topped with cream cheese and pear slices.
  5. Fruit platter with natural yoghurt sprinkled with sesame seeds for dipping.
  6. Natural muesli with non/dairy milk.
  7. Scrambled free range eggs with toasted, torn flat wraps.
  8. Scrambled tofu with spinach.
  9. Sauteed tofu with steamed/microwaved vegetable sticks.
  10. Leftover noodles and vegetable stirfry.
  11. Corn fritters (home made, stored in the fridge) with fruit on the side.
  12. French toast and berries.
  13. Steamed vegetable sticks, toast soldiers with yoghurt-sweet chilli dipping sauce.
  14. Breakfast smoothie (green or mango).
  15. Picnic box- vegetarian “ploughmans” style with cheddar cheese sticks, some pickled vegetables, cut cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks, bite sized bread pieces…
  16. Home made (pre-made of course) hommus with wholemeal bread.
  17. Flash fried cherry tomatoes (until they split), doused in balsamic vinegar, roughly mashed onto toast.
  18. Left over pasta with added frozen peas.
  19. Warm tofu, satay sauce and vegetable wraps (small sized for little hands).
  20. Home made vanilla poached pears with natural yoghurt.
  21. Anything involving avocado.

I would love to hear some of your go-to breakfasts.

Have a lovely week full of delicious, nutritious breakfasts 🙂

Wholemeal banana cake with chocolate chips

Delicious, fragrant and addictive.
Delicious, fragrant and addictive.

This delicious, generous sized cake is easy and quick to prepare. It is my usual adaptation of several recipes over time. My toddler loves to sit on the bench and help with mashing, pouring, mixing and sampling along the way! Yum. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine.


Spray oil to grease tin
2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
½ cup wholemeal plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup non-dairy milk
4 tbsp (more or less) dairy-free chocolate chips
2 free range eggs
80 g melted butter or dairy free spread or 4 tbsp rice bran oil
5 over ripe bananas, mashed


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan forced). Spray oil in 26 cm non-stick spring form pan to lightly grease. Line base with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Combine flours, cinnamon and chocolate chips in large bowl. In a medium bowl, stir well to combine milk, eggs, melted butter and banana. Add banana mixture to flour and stir until just combined. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  3. Bake in pre-heat oven for 45 or so minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake springs back lightly to the touch. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes. Place onto wire rack to cool completely.
  4. If cooking with toddler, clean bench and toddler from head to toe!
Crystalised brown sugar is a nice texture contrast to the beautiful soft centre
Crystalised brown sugar is a nice texture contrast to the beautiful soft centre

Cook’s notes

This is my favourite version with chocolate chips but you can omit or substitute with nuts to suit your taste. For dairy free, substitute milk products with non dairy alternatives. For vegan, omit eggs. There is enough mashed banana in this recipe to not worry about substitution.  Coconut is nice too. Just substitute comparable amount of the plain flour.

I could have called this recipe banana bread, but really, we all know it’s a cake…

Wholemeal apple and walnut muffins

Wholesome ingredients make these muffins good for any time of day
Wholesome ingredients make these muffins good for any time of day

These muffins are good because they take me about five minutes to prepare, are portable, have the natural sweetness of apples, are high in fibre and have the added protein from the walnuts. Yum.


1 ½ cups wholemeal self raising flour
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup desiccated coconut
2 handfuls currants
2 large handfuls of roughly crushed walnuts (lightly bash them in a bag with a meat tenderiser on the bench)
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 free range eggs (ban the cage)
2 tbsp rice bran oil
2 tbsp soy milk
1 x 440 g tin pie apples


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees fan forced)
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl
  3. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined
  4. Fill a greased, 12 hole muffin pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned and muffins just spring back in the centre when pressed.
Healthy ingredients you can see!
Healthy ingredients you can see!

Make it mine apple crumble pie recipe

The wonderful flavours, shortness of pastry and texture contrast of the apples and crumble make this pie a winner. Highly recommended.
The wonderful flavours, shortness of pastry and texture contrast of the apples and crumble make this pie a winner. Highly recommended.

Make it mine apple crumble pie

This pie is an amazing collaboration of my favourite pastry and crumble recipes of all time. It is a real crowd pleaser. I recently served this to my chef brother who was singing its praises! It didn’t even last long enough to get photographed whole. Delish…

Shortcrust pastry (Thank you Stephanie Alexander)
180 g unsalted (or salted) butter
240 g plain flour (can be wholemeal)
pinch salt
3 tbsp water

Remove butter from fridge 30 mins before making pastry. Place flour and salt onto clean bench. Chop butter into smallish pieces and toss in flour. Lightly rub to partly combine. Make a well in the middle and pour in water. Using a pastry scraper work paste into buttery lump of dough. Using the heel of your hand, quickly smear pastry away from you across bench to combine lightly. Gather together quickly, press into a flat cake and dust with flour. Wrap pastry in plastic film and pop in fridge for 20-30 mins. When ready, roll out flour and lay in 28 cm flan tin that has been sprayed with spray oil (or whatever size you have). Bake blind with greaseproof baking paper and pastry weights for 10 mins if desired (not essential if eating same day).

2-4 x 480 g tins of pie apples depending on how deep you want the pie to be. I am a mother of two small children so this is my shortcut!

½ cup plain flour (can be wholemeal)
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
½ tsp cinnamon
90 g butter

Mix to combine flour, oats, coconut and cinnamon. Rub in butter with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Assemble pie
Fill prepared pastry case with pie apples. Sprinkle topping over fruit. Bake 180 degrees Celsius 25-30 mins.

I make triple batches of the pastry and freeze in pie sized portions. Defrost overnight in fridge. Work quickly with the pastry or it will be difficult to work with.

Make it mine!
Make it mine!

Citrus almond muffins

Hooray for muffins. Portable finger food is a specialty of our household. Our toddler loves to cook with me and make a variety of sweet and savoury delights. So recently we made these citrus almond muffins. Credit for this recipe must go to Dreena Burton and her wonderful book “Let Them Eat Vegan”. My adaptation of her recipe used store cupboard ingredients we had on hand, so I used wholemeal self raising flour and eggs as I didn’t have oat flour or chia seeds. Still delicious and dairy free. My darling sits on the bench to help stir and fill the muffin tray. Yes there is mess, and a scrumptious little face to wipe afterwards!

2 eggs
1 cup soy milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups wholemeal self raising flour
2/3 cup almond meal
1/4 tsp sea salt
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 mandarine
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Combine dry ingredients.
Fold through wet ingredients. Fill muffin tin. Makes about 10 muffins. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 18 – 22 minutes. Cool in pan for a couple of minutes then transfer to wire rack. So easy and yum!

Citrus almond muffins