Okonomiyaki is a traditional Japanese pancake that literally translates into “fried stuff you like”. It’s usually made with flour eggs, cabbage and pork or seafood, and is absolutely delicious. Okonomiyaki was a regular dish my husband and I would order at our fav Japanese restaurant Mushashi (pre kids), and it will always have a warm eggy place in my heart.

This is my version – Economyaki which literally mean “stuff languishing at bottom of fridge”. It’s cheap, healthy, super quick and uses up all the vegetables you may be inclined to bin because they’re looking a tad wilty.

So I can use…..anything?

That’s right – anything. I made mine with pumpkin, zucchini and cauliflower, but in economyaki there are no hard and fast rules.

Use what you have lying around – left over meat or steamed vegetables, whack a slice of bacon on top if you’re the carnivorous type (nitrate free of course ūüėČ or, if you want to go the traditional route, add some shredded cabbage. Just make sure you use about 2 cups of grated vegetables as per the recipe below.

Economiyaki sauce

Okonomiyaki is usually topped with a sweet barbecue like sauce, mayonnaise and bonito flakes. If you’re feeling a bit saucy, I found some recipes for some “traditional’ okonomiyaki sauce, see here.

Okonomiyaki mayonnaise however, is full of msg and canola oil so I would steer clear.
I would use either a good quality store bought mayo or make your own. It won’t be as sweet and runny as the store bought kind, but it will be much healthier.

I’ve included a good recipe here.

I personally like mine topped with some extra salad, herbs and fermented vegetables. It gives the pancakes an extra nutritional boost and is just plain delicious.

Now let’s get frugal!



  • 2 cups of grated vegetables (I used pumpkin, zucchini and cauliflower)
  • 1/2 onion fried in ghee
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain flour (I used spelt)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs extra ghee


  1. Combine vegetables, onion and flour in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk eggs and combine with vegetables. Melt extra ghee in a large frypan over medium high heat. Shape into patties and fry on both sides until golden brown.
  3. Serve how you like (I’m looking forward to my next batch with some fermented daikon from our garden).

Now… the real question is can you come up with a more witty name for this than Economyaki? I doubt it. I was pretty happy with that one.

Miso Sesame Kale Chips

miso sesme kale chips

What ever happened to kale chips?

It seems like only a few years ago that the internet was awash with recipes for this strange new plant; There was an almighty buzz around this new “superfood”.

Kale was capable of fighting the strongest of inflammation,¬†of lowering the tallest peaks of cholesterol and using it’s indomitable levels of calcium to help build strong, healthy bones‚Ķ, you could turn it into a chip.

superman kale

You’ve had¬†to hand it to kale: it¬†was one impressive little shrub.

Even though kale chips have given up their title as the new superfood darling, they’re still a power house of nutrition, and our family eats them regularly.

The Best type of kale for kale chips

Crate of Freshly Harvested Kale Vegetable Varieties Hz

There seem to be so many types of kale out there, it can be tough figuring out which one to use. Purple Kale? Cavolo Nero? Curly Kale? Baby Kale?

I like to use curly kale. It’s not as tough as Cavolo Nero and the the curly edges get extra crispy(I think purple kale would work the same, though I’ve never come across it).

It’s all about flavour

The best thing about kale chips it that you can flavour them however you like! Some of my favourite flavours are.

Cheesey kale chips Рsprinkle cooked kale chips with nutritional yeast for a yummy dairy free cheesy flavour

Tamari – mix olive oil with a splash of tamari. Coat the kale leaves before whacking them in the oven

Lemon РMix lemon juice (it boosts absorption of calcium and iron) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt… delish!

And now to my all time favourite and the hero of this post – Miso Sesame Kale chips.

Miso Sesame Kale Chips.


  • 1 bunch of curly kale (tough central stems removed)
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 1 tsp miso paste (I used fermented brown rice miso paste)
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • Good pinch of dulse flakes (optional: increases the iodine content)


  1. Preheat oven to 150c
  2. Tear kale leaves into bite sized pieces and lay flat on baking trays(do not overlap the leaves or they won’t get as crispy:).
  3. Mix together olive oil and miso paste in a bowl. (The miso won’t fully dissolve in the oil but I still find it easier to spread). Using your fingers or a pastry brush lightly brush both sides of each kale leaf with the mixture, ensuring the miso paste is spread evenly on each leaf. Sprinkle both sides with sesame seeds.
  4. Bake in the oven for 15min or until crispy, turning the kale leaves when the exposed side gets crispy(approx 12 min mark). Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with dulse flakes.

Kale chips are best eaten straight out of the oven but you can store them in an airtight container.

What’s your favourite flavour of kale chips? Can you think of any tips to improve mine?

Three Ingredient Almond Goji Bites

photo (12)

I’m really starting to appreciate simplicity with my food. The less complicated I make our meals, the fresher and more healthful they become.

Today I had no plan and no post in mind but I did feel like something sweet to go with my tea….. so in my spirit of simplicity, I ended coming up with these little morsels.

Slightly sweet and full of good fats, these little bites are quick, easy and full of crunchy almond deliciousness.

So in keeping with the whole simple vibe, I’m keeping the post this week short this week and cutting right to the recipe ūüôā

Three Ingredient Almond Goji Bites

Makes twelve bites


  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds (activated is best)
  • 1/2 goji berries
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil


  1. Line a mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners.
  2. Mix together almonds and goji berries and spoon a tablespoon of the mixture into each muffin liner(about halfway full).
  3. Spoon over 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Cover and freeze for at least 10mins. Transfer goji bites out of the muffin tin and store in the freezer.

What’s your favourite simple recipe?

We’re not rich but we eat organic


Vegetables-Fresh-The-TrentI hear this a lot

“It’s great you eat organically, I’d love to as well but it’s way too expensive”

Ok, I’ll let you in on a little secret‚Ķ.. we’re not high income earners.

The truth is I’m a stay at home Mum of two children and my husband runs his own business. We clear about 63,000pa. In fact when we looked it up, accounting for children, we are in the bottom 25% of Australians when it comes to our combined salary.

We’re just your average lower middle class family, yet we still eat a predominately organic diet.

How we do it?

Eating cheaply and organically is a little bit of work. You have to be willing to do your research and give up a few of your standard meal plans to make them fit in with cheaper organic alternatives.

I won’t lie, most of the time it still works out slightly more expensive than conventional produce, but never twice the price(which is what you would expect to pay in your average nicely fitted organic store). Plus I have, at times, had it work out cheaper…and that’s when it starts to get really exciting!

So lets start the year off with some basics, beating the system and learning how to eat organic produce on a budget!

Rule #1 Shun Boutique organic stores

boutique organic store

You’ve just walked into to your local organic store to buy some groceries. You love this place! it’s cute and everything’s nicely displayed. It’s got that cool, semi hipster feel and the staff just know sooo much about maqui!….


Boutique organic stores will suck your money out of you faster than a pokie machine does to a chronic gambler. With $8 capsicums and their vast arrays of nicely branded super foods, you’ll be leaving that store with nothing more than a small box of obscure powders, and a very hungry tummy for the rest of the week.

I like to do a fortnightly shop at our closest cheap bulk organic store. It’s 40mins away from us and is a warehouse full of big vats of brand less nuts, flours, and dried fruit. There is not much staff, half opened boxes everywhere and it takes a really long time to find anything – this is where you want to be.


Our bulk organic store is where I buy all our dry goods, organic butter and sometimes meat. If you don’t have one locally there are some good online bulk stores, just remember you’ll be paying for postage.

Another good way to buy cheap dry goods is through your local organic vegetable co op if you are lucky enough to have one. which bring us to our next rule.

Rule #2 Join a vegetable co op!

Season's Bounty

If you don’t know if your area has an organic co-op ask your local organic store(even if it is boutique:)

Organic vegetable co ops basically work like this: You’ll be able to purchase a weekly or fortnightly vegetable box at a reasonable price in exchange for working for the co op. This work could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on the coop. Most likely you’ll be asked to go in and pack veges for a few hours at a particular time. If you can’t go in and help out, you can’t join the co op. Your stuck with $8 capsicums.

but have no fear!

Usually people the people who run the coops are generally pretty nice, they believe in organic produce and want you to eat it too. If you can’t physically go in and pack vegetables ask if you can help out in other areas. You may be able to help with the roster, or accounts? When i had a newborn and a two year old I was able to do the ordering for my co op until it was easier for me to do a more physical task.

A word of caution

Get used to eating seasonally. Most co ops don’t let you choose what gets put into your box. One person orders for the whole group, choosing the cheapest organic produce that is available. I personally struggled with this at the start. My advice is to not make a meal plan until you’ve gotten your vegetable box, and just learn to become more creative with your meals.

Rule #3 Eat what’s in your fridge


Yes, all of it. You may think you do, but how many wilting half dead vegetables languish in the bottom of your crisper because you’re not in the mood to eat them? When your eating organically there is no room for waste.

Try to learn to eat things because your hungry, not because that’s what you feel like. ¬†It does take a bit of practise but I promise you, take the emotion out of eating and you’ll eat a more healthy well rounded diet. Another pay off is coming¬†up with some beautiful dishes that you may would never have previously thought of!

A great way to get used to eating¬†everything in your fridge/pantry is to only plan for five meals instead of seven. The other two nights become “creation meals” where you forage through your kitchen trying to create meals.

Rule #4 Grow a garden

This is our vegetable garden a few weeks after planting.

vege garden
Doesn’t look like much does it?

This vegetable garden is our first and has so far produced a net worth of $80 of vegetables in three months. This is taking into account our start up cost of $200 with which we had to buy seeds, soil, netting, extra compost, bamboo poles, soil, lucern and wood chips.

In theory now that we are better at composting, have most of the equipment and our garden is established we should see a greater yield of vegetables and more of a return.

Even though we did only gain a net worth of $80 of vegetables in three months we still had a surplus this summer, and we certainly noticed the difference to our grocery bill.

We’ve been taking our extra vegetable down to our local cafe Pachamama, which we’ve been able to exchange for coffee and meals.

You could also ferment, freeze or swap with friends any extra fruits or vegetables you may have.

Oh did I¬†mention….. we are also absolutely hopeless gardeners?

I’m not kidding, we let our whole crop of cucumbers rot because we thought they were butternut pumpkins. We thought pineapples came from trees and mustard was chemically synthesised. If we can grow vegetables with a surplus, it’s pretty safe to say anyone can!

We used the food for wealth system which you can find out about here. The basic premise is planting your garden densely and randomly. This naturally retains the moisture in the soil and helps to keep out unwanted pests.

Short on space?

gutter gardening
Gutter gardens


There are some really clever option for people with small or no backyards. Even if you plant a few herbs it’ll still save you on groceries.

Salad box anyone?


Here’s a few links to get you inspired

The small garden

Apartment therapy

Byzantine Flowers


Rule #5 Eat parts of the animal other people don’t want


Liver, chicken drumsticks, animal carcasses, fat offcuts – these are all parts of the animal that are ridiculously cheap to buy organically. They are also nutritionally dense!

Make bone broth from the animal carcasses, render your own fat to make organic tallow or lard to fry with, or make your own organic chicken liver pate. Eating the parts of the animal that take longer to prepare, or other people don’t want means you can eat some delicious organic meat at a very affordable price.

We also buy organic grass fed mince from Aldi. 1kg is $14. We bulk it up with vegetables and it lasts two dinners with some left overs for lunches.

Rule #6 Buy a deep freezer


This is one rule we haven’t implemented yet, but I do think it will be a big saver.

When you own a deep freezer you can really take buying bulk to the next level and buy extra big in bulk

Order a whole animal from your nearest organic wholesaler and ask them to cut it up for you. You won’t have to buy meat for a year and will save massively.

Rule #6 Beware of the dirty dozen

Ok so this is not going to make your shopping any less expensive but it will make your choices easier when it comes to buying organic fruit and vegetables.

For those of you that haven’t heard of it, the dirty dozen is a list of twelve fruits and vegetable which contain the highest amounts of pesticide residue. If you can’t afford to buy %100 organic at least buy these organically.

The dirty dozen

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Peaches/nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Potato
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Capsicum
  • Spinach/kale
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

(I added a few more because there seems to be a slight variance between what makes it onto the dirty dozen list).

On the other end of the pesticide scale is the clean fifteen. These and the fruits and vegetables that contain the least amount of pesticides. It’s not so much of a big deal if you buy these conventionally.

The clean fifteen

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Rockmelon
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Grapefruit
  • Onion
  • Mango
  • Peas
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potato
  • Corn
  • Pineapple

What if you are in a co op and are unable to choose your produce?

Bring it up with whoever runs the co op and let them know about the dirty dozen (if they already don’t know). Suggest whoever orders start with ordering from the dirty dozen list, that way you’re not forced into buying produce which may have one of the highest residues of pesticides.

The most important thing to remember about buying organically

The choices you make are important!

By choosing organic you are supporting¬†producers that ¬†farm in an ecologically sound and sustainable way. As consumers we the drive change we’d like to see in these industries, if we buy more organic fair trade food, more companies and farmers will produce it.

I hoped you got some food miles out of my post this week. Is there anything I missed?

How do you save money on organic food?





Christmas Coconut and Mango Icy poles

photo 4With Summer finally here and Christmas just around the corner I’ve been feeling rather festive this week.

Team that with some blistering hot days and a bunch of sweaty kids and I think I’ve come up with a healthy holiday treat that’s sure to cool you down. If you haven’t tried these before, you’re in for a big frosty treat.

Christmas Coconut Water icy poles

Coconut water icy poles are slightly sweet, insanely refreshing and very low in natural sugars. A much healthier alternative to fruit juice icy poles, which can contain just as much sugar as a soft drinks. Read more about it here.

I’ve paired my icy poles with coconuts favourite partner in crime – Mango. I used cookie cutters to cut out various festive shapes and froze them in the juice of a fresh young coconut. This gives the effect of Christmas trees, snowmen or whatever merry shape you choose looking like it’s been trapped in a Winter wonderland.

photo 5

It’s a great way to enjoy a hot Aussie Christmas.

A few trouble shooting hints

  • Make sure you buy the biggest mangos you can find. This enables you to get a max of two cookie cutter shapes cut out of each mango cheek. Any left over mango can be gobbled straight up or turned into a delicious mango chia pudding
  • I’ve explained about choosing a ripe young coconut and cracking that puppy open here.
  • Cut your mango or whatever fruit you choose to the same width as the icy pole container (your fruit has to be the same thickness as the container) or the coconut water will freeze over the fruit and you won’t be able to see the shape (10)

Christmas Coconut Mango Icy Poles

Makes four


  • Meat cleaver
  • Icy pole containers
  • Festive shaped cookie cutters(make sure the shapes are small enough to fit inside your icy pole containers)


  • One young coconut
  • 1 -2 giant mangos(the biggest you can find)


  1. Crack open your young coconut with a meat cleaver, pour the coconut water into a jug. Scoop out coconut meat with a long spoon and place in a bowl. Set asideopen coconut
  2. Cut the cheeks of the mango away from the centre seed. Cut away mango skin with a sharp knife. Use your cookie cutters to cut out shapes from mango (you will most likely get a maximum of two).cookie cutter
  3. Insert the centre stick of the icy pole holder into the bottom of the fruit on a stick
  4. Place small pieces of coconut meat in each icy pole container and fill the remainder 2/3 of the container with coconut water. Insert the icy pole holder with the attached mango shape into the icy pole container. Freeze for a minimum of 3 hours.

How to Eat Healthy Cheap Meals in a Five Star Hotel

Driving back from your holiday do your pants seem to fit a little tighter? Is there a distinct smell of gas emanating from the backseats that isn’t related to a petrol leak? You had a great holiday but now it’s getting pretty uncomfortable and we all know what caused it.


Apart from being insanely expensive, highway food is stodgy, and really unhealthy. I’m always optimistic that I can find something healthy on the road, but even petrol station sandwiches are white bread and mayonnaise laden fart packets.

So I gave myself a challenge, to feed our family healthy, cheap meals on our trip to sanctuary cove. Did I mention we stayed at the intercontinental – that’s right, you heard me THE INTERCONTINENTAL! aka (money sucker lodge) and my cousins wedding at Byron bay.

Do you think you could save money here?

Was it perfect? no. I do however think we did a pretty damn good job of keeping some money in our pockets, and junk food out of our colon.


Preparing food the night before the big trip.

We always end up at our first destination late and hungry. This leads to us purchasing shitty, expensive local pizza. We did however work out a remedy for this little problem.



Pizza is quick, transportable and delicious. My lovely husband to be did a bang up job making some the night before we left. He used the left over ingredients in our fridge and came up with some pretty amazing combinations.

Adobo pork with caramelised red onions.
Sweet potato with baby kale and goats cheese.
Zucchini with capsicum and marinated artichokes.

That night I also made a big tray of sweet potato and parsnip roasted in coconut oil and steamed a few extra veges to snack on.

Let’s pack it up!

Time to pack our stuff into the car. When you do this don’t forget to:


box of food

Pack a lot of food, and I mean a lot! you may think you’re a light eater but your probably forgetting all the snacks and nibbles you eat during the day that don’t get registered in your conscious mind. We humans need pretty big amount of energy to keep going through the day, so what ever food you planned to take double it. Not taking enough of our own food on holiday has always been our downfall.

To get an idea, this is what we brought for the first two days for a family of four.

  • 4 pizzas
  • 2 cans of chickpeas drained (Frankie and Imi love to snack on these)
  • 1 large tub of natural yogurt
  • 1 Jar homemade almond butter (this lasted the two weeks)
  • 4 oranges
  • Bunch bananas
  • 4 Apples
  • 1 sweet potato and two parsnips roasted
  • 2 cups of steamed vegetables
  • 1 container of cut up carrot, cucumber, capsicum and cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pack of mountain wraps
  • 1 packet of ryvitas
  • 3 avocados
  • Small container of fermented cauliflower
  • Activated almonds
  • Chia seeds
  • Loaf of sourdough
  • Coconut oil
  • Vegemite
  • Chamomile tea
  • English breakfast tea.

Also a chopping board and a sharp knife does come in handy. Which brings me to another thing..



That one will be explained in a little while ūüôā


Monday went gangbusters. With a song in our heart and some yummy homemade food in our tummy we made it all the way to Arrawarra with only only little glitch

My husband – Saboteur!
lunch first day
Lunch went swimmingly. There was also some pizza and fruit involved here.


Dinner time at Arrawarra!
And our dinner! These pizzas were so much better than the processed ham and pineapple stodge balls we would have picked up

Day two.

It was easy staying at the lorikeet tourist park. The cabin had a kitchenette and we had enough food to make it there without stopping. We had a hearty Aussie breakfast of vegemite and avocado on toast and headed off to sanctuary cove.

Pit stop.

Who could resist driving through sunny Queensland without stealing some of the local sugar cane from the hardworking local farmers (sorry guys).

sugar cane

We thought we’d take a bit of a detour and stop at Chaswick¬†to have our lunch and sugar cane. We checked out some of the local sights while we were there.

thong tree
What’s a pit stop without a giant thong tree?
big banana
Apparently big things are form of artistic expression unique to Australia?.. hmmm interesting.


We made it!



Here we are at beautiful Sanctuary cove! We had time to have a swim at the resort’s lagoon before I walked down to the local shops to pick up some supplies¬†for dinner. This is where the rice cooker comes in.

We stayed in the Rhapis quarters.. hmmm.. didn't that one through did they?
We stayed in the Rhapis quarters.. hmmm.. didn’t think that one through did they?


Cooking main meals in a rice cooker

Yes it can be done, and I felt mighty thrifty staying at a five star hotel and largely side stepping their exorbitant restaurant meals.

hotel rice cooker
Take that Sanctuary cove Intercontinental!

The idea of using a rice cooker for one pot meals was first championed by Roger Egbert. It’s aimed at people like college kids who neither have the time nor the facilities to prepare healthy meals. He wrote a cook book about it called The pot and how to use it. You can also read his blog post about here.

My first one pot rice cooker meal?



I basically followed the instructions on a jar of green chicken curry paste. I first added the rice then the coconut milk (using stock when I ran out of coconut milk). I added the curry paste and mixed it through.

Chicken was then added (which I bought pre cut into strips) and 3 big handfuls of baby spinach. I put the lid on turned the knob to cook and that was it… voila!


chicken curry

Just like a chicken curry. the chicken was cooked through and the spinach was wilted to perfection. The only problem was that the jar of curry paste wasn’t as mild as I thought it would be. I also didn’t mix the paste through evenly enough so there was big blobs of spicy paste throughout the rice. Needless to say the girls didn’t eat much.

clean up
The clean up

Day 3

Breakfasts were included which was a major bonus. It means we got to have a big filling breakfast of things like eggs, sausages and salmon before hitting the spa;)

I stocked up on snacks and ingredients for lunches and dinner the day before, then sneakily replaced the contents of the mini bar with my healthy fare.


For dinner that night I cooked a chicken and rice dish using shallots, garlic, butter, stock and a ton of veges – it was delish and we all gobbled it up while kicking back and watching Disney’s tangled.

chicken dish


It’s important to note that even though my rice cooker meals contained rice, rice cooker meals can contain practically anything. Try Quinoa, legumes, soup, even a frittata can all be made in this humble little device.

Day 4

This is where our heroes¬†starts to slip a bit more into spend thrift mode. Although breakfast was free and I made lunch in our hotel room we decided we’d treat ourselves and have dinner at the hotels restaurant – you’ve got to relax a little right?


Off to Byron to the wedding. We had an amazing time staying on my extended families farm for four days. The wedding was beautiful.

Thanks Anna and Chris!


Because we were staying with family and had access to a fully equipped kitchen, it was really easy to plan meals and take our on food on our adventures around Byron Bay . On the way home we again packed a large amount of snacks and lunch.

on the farm
Farm adventures

On the last night, we treated ourselves to a dinner at South West Rocks …… I guess this it where our story ends.

We could have stuck it out and not gone to a single restaurant but where’s the fun in that?

The main thing is we’ve got a good game plan now to eat healthy cheap meals while we’re travelling.

And no more trips to the dreaded servo shop.


How do you eat healthily on holidays? Is there anything you would have done differently?


Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Pine nuts

finished cauli

Ah cauliflower‚Ķ.you’re such an unassumingly delicious vegetable.

From cauliflower pizzas, crackers and rice there are so many interesting ways you can transform this dull yet healthful vegetable into something amazingly moorish.

One of my favourite ways to eat cauliflower is to roast it.

Roasted cauliflower is quick, simple and nutritious. Cut the cauliflower into florets, douse it in your fat of choice and flavour it with whatever your creative heart desires. It will turn out sweet with slightly crunchy tops….Yum!

I’ve been flavouring my own cauliflower with turmeric, coriander and cumin. This is because:

  • I’m trying to introduce more spice into the girls diets.
  • I keep reading about the amazing health benefits of turmeric (find out about it here¬†and here)
  • I think the colour is pretty

After roasting, I add a handful of lightly toasted pine nuts and voila! I have a bowl of snackable pop cauli that we can nosh on during our afternoon garden sessions .

What could be more simple and nourishing?

photo 1 (6)

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Pine nuts

Makes one bowl


  • 1/2 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbs ghee(pasture raised if you can swing it)
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Generous pinch of himalayan salt


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius
  2. spread pine nuts onto a baking dish and bake until golden brown approximately 5mins. Set aside.
  3. Cut cauliflower into small bite sized florets and spread evenly on a baking dish. Add ghee to baking dish and transfer cauliflower to the oven for a few minutes to melt the ghee. Remove from the oven and sprinkle cauliflower with spices and salt. Toss to combine.
  4. Cook for approximately 30min tossing every now and then until the tops of the cauliflower are golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Do you like roasted cauliflower? what do you like to flavour it with?

The Big Dipper

At the end of the day¬†I’ve been opening lunch boxes containing¬†half masticated celery sticks and dirt covered capsicum strips….and I think I know why.

Like my kids I’ve become a bit bored¬†of our boiled egg and plain vegetable stick fair. Yes it’s easy, healthy whole food, but man it can be boring.

This week I’ve complied a list of tasty dips to jazz up your regular carrot sticks.

Some are old time favourites, others are the new kids on the block – all of them, are super tasty!

But the best part is that not one of them contains any preservatives or vegetable oils (unlike their store bought counterparts).

Let’s get dipping!



How could I not start the list with hummus. I don’t think I’ve met one person ever who doesn’t like this mild manner dip.

I particularly like this sprouted hummus recipe from Nourished kitchen.


If however, chickpeas don’t agree with you check out this clever legume free hummus dip from Summer Tomato below.

Roasted Parsnip and Cauliflower Hummus


I think this looks so comforting and moorish.

Baba ganoush

roasted eggplant

Want to know how to cook your eggplant to get that smokey flavour? This recipe from the Gourmet Worrier will tell you how. The recipe also adds almond meal and mint to put a new twist on an old favourite.



Tangy and full of probiotics, Labneh is definitely one of my favourite dips. It’s basically yogurt that has most of the whey strained out of it. It’s quite easy to make.

Find out the how to and some ideas on favouring your labneh at cultures for health. I personally like mine topped with sauerkraut or raw grated beetroot

Spiced Capsicum dip


spiced capsicum dip

I found this dip on Grow Food Slow Food and it just sounds delish! I love Middle Eastern food and the addition of pomegranate molasses sounds amazing.


Felicity's perfect chicken liver p√Ęt√©

If you want a dip that packs a nutrient dense punch, try pate.

Liver is full of essential vitamins and minerals. It is in more abundance in liver than muscle meat. Pate is an excellent way to start consuming liver(without the ick factor).

Here’s another great recipe from the Nourished Kitchen

Carrot, Red Lentil and Yogurt Dip


A beautiful dahl like dip from the One Handed Cooks. Quick, easy and filling.



My girls will flat out refuse to have strips of avocado for their lunch, but have no problem devouring three whole avocados in a bowl of guacamole!

There’s something about mushing fruits and vegetables up and serving them with pita chips that makes them so much more delectable.

We prepare our guacamole the traditional way,¬†but I couldn’t help share this vibrant pomegranate guacamole recipe from Just a Taste.



Another traditional, crowd pleasing dip. This recipe from the wanderlust kitchen provides some excellent tips to make the tastiest tzatziki  possible.

Broad Bean and Pea Dip

broad bean dip

I couldn’t help but be inspired by all this dip blogging and decided to end the post with a little last minute creation of my own.

I didn’t have much food left in the house but found a rather large packet of broad beans in the freezer and thought I’d try to dippify it.

The results were ok, it had a lovely fresh flavour but would taste even better with some fried haloumi or crumbled feta.


  • 2 1/2 cups frozen broad beans unshelled
  • 1/2 cup frozen baby peas
  • 1/4 red onion finely diced
  • Small handful fresh basil
  • Big pinch salt
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 1 tbs olive oil


  1. Blanch broad beans in boiling water. Once water has cooled peel away broad bean skins and discard. Discard any yellow looking broad beans(they’re bitter).
  2. Blanch peas until defrosted. Drain water when cooled and transfer to a bowl with broad beans.
  3. Add other ingredients and blend in a food processor until desired consistency (I prefer my dips a little chunky). Serve with pita chips.










Who is Herman the German?

business man shrug

I got a very unusual text message from a friend the other day.

“Would you like to meet Herman the German?”

Not being one averse to making new friends, I asked

“Hmmm what’s he like?”

She didn’t know how old herman was, but told me he liked to travel the world making new friends. His favourite thing to do, she said, was to hang out in the kitchen.

He sounded like a pretty interesting guy, so I asked her to bring him over.

In the following 10 days Herman stayed with us, I found out that he was a mess of contradictions. He was quite a sour little fellow but could at times have a rather bubbly disposition… I suppose, like most of us, it all depended on the day you saw him.

He was however, the easiest house guest I’ve ever had. He only wanted to be fed twice, made no mess, and by the end of the 10 days all this sour little guy wanted to do was to be shoved in the oven.

Who the hell is Herman?

Herman, if you haven’t guessed already is a sourdough starter that sits on your counter for ten days before being baked into a cake.

Named Herman the German Friendship Cake it’s origins seem to be a bit unclear. The idea is most likely taken from Amish friendship bread. This was a bread made from a starter of wild yeast, milk, flour and sugar which was fermented and then baked into bread for the sick and needy.


The idea somehow evolved in the 70’s to use bakers yeast instead of wild. Instead of passing it around to the sick and needy, you now passed the starter around to your friends and told them to bake their own (that’s progress!). Much like a smelly chain letter, Herman continued to proliferate around the globe until he got right to my doorstep.


What I like about Herman

Besides being a form of chain letter that doesn’t sit in my inbox telling me something terrible will happen to me if I don’t pass it on; Herman brings people together – physically!

In a world full of Facebook, Instagram and instant messages we don’t get enough FACE time! It may be the old fogey coming out in me but I really think it’s important for our children to see us interacting – and¬†not just on our iPhones. Sharing a meal is a great way to take time out and de-stress with friends and family.

Kid friendly

kids in the kitchen

It’s also a great way to get kids in the kitchen. I’ve had a sourdough starter for quite awhile now and much like Herman, Frankie and Imi have had so much fun feeding and naming their different sourdough starters. A few names they’ve come up with are:

Sarabi 2

Sourdough starters are the easiest first pets!

A great introduction to working with sourdough starters

As far as sourdough starters are concerned, Herman is pretty easy going. He doesn’t need to be fed daily and he’s a pretty hardy starter.

I think the reason Herman is so hardy is because as oppose to being fed with flour and water, Herman is fed with flour, sugar and milk. This would give the yeast more sugar to feed on and therefore would not need to be fed as regularly. This gives you a bit of leeway while you’re getting into the habit of caring for a sourdough starter.

How to care for Herman

There is a great website¬†¬†where¬†you’ll find how to care for Herman, recipes for turning the finished starter into bread, or even starting your own starter (incase you accidentally kill Herman).

My experience with Herman

Herman came with a set of instructions which told me just what to do to keep him happy for the next ten days. It also had a recipe to bake him into a cake.


He arrived at my house on day three. The instructions said he needed to sit on my counter without a lid on so he could breathe. If he ever stopped bubbling, he was dead.

I transferred him to a large jar and put a tea towel over the top so no curious insects contaminated my Herman.

Besides smelling sour and viewing a few bubbles on the surface, nothing much was happening.

first transferred into jar

Day 4

feeding herman

Feeding time! I mixed one cup each of sugar, flour and milk into the starter. I worked out all the lumps and then tucked him into his little tea towel and said goodnight.

When I checked on him before bed herman had doubled in size, bubbling up to the top of the jar.

photo (6)

Day 5

After his voracious feed Herman has slunk down to the bottom of the jar again. I gave him a mix and left him for the day.

photo (5)

Day 6

Gave him a mix.

Day 7

Gave him a mix

Day 8

No bubbles! is he dead? I gave him a mix to make sure and some little bubbles came popping up to the surface phew! all is well.

Day 9

Gave him a mix. Still doing his sour bubble thing.

Day 10

Feeding Time!

This time I fed Herman the same amount as day four. I then divided him up into four portions(each portion contained just over 1 1/2 cups of starter.

Three of the portions were to be given to friends to make more little Hermans. The fourth portion was to be kept and made into my own delicious cake. Very exciting! I tucked Herman and his little Herman Jnrs in for the night and went to sleep dreaming of batter and icing.

divided herman


Herman was looking bubbly and ready to go. You can flavour Herman with whatever your heart desires, and there are some great looking recipes on the Herman website.¬†Since I’d never baked a cake with a sourdough starter before (only bread) I thought I’d use the basic recipe that was given on the instruction sheet, but changed it a little.

I decided to use spelt flour and almond meal, cut the sugar, use butter and flavour it with pistachios, cranberries and apples.

I mixed all my chosen ingredients up in a big bowl (forgetting to use the almond meal) and sweetened it with 1/3 cup of maple syrup. I had been feeding Herman so much sugar during the week I figured he didn’t need much more.

The batter was quite thick when I had finished mixing. I added a splash of milk to make it less doughy and poured him into a lined spring form cake tin, ready to pop into the oven.

just before the oven

The finished Herman

Herman was finally smelling good….This is what he¬†turned out like.

fresh out of the oven

The combination of cranberries, apples and pistachios was just delicious. He was still a little bit sweeter than I would have liked. I’d used regular cranberries from Coles instead of the unsweetened ones I usually buy from the health food shop. I think that combined with the sweet starter made it just a bit too sweet for my liking,

What did the rest of the family think?

Iain was a bit disappointed….he thought I was making a HeMan cake. Imi and Frankie tucked in straight away and fought over the crumbs. Herman was eaten within a few days so all in all I’d have to say our German house guest was a huge success.




Herman the German Cranberry, Apple and Pistachio Cake

slice of herman


  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp himalayan salt
  • 2/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1 medium sized apple cut into chunks (I used a pink lady)
  • 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbs milk


  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees centigrade. Line and grease a 22cm springform cake tin with butter and baking paper.
  2. Combine flour, salt, mixed spice and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Whisk eggs and combine with other wet ingredients. Add to dry ingredients and mix into a smooth batter. Add extra milk if batter is too doughy and will not combine well together with a spoon.
  4. Add pistachios, apples and cranberries and fold into mixture. Pour mixture into springform cake tin and bake for 45. Test the middle with a clean knife; if it comes out clean it is done. If not cover your cake in tin foil and bake for another 20 minutes until cooked through.

 The future of Herman

Unfortunately Hermans children didn’t survive. None my friends were interested in cultivating a Herman of their own, so Herman dies with me.

Albeit a sweet death, it was still sad to see him and his little progeny go. We shall therefore honour the memory of Herman by eating the crumbs we find in our couch over the next few weeks.

Rest in pieces Herman – you were too yummy for this world.


Have you ever made a Herman the German Friendship cake? would you be interested in making one? Why the hell not?