Cauliflower and spelt crackers with a dairy free “cheese” option

finished

Kids love crackers, and why shouldn’t they? they’re crunchy, and great to hold onto while you’re running around playing super heroes in the living room.

They’re good for parents too. Quick, no leakage and I’ve never once heard a kid complaining that they’ve just been given a cracker to eat.  Which is why It’s so easy to let your kids consume large quantities of them. I’ve seen my own little monkeys polish off a whole box of rice crackers in under 40min… it was quite impressive.

Win win right? not so fast. If you take the time and turn around that packet of crackers that you just bought, you might find that things start getting a little more complicated.

 THE PROBLEM WITH COMMERCIAL CRACKERS

Most commercial crackers are full of four things that are not so good for you.

  • Salt,
  • Sugar
  • GMOs
  • Trans fats

Yes you may be able to find some delicious, organic substitutions. They will however, considerably lighten your wallet.

So my goal this year was to make all our own crackers, and guess what – IT WAS EASY!

Some crackers do take more time than others. However, I am able to whip up a batch of yummy spelt parmesan crackers in 20mins! They are fresh, crunchy and taste better than anything you could buy at the shops.

The recipe below is for a hybrid cauliflower and spelt cracker. Yep you heard me right, CAULIFLOWER!

cauli in strainer

What I love most about this recipe is that it’s a great way to use excess cauliflower, without turning it into boring old cauliflower and cheese. I used to audiably groan every time we got a huge head of cauliflower in our communal vege box.  Now I celebrate!

BUT MY KIDS DON’T LIKE CAULIFLOWER

Great, because these crackers don’t taste like cauliflower at all! The cauliflower in this recipe just adds to the overall cheesy flavour. Plus, It’s a good way to sneak an extra cheeky vegetable into your child’s food.

CAN I USE CAULIFLOWER WITHOUT THE SPELT?

Sure can. I combined cauliflower with spelt to give the crackers more crunch.

If you do use 100% cauliflower, the resulting cracker will be slightly floppier. Not a huge problem, but if your kids are used to more crunch, I’d start them off with a combination of cauliflower and spelt. There not as crunchy as traditional crackers, but they’re not far from it.

A few things you need to know about using 100% cauliflower are

  • The dough is wetter and not as stretchy than the cauli/spelt dough. You will therefore need to use your fingertips to flatten the dough onto your tray.
  • The outer edges burn much more quickly than the cauli/spelt mix. You will need to build the outer edges of the dough so that they are thicker than the rest of the mixture (approximately 0.5cm). I also didn’t  score my dough before it was cooked.

100% cauli dough

GRATING YOUR CAULIFLOWER

There are a few ways you can do this

  1. A grater attachment on your food processor. Cut the stalks off of your cauliflower leaving only the florets before you grate.
  2. Elbow grease. Surprisingly, this didn’t take that long when I tried it. Leave the cauliflower stalks on while you’re grating so that you have something to hold on to. Grated knuckles aren’t fun.
  3. Normal food processor S blade. Cut the stalks off your cauliflower leaving only the florets. Break your florets into small pieces before putting it in your food processor.

Once grated it should look something like this

grated cauli

You can find the substitutions for 100% cauliflower crackers at the bottom of the post.

DAIRY FREE OPTION

Two words, nutritional yeast.

nutritional yeast

Long relegated to the world of hardcore vegans, these yeasty flakes of goodness can turn any dairy free recipe into a delicious cheese flavoured dish.

Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of the strain Saccharomyces Cerevasiae. It is rich in B vitamins and because it is inactive, it will not exacerbate any issues in relation to candida.

It has a cheesy, slightly vegemite flavour and looks a lot like fish flakes. Because it readily dissolves in water it can be easily added to things like soups. Mix it with oil or water to create a cheesy spread for toast. ( I mix mine with grass fed butter for a yummy low salt spread).

In this recipe you’ll be adding it to the dough to replace the cheese. Since the temperature you will be baking the crackers at will exceed 100C some of the nutrients will be compromised. This can be remedied by  sprinkling extra nutritional yeast on the crackers after they have cooked.

Substitutions for dairy free crackers can be found after the standard cheese recipe.

GETTING YOUR CRACKERS CRUNCHY

There are two things that I have found works to get my crackers nice and crunchy.

  1. Wring out as much liquid as you can from the cooked cauliflower.
  2. Roll your crackers as thinly as possible.
Wringing out your cauliflower
Wringing out your cauliflower
Cooked cauliflower squeezed of excess water
Cooked cauliflower squeezed of excess water

Also use a pizza stone if you own one. It only makes a slight difference, so no biggie if you don’t have one.

CAULIFLOWER TO SPELT RATIOS

In the ingredients list for all variations of the recipe, I have told you to use one medium cauliflower. For me, once cooked and wrung out of excess liquid, it yielded 1/2 cup of cauliflower. If you have more or less cauliflower, the only thing you have to remember is this.

The spelt to cauliflower ratio is 1:1.

So if you end up with 3/4 of a cup of cauliflower, use 3/4 a cup of spelt.  This is ratio is not set in stone, play around with it. Using more spelt will give you a crispier cracker.

Enjoy!

CHEESY CAULIFLOWER AND SPELT CRACKERS

Makes two trays of crackers.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup spelt flower
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan/mozzerella mix with extra parmesan for sprinkling on the top of the crackers
  • 2 tbs olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius.
  2. Wash and pat dry cauliflower. Grate cauliflower using one of the methods listed above.
  3. Place grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave uncovered on high for 10min. Leave to cool.
  4. Transfer cooked cauliflower onto a tea towel and wring tightly. The more liquid you can extract, the crunchier the crackers will be.
  5. Transfer the cauliflower back to a bowl and mix in other ingredients. Knead dough for a few minutes until it forms a ball. Divide dough into two portions.
  6. Line baking tray/pizza stone with baking parchment. Lightly sprinkle baking parchment with flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out one portion of dough as thinly as possible. Lightly score with a knife and sprinkle with extra parmesan.
  7. Bake for 10mins.  Open oven and flip crackers, baking for 5min on the other side. (Baking times are an approximation and will largely depend on factors including how much liquid was wrung from the cauliflower, fluctuating oven temps and how thinly you rolled out your crackers. So keep an eye on them the first time you bake these). Crackers will be ready once the crackers has begun to brown.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool

DAIRY FREE “CHEESY” CAULIFLOWER CRACKERS

Makes two trays of crackers.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup spelt flower
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbs of nutritional yeast with extra to sprinkle
  • 2 tbs olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius.
  2. Wash and pat dry cauliflower. Grate cauliflower using one of the methods listed above.
  3. Place grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave uncovered on high for 10min. Leave to cool.
  4. Transfer cooked cauliflower onto a tea towel and wring tightly. The more liquid you can extract, the crunchier the crackers will be.
  5. Transfer the cauliflower back to a bowl and mix in other ingredients. Knead dough for a few minutes until it forms a ball. Divide dough into two portions.
  6. Line baking tray/pizza stone with baking parchment. Lightly sprinkle baking parchment with flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out one portion of dough as thinly as possible. Lightly score with a knife.
  7. Bake for 10mins.  Open oven and flip crackers, baking for 5min on the other side. (Baking times are an approximation and will largely depend on factors including how much liquid was wrung from the cauliflower, fluctuating oven temps and how thinly you rolled out your crackers. So keep an eye on them the first time you bake these). Crackers will be ready once the crackers has begun to brown.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
  9. In a small bowl combine 1 tbs of nutritional yeast with two tsp of water. Mix until it forms a thick paste (this will help the sprinkled nutritional yeast to stick). Very lightly  spread the individual crackers with the paste and then sprinkle with extra nutritional yeast.

100% CAULIFLOWER CRACKERS

Makes one tray

INGRedients

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan/mozzerella mix with extra parmesan for sprinkling on the top of the crackers

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius.
  2. Wash and pat dry cauliflower. Grate cauliflower using one of the methods listed above.
  3. Place grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave uncovered on high for 10min. Leave to cool.
  4. Transfer cooked cauliflower onto a tea towel and wring tightly.
  5. Transfer the cauliflower back to a bowl and mix in other ingredients. Shape cauliflower mixture in a ball.
  6. Line baking tray/pizza stone with baking parchment. Place cauliflower in the centre of the parchment paper and using your fingertips, lightly press the dough outwards until it is in the shape and thickness of a thin pancake, with the outer edges slightly thicker than the rest of the dough (0.5cm). Sprinkle with extra parmesan.
  7. Bake for 10mins.  Open oven and flip crackers, baking for 10min on the other side. (Baking times are an approximation and will largely depend on factors including how much liquid was wrung from the cauliflower, fluctuating oven temps and how thinly you rolled out your crackers. So keep an eye on them the first time you bake these). Crackers will be ready once the crackers has begun to brown. Cut into rectangles
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Frozen Fruit Cupcakes

Warning! These chilly treats are sure to be demolished in one sitting - make two batches!
Warning! – These chilly treats are sure to be demolished in one sitting – make two batches!

This recipe was borne out of a steaming hot day and an unwillingness to turn on my dehydrator.

Last week I was really hoping to experiment with dried yogurt buttons. But it was so stinking hot, I didn’t want to run my dehydrator all day.

So I did what any sweaty Mum with a plate full of yogurt would do. I stuck it in the freezer.

What came out a few hours later were the cutest little frozen snacks I’ve ever made.

And the girls loved them.

I hope you do too.

frankie eating

equipment

  • Mini cup cake tray
  • Mini patty pans

ingredients

  • Yogurt
  • small pieces of cut up fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries)

instructions

  1. Line a mini cup cake tray with patty pans
  2. Fill patty pans with yogurt leaving a small amount of space at the top (this is so the yogurt doesn’t overflow when you put the fruit in)
  3. Arrange fruit on top of the yogurt
  4. Freeze for at least 2 hours

prefrozen

Note: Once frozen “cupcakes” can be transferred to a smaller container to store in the freezer.

in container

Crunchy chickpeas

finished

I love nuts. They’re nutrient dense, completely satiating and quick to throw into a lunch box when we’re on the go.

There’s only one drawback I can find with nuts: Frankie can’t take them to preschool.

Allergies are a huge and increasing problem worldwide. What Frankie can and can’t take to preschool for lunch seems to change every year but there is one food item that is always a strict no-no:

NUTS!

Which is why I was so excited when I stumbled upon a recipe for roasted chickpeas. Deliciously crunchy, slightly nutty AND quick to throw into a lunch box; not to mention extremely healthy… could this be the perfect snack?

Why are chickpeas so great?

These little guys are bouncing balls of nutrition. Full of fibre, folate and manganese which are important for bone health and essential bodily functions such as the production of DNA.  No wonder they’re a staple food in many countries!

More importantly, they’re a relatively low allergy food so I can put them in a pre-school lunchbox.

HOw to get started

First  get yourself some chickpeas. You can make this recipe as involved as you would like. Buy canned chickpeas if you’re in a rush; soak and boil dried chickpeas if you have more time; or if you want to get really clever take a few days and sprout and cook your chickpeas.

Why sprout?

Sprouting will increase the vitamin B and C content and neutralise phytic acid in your chickpeas. However, my feeling is that a can of chickpeas is a far healthier option than a bag of Doritos, so don’t get too hung up on sprouting.

If you are interested in sprouting, this is a good place to get more information:

http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/03/08/monday-mission-sprout-something/

I was a bit short on time this week so I soaked my chickpeas.

Soaking your chickpeas

  1. Place 1 cup of dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with filtered water. The chickpeas will double in size so make sure you cover them  with at least  5cm of water above the chickpeas.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of whey, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (helps to neutralise phytic acid). Soak for at least 12 hours
  3. Boil for at least 1 hour or until soft (mine took 2 hours)

Now you should have some lovely cooked sprouted,  soaked or canned chickpeas. It’s time to get seasoning!

before oven

Most of the recipes I found for roasted chickpeas had spicy seasonings which my kids don’t go for. The rest were quite bland.

I think I’ve found a happy medium with a seasoning  which most kids will love (reminiscent of Arnott’s bbq shapes), and which adults will enjoy as well (I know I do).

As always, experiment with the flavours. If it tastes good before you put it in the oven, it’ll most likely taste good coming out.

I hope you enjoy my take on crunchy chickpeas!

ingredients

  • 2 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbs tomato powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp celtic sea salt (optional)
  • Oil to drizzle

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius (160 fan forced)
  2. If using canned chickpeas, rinse with cold water
  3. Rub chickpeas between two sheets of paper towel until dried
  4. Divide chickpeas into baking trays lined with baking paper. Use sufficient trays so that your chickpeas are flat and not piled on top of one another
  5. Lightly drizzle chickpeas with oil
  6. Combine tomato, garlic, onion, paprika and salt. Mix well
  7. Sprinkle chickpeas with 2/3 of spice mixture
  8. Bake for 40 mins until crunchy.
  9. Sprinkle with extra spice mix.
  10. Store in an airtight container

Fruit roll-ups

 

good eaten fruit

Is this a common sight in your house?

Every time I look in the fridge there’s a half eaten bowl of fruit staring me in the face… and taking up valuable fridge real estate!

I tried everything: cutting up a piece of fruit so the girls could share it (that only resulted in a bowl of half eaten cut up fruit left in the fridge); putting left over fruit into a smoothie (resulting in half drunk smoothies left in the fridge) …. this baffling little bowl of scraps took many forms and I thought its fruity reign would never end.

Then I bought a dehydrator…

… in the nifty little recipe book that came with it, I found a recipe for fruit leathers…

… and my world changed. FOREVER.

Fruit leathers are pureed fruit, spread out over some baking paper and dried very slowly to take out all the moisture. They’re basically like the store bought fruit roll-ups you got as a kid without all the added sugar and preservatives.

They’re delicious and get rid of all the half eaten, left over, and over ripe fruit in the house – they’re amazing!

You can really get creative with them, too.

Drizzle yogurt on them; sprinkle nuts or shredded coconut on the top to give them added texture; combine vegetables like baby spinach with the fruit to make a super-green-smoothie-roll-up… there are so many options!

But I don’t have a dehydrator!

I know what you’re probably saying “I don’t have a dehydrator, I can’t do this “.

Well, in fact, you can because it’s very easy to use your oven as a dehydrator for this particular snack. To show you how, I made two batches of fruit roll-ups: one in the oven and one in the dehydrator.

Dehydrator
Dehydrator (uncooked)
Oven (uncooked)
Oven (uncooked)

I’ll go through the ingredients and instructions in more detail below but first I’ll go through the details of how I get my oven to work as a dehydrator.

A quick guide to dehydrating in your oven

First of all preheat your oven  – I didn’t and my first batch of roll-ups turned out like this.

This roll up started to crack
See the cracks?

You will need to set your oven very low (around 57 degrees celsius), and turn your oven’s fan on if it has one. Leave your oven door slightly ajar – I use a wooden spoon to keep the door open just enough to allow some air flow.

Leave your oven on for a while to make sure it’s properly pre-heated. It’s a bit harder to control the temperature for dehydrating in an oven (which is why I bought a dehydrator) but it can be done!

I left my oven for a about 30 mins then checked it every 5 – 10 mins to make sure it was staying the same temperature.

You can check the temperature by sticking your hand in the oven.  It should feel very hot in there but not so much that it burns you.

Think mid 40 degree Summer’s day + wind and go get yourself a cold drink… it’s ready!

As you can see from the two pictures below, the outcome was perfectly acceptable when done in the oven versus the dehydrator:

Finished dehydrator roll ups
Finished dehydrator roll-ups
oven finished roll up
Finished oven roll-ups

The one that came out of the oven was slightly creased in places from where the baking paper crinkled up when it heated. You could probably fix this by using microwavable cling wrap, but I’m a bit iffy about heating plastic in the oven where the temperature may fluctuate.

Once it’s cut and rolled you can’t tell anyway.

A teeny word of advice before you start: these take 4 – 6 hrs to “cook” depending on your oven. The first time I ever made these was on a day I was at home with the girls. Once you’ve got the hang of it, put these on before bed and dream of chewy deliciousness. They should be ready by morning.

Ingredients:

  • Fruit of your choice
  • Sweetener such as mayple syrup or honey (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to approximately 57 degrees celsius.
  2. Puree your fruits. You need approximately 1/2 cup per baking tray. Add optional sweetener (I generally taste the pureed fruit and add a tiny bit of sweetener if it’s a bit sour but I avoid adding sweetener generally)
  3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment paper.
  4. Pour your puree into the middle of the baking paper reserving a few tablespoons of liquid.
  5. Spread out the puree by using a spatula or by holding the baking tray in your hands  and moving it from side to side so that it spreads evenly. It should be approximately 3mm thick.
  6. Take your reserved puree and, using a spoon, build up the outer edges so that they measure about 6mm thick (see photos above). This is so the edges of the roll-up don’t dry out too quickly and become brittle.
  7. Dehydrate for 4 to 6 hrs until no sticky spots remain.
  8. Carefully peel the roll-up off the baking paper. It should peel off easily. If any puree adheres continue dehydrating.
  9. Allow to cool. Cut strips out of roll up with kitchen scissors and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in airtight containers in a cool dark place or fridge.

voila!

Mango chia pudding

It’s summer and the mangos are in season hooray! The girls love having smoothies in the afternoon, and what’s more delicious than a cold mango smoothie?…. turning your cold mango smoothie into a delicious mango chia pudding!

I had some goji berries in the cupboard and decided to throw some into one of the puddings as well. Mainly because I thought the colours would look pretty together(they did!) but also because gojis are packed with antioxidants, especially carotenoids which are great for developing eyes. While I thought they were really tasty Frankie didn’t go for them, and preferred the plain mango. But they’re a nice addition if your kids like goji berries.

I love this snack. The girls think they’re getting a dessert, it’s high in fibre and protein due to the chia and just a little bit special.

enjoy!

Ingredients

  • Chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 large mango
  • 1 heaped tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2cm piece vanilla pod (optional)
  • Handful goji berries (optional)

Instructions

  • Combine mango, almond milk, coconut oil and honey (If adding vanilla, cut vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape out seeds and add them to the mixture) and blend until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add goji berries and chia seeds. For every 1 cup of liquid add 3 tablespoons of chia seeds. (mine yielded 2 cups)
  • Cover and refrigerate for an hour, stirring the mixture at the 30min mark.

Carrot and apple salad

carrot and apple finished

I love the flavour of carrot and apple together. It was always one of my favourite combinations in my juicing days, before I found out just how essential the fibre from our veggies and fruit is.

I know a lot of people detox on juices and think giving their kids a glass of freshly squeezed juice is a healthy option, but it’s not. Here’s a quick explanation of why.

When you take away the fibre from your food you increase the absorption of sugar into your blood stream. So having a juice is just like consuming a big glass of sugary water. Not good news for things like obesity, diabetes and overall health.

If you’re interested in how a high sugar, low fibre diet effects our health, and more importantly just how detrimental to our wellbeing sugar actually is watch “The bitter truth” by Dr Robert Lustig on you tube, I highly recommend it.

So give your kids a bowl of fruit instead of a juice, or keep the pulp and serve the juice with freshly made pulp burgers.

Anyway enough dietary preaching. This salad is quick, easy and grain free. Perfect for the 4pm munchies!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Apple
  • 1 carrot
  • Handful of sultanas
  • Handful of chopped almonds (activated is best)

Instructions

  1. Grate carrot and apple, mix in a bowl with sultanas and sprinkle with nuts

Side note: Another yummy combination is Carrot, avocado and sultanas.

Fresh fruit popsicles

photo 4-2

These popsicles are quick, easy and are a great way to get kids to try some fruit they won’t normally go anywhere near! (this is the only way my 17 month old will even touch rockmelon).

Not to mention they’re a great activity to do with the kids. Let’s face it, craft you can eat at the end is always a winner.

You’ll need some cookie cutters, fresh fruit and popsicle sticks. Normal cookie cutters can be a bit sharp for little ones. Luckily I found some great plastic star shaped ones with blunt edges in the back of our kitchen cupboard, which were perfect for Imi’s tiny hands to do some mean fruit mashing.

photo 2

For the fruit I used rockmelon, watermelon, papaya and kiwi but you could do this with anything. Forgo the cookie cutters and stick the popsicle sticks in fresh strawberries, orange slices or banana halves. As long as it’s ripe and yummy it’ll work.

Did I mention these were great for teething?

Fruit popsicles:

Ingredients

  • Fruit of your choice cut into 1.5cm slices
  • Wooden popsicle sticks (I got mine from an art supply store)
  • Cookie cutters (ones with blunt edges are better for smaller children)

Instructions:

  1. Cut off the rind/skin of your chosen fruit and and slice into approximately 1.5cm slices.
  2. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  3. Stick in popsicle sticks
  4. line a container big enough to fit all the popsicles in with baking paper. Put a sheet of baking paper in between each layer to stop the popsicles from sticking together. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and freeze for at least an hour.