Dessert Hacks and Healthier Snacks: Pistachio Ice-cream (GF, DF, Vegan)


That’s right, you heard me, a healthy ice-cream. But how could ice-cream be healthy! Well, as it turns out I am rather slow in noticing this trend to make ice-cream based on frozen bananas. I think we might have done it a long, long time ago as a snack. But I had never thought about making up a proper batch until I realised I had two old bananas, which would either needed to be used or frozen, and I had some leftover pistachios that would need eating soon too. It was then that I was struck with inspiration. I remembered having read about frozen banana ice-cream, and thought that this would be a much healthier version of a naughty treat – one that wouldn’t upset allergies, or my current health trip!

I chopped the banana up and put it into the freezer overnight, the next day I did some research on recipes. There were an immense amount of recipes out there, but ones which required adding sweeteners, etc. I didn’t believe that the ice-cream would need sweetening because these bananas had almost been overripe, and so were going to be quite sweet all by themselves. I stumbled across this recipe by A Whisk and Two Wands, and I knew this one was it.

Now, my food processor really is quite small and is more designed for chopping and grinding small amounts of things. It did struggle a bit with creaming the frozen banana, but once it got going I could see what the people on internet had been raving out. It was incredible, the banana becomes smooth and icy cold and creamy, exactly like soft serve! After that I added the pistachios, a splash of almond milk, and whipped it all together. I believe that a bigger processor or a blender would do an even better job than my little processor, but I am still incredibly sold on the final product. It was sweet and creamy and soft, and the pistachio flavour was undeniable.

A great way to get that ice-cream craving what it wants, without having to eat all the bad stuff! Happy FF!

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Dessert Hacks and Healthier Snacks: Chia Seed Pudding (GF)


One thing I have often struggled with in terms of attempting to be healthier is that I have constant food cravings. It’s not that I crave any particular food, it’s that I crave food in general. I want to eat all the time. I could in the past, if I weren’t watching what I was doing, eat up to eight large meals a day, plus snacks. But to be honest, being hungry all of the time is exhausting. You do run out of things to eat too. So we have done some research into foods I can eat to help me feel fuller for longer, and into what could be causing this ridiculous appetite. We have discovered a few things to work on, and I am steaming ahead! Strangely enough it appears that I have been quite dehydrated without realising it. Now we try to get me to have a drink each time I feel hungry, and the results have been pretty incredible. My appetite has halved, I feel fuller for longer, and it gives me more of a chance to be selective about what I eat.

Something that I do want to work on is healthier snacks. It can be hard to find something healthier to eat, especially when you’re craving something sweet. I have started having nuts on hand, a wider variety of fruit, and the dreaded carrot sticks. But interestingly enough, I have been recommended to eat things like Greek Yoghurt by the doctor. Typically they contain less lactose than regular yoghurts, and the doctor has advised me against cutting it out of my diet altogether. His advice was to stick to more beneficial things with lower amounts of lactose, but which have other good things for my body, and which had good fats and good proteins.

This recipe for Chia Seed Pudding ticks all the boxes. It is delicious, but also nutritious. It’s based on almond milk, chia seeds and greek yoghurt, and is served with fresh strawberries. I thought it was tangy, filling and delicious. I hadn’t realised quite how filling a simple thing like that could be! I’m planning to keep a little it of this on hand for a refreshing breakfast snack! Now the reason I call this a dessert hack is because you could eat it for dessert, or for an anytime snack. It’s so rich and creamy, and although it’s healthy it makes you feel like it’s naughty! But it’s been a great help at work, as eating it really cuts my cravings.


Happy FF!

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Cooking Up a Storm: Episode 1, Coq au Vin

Cooking up a storm 1

Emma, a good friend of mine, decided to put a cooking group together with the apt title of Cooking up a Storm. It’s a group for people who want to teach and learn new recipes, which can be snacks, desserts, mains – whatever we like! Each person who wants to teach a recipe acts as the host, and they get to tell other people all about a recipe they like. I think it’s an absolutely fantastic thing, and I loved the first session.

Emma chose a delicious and rather iconic dish to teach us, called Coq au Vin. Coq au Vin – or Rooster in Wine – is quite a famous French dish. Apparently it was traditionally made with Burgundy, but different regions in France are known to use different varieties of wine to cook this dish.

Coq au Vin begins with onions, garlic, mushrooms and lardons, and browning of the meat. In goes the wine – in our case stock too, and soon the whole lot goes straight into the oven. It’s a glorious, comfort-food dish.

One thing I have noticed with a lot of older dishes is that it’s difficult to know where their exact origins lie. Some people argue that this method of cooking chicken in wine has existed since the reign of the Roman Empire, but other people argue that what we know as Coq au Vin is more recent – appearing somewhere in the last couple of centuries. But what people do agree on is the fact that one chef in particular popularised this dish across the United States and made it a household name. Julia Child.

So thanks again to Emma for hosting the first session of Cooking up a Storm. I look forward to more, and to hosting one myself! Happy FF!

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Middle Eastern Sausage Rolls (GF)


We don’t tend to overstock on groceries in our house, as we like to avoid waste wherever possible. But over the past couple of weeks our freezers have been continuing to get more and more full – to the point that we had nowhere to store even a small punnet of frozen berries. I decided to do something with some of the bulkier bits and pieces – for example a spare bit of pork shoulder.  It was a recipe that came together out of dozens of others, and which I doubt I would be able to recreate. But it was delicious! I also saw I had a couple of packets of gluten-free puff pastry in the freezer, which take up a lot of space. I also had some leftover pistachio nuts from previous baking escapades, and I had ducked in to renew my library card and hire some more cook books. So put these together and I had Middle Eastern Sausage Rolls.

I am a little obsessed with the Australian Women’s Weekly. No recipes of theirs has ever let me down. I have even so far adapted two of their cake recipes, from a gorgeous cookbook called Baking Recipes and Secrets from our Test Kitchen, to be gluten free! So I knew these sausage rolls were going to be a big hit too! These come from another Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook called Eat, Drink, Share. It’s quite a lovely book with lots of recipes designed to be shared. It was that book that first inspired me to try making pulled pork in the first place.

I halved the recipe and still ended up with quite a lot of delicious little sausage rolls. Mum and I ate some for afternoon tea, I shared some with our neighbours, and then we ate the rest for breakfast the next morning! These are the perfect gluten-free party food, and I’ve kept the recipe to use for the next time I do an afternoon tea! Happy FF!

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Vegetable Curry (DF, GF)


If it were up to me, curries would be a staple meal in our house. I love them, their flavour – the rich sauces, all of it. Yum! But despite being a carnivore at heart even I can’t resist a good vegetable curry! This particular one came about, as I mentioned in the zucchini fritter post, when dad decided to do something with the leftover veggies in the crisper, and spotted a recipe in our local supermarket magazine that would work well for it. It’s amazing to think that when I was little there weren’t these magazines at each supermarket filled with delicious recipes. but now the culture has changed so much. Cooking and sharing recipes has become a thing for all people to share, so it’s no wonder even the local supermarkets want in! Who could resist sharing a winning recipe!

However, when it comes to vegetable curries it can be important to make sure to watch either the added liquid or to not use too many watery vegetables. You want the vegetables to soak up the delicious spices in the curry, not wash them out with excess fluid. But I am also quite picky with vegetable curries, as I prefer mine to sit overnight in the fridge to let the vegetables soak up even more flavour. But I tend to find that curries in general are even nicer the next day after cooking! Yum!

Happy FF!

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Zucchini and Bacon Fritters


As I mentioned in a previous post, I found that the healthier I ate and the more I focused on excercising and such, the more I was craving things like zucchini! So naturally I did some research, and when I found a zucchini recipe I liked – I went for it! This particular recipe for zucchini and bacon fritters is just amazing. Not only is it very quick, it’s also very delicious and healthy! It’s a great way to use up old zucchini, and as it uses bacon we know it’s bound to be delicious! These fritters are so popular in our house now I have added them to the recipe box, which is where I store all the recipes which we consider to be the best and tastiest I have made. What’s great about this recipe is that it’s easy to make it in larger batches, in smaller batches, and you only require a few things to get it all together. Moreover it’s not like store bought fritters, which are so full of flour that it’s impossible to get the flavour punch from the rest of the ingredients!

We have experimented with toppings for these fritters, as well as sides. The original recipe comes with onion relish, which I decided against. I happen to love general sauces, so I use a little gluten-free barbecue sauce on mine. Yummo! Our last batch was served with a side of coleslaw as well, because mum loves her coleslaw, and dad even finished it off with some delicious vegetable curry which he had been making beside us! It was a very vegetable heavy luncheon, but I have to say I really enjoyed it. It seems like my body knows what it needs, and it’s persuading me to eat more vegetables!

Happy FF!

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Shepherd’s Pie (GF)


I have been making great strides in terms of learning to eat healthier snacks. I think it’s incredible to see a much wider range of these sorts of recipes available online. I can remember when I first started looking for healthier snack recipes a long time ago and almost none existed. But now the whole world seems to know paleo, sugar-free, low-carb or even plain old gluten-free recipes. So while I was thinking of what to do for dinner I was also thinking of what sort of snacks I could make to eat throughout the rest of the weekend. All of a sudden I had a bizarre craving for zucchini and smoothies.

There is a cafe below where I work which specialises in raw treats, and healthier eats. Most of their wares are not gluten-free, however, so I tend to avoid their food and stick to their smoothies. I have been attempting to improve the smoothies I use at home and so far have had no success. But I was inspired to look for some paleo smoothie recipes are realising how much I liked the ones at the cafe, and how their ingredients were more or less paleo too!

But I am a carnivore at heart, and so when I was flipping through a growing collection of Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks to look for dinner recipes I couldn’t go past this one for Shepherd’s Pie. Most people will know this is a classic dinner dish which is inexpensive to make and which can be made to feed a large gathering. But what a lot of people might not know is how old this dish is, and where it comes from. To understand that we have to start with the dish which is almost interchangeable with Shepherd’s Pie, and that is of course Cottage Pie.

Cottage Pie precedes Shepherd’s Pie, and was referenced in cookbooks and the like from even the late seventeen hundreds! It was considered the poor man’s meal because it made use of leftover meat and a mashed potato topping, and potato was the poorer citizen’s crop. It is said to have originated in either Ireland, Scotland or North Britain – but sources seemed to argue about who made it first and where. All I know is that this dish has been around for quite some time. But what first distinguished the two dishes, you might ask! Cottage Pie was traditionally made on beef whereas Shepherd’s Pie was traditionally made on lamb. Nowadays we’re not all that fussed about what meat we use, and we use either name to refer to more or less the same dish. I know I grew up eating a lot of Shepherd’s Pie, and I think of it as being a traditional and old-fashioned sort of meal. It’s got the feel and flavours of home for me.

There are also similar versions of this dish in other parts of the world, ranging from Spain and France right through to India! What’s more not all of these dishes were made using mashed potato as a topping. In fact the Oxford Companion to Food even claims that Scotland used to make their Shepherd’s Pie with pastry rather than mash. So what might seem like a rather common dish can turn out to be one with a rather interesting story!

Happy FF!

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Lamb Tagine with Harissa and Green Olives (GF, DF)


Tagine is an iconic dish, able to made with all sorts of meat and vegetables. But where does it come from! Most people who like Moroccan cooking know what tagine is. It’s a special clay pot which is used to make exquisite slow cooker meals. But then there is also the tagine dish, the history of which is still a topic of debate. Moroccan cuisine has had quite a few influences over the centuries, ranging from the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans, right through to the Arabic nations, the French and the Spanish! So sources still seem to be uncertain about who to give the credit to when it comes to the origin of the famous tagine dish.

However, through some research I have discovered that there is no such thing as a “standard tagine”. Tagine is quite different in each region of Morocco, and one particular source insists that for the best tagine all visitors have to go to the Imazighen regions of Morocco – where the cooks stick to the traditional roasting over hot charcoal method and slow cook their tagines for hours. Phew! Until I became curious about tagine and decided to do some research I never would have known what an interesting and diversified dish it could be! It makes me want to travel to taste all the unique flavours of it, and to savour each particular regional influence on the dish! It goes to show that what we might think of as simple or common can have the most fascinating of stories. If someone happen to know more about this particular cuisine or this particular dish, I would love to hear it. I want to be more educated about all sorts of foods!

This particular tagine was not made in the traditional method, but was made using our old slow cooker. It still turned out to be superb. It also introduced me to the spice blend called harissa, which includes things like chilli, paprika, mint and garlic, cumin, and more. It seems to differ depending on the spice blend, but the blend I have packs a flavour punch! Delicious! I wish I had the chance to marinate the meat overnight in the spices, because I think that would have made it even more delicious. But it was still lovely after a couple of hours in the slow cooker. I could only imagine how fantastic it would be when cooked in a proper tagine pot! You could also do this dish with beef, as I think it would work quite well like that.

I made sure not to get a lot of olives in the serving above, if only because I was then going to be eating it and I’m not the biggest olive fan! But if you are then you could even add a bit more, as it’s only a stir-through at the end ingredient. Feel free to change it up a bit and see how you like it for this Fiesta Friday!

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Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award


I want to give a big shout out to Mutsumi of Sakura Junction for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award! Mutsumi is a relatively new blogger, but she writes fantastic posts and her passion for what she does shows very clearly! Thank you Mutsumi!

Mutsumi has also asked me these questions!

1. What do you do to keep fit?

At the moment I go to the gym before, during or after work – depending what I have time for. I try to exercise on the weekend through doing some uncoordinated dancing around the living room, or going for light walks.

2. Which do you prefer living by the sea or in a mountain?

I think I would prefer to live by the sea. I don’t often get to go to the beach, and I think it would be much more temperate than where I live currently!

3. What is your guilty pleasure?

Gluten-free shortbread biscuits. Dad has discovered a brand which does the most delicious buttery shortbread. Not too sweet, not too plain. Just right.

4. If you can be a character in a film which character/film you want to be?

Hm, I have a few I like. Zatoichi – the character, Peter Quill – the character, I would like to be in most of the Marvel films, as well as the Neil Gaiman film MirrorMask, and the independent film Ink (the concept was fantastic).

5. What is the craziest thing you have ever done in your life?

I tend to be the one that rescues people after crazy things have happened to them, so I live vicariously that way! But who knows, one day perhaps…

And now for the nominees….

Cooking for the Time Challenged – Reading their introduction it isn’t hard to see that this particular blogger has overcome a lot of adversity, and in doing so has created all sorts of delicious and healthy dishes that are now being shared with us. Be sure to check them out!

Spice in the City – Naina has been an avid fan of cooking and trying new recipes since she was young, she now shares that passion with us through her blog. Her photography is delicious!

Simply Vegetarian 777 – a blogger who cooks healthy, vegetarian recipes from all sorts of cuisines, Simply Vegetarian is not to be missed! None of her dishes are lacking in flavour or appeal!

Now in terms of those questions…I rather like Mutsumi’s questions, as they were quite different from the usual ones I see being asked. So I’m going to repeat those questions to the nominees!

1. What do you do to keep fit?

2. Which do you prefer living by the sea or in a mountain?

3. What is your guilty pleasure?

4. If you can be a character in a film which character/film you want to be?

5. What is the craziest thing you have ever done in your life?

Murgh Makhani, Butter Chicken (G/F)


So begins our exploration of mains and savouries! But it should start with a bang, I think, not to mention a time-honoured classic! I picked this butter chicken recipe out of a fantastic cookbook by the Australian Women’s Weekly because it seemed so perfect for the starting main. It was simple, cheap to make, and flavoursome! Given it’s also a slow cooker recipe it seemed so suited to the sharp winter weather. At the moment it’s either raining, or pelting us with wicked bitter winds. To be honest I prefer the rain because it makes me glad to be indoors, and it’s so soothing to listen to. But when it’s cold outside it’s the perfect time to make a slow cooker recipe.

The virtue of slow cooker recipes is their set and leave nature. You have to do a few minor things to set them up, but then the slow cooker/oven will take care of the rest. You can go on and do more chores or go have fun, and after a couple of hours a delicious meal will be there – waiting to be eaten. But butter chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is such a classic it would be hard to pass up. It seems to have a rather interesting tale behind it as well. Although it’s invention is rather recent, able to be traced back to a man called Kundan Lal Gujral, who operated a restaurant in Dehli, India in the 1950’s, a few sources pointed out that it was ancient influences on Punjabi cuisine that allowed this sort of dish to come about. I think it’s so fascinating to know that all modern cuisines have such different sources that influenced them at one time or another, and to think of how different things would be without those influences. I also have to give a nod of great respect to Kundan Lal Gujral, if not for his skill we might not have this delicious dish in our kitchens now! If someone happens to know a bit more about this topic, please drop me a comment below. I’m eager to know more about the various cuisines in India!

And although it might not be considered authentic, I think this Women’s Weekly version is absolutely delicious. It’s rich, it’s flavoursome, but it’s not too overpowering. It’s also not too expensive to make given how far it stretches when served with rice and your preferred Indian bread. I wanted to serve mine with gluten-free garlic naan, but I was told I had created too much mess in the kitchen as it is and to stick with rice! But feel free to serve yours with whatever sides you like, and have a happy FF!

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