Why Everyone Shouldn’t Eat Dairy with Spinanch or Meat?

Spinach grows all year, in our Australian temperate zoned garden.  Therefore spinach accompanied the sustainable fish we cook last night for dinner.

Here is my easy recipe for spinanch and other seasonal vegetables, that I cook regularly.  It is a surprisingly enjoyable recipe that even our toddler will eat.


Thinly chop a clove of garlic and lightly fry.  Add the spinanch, some green string beans, cherry tomatoes, saltanas and pine nuts.

To ensure my body is able to absorb as much iron from the spinanch, I use Nuttelex dairy free butter for frying as dairy decreases iron absorbtion.  Being dairy intolerant is an advantage when it comes to iron absorbtion.

Adding cherry tomatoes not only adds a tangy flavour to the vegetables but also adds vitamin C to your meal.  Vitamin C helps with the absorbtion of iron.

I add other vegetables at different times of the year but the spinanch is always a constant. 

Good nutrition simple, easy and tasty.

What Happened When Coles Stopped Stocking Dairy Free Creamed Cheese?

Our local Coles and Woolworths grocery stores, have both stopped stocking dairy free creamed cheese and dairy free cream.

Unwilling to start buying a dairy base alternative, I had to rethink many of my dairy free recipes.

I love a good roasted vegetable bake or a good vegetarian lasagne.  In these two meal examples, I usually subsitute the cheese component for a commercial dairy free alternative but alas I now needed to get creative (as I can’t buy them Iocally anymore).

So I got thinking! What about turning the traditional basic white sauce into a dairy free option? What if I could make the basic white sauce even yummier?


Dairy free vegetable bake with garlic white sauce


Dairy & gluten free lasagne with white sauce

Dairy & Gluten Free Garlic White Sauce
(also vegan)

1 clove of garlic very finely chopped
Oil (I prefer rice bran oil)
80g of dairy free butter  (I prefer Nuttelex)
4 tablespoons of sifted, gluten free plain flour
1 & 3/4 cups of rice milk
Salt to taste

* Add some of the oil in a fry pan.
* Fry garlic over a medium heat.
* Add dairy free butter and melt.
* Remove from heat and mix in flour with a large spoon.
* Add a little of the rice milk and mix well.
* Return to heat and gradually add remaining of the rice milk while stirring continuously.
* Boil for 3 minutes while stirring.
* Remove from heat and add salt to taste.

Pour over your roasted vegetables in an oven tray. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees C until top is golden brown.

Or Then:
Pour over one of your lasagne layers instead of cheese.


I was pleasantly surprised that my dairy free, garlic, white sauce tasted better in these two meals, than when I used the commercial dairy free creamed cheese. Everyone in the family enjoyed both meals – the non dairy intolerant ones, the meat eaters and the toddler.  Giddy up this dairy free alternative is a keeper (and lots cheaper).

DIY Grape Nectar From the ‘Gods’


The phrase ‘nectar from the gods’ came to mind the first time I tried home made grape juice. The sweet, pure, non alcoholic beverage was one of the most surprisingly enjoyable drinks, I’ve ever tasted.

Better still my friend shared with me, just how easy it was to make my own home made grape juice. So I decided to give it a go.

Unlike my friend, my grapes were store purchased and not grown at home.  Also my grapes were a mixture of white and red grapes instead of my friend’s red grapes only suggestion (which I will adhere to in the future).  My store purcased, mix grapes were getting old which motivated me to get making juice – so to reduce grape waste.

Nectar of the gods grape juice (Sarhn’s basic procedure):

* Remove grapes from their stems. 
* Wash them and remove any unripe or ‘yucky’ grapes.
* Place grapes into a very large saucepan or pot, then place on the stove. Turn on the heat.
* As grapes heat up, mash them with a potato masher.  Keep mashing until all juice has been squeezed out of the skins.
* Bring to boil slowly then simmer for 15 minutes.
* Place mixture through a large fine cooking sieve to separate juice from skins.

I served the juice straight away so hence it was warm but serving chilled or at room temperature are both equally enjoyable.

We didn’t have left over juice (but we didn’t have lots of grapes to start with).  If however there was left over juice, I would store it in the fridge for up to three days.

If you have an abundance of juice, read my friend’s blog post on how they preserve their grape juice for up to a year.

Seriously you got to try this grape juice.  Our Little One doesn’t drink anything faster!

White Vegetable Heartwarming Soup


White vegetable soup with a slice of polenta bread

I love the simplicity of one pot cooking. As the weather cools, I crave home cooked food – especially soups.  This is a very simple one pot, soup recipe that can be easily changed according to the vegetables you have in your fridge or garden.

* Rice bran oil
* Two garlic cloves chopped
* White vegetables – half cauliflower, half cabbage, one peeled zucchini, a peeled choko, handful of lighter flesh mushrooms
* 1/2 cup of pine nuts
* 4 cups of vegetable stock
* Salt and pepper

* Fry garlic and mushrooms.
* Add chopped vegetables to fry/cook for 5 minutes.
* Add pine nuts and vegetable stock.  Bring to boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasional.
* Using a hand food processor, mix into a smooth, thick soup consistency.
* Add salt and pepper to taste.

To accompany the soup, a slice of polenta bread will do the trick.

Now isn’t that easy!?!

What Happened When I Cooked Gluten Free & Vegan Food for the CWA?


The Country Women’s Association of Australia is an institution.

Since 1922 the CWA have been serving the community – with the aim to improve the conditions for women and children and make life better for families, especially those living in rural and remote Australia.

Over a year ago, I was invited to join my local CWA branch.  Yesterday we all met for our monthly gathering for an ‘Italian’ themed event.

I nominated myself to bring along a gluten free and vegan, Italian dish for everyone to try. I was a little concerned as CWA ladies are well renowned in Australia for their cooking and baking excellence.

So what happened when all the CWA ladies tried my gluten free and vegan roasted tomato pasta sauce? They asked for the recipe!!  Everyone said they couldn’t tell it was gluten free or vegan (a compliment in my books). I received many ‘yummy’ type comments.

Eventhough I have previously posted my roasted tomato pasta sauce recipe, today’s sauce was a different variation.

So here is the recipe for my roasted tomato pasta sauce that the CWA ladies enjoyed (bulk quantities – feed up to 12 hungry people):

30 roma tomatoes
5 large carrots
1 large whole garlic
1 cup of pine nuts
Fresh basil and oregano leaves
Balsamic vinegar

* Preheat oven at 200 degrees C
* Cut tomatoes in half and place cut side up, on a large oven tray
* Cut the carrots in half lengthwise and place in tray
* Peel garlic and separate into individual cloves. Place into the oven tray
* Sprinkle the pine nuts over everything
* Place the basil and oregano leaves on top of everything
* Drizzle oil over everything  (I use rice bran oil)
* Sprinkle sea salt over the top of everything
* Place into the oven for 45 minutes  (turning the mixture half way through)
* Add everything including juices to a food processor and mix well
* Add balsamic vinegar to taste
* Add to your favourite cooked pasta (today I served gluten free pasta)

In closing I wish to say “thankyou” to the ladies of my CWA branch. You have been so warm and friendly towards myself and family. Thankyou for making us feel so welcomed.

Cooking Up a Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce Storm


I have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen – making my roasted tomato, pasta sauce in bulk.

This pasta sauce fed my family last night.  It will also feed the Ladies at the Picton CWA branch today and the Seed Savers group on Saturday.

All ingredients in my sauce were sourced within a 30 kilometer radius from my home (except the pine nuts):

* Tomatoes and carrots from a local farmer
* Garlic from Little Field Mice Farm
* Basil and oregano from my garden

Do you rely 100% on supermarkets for your food?

Or are you one of the increasing numbers of people taking control of their own food sourcing, growing and producing – their food security?

If you have never grown your own food, it is never too late to join the millions of home growers.  My advice is to start with herbs or rockett lettuce (both will be kind to the beginner).

Data suggest that more than half (52 per cent) of all Australian households are growing some of their own food and a further 13 per cent report they intend to start.

What will you start growing today or what was the very first edible plant you grew?

What Happened When I Added Roasted Mango to My Pumpkin Soup?


One of the surprising benefits of reducing food waste, is stumbling across unusual flavour combinations.

Last week I decided to cook up lots of roasted pumpkin soup, with pumpkins straight from our veggie patch.

“What would roasted mango taste like in the soup” I pondered as I pulled out mushy mangos from the fridge. Committed to using the mangos in the spirit of reducing fruit waste, I put them into my soup.

Roasted Pumpkin and Mango Soup (gluten & dairy free and vegan)

* One large pumpkin (around 1-2 kilograms)
* Three carrots
* Two mangos
* Four cloves of garlic
* 1/2 cup of pine nuts
* Vegetable stock (make sure it is vegan)
* Dairy free cream cheese (can buy from Coles or Woolworths in Australia)
* Salt and pepper
* Chives

* Remove skin and seeds from pumpkins and mango.  Cut up and place onto an oven tray.
* Cut up carrots and add to oven tray too.
* Peel garlic cloves and add to oven tray too. Sprinkle the pine nuts over everything on the oven tray.
* Sprinkle with oil (I use rice bran oil) and then season with salt. Cook in a 200 degrees C oven for 45 minutes (you might want to turn everything half way through).
* Place everything including any juices into a food processor.  Mix well.
* Add mixture to a large saucepan.  Stir in 600 ml of vegetable stock or less if you prefer a thicker soup. Stir in dairy free cream cheese (to your own taste).
* Season with pepper for taste.
* Pour soup into serving bowls then sprinkle with chives (or any fresh herbs of your choice).

The result?

I was surprised that roasted mango would compliment pumpkin.  I really enjoyed the flavour.  My carnivore husband and toddler ate it too – which is always a bonus!