Children’s Sustainable Nutrition for Fussy Eaters


The waitress watched in disbelief “she is eating broccoli?” Our two year old was quick to correct her observation by responding “small trees yummy”.

There is no doubt that at times our Little One is fussy and picky.  However generally I would conclude that she is a good eater.  Generally it isn’t a challenge ensuring she is getting 7 to 10 proportions of varied fruit and vegetables daily.

Listening to parents share their toddler eating behaviour frustrations, puts me in a reflective mood.  Why them, why not me?

Short answer is I don’t know.  I say it is because of some luck and some good genes (I was a toddler garbage disposal – eating any veggies my older brother would not).  However I feel instinctively that there are two activities that have fueled our toddler’s love of eating a wide variety of nutritious food.

Firstly the simple activity of growing your own veggies.  From six months of age I have been gardening with her.  Now she will venture into the garden to eat sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, chick peas, snow peas or whatever is in season (without my prompting or help).


Secondly the equally simple activity of cooking.  As our Little One showed interest in our cooking pursuits, we have encouraged her involvement with age appropriate tasks.  Always keeping in mind the bigger picture when she makes a mess, refuses to give back the pepper shaker or fights us for the spoon – short term annoyances allows for long term, life skills learnt.

Our Little One is planting seeds, watching them grow, harvesting food from the garden then cooking the produce.  This has to be contributing to her willingness to then eat the food, she has had envolvement in producing and preparing.

Food for thought.

Almond Cookies with Flavour Kick – Gluten and Dairy Free

I am very grateful for the numerous gluten and dairy free recipes, that friends share with me. This week I enjoyed baking Almond Cookies – a recipe given to me by my friend, Janine. 

This almond cookie recipe is naturally gluten and dairy free which made it easy for me to bake (no experimenting with conversions).

What I particularly liked was that the recipe made 24 cookies (none of this bake all morning only to get 12 cookies).

Ohhh yeah did I mention that these cookies are ‘moreish’ – with a surprising gentle flavour kick.


Almond Cookies
(Gluten and dairy free)

150g icing sugar
1 free range egg beaten
225g almond flour
1 finely grated lime rind
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
* In a large mixing bowl, combine icing sugar & beaten egg.  Beat until mixture is white.
* In another bowl, combine flour, lime rind, vanilla essence & cinnamon.  Then gradually mix into the sugar & egg mixture.
* Knead dough in the bowl until pliable (about 5 minutes)


Almond cookie dough after kneading

* Cover with a tea towl and leave for 15 minutes.
* On a lightly floured surface,  roll out dough to make a long thin sausage shape (about 4 cm thick).


Almond cookie dough rolled into a long thin sausage roll shape

* Cut into 24 segments.


Cookie dough cut into 24 segments

* Roll each segment into a ball.
* Lightly oil the palms of your hands then flatten each ball.
* Place each flattened ball on a lightly oiled oven tray – giving each plenty of room to spread when baking.
* Bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.


Flatten almond cookie dough - given space to spread in the oven

* Cool biscuits on a cooling rack.


Almond cookies cooling on wire rack

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!

Simple Orange Cake that is Gluten and Dairy Free


My cousin in the foreground, while 'Nanna' and our Little One, lick the icing bowl in the background.

Today will be a sad day.  Today I will be driving my cousin to Sydney airport so she can fly home to Brisbane (my Mum will stay for another couple of weeks).

As a fitting farewell to my beautiful counsin (more like my little sister), I wanted to share her yummy orange cake that she made for us (with her permission of course).

Simple Orange Cake
(Gluten and dairy free)

1 & 1/2 cups self raising, gluten free flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
125 g of dairy free butter (I use Nuttelex)
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 free range eggs
1/4 cup rice milk
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 tablespoon of orange juice

* Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
* Sift flour and baking powder in a large bowl.
* Throw all ingredients into the bowl and beat with an electric mixer.
* Pour into a well greased 20 cm round tin.
* Bake for 30 minutes.
* Allow to cool.  Icing is optional.
* Enjoy with loved ones.

Bye bye Mellie, see you soon.  xox

A Large Spinach Baseless Quiche – Gluten and Dairy Free


We have a full house – full with loved family members.  Evening meals we have enjoyed sharing good ‘slow food’ together.

Last night I made a large spinach and cherry tomato baseless quiche. Served with fried toasted slices of my polenta bread in garlic.  As always everything was gluten and dairy free.

Spinach and Cherry Tomato Baseless Quiche – Gluten and Dairy Free (feed four adults as a main meal).

8 free range eggs
1 cup gluten free plain flour
3.5 cups of rice milk
5 tablespoons of rice bran oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes halved **
1 large bowl of spinach **

** last night the spinach and cherry tomatoes came from our garden – it doesn’t get fresher than that!

* Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
* Fry chopped spinanch and cherry tomatoes in oil and chopped garlic (I prefer rice bran oil). Once spinanch is soft, remove from heat and set aside.
* In a large bowl wisk eggs, milk and oil together.  Then slowly add flour.  Mix well.
* Pour egg mixture into an oiled large lasagne pan. Then carefully spoon the spinanch and tomatoes into the mixture, so it is even throughout (pour all the yummy garlic juices in too).
* Bake in oven for 35 minutes.

Everyone loved the quiche.  Nobody even noticed it was gluten and dairy free.  Even our Little Toddler enjoyed it.

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!?!