Bento Du Jour – Autumn/Winter

Lunchbox Bits and Pieces:

  • I sneak extra green leaves into the toddler by blending them into pestos, sauces and smoothies or chopping them super fine and adding to savoury muffins, fried rice, stews and curries. Thankfully she’s still too young to figure it out that she’s eating spinach if it doesn’t look like a leaf (18 months).
  • Don’t limit green leaves to kale, spinach and chard – use herbs and the tops of root vegetables like carrot tops, turnip tops and beet tops.
  • Add seeds to everything. They’re delicious, add instant nutrition and good fats, and bonus – they won’t kill any nut-allergic kids at school.
  • My kid is salt-obsessed. It’s not ideal but kind of inevitable considering my tastes. I use miso paste a lot so she gets the saltiness with the added probiotics. And nutritional yeast – it makes everything taste salty and slightly yeasty like vegemite.
  • Generally the main part of her lunchbox is leftovers from dinner the night before or I’ll quickly cook some cous cous or pasta and add a pesto or sauce from the fridge.
  • I use a Meals In Steel box and Kai Carrier bags. The teachers at creche often heat the young one’s food but if you have school-aged children there are some great thermal containers available these days. Like here and here.
  • Chia pudding takes 1 minute to make and 5 minutes to thicken. I just combine chia seeds, frozen berries and coconut yogurt (or you can use coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk). The above links also have leak-proof containers for lunches that go in school bags
  • I always keep pickles, yoghurts and fermented foods in the fridge, and fruit in the fruit bowl as quick snacks and lunchbox fillers. If you spend a little time making your own fermented foods it’s a great way of preserving produce and is WAY cheaper than buying it. We get our fruit from a local vege co op, forage in parks and the Chch red zone and swap food with friends who have fruit trees – if you stick to what’s in season it’s cheap/free and yum.
  • Usually once a week I’ll make one of the following and keep in the freezer for easy snacks throughout the month: savoury muffins, empanadas, filo parcels, samosas, raw balls. It’s worth the 1/2 hour every week (or 1.5 hours if I have the time and  patience to have the toddler “help”).
  • Every time I make rice I make extra and fry it the next day with finely chopped veg.
  • Every time I make lentils I make extra and put it into a pie or lasagne or something another day that week.

 

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Garlic & Thyme Borlotti Beans; Wholemeal Penne with Carrot & Olive Oil; Carrot top & Pumpkin Seed Muffin; Avocado; Kalamata Olives; Radish; Raspberry Coconut Chia Pudding with Frozen Half Grapes; Fairtrade Banana

 

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Kim Chi Fried Brown Rice; Cucumber; Fairtrade Banana; Green Kiwifruit; Spinach Flatbread; Dried Dates

 

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Red Cabbage Creamy Quinoa Fusilli; Linda McCartney Vegan Sausage Rolls; White Carrot & Kale Savoury Mini Muffin; Apple Slices; White Carrot Sticks; Cucumber; Orange Slices; Frozen Blueberries

 

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Miso Sesame Roasted Pumpkin; Agria Potato & Purple Cabbage Poêlée; Avocado; Vietnamese Spring Rolls; Lentil Mini Empanadas; Radish; Ciabatta with Tahini; Fejoa; Apple-Sweetened Dried Cranberries.

 

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Pumpkin & Pea Risotto; Spiced Black Beans; Purple Potato & Golden Beet Chips; Carrot & Carrot top Savoury Mini Muffin; Kalamata Olives; Smoked Coconut Cheese; Sauerkraut; Fejoa; Apple-Sweetened Cranberries; Frozen Blueberries; Coconut Yoghurt

 

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Lentil & Chard Spaghetti Bolognese; Kalamata Olives; Smashed Pumpkin; Sauerkraut; Radish; Japanese Turnip; Brown Rice Cake; Dried Apple Slices; Dried Cranberries; Spirulina & Blueberry Chia Pudding

 

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Spicy Autumn Tagine; Moghrabieh with Parsley & Preserved Lemon; Pitted Olives; Lebanese Bread; Hummus with Sumac; Chopped Dates with Toasted Seeds

 

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Chickpea & Spinach Curry; Brown Basmati; Steamed Broccoli; Bellbird Organic Sourdough with Mushroom Paté; Sauerkraut; Tumeric Pickled Courgette; Kiwifruit; Pumpkin Seed Raw Ball; Blueberry Coconut Chia Pudding

 

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Potato, Cauliflower & Leek Purée; Linda McCartney Vegan Sausage; Sauerkraut; Peas; Pickled Golden Beets; Cucumber; Kiwifruit; Blueberries; Pumpkin Seed, Coconut, Chia Seed & Date Muesli.

 

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Purple Cabbage, Mushroom & ‘Chicken’ Green Curry; White Basmati Rice; Cucumber; Nigella Seed Bread with Pumpkin Hummus; Sauerkraut; Gerkins; Sundried Tomatoes; Nut-free Scroggin

 

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Puy Lentils with Garlic & Purple Cabbage; Cubed Agria with Porcini Salt; Ciabatta with Vegemite & Tahini; Mushroom Paté; Sauerkraut; Pitted Olives; Cucumber; Carrot; Fejoa; Apple; Cranberries; Sunflower Seeds

 

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Fried Noodles with Tempeh, Red Cabbage and Daikon; Rice Crackers; Olives; Vegan Blue Cheese; Chickpeas; Mandarin; Coconut Yoghurt; Kiwifruit

 

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Leek & Vegan Cheese Farinata; Pumpkin Hummus; Garlic-Braised Brussel Sprouts; Roasted Potato & Jerusalem Artichoke; Gerkins; Vegan Pepperoni; Kiwifruit; Chia Coconut Pudding

 

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Green Mac’n’Cheese; Pickled Golden Beets; Stewed Purple Cabbage; Mini Lentil Empanadas with Nan’s Tomato Relish; Radishes; Papa’s No-Knead Ciabatta; Cucumber; Raspberry & Coconut Chia Pudding.

 

Bento Du Jour – Autumn/Winter

Vegan Blueberry Mini Muffins

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These are toddler friendly, with no refined sugar. You could use all wholemeal flour but I prefer half white, half wholemeal.

1/2 C white flour
1/2 C wholemeal flour
1t baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon ground linseed + 3 Tablespoons water
2 heaped Tablespoons coconut yoghurt
1/3 C blueberries

Combine linseed and water in small bowl and set aside.
Preheat oven to 180 degree celcius.
Mix flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon together. Add maple syrup, coconut yoghurt and linseed paste. Mix gently. Fold in blueberries. If the mixture is too dry, add a dash of water or coconut milk.

Spoon into muffin tray and bake for 25-30 mins. Makes around 12 mini muffins.

*You could defrost blueberries (if using frozen) but I find it doesn’t make much difference to the finished product.

**Disclaimer: I don’t own measuring instruments so I use Crown Lynn coffee cups. You may have to use your own judgement to adjust measurements.

Vegan Blueberry Mini Muffins

Bento Du Jour – Autumn

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Kim Chi Fried Rice – Nori-wrapped Tofu ‘Fillet’ – Edamame & Petits Pois – Pak Choy & Coriander Stalk Gyoza – Sugar-free Blueberry Coconut Mini Muffin – Grandma’s Cucumber, Tomatoes and Table Grapes – Mandarin

 

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Red Lentil & Chard Dhal with Steamed Basmati Rice & Paratha – Coconut & Raspberry Chia Pudding – Brown Rice & Quinoa Crackers – Vegetarian ‘Ham’ – Home-pickled Gerkin – Sauerkraut

 

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Green & Yellow Courgette Fritters – Red Bean and Kale Cassoulet – Tomato ‘Escargots’ – Roasted Beet Cubes – Fermented Gerkins – Pitted Dates – Crackers – Fairtrade Banana

 

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Spicy Black Beans with Baby Leeks and Spinach – White Quinoa with Capsicum – Avocado – Tomato & Cucumber Salsa – Corn on the Cob – Herb Wrap – Black Boy Peaches – Sauvignon Blanc Grapes

 

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Quinoa & Rice Fusilli with Wild Mushroom Ragu – Raw Capsicum – Avocado – Petits Pois – Vegetarian Sausage – Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin & Nigella Seeds – Courgette, Basil & Spinach Mini Muffins – Kalamata Olives – Kiwifruit – Pear Compote

 

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Maple & Miso-Glazed Aubergine with Sushi Rice and Edamame – Roasted Nori – Pak Choy & Coriander Stalk Gyoza – Quinoa Crackers – Nut-free Tahini & Linseed Raw Balls – Avocado – Wild Apple Compote

 

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Ratatouille with Wholemeal Cous Cous – Garlic & Herb Fried Spaghetti Squash – Pickled Lebanese Cucumber – Beetroot Leaf Fataya – Wholemeal Pita Bread – Hummus – Kalamata Olives – Fairtrade Banana

 

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Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Agria Potatoes and Nutritional Yeast – Golden Beets – Petits Pois – Courgette, Basil & Spinach Mini Muffin – Avocado – Cucumber & Capsicum Sticks – Fejoa – Coconut Yoghurt  – Pear

 

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Miso Fried Rice – Nori-wrapped Tofu ‘fillets’ – Garlic & Sesame Broad Beans – Crackers – Tahini & Vegemite Mini ‘Escargots’ – Fairtrade Banana – Sugar-free Coconut & Raspberry Cake

 

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Penne with Roasted Vegetable Ragu – Fresh Tomato – Crumbled Broad Bean and Chickpea Falafel – Brown Rice & Quinoa Crackers – Wholemeal Ciabatta – Nut-free Tahini & Linseed Raw Balls – Roasted Nori – Homemade Cornichons – Fairtrade Banana

 

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Red Rice Noodles with Japanese Turnip, Pak Choy & Spring Onion – Baked Sesame Tofu Fingers – Courgette, Basil & Spinach Mini Muffins – Mandarin – Tahini, Cucumber & Vegemite Petits Escargots – Spray-free Grape Halves – Coconut Yoghurt

 

Bento Du Jour – Autumn

Bento Du Jour

My toddler has started attending crèche one day per week. One of the (many) unexpected highlights of this new phase is lunchbox preparation – although I must confess that if I had more than one child attending school five days a week this activity would quickly become tedious. If you’re in that boat and need some inspiration, feel free to take a peek into these lunchboxes:

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Sticky Rice with Toasted Nori – Spring Onion and Sesame Omelette (from Grandpa’s happy hens) – Avocado with Fresh Salsa-  Brown Rice Crackers – Organic Homemade Ciabatta – Grandma’s Cucumber – Heirloom Tomato – Peach Slices – Coconut Yogurt.

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Sesame & Shiitake Rice Noodle Salad – Hummus on Wholewheat – Ratatouille – Herb-Crusted Vegetarian Sausage – Brown Rice Crackers – Fairtrade Banana

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Quinoa Spaghetti with Basil and Carrot Top Pesto & Grated Courgette – Organic Green Pitted Olives – 5 Grain Bread with Sun Dried Tomato Hummus – Herb and Tomato Lentils – Grandma’s Cucumber Slices – Wholewheat Crackers – Roasted Nori Sheets – Auntie Liz’s Fresh Peach Slices.

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Fusilli with Broccoli & Sunflower Seed ‘Cheese’ Sauce – Cherry Tomatoes – Pitted Kalamata Olives – Homemade Fermented Gerkins – Plum – Avocado – Homemade Organic Ciabatta with Vegemite & Hummus.

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Potato & Courgette Gratin – White Beans with Garlic and Herbs – Sesame Stir Fried Green Beans and Frys ‘Chicken’ Strips – Wholewheat Crackers – Plums – Fruit Salad – Coconut Yogurt.

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Black Lentil, Pea and Potato Curry – Paratha – Coconut Yogurt – Avocado – Fresh Cold Tofu – Plums – Cucumber Sticks

Bento Du Jour

On Breastfeeding and Dairy Products

As I’ve spoken about before on this blog, I had a really hard time breastfeeding my daughter. It hurt like hell for weeks, then just a little for months and months. On top of that I suffered from a little-talked-about condition where my hormonal response to milk let down was backwards, causing a wave of sadness to come over me every time I fed my baby – which is a massive downer when you’re feeding all day and night! But as the months passed I almost started Not hating it. By 10 months I almost even enjoyed it.

Now my daughter is 1 year old – the point where I was sure I would stop breastfeeding – and I’ve actually started to savour our feeds. She feeds far less and can happily skip a feed or take a bottle of plant-milk, so I am officially released from my ‘breastfeeding prison,’ and now, I can finally say that I understand why people are ‘into’ breastfeeding.

But along with that understanding comes an increased bafflement that any lactating human woman on Earth could possibly drink milk from a cow.

Boom. There it is. Cow milk lovers will no doubt click elsewhere at this point but I hope you don’t, as I don’t intend to attack. I am simply baffled. When one understands the hormones, the relationship, the science and the spirit of breastfeeding one’s child, how does someone willingly deprive another mother and child of that experience simply to sate a desire for cheese?

I want to mention at this point that this is not about breastfeeding vs formula. If there were decent plantmilk formulas available in NZ I ABSOLUTELY would have stopped breastfeeding prior to now. Without good alternatives, cow or goat milk formulas are often necessary. And I honestly have not an ounce of ‘see, I hung in there and it got easier’ smugness… only ‘thank Christ this isn’t awful anymore’ relief. This conversation is purely about seeing your own body create milk and then downing a big ol’ glass of breast milk from another species.

I do understand the cognitive dissonance people use daily to consume meat, to buy cheap clothes or throw plastic bags into the landfill, but when you’re a mother, particularly when breastfeeding, how do you mentally disconnect from the reality of what cow milk is and who it is really intended for?

I would go so far as to say that the consumption of dairy products is entirely anti-motherhood. The dairy industry exploits and destroys the mother-child biological bond, and, after personally experiencing pregnancy and breastfeeding, I can honestly say that being kept pregnant, having my babies taken from me, and being hooked up to a milk pump every day is literally my idea of the worst kind of hell.

Mothers Against Dairy expresses it well: “At its core, animal agriculture is based on sexual violation, reproductive subjugation and exploitation, and on the objectification and violent domination of vulnerable bodies. It is also based on the destruction of animal families.”

After almost 20 years of veganism, I have become exhausted and mostly private in my activism. I tend to promote vegan food and ‘set a good example’ these days because outrage, anger, aggression and debates can feel futile and even counter-productive. But this is one topic I have to discuss. It feels personal. It literally makes me feel sick in the stomach and heart.

So I’m asking the question: as women in the world, as people who can understand clearly what the modern dairy industry is and does, isn’t it our responsibility to bring attention to this topic? Is it not up to us – as the carers, as empathetic humans, as the lactating sex, and as the main shoppers in most households, to do everything we can personally do to stop this unnecessary cruelty? Even if that is through the very simple personal action of choosing plant milk at the supermarket.

For advice on dairy free products visit:  NZ SAFE or Go Dairy Free

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On Breastfeeding and Dairy Products

Mushroom and Cranberry Stuffed Seitan Christmas Roast

 

Serves 4-8 (depending on greed)

I don’t own any measuring cups due to some weird anti-exactness rebellion, but in an attempt to add order to my recipes I have included measurements in the form of spoons. Feel free to ignore/adjust quantities. This dish is Vegan and most certainly not glutenfree.

Seitan dough:

Dry –

7 Tablespoons gluten flour

1 Tablespoon white or wholemeal flour

2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon Smoked paprika

2 teaspoons Onion powder

1 teaspoon Garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Wet –

4 Tablespoons smashed borlotti beans – With liquid! (pinto beans are also good)

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

200ml vegetarian chicken stock

2 Tablespoons light soy sauce or tamari

2 teaspoons tomato paste

Stuffing:

Oil

1/2 brown onion (finely chopped)

8 brown button mushrooms (crimini) (finely chopped)

3-4 dried sage leaves

1/2 teaspoon Dried mixed herbs (such as herbs provencal)

1 Tablespoon vegan margarine

1 Tablespoon white or wholemeal flour

1-200ml Porcini or shiitake stock

1 Tablespoon dried cranberries

8 Tablespoons cooked (short or medium grain) brown rice

2 Tablespoons chopped cashew pieces

Glaze:

soy sauce

maple syrup

vegetarian chicken stock

salt and pepper

Method:

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.

Smash the beans with 1-2 tablespoons of cooking or can liquid and combine with olive oil, chicken stock, soy sauce and tomato paste.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together to form a dough – adjust with extra flour or water as needed. Knead the dough for 2-5 minutes (or as long as you can be bothered – it’s still good without kneading) and set aside while you prepare the stuffing.

In a wide pan, cook the chopped onion for a few moments, then add chopped mushrooms, a little salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until soft. Add dried mixed herbs and crumble in your sage leaves, stir. Add margarine and then flour, stir to create a roux. Slowly add your mushroom stock, stirring to avoid lumps. Add cranberries and cashews and cook for 3-5 minutes until sauce thickens and cranberries soften. You want the consistency of a thick gravy – add liquid or cook off some liquid to adjust. Take off the heat and stir your cooked brown rice into the sauce. You should end up with a thick, even slightly gluggy stuffing mixture. If there is too much liquid put it back on the heat for a few moments.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Roll out the seitan dough on a large sheet of tin foil. As much as you can, try to create an oblong sheet of dough about 1 inch thick. It won’t be exact, gluten dough is tricky to work with but even if it looks super rustic at this point, it will look better when cooked! Spread the stuffing across the dough and carefully roll the dough around the stuffing to make a log, pinching the ends if stuffing tries to escape. Use a little water to seal the log and wrap the whole thing tightly in the tin foil – ideally like a candy wrapper with twisted ends. Put into a roasting dish and cook for 50-60 minutes, turning 90 degrees every 15 mins.

Mix the glaze ingredients together, taste and adjust until you like it. Maple syrup is best but sugar or strong fruit juice would work. Set aside.

After about an hour, take the roast out of the oven, remove tinfoil and pour glaze over the roast, coating all sides and leaving the roast sitting in a little liquid. You can score and/or decorate with cloves or orange slices or rosemary at this point if you want.

Return the roast to the oven uncovered for 10 minutes, then remove and rest somewhere warm for at least 10 minutes before carving into slices – serve with a good vegan gravy and an excellent Pinot Noir.

Merry Christmas!

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Mushroom and Cranberry Stuffed Seitan Christmas Roast