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

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