hidden veggies

Oven baked paleo meatballs

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not very good at cooking ‘simple’ or one pot/pan dinners. I go in with a simple idea and often complicate it by adding an extra dish or experimenting with a new technique and before I know it, I’ve used a billion dishes, pots and pans.

I created this meatball recipe with the goal of creating a one pan dish and I’m pleased to say that I finally succeeded! This is something I make for the family once a week, loading up the tray with meatballs and homemade chips and then serving salad on the side. The leftover meatballs are perfect with an egg or two for breakfast the following morning or thrown together with salad or steamed veggies for a quick and nutritious lunch.

This recipe is gluten and grain free so perfect for those with intolerances or who follow a paleo diet, and can be adapted for those with nut allergies or fructose malabsorption. You can throw these together in under 10 minutes and cook or place in the freezer for an even quicker meal down the track. Enjoy! -Renee

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Makes: 18 meatballs

Prep time: 5 minutes

Baking time: 30-40 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g mince

  • 3/4- 1 cup almond meal*

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

  • ½ small onion, finely diced**

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped**

  • 1 egg

  • ½ zucchini, grated

  • 1 tbs tomato paste

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 1 tbs olive oil

*Swap for regular breadcrumbs if your prefer, or rice crumbs if you are allergic/intolerant to nuts

**Omit if you are have issues with high FODMAP foods or onion and garlic

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METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan and sauté the onion and garlic for 5 or so minutes until translucent.

  3. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. If the mixture if a little wet, add extra almond meal 1/4 cup at a time.

  4. Form the mixture into golf sized balls (you should get 18-19 meatballs) and place on baking tray.

  5. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the over briefly, to turn the meatballs so they brown on the other side and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

  6. Serve with salad and homemade chips, pasta/zoodles and sauce or eat with eggs for breakfast. The possibilities are endless!

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Veggie-Loaded Lasagne

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We are gluten and dairy-free at our house due to our youngest child having food intolerances. Fortunately there are many wonderful recipes out there that can mean you can still enjoy foods like pasta and lasagne even when you can't eat gluten. 

I've adapted this recipe from The Healthy Chef and tweaked it for our household's dietary needs. I recommend making the basic recipe below and then once you've got the hang of this go ahead and adapt it to your own palate preferences.

Ingredients

  • 1.5L x tomato passata
  • 1/3 cup of red wine
  • 1 x brown onion, diced
  • 2 x cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 x tin of brown lentils, strained (or 3/4 cup of rinsed red lentils)
  • 1/2 bunch of basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 x bunch of greens (kale, Swiss chard or spinach greens), washed and chopped
  • 2 x tbs Extra virgin olive oil + extra for roasting pumpkin
  • 1 x small butternut pumpkin, seeded and sliced thinly widthways 
  • 1 x tsp of ground cinnamon 
  • 1 /2 x tsp of ground nutmeg
  • 2 x cups of raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours
  • 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1 x cup of water
  • Sprigs of rosemary or thyme for roasting (optional)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

  1. Soak raw cashews in water (or speed up the process by soaking in freshly boiled water while you start the cooking process).
  2. Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced.
  3. Place sliced pumpkin on a baking tray and sprinkle with ground cinnamon, nutmeg and prigs of rosemary/thyme if using. Drizzle with 1 x tbs of olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes until golden and pumpkin is cooked (roast for longer if needed).
  4. Heat remaining 1 x tbs of olive oil in a small heavy based saucepan while the pumpkin is cooking. Once the oil is heated add chopped onion and cook over medium heat until translucent and slightly caramelised. Add garlic, lentils and salt and pepper. Stir to coat.
  5. Add tomato passata and red wine. Stir together and reduce heat to simmer on low for 20 minutes to allow flavours to develop. Throw in chopped basil leaves at the end of cooking the tomato sauce. 
  6. Sauté greens in a small amount of oil or water until bright green.
  7. Strain cashews and blend on high with water, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper until combined into a smooth paste. 
  8. Assemble the lasagne in an oven-proof ceramic dish starting with pumpkin, then greens, followed by tomato sauce. Repeat and then top with the cashew paste.
  9. Bake lasagne in the oven for 30 minutes until cashew layer becomes a crust on top.

Serves 8.

Enjoy! Lucy x

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Meat-free Monday Bolognese Sauce

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My family and I love pasta and eat some form of bolognese pretty much every week. I love making it because its a great way to clear out the fridge of any scrappy or limp looking veggies, and I can cram a ton of vegetables in there that my kids wouldn't normally eat.

This is one of my favourite versions for two reasons:

1. It has split red lentils in it, and I absolutely LOVE these bad boys. Split red lentils are an excellent source of fibre, protein and magnesium as well as other vitamins and minerals. They also break down really well so can be easily hidden in meals for fussy eaters (i.e my 5 year old!)

2. It has eggplant in it. I don't know about anyone else, but I always buy eggplant and never get to use it because my kids won't eat where it has obviously been added. In this dish, it is completely broken down and hidden, but adds fantastic flavour. Eggplant are also a great source of fibre, copper and B1, as well as a good source of manganese, B6, B3, potassium and vitamin K.

This makes enough for 6-8 serves, when I make it I immediately freeze half for a quick meal later down the track. If you don't want to freeze it, just half the recipe.

I hope you enjoy this meat-free Monday meal!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Serves 6-8

Freezes well

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small eggplant, skin removed and cut into 1 cm cubes

  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/2 carrot, grated

  • 1/2 medium red capsicum, finely chopped

  • 1 largish handful fresh oregano, marjoram and parsley (use 1 tsp of each dried)

  • 3/4 cup split red lentils, well rinsed

  • 500 g crushed tomatoes, salt reduced

  • 2 tbs tomato paste

  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar

  • pepper to taste

  • 1/4- 1/2 tsp salt 

  • 2 large handfuls leafy greens, finely chopped

  • 1 tbs olive oil

METHOD

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Fill the empty tin or jar of crushed tomatoes 3/4 full of water, shake it to loosen all the tomato-ey goodness inside and tip that in as well.

  3. Bring to the boil, then drop to a medium heat and cook for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

  4. Add the chopped leafy greens and cook for another 5 minutes.

  5. To make this a completely hidden veggies meal, take to the pot with a stick mixer or potato masher and process until the texture is to your liking.

  6. Serve with pasta, rice, buckwheat, quinoa or zoodles. This is also a great base for lasagne, Sheppard's pie or can be used as a base for our 'Veggie Loaded Mexi Beans'

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Hidden Veggies Baked Beans

When I was a poor vegan student, baked beans were an absolute staple for me (realistically, they were always a staple, I love baked bean jaffles as a kid!), and luckily for me they are a great source of protein because at the time I was uneducated about nutrition and ate very little protein.

Fast forward a few years and I realised how much sugar and thickeners were in baked beans and instead of giving them up I decided to work on my own recipe that tasted just as good as store bought baked beans. Over the years I've tweaked this recipe to get to the one that follows, which I can safely say is one of my favourite recipes and is loved by my whole family. And I love how much they love it because I know they're eating veggies they normally wouldn't eat and are getting a great hit of protein, magnesium, iron, zinc and complex carbohydrates.

I generally double this recipe and keep half for breakfasts for the week and the other half for more hectic weeks when I don't have time to cook.

I hope you enjoy my hidden veggies baked beans. x Renee

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tbs reduced salt tomato paste
  • 1 tin diced tomato, no added salt
  • 2 tins navy beans, drained and rinsed well
  • ½ tsp dried thyme or marjoram 
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbs ACV (apple cider vinegar)
  • pepper to taste
  • ½ zucchini grated
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach or other leafy green, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 tbs olive oil

METHOD

  1. Heat the olive oil over a low flame, add onion and cook until translucent, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, tinned tomato, thyme/marjoram, oregano, ACV, pepper and zucchini, combine well and cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the leafy greens, then allow to cool for a minute. Puree the mixture using a stick mixer, or by adding to a food processor. Place back in the pan, add the navy beans and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Will be good for in the coldest part of your fridge for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
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Not So Berry Teacake

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I don't know about other families, but my kids will positively rip through a box of organic frozen berries if they're in the freezer so I wanted to come up with an alternative to berries that I could use in desserts and smoothies. I start playing around with stewing apples and beetroot with citrus juice in order to create a faux berry flavour and it worked!

I do love a good hidden veggies recipe, and if its a sweet one too than it makes me even happier. Beetroot have exceptionally good nutritional value, and are a great source of fibre, folate,  manganese, iron, potassium and vitamin C, as well as potent antioxidants. They are also naturally sweet so a addition to sweet treats to help lower the added sugar.

Although this recipe is gluten and dairy free, you can sub the flours and milk for any that you like. Swap the nuts for sunflower seeds if it needs to be nut free, or omit altogether. Although cooking the apple and beetroot is a bit time consuming, you actually make enough for two cakes so you can freeze the other half for another time.

This teacake goes so well with a cup of tea on a lazy Saturday afternoon, however if you're a parent to young kiddos like myself, its realistically best eaten with one hand and a lukewarm cuppa in the other! Great for playdates and birthday parties too!

Enjoy! Renee x

Serves 8-10
Prep time: 15 mins
Total cooking time: 55 mins

INGREDIENTS

Not so berry mix:

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1 cm cubes

  • 1 1/2 medium beetroot, peeled and chopped into 1 cm cubes

  • juice of 1 lemon (you will need to keep the zest)

  • juice of 1 orange (you will need to keep the zest)

Crumb mix:

  • 1 tbs coconut sugar

  • zest from above 1 lemon

  • 1/4 cup almonds/pistachios/pecans

Cake mix:

  • 1 1/4 cup plant based milk (rice, soy, nutmilk etc)

  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar (ACV)

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract/essence

  • 2 cups flour= 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour + 1/4 cup arrowroot/tapioca flour + 1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarb)

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • zest from above orange

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METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Grease cake tin (I use a springform tin) and set aside.
  2. Place the apple, beetroot, lemon and orange juice in a small pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cover with 3/4 with a lid. Cook for 20-25 mins until soft. Ensure that there is enough water at all times otherwise it will stick and burn.
  3. Pour off any excess water, puree and set aside. You will only be using half for this cake, the other half can be frozen for future cakes.
  4. While the beetroot and apple is cooking, combine the coconut sugar, lemon zest and nuts in a food processor until roughly chopped and set aside.
  5. Add the ACV to the milk and set aside.
  6. Cream together the coconut sugar, coconut oil and vanilla essence.
  7. Add the flours, baking powder and soda, salt, orange zest, and cinnamon and combine well. Pour in the milk + ACV mix and combine until smooth, ensuring there are no lumps.
  8. Pour batter into cake mix, giving a bang to get out any air bubbles. Gently add half the apple beetroot puree (freeze the other half for another cake), distributing it throughout the cake mix.
  9. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the cake, distributing it evenly.
  10. Cover the cake with foil, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Gluten free cakes can become quite dry if over baked, so ensure it isn't left in the oven for too long.
  11. Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.
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Red Lentil & Veggie Curry

Another favourite of Renee's, this red lentil curry is flavoursome without being too 'spicy' for little ones but also tasty for grown ups. The cooking time helps to break down the veggies (hello hidden veggies!), meaning suspicious kids won't know any better and you will feel good knowing the whole family has eaten a veggie loaded meal.

This curry is great made a couple of days in advance, which allows the flavours to grow, and it freezes and defrosts well. A great one to prep on the weekends for a quick reheat through the week!

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Serves 4-6
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbs toasted sesame oil (you can use olive or coconut oil too)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 inch piece each of fresh ginger and turmeric, finely chopped

  • 1 carrot, cut into 1 cm cubes

  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1 cm cubes

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 cm cubes

  • 2 tsp mustard seeds

  • 1 cup split red lentils

  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes

  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds

  • 3 tsp ground coriander

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp salt + pepper to taste

  • 4 cups water (tap or filtered, just not hot)

  • 2 handfuls of finely chopped leafy greens (spinach, silverbeet, kale etc)

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METHOD

  1. Slice the eggplant, sprinkle salt on each slice and leave aside for 5-10 minutes (this helps to remove any bitterness). Then chop into 1 cm cubes.
  2. In a large pot, add the sesame oil and heat over a medium flame. Add the onion and mustard seeds and sauté until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, turmeric and ginger and sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Add all the veggies and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring to combine everything well.
  5. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, water and add all of the spices, lentils and salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Drop to a medium flame, place a lid on the pot (3/4 on to allow some air to escape) and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the chopped leafy greens and stir through. Serve with cooked rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice or toasted flat bread.

 

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Vegan Red Velvet Cake with Salted Caramel Ganache

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This is one of those hidden veggies, low refined sugar, sweet treats that we love here at Westside Wellness! It's been made for many a tea or birthday party, the ganache can be swapped for icing and it can even be poured into muffin tins for easier portioning.

The recipe is egg, dairy and gluten free so useful for families with intolerances and great for parties where different diets need to be catered to, but you can swap all of those for regular flour and dairy milk if preferred. 

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium beetroots, peeled and chopped into 2 cm cubes

  • ½ cup coconut sugar

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence

  • 2 cups of flour: 1 ½ cups brown rice flour, ¼ cup corn flour, ¼ cup besan (chickpea) flour *

  • ¼ cup cacao

  • 1 tsp bicarb (baking soda)

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ¾ cup of plant-based milk **

  • 2 tbs vinegar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Add vinegar to milk and set aside.
  3. Place the chopped up beetroot into a small pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 20-30 minutes. You will need to keep an eye on this, stirring occasionally and adding a bit more water if it starts to dry out. Stab beetroot with a fork or skewer, you want it fairly soft, a bit firm is ok though.
  4. Once beetroot is cooked, puree it until smoothish (it will have a bit of texture to it).
  5. Cream together the pureed beetroot, coconut sugar, coconut oil and vanilla essence.
  6. Add the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt and process until smooth.
  7. Add the milk and vinegar mix, again processing till smooth (this is quite a runny mixture, do not add more flour).
  8. Pour mixture into a greased cake tin, bang on bench to release any air bubbles.
  9. Bake at 180 degrees for 20-30 minutes. The cooking time will depend on your oven; gluten free cakes tend to cook quicker and will dry out if over cooked. Check with a skewer, if it comes out clean, or with dry crumbs on it, the cake is ready.
  10. Gluten free cakes can be soft and crumbly, allow to completely cool before turning out of tin.

CARAMEL GANACHE INGREDIENTS

METHOD

  1. Using a small saucepan and bowl as a double boiler, half fill the saucepan with water and bring to the boil.
  2. Break up the chocolate and add to the bowl on top, when most of it has melted, add the salt and coconut cream.
  3. Whisk gently until you have a smooth caramel.
  4. Allow to cool for a minute or two, then pour over your cake. You’ll want a plate slightly bigger than the cake to catch the run off.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbs coconut oil

  • 1 tbs coconut paste (I use loving earth)

  • 2 tbs rice malt syrup

  • 1 ½- 2 tbs cacao powder (use less or more depending on how strong you’d like the chocolate flavour)

METHOD

  1. Melt the coconut oil and coconut paste over a gentle heat.
  2. Once melted, add the rest of the ingredients and whisk together until smooth
  3. Remove from heat and continue whisking, allowing the mix to cool slightly
  4. Spread over cooled cake and caramel ganache. As the mixture cools, it will firm up more. If you store the cake in the fridge, it will get a whiteish sheen, this is just the coconut oil and will go away once the cake is at room temp.

* You can use any combo of gluten free flours, this is the combination that I’ve found works best, but you could probably use just brown rice and corn flour if you don’t have besan. Regular wheat or spelt flour also work great

** Any plant based milks will work, as will regular dairy milk

 

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Osso Bucco

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Spring may be around the corner but the weather is still chilly here in Melbourne's inner west - and that means I'm still cooking lots of hearty one pot meals! I can't go past Osso Bucco in winter, it's rich in favour, simple to prepare and easy on the family's shopping budget. 

For biodynamic beef we like to shop at Hagen's Organics - although they're located outside the inner west we're happy to travel high quality organic and biodynamic meat. The result is always a better tasting meal with less toxin exposure and better impact on the environment when compared to conventional farming practices. 

We like to prioritise our "organic dollar" and this means that we prefer to pay for organic meat and animal products over some fruits and vegetables (think the dirty dozen, clean fifteen). This is because animals, like us humans, store toxins in our body's fat deposits. When you eat some beef, you are also eating a portion of the cow's stored toxins including the pesticides and medications they were exposed to. When you eat biodynamic meat your exposure to these toxins reduces due to the strict farming practices of biodynamic farmers which prohibits the use of artificial chemicals.  

This is my mother's recipe and will always remind me of cosy Sunday night dinners, with the fireplace roaring and our family all together. 

Ingredients

  • 1kg beef osso bucco (about 4 shanks cut into 3 pieces each)
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of ground pepper
  • 2 x 400g cans of tinned tomatoes or 8 chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup of red wine - I like Shiraz
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp mixed Italian dried herbs 
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 tbs stock paste/powder

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175C fan forced.
  2. Heat oil in a large casserole pot. Add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic over medium heat until the onions are tender.
  3. Remove the vegetable mixture from the pot.
  4. Over a high heat sear the osso bucco in batches using the same pot. Add oil sparingly if required. Once the meat is seared place on a plate to the side.
  5. Return the vegetable mixture to the pan and add the tomatoes, wine, stock and herbs. Bring liquid to the boil, stirring occasionally and then remove from heat. 
  6. Add the osso bucco to the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Put casserole pot into the oven with the lid on. Cook for 1 + 1/2  hours.
  8.  Serve with brown rice or mashed potato and gremolata (below).

Serves 6

Gremolata

  • 1 bunch of parsely, leaves removed from stems, chopped.
  • Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely diced

Simply combine the gremolata ingredients and sprinkle over the meat before serving.