Shepherd’s Casserole (Pie) with a Twist

Finished Shepherd's Casserole Filling

My daughter says that pie is only pie if it has crust. When I first added Shepherd’s Pie to my recipe repertoire she was unimpressed. We have since started calling it Shepherd’s Casserole and she is much happier.

Ingredients

This recipe is healthier, and tastier, than the regular Shepherd’s Pie as it has pumpkin in the topping instead of just white potatoes. I never liked pumpkin growing up but in the last few years I have been really enjoying it and find it very versatile. I tend to buy a half or whole pumpkin and roast it. Then I stick it in the freezer ready to add to whatever I am making that day.

Cooking Veggies

This recipe is also loaded with veggies (look at all that healthy colour!), but it all mixes together in a super yummy mix that the kids love. If you are in a hurry, you can use only frozen veggies and save the time cutting up extra. Frozen vegetables are snap frozen and retain their nutrition, making them great for when you are in a hurry but want a delicious and nutritious dinner.

Pumpkin Topping

We make our version dairy-free as we have an intolerance in the family, but you can add cheese to the topping if you so wish.

Ingredients

 Filling

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
  • 1 large clove of garlic diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 medium zucchini cut to bit sized pieces
  • ½ large red pepper (capsicum) cut to bit sized pieces
  • ½ head of broccoli. I usually cut it up quite fine so that it is easy to eat by accident
  • 500g ground (minced) lamb or beef
  • 600 g frozen peas, carrots, corn
  • 2 Tbsp Worchester sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1½ cups stock – I like to use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder

Topping

  • 500g roasted pumpkin
  • 500g steamed or boiled potato with skins on
  • 2 Tbsp butter or vegan butter substitute
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional tasty or pecorino cheese

Directions

  1. Roast the pumpkin. Cut it into even slices and baste with some olive oil. Put in the oven for about 45 mins at 200C. You want the pumpkin starting to brown but not getting crispy.
  2. Cut up the potato. Steam or boil until tender.
  3. While those are cooking, put the coconut oil, garlic, onion, and fresh veggies in a large pan and fry until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the ground meat to the pan and break up as it is cooking.
  5. Add the frozen veggies once the meat has cooked.
  6. Add the Worchester sauce and tomato paste and stir in.
  7. Add the flour. Mix this through and allow the flour to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Add the stock and stir while the sauce thickens.
  9. In a separate bowl, mix the cooked pumpkin, potatoes, vegan butter and salt with a hand mixer until it is mixed through.
  10. Put the filling in a large casserole tray.
  11. Spread the filling on top evenly.
  12. Add the optional grated cheese on top. Pop the whole thing in the oven for about 5 minutes just to melt the cheese.

 

Pumpkin topping

Enjoy!

This recipe makes quite a lot, so you can freeze the extra or use it for lunches the next day.

 

Shepherd's Casserole

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Delicious Dairy-Free Chocolate Icing

Cupcakes 2

As I’ve mentioned before, the littlest person in our family has a problem with dairy. For previous birthdays, I have just let him have cake with dairy icing and we would deal with any potential side effects. Since it was only once in awhile he was usually fine. But it was his birthday and I wanted him to be able to eat cake without any worries (well he was never worried, he’s only 2!).

Don’t get me wrong, this is not one of my healthy recipes. Other than being dairy-free, there is certainly nothing healthy about it. But for those of you who can’t handle dairy, I wanted to share this super delicious, and super easy, alternative.

Ingredients

For my first attempt I tried the recipe with just soy cream cheese but it wouldn’t aerate and thicken up so it did slide off the cake a bit (was still delicious though). It needed the added fat from the vegan butter. This final recipe though will satisfy even the most ardent of dairy lovers.

We had just eaten cake a couple days before, so I put this icing batch on some of my Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins and it was delicious!

Little Hand

Ingredients

  • 255g of your favourite soy cream cheese (I’ve tried both Creamy Sheese and Tofutti Better Then Cream Cheese)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I recently found the one pictured by Funky Fields. It tastes terrific, but it does have nuts in it so isn’t school friendly unfortunately)
  • 3 cups sifted icing sugar (I try to buy an organic one from the bulk shop but when I run out I have to get the commercial one pictured from the grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder (Quality matters here. Cheap ones just don’t taste right)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

In Bowl

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients into your mixer.
  2. Mix on medium for about 3 minutes until the icing becomes light and fluffy.
  3. Eat, um, I mean spread onto cupcakes or cake.

Makes enough icing to easily ice a double layer cake or 24 cupcakes.

Muffin Cakes

Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from the delicious one at Natasha’s Kitchen.

Healthy Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Pudding in bowls with fruit

This recipe is certainly a family favourite.  I had to fight off little hands in order to take pictures for this post! This is a different kind of chocolate pudding in that it tastes amazing while being loaded with healthy ingredients.  It is also very easy to make, just blend all the ingredients together. We like to mix in some fresh fruit just before eating, but you can also just eat it plain.  If you have any leftover it also freezes well, although I rarely get any into my freezer!

Pudding ingredients

So why is this pudding so healthy? The ingredients are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, good fats and fibre.  How could you go wrong?

Avocados are a great source of healthy fat and fibre.  Read my other articles to learn more about what fats are and the truth about fats and why they are an important part of your diet. They also contain vitamin C, E, K, B6, folate, magnesium and potassium. Don’t shy away from an avocado, they are great for your health.

Cacao powder is considered a ‘super food’ in the media.  It differs from cocoa in that it hasn’t been roasted.  This retains its natural vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content as well as being a good source of protein, chromium, potassium and magnesium. Watch out for cheap cacao powder though.  I once bought a cheap version and it tasted awful.

Cinnamon is a super tasty way to add a bit more healthiness into your pudding.  It can help lower resting blood sugar, it contains lots of antioxidants, has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and it may even improve your memory (I think;)

I know many of my readers are in Australia, so you may not understand the beauty that is maple syrup, but trust me there is no substitute.  You need to get 100% pure Canadian maple syrup, not a sugar knock off.  While maple syrup does still contain glucose and fructose, it is much lower than regular sugar and has a lower glycemic index.  It is also high in antioxidants, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Oh and did I mention it tastes fantastic!

We have all heard that bananas contain lots of potassium, but did you know they also contain calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin and B6? Now enough of this explanation as to why this pudding is so healthy, lets make it!

in-blender.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 5 tablespoons real maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients in your blender.
  2. Blend all the ingredients until smooth.
  3. Enjoy!

I have a Vitamix.  I would suggest using either a Vitamix, Thermomix, or Kitchenaid processor to ensure you get a smooth texture.

Pudding 2

 

 

 

Healthy Banana Apple/Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins (that are also dairy-free!)

Muffins

I am so excited to share this recipe! Sugar-free, sweetener-free, dairy-free, nut-free muffins that are really delicious! It has taken many trials (all of which my family has been happy to eat up!), and I finally found the winning recipe.

The big kids get so much sugar especially now that they are in school. With birthday parties, cupcakes at school, Easter disco, chocolates from sporting activities, canteen treats and Easter around the corner, the chocolate and candy seem to be coming in on a never-ending stream! I’m still trying to shelter my littlest from sugar but all he wants is whatever the big two have. He is also dairy intolerant so I was already having to modify recipes. Dairy-free recipes always seem to use some sort of nut milk though which isn’t allowed if I’m going to use the muffins for school lunches. I’ve searched and searched but ‘healthy’ recipes always have some sort of sweetener in them be it maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave or even actual sugar. I knew there had to be a way to make actually healthy banana muffins that tasted fantastic.

In these muffins there is no sugar or other sweeteners (unless you add the optional chocolate chips), no dairy and no nuts. They do contain plenty of fruit, whole grains, healthy fats and even a vegetable! Everyone in the family loves the apple version, but my daughter is a bit of a chocolate fiend, so I make half and half apple and chocolate chip.

I like to make muffins that are on the smaller side to go into lunch boxes for my little people, so this recipe usually makes about 36 muffins. They freeze really well and can be pulled out when you are in a rush. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does!

 

Ingredients

Wet:

  • 2/3 cups melted coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut yogurt
  • 3/4 cups apple sauce
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups packed mashed ripe bananas (about 6 bananas)*
  • 1 grated zucchini (about 1.5 cups)

Dry:

  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 cups wholegrain spelt flour
  • 1 cup whole rolled oats

Options:^

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks (I often cut up a Green & Black’s 70% organic dark chocolate bar)
  • 3 medium apples cut into small chunks

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan forced (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Grease muffin tray with coconut oil if necessary. I use a silicone tray that does not require it.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a large bowl if it is solid. Beat in the eggs, coconut yogurt, applesauce and vanilla. Mix until it looks creamy. I find the stand mixer works best for this.
  3. Add the mashed banana and grated zucchini. Set aside.
  4. Mix all the dry ingredients together in another bowl. If you can, get ‘help’ like I did.
  5. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together.
  6. Take half the mixture out and put in the other bowl.
  7. Add chocolate chips to one half and apple pieces to the other and stir until just mixed.
  8. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake muffins for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy now or freeze some for later. Oh and remember not to feel guilty about eating them, because they are actually healthy!

Notes

*I find it best to use previously frozen bananas. Freezing them seems to break down the cell walls and makes the muffins moister.

^If you only want to make apple muffins, just double the apple and skip step 6.

Healthy No-Sweetener Banana Muffins

IMG_7653

This is a great recipe for all those muffin lovers who don’t want the sugar. Banana bread really doesn’t need any sweeteners at all as long as you use super sweet overripe bananas. And the kids will love them!  Great for lunch boxes.

Makes about 36 muffins.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 2 cups packed mashed ripe bananas (about 6 bananas)
  • ½ cup milk of choice (I used cow milk but you could make this dairy free by using almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 3½ cups whole meal spelt flour
  • 2/3 cup whole oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan forced (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Grease muffin tray with butter or coconut oil if necessary. I use a silicone tray that does not require it.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a large bowl if it is solid. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  3. Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit, fold them in now.
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake muffins for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy muffins as is or with a spread of nut butter or regular butter.

IMG_7655

 

This recipe was modified from one on Cookie + Kate:

http://cookieandkate.com/2015/healthy-banana-muffins-recipe/

Carrot Ginger Soup with Coconut Poached Chicken

healthy soup

As the weather gets a bit cooler (at least here in Australia, well not really), this is a delicious and healthy dinner that is super easy to make.  It will warm you up and is sure to be a family favourite.  I know we love it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 – 1 inch pieces of fresh ginger
  • 1kg  carrots (I also added a small sweet potato)
  • 2 cups stock (I used A.Vogel Herbamare Bouillon Plantaforce)
  • 2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 500g chicken breast – cut up into slices to decrease cooking time

Cut up onion, garlic, ginger, carrot and sweet potato.  Carrot and sweet potato can be in large pieces as they are going to be blended later.  Put in a pot with the butter and cook until onion is translucent.  Add 2 cups of stock and cook until tender.  Once cooked, blend until smooth.  I put it through my Vitamix but a stick blender is also useful.

Ginger powder and grated in the spoon with the root and leaves

While that is cooking put coconut milk in another pot and heat up.  Add the chicken.  Cook until chicken is cooked through.  Don’t let the coconut milk boil or it will separate.

Once the chicken is cooked, fish it out with a slotted spoon.  Poor the remaining coconut milk into the carrot mixture.

Take two forks and shred the chicken to bite sized pieces.  Add the chicken back into the soup and you’re done!  Add a sprig of cilantro to serve if desired.  I served it with homemade garlic bread. Mmmmmmm

little baby in a chef's hat and ladle in hand