Toasted Coconutty Granola

‘In today’s rush, we all think too much – seek too much – want too much – and forget about the joy of just being” -Eckhart Tolle
A few weeks back I was lucky enough to attend a mindfulness session at work, half educational, half practical, and a well-needed reminder to bring this practice back into my routine. The first chunk was informative – what mindfulness is and what techniques we have available to us. Whilst brief, only touching the surface of this topic, it was immensely enlightening. I learnt we have 50-75k thoughts per day, 5% of which we are actually mindful of. Our subconscious thoughts are constantly there in the background, humming, ebbing and flowing, unknowingly and sometimes unwillingly, influencing our feelings and actions, which in turn influences our thoughts. And so it goes.

In the last ten minutes we were taken through a guided meditation practice where we observed our breath and thoughts as they floated by. It was simple, yet so relaxing. I left feeling lighter and more present. For such a short commitment of time, the effect was amazing. It always is.



It then got me thinking, why don’t I practice meditation more often? Which inevitably led to similar frequently-had questions, like why don’t I exercise more often, or get up earlier? All things I want to do, each I know may benefit my health and well being, yet the commitment is too much. Empty excuses, coupled with ‘better things to do,' are my most frequent responses. But perhaps there is more to it. Perhaps I am thinking, seeking, wanting, and doing too much. What am I doing today, tomorrow, next year? How can I be better at this and improve at that? My mind is racing, and life, probably like yours, is going at an intense rate. Perhaps I’m putting unrealistic expectations on myself in these busy times.

The brief, albeit useful, mindfulness session helped me see there ought to be a better way. There are many ways to be mindful, not just one. So it's time I start small and shift my focus. Move it away from constantly wanting and seeking – wanting to meditate more, exercise more, learn more, wake earlier – putting unrealistic demands and pressures on myself. Because thoughts that lead to inaction just aren’t thoughts worth having. Instead I need to shift my focus to bring more mindfulness to my every day. To be present. To do more of what I love. It’s realistic, doable and something that’s helped me in the past. Being mindful naturally happens when doing things I love, like cooking. But also reading and writing, eating, and talking to my loved ones. Surely doing more of those things is not an unrealistic expectation!



This granola making was definitely a mindful activity. There’s little to it, just throwing a few pantry items into a bowl and a little mixing. Sure I could’ve meditated instead, but then where’s the deliciousness in that!? What I love about granola making is that there are no hard and fast rules. Use whichever nuts or seeds you like or none at all. If you don't like coconut, leave it out (but I'll probably call you crazy if you don't like coconut). Substitute, mix it up and simply enjoy the process of creating something delicious. To help you get started on your granola making journey I've shared my recipe below :)



Toasted Coconutty Granola
Makes 14 quarter-cup serves

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds and walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sunflower and pepita seeds
1/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
Zest or chopped rind of half an orange


Preheat oven to 160C and line a large tray with baking paper. Melt coconut oil and rice malt syrup in a medium size saucepan, remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and spread out on tray. Place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until your desired toasty-ness, turning the granola every 5 minutes.

Enjoy!


Low FODMAP | lactose free | vegan

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Fritters

There are a few foods which never escape my shopping basket. Eggs and zucchini are two of these. So versatile, nutritious and FODMAP friendly, eggs and zucchini in some form or another always make their way into my breakfast, lunch, dinner or sweets. 

Zucchini fritters are just another quick and easy dish I like to whip up using both of these ingredients. And speaking of versatility, here are my favourite ways to eat zucchini fritters…

For breakfast or lunch, top your fritters with fresh rocket, a few halved cherry tomatoes, and a quarter avocado. And for something more substantial, add some smoked salmon or fried haloumi to your plate.

With a hearty meal like curry or stew, skip the rice or grains and enjoy with a zucchini fritter or two (no rhyme intended!)

Or for a quick snack, simply enjoy them on their own or with a dollop of your yoghurt of choice. Yum!

I’m always looking for new ideas, so leave me a comment with your favourite way to eat zucchini fritters. Or maybe you have a different favourite fritter....?

Zucchini Fritters
Stack of Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Fritters
Makes 6 large fritters, serves 2-3

1 medium zucchini, grated
2 tbsp parmesan, grated
A handful of fresh parsley & mint, chopped
1 tsp cumin
4 eggs
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup coconut flour OR 1/2 cup brown rice flour for low FODMAP
Salt & pepper


Place prepared ingredients in a medium sized bowl, and mix together. Heat a small spoonful of coconut oil in a fry pan on medium-high heat. Spoon mixture into the fry pan, and cook each side of the fritters until browned. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt of choice and a handful of fresh rocket.

Enjoy!


Low FODMAP | gluten free | lactose free | vegetarian

Gluten Free Banana Bread


Daylight savings has come to an end. The dwindling away of my dinnertime source of natural light has begun. With the colder days and darker nights upon us, to me, it signifies the coming of winter. A time I sadly dread. For I wish I could say I love all the seasons, the changing of mother nature around me. But I feel the cold, oh so much, and it pains me. Waking in the dark, arriving home from work in the dark, the constant layering of clothes to protect against the Melbourne chill, and the food photographer struggle of fading daylight of an evening. 

But I’d be lying if I said I disliked all that winter brings. There are a few special wintery moments I cherish. Sitting in the front lounge of my parent’s house with the open fireplace ablaze, blankets draping upon us. A cup of tea in one hand, a square of dark chocolate in the other. Sundays with little to do but spend the day cuddled inside, heater on, the slow cooker bubbling away, and the anticipation of a heart-warming dinner and a warm rhubarb crumble.

Winter almost sounds bearable when put like that. For now, I’m just glad the warmer days are not yet behind us.

I baked this banana bread on April 1st, the last day of daylight savings. It was mid-afternoon and the sun was sneaking in and out of the passing clouds. This banana bread recipe is perfect for those with sensitivities, as it’s gluten free, low FODMAP, lactose free and dairy free. There’s also no added sugar, so it’s also a great healthy alternative. Enjoy and stay warm my friends!



Gluten Free Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk of choice
2 large or 3 medium bananas, mashed
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a loaf tin. Place all ingredients, except 1/4 cup of walnuts and the shredded coconut, in a large bowl and mix well. Pour mixture into the tin, sprinkle walnuts and coconut over the top, and place in oven for 45 minutes.

Enjoy!


Low FODMAP | gluten free | lactose free

A Friendly, Low FODMAP Easter Menu

Each year as Easter rolls around, there’s one thing that excites me most. More than chocolate and a four-day weekend, the best thing about Easter is the food.

I get excited about the planning, the preparing, and of course, the sharing of food with my loved ones. Whether it’s a large feast, or a few simple dishes, there’s always something special about sitting around the table, enjoying a thoughtfully prepared meal with great company. At Easter, it's all about creating scrumptious and comforting dishes that perfectly match the shorter, cooler Autumn days.

This year I’ll be heading to the coast with my family, and no doubt, the focus will be on food, food, food (and maybe a chilly stroll or two along the beach - after all it is my favourite place).

But it can’t be all beach strolls and eating dish after dish of delicious food. Creating a special meal for special people in your lives requires a bit of hard work. And let’s not forget that a festive season like Easter can bring added stresses, but also added expenses. Throw a few food intolerances into the mix, and hosting can become plain overwhelming.

Luckily for me, my family is now well acquainted with my low FODMAP diet, but as it wasn’t always that way, I wanted to share with you my Easter plan of attack!

With the help of Australian grocer, Aussie Farmer’s Direct and their Easter Grocery Shopping promo, I’ve put together my low FODMAP and gluten free Easter menu to help you have a stress-less holiday. I've also included a few classic FLK recipes below, especially for the occasion.

If you head over to Aussie Farmer's Direct, you'll not only get your Easter shopping done quick and easy, but you'll be supporting Aussie farmers and home-grown produce. Double win!

Have a happy Easter break everyone, and don’t forget to share your Easter creations with the hashtag #friendlylittlekitchen!




Low FODMAP & Gluten Free Easter Menu

Cheese Board Starter
  • Rocket & Goats Cheese Dip (recipe below)
  • Homemade Chunky Salsa
  • Original Corn Chips
  • Double Brie, Vintage Cheddar &/or Blue Cheese (all naturally low in lactose)
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Carrot Sticks

Main
  • Paella (recipe below)
  • Green Salad with Olive Oil & Apple Cider Vinegar

Sweets
  • Panforte Brownies (recipe below)
  • Fresh Fruit – Strawberries, raspberries, passionfruit
  • And, maybe a cheeky Hot Cross Bun for your guests! Not gluten free, but if you can tolerate spelt flour, you could even bake a batch of my Spelt Hot Cross Buns!

Recipes


Rocket & Goats Cheese Dip
2 large handfuls rocket
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
Half lemon rind
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp yoghurt of choice
50g Yarra Valley Goat’s Cheese
Salt & pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blitz until you have an almost smooth consistency.


Paella
Serves 4-6

Olive oil
1 chorizo sausage
4 chicken thighs, chopped
1 large red capsicum, chopped
Parsley stalks, finely chopped
Sea salt & ground pepper
400g paella rice (or Arborio)
2 tsp sweet paprika
10 strings of saffron, ground with salt in mortar and pestle until fine powder
200g tinned tomatoes
1L chicken stock (no onion or garlic)
~8 large whole prawns
150g calamari rings
120g peas
Fresh parsley leaves
Lemon

First and foremost, prepare all your ingredients so they are ready to go. Cover base of 36cm paella pan (or casserole dish) with oil and heat over medium heat. Add chopped chorizo, chicken and capsicum, fry for 5 minutes, until coloured and fragrant. Add parsley stalks, salt and pepper, and continue to fry gently for 2 minutes. Add rice, paprika and ground saffron powder, stirring until the rice is coated. Add the tomato, stock and more salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, stir for the last time, then turn down to a medium-low heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until rice starts to look cooked. This can be a bit of a guessing game so use your instinct. Then press the prawns on top of the paella. As the prawns begin turning pink, turn the prawns over and sprinkle the peas and calamari on top. Cook for another 5 minutes or until everything is perfectly cooked.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley and squeeze half a lemon over the top. Plonk the paella pan in the middle of your table and dish up with a lemon wedge on the side.


Panforte Brownies
Makes 12 squares

1 1/2 mixed nuts (roast almonds, walnuts & hazelnuts)
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
Sea salt
1/4 cup orange peel, diced
1 cup dried fruit (use a mixture of lower FODMAP dried fruit - blueberries, cranberries, currants & raisins)
70g 70% dark chocolate
1/4 cup rice malt syrup

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place any of the raw nuts on a tray in the oven to roast for approximately 10 minutes. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, along with chopped dried fruit, orange peel and roasted nuts. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Add the rice malt syrup, continually stirring until smooth. Add a drizzle of hot water if the chocolate begins to harden. Pour the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients, stir until it all comes together. I like to use my hands. Press the mixture into a lined cake tin, making sure it’s even and firm. Press baking paper over the top and bake for approximately 12 minutes. Once cooled, slice into squares and sprinkle with raw cacao (or some sneaky icing sugar).

Enjoy!


This post is sponsored by Aussie Farmers Direct

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