Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetables

Happy Easter Sunday everyone! It doesn’t really feel like Easter for me. Without chocolate or gifts its just another weekend. We use to celebrate by having a picnic and gorging on chocolate, but this year everyone’s been busy. In a way I am happy I didn’t get any unwanted chocolate. No one ever buys me dairy free chocolate. I don’t know if I should just be grateful that people think to give me something or I should be annoyed that they know I can’t eat it and give it to me anyway. Marco usually eats any dairy gifts I get so he’s happy either way.

Since Marco has had a couple of days off with me, we finally watched the new documentary Hungry for Change (trailer). If you haven’t seen it, I really recommend trying to get a copy and taking the time to watch it. If you know me personally I would be happy to give you a copy. According to their Facebook page “HUNGRY FOR CHANGE exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight loss and food industry don’t want you to know about; deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more.” If you need some guidance or a refresher to get you back in the right direction it is really motivational. I really needed a refresher to get back into a routine of increasing my fruit and leafy green vegetable intake and exercising more. Marco needed a reminder to stop eating so much sugar and consider eating more fruit and vegetables.

???????????????????????????????So after watching this doc, Marco and I decided we need to start juicing. I haven’t pulled out my juicer for over a year. I originally got it to make cocktails, when I use to love to drink, then I started using it to make juices to loose weight. Now I really want to juice so I can get more vegetables and fruit into my diet for overall wellness. It really doesn’t take long to do, so I am making a commitment to start juicing more. Its back on my counter top now, so no more excuses.

This morning I made a delicious juice for us, made of watermelon, apple, carrot, lime and ginger. It was so refreshing. Still it didn’t have a lot of vegetables, but I am going to work us up to it. I felt really great after and didn’t need my usually morning coffee. In fact I am trying to cut down on coffee, if not for the sake of my insides, but for the sake of my teeth. I noticed about a months back I didn’t have coffee for a few days and my teeth were looking so much whiter. So it was incentive to consider cutting back. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, only one flat white once day, but I shouldn’t be relying on that boost. I should be getting from enough sleep, more nutrients and not forgetting to take my pyroluria medication.

Although it was raining all day we still managed to get some exercise  We went to Forest Lake to walk around the lake. Even though it rained the whole time it was really worth getting out of the house. After that we were quite hungry, so I made this comfort dinner. Marco begged me not to add in the vegetables to the pumpkin ‘cheese’ sauce, since he loved it so much, but in the end he was happy he ate them together, rather than apart. This is a great dish to sneak in some vegetables for your kids or veggie hating partners. It is also low fat and gluten free. I also baked the seeds from the pumpkin for some extra Vitamin E. For more info on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds check out WHFoods.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetable (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g thinly sliced pumpkin (I use kent and butternut)

4 serves of gluten free macaroni or other short pasta

olive oil

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used nutlex)

1 tablespoon corn flour (or arrowoot flour)

2.5 cups plant milk (oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric

8 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & pepper to taste

1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped

1 cup frozen peas

2 cups baby spinach

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place slices of pumpkin in a tray and toss with olive oil. Cook pumpkin for 30 mins or until soft.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan on low heat. While it is melting combine the almond milk and corn flour and whisk. Then add the plant milk to the pan with the melted butter.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the dijon mustard, garlic powder, tumeric and whisk until it thickens.

4. Add the nutitional yeast, salt and pepper and whisk.

5. Cook the macroni according to packet directions.

6. Add the roasted pumpkin to the cheese sauce. Use the whisk or potato masher to blend it through. Alternativly you could put it in the processor if you want the sauce to be smoother.???????????????????????????????

7. Heat another pan with olive oil, then saute the broccoli and frozen peas until tender.

8. Add the broccoli, peas and spinach to the cheese sauce. Heat through until the spinach has wilted.

9. Stir through the macaroni then serve.

*Serves 4

*I garnished mine with pumpkin seeds from the butternut & kent pumpkin. Just coat in canola/olive oil, salt & pepper and bake for 5 mins or until golden. Also makes a great snack.

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Sweet Veggie Dinner and a visit to KU-O

Hi all, tonight I experiment a bit and put some things together that I don’t usually do. Instead of making cashew cream like I have been doing a lot lately, I tried making almond butter cream. I made it to go with these delicious Japanese Sweet Potatoes that I got from the Rocklea market the other day. This variety is very sweet, but they taste a lot different to regular sweet potatoes. They have really deep purple skin, but the flesh is white inside. I really recommend them. On the side I made some roasted miso glaze vegetables and a quinoa salad. With the leftover almond butter I made a mousse with blueberries an chia seeds. Everything was naturally sweetened and entirely gluten free and full of nutrients.

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Whole Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Almond Cinnamon Butter (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 whole japanese sweet potatoes

grapeseed oil or canola oil

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup filtered water

1 teaspoon agave

pinch of sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven. Clean and scrub sweet potatoes.

2. Coat in oil and place in a baking tray. Piece a few times with a fork along the sweet potato, then bake for 45 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. In the meantime bring a small pot to the boil, then add the almonds and boil for 10 mins.

4. Strain the almonds and rinse with cold water to cool them down. Then remove the skins.

5. Then place almonds in the blender/processor. First grind till the almonds break up as much as they can. Then slowly add the water and process until it becomes a smooth cream.

6. Add agave, sea salt, cinnamon and coconut oil/butter. Mix until combined the n set to the side.

7. When sweet potatoes are soft, slice down the center and serve with the Almond Butter.

*Almond Butter makes about 1 cup. Cook more sweet potatoes if serving for more people.

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Miso Glaze Roasted Brussel Spouts, Lotus Root and Garlic (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

1 teaspoon white miso

8 brussels sprouts

6 slices lotus root

4 garlic cloves, peeled

sea salt to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. If your coconut oil isn’t liquid then lightly heat to liquidize  I just used a small stainless steel bowl over a pot of boiling water. Then combine the liquid coconut oil with miso paste and brown rice syrup.

3. Coat the brussels sprouts, lotus root and garlic  cloves with the mixture. Cook for 30 mins or until brussels sprouts are cooked. Season with sea salt before serving.

*Serves 2

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Asparagus & Cherry Tomato Quinoa Salad (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, remove ends and chop

1/2 cup quinoa

1 red onion, sliced

olive oil

handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1-2 tablespoons minced parsley

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Bring a small pot of water to the boil, then cook the asparagus they are tender. Rinse with cold water and place to the side.

2. In the same water cook the quinoa, according to packet directions. Then strain.

3. Heat a drop of olive oil in a nonstick pan, then cook red onion for 5-10 mins.

4. Combine the asparagus, quinoa, red onion, cherry tomatoes, parsley and sea salt, then serve.

*Serves 1 as a main or 2-3 as a side dish

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Almond Blueberry Chia Mousse (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

Almond Cinnamon Butter (from above)

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

agave to taste

2 tablespoons chia seeds

Method:

1. Add frozen blueberries to the Almond Cinnamon Butter in the processor. Process until blueberries have broken down.

2. Add agave to taste and whiz again to combine.

3. Turn of processor then add chia seeds.

4. Place in the fridge for at least 20 mins. Then enjoy. Its even better the next day!

*Serves 1-2

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I also wanted to share another food find. In Sunnybank at the famous Market Square, a new Japanese Restaurant has opened. Its called KU-O Japanese Restaurant. It appeared really small from the front. But once you walk in it is very pretty. I noticed there were many tofu options to replace meat or fish in the dishes. I ordered the Tofu Teriyaki Don. It was quite nice and filling. We really like this place and will defiantly return. It’s a nice improvement to Market Square.

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