Nut Free Bliss Ball

Supermarket bought bliss balls are generally full of preservatives and refined sugar. Or where not with refined sugar still over 50% sugar with the high level of dried fruits. You can make bliss balls that are higher in fat and lower in sugar which is my preference but these are generally not so great in the lunchbox as they tend to melt. They do best kept in the freezer and used for home treats.  So the trick is working out the lower level of sugar that works and yet still holds the balls together for a lunchbox.

These bliss balls are quite basic, they’re quick to make and not crazy high in sugar. They also store well in the fridge or freezer but they also work well in the lunchbox as they don’t have coconut oil to melt.

There are loads of variations possible with bliss balls including making them into bars instead of balls. Let me know what you try and how you find them!

RECIPE:

Makes 10-15 bliss balls.

What you need:

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup coconut, dessicated

1/2 cup dates* (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes then drained)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

* Use Medjool dates if you can otherwise other dates (without sulphites).

Optional:

1 Tbsp cacao (or cocoa) powder & 1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp strawberry or other flavoured (all natural) powder (we used Fresh As products)

1/4 cup of apricots can be added to mix in place of 1/2 the dates or in addition for sweeter treat.

Toast the sunflower seeds and coconut before hand in some coconut oil in pan on stove for extra yum factor!

What to do:

  1. Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes to soften.
  2. Combine the sunflower seeds and the coconut with the ground cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Add mixture to food processor and pulse until medium crumb like consistency.*
  4. Drain excess water from the dates and add them to the other ingredients in a food processor.
  5. Pulse for approximately 2 minutes or until the mixture comes together. If its not coming together then drizzle in some water (or coconut oil if these are not for school lunches).
  6. Dampen your hands and gather up the mixture making into small balls. (You might have to wash your hands part way through if get too sticky.)
  7. If balls are sticky spread some desiccated coconut on your chopping board and roll the balls in this.
  8. Store the balls in the freezer until you need them.

OPTIONS:

Add 1 Tbsp of cacao and 1 Tbsp of raw honey or maple syrup or other liquid sweetener of choice to the mixture in the processor before you mix together.

Another option – roll in a powdered flavour – like here strawberry powder.

TIPS:

*I like to blend in food processor just 3/4 of the seed mixture and leave some whole seeds out but just do what you think your kids will like best. Some prefer more blended. The more blended it is the more mixture will be gooey at the end once dates are added and then you’ll need to use more coconut to coat.

These are lower sugar bliss balls than many recipes and ones sold (but still high sugar). If you need to add a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey to the basic mix.

Store balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for ages (I’ve kept them couple of months and they were fine).

If for school: leave in freezer until the morning of school lunches need packing. Best in school lunchbox/bag with a cooler pack but will be OK even at room temperature unless we’re talking about a heat wave they’ll get a bit soft.

 

 

 

 




Nut Free Muesli Bar (Paleo)

I’ve been experimenting for a while for a nut free, grain free, dairy free “muesli” bar that will hold together for the school lunches. This is the current best attempt so far. The challenges are that what holds most bars together is the grains and loads of sugar plus they’re usually full of additives and preservatives including industrial seed oils like canola oil.

If you’re making for eating at home you can add in coconut oil or butter more freely as you can store and eat straight from the freezer. But in the lunchbox these sorts of bars will end up melting so you need to keep the oil/butter content lower.

You can use this recipe for a baked bar or for a “no bake” bar but for the “no bake” you must eat directly from the freezer (not for school lunches).  If you’re not baking then it definitely tastes better to toast the seeds and coconut but if you’re rushed it’s not necessary.

Play around with this recipe and let me know if you find any interesting alternative ways that work as well!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Nut Free Muesli Bar (Paleo)
 
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Cook time

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When made in standard square baking dish this makes 10 muesli bar shaped bars or 15 smaller bars which are thinner than “normal” bars. To make them more like normal you can make in a loaf tin or double the mixture. Just make extra sure to push down on the mixtures before and after baking to compact the mix.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Type of food: Paleo
Serves: 10 min – 1 hour

What you need:
  • Ingredients To Toast:
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup coconut, desiccated or shredded
  • ½ cup chia seeds (or ¼ cup flaxseed & ¼ cup chia seeds)
  • **
  • Other Ingredients:
  • ½ cup banana, ripe & mashed
  • ¼ cup raw honey (or maple syrup)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or 3 Tbsp butter for better stickability)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • Extra coconut oil for the pan
  • **
  • Optional Extras
  • Dried fruit (choose sulphite free)
  • 2 eggs (if you can tolerate eggs then you can add eggs for more binding) – obviously if you use eggs you’ll need to bake.
  • **
  • Alternatives
  • Use butter instead of coconut oil if you like the taste and if you can have dairy – butter will bind better.

What to do…
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.
  2. Combine all the seeds and coconut together and mix.
  3. Remove approximately ¾ of the mixture and blend in a food processor so that all chopped finely (not breadcrumb like but on the way to being like that) then add back to the ¼ mix and combine.
  4. Toast this mixture in the pan on stove top with 1 Tbsp of coconut oil and heat through on medium heat for 5-10 minutes until nicely browned but watch it so doesn’t burn! (This is optional you can use raw but toasted tastes better.)
  5. Combine the banana, honey, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in pot on stove on medium and heat and bring to simmer.
  6. Add these wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine well.
  7. Line a large square cake tin or two loaf tins with baking paper and pour mixture in.
  8. Place another sheet of baking paper over the top and then press in so mixture is well compacted.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove and let sit moment then using tea towel or other object press down on the bar to (carefully) compact it.
  11. Place in freezer for at least an hour or until solid.
  12. Use a sharp knife dipped in hot water to cut into muesli bar sized slices or squares.*
  13. Return to freezer for storage (in glass container is best).
  14. **
  15. NB – An option is that after cutting you can return them to oven at 180 degrees celcius for another 5-7 minutes to make them more brown and crispy. This makes them more like “normal’ bars. Keep an eye on them to not burn them!

Tips For The Lunchbox

  • Use butter or ghee instead of coconut oil (if your children tolerate dairy) because this will bind the bar together better than the oil.
  • Make sure you really pat down the mixture so it’s compact.
  • Keep in the freezer until last moment before school and send frozen with lunchbox bag with freezer pack to keep cool.



Turkey Meatballs & Kale In Lemony Garlic Broth – Guest Recipe

meatball-kale-lemon-broth-large

Guess what? I’m not Claire.

I’m Irena from Eat Drink Paleo and I am super excited to be here at Dom’s Kitchen sharing one of my recipes with you.  I’ve known Claire for a while through our paleo/real food blogger community and I’m so happy to be able to say hi to all of you lovely readers.

My guest recipe is a nourishing and delicious stew with turkey meatballs, kale and lemony broth. This dish is actually from one of the meal plans in my 9-week nutrition and lifestyle program Happy Body Formula and it’s very popular with our participants. It’s comforting for winter days, but is equally suitable for those in warmer regions. I also love that it’s a one-pot kind of dish. It reminds me of a dish I used to eat as a kid, although we didn’t have kale back then 😉

A few notes before you get cooking!

  • Meat: Turkey, chicken or pork mince can be used in this recipe. Even fish would work really well with the flavours of the soup. If you can’t find ground up chicken or turkey mince, get some thighs (skin and bone off) and grind it up using a food processor.
  • Herbs: Other herbs like sage and oregano can be used instead of thyme and coriander or basil will work well instead of parsley.
  • AIP: Omit the chilli and use parsnip or sweet potato instead of white potato. White potato is A-ok in our program but of course, you can swap it out.

You can add other types of vegetables this soup/stew. Broccoli and carrots might work better than kale with the little ones. If you include green fresh peas in your diet, then those would also make a great addition.

As a side note, if you’re not familiar with the Happy Body Formula program, do check it out! It’s perfect for anyone kicking off their health journey or simply looking for a more structured and guided way to get healthier and to eat better. I developed all of the meal plans and recipes, which have all be reviewed by a nutritionist, and if you like this recipe, then you would love the whole 9-week challenge.

Happy Body Formula

Registrations for Round 4 are now open, and we are kicking off the next 9-week program on Monday 19 September 2016. And,  I would like to offer a special discount offer for Dom’s Kitchen readers. Use code Happy20 at check out, to get $20 off the price. Find out more information here.

Ok, now back to meatballs! The recipe is pretty straightforward but if you have any questions, leave a comment and Claire will pass it on to me. Happy to answer any other questions you might have. Thanks for having me over at Dom’s Kitchen.

Irena

Turkey Meatballs & Kale In Lemony Garlic Broth – Guest Recipe
 
Prep time

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Author:
Recipe type: Stew
Serves: 3-4

What you need:
For the meatballs
  • ½ leek, (pale part), roughly cut (or 2 spring onions)
  • handful of fresh parsley (about 10 g)
  • few mint leaves if available
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only (1 tablespoon thyme leaves)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 600 g ground turkey mince (or 5 chicken thighs ground up, skin and bone off)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
For the soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ leek (green and pale part)
  • 5 peels of lemon
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced into halves
  • 1 large white potato or 1 parsnip, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground up cumin powder
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tablespoon fish sauce
  • generous pinch of salt
  • generous pinch of black pepper or chilli flakes
  • 10-12 kale leaves, torn off the stem and into smaller pieces
  • juice of ½ lime
  • juice of ½ small lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

What to do…
  1. If you have a food processor, place leeks, parsley, mint, thyme, garlic,and lime zest inside with an S-blade on. Blitz a few times, until the ingredients are finely ground up. Alternatively, chop everything very finely using a knife. Transfer to a large mixing bowl together with the turkey or chicken mince, salt and pepper. Mix really well, until well incorporated.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Roll the mixture into small meatballs, about 20 g each, a smaller than a Ping-Pong ball. Fry the meatballs for 7-8 minutes, turning them throughout so they go golden-brown on all sides.
  3. In the meantime, add the olive oil, the other part of the leek, lemon peel, carrot and potato to a medium saucepan. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, star anise, chicken stock and fish sauce. Season with some salt and pepper and bring to boil.
  4. Add the meatballs and cook over medium heat, covered, for 3-4 minutes. Prepare the kale and add to the soup, stir through and cook for a further 5 minutes, covered. Test the potato and once soft, remove from the heat and add the lime and lemon juice. Stir and taste for salt. Let it sit for 5 minutes off the heat before serving.

meatball-kale-lemon-broth-vertical-683x1024




NATURALLY NOOD BARS: An Open letter to Sanitarium from Dom’s Kitchen.

nood food bars

Naturally Nood Bars – A classic example of greenwashing.

In this week’s Sunday Soapbox I’m ranting about greenwashing in respect of the new Naturally Nood Bars from Sanitarium. We’ve seen it with Pepsi Next and Coke Life and well be seeing it a whole lot more. Just look at all the products marked “gluten free” that are free of gluten but are full of all other manner of undesirable ingredients.

Before getting into my little rant though I wanted to make the point that I absolutely get it that there are foods out there that are much worse for our kids than the ones I’m talking about here. But the thing is, I don’t need to tell you guys that deep fried mars bars and Coke are not good for your children.

The foods I tend to talk about here are the pseudo healthy foods. Those ones that claim to be “healthy” and beneficial for our kids. So it’s not always that the foods in and of themselves are terrible – but rather the manner in which they’re marketed which I consider takes advantage of busy tired parents.

In essence what I object to is the slick branding that purports (and not just a little bit but emphatically) to turn a highly processed product into some kind of healthy option for you to feed your children. Branding that perpetuates the myth that an expensive product with just “a cheeky touch” of something undesirable is the best that can be done by way of processed product (when it’s not). Or that we as parents don’t have the time to make our own snacks for our kids (when more than likely we do).

In respect of the product I discuss here it honestly would take you about 10 minutes to make your own with less sugar and no nasties (as in absolutely nothing known to be inflammatory).

So here’s my little rant – let me know what you think! I know we won’t all agree.
————————————————————————————-

Dear Sanitarium

Yes it’s me again – Claire from Dom’s Kitchen.

SO…I noticed you’ve launched a new product – these “Naturally Nood” snack bars. (Actually ‘noticed’ is putting it mildly – I’ve found it hard to avoid them popping up all over the show this past week – clearly your social media marketing budget is doing just fine.)

Look I know we don’t see eye to eye on many (any?) things. I don’t know I’m a bit weird: I just don’t agree that those cardboard-like cereals and long life milk-like substances (made with added sugar and vegetable oils) you make really are optimum nutrition for our growing kids.

Point being, it’s fair to say that when I saw your adverts – or rather when I saw various bloggers’ informal “product review” posts – I harbored a certain degree of skepticism about the products. However, not wishing to jump to conclusions (well not too much) I visited your website to check the facts. Of course before getting to the facts there was a teeny bit more marketing spiel to navigate.

nood bar marketing materials

Naturally Nood Bar Marketing Materials … No added nasties?

By the way, love the cutesy way you get the bars themselves to do the talking. Kind of reminds me of another of my most favourite “healthy” kids snacks. It’s just so endearing. ‪#‎nobull‬. [Ed.That’s me being sarcastic *grin* in case it’s not obvious – but more on those guys next week.]

So OK back to the Nood Bars. What’ve they got to say about themselves? Well, it all sounds very promising indeed: “Whole food” and “all-natural” … “there’s nothing naughty about us… just scrumptious fun in a bar” … “no added nasties or boring bits, just … whole foods”.

Most notable perhaps is the pronouncement that “there’s no worries, cause there’s zero added sugar”… “What you get is what you see”.

So there you go then. These bars certainly sound like “healthy snacks” just as you describe them.
There’s only one teeny problem. You’ve heard that we have a little bit of a issue with sugar right? I mean it’s been in the news somewhat lately.

Because your bars average 35% sugar content. Yes 35%. But that’s just a number – to put it in more easily understood terms that’s over 3 teaspoons of sugar average and in fact one of the bars (Cheeky Cocoa) at 43.8% and 14.9 grams is closer to 4 teaspoons of sugar.

sugar in nood bars

How much sugar is really in these bars?!

So look, I can certainly see how this can all get quite confusing. Especially when you’re busy sounding cool on social media with buzz phrases like “no added sugar” and “all-natural”. But here’s the thing: As far as our kids’ bodies are concerned: Dates are sugar. Raisins are sugar. Dried apple is sugar. Apple juice is sugar. It’s all just sugar.

The World Health Organisation recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar in a day. And that’s for an adult. You can see things are going to go a bit hay wire if our kids are having 4 teaspoons in a very small snack. One could go so far as to say these bars are really a bit “naughty”.

More than this though, I think that for me where things go wrong is in your use of the term “natural” and your assertion on every packet that there’s “nothing naughty” inside.

First off I’m curious as to exactly what’s in your “natural flavours” because you and I both know that these “natural flavours” aren’t what most people think they are. I mean we’re not talking about an extra bit of banana puree or pure vanilla extract are we?

And just so you know – no matter how you try to minimize it using phrases like just “a cheeky trace” or a “hint of” – even a very small amount of what’s typically in these “natural flavours” can cause havoc to a child’s health (and especially those with pre-existing gut issues).

Oh and by the way vegetable oils?!

You mightn’t have caught up on this yet although it’s also been in the mainstream press. But yeah – vegetable oils (especially canola) – they’re not really what you’d call healthy. Actually, they’re highly inflammatory and potentially one of the biggest causes of disease in human beings today.

But Claire! I hear you say – you’re just being too picky. It’s unrealistic to make bars without this amount of sugar and the vegetable oil. How the heck are we supposed to make a “all natural whole foods snack bar” without these essentials?! Well funnily enough it’s not actually that hard to make a bar that really is “free of the nasties”.

Seriously it’s not.

ingredients nood bars

Ingredients of one of the Nood Bars

But what’s that you’re saying? Oh they must be healthy because they’ve all been awarded at least 3 (and in some cases 4 / 4.5) out of 5 stars under our new Health Star Rating System.

health star rating gone wrong

The Health Start Rating System in action.

Oh boy, where do we start with the star system. Really that’ll have to be for another letter. In the meantime though… I did come across this little bit of information that I found quite interesting. It’s the names of those selected from industry to be on the Advisory Group tasked with formulating the algorithm for the star system in the first place.

Let’s see who do we have:

Pierre van Heerden, Sanitarium New Zealand
Maurice Gunnell, Nestle New Zealand Ltd
Julie North, Heinz Watties
Ms Julie Newlands, Unilever Australia
Dave Monro, National Heart Foundation
Katherine Rich, New Zealand Food and Grocery Council

Hmmm. OK then.

Well played Sanitarium. Well played.

PS I definitely feel a further letter will be in order, just to clarify a few things about this whole Health Star Rating system. Particularly in regards to the way the system was arrived at in the first place…

health star rating system advisory board

Exert from the Ministry papers on formation of the Health Star Rating System Advisory Board.

 

___________________________________________________________________________

PS For the readers! If you’re looking for a bar that REALLY doesn’t have the nasties in it then keep an eye out for our round up post of raw and baked bars coming soon.

If you like this post then check out our other posts on Coconut Milk.

Better still jump on our mailing list at www.domskitchenclub.com to get our newsletter so you don’t miss our easy fun and delicious kids real food ideas.

Next week we’ll be doing a round up of our favourite bloggers real food bar recipes as well as sending everyone on our email list the recipe for our new grain free / nut free  / dairy free lunchbox bar that looks like this:

lunchbox bar

Dom’s Lunchbox Bar

 




A healthy holistic lifestyle program that ticks all the boxes!

healthy program

A genuinely holistic and sustainable 9 week healthy lifestyle program.

There are so many programs out there promising rapid weight loss, radiant skin and ripped abs in weeks. I’m sure you’ve even tried one or more of them. But the usual thing is that we either give up before the end (because they’re impossible to comply with) or, even if we finish them, the results are temporary because the focus was on short term gains and we quickly slide back into old habits. The problem is that these programs don’t focus on producing healthy holistic lifestyle results for the long term.

A program I’m happy to endorse:

Well here’s a program that I’m happy to endorse by my friend Irena Macri from Eat Drink Paleo.

It’s called the Happy Body Formula and it’s the first program I’ve seen that incorporates everything we need to consider to make significant, lasting change to our lifestyles. It’s a holistic program that covers all the basics for a healthy life – going way beyond simply looking at weight loss. So it delves into subjects such as reducing your toxic load, learning how to set up your pantry, the significance of gut health and building a more positive mindset to help manifest the life you dream of living.

Delicious Day Out

Sunshine, fresh air and getting outside in bare feet on grass – some of our essentials for a holistic healthy life.

It’s quite clear there are huge issues with the diet and lifestyles that are currently mainstream. Just check out the stats around obesity levels, autoimmune diseases and common nutritional deficiencies. We’re chronically stressed, over stimulated and fatigued. So many of us spend all day in front of our computers or iPhones. We’re rarely getting outside in the fresh air and sun.

Hopefully most of us by now have realised that this lifestyle combined with simply calorie counting won’t bring great health and happiness.

So who is the Happy Body Formula for?

The Happy Body Formula is a program for those of you that want to be guided, educated, supported and inspired by acclaimed experts in their field; who want to make long term, significant changes to your lifestyle, this program is well worth your consideration. It’s full of loads of quality stuff.

You can sign up here:

happy body formula

Happy Body Formula

Key highlights of The Happy Body Formula program.

  • 9 week program focussed on building longterm healthy habits
  • Basic nutrition and real food education
  • Emphasis on lifestyle as well as nutrition
  • Weekly meal plans and shopping lists
  • There is NO diet food in the program – just high quality, nutrient dense REAL food!
  • Nutritionist approved recipes
  • Contributions from global experts in nutrition, exercise, gut health, sleep and happiness
  • An app to track your progress, tick off your to do list and see what your team is eating
  • Tips on how to lessen the toxic load on your body (you’ll even learn how to detoxify your home!)
  • A fitness plan that requires only 20 minutes of exercise per day!
  • A private Facebook group with real (human) coaches
  • Important stuff you probably by now want to know.

Great value – grab the early bird price!!

Given the quality and quantity of content in this program I consider this to be exceedingly good value, particularly if you get organised early and grab the early bird price.

Early bird price: $99 USD (closing Sunday June 26)
Regular price: $149 USD (closing Friday July 1)

Registrations for the Happy Body Formula program are open now. Next round starts July 5th 2016. The HBF team have offered me and my readers a special discount. Use Happy20 at check out, and you will get $20 off.

Sign up to the Happy Body Formula program here.

happy body formula

Happy Body Formula Open Now!




Paleo Lunch Boxes: How do you keep the food fresh and other common FAQs

lunchbots-lunch-box

Dom’s Lunchbots Lunch box

1. How do you keep the food fresh for lunch?

A common question I get asked is how to keep the food fresh for Dom’s lunches. One thing to remember is that many adults and children are having chicken (or other type of meat) sandwiches and keeping these in their bags without any issues arising even though they’re not using cooling packs. (I’m not advocating this – just pointing out that having chicken or other meat for lunch is not so different!)

In our case we’ve come up with the following system. The food once cooked (in the case of the meat this will usually be the night before*) is cooled on the bench. I aim for no more than 20 minutes (and do what I can do make the meat cool as quickly as possible – like removing from hot dish and spreading out from other hot food). It’s then placed as soon as possible in the fridge so that it cools down even faster. This whole operation is a bit of a balancing act between time cooling on bench (so its not too hot in fridge) and not leaving too long on bench (to allow growth bacteria). I’m sure you all have different techniques and I’d love to hear them so this is just what we’ve been doing and has been working with no issues for the past couple of years.

The lunch boxes we use are stainless steel and regardless of whether or not we make the lunchbox up the night before or the morning I always try to put the lunch box in the fridge overnight so that it’s cold to start with as the steel retains the cold for quite some time. (If we haven’t made it up night before and forgot to put in fridge then I put in freezer in morning before filling with Dom’s lunch.)

Typically we make up the lunchbox each evening using veggies prepared from Sunday and add the meat cooked that evening as well as some fruit and then put the lunchbox in fridge. In morning we take it out of fridge just before we leave and put into the carry bag along with an icepack. In our situation the time from being out of the fridge to being eaten at lunch is not ever more than 4 hours and usually only 3 hours.

Sometimes in the summer if I have given Dom chicken I might ask for his lunch box to go in the fridge at school but this is rare. I find that the combination of the icepack and the chilled lunchbox keeps the food cool (in New Zealand’s moderate climate) for the time we need.

The works well for us and has done for the past year or so. However, you will all be in different situations (climate wise as well as how long the time is from leaving home to eating) so you will need to work out what works for you and what you’re comfortable with.  For sure in an ideal world there would be fridges in every classroom. And I think in the future we will see this.

*We do batch cook up minced meat in advance fairly often. So by this I mean we cook up minced meat with onions and garlic and possibly some herbs but keep it basic and then cool or freeze that mixture.  Then will use that mixture for a dinner later in week and obviously the meat then will be heated hot and throughly (with added veggies and/or flavourings) and then cooled as per above for the lunch box. At this time though Dom usually not having mince meat for lunch so it tends to be just dinner leftovers of roasts or grilled meats going in his lunch box.

2. Does this food really satisfy your child?

Most definitely yes! The foods in these lunch boxes are generally speaking Paleo inspired and tend to follow a LCHF way of eating (meaning Lower Carb and higher Healthy Fat). They’re very nutrient dense and filling being comprised 2-3 serves of vegetables, 1-2 serves of fruit, a serve of protein and a “treat” being olives or dried banana or a bliss ball made mostly with nuts and/or seeds and coconut oil. The lunch boxes cover Dom for morning tea and lunch. (He has more food separately for afternoon tea – usually kale chips and and a small apple.)

Most days Dom will finish most or all of his lunchbox. Some days he doesn’t eat much. It never really bothers me either way other than to ask him how he found it so I know if there is something he wasn’t liking. Depending on the food I’m usually able to use leftover for dinner by reheating hot completely through.

planetbox-lunch-packed

PlanetBox Lunch Packed.

food-on-dinner-plate

Same food on dinner plate to show quantity.

3. Doesn’t it take ages to prepare these lunch boxes?

Well yes and no. Daily I really do only spend 5 minutes in the morning putting the lunch box together. However, that’s only possible because I’ve prepared beforehand. After over a year of preparing a real food lunch box I’ve got my preparation and assembly pretty streamlined! I have to because like many of you I’m a busy Mum working a corporate job as well as looking after Dom and running this blog. So I definitely appreciate the need to get the most out of out each day!!

So what’s my total time investment for a paleo lunch box? Well I generally do a morning shop at the markets or supermarket on Sunday and then around 2-4 hours preparing food on the Sunday afternoon/evening. If I’m working quickly by myself and not doing any baking it’s closer to the 2 hour and certainly can be 1 hour if I need it to be. I usually always have one weeks worth of foods made up in the freezer so if something happens and I can’t do preparation on the Sunday we’re still OK.* If Dom is “helping” me and/or we’re baking then it would be more like 3-4 hours. I store the food in air tight glass containers in the fridge. This means a lot of the food is prepared for the week ahead by Sunday so that on weekday nights meal prep takes 15-30 minutes max.**

* This is generally what happens. Of course there are always those days or weeks when things don’t go to plan and that is when it will get stressful. There is always something I can find but for sure if you cannot do the earlier prep or miss it and haven’t got stuff in the freezer or fridge then it will become hard to make a real food/paleo lunch box!  So these are the times when I’ll resort to packaged food but it will still be real food just processed to an extent – like kale chips in packet or store bought coconut wraps.

There’s no denying that eating real food requires an investment of your time but my thoughts are that it is well worth it as you will reap the benefits back many times over for what you can put in.

**I do spend additional time in the kitchen recipe testing and taking photos for our blog but this is not part of my family meal preparation in general sense.

meal-prep-paleo

Meal prep in bulk on a Sunday.

4. Is Paleo safe for children?

Eating “paleo” means eating REAL FOODS that are nutrient dense, rich in protein and healthy fats, and low in processed sugar. It means ditching the traditional packets from kids lunch boxes which are generally high in refined wheat and processed sugar as well as containing numerous additives and preservatives. When you eat Paleo (or Primal which is Paleo with dairy and many people who eat Paleo also do eat dairy) then you naturally usually end up eating LCHF (low carb high/healthy fat).

Paleo is not about rigid dogma but a template to find out what works best for the individual. Find out more here about how we eat and why and check out our post about LCHF (low carb healthy fat) which explains the various ways that way of eating can be interpreted.

 

5. Isn’t this way of eating expensive?

I also get asked this a lot. Or more often it’s just assumed that this way of eating is expensive. I’ll be doing a further post looking into this question in detail but for now my short answer is that is can be but it doesn’t have to be.

It all depends what you buy (organic or non organic, free range or not free range), where you buy it from (big supermarket or speciality store, local or imported), when you buy it (seasonally or out of season) and how much you’re buying at once (smaller amounts or in bulk).

It also very much depends on how good the systems are you’ve put in place to help you made your food go further and reduce wastage.  I am convinced that it’s having a great system that is essential as whether or not you’re going to be successful in making these REAL FOOD lunch boxes work for you and your families – both from a time and cost perspective.  (And here I’ll do shameless plug for our new membership group launching shortly – these systems and information on the best shopping are what we’ll be talking about – as well as awesome discounts from real foodie businesses!)

So as I say, I’ll be going into more detail on this in future post and looking methodically as much as I can to give you accurate figures broken down per lunch box. I’ll also be comparing it to the standard lunch box fare. But just as an example I’ve looked back over what we’ve done this past year and the most usual cost for what goes into one of Chef Dom’s Planetboxes would be about NZ$4.00. Remembering that Dom tends to have a lot of lunch boxes that do look the same but I don’t put all those up on the blog and what we’re showing you tend to be the “fancier” lunches. Also take into account that he generally has a generous serve of free range / organic protein (which is where most of the cost is). Using free range / organic produce, while preferred, is totally NOT required in order to transition your children to eating a REAL FOOD paleo lunch box.




LCHF? Paleo? Primal? Are You Confused?

Paleo-breakfast

Paleo Breakfast -Eggs, Bacon, Brussel Sprouts, Liver, Black Pudding, Tomatoes, Avocado & Seed Bread with Butter.

From talking to people I can see there is definitely confusion as to what “low carb” means and no doubt this is because it can mean such different things to different people.

Here’s what I consider to be the most important thing to understand about what it means to eat “LOW CARB”:

“Even if you did nothing else but just eliminate processed foods, you would naturally end up with a diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat than the current, mainstream way of eating. …To cut a long story short, if everyone just forgot about the words ‘carbs’, ‘fat’, ‘protein’ and just didn’t eat foods that came in packages… then the confusion just slips away.” (Caryn Zinn – Registered Dietician)

So, I could describe how we eat as being Paleo (with limited full fat dairy) or Primal (which is basically Paleo with dairy) or LCHF (low carb high/healthy) fat). The common denominator is that we avoid as much as possible highly refined processed foods or to put it another way we try to just eat real food.

We don’t limit carbs significantly in so far as starchy carbs are concerned (we eat plenty of starchy veggies like sweet potato and pumpkins) and of course we eat loads of fibrous carbs (all the veggies). I haven’t taken particular note of what we’re eating recently but I would estimate its around the 100-125gram mark.

SO this means that, in comparison to the mainstream where carb intake is high then what we eat would be considered “low carb”. (And we don’t eat any “crappy” carbs – refined wheat/processed foods etc). You might not realise this but the average New Zealand carb intake is 300 grams for females and 330 grams for males!. However in so far as the LCHF movement proper is concerned we would be eating moderate to higher amounts of carbs.

On the fat side of things – we don’t so much seek out extra fats as just eat them to satiety as part of our meals. So we don’t cut the fat off our meats, we cook in oils (like coconut) or fats (like lard or tallow) and we eat real butter and add fats to our veggies. We do not shy away from fat (which in a previous low fat life I did).

My understanding is that there are basically three types of carb intakes that might be referred to as “LCHF”:

1. You avoid most processed foods and in particular refined sugar and refined wheat (which are in the majority of processed foods) therefore you’ll naturally end up with a “lower carb or low carb” intake – most likely at around 100 to 150 grams of carbs a day (this is what we do);

2. Because of your particular metabolism or medical condition (such as diabetes) you are very mindful of and/or avoiding eating most/all starchy carbs so probably eat around 50 to 100 grams of carbs a day; and

3. By choice or for reasons of metabolism and/or other conditions (e.g. epilepsy / cancer) you follow an extremely restricted intake of carbohydrates – i.e. “ketogenic” eating. In this version of LCHF you would likely be eating less than 50g per day of carbs.

Hope this helps you understand a bit more about LCHF!

As always: If you have any specific questions please ask a health professional (preferably one that is up to date with LCHF/ancestral diet ideas). In Auckland we recommend Caryn Zinn (dietician) and Mikki Williden (nutritionist).




Homemade Nutella

Hazelnuts-roasting

Hazelnuts ready to roast.

homemade-nutella

Homemade “Nutella”!

 

homade nutella

The Best Part.

It seems there are a hundred different variations for making Homemade Nutella and I’m fairly confident that most of them taste delicious because it’s pretty hard to go wrong with the basic flavours here – we’re talking chocolate and hazlenut.

Our recipe is easy and and makes a yummy spread that’s perfect for toast, pancakes, waffles, fruit and more! You can make it with chocolate or cacao.

I’m sure you’re going to love our version of this popular hazelnut spread because it’s:

  • Rich
  • Creamy
  • Choc-a-holic worthy
  • Sweet but not too sweet
  • Spreadable
  • So easy to do
  • Versatile

We ended up making this recipe two different ways – one with a bar of chocolate and another time with cacao. You could also make it with cocoa. The version with the chocolate bar definitely seemed creamier but using the cacao was also good but in that case we did add 1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup to the mixture.

Either way, totally yummy-licious!

Another option that we’ve not tried but which I’ve seen others use is to substitute the hazelnuts for walnuts. This means you don’t need to roast and remove the skins of hazelnuts so saves time and walnuts generally cheaper than hazelnuts.

What about using sweetener?

You can also use stevia instead of your usual sweetener. I’m not such a fan of the stevia taste but if you do substitute 1/2 of your sweetener for stevia then you should only taste the taste of the sweetener not the stevia. In this recipe you might start with 1 tablespoon of stevia for the additional sweetener per the notes below as an example. Obviously the aim is to reduce sweetener as much as possible. But if you go too low the first time such that you and/or your children refuse to eat “that homemade stuff” and only want the “normal” then my thoughts are that its better to at least be eating this version that might be a bit high on the sweetener side that to be eating the store bought Nutella with which is nearly 50% sugar and also has vegetable oil.

Totally Yum Home-made “Nutella”
 
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Easy and delicious Nutella that’s perfect for toast, pancakes, waffles, fruit and more! Can be made with chocolate or cacao.
Author:
Recipe type: Spread, Desert, Snack
Type of food: Gluten Free, Paleo
Serves: 2 cups

What you need:
  • 2½ cups raw or roasted unsalted hazelnuts
  • 100 grams of dark chocolate (80% plus best), chopped (see also option for cacao version)
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

What to do…
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and add hazelnuts to a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. If raw, roast for a total of 10-12 minutes or until the nuts have darkened slightly and the skins are starting to loosen. (If already roasted it’s still preferable to roast the nuts for about 8 minutes just ensure the natural oils are warmed up and to loosen the skins. This steps makes it easier to transform the nuts into a butter consistency.)
  2. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Use your fingers or a towel to remove the skins from the hazelnuts. They should come off pretty easily. Don’t worry if there are some random pieces of skin that you can’t get off but the more you get off the creamier the spread will end up.
  4. Place the hazelnuts (without the skin) and the coconut oil in a high-speed blender or in a food processor. Process for about 30 seconds or if your blended is not high-speed or in danger of over heating you will need to do with breaks and pulsing probably for about 10 minutes. In any case you are aiming for a creamy consistency*
  5. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl in the microwave, then stir.
  6. Pour the melted chocolate into the blender or food processor with the nut butter and pulse until completely combined and smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the sea salt and vanilla and pulse to combine.
  8. Remove from blender and store in a closed container in the pantry or fridge for up to 2 weeks. In the fridge it will keep longer
  9. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt or vanilla if desired.

Chef Dom’s Tips:
If you think the Nutella isn’t sweet enough you can add 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey. Be aware that (aside from obvious extra sugar) the more syrup or honey you add the firmer the spread will get, so I would use it sparingly. But for sure when changing from store bought nutella you may well have to add at the higher end of sweetener. You can use cocoa or unsweetened cacao powder instead of chocolate. Add 3 tablespoons of cacao or cocoa when you add the vanilla and salt.




Grainy Grain-Free Toast Bread

Paleo Grainy Bread

Paleo Grainy Bread

We have tried out a variety of grain-free recipes both crunchy ones with seeds like this one and also ones made with ground up nuts that make a “plain” loaf. You can make this one less crunchy by blending or chopping up your seeds. But if you really love something that more closely resembles white bread or a non-grainy bread then this is not the recipe for you!

Also, we’ve not used any yeast or gums or other additives in this recipe. It’s very plain and simple. You can use gums like xanthan and guar gum so as to get non-gluten containing flours to have the shape, texture and taste more akin to those that do have gluten. Gluten is the glue in bread. We haven’t tried doing that as I think there are a lot of questions over the use of gums in food and I prefer to keep it simple. Plus we love the taste as it is. However, if you’re trying to convert someone (or yourself!) to move away from standard toast you may want to check out some of the grain-free options for sale commercially which use the gums (or experiment yourself!) if is not bread-like enough for your tastes.

3.0 from 2 reviews

Grainy Grain-Free Toast Bread
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Type of food: Paleo
Serves: Loaf

What you need:
  • Dry ingredients:
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • ¼ cup flaxmeal (ground linseeds)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds (white or black)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ cups of seeds (whole or chopped). You can substitute ½ cup of seeds for nuts – cashew, macadamia or almond nuts (in slivers or chopped finely).
  • (For the bread in this picture we used ½ cup pumpkin seeds, ½ cup sunflower seeds** and ½ cup sesame seeds all in their whole form.)
  • Wet ingredients:
  • 5 eggs (large size)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Extras
  • Handful of nuts/seeds to sprinkle on the top.

What to do…
  1. Assemble all your ingredients first :-).
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  3. Place the first set of dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Add the seeds (and/or nuts) to the dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  7. Promptly (don’t muck around as the ACV will start to react immediately with the baking soda) pour into your baking tin (we used standard size loaf tin 20cm X 10cm). Note this is a wet mix not a dough so it should be pour-able.
  8. If you like, sprinkle some seeds and nuts on the top.***
  9. Place immediately in pre-heated oven and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. We use fan bake setting on our oven and check at 45 minutes. Unless you see an obvious issue, don’t check before 40 minutes as you will interrupt the rising process.
  10. Wait until it’s cooled to slice up. Slice on the thick side (i.e. toast slices). Best toasted with butter smile emoticon.

Chef Dom’s Tips:
If you use sunflower seeds then the seeds may turn green after baking. This is due to a chemical reaction with the baking soda. If want to avoid this then don’t use sunflower seeds – it doesn’t affect the taste though.

For the seeds or nuts on top. Don’t go overboard as they can burn if you’re using a conventional toaster. Can avoid by grilling bread in oven to toast or just use less and keep an eye on them when toasting.

We slice our loaves up and then keep in the freezer (with baking paper between the slices – see pictures). A loaf like this would last us 3-4 weeks or more because we’re not eating it regularly.

 




“Mish Mash” Salad With French Dressing

superfood-salad

Mish Mash Salad – With Fermented Cabbage.

I love to eat a “mish mash” salad for lunch with just a bit of this and that all chucked together.  The more colourful the better.  This salad starts with bed of salad leaves and then has 1/2 an avocado, 1 hard boiled egg, couple of tablespoons of red cabbage sauerkraut (this is Be Nourished brand) with a sprinkling of almond nuts and seeds (pumpkin and sunflower) as well as some croutons made of toasted grain-free bread.  What really finishes the salad of taste-wise is the drizzling of French dressing over the top. Yum!

To make the dressing just combine 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1/2 macadamia (or olive) oil, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.  Shake vigorously and pour what you like on your salad.  The rest will keep in fridge for up to a week.