One positive of the school holidays is that we get to spend more time at home and less time in the car, running around ferrying kids to sport, dancing and other activities. One downside of the school holidays is that when everyone is at home, there seems to be a lot more eating going on! I often feel like I turn my back for a second and the fruit bowl/pantry/fridge has spontaneously emptied itself of all contents. I've come up with a few recipes to fill the gaps while the kids are off school - these can all be made gluten-free pretty easily if need be. The Seed Crackers and Fruit and Nut Bars are great to have on hand for snacks and treats, and the Easy Pork Meatballs and Roast Vegetable Quinoa Salad is perfect for an easy mid-winter meal (the salad is a good option for lunch on its own, or with a little feta or halloumi served with it). Enjoy.
Favourite Seed Crackers
1 C of seeds (sunflower, sesame, black sesame)
2 T white chia seeds
1 t sea salts flakes
1 C flour (can use white rice flour to make these GF)
1/2 C water
1/3 C olive oil
olive oil spray (optional)
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, combine with your hands to form a dough. Roll dough between two sheets of baking paper (this can be done in two batches). It should be about 2mm-3mm thick. Place rolled dough on a lined baking tray and sprinkle with sea salt and a light spray of olive oil, if using. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees C. Remove from oven and allow to cool before breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Easy Pork Meatballs and Roast Vegetable Quinoa Salad
1 C quinoa
1/4 of a pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
2 courgettes, slice about 1 cm thick
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
juice of half a lemon
chopped parsley and basil
handful of seeds (sesame, pumpkin and sunflower) - lightly toasted
6-8 good quality free-range pork sausages (use gluten-free if desired)
Spread the pumpkin and courgette pieces on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes in a moderate oven until cooked through (the courgette may not take as long as the pumpkin, so may need to be taken out of the oven earlier).
Boil the quinoa until the threads are showing, Drain and return to pot. Stir through 2T extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, garlic and lemon juice. Replace lid and set aside.
Remove the skins from the pork sausages and roll into small meatballs. Fry on a non-stick pan until browned on all sides. Place on a tray and cook in a moderate oven for 10 minutes, to ensure they are cooked through (time needed will depend on how big the meatballs are).
To serve - stir the vegetables through the quinoa and spread out on a dish. Scatter the meatballs on top, and garnish with the chopped herbs and seeds (lightly toast seeds on a non-stick frying pan for a couple of minutes, turning often, making sure they don’t catch and burn). Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 6.
Note - the quinoa and vegetables can be prepared earlier and heated through just prior to serving.
Fruit and Nut Bars
12 dates, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained
1/2 C nut butter (cashew, almond or peanut all work fine)
2 T water
1/2 C roasted unsalted almonds
1/2 C hazelnuts
1/2 C seeds - sunflower and pumpkin
1/2 C chopped dried apricots
1/2 C coconut thread
Place the dates and nut butter into a food processor and process until mixture is well combined. Add water, one T at a time, to make a smooth paste. Place the nuts, seeds, dried apricots and coconut thread into a bowl. Mix the date paste in with the other ingredients to combine. Place mixture into a lined loaf tin, and bake at 180 degrees C for 20-25 minute, when the edges should be turning brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into bars. Makes 10 bars. Keep in an airtight container for up to five days.