Three healthy lunchbox treats

I feel like I am constantly trying to mix the snacks and lunchboxes up, even though we only have one child at school at the moment.  That being said, we do pack two lunchboxes three times a week and I cannot leave the house without a bag full of snacks up my sleeve.  While I do ensure there is always fruit and vegetables in their diet (dried fruit are always in snack cups in my bag!), I do like to add treats as a special surprise (or for sneaky bribes… come on, we all need to have something up our sleeves!).  So here are three healthy lunchbox treats that I try to have on hand:

  1. Chocolate chip oat cookies (recipe found here)

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Since Miller cannot have dairy (it makes his small intestines bleed so I’m very careful about it!) this is my go to recipe for cookies.  I buy the dairy free chocolate chips from Costco, nuttlex and coconut sugar are used and voila!  A healthy and delicious treat (which is usually gone within a day!).

2) Nut free bliss balls (recipe found here)

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These balls are better straight from the fridge but it is still a healthy treat that my kids and I enjoy to eat.  They are nut free and packed full of the good stuff.

3) The chocolate Yogi chocolates (Oscar the orangutan is a favourite!)

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Chocolate is always an exciting treat to see when you open your lunchbox so we sometimes sneak them in.  Oscar the Orangutan from the Chocolate Yogi is completely dairy free with coconut sugar and raw cacao.  It’s the perfect snack size (15g), you can buy it in bulk (and you can earn a discount coupon by spinning the Chocolate Yogi fun wheel so it could be cheaper) and 5c from every bar sold goes to the Orangutan project.

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A delicious, healthy snack that supports a good cause?  Yep, clearly a winner.

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Our current baking list

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We have been baking up a storm lately.  Now that Easter has passed, we will not have as many Hot Cross Buns or Easter cookies in rotation but there is still a solid list we go through on a regular basis.

Many of the recipes below are ‘all in one’ cakes, where we just chuck all the ingredients in before mixing it now that Xavier is quite the avid baker.  He always wants to help put the ingredients in the bowl (which has also helped with his numbers recognition as we use a Thermomix and thus go by weight) and of course, assist with ‘cleaning’ the bowl by eating the remaining batter stuck to the blades and sides.  It’s really cute to see how proud he is when he does most of the baking himself (it does get messy and I do help out when the containers are full) and to see him happily announce to his Dad and sister that their morning tea for the next day is courtesy of him does make my heart melt!

We have made a few variations to the below recipes (usually reducing the sugar amount, replacing raw sugar with coconut sugar, making it dairy free, etc.) so I’ve added links and our little variations for those who are interested.

Banana and chocolate chip muffins

Recipe found here.  We are constantly baking these babies and now that I’m trying to get rid of all the Easter chocolate in our house, I usually throw in a handful of Easter eggs before we start the recipe, get thermie to chop them up for me then add the chocolate chunks when required.  Other changes we make is using nuttlex and rice milk (I buy the 1kg tubs of Nuttlex from Costco since we bake so much) and do the mixing all at once i.e. don’t move ingredients into separate bowls after mixing.

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Apple Cake

Recipe found here.    We like having other fruit cakes on our list and this one is a winner.  We don’t bother with the cinnamon topping, rather, add 2tsp cinnamon to the cake batter.  We half the sugar and use coconut sugar, nuttlex and rice milk.  Finally, we don’t always use apples in this recipe – we have used pear and it’s just as tasty.

Chocolate crackle

Recipe found here.  Sometimes I crave something sweet and crunchy and this seems to hit the spot.  We just use a mixing bowl then mix all the ingredients altogether.

Chocolate chip cookies

I’ll be making more of these cookies to get rid of leftover Easter eggs (seriously… we didn’t buy many this year but we have so many in the house!).  It’s our own recipe (found here on the blog) and the cookies always a hit during kinder morning teas.

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Chocolate Cake

This recipe yields a very moist cake.  Sometimes we make them in muffin tins (reduces oven time) and other times X man wants to do a cake (he likes to choose which tin we use – square, round or heart shaped.  Let’s just say our heart shaped tin gets a work out).  Again, we use nuttlex, cacao, rice milk and coconut sugar, reducing the sugar amount by two-thirds.

We hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

Learning about different countries with World Bites!

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We have been the lucky recipients of World Bites boxes over the past three months.  The kids were always excited to receive a new World Bites box each month and discover what new treats they could try.

World Bites is monthly subscription where you get to experience different snacks from all over the world, delivered straight to your door (tracked postage is included in your subscription).  We tried the France, Japan and China boxes and loved eating their favourite goodies but we also appreciated the added informative booklet.  As soon as the box was opened, the children would go through each box and package, trying to figure out which one to try first.  We would use the booklet as a guide to each snack (most snacks have a little bio on them e.g. why it is popular in the country and the type of taste) before sampling each one.  The booklet also provides some key phrases in the language, stats on the country as well as some photos of iconic buildings and monuments that make the country unique.

I used the World Bites boxes to help teach the children a bit more about these countries.  It’s easy to show them where Japan is on a map and even photos of Mum and Dad visiting there but it’s a whole new experience to see the written language on packages and to taste what is popular there.  Grace even identified that Chinese snacks are not as sweet as the France ones and Xavier loved looking through my China, France and Japan travel photos, especially the costumes from the streets of Harajuku as I tried to explain more about the culture and different lifestyles to what we have here in Australia.  If you follow me on Insta, you may have remembered us sharing how the kids made sherbet in a toilet from our Japan box, eating a new flavour of Pocky and trying a new type of sweet, Fraise Tagada!

And now here are some photos of us and our World Bites boxes!

::X man was very excited to eat the Pocky from our Japan box::

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::I really loved having these booklets to help teach the children more about the countries::img_0226:::Treats from our France box!::img_9527img_0227

::Our China box!::img_0235

::These double fruit flavoured Oreos were definitely a hit!::

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Thank you to World Bites for allowing us to taste the flavours of France, China and Japan!

Our approved list of homemade Christmas treats!

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Every year, we try to make some homemade goodies to give to family and friends.  We have made some massive failures over the years but with some practice (like our gingerbread men this year… but our third attempt worked!), we have compiled a list of Christmas treats that are not only easy to make but are always gratefully received by our loved ones:

  1. Salted caramel sauce – I love recipes where I can chuck ingredients into my Thermomix and then walk away.  This is one such recipe where I can just pour the ingredients in and then 12 minutes later, not only do I have delicious sauce to share but I also have my bottles sterilised!  I often get asked for this recipe so here it is!  One tip is to double the batch… I haven’t tried tripling it but doubling it works a treat.
  2. Tomato Chutney – This is a gorgeous chutney.  There is a little more work involved vs the salted caramel sauce, but it is worth it!
  3. Peppermint Chocolate bark – Who doesn’t love to receive chocolate for Christmas?  This recipe is made easier with Thermie too.  The addition of candy canes make it a beautiful Christmas treat.
  4. Salted caramel ice cream – We usually have a Christmas gathering with friends each year and I’m usually asked to make this.  I’d make this more often for myself if it wasn’t so bad for you (but it tastes so goooood!)
  5. Gingerbread men – My kids requested to decorate gingerbread weeks before December so for the past three Sunday mornings, we have made gingerbread!  We gave some away to Xavier’s kinder friends today and two mums came up to me requesting the recipe!  It is a soft gingerbread which my family (and friends) love.

And there you have it!  Our top 5 homemade Christmas gifts tried and tested by our family.  And here are a couple photos of last Sunday morning while having fun with our gingerbread…

::cheekily sneaking in M&M’s::

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We hope you are having a wonderful lead up to Christmas too! xx

Making mooncakes

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I love celebrating our cultural festivals with my family and sharing it’s importance with my children.  One of my favourite festivals is the Mooncake Festival, celebrated on the night of a full moon.  It’s also known as the mid-Autumn festival but although it occurs in Spring here in Australia, it doesn’t mean we can make and eat delicious mooncakes!

I have some fond memories of my mum and Grandmother making mooncakes in the kitchen.  In those days, they used the traditional wooden molds which they would have to hit on a chopping board to move the cake then carefully take it out.  I clearly remember the sound of the molds hitting the wooden board while trying to do homework upstairs!  Now, they have molds which make it easier to ‘press’ out.  My Grandmother is known for her mooncakes – she used to sell them to restaurants around Melbourne but now she’s older, she only makes it for family and friends.  There are three types of mooncakes they make – one with the egg yolk inside, the lotus mooncake and another with lots of seeds and nuts.

The other day, I took the kids to watch their Po Po (Grandmother) and Tai Po (Great-Grandmother) make mooncakes.  The entire process is so methodical.  Both the skin and filling needs to be weighed to ensure it fits the mold perfectly.  They had already finished making the lotus ones and were onto the nuts and seed cakes.  Grace and X man were so impressed by the process, with X man wanting to have a turn as well!

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This year’s mooncake festival falls on September 15th…

but we’ve been eating these yummy cakes for the past few weeks now =)

Our Winter dinner menu – what’s on rotation

I’m always on the hunt for new recipes to try so I love hearing what my friends are currently cooking.  Like most families, we have a range of recipes that are constantly on rotation so like last season when I shared what was on our Autumn menu (found here), with the cooler weather now in play, here is what we have on rotation now that it’s Winter:

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Thai pumpkin soup – great recipe found here.  I don’t add the chili but addition of the spices and coconut cream is divine.

Vegetable beef pie I love this pie because I had pre-make the filling and then after a day at work, quickly cook little pies in our pie maker.  This recipe doesn’t have lots of veggies but I add carrots, celery and zucchini and no ones knows the difference!

Chicken vegetable pie – This is a yummy pie.  I add 1tsp curry powder and instead of water and cream, I just add 400g coconut cream.

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Chicken vegetable soup – this photo doesn’t do this photo justice but it’s a great soup full of veggies.  I only use 100g chicken, if that.  It’s quick, simple and on the table in less than 20 minutes.

Cauliflower, zucchini and leek soup – this soup is amazing.  I don’t bother peeling the zucchini so it ends up being a little green but my family don’t seem to care.. they still devour it!

Chicken and fresh turmeric soup – I know turmeric stains but this soup is worth it.  Sometimes if I feel like the soup and don’t have fresh turmeric, I use the powder and it still tastes great.  Also, I sometimes use vermicelli noodles instead of brown rice.

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Fried rice – will never leave the rotation… this is one of my kid’s favourite meals ever.  Me?  I’m not a fan of all rice left on the ground!

Pizza – is a great weekend meal.  The dough is so quick to whip up and then I can chuck anything I want on it… pumpkin, spinach, tomatoes, ham, chorizos… whatever I have in the fridge!

P.S. – the cute placemats in the first photo are from our friends over at theraccoonandbee.  The kids love them because they are in their favourite colours and the bowl is shaped as a teddy bear complete with cute smiley face.  I love them  are silicone so they grip to the table which means no more spills and they area also so easy to clean.  We have partnered with them to giveaway two sets of these placemats to TWO lucky winners!  Go over to my instagram post (found here) to find out the details and enter.  Good luck! xx

Our Autumn Dinner menu – what’s on rotation

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Like most families, we plan our dinner meals one week in advance.  This not only helps with the shopping bill, but time so we’re not frantically trying to figure out what to feed the kids at 5pm.  Now that the cooler weather has kicked in, we’ve started to have more soups and other hearty meals on the menu. I love making meals that are ‘all-in-one’ i.e. have lots of veggies, sometimes a bit of meat so I don’t need to make a separate salad or vegetable dish!

We have a Thermomix so that helps with dinner prep as well.  I only cook about three times a week as we have family dinner at my mum’s every Sunday and I usually cook enough for leftovers the next night.  Below is a list of meals we currently have on rotation:

Thai Green curry – My family love this recipe.  I usually cook rice before cooking the curry, or I serve it with roti bread.  (The pic below looks bad… but trust me, it’s such a simple, delivious curry!)

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Simple chicken curry – this is a quick curry recipe and I chuck in about 300g of veggies, a whole can of tomatoes and a whole tin of coconut cream

Fried rice – my mum is the best cook I know and luckily she has a blog since she always just ‘told’ me what to do for meals.  This recipe is always a winner.

Hokkien noodles – again, this recipe always goes down a treat.  I double the batch if we ever have guests over.

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Rice noodles – this recipe is my husband’s favourite so we usually have this meal on constant rotation!

Chicken pot pie – this recipe is always a winner and great for the weekend

Chicken brown rice soup – my children always ask for seconds whenever I make this meal so I love it too!

Chorizo and kale soupthis is my favourite ‘quick’ meal since dinner is on the table in 17 minutes!

Bolognaise – this recipe is packed full of veggies and makes such a big batch so I always freeze half of it for another meal!

Pan fried dumplings – my mum makes the best dumplings.  I usually make a big batch and freeze some which I can later steam for another meal.   If steaming for another meal, dinner is on the table in 17 minutes!
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Salmon/chicken with quinoa – This is a great, quick, healthy meal (found here).  I substitute the salmon with chicken and if I don’t have quinoa I use rice.  Also 1tsp of ground coriander and 1tsp of cumin does the trick if you don’t have tikka past

Hope you enjoy these recipes too x