Madagascar chicken

While studying Madagascar, I was fascinated by their terraced rice fields (unusual for an African nation). The Malagasy people use rice as a part of all three meals and also draw on many cultural influences in their cooking.

One dish that particularly drew my attention was this idea for a simple marinade that would allow me to make good use of our bountiful lemon tree.


  • Fresh lemon zest
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Coconut oil / Coconut cream
  • Chicken
  • Rice


Unlike most recipes, I’m keeping this simple since the focus is really on the combination of flavours used.

In a deep dish, place your chicken. You want something that will stay tender like chicken thighs or whole legs.

Onto the chicken, rub fresh lemon zest (the finely grated skin of the lemon), fresh grated ginger (or ground ginger), some crushed garlic, and coconut oil. Alternatively, use rice bran oil and add a little coconut cream to your finished dish.

Marinate the chicken overnight to absorb the flavours. Cook until tender using your choice of BBQ, skillet, or air fyer.

Serve with rice.

Consider adding a popular Malagasy side dish, such as Lasary Voatabia or Mofo Sakay.

Baked Chicken & Peaches

Baked Chicken and Peaches.jpg

Baked Chicken and Peaches

This is a great dish to make in summer when fresh peaches are cheap; I made it recently on a dark Autumn day with the skies full of rain – tinned peaches work just as well and bring a bright note to the day!

It takes very little time too mix up and put in the oven; combine it with some vegetables and instant mashed potatoes for a quick meal that is also toddler / child friendly!

(FYI I buy plain potato flakes from a bulk buy store rather than buying boxed instant mashed potato from the supermarket.)


  • 2 chicken breasts (boned & skinned)
  • 1/3c brown sugar
  • 1 peach / 1/3 of a 400g tin of peaches
  • 2 pinches of ground ginger
  • 1 pinch allspice or ground cloves
  • 1/2T lemon juice


  • Superfine white rice flour or cornflour (corn starch) to make gravy.
  • Potato flakes + boiling water + rice bran oil + salt + almond milk to make mashed potatoes.
  • Broccoli.

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, nut free.

Note: The recipe will also work well for larger amounts just double or triple the ingredients based on the number of chicken breasts you are cooking.


  1. Take a pyrex baking dish and put in the brown sugar.
  2. Put in the chicken breasts (turning them to coat them in sugar).
  3. Lay slices of peaches over the chicken breasts.
  4. Sprinkle the ground ginger, allspice, and lemon juice over the chicken and peaches.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 180’C for approx. 30 minutes. Baste regularly with the chicken juices. Cover in tinfoil if needed.
  6. Optional: After removing the chicken and peaches, whisk in some superfine white rice flour (or cornflour) to make a sweet gravy.
  7. Optional: Serve with steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic served with bacon, brussel sprouts, and rice noodles.

I really love the simplicity of this dish and that it’s a one pot meal when cooked in the wok. Miss 2 even ate a brussel sprout after licking all the gravy off it!


  • 40 cloves of garlic (peeled; hard end cut off; cut in half any large cloves)
  • 3 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (cut in half)
    • You can use chicken tenderloins or thighs instead.
  • Neutral oil (i.e. Rice Bran Oil)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock + 1/2 cup in reserve
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1T dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2T fine white rice flour
  • Optional: 2 chopped rashers of bacon (middle or shoulder)
  • Optional: approx. 8 brussel sprouts (chopped in half)
  • Optional: Wild Mushroom Powder

Allergies: soy free, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free.


  1. In a large skillet / frying pan / electric wok, heat the oil.
  2. Put in the chicken and garlic. Once the chicken is partially cooked, put in the bacon and brussel sprouts to cook as well.
  3. Cook until the chicken is browned on both sides.
  4. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock, lemon juice, basil, and oregano. You may want to keep back some of the lemon juice and add after tasting (it can be quite a strong flavour).
  5. Bring mixture to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
    • Note: If you want to serve with rice noodles, you can rinse the noodles under hot water until you are able to separate them and then cook them in the simmering broth. Not only will this help to reduce the broth but the noodles taste amazing!
    • Taste the broth and add salt + pepper to liking. If you’d like slightly more umami flavour, consider adding  a dash of one of the following: coconut amino acids, wild mushroom powder, soy sauce, or hoisin sauce.* Food allergies will impact choice.
  6. In a small bowl or cup, whisk the rice flour and 1/c of reserved chicken stock. Add this slurry to the cooking mixture and cook until the sauce thickens (you may need to increase the heat).
  7. Serve with rice noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.

Note: The secret to this recipe is to lightly sear the outside of the garlic cloves – you want them to go soft, sweet, and squishy inside (like when roasted (otherwise the garlic can be a bit overwhelming). In the traditional French recipe the cloves are left intact (skin on) and the dish is cooked in the oven (then you suck out the gooey inner and discard the skin).


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What are turbinates and why do they need surgery to reduce them? (Are you sleeping badly? This may be why!)

What do swollen turbinates look like

What do swollen turbinates look like

If you’ve never heard of turbinates before then you’re not the only one! As long as they’re working well then the subject is unlikely to ever come up; they are also not something that your regular doctor (GP) is able to review – finding out there’s a problem first requires a referral to an Ears Nose Throat (ENT) specialist because of the symptoms you are experiencing.

Your turbinates can have a surprisingly large impact on your quality of sleep; this is especially true in young children and the problems are even more exacerbated if they also have troubles with their ears, adenoids, and tonsils.

What are turbinates?

Turbinates are bony structures (covered in moist tissue called the nasal mucous membrane). Inside your nose there are three sets of turbinates: upper (superior), the middle, and the lower (inferior).

Lateral nasal airway

Lateral Nasal Airway: Turbinates, Adenoids, Eustachian Tube Opening

Why do we need turbinates? What do turbinates do?

The turbinates have several important functions:

  • Help warm and moisturize air as it flows through the nose.
  • Protect the openings into your paranasal sinuses.
  • Help create airflow through your nose (important for your sense of smell!).
  • Trap micro-organisms (like viruses) and pollutants (like pollen).
  • Help the voice to resonate (i.e. they affect how we sound).
  • Produce mucous to help clean out the nose and assist the cilia in their work.
  • Help to regulate pressure in the sinuses.
  • Help the nose and sinus cavities to drain.
  • The turbinates play an important mechanical function when we sleep.  When you sleep on the right side, with the right turbinate down, over time the right turbinate fills up with fluid and expands so that it pushes against the septum; this makes you turn on the left side until that side fills up and turns you again. If the turbinates are not functioning correctly then you may wake up feeling cramped and sore with achey muscles.

Turbinates and sinus cavities

Feeling the pressure? Healthy turbinates help regulate pressure and drainage of the sinus cavities.

What causes turbinates to swell?

One of the most common causes of swollen turbinates (turbinate hypertrophy) are airborne allergies (allergic rhinitis) such as grass or weed pollen, birch tree pollen, or dust mites.

Other causes can include repeat upper respiratory infections, hormones, drugs, medication (i.e. as a complication from long-term nasal spray use).

Healthy inferior turbinate

Healthy inferior turbinate – you can see quite clearly that there is a tunnel for air to flow freely past the turbinates.

Swollen turbinates

Swollen turbinates – you can see how they have swollen and are bulging out across the airway to the nasal septum.

What are the possible side effects of swollen turbinates?

  • Stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Facial Pain
  • Pressure (often in forehead). In young children this may result in behavioural issues, trouble concentrating, or head banging.
  • Nasal drip
  • Loss of Sense of Taste and/or Smell
  • Mouth breathing, noisy breathing, and/or snoring. This is especially problematic if adenoids and/or tonsils are also swollen and obstructive sleep apnea develops.
  • Fatigue. Children might seem like they’re getting enough hours of sleep but in reality the quality of sleep is poor because their body is struggling to get enough oxygen through the night. It’s a bit like starting each day on a half tank of gas.
  • Sore, cramped, achey muscles in the morning. Healthy turbinates play an important mechanical function when we sleep; they are key to helping us unconsciously change which side we are sleeping on through the night.
  • Developmental delays. Sleep is critical for young children. During those early years, they are rapidly growing and learning. They need sleep to focus during the day; to have time for their brain to make connections between all the things they have learned or experienced; and their brain releases a growth hormone while they sleep. Poor sleep, fatigue and pain/discomfort, trouble hearing: these can make it harder for them to stay on track.
  • Behavioural difficulties. Poor sleep, fatigue and pain/discomfort, trouble hearing: these can result in daily misery that children don’t know how to express.

Why do turbinates need surgery?

An Ears Nose Throat (ENT) specialist will be able to examine the interior of the nose quickly and painlessly during outpatient appointments; they may also opt for imaging scans such as x-ray or CT.

It is likely that they will suggest trying non-invasive means initially to see if this reduces the swelling, This is likely to involve a steroidal nasal spray and anti-histamine medication (in the case of allergic rhinitis). They may also recommend additional saline spray / drops to help keep the nose irrigated, or using a humidifier.

If these options do not work an symptoms have not been alleviated then they are likely to recommend surgery. Note: it is important that turbinates are reduced (not removed) and they will slowly regrow; in order for them not to become swollen again, any other underlying issues must still be addressed.

What does turbinate reduction surgery (turbinoplasty) involve?

Turbinates perform highly important functions and removing them entirely can cause a raft of new issues; surgeons will normally opt to reduce the turbinates. There are different methods that can be used; some remove tissue and others aim to shrink them through other means.

A procedure called submucosal resection is a common technique used to treat enlarged turbinates. With this procedure, the lining of the turbinate is left intact, but the “stuffing” from the inside of the turbinate is removed. As the turbinate heals, it will be much smaller than before surgery. Sometimes, this resection can be performed with a device called a microdebrider. This device allows the surgeon to remove the “stuffing” through a small opening in the turbinate. In some instances, more of the turbinate is removed.

Some of these methods shrink the turbinates without removing the turbinate bone or tissue. These methods include cauterization, coblation, and radiofrequency reduction. In each of these methods, a portion of the turbinate is heated up with a special device. Over time, scar tissue forms in the heated portion of turbinate, causing the turbinate to shrink in size.

Turbinoplasty is generally an outpatient procedure performed under general anaesthetic and patients can go home the same day.

Want to find out more about surgery or risks? The American Rhinologic Society has useful information.

What happens after surgery?

You can expect to have pain, fatigue, nasal stuffiness, and a clear fluid nasal discharge for several days after surgery. If this was the only surgery being performed then pain is generally mild  and typically well controlled with pain medications. A saline spray and/or steroidal nasal spray are likely to be recommended to use for several weeks after the surgery.

Swelling as a result of the procedure means that there may still be snoring for a week or two after the surgery, as well as a general feeling of stuffiness. The fluid discharge will generally begin to improve and crust after the first week.

Patients may be off school or work for a week and are recommended to avoid strenuous activity for two to three weeks afterwards.


Breaded Fried Chicken Nuggets (gluten free)

Gluten free breading mix.jpg

Gluten free breaded kumara chips & fried chicken

This is a quick and easy meal to use up leftovers from a roast chicken! It’s easy to make kumara fries or zucchini chips at the same time as the chicken nuggets; serve with salad.

Tip: Remember that you can also use the juices from the chicken to make a beautiful pumpkin soup!


  • Emulsifier (choose one of the following)
    • Egg (whisked)
    • 1/3c coconut milk + 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 1/3c rice milk + 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • Neutral oil.
    • I like rice bran oil personally and it has the advantage of a high smoke point.

Allergies: soy free, dairy free, gluten free, egg free*, nut free.


  1. Whisk up your choice of emulsifier in one bowl.
  2. Pour your breading mix into a second bowl.
  3. Dip each piece of chicken into the wet mix and then coat it in the dry mix.
  4. Cook in batches in a neutral oil until golden and crisp. This took about 8-10 mins.
    • Don’t worry if you don’t have a deep fryer; I did a shallow/medium fry in the electric wok! Alternatively, bake in a preheated oven, @ 180’C, until golden and crisp. Turn once during baking.

Hearty Chicken Pumpkin Soup

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Hearty pumpkin chicken soup


This meal is wonderfully tasty, economical, and saves on time because you’re able to use the same equipment you’ve been using anyway to make the rotisserie style chicken.

Tip: You can also use the leftover chicken to make yummy gluten-free chicken nuggets.


  • Broth from rotisserie style chicken
  • Onion (from the rotisserie style chicken)
  • 1/2 Pumpkin
    • You can use a small whole pumpkin if you want; this soup is a good way to use a half pumpkin if you’ve just roasted the other half as part of the roast chicken meal.
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Zuchini
  • Any other vegetables that you have leftover from making the roast.
  • 400g tin of brown lentils (drained & rinsed)
  • Coconut milk or coconut cream
    • You can also try with cream, rice milk, or almond milk depending on what your household drinks. I personally like coconut milk as it has a naturally sweet and creamy taste.


Allergies: soy free, dairy free, gluten free, egg free, nut free.



For sizing, I used half of this pumpkin.



  1. Finely chop the vegetables. This includes the whole onion that was inside the chicken while it was slow cooking!
  2. Once you’ve finished making your roast chicken meal (including the slow cooked corn on the cob if you’re making that), pop the veggies and lentils into the slow cooker. The chicken broth is all fresh and natural, not to mention already beautifully flavoured from the dry rub used on the chicken.
  3. Cook for an hour on High in the slow cooker. Check the flavouring and adjust seasoning if you wish. Add coconut milk until it’s achieved the level of creaminess that you prefer.
  4. Cook for another hour on High.
  5. You can leave the soup with a chunky texture if you want or blend (i.e. with a stick blender or in a food processor).

Making 3 meals out of one roast chicken


I  love this rotisserie style chicken recipe and that there’s the option to either simply slow-cook it (for a soft skin, beautifully flavoured, almost Hainanese style result) or to follow up the slow-cooker by placing the chicken under the grill to crisp up the skin.

The other wonderful thing about cooking the chicken in the slow cooker is that the chicken juices + the dry rub marinade create a beautiful chicken broth that you can then use to create yummy slow cooked corn on the cob to go with the roast. You can put whole carrots in the broth to cook as well (as opposed to roasting them with the other root vegetables).

That chicken broth can then stay in the slow cooker to form the basis of Meal #2 Hearty Chicken Pumpkin Soup. You can create a hearty pumpkin soup using more of the vegetables that you stocked up on to make the roast meal. The soup can largely vegetable based or you can include shredded chicken from the roast.

More of that roast chicken can be used to make Meal #3 Breaded Chicken Nuggets (gluten free). The same breading mix can also be used to fry up vegetables to accompany, like Kumara Fries or Zucchini Chips.

Five Spice Chicken Tenderloin


Five Spice Chicken Tenderloin

These are so toddler friendly, Miss 2 loved them!


  • 300g chicken tenderloins
  • 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1T balsamic vinegar
  • 3T neutral oil (i.e. rice bran oil)
  • Optional: Chilli flakes, fresh coriander.

Allergy: soy free, dairy free, gluten free, egg free, peanut free, tree nut free.


  1. Mix the marinade together and place the chicken tenderloins in it. Refridgerate for 1-2 hours.
    • Note: Using a pyrex dish is ideal as it can go from marinading to the oven.
  2. Place in a preheated oven and cook at 180’C for 30 mins. Flip the tenderloins halfway through and check periodically to see if they need basting. (Alternatively, you can pan fry these).
  3. Once the chicken is cooked and still moist, grill briefly to brown.
  4. After removing the chicken, add a little cornflour and whisk to create a dipping sauce.

How to make amazing rotissere / BBQ style chicken even if you’re working or just plain busy

This creates amazing melting-off-the-bone roast chicken with crispy skin and fantastic gravy. For best results (and practicality) it uses both a slow cooker and a oven. (The alternative is 5 hours in the oven but then you won’t get the amazing corn!).


  • Spice blend
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1/2 tsp white pepper + 1/4 tsp black pepper (or just fresh grind in tri-colour peppercorns)
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 chicken to roast
  • Vegetables to roast (i.e. potatoes, zucchini, carrot, whole peeled garlic, corn-on-the-cob).
  • Oil (I like rice bran oil)
  • Potato flakes or cornstarch (for the gravy)

Allergy friendly: soy free, dairy free, gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free.

Tip: Whole peeled garlic is often sold in large bags; consider portioning it out into little bags and freezing it. You can pull it out of the freezer each time you have a roast.


  1. Mix the spice blend together.
  2. Peel the onion & top’n’tail it.
  3. Make sure the chicken is ready for cooking (i.e. giblets removed).
  4. Rinse the cavity and pat dry with a paper towel.
  5. Rub the spice blend over the chicken inside and out.
  6. Put the onion inside the chicken cavity.
  7. Put the chicken into the slow cooker.
    • A note on timing: You can rub the chicken the night before, wrap it in a plastic bag, and marinade it overnight in the fridge so that all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the slow cooker. The choice on whether to put the cooker on Low or High depends on how long it will be in there and how long you want to have it in the oven. My chicken wasn’t 100% defrosted so I had it on High in the slow cooker for 5 hours and then in the oven for 1.5 hours.
  8. Prepare your vegetables to roast.
    • I chop the potatoes up and put them in the steamer in the microwave for about 10 minutes to give them a bit of a head start before placing them in the roasting pan.  You can brush the veggies lightly with oil before placing the chicken on top – they just need a touch to keep from drying out before the fat from the chicken starts to drip out.
  9. Carefully pull the chicken out of the slow cooker and put it in the roasting pan. Baste it with the juices from the slow cooker.
  10. Roast the chicken for 60-90 mins. Start the oven at 180-200’C; you’ll be able to drop the temperature to 150’C and cover the chicken in tin foil once it has browned. Keep basting the chicken periodically with juices from the slow cooker.
  11. Put the corn-on-the-cob in the slow cooker (in the chicken juices) as soon as you take the chicken out. Cook on High for 60-90 minutes.
    • The juices will only cover the bottom of the corn; this is fine. It comes out cooked, still with a good steamed firmness, sweet, and lightly flavoured by the chicken broth.
  12. Once the chicken, roast veggies, and corn are all cooked, you can use the juices in the slow cooker to make gravy. You can use flour or cornstarch, or try potato flakes.  It’s not just that these are gluten free, it’s that they thicken the gravy quickly and don’t go lumpy like cornflour sometimes does. Add potato flakes gradually (leaving the slow cooker on) and stirring; I made my gravy quite thick.

Leftover roast chicken can be used for the next night, sandwiches, to make chicken fried rice, or as a pizza topping on a flat or scone base.

Caramelized Balsamic Marinade for Chicken

Chicken drumsticks can be cheap to buy and child friendly (after all they have a built in handle!). They can also be easily picked of meat to make into other dishes which means that you can cook a big batch of chicken drumsticks then use them as the basis of several dishes over the next few days (or freeze the meat for later use).
I had a pack of ten all frozen together so decided to try two new marinades: Sweet & Spicy Marinade and Caramelized Balsamic Marinade (my preference). I used the drumsticks to make: Chicken drumsticks with rice, corn on the cob, and smashed avocado; Shredded chicken with rice, peanut sauce, and fresh rocket from the garden; Chicken Fried Rice -(just add cooked chicken to the linked recipe); Sweet & Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup; a mini chicken pizza with home-made base, and chicken sandwiches.


  • 4-6 chicken drumsticks or boneless chicken thighs
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic (crushed) / 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/4c balsamic vinegar

Allergies: soy free, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free.


  1. I suggest marinading. This might be anywhere from an hour to all day (I mixed up the marinade at breakfast, fridged them, and cooked them for dinner).
  2. Preheat the oven to 200’C.
  3. Bake the chicken drumsticks till the juices run clear and they are cooked to the bone; this can take about 1 hr 1/4 (75 mins). Boneless chicken thighs spread flat will cook much quicker, about 30-40 mins.
  4. Check on the chicken regularly to baste and turn every so often. The depth of the marinade will be determined by how much chicken you’re cooking and what kind of tray or dish you’re using. You can see from the photos that I crammed mine into a glass pyrex dish which kept the marinade high and the drumsticks moist. About halfway through cooking drain off any excess marinade and retain just enough to keep basting.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked you may want to change the oven to grill. Keep a careful eye on it (you don’t want the chicken to burn or dry out) and you can get a good colour on both sides. The marinade should have cooked to a caramelized glaze.
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.


Allergy: soy free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free.

(My daughter got one before the final photo!)