Easy Cheesy Taco Mince (Keto + Gluten Free!)

Served with konjac fettucine and broccoli; yum!

Makes two servings @ 10.2 carbs each; if cooking for the family simply scale up the recipe. For keto eaters, this is great served with konjac noodles and green above ground veggies; for gluten free families consider serving with brown basmati rice or wholegrain gf corn chips.

Note: Those on keto can reduce carbs further by making their own spice mix; calculations for this recipe are based on Farrahs Taco Spice Mix.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Lightly brown mince in a frying pan/skillet.
  2. Add tomato paste, spices, salt, dried onion and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Turn off heat (leave on hot element) and stir in cream cheese + colby cheese.
  4. If using konjac noodles: rinse them, stir in, and return pan to low heat for a few minutes until noodles are cooked.

Caesar Salad (Keto + Gluten Free)

A satisfying version of a classic treat that balances a range of healthy vegetables, tasty proteins, and filling fats with only 10g carbs per salad.

Ingredients

  • 100g fresh green beans
  • 1 cup chopped lettuce (romaine or cos)
  • 80g fresh tomato (sliced)
  • 30g colby / cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 100g bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Caesar dressing (store bought).

Note: Bacon seems to mean different things in different countries, in New Zealand bacon has a wide selection so feel free to use whatever you prefer.

Allergies: free from gluten and soy.

Nutritional Information

Nutrition InformationServing Size: 1 full recipe

Average Quantity
per Serving
Energy2367 kJ (565 calories)
Protein42.1 g
Fat, total38.3 g
– saturated13.9 g
Carbohydrate9.7 g
– sugars7.8 g
– starches1.2 g
Dietary Fibre5.2 g
Sodium1240.6 mg
Vitamin C22.6 mg
Vitamin A1864 µg
Calcium319.8 mg
Iron2.6 mg

Directions

  1. Start a small pot of water boiling. Using a spoon, carefully slide in the eggs. Reduce heat to a simmer and set timer. The BBC have a helpful guide on timings; I tend to remove after 6 minutes. Tip: Keep in mind that the yolk will keep setting the hot shell until you peel it.
  2. Start the bacon cooking. If you’re using a frying pan / skillet and on keto than you may wish to use the bacon grease to saute the green beans. I prefer to cook bacon in the air fryer.
  3. Cook your green beans while the bacon is cooking; if you want to boil them (after removing the eggs) they will only take 2-3 mins.
  4. Layer your salad with lettuce, green beans, and tomato. Peel the hardboiled eggs and chop in half. Cut the cooked bacon into strips (or even better, use kitchen scissors and snip it directly onto the salad). Sprinkle over the grated cheese. Drizzle the dressing.

Blueberry and Lemon muffins (Keto + Gluten Free!)

These Keto friendly muffins are gluten free, soft, naturally sweet, and contain only 3.3g net carbs per serving! They are lovely served warm from the oven (and can be frozen to use as needed).

Ingredients

Allergies: free from gluten and soy.

Note: These muffins are sugar free and naturally sweetened by the cream cheese and blueberries. If you prefer them sweeter you could add a little Maple Syrup (either natural, or an alternative like ‘Queen Maple Syrup Flavoured Sugar Free’ to maintain the low carbs).

Tip: For a finer consistency, consider ordering finely milled almond flour online.

Nutritional Information

Based on 6 servings per recipe; nutritional breakdown is approx:

Average Quantity
per Serving
Energy874.1 kJ / 209.9 kcal
Protein6.1 g
Fat, total18.8 g
– saturated6.5 g
Carbohydrate3.3 g
– sugars2.6 g
Dietary Fibre2.1 g
Sodium219.5 mg
Calcium54.9 mg

Directions

  1. Line or grease a 6-serving muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 180’C / 350’F.
  2. Melt the butter (I use a large pyrex jug in microwave).
  3. Stir in the almond meal. Let it stand for 5-10 mins so that it thickens a little.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, eggs, and cream cheese.
  5. Gently fold in the fresh blueberries and lemon peel.
  6. Spoon into the muffin tin. Bake for 18-22 mins (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

Discover Colombia – how to make corn arepas

Arepa are one of the most popular foods in Colombia. They are often eaten every day and so versatile that they can be served as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They might be served with rich Colombian hot chocolate; with soft fresh cheese; with guacamole or fresh tomato salsa; with prawns; the possibilities are endless!

There are many recipes for arepas and this is one variant 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fine cornmeal flour
  • 1/2 cup Colombian queso campesino, or queso doble crema, or shredded mozzarella.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Butter / rice bran oil for pan

All about corn flours

An important note for this recipe is that in Colombia they use a special arepa flour (masarepa) which is a precooked fine cornmeal. It can be sourced in New Zealand but it is a speciality item.

If you don’t have access to masarepa, you can use a gluten free substitute; you will need a larger quantity as it will not absorb the liquid in the same way. For instance, 1.5 cups Cornmeal Flour (not to be confused with NZ cornflour) and 1/2 cup gluten free baking flour.

Directions

  1. Warm the milk and butter (either in a pot or in a microwave).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm milk (with dissolved butter) + cornmeal flour + salt + frozen corn + mozzarella. Mix until you have a dough-like batter.
  3. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into balls and then flatten.
  5. You can choose to: deep fry or lightly fry on a skillet / frying pan; give them a very light coating of oil and cook them in the air fryer (which I did); or even cook them in a panini press. The aim is to be golden crisp on the outside and cooked through. They are best served warm and are delicious eaten straight away.

Discover Colombia – How to make decadent hot chocolate

Chocolate sin queso es como amor sin beso, chocolate without cheese is like love without a kiss.”

It was fascinating researching this as part of our world studies unit on Colombia and delicious to try. This drink is an essential part of Colombian culture and often served for breakfast with arepa. It is an incredibly rich drink and worth noting that the cheese they use is Colombian queso campesino or queso doble crema; note these fresh cheeses are very different to something like our Kiwi block of yellow Colby featured in our quintessential mince and cheese pie.

Colombian Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • Stick(s) of dark chocolate
  • Full cream milk
  • White cheese

Those are essentially the ingredients; you can flavour with cinnamon and cloves if desired. Amounts will vary depending on how much you are making; I used about 1 sante bar, 1 cup full cream milk, and about 1/4c mozzarella. While delicious, I’m aware that it’s not quite the same cultural experience as I’m using my local ingredients.

Directions

  1. Warm the milk almost to a boil; watch closely and whisk.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until fully melted.
  3. Drop some mozzarella cheese into your cup and pour hot chocolate over the top.
  4. Let the cheese melt a little and enjoy!

Tip: In Colombia, they use a chocolatera and a molinillo for warming the milk and frothing the chocolate. Lacking these, I used a small pot and a whisk.

Gluten Free Lemon Cake

This delicious gluten free lemon cake was inspired by both our study of Colombia, where corn flour is a key ingredient in many traditional foods, and our sun drenched lemon tree.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup GF cornmeal flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups gluten free plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g Nuttelex (or margarine, or butter)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • approx. 3/4 cup water (or rice milk, or milk, or greek yoghurt).

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

Directions

  1. Line or grease a large spring-form cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180’C / 350’F.
  2. I like to keep things simple. Put everything in a big bowl in the order listed EXCEPT the water. Tip: a flour sieve is great for keeping out the lemon pips!
  3. Add 1/4 cup liquid and mix with an electric beater. Slowly keep adding water and mixing until you have a good cake batter consistency.
  4. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin, smooth, and bake for 30-35 mins (or until a toothpick / sharp knife comes out clean).
  5. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar, or whip up a lemon icing for a more lemony flavour.

Tip: I like to eat it warm from the oven and then freeze the rest to pull out as needed.

Tip: For a more lemony flavour, pierce many times with a toothpick when the cake is half cooked. Cover the top of the cake in a thin layer of sugar and squeeze a fresh lemon over the top; then place back in the oven. The lemon syrup will soak into the cake while it continues baking.

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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Yummy Chocolate beetroot muffins!

Miss 6 gave these a thumbs up! This is a versatile recipe that can be used to make moist scrumptious cupcakes, muffins, or mini-cakes.

Ingredients

  • 150g grated fresh beetroot
  • 2 eggs (whisked)
  • 1/2 cup rice bran oil
  • 1/4 cup water, rice milk, or cow milk.
  • 1 1/2 cup high grade flour
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1/3 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Optional: 2 tsp hemp seed protein powder

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

Directions

  1. Put oven on to pre-heat to 180’C / 375’F. Grease your muffin tray or springform mini-tins.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and sugar into a bowl. Add hemp seed protein powder (if using). Whisk.
  3. Add the grated beetroot, eggs, and rice bran oil. Mix to combine. It will still look a little dry. Add the water / milk and it should look just right once mixed in.
  4. Divide the mix amongst your muffin cases etc.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until a toothpick / sharp knife comes out cleanly from the centre).

Allow to cool and then consider icing CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM ICING (ALLERGY FRIENDLY).

Looking for more chocolatey ideas?

HEALTHY HEART CHOCOLATE FUDGE BROWNIES

WILD BERRY CHOCOLATE CAKE (GLUTEN FREE)

MOIST & DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES (GLUTEN FREE!)

CHOCOLATE IRISH POTATO CAKE (VEGAN & ALLERGY FRIENDLY)

CRAZY ONE-DISH CHOCOLATE CAKE!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO MOUSSE

Light and fluffy Scones

These are the kind of light, fluffy, round scones that one imagines having with berry jam, clotted cream, and china cups of tea. They are made with flour and baked in the oven and rather different from the large, quartered, barley flour or oatmeal griddle scones from which they are descended.

My childhood has many pleasant memories of making scones in sunlit kitchens and they are wonderfully versatile as they can be served with everything from sweet honey to umami Marmite and cheese.

If you make kefir at home keep in mind that you can use it in baking! Although the probiotics will die in the heat, they will leave behind an enriched milk with little lactose and will add a lightness to your baking.

Ingredients

  • 75g butter
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 to 1/2 cups milk (or 3/4 cup milk kefir + 3/4 cup milk)

Directions

  1. Start oven pre-heating to 220’C / 428’F. Grease a baking tray or line with baking paper.
  2. Measure and cut butter into a mixing bowl.
  3. Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt. Add wheat germ and sugar.
  4. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles golden breadcrumbs.
  5. Add 3/4 cup of milk (or kefir). Mix to combine.
  6. Slowly add up to 3/4 cup of additional milk; stop to knead as you add the extra liquid. You want to draw all the dry ingredients into the mix without it getting too wet and sticky.
  7. Pull off the dough into approximately 12 pieces. Roll into rough balls in your hand and then flatten slightly. Place on prepared baking tray.
  8. Bake at 220’C / 428’F for 10 minutes. The scones should rise a great deal. Check if they are cooking evenly (and adjust their placement in the oven if not). Reduce the heat to approximately 180’C / 350’F and bake for another 5-6 minutes until golden.

Flavours of the World: How to make Japanese onigiri

Onigiri is delicious and easy to make!

One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is that being in the kitchen can definitely be part of the curriculum! We’re studying Japan at the moment and one of the suggestions in our Kiwico Atlas Discover Japan box was to try our hand at onigiri.

At it’s simplest, onigiri is a fun gluten free snack that uses a sticky rice to create a treasure box sandwich around a delicious filling of your choice. They are wonderfully easy to make and can be as creative (or quick) as you like.

The key ingredient that you will need is Japanese Short Grain Rice. This is sometimes marketed as ‘sushi rice’ in Western supermarkets although this is actually a misnomer, the same rice can be used to make sushi but while sushi uses vinegar, salt, and sugar to provide seasoning, onigiri uses plain steamed rice and relies on the nori (dried seaweed) and filling for flavour.

Ingredients

Your choice of fillings; for instance:

  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • Tinned tuna chunks + mayonnaise + cooked corn
  • Bonito flakes and soy sauce
  • Cooked chicken and avocado
All kinds of onigiri designs are possible

Think about what design you would like to use for your onigiri. If you want to keep it simple, use scissors to cut the nori sheets into smaller and shorter strips that you wrap around the base of the onigiri as a handhold. You can also get creative and decorate them into whatever you can imagine! There are fascinating videos on YouTube with plenty of ideas – be aware that fancier designs may utilize special tools to cut the seaweed and moulds to press the rice into. These can often be picked up cheaply online or from stores specializing in Japanese homewares.

Directions

  1. Cook your rice fresh and allow to cool slightly (it should be warm while making the onigiri). I like to use a rice cooker and make just enough rice for the meal.
  2. Prepare your filling while the rice is cooking.
  3. Have a bowl of water available to wet and wash your hands (the rice is sticky!).
  4. Traditionally, salt is rubbed onto both hands and helps to flavour the rice while you shape it. You then scoop some warm rice onto one hand, make it into a flattish nest shape, place 1-2 tsp of filling in the middle, then gently squeeze into a ball or triangular shape. Tip: If this feels a bit tricky, try lining a small bowl with gladwrap and laying the rice on top. Apply filling to centre, pop a little more rice on top, and then pull the gladwrap up at the corners (into a raindrop shape) and mould the rice (keeping the filling in the centre).
  5. You can then decorate the onigiri as you like.

Tip: You don’t need to use any nori but it does provide a pleasant umami flavour. You may prefer to simply dip your onigiri in soy sauce or coconut amino acids (an allergy friendly substitute). You may also like to sprinkle a furikake seasoning onto your onigiri; there are a range of flavours.