Road test – Gwyneth Paltrow’s New Cook Book “It’s All Good”. So far so good!

Lately I have been feeling really tired. Like really really tired. Maybe not as tired as my sister but nevertheless tired. I have recently eliminated my one can a day addiction Diet Coke which could be contributing! Haha! So in an attempt to try and alter a few things to improve this I have been looking around at some cook books that focus on nutrient dense eating.

I was initially skeptical of this new Gwyneth Paltrow cook book because I had read a passing review that said it would cost the average family $300 a week to eat from it. Anyway, I did quite a bit of reading found some of the recipes online and thought I would give it a try. So far the three recipes I have tried this week have been quick, delicious, and easy. The recipes are gluten free, dairy free and pretty much everything free! So it’s clean simple eating.

So it so far so good! I think I am going to buy the book now….

The first recipe was the slow cooked lamb chickpeas and pumpkin tagine.

Absolutely delicious. Definitely not a week night recipe a good one for the weekend as you need to be home to let it slow cook. Here is the link –

Monday night I made the risotto peas and greens. Again really yum, very fresh tasting. The best thing was not feeling yuck and heavy which often happens after you eat risotto. So this recipe has no butter and no cheese. My only advice is it’s very zesty so I only added the lemon juice not the lemon zest at the end. Taste it yourself at the end and decide.

And tonight’s recipe was –

Again really easy quick and delicious.






Lentil Meatballs with Lemon Pesto

The end of the school holidays are drawing to an end and I have to say I have really enjoyed them this time.  The kids are a little older and I can stay in my bed a little longer on the odd day.  We have relaxed and had some good times together.  But this week it all starts again…. and so will school lunches which will bring me to another subject next week.  Articles appear in papers with school lunch ideas with tabbouli, mini quiches, sushi rolls…. they clearly do not have 8 year old boys.  He would be mocked for the remainder of his school life if I send him with a felafel buger not to mention the looks of starvation when he would return some from school that day.  Leave that for next week as I amuse myself with what I can wrap with puff pastry.

Yep I know what you are thinking.  So the last post we tried Smashed Chickpea Salsa for entertaining which was a hit.  Remember the photo…… well those things on the side are Lentil Meatballs with Lemon Pesto and the toy cat.  We have all had the catering variety of meatballs at parties served with toothpicks and tomato sauce…. yep you know the ones.  You have had them before many times…. some sort of beef, served with a bit of oil and can’t really see much else in it.  Could be horse meat in them if you recently bought them at a British supermarket.  Well time to try something different…. no beef mince required just a can of lentils for 99c…. bargain and some other stuff you can grow in your garden. For the recipe see the link… no I didn’t create this one but I wish I did but I used canned lentils, drained and rinsed.



Smashed Chickpea Salsa

Its a New Year and with a new year often brings a resolve to do many things better!  For me every year it is to return library books on time and I am always good for the first halve until it all goes pear shaped about July when I can’t find books which inevitabilty results in fines that could feed a small country!  For some, it is getting fit or exercising and along with that is eating well.  After what many of us have suffered through the gluttony of Christmas behind us it is a time for me to start again.  My difficulty is finding a variety of small healthy snacks to get me through the afternoon to avoid sugary snack…. my weakness.  Here is something I made up for my neices birthday for the adults which worked a treat as it is something you can make a batch of and leave in the fridge.  When the munchies get you about 3pm get a couple of good corn chips or pita and scoop and eat.  Healthy, filling and delicious.

The photo, well there is a toy cat which does have a name that escapes me right now… it was a 3 year old birthday party with some Lentil Meatballs with Lemon Pesto but I will get to those later!


Smashed Chickpea Salsa

4-5 ripe tomatoes, diced

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1-2 ripe avocados, peeled and diced

420g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2-3 tblsp coriander, chopped finely

1 lemon, juice

1 tsp garlic, crushed

olive oil

1/2 tsp minced red chilli (optional)


In a medium bowl, place drained and rinsed chickpeas and lightly mash until most of the chickpeas skins are just broken.  Add remaining ingredients including the juice of one lemon.  Add olive oil until all ingredients are lightly coated and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with unflavoured oven baked corn chips or crackers. For a delicious cheap option roughly break a piece of pita and lightly brush with olive olive and bake until crisp.

The Best Ever – Date Banana Cake

Yes again it has been a while, but as I have said before we always cook it is the typing that is holding us back!  I made this a while ago….. from one of my favourite baking books after getting a big bag of over ripe bananas from the local for $2. It is called ‘Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook’.  Its not a fancy book, no pictures, just good baking recipes.  I have had it for about 15 years and cook from it quite regularly and since buying it for about $12 it is out of print and I could flog this off for about $60 second hand.  That tidy sum might keep me in my old age!

I have made many a banana cake but not quite as good as this one.  Nothing drives me more bananas than seeing or eating dry banana cake with an inch of cream cheese icing on it.  My personal rules for banana cake:

1) Should be moist

2) Should be firm and hold itself together like a bread

3) It is banana cake so you should be able to see lots of banana in it not just the occasional banana worm

4) Should be tasty enough on its own and should not require mountains of icing for it to be appetizing

In fact the result should be able to be toasted.  I love toasted banana cake with something tart on top such as this one in the photo.  The plate I have inherited from my 98 year old Granny with the banana cake and good Greek yoghurt and some nuts.  Quite a perfect afternoon tea.  I have adapted the recipe slightly as I had a ridiculous number of bananas.


Date-Banana Cake

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground cloves

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cup ripe mashed banana

3/4 cup chopped dates

3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.  Grease and flour two loaf tins.
  2. In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over oats and let stand.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer.  Beat in eggs until smooth. Add oat mixture.  Stir dry ingredients into butter. Stir in brown sugar.  When mixture is thoroughly blended, add bananas, dated, and walnuts.  Pour mixture evenly into prepared pans.
  5. Bake for 45-50 mins, or until firm. Remove pans to wire rack.  Cool for 15 mins before removing cake from pans; finishing cooling on rack.

Highly recommend the toasting with some unsweetened whipped cream or creamy Greek yoghurt.


Fennel and Appleslaw – the start of a great love affair

The last couple of months have been the start of a couple of great love affairs.  Just like with most things in life as with cooking you find yourself in this grove of making the same things until something that you have seen a hundred times before appears before you to be glorious.

May I introduce you to my new friend the Fennel.  Good friend but a bit pale and strange hair but so surprising depending on who you put him with.  So I confess no recipe here just made up so you can play this according to your own taste.  I imagine this might be a good option to feel more human after indulging in the good stuff…. Sugar.  Ordinary coleslaw can get a bit dull sometimes so mix it up next time and you have a great fresh side dish.  I crumbed some chicken thighs with breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley.  But just had the coleslaw on its own the next day. Creamy but fresh and surprising at the same time…..  For preparing raw fennel trim the base of the fennel bulb, separate the stalks and trim off the feathery leaves.  Wash thoroughly.  Slice very finely.

For a refreshing salad mix with spinach leaves/lettuce mix, segments oranges, finely sliced celery, a splash of olive oil, red wine vinegar, a squeeze of orange juice, and other things you may have one hand.

Or try in this delicious soup…
Fennel and Appleslaw

1 head fennel, finely sliced

1 cup cabbage, finely chopped

1 pink lady apple (or other sweet crisp apple), cored and finely sliced

3 tblsp whole egg mayonnaise

juice of lemon

2 tblsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped



Combine chopped cabbage, fennel and apple in a medium bowl.  In a separate small bowl combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley and seasoning until well combined.  Pour onto fennel mixture and stir through until all ingredients are coated with the dressing.

So easy and ready to serve.

Fears of Martha and Pumpkin Pancakes

Yes it has been a while.  A looonnnnggggg cold, wet winter.  For those that live in colder climates would probably laugh but this to me has been the coldest one for a while and with that brings too many days inside and diseases!  Lauren moved twice in six weeks also to warmer climates sending boasting messages saying “Its 25C today!”.  Rrrrrrrrrrr!

Enough about the weather and diseases.  There has been plenty of soup making going on with some for us and some for other diseased people!  Not much pumpkin soup though as I am a bit over it.  Consequently leaving a lonely piece of pumpkin in the fridge staring at me begging me to be useful with it.  There has been plenty of staring with the pumpkin and it won!  So I get onto google and search and then I see Martha Stewart name and immediately run as fast as I can.  I feel completely intimidated by her and if I did meet her in real life I would have to confess that I don’t iron, don’t put place cards out for dinner, my cutlery has never been polished and I have not had a shower today etc.  Everything associated with it seems unnecessarily hard – yes my life is still good without doilies and personalised stationery.

I clicked and I was surprised that this could be so simple and yet so orange but tasty at the same time.  I describe because recipe blog photos are apparently so yesterday so you will have to trust me.

The pumpkin was gone so I was the real victor!
Pumpkin Pancakes (adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

For a spiced breakfast treat or dessert in our case, whisk 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt; 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg; and a pinch of ground cloves. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup milk, 1 cup cooked and fork mashed pumpkin, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 egg; fold mixture into dry ingredients. Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat; pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side; serve with butter and syrup. Makes 8 to 10.

Spiced Apple and Hazelnut Tray Cake

About this time of year I find myself surrounded by extra fruit.  Winter does not lend itsef to fruit eating in my house as does it in many houses.  There were an abundance of not the freshest apples which needed to be used pronto or risked being composted or rather eaten in another form. 

This weekend we had friends and family over on a couple of nights so this was the perfect opportunity to come up with something and not inflict another experiment on my family solely!  I dreamt of a spiced cake baked in a tray with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger topped with my old apples slightly stewed with cinnamon with toasted hazelnuts which I still have frozen in my freezer.  Well this was the result ….. and I was very happy with the result.  I ended my no sugar and processed food fortnight with a piece with vanilla icecream and a piece of my husbands Echidna birthday cake that the kids and I made.  The Echidna cake was a hit with the kids and my neice who helped buy all of the ingredients for it also said a prayer for the echidna cake yesterday.  It needed a prayer because it was demolished and eaten by hungry family last night.  Well the reintroduction to sugar was delicious and joyful occassion but I was bit sick after a fortnight with no cake with inhaling it as I did!

No this is not the tray cake but the family Echidna cake for Daddy’s birthday….. we just though it rated a mention.


I found a recipe on  ( and made it but I added an extra half a cup of milk.  I split the mixture between two slice trays and bakes until golden on top.  The apples just peeled, cored and sliced thinly and stewed in butter and brown sugar.  Poured over the cake with some toasted hazelnuts.  Perfect winter dessert to tucking into by a fire, except that I don’t have a fire!  In the process I lightened the load of 10 apples out of my fridge.


Spiced Tray Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened until easily spreadable
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180C degrees. Grease and lightly two slice pans. Whisk dry ingredients and spices in a large bowl. Mix milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a 2-cup measuring cup.
  2. Beat softened butter into dry ingredients, first on low, then medium, until mixture forms pebble-sized pieces. Add about 1/3 of the milk mixture and beat on low until smooth. Add remaining milk mixture in two stages; beat on medium speed until batter is just smooth. Add the sugar; beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Spread batter into cake pan.
  3. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake’s center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the pan perimeter and turn cake onto rack. Let cool slightly.
  4. Spread apple mixture on top and sprinkle whole toasted hazelnuts.  Serve with cream or icecream.



8-10 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly

2 tblsp butter

2 tblsp brown sugar

1 cup whole hazelnuts


Heat a separate small frypan and toss hazlenuts regularly until toasted.  They will need to be tossed every couple of minutes probably for 8-10 mins until fragrant and toasted.

In another frypan melt butter.  Once melted and add apples and brown sugar and toss in the butter mixture for 10 minutes until softened.  Cool slightly.