Summertime and the Vegans are Easy, Inspiring and Quite Delicious!


I have had the most delightful visitors for the past week: author, story-teller, gardener, all round inspiring person, Waiheke Islander Tanya Batt and her long time musical partner in Story, New Zealander Craig Debham, currently based in Prague. I had just got back from a week of writing at Windmill Cottages, near Hansel in South Devon so words were already swirling in my head as were homegrown veggies, edible flowers, wonderful food (prepared by myself and my fellow writers) and new recipes were definitely on my mind! While in Devon we writers plucked all manner of gorgeous unsprayed, unsullied flowers to lace our salads: fuschia, borage, marigold, nasturtiums, pansies, pinks and chive flowers to add to our freshly cut salad leaves (see below)! We had a glorious time celebrating both food and words and I was ready to cook for my guests. Tanya is vegan and travels with her own kit of emergency vegan food for as we have discovered, pickings can be lean while traveling. She and Craig became my willing guinea pigs in between their very wonderful story shows which I catered for….
pretty salad



We reflected how it is absolutely possible it is to cater an event in an entirely vegan way using loads of fruit, veggies, and flowers and the punters went  mad for it!

It all was gobbled up, and nary a fizzy drink or plastic bottle in sight. This is what I made: Mini Morning Glory Cakelettes with coconut passionfruit frosting, filo and vegan pastry soy sausage rolls, vegan scones (used coconut oil to rub in, instead of butter) vegan ANZACS biscuits using coconut again. Our drinks were homemade Strawberry Iced Tea and Lemon/Limonade.  It looked a treat and franky it was she wrote in a modest sort of way!


prepping for story time!

We were fairly busy all week so I had to make some very quick vegan dishes. Here’s two of them: the first is my quick vegan hotcakes. These are as easy as pie, and can be whipped up for a quick week-day breakfast. Serve with plenty of fruit, roasted almonds and maple syrup.

vegan hotcakes

Vegan Hotcakes for 4

Sift into a large bowl, 2 cups of spelt flower (I got mine from Ekoplaza). Add in….

2 tsps of baking powder

a pinch of salt

a tsp of nutmeg or cinnamon or mix the two

Add in one grated apple and a mashed banana, the older and the ugliest you have! Bruised apples are entirely acceptable

Add in 2-3 tablespoons of oil. I used a rice bran oil, could use melted coconut cooking oil

Can add some muesli, granola, grated dry coconut if you want.

Add at least a cup of nut milk: almond, or rice or a mix of coconut and rice milk. We are very keen on the new Provamel Rice and coconut milk for cooking and using with cereals.

Mix to a slightly liquidly consistency. Do not overmix! You need to put scoops onto a hot griddle or onto a non-stick fry-pan. Make yours big or small but do use coconut oil to cook them in, either the “geurloos” (without the coconut flavour)  or the one that tastes of coconut. I love coconut so prefer that! Turn the hotcakes when you see bubbles begin to form on the uncooked side. Do use a good amount of coconut or rice bran oil or they will stick!


Date and Nut Burgers

These are based on my friend Jo Parfitt’s recipe from her Date Cookbook, but I have made mine with a ready made nut or falafel burger mix. As in all of my recipes use your favourite herbs, spices and flavourings. So far, everyone has liked these simple burgers, served with char-grilled red onion rings, beetroot, chutney, salad leaves and a good vegan mayo. The very best we have tasted this far, is the GranoVita Mayola, a vegan mayonnaise sweetened with apple juice which we purchased in the UK at Holland & Barrett.


Put the Nut burger mix (we used the Eko plaza’s Notenburger mix) and these ingredients into a food processor. Each burger mix will ask you to add in some liquid. This one uses 400 mls of water but do check the packet instructions.

Fresh herbs such as chives, coriander, parsley and mint.

A good cupful of mixed nuts, roasted or unroasted

8- 10 pitted dates

1 tsp of soy sauce

1 tsp of Thai chili sauce or one small chili pepper, de-seeded

1 tablespoon of tomato or some home-made tomato sauce

You may need to add in more liquid – water or tomatoes – to make it a fairly dense consistency. Taste for seasoning.

Shape into burgers and dust with flour or semolina and fry in olive oil carefully or they will burn. Serve with loads of salad, some hummus, chutney or make a burger in a bun. Great on the way food!

Last but so not least. I have been using a date and onion dressing for all my salads lately. It was given to me by my nephew Matt and I am happier than 3 things in a happy bag! Goes very well in a Quinoa, lentil and bulgar salad…

Date Dressing

Chop 4 dates very finely after removing the pit. Add in half a cup of rice vinegar or a some pre-made sushi dressing. Add in 2 tbsps olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or lime and some finely chopped red onion. Season with a little salt and pepper. Can add some sustainable palm sugar if you think too sharp. The longer you leave it the better it is. Works nicely with giant couscous as below…..


large cous cous


More info about Tanya Batt – Hire her if she is in your neck of the story woods, wouldn’t miss her for the world! And if you are lucky enough to see her, and you like slightly frightening stories ask for one about the evil possum!

Watermill Cottages – I can fully recommend!

Craig Debham’s New Zealand Band is

Jo Parfitt, publisher and writer –

Quick recipes from me on  the My School lunchbox facebook page, please like it and join me!



Flour Power – Amber writes a guest post and “Good to the Grain”…


I’ve got a new Cookbook. Now there’s a surprise, well not really as I am rather taken by cookbooks particularly those of a healthy nature. Naturally I couldn’t resist one called Good to the Grain (Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce and Amy Scattergood (now isn’t that a good name for a cook!). In my quest for delicious but healthy food and styles of cooking and in my attempt to stop myself contracting diabetes, a disease which I  have seen decimate my family’s good health and cause the odd amputation) I am always keen to use wholegrain flour, brown rice and largely cook from scratch. This wonderful book uses many alternative flours – Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Kamut, Oat, Rye, Spelt, Teff, and Quinoa. If you love baking and like a really good read, you’ll adore this book. Kim started out wanting to cook healthily but got to experimenting with using less fat and sugar and appreciating the unique tastes and properties of each type of flour. I’m not an expert in gluten free baking but I am attempting to use more spelt, some rice (for vietamese pancakes) and to try a few alternatives. Below Amber Holmblad makes gluten free pancakes using Amaranth Flour. Amber contacted me after reading one of my articles posted on Jo Parfitt’s summertime Publishing website – Amber and I have become food friends over the electronic airways and I was delighted when she volunteered this recipe for the Food Forum Blog..

Amber says “I am a parent of 2 – one of my daughters has a gluten sensitivity so our family tries to avoid gluten as much as possible.”

Amber is an artist, a life coach specializing in creative expression (she does workshops too) an expat, and a mother of two who finds being a parent intensely creative. She is also passionate about serving wholesome, homemade foods that are nourishing, colorful and delicious.  See her work on


Perfect Gluten Free Waffles – not just for the weekends!

I make these waffles, nearly everyday for our family because they are fast, high in protein, nutritious and most of all – my kids love them! I know it may seem like just one more thing that your busy schedule doesn’t permit, but honestly sending your kids out of the house in the morning with a good solid breakfast is one of the best things you can do for them. I know how hectic mornings can be but making a commitment to starting the day out right is important. It gives their little brains fuel for learning and thriving.

Start with 2 cups of Gluten Free flour. I find the commercial mixes of gluten free flours to be loaded with a lot of unneccessary starches, so I always mix my own. This is my favorite combination:

1 cup Quinoa flour
1 cup Amaranth flour (If I can’t find Amaranth flour in the stores, I substitute 3/4 c. buckwheat and 1/4 c. wholegrain rice flour, which is also very tasty and nutritious)

2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp whey* (I make my own)

Mix the flours together the day or night before and combine them with 2 cups of warm water + whey. Allow them to soak for 12 to 24 hours in a warm place.

In the morning:
While the waffle iron is heating up, melt your butter and add the eggs, salt, soda and cinnamon to the soaking flours.

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp melted butter

These waffles need a little bit extra cooking time than the unsoaked, wheat flour kind. Soaking and allowing the flours to begin the fermentation process makes it taste better plus gives the waffles a crispy skin while still spongy on the inside. Plus, it’s healthier, and makes mornings easier.

I’ve also noticed that the soaked slightly fermented, flours don’t stick to the waffle iron so much, allowing me to use less butter than you find in other recipes. The times when I’ve used this recipe and forgot to soak the night before, I have had problems with the mixture sticking to the waffle iron.

*I make my whey by straining yogurt through an unbleached coffee filter and store it in the refrigerator. You can also use vinegar if you don’t have whey.

I love these waffles with a bit of sour cream and an all-fruit marmalade. My kids like theirs with a little yogurt and a dash of maple syrup.

In the afternoons, they are great with a homemade pesto spread or just plain without anything.

Tips for a speedy breakfast:
By soaking the flours ahead of time, you’ve already committed yourself to eating a healthy breakfast and you’ve done some of the work the night before.

If you’re really pressed for time in the mornings, measure out the baking soda, salt and cinnamon ahead of time so they are ready to mix in.

Or you can make them ahead of time and just heat them up in the morning. You’re still getting a much healthier start to the day!

This is a recipe was adapted from Sally Fallon’s Pancakes “Nourishing Traditions”. If you don’t know who Sally Fallon is, and you’re interested in eating healthier, then I’d suggest looking her up. Beyond the recipes, her cookbooks are filled with tons of information.

Cooks note – Whey is the watery part of milk, separated from the curd rich in lactose, minerals and vitamins.

Meanwhile this last week we made coconut and rice flour pancakes, a classic sweet, sour sharp Vietamese sauce with garlic, fish sauce, chillies and palm sugar, stuffed them full of holy basil, mint and coriander, beansprouts and marinated fried tofu! I made the precious left over holy basil leaves into a fragrant pesto. Also, went to a great talk by Katherine Fortier on Food Fights organized by Passionate Parenting in which she emphasised how sitting at a table for 20 minutes will not only enrich your child’s vocab but will make the whole family happier! So, keep trying, I know it can be tough, oh yes!!! Image

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