Roast Carrot and Cumin Dip

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Although dips are readily available at supermarkets, I still love being able to make my own, knowing exactly what goes into them. A dip is actually really easy to make (especially if you have a food processor). They make a very nutritious snack if served with veggie sticks, are great to throw on a platter as a starter with some crackers and can conveniently be spread on wraps or bread and make part of a sandwich.

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Roasting the carrots, although time consuming, adds a delicious caramelisation flavour to this dip that you wouldn’t get if you were to steam or boil the carrots in order to tenderise them. So, go to the effort, pop them in the oven and keep yourself busy for an hour and they will be ready before you know it.

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I first made this roast carrot dip close to a year ago when we had too many carrots coming out of our garden and they were so sweet and small, so rather than bothering to peel them, I decided to wash them, roast them and blend them. The sweetness of the carrot really makes the difference, so if your carrots are a bit flavourless, add some honey when roasting them (which is what I have done this time).

Happy dipping!

Ingredients:

Makes ~500g of dip

  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 heaped tbs natural yoghurt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Peel and roughly chop the carrots, then place into a plastic bag or container with a lid, add the oil and honey and shake to coat.
  3. Place carrot onto baking tray and cook for ~1 hour or until the carrot is tender.
  4. Allow carrot to cool completely.
  5. Once cool, place carrot, garlic, cumin and yoghurt into the food processor and blend on high until smooth. You made need to stop the food processor to scrape the sides.
  6. With the blade still running, gradually add the lemon juice and blend until combined. If you are after a more runny dip, add some more lemon juice or some water.
  7. Serve with veggie sticks, crackers or grilled pita bread
  8. Will keep for ~4-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

NOTE: this batch makes 500g of dip, so if you can’t see yourself getting through that quantity in 4-5 days, then try halving the recipe.

Pumpkin and Apple Spice Muffins

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Over the weekend, the kids and I made these delicious muffins! They LOVE to help me in the kitchen and they obviously love muffins, so I like to be able to put together muffins that are tasty for all but aren’t laden in sugar or the size of a side plate.

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This recipe is great – the chunks of apple give that familiar sweetness that kids love in fruit and the pumpkin can be ‘hidden’ or left in chunks. The dates soaked in boiling water add some natural sweetness, allowing the refined sugar to be minimised, but it is definitely the spice that makes these muffins!

The icing is a great addition, although it is completely optional and as you can see, I haven’t added it on this batch, instead I combined the reserved spice mix with 1 tsp of castor sugar and sprinkled that over prior to baking.

Happy baking!

Ingredients:

Makes 15 muffins
  • 1 2/3 cup wholemeal plain flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup butternut pumpkin
  • 60g butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 apple (preferably Granny Smith), finely chopped

Icing (optional)

  • 3/4 cup reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare muffin tin or patty pans (1/2 cup capacity).
  2. Combine cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl and set aside 1 tsp of this for the icing.
  3. Peel and chop the pumpkin and steam until soft. Roughly mash once soft and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Place chopped dates in a small bowl and add boiling water to just cover dates. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Combine the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix.
  6. Add the eggs, butter, yoghurt and pumpkin and mix well to combine.
  7. Fold in the apple and dates (including the water) and spoon into prepared muffin pans, filling until 2/3 full and cook for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from pans and allow to cool.
  9. To make the icing, beat the cream cheese with an electric beater until smooth (or by hand if it is at room temperature). Add the lemon juice, icing sugar and reserved spice mix and stir well.
  10. The icing is designed to be more like a thin glaze, so can be added if the muffins aren’t completely cooled.
  11. Store in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

Cranberry and Almond Muesli Bars

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For years I would get to the muesli bar aisle of the supermarket and spend way too much time reading labels trying to decide which muesli bars were the best for our family, with the conclusion being – very few.

Muesli bars are one of those awesome snacks that are so handy to take with you wherever you go, without getting squashed like bananas. They are (when made well) nutritious, tasty, filling, convenient and something that I like to recommend to my clients, as they can satisfy that sweet craving without having to be a block of chocolate or ridiculously energy dense.

So, I decided to do some googling myself, but all I came across was predominantly muesli bar slices, which contained flour, too much sugar and wouldn’t have the delicious crunch that I love in a muesli bar. I then went through a long process of trial and error until I finally came up with these tasty, nutritious muesli bars that will keep the whole family happy. The best thing about them is you can tweak the ingredients slightly, such as different types of nuts, seeds or dried fruit, and you end up with a completely different tasting bar. I have a few different versions of this recipe, which I will share in time.

They will keep at room temperature for at least 2 weeks.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups traditional rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup cranberries or craisins
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 75g white chocolate, chopped
  • 135g butter
  • 1/3 cup honey

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 24cm x 32cm slice tin with baking paper.
  2. Place oats and dried fruit into a large bowl
  3. Using a non stick frypan, over medium heat, toast the almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds until golden. Place into bowl with other ingredients.
  4. Toast coconut until golden brown and add to bowl with other ingredients.
  5. Add chopped chocolate and mix all ingredients together.
  6. Place butter and honey into a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until butter melts and mixture starts to bubble.
  7. Add butter and honey to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  8. Press into prepared slice tin and cook for ~15 minutes or until it starts to brown.
  9. Allow to cool completely in tin, then slice into muesli bar sized slices. For a tin this size, you should get ~24-26 muesli bars.
  10. Store at room temperature in an air tight container.