Pumpkin and Apple Spice Muffins

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.


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 and they are great for kids and adults alike. If you find that the cloves are too strong for the kids, halve the amount you use or leave it out altogether.


The icing is a great addition, although it is completely optional. If you choose not to add it, they are great as they are or you can combine the reserved spice mix with 1 tsp of castor sugar and sprinkle that over prior to baking.


Happy baking!


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


  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.

Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos


Since our trip to Mexico for our honeymoon nearly 5 years ago, we have redefined the way Mexican is cooked and eaten in our house. Tacos are at least a fortnightly occurrence at our place and the kids love them (they have them pizza style – see photo below) – Mark is always asking for them!


With the use of the slow cooker, they are really very easy, tasty and much nicer than the old school mince and taco mix. They take about 5-10 minutes of preparation before they go in the slow cooker, 6-8 hours of cooking (with no attendance needed) and then about 15 minutes to make the accompaniments.


I also love how simply they can be changed around – replacing red cabbage with white cabbage; varying the contents of the coleslaw – cabbage, capsicum, corn, onion, chilli, lettuce, coriander – different combinations give different tacos. Also, if have leftovers and can’t be bothered heating  up tortillas, you could try a completely different take on a Mexican classic, you could omit the actual tortillas and have a pulled pork salad using just the filling, making a lighter lunch alternative.


The rub for this pork can be applied the day night before to allow the flavour to seep into the meat, but not required as the 6-8 hours gives plenty of time for flavour dispersion.

A key step when slow cooking is to brown the meat with spices wherever possible. This gives a fuller flavour to any slow cooked meal.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 500g pork shoulder
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 long red or green chilli (more if you like it hot!)
  • 1.5 cups grated cheese
  • 8 small corn tortillas

Spice rub

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbs dried oregano
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander


  • 1/4 small red cabbage, grated
  • 1/3 cup coriander roughly chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • kernels of 1 corn cob
  • 2 tbs natural yoghurt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime


  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tbs natural yoghurt
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, diced (optional)
  • squeeze of lime juice


  1. Combine spice rub ingredients and rub into pork. This can be left overnight to marinade.
  2. If your slow cooker has a brown function, heat oil in slow cooker and brown all sides of the pork in slow cooker or heat a non stick fry pan over medium heat with olive oil and brown all sides of the pork.
  3. Remove from the heat/turn to slow cook mode, and add the tomato paste and chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Place into slow cooker.
  4. Top with red onion, garlic and chilli.
  5. Set to low on slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours. If you don’t have a slow cooker, this can be cooked in a crockpot in the oven at 120°C for 4-6 hours.
  6. The coleslaw and guacamole can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, if needed.
  7. For the coleslaw, combine all ingredients and mix well. If making ahead of time, leave the yoghurt and juice until just before serving.
  8. For the guacamole, place avocado in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add yoghurt, lime juice and tomatoes.
  9. Grate cheese into a bowl.
  10. Heat the tortillas as per the packet – I use the toasted sandwich maker and it takes about 5 seconds per tortilla.
  11. Place all of the components into a tortilla and enjoy!
  12. I would recommend 2-3 small tortillas per person.




Cranberry and Almond Muesli Bars


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.



  • 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


  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.