Category Archives: From My Kitchen

Spring Pea Soup from CookBook – Sylvia’s Table

One of my favorite fruits, or vegetables (depending on your train of thought) are the little green bundles of joy; peas. When I was a child growing up, my parents always bought peas in their pods, and somebody in my family would shell them to eat each night; this is a fond memory. In Australia, I remember the staple of boiled peas and carrots accompanying most home cooked dinners.

These days, and living in the United States, sadly it seems more commonplace to buy them as loose peas in the freezer department of a supermarket. However, if in season you should be able to get them as-is from a Farmers Market. We have them in abundance at our local spot at the moment, so this Spring Pea Soup is perfectly doable.

Personally, I do prefer them as I remember as a child, and I especially fancy this recipe as it uses both the pea and the pod. This deliciously wholesome soup is taken from the farm-to-table style cookbook – Sylvia’s Table

Every year children flock to the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm in upstate New York to learn firsthand about where fresh food comes from, —how to grow it, how to harvest it, and how to use it to prepare great-tasting meals. Now Sylvia’’s Table brings these lessons and recipes straight from the farm to your kitchen in a deliciously unique cookbook for families — greatperformances.com

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Moroccan Carrot Salad with MINA Pepper Sauce

Growing up in Australia, the carrot made appearances in most dinners I enjoyed as a child. They were right there next to the peas; the two vegetables being a favorite combination in many homes in the Land Down Under.

Carrots are a chock-o-block vitamin dense root vegetable which are traditionally orange, but can also be other colors like red, purple or yellow. Inside each carrot there is vitamin A, which helps maintain the health of one’s eyes, and is clearly why parents tell children they will see better in the dark if they eat them. There is potassium, which is necessary for the body to hydrate efficiently. As well as regulating a healthy heart, muscles and nervous system. Vitamin K which helps with strong bones and kidney health. Vitamin C which is fantastic for the immune system. Not forgetting Fiber, which helps keep the body regular. Moral of the story; eat more carrots.

Locally grown carrots from the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market upstate NY

MINA Pepper Sauce

MINA fiery harissa pepper sauce is made in our local Brooklyn NY area by a Moroccan woman named Mina. She created the recipe herself, (having learned the art of cooking from her mother when she was a girl), carefully blending only 6 simple all-natural ingredients; red chilli pepper, red bell (capsicum) pepper, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and salt. So simple and so perfect. Apparently, nearly all homes have a jar of this central condiment in North Africa where it is used as a spread or drizzled on top of meals. Sounds as Vegemite on toast, is to people in my home country of Australia!

Moroccan Carrot Salad

I must admit, besides either having raw carrots with hummus, blended in a raw juice, or as a side dish like the Australian tradition of steamed peas and carrots, I have not really ventured far with them in my diet. So, I was really excited to try this Moroccan classic, as suggested by MINA. This dish (which can be eaten hot or cold) is definitely on the easy side with minimal prep time before you are sitting down to enjoy all this orange-deliciousness.

What You Need

  • 1 lb fresh carrots peeled and cut into 1/8″ slices
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoon of Mina Harissa
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (to taste)

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Pintos and Red Wine Soup

Pinto Beans

Frugal comfort food that doesn’t just taste good, but keeps well too.

When choosing a dish to cook, Mums will always need to ask themselves three things:
1) “Is this good?”,
2) “Is this nutritious?”, and
3) “Is this practical?”
After all, you can’t have one without the other!

A great big serving of Mac and Cheese is easy to prepare and a sure-hit with the kids, but it’s hardly healthy. Conversely, a simple dish made with cheap vegetables will make for a healthy, practical meal, but may not be too popular at the dinner table? Striking a balance between the three is essential to serving up a great meal.

Not to worry though, as today’s recipe for pinto beans and red wine soup ticks all three boxes. Making use of nothing but the best quality ingredients, it’s sure to pack a punch in terms of flavor and nutrients! And it’s insanely easy to make too, and which Mum does not love easy.

Pinto beans don’t carry too much flavor on their own, but this is what makes them a perfect complement to the red wine soup. After all, when trying to pair wine with anything, M&S wine guru Chris Murphy recommends trying to match textures and flavors before anything else. “Anything with a lighter texture than these pintos would be overpowered by the richness of a red wine soup, and anything too flavorful would clash with the delicate hints of garlic in the soup.”

Worried about cooking with wine for children; the alcohol will evaporate, with the flavor remaining in a concentrated form. Thus, leaving the food safe for a child to consume. Do not fret!

Is this nutritious?
The main ingredients of this meal are pinto beans, red wine, and garlic — three things that have been touted for their health benefits in the past. Pinto beans are virtually fat-free and are a great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. Red wine is known for its anti-aging properties and for being full of antioxidants, and garlic is said to be good for your blood and maybe even help lessen the amount of fat formed in our bodies.

Garlic; used throughout history as a food medicine

Is this practical?
The soup mellows out as it stays in the fridge, and it freezes extremely well, so you can make a big batch and keep it in your fridge. The ingredients are also quite cheap, as you can use just about any leftover red wine from your pantry.

What You Need for the Beans

  • 2 cups of dried, organic pinto beans
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 diced celery stalk
  • 1 diced large carrot
  • 1 diced medium onion
  • 6 crushed garlic cloves, and 6 whole garlic cloves
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • ½ tsp of salt

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Let’s talk chutney, & convert that meat sandwich into a vegan one

Vegan, cruelty-free and delicious sandwich

When I think of chutney (also known as relish), it reminds of growing up in Australia when I was a very little girl. My Father would make these ham sandwiches with chutney, mayonnaise, cheese and salad. Of course, that was a very long time ago as I have not eaten any meat in over 26 years now but the memory still remains.

Chutney is a side dish or condiment, which is used to enhance and add flavor to another dish. It is generally plant-based and may include spices, fruits, herbs and chillies.

I have followed a vegan plant-based diet for over 7 months. When it comes up in conversation that I am a vegan, I am met with comments of awe, or disbelief. Generally speaking, people think that it is really difficult to stop eating meat and dairy products. Not so much difficult, more so, people do not know how they would still eat the same things with substitutes, or really have no idea what they would eat; period.

For me, it has been a relatively easy transition. This is because of a combination of things; One, here in New York City there are so so many vegan food options. I can walk into any store and easily find something healthy to snack on. Two, my family eats very healthy, preparing most of our meals at home. Three, I have been a vegetarian for so many years that going the extra mile to cut out dairy products was easy enough. Four, and most importantly, I love animals way too much to eat them!

Today, I want to highlight the simple (what we would call in Australia) a ham and salad sandwich and how you can easily make it vegan style, without the guilt of taking another life, as well as being way healthier for you.

Vegan ingredients for a ham and salad sandwich

What You Need

  • Vegenaise – Vegenaise is an egg-less mayonnaise that is heart healthy made from non-GMO expeller-pressed oils. I mean, personally, I love this stuff. I could never eat traditional mayonnaise again. It also comes in a variety of options like reduced-fat, organic, grapeseed and soy-free. Once you try vegenaise you will never go back to the old school unhealthy cholesterol laden kind. That I guarantee!
  • Chutney – My favorite is Mango Mania which is made by Legacy Chutney. Legacy Chutney was inspired by a Pakistani Grandmother who passed on her wonderful chutney recipes to her younger family, and is now thankfully available for us all to enjoy. If mango is not your thing, they also have Cherry Kiss Chutney, Sweet Fruit Chutney and Date Night Chutney flavors. Sweet and Spicy, Legacy Chutney is a perfect addition
  • Red Onion – This onion is one of the milder in flavor and sweetness of all so it gives a nice flavor when used in raw non-cooked meals
  • Pickles – These are cucumbers that have been fermented in a brine made of water, vinegar, salt. And, now you know
  • Tomato – If I cannot find a ripe tomato, I am not going to use it. There is nothing worse than having a tomato in your salad that is under-ripe and crystal white on the inside
  • Lettuce – Where once upon a time, I always used iceberg, I have recently learned that it is one of the least nutrient void foods available. I now always use fresh spinach leaves, or in this case, arugula aka rocket which is rich in potassium and vitamin C
  • Bread – Sprouted Bread is the best, as I understand that it has a higher mineral and vitamin content. It is also has more protein and less fat of traditional breads
  • Meatless Yves slices – My favorite is the bologna kind; it tastes just like the real deal without the sad fact that you are eating a beautiful creature that was once alive and well
  • Vegan Cheese – I am still to explore what my favorite vegan cheese is. However, for now, I use Go Veggie Rice Vegan variety which is cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat-free and only 40 calories a slice – love that!
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

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Well hello Dragon Fruit it is very nice to meet you

The beautiful Dragon Fruit

Today, while my toddler Son and I were in the produce section of our local supermarket, my eye caught these beauties. I had no idea what they were, and when I read the accompanying sign Dragon Fruit, I still had no idea? But fascinated, I picked them up and took the home with me anyway. Lately, I have noticed a lot of fruits and vegetables available in stores that I am not familiar with, which has sparked a curiosity to develop my palette of healthy foods available. Not just for me, but for my 3-year-old Son too.

I follow a plant-based vegan diet, and my Son follows a mainly a vegetarian diet, with some fish at most twice a week. I’ll be honest, if I had my way, my Son would be, at the least, strictly vegetarian. But, as my husband eats meat, it was the compromise we made in bringing up our enlightened little spirit, together.

Not too sure

Little Munchkin and I were talking about the Dragon Fruit all the way back to our apartment. We talked about how we were going to eat them for the first time together, what we thought they would taste like and how healthy and pretty they were. You know, regular kind of chitter-chatter.

What happened once we arrived home was kind of funny!

Once I placed the fruit on the table, it became clear that my 3-year-old thought there was a real dragon inside the fruit! He has such an imagination, and it was so cute. Like too-much cute. He was very hesitant to go anywhere near the fruit or touch the fruit, so he opted to hide behind a chair and watch from a distance instead.

Dragon Fruit also known as Pitaya, is a tropical cactus plant which is very low in calories; love that! It offers many nutrients; high in Vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, iron, fiber, vitamin B’s, antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats (found in the 1000′s of seeds). The fruit is made up of a majority of water so yes it is great for hydration of the whole body.

To me, it tasted like a crunchy kiwi-fruit or maybe a melon? It was juicy and refreshing, and really easy to prepare; another plus being a busy Stay At Home Mum. Never enough time in the day is there.

How To Prepare the Dragon Fruit

  • Take the Dragon Fruit and cut right through it, halving it
  • You will see the flesh, in this case white, with edible black seeds inside it, this is all in the form of a soft firm solid
  • Scoop it out with a spoon, separating the flesh from the outer skin
  • Place on cutting board and chop into bite size pieces
  • Spoon back into shell and enjoy raw, noting that the outer skin is not edible

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Delicious and Nutritious homemade Guacamole recipe

Guacamole is a delicious & nutritious (ha, that rhymes) avocado-based dip that originated in central Mexico back in the day of the Aztecs who reigned between the 14th to 16th centuries. Basically, it is made by mashing avocado with variations of sea salt, tomato, garlic, lemon or lime juice, hot peppers, onion, herbs and seasonings.

Our guacomole is made up of Avocado, Sea Salt, White Onion, Tomato, Lime, Coriander and Cumin (shown in powder form)

Guacamole is sometimes pegged as a food to avoid as it is high in calories and fat, good fat, but fat all the same. But, we need good fat, in fact it is an essential component to living a flourishing and vigorous life and we all want one of those!

Good fats encompass Omega 3′s, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats which your body needs to be healthy physically and emotionally, and should be consumed at between 25%-35% of your caloric daily food intake if you are an adult, and between 30%-35% if you are a child (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines). Consuming healthy fat manifests in our bodies in the form of soft skin and being energized, not forgetting delivering fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. Plant sources of good fats include avocado, nuts (oils and butters), and olive oil.

Everything in moderation, even moderation!

6 months ago, when I was drinking a ton of wine, following a vegetarian diet compared to a vegan diet now, and not exercising as much, I would’ve only eaten guacamole sometimes and in small servings. I was wary about consuming too much of it because of the fat content. However, now that I have made such changes to my lifestyle and have cut out a TON of fat/sugar calories in other areas, I have no worries about eating avocado whenever I want.

Squeeze lime juice into bowl

My family loves guacamole, especially my 3-year-old Son. We not only dip it with chips/carrots/celery, but also as a side to a salad, or top of a veggie burger, or as a side dish to a main meal. It is something that we make a BIG bowl of each week and keep in the fridge till it runs out, which is usually the next day!

Here is our recipe created by my husband, who is amazing in the kitchen. So grateful for that one!

What You Need

  • 3 avocados
  • 2 small tomatoes diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 white onion (or a whole red onion)
  • Juice of 2 small limes
  • Small bunch of chopped coriander (cilantro for the Americans)
  • 4 roasted garlic cloves (or a 1 tablespoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

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Carrot Ginger Vegan Soup

Here at Willy B Mum, we love San Francisco based Mother and Daughter Chef Team - Paulding and Co. Terry and Tracy (respectively) work together at Emeryville Kitchen, a full catering kitchen which specializes in creating innovative event ideas for families and corporate entities through public cooking classes and exercises. This is portrayed in many ways but one of our favorites, is daughter Tracy’s Cook! Programs, which are targeted towards children from 9 years of age and up.

It is so very important to teach young ones the basics of cooking their own food, as it is unfortunately not a priority in our schools like it was when I was growing up. And, realistically in some parts of the United States, it’s considered a skill of the past.

Carrot Ginger Soup

Feeling inspired after seeing the photo above; why not make your own Paulding’s light weight (at around 53 calories per serving) Carrot Ginger Soup. Besides being delicious, it is incredibly easy to make. You’ll be feeling like a gourmet Chef in no time!

Carrot Ginger Soup
Yield: 6 servings (about one cup each)

What You Need;

  • 1 onion
  • 1 lb. carrots
  • 1-inch piece ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 quart water plus 1 Tbs. light miso paste
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (or white pepper)
  • Chiffonade of basil or Thai basil for garnish

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Carrot Apple Gluten-Free Muffins made with Blue Hill Savory Yogurt

Blue Hill has dairy in its roots. Blue Hill Farm—our family farm in the Berkshires, and the original inspiration for our Blue Hill restaurant in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY—was a working dairy from the 1860s through the 1960s. Three decades later, we refurbished the farm and brought the dairy back to life — Blue Hill Farm

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Home Baked Miso Glazed Tofu Cubes

One of Miles Storm’s favorite snacks is our Home Baked Miso Glazed Tofu Cubes. They are very easy and fast to make. We like to make this for him as a snack once a week, as our pediatrician told us that it is not good to give little boys too much tofu. Her reasoning was that it has high level of estrogen and is only recommended in moderation.

You will need – Olive Oil, Miso paste and a package of organic firm tofu. I always use South River Chickpea Miso paste, as it is organic and tastes great. It is a little pricey though but worth it as one jar goes a very long way – you can buy it online here.

The ingredients

What To Do

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Line the baking tin with olive oil – a good amount which covers the bottom of the tray.

2. Drain tofu, place on cutting board and roughly chop into 1 inch cubes.

3. Mix a few teaspoons of miso paste in a few tablespoons of olive oil and blend together.

4. Either paint tofu paste on with a brush, or spoon mixture on to tofu pieces.

5. Put tofu in oven and cook until golden brown. Turn pieces of tofu every 15 minutes. It should take between 45 minutes to an hour to cook.

Just out of the oven

6. Perfect for Little hands. Feed your munchkin!

Great for little hands

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum!

Vegan Minestrone Soup; inspired by Food Revolution

A few months ago, while on twitter, I saw that UK Chef, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution were looking for volunteer food ambassadors.

Food Revolution is a Non-Profit Global Organization with the goal of educating people how to eat healthier. One of the ways this is being done is by teaching Children the basics of cooking their own food. It seems like a simple thing, but unfortunately food education in schools is no longer a priority (as it was when I was growing up). In fact, here in the USA many schools do not even include food education in their curriculum at all!

Of course being like-minded, I applied! And, I am happy to write that I am now a Food Revolution Ambassador for the Brooklyn New York area; which is very exciting! I join hundreds of other ambassadors in over 130 countries around the World who are dedicated to “play a leadership role in connecting individuals, schools, businesses and organizations at a local level to ensure their collective voice is heard”.

The Minestrone Soup

Each month Food Revolution HQ send out monthly challenges to all ambassadors -

November Challenge #3: Make our minestrone soup, our recipe for this month, add your own twist to it, let us know what ingredients you add or substitute and why not even pass this simple recipe on to others and teach them how to make it — Food Revolution

I have made quite a few soups but never a Minestrone version, so I was quite excited to get started on this and share it with you all. I added a twist by making my soup vegan and I used all organic and Non-GMO ingredients. If you know me, that kind of goes without saying.

As my substitute to the bacon used in Jamie Oliver’s minestrone soup recipe, I used tofu. Additionally, I used the Peruvian seed quinoa rather than pasta or rice. I prefer Quinoa as it is relatively high in protein and lacks gluten, it is also really easy to prepare.

A traditional vegetable minestrone soup is of Italian origin; which is tomato based with the addition of pasta or rice. Common ingredients include beans, celery, onion and carrot, as well as herbs such as oregano or basil. There are no set rules when creating a minestrone soup which is usually seasonal dependent on what is available.

This soup was so easy to make, and it turned out really delicious. I am even going to go as far as to say, one of the best Minestrone soups I have ever tasted.

My very first Minestrone Soup. So Proud of myself

Ingredient List

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 14 OZ Extra Firm Tofu (I used the Nasoya Brand), cut in small cubes
  • 8 Gloves of Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped small
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 large celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jar/16 OZ canned tomatoes, grown in our family garden last Summer
  • 4 Cups of Low Sodium Vegetable broth (I used the Pacific Brand)
  • 15 OZ Kidney Beans (I used Eden organic brand)
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 2 Cups of chopped Kale, from our garden
  • 2 Cups of pre-cooked Quinoa
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

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