Coconut rice

Finally the end of the Easter break. Three and a half weeks of fun, fun, fun, but The Boys and I were just a little bit pleased when they went back to Montessori yesterday. I love my boys so much but I also love my two mornings to myself and I’m sure they make me a much better Mummy. And I’m looking forward to having a little more time to play around in the kitchen. By myself.

Keeping things simple, we’ve been eating mostly tried and tested meals this holiday, just gently trying out new things along the way. This is one of our favourite meals and we’ve eaten it a lot lately but every one of us gobbles up every morsel so I think it’s here to stay. It’s deliciously creamy and feels naughty but isn’t bad for you at all. It is also great for us as a family because Boy O who doesn’t like creamy / cheesy sauces loves it, Boy A LOVES coconut with a passion and doesn’t notice the lumps in it and Daddy’s favourite supper is risotto. Me? I’m just thrilled to get more ticks on the veg-o-meter.

In fact, just thinking about it now is making me want to cook it tonight…

It’s extremely flexible and I’ll try to highlight below a few ways it can be adapted, however not much can go wrong if you have a play around yourself too. It pretty much takes care of itself and is delicious reheated for lunch the next day, so I always make an extra portion for Daddy to take to work.

Here goes…

Ingredients required:

1 dsp of coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into tiny cubes (or however big you can get away with)
2 cubes of frozen spinach

NB/ at this point I’ll add that you can interchange these vegetables for any others you like, just chop them nice and small. Last time I made it with a leek which I cut into quarters lengthways and then sliced thinly and a courgette which I grated. Most veg will work well but I like to include one with a little bite like carrot, green beans, broccoli, squash, etc

2 free-range chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces (we generally don’t use much meat so this is enough for our family of four plus extra portion for lunch, however if you like more chicken then use however much you would use for your family)

2 tsp low-salt vegetable boullion
1 400ml tin of coconut milk
risotto rice (we measure ours using an espresso cup – one scoop of rice per person and two scoops of water per scoop of rice)

A handful of fresh kale leaves, hard stalks removed (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 200*

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan then add the onion and gently cook for around 10 mins until soft. Add the chopped carrot and spinach (or any other veg you are using) and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the rice, stir thoroughly then pour in the coconut milk followed by the water and boullion. Give everything another really good stir, allow it to come up to a simmer then cook for approx 15/20 minutes (according to your rice instructions, which will vary). Stir occasionally, however there is no need to stand over it the whole time.

Meanwhile, wash and pat dry the kale with kitchen paper and spread it out on a flat baking tray. Resist the urge to sprinkle it with salt or sugar, there really is no need. Pop it low down in the hot oven and cook for 4-5 minutes, until nice and crispy, but not burnt. You may need to turn the tray halfway through and shake the kale around a bit to get it all evenly crispy.

Serve the risotto in bowls with a the crispy kale on top. Delicious!

(I’ve spared you a photo of Boy O eating it as he just shovels it in using his spoon and fingers and picks most of the kale off, so here is Boy A eating it…he too picks the kale off but first and eats it before tucking in to the risotto – I couldn’t get a photo in time before he’d eaten all of the kale.)

Coconut & fruit slices

The Boys have been begging to help bake all week, even though we’ve been out and about every day and have barely eaten a meal at home, so today, with rain forecast, I decided to have a baking day.

We didn’t get much done as the sun ended up making an appearance and the call of digging mud in the garden with toy excavators was too strong and they ran off halfway through…

But what we did make was delicious and loved by us all so will definitely be a lunchbox staple from now on.

Now unusual for me but this one is a little labour intensive, however I promise you it is worth investing in a little preparation time as they’re quick to cook and very satisfying so with a little willpower will last you a good while in an air tight tin. As long as you keep the tin out of reach of little hands.

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The version I’ve made here is dairy free and with a couple of minor tweaks could easily be gluten free, vegan, nut free or even all of the above, so delicious whatever your dietary requirements.

Firstly, ingredients:

400g chopped dried fruit such as dates, figs, prunes or apricots (I used a mixture of figs and prunes but any combination would work well)
150g spelt flour (for GF use 75g rice flour and 75g coconut/quinoa/amaranth/etc flour)
200g rolled oats (if GF make sure you use GF oats)
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tbsp milled nuts (GF) or wheatgerm (NF) (leave out for both NF & GF or sub for some milled seeds or sesame seeds)
120g coconut sugar
150g extra virgin coconut oil
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbsp 100% peanut (or other nut) butter (omit for NF or swap for a good quality tahini paste)
2bsp honey (swap with maple / corn / golden syrup if Vegan)
2tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 175* and line a swiss roll tray with parchment.

Place the chopped dried fruits in a small saucepan with 200ml water and the vanilla extract and cook over a gentle heat for around 10 minutes until the fruit has absorbed all of the water. Scrape the fruit into a food processor and blitz until you have smooth puree. Set aside to cool.

Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, oats, desiccated coconut, milled nuts & bicarbonate of soda) and set aside.

In a separate saucepan gently heat the coconut sugar, coconut oil, peanut butter and honey and gently whisk until all of the oil has melted and the sugar dissolved. At this point the mixture will separate into an oily liquid and toffee-like substance but don’t worry as this is what it should be doing, just carry on whisking until the sugar has dissolved as it will come together as soon as it is mixed into the dry ingredients.

When you’re ready, quickly mix the contents of the saucepan into the dry mixture and stir thoroughly to combine. Mix in the fruit puree and again, stir, stir, stir.

When you’re happy everything is mixed together nicely, firmly squash the mixture into your prepared baking tray. Sprinkle the coconut flakes and poppy seeds on top and gently press down to ’stick’ them, then pop the tray in the preheated oven. Cook for 15 minutes then turn the tray and pop back in for another 10-15 minutes.

When it’s ready allow it to cool in the tin before cutting it into squares.

I promise you it is delicious and so adaptable beyond what I’ve highlighted here. Try it out. And let me know what you think. I dare you…

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