GF V Blueberry Banana Pancakes

Long ago, when I visualised the beach-house I hoped to move to, with the family I imagined I’d have one day, we’d be in the kitchen together making pancakes to Jack Johnson’s ‘Banana Pancakes’. Cheesy like a catalogue perhaps but Sunday pancakes, in my mind, were a slow to make and lovingly flip weekend treat. I also expected that eggs, milk and plain flour were essential in producing the picture perfect fluffy pancake… until I found Love & Lemons Gluten Free Vegan version.

This pancake recipe is dead easy, is committed to memory, and has become a weekday breakfast when the fridge is empty and cupboard is bare. I always have a healthy stash of baking staples in the pantry and, as this recipe can be achieved with or without blueberries, a banana is the only essential fresh ingredient to get going. It is the blueberries however that elevate these pancakes to the next level. The blueberries folded through the batter have an almost stewed flavour when heated and the three ingredient microwaved blueberry sauce tastes far more deliciously complex than the preparation suggests.

A single dish that satisfies the entire family, my hungry husband to my curious nine month old, is an absolute win in my book.



  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup blueberries (to go inside the pancakes)
  • a few tablespoons coconut oil, for the pan
  • maple syrup, for serving

Blueberry Sauce

  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • drizzle of maple syrup
  • tiny pinch of salt


  1. In a small food processor, puree the banana, almond milk and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour the banana/almond milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  4. Heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Using a ¼ measuring cup, scoop the pancake batter into the pan. Flip when bubbles form in the batter (about 1 minute). Let the second side cook for about 30-60 seconds and remove from heat.
  5. For the blueberry topping, place blueberries in a small bowl with a drizzle of maple syrup. Microwave for 20-30 seconds or until they burst a little.
  6. Serve pancakes warm with blueberry sauce and maple syrup.



Loving Leon_Blog_Carrot Cake

GF V Carrot Cake

It is no secret that I enjoy baking when I get the opportunity and I usually put my hand up or am put forward to make dessert for family get-togethers.

Until recently, I’ve chosen to make cakes the traditional way, laden with butter, flour, sugar, so as not to disappoint my foodie family. Time and time again I have watched as Leon was distracted away from the table as he attempted to lick icing or steal a slice. Sharing food together is a ritual that I have grown up with and, with this in mind, I have begun baking gluten free vegan versions of my favourite recipes to please the entire family.

As my confidence grows in the kitchen, I am slowly beginning to alter recipes to suit our family’s intolerances, and I look forward to sharing those with you soon. My education to date comes from testing recipes from those in the know, such as Gimme Some Oven. When selecting a recipe to bake I look for the following, gluten free/vegan, an enticing looking result and an overwhelmingly glowing review by a seemingly relatable food lover, used to the real deal. Blog author Ali’s friend Stacey, the recipe was made for her birthday, claimed it as her favourite carrot cake! I’ll go a step further and say this might be the best cake I’ve ever made, and my brother in law deemed it his favourite cake… period!


Carrot Cake

  • 2.5 cups gluten free all-purpose flour blend, plus extra for dusting the pans
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 455 grams of carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 flax eggs (¼ cup ground flaxmeal and ¾ cup water)
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • (optional: 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts)

Vegan Gluten Free ‘Cream Cheese’ Icing

  • 8 cups gluten free icing sugar
  • 1½ cups vegan butter
  • 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Carrot Cake

1. Preheat oven to 175ºC. Use cooking spray or butter to thoroughly grease the inside of either:

  • 1 x 13 x 19 inch baking pan
  • 2 x 9 inch round cake pans
  • 3 x 8 inch round cake pans

2. Dust the inside of each pan with flour until the grease is completely covered.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and ginger until combined.
4. In a food processor fitted with the large shredding disk, shred carrots. Then transfer them to the mixing bowl with the flour. Wipe clean the food processor bowl, and fit with the metal blade. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar and flax eggs and process until frothy and combined, about 20 seconds. With processor running, add oil in a steady stream. Process until egg mixture is light in colour and well emulsified, about 20 more seconds.
I had to grate the carrots by hand which was tedious. The taste of the cake however made the work worthwhile.
5. Transfer egg mixture to the large bowl with the carrots and flour. Stir the mixture until thoroughly combined. If using nuts, stir them in until combined.
6. Pour batter evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, about:

  • 30-35 minutes for the 13 x 19 inch baking pan
  • 25-30 minutes for the 2 x 9 inch round cake pans
  • 18-23 minutes for the 3 x 8 inch round cake pans

7. Let cake cool completely in the pan(s) on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Remove cake, if transferring to a different serving platter, and ice as desired.

Vegan Gluten Free ‘Cream Cheese’ Icing

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor, and mix until smooth and combined. If the icing is too thick, add in some extra milk to thin. If the icing is too thin, add in more powdered sugar to thicken.

Flax Eggs

1. Simply stir together 1 tablespoon flaxmeal and 3 tablespoons of water until combined per egg. This recipe called for 4 eggs.
2. Then refrigerate the mixture for at least 15 minutes, remove and whisk again, and the mixture should be thick and sticky.

Loving Leon_Blog_Dear Dairy

Dear Dairy…

Dear Dairy… I’m breaking up with you!

The success I have had in healing my son Leon through diet, recently forced me to address my own health issues. I have long suspected I might be intolerant to dairy, the food group I have a well known love affair with (I once worked in a gourmet cheese room). I’ve also had a lesser known, long-term battle with problem skin, flaring up in times of stress and taking up residence along my jawline in adulthood.

Hormonal Acne was the diagnosis given numerous times by dermatologists, with little advice for how to control it, except strong prescription drugs that have side effects and cannot be taken during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Over the years I’d depended on makeup or social avoidance whenever suffering from a breakout, to mask imperfections that were far worse from my perspective than to those around me. During two easy, problem free pregnancies I was gifted with luxurious hair, strong nails and clear skin. It was only months after having my second son Jarvis, as my fresh face began its decline into puberty, that I decided to cure myself once and for all, or at least make attempts to.

I’ve read anecdotal accounts by fellow acne sufferers that the removal of dairy (and soy) from their diets was key to turning their skin around. I poured through a particularly persuasive man’s story while pregnant and made a promise that once I’d birthed my boy, and kickstarted a harmonious feeding routine, I would give up my feta laden salads, the milk in my coffees and gelato indulgences. This ‘acne survivor’ documented a nasty two week withdrawal that had both he and his wife visit their GP in fear of something more sinister. Their period of weaning seemed unusually intense and I remember feeling unconvinced that the simple removal of dairy could cause the function of otherwise healthy bodies to fall apart in so many ways. And then it happened to me.

I chose the new year to implement my dietary restrictions and noticed changes in my body immediately. I developed quite a shopping list of ailments; dizziness, nausea, vision disturbances, utter exhaustion, and most unusual of all, chronic headaches. While certainly not a hypercondriac by nature, I too visited the GP as my second week of feeling unwell drew to a close. This was far too debilitating to be a simple dietary detox. I was diagnosed as having a ‘virus’, the answer always given to explain a mysterious set of symptoms, and not a brain tumour as I had feared. All throughout and particularly after this short lived ordeal, my skin improved beyond what I can ever remember having had before. Ah ha!

My diet now is much closer to my son’s, dairy free and lower in gluten. I’ve been far too relaxed with soy, struggling to find baristas to accommodate my wish for almond or coconut milk, and am intending to be much stricter moving forward. Food, good gourmet restaurant date nights and lavish family lunch spreads remain very close to my heart, and I throw caution to the wind in measured moments. Like a predicted hangover, I plan ahead, don’t look back or regret the morning after. The little red spot that appears in the aftermath is worth the great time that preceded it. Then it’s back to enjoying my delicious day-to-day dairy free diet again. While I’ll never have an air brushed complexion, leaving the house confidently makeup free makes me far happier than a weekly cheese plate. And as for the coincidental gradual weight loss, well that’s just the cherry on my vegan cake!


Tropical Fruit Tapioca

Since falling pregnant the first time, my tastebuds changed to embrace sweet. Like Leon, I now insist on tucking into something sweet every day, usually in the afternoon or following dinner. I’ve had a love affair with tapioca since sampling it at China Beach in Manly, and thankfully Arlingtons sell a heavenly snack-sized Classic Coconut Tapioca, available at Sydney’s markets and local food stores.

I like to layer the tapioca with tropical fruit and other healthy sweet ingredients, producing a sweet, salty, sour combination. Lately it’s coconut tapioca topped with banana and passionfuit, cacao nibs for crunch, a drizzle maple syrup and sprinkle of sea salt for a subtle salted caramel flavour. Our family has been indulging in this quick to prepare, little bowl of summer almost daily. I dress it up when casually entertaining with a pineapple flower. Paper & Stitch can show you how to make these delicately delicious toppers.


Caramel Apple Cupcakes

These gorgeously enticing, toffee drizzled dried apple slices by il migliore, sourced from my local cafe, were the inspiration for using this recipe. With Leon’s ‘girlfriend’s’ birthday this week, I had an excuse. I’ll also admit, I’d never made caramel before and I’m drawn to recipes that test and gain me new skills. And test me it did, I made three batches of caramel to reach perfection, mainly because I didn’t have the exact ingredients at hand and was casually swapping in substitutes, a rookie mistake. Once I armed myself exactly was instructed by Sarah Bakes, it was a synch.

Sarah’s cupcakes are generously piped with icing and drizzled with leftover caramel. My version has far less icing, applied more conservatively with a spatular, with the young recipients at daycare in mind. I’d hate to be the cause for them bouncing off the walls. The dried apple slice elegantly finishes the cupcake off, hints at it’s flavour and is intolerance friendly. Just a little sugar for good measure.

Cupcakes – Makes 12
Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes

  • 1¾ cups, plus 2 tablespoons gluten free flour blend
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup sunflower seed oil (or mild flavour oil)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cane sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup peeled, cored and shredded apple (use large holes on grater)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2½ cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (I use Nuttelex)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC and line 12 muffins with paper liners.
  2. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine applesauce, coconut milk, oil, brown sugar, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Mix in shredded apple.
  4. Add flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  5. Evenly divide cupcake batter into prepared muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 17-19 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Caramel for Icing

  1. Place coconut milk in saucepan, along with brown sugar. Cook over medium-low heat and bring to low boil.
  2. Continue to boil for 20 minutes, stirring periodically to keep from burning.
  3. When caramel is thickened, remove from heat. Pour in bowl to cool until ready to use.


  1. Poor cooled caramel into large bowl of standing mixer.
  2. Add icing sugar, vegan butter, coconut milk and vanilla. Beat for 3-4 minutes until creamy.
  3. Either place icing into piping bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes or use offset spatula to ice cupcakes.

Best served within 1-2 days.

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Biomedical Protocol

It was explained to me, in one of my first Naturopathy appointments, that Leon would need to take a combination of supplements; a Biomedical Protocol put together for him specifically based on the results of his stool and IGg samples. These digestive enzymes, herbs, probiotics and cleansing foods would reverse the damage done to Leon’s gut, and have him feeling well and functioning at his best. As exciting and essential as this treatment sounded from the get go, I was too overwhelmed with Leon’s dietary restrictions to take it on initially.

When we returned from a relaxing post Christmas holiday in Killcare, where I’d made the most of long days, cooking up a storm and practicing healthy recipes, I realised how far we’d come. It had been six months since I changed Leon’s diet, and that alone had transformed my child. My naturopath said that his positive response to dietary change made him an excellent candidate for a Biomedical Protocol. I felt convinced of the direction I was taking, cooking for Leon had become second nature and I’d indirectly fallen in love with our new, healthier life. I was ready!

Leon had weathered the nasty side effects of detoxification before and I was warned he might experience some of this again as the protocol began working. Apparently I could expect this from a week in, as his body adjusted. With this in mind, I planned commencement of his supplements a week before a family vacation in Noosa. I figured, I would prefer to be available to care for Leon myself if he felt unwell, rather than have him at Family Daycare.

I need not have worried, or warned my family of some potential emotional storm coming, Leon was fine. There were only two instances, erratic mini meltdowns; one refusal to leave the plane after landing, another dramatic objection over bedtime. There was also an unusual alcoholic odour to his bowel movements, but otherwise he was a delightfully happy toddler, thrilled to be spending time with his cousin Hunter. Away from work, I had time to plan the administering of each supplement as guided. The protocol is spread out over the course of a day, particular supplements are given morning and night with Metagenics Gut Care for Kids added to diluted juice at morning tea.

Many months prior I had experimented with the supplements, tried to figure out how best to disguise them in food and drinks. The herbal tonic induced gagging even in me. I was dumfounded as to how to get Leon to take the 5 drops! I tried the obvious sweet, enticing, child-friendly disguises; chia jam or honey spread on biscuits. My creative attempts to trick him into taking the herbs backfired, they turned him off the food they were hidden in. Leon refused grapes for a week after I’d injected drops into one. Understanding the importance of following the entire schedule of supplements correctly for maximum benefit, I returned to the Naturopath and admitted defeat… “he’s two and half years old!”

I came to the conclusion on my own, Leon would need to be made aware of his health and my plight, and I’d need to have him work with me to help him. I explained that the doctor said he has a sore tummy and that he needs medicine every morning to make it better. I offered a piece of the insanely delicious and fresh tasting Alter Ego Dark Mint Chocolate (vegan), to have with the drops. Basically the routine goes, Leon tastes his square of chocolate, I hold his nose and syringe juice with drops into his mouth, then he finishes the square of chocolate. I let him hold the square, I believe it gives him a sense of control. Lately he has taken to saying ‘thank you Mummy’ as he hops down off the bench. It seems the hardest part of the Protocol has become a treat for him.

We plan to have Leon’s blood and stools retested in around three months. I love numbers based evidence, and hope to see some progress. A shift in the numbers will be a pat on the back for the positive changes we have made as a family. The Protocol may continue for several months but, as long as it’s working and my beautiful boy continues to thrive, grow and blossom, I’m grateful for it.


Risotto Primavera Two Ways


I love to eat dinner, as a family, on our deck at home, enjoying the last of the afternoon sun. The best way to have this happen, is to share one meal. I don’t have time to cook individual dishes to suit differing tastes and dietary restrictions.

I am particularly interested in one cook meals that can be dished to my toddler, and then enhanced with the addition of dairy or egg at the serving stage, for anyone who feels inclined. A Beautiful Mess’ Risotto Primavera is such a dish, and is easily adapted to suit the whole family. Parmesan free for Leon, just a sprinkle for me and a generous handful melted in for my husband, Simon.


  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ⅔ cup white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup shaved parmesan cheese
  • 16 green prawns
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup carrots, diced
  • ½ white onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 24-30 asparagus spears
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper


1. Finely chop carrot, onion and garlic. Chop off the hard ends of the asparagus (bend the spear in your hands and see where it naturally breaks).
2. Peel and devein green prawns and set aside*
3. In a large saucepan, cook the carrots, peas and prawns, in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. After a couple of minutes, remove these ingredients and set aside until you need them later.
4. Place the asparagus on a baking tray or in a cast iron pan. Toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 190°C until bright green and softened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
5. In a small pot, combine the wine and vegetable stock. Simmer over very low heat. Having these elements warm will help them to cook into the rice faster.
6. In saucepan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium to high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until they begin to soften and become fragrant (1 to 2 minutes).
7. Toss in the rice and cook for 2 minutes, until it begins to look translucent.
8. Now begin adding the wine/stock mixture, half a cup at a time, stirring until it’s absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Pull out your asparagus if ready and arrange on plates.
10. Stir in the carrots, peas and prawns. Cook until everything is warm. Set aside portion/s of diary free risotto.
11. Stir in parmesan, for those who want it. Sprinkle the chopped thyme over before serving.

*Leon is often put off by the size of a whole peeled prawn. I cut it in half, as it is better disguised in food.

Loving Leon_Blog_Grazing Plate Game

Grazing Plate Game

When it comes to preparing meals for a child with intolerances, it helps when they have a healthy appetite, an adventurous acceptance of and passion for food. Thankfully, Leon loves to eat!

Leon and his younger cousin Hunter adore spending time together, so much so that my nephew has become a regular member of our household. Hunter can at times be a fussy eater however, my sister Billie comments that he is better at finishing his meals at our place. I believe he likes to copy his older cousin and therefore is more inclined to follow suit at meals times.

When I saw this Fred & Friends Dinner Winner tray recently, I bought two! It neatly houses the ingredients for a typical grazing plate at our house; fruit, vegetables and protein, usually whatever we happen to have in the refrigerator. Like a board game, the eater is encouraged to move around the plate in order, sampling food from each section to reveal a message. At the ‘Finish’ there is a hidden treat, in this case, dark chocolate covered summer berries. I am hoping a little healthy competition, a race of sorts, will have Hunter broaden his palate.


Chia Seed, Buckwheat & Quinoa Bread (Thermomix)

How do you knead dough, to make bread, without actually touching it?
I learnt this yesterday, when armed with a trusty borrowed Thermomix, a knowledgeable guru to guide me, and about 10 minutes of time to prepare… and voilà, bread!

Up until now, I haven’t actually known what a Thermomix does, just that I should own one apparently. I keep getting told so by well meaning friends, aware of Leon’s diet restrictions. A close friend of mine demonstrates these ‘world’s smallest kitchens’ and was kind enough to offer me her older model to test drive. She stuck around to show me how they work, the inbuilt scales that weigh as you add ingredients was particularly impressive, and together we baked bread.

Bread has been a conundrum for us. Leon was old enough to have developed a taste for it before we implemented his diet. More than anything he missed a simple turkey and salad sandwich on the freshly bought, fluffy stuff. Unfortunately most store bought gluten-free breads contain soy, an ingredient we are trying to avoid, and/or eggs. Our saving grace has been Paddy the Baker‘s Gluten Free Loaf, seeded or plain, picked up from The Beaches Market. When it rains heavily, and I don’t brave the weather with my boys, we’re left bread-less for a week, until now!

I’ve kicked started my bread making with Jo Whitton’s Chia Seed, Buckwheat & Quinoa Bread recipe. My ingredients were sourced from SCOOP Wholefoods, local suppliers who care more about quality than expensive packaging.


Recipe makes 1 x 700g loaf

  • 70g buckwheat kernels
  • 80g white quinoa
  • 60g chia seeds
  • 170g arrowroot
  • 1 heaped teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 30g macadamia oil or olive oil
  • 30g raw honey or rice malt syrup
  • 250g water, at room temperature


1. Place buckwheat, quinoa and chia into Thermomix bowl. Mill 1 min/speed 9. 
2. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix 10 sec/speed 6.
3. Add wet ingredients and mix 10 sec/speed 6, or until dough comes together.
4. Knead on interval speed for 2 minutes.
5. Use the spatula to scrape the dough out of the Thermomix bowl, into a baking paper lined loaf tin. Once you get most of it out, the easiest way to get the sticky dough off the blades is to whiz for a second on turbo, then you can scrape the rest out with the spatula. Smooth the surface with a wetted knife/spatula.
6. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave to rise for an hour in a warm spot.
7. Preheat oven to 170ºC. Place bread in oven and cook for approximately an hour, or until nicely browned. Turn out of bread tin and check underneath the loaf to make sure it’s browned all over. If not, cook for another 5 to 10 minutes upside down, to brown underneath. Allow to cool on a rack before slicing.