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We had a council clean up a few months ago and I went through each room as we all do trying to remember what I needed to clear out. Clean ups always prompt me to sell things, give things away and dispose of what is not salvageable.

As I went through the kitchen I saw the unused bread maker, odd dishes that I hadn’t used in months (probably years) and the humble sandwich press. I agonised over the sandwich press as it was virtually new looking but the fact remained we were a grain free household so when was I going to definitively actually use it and surely there were people who could.

I’d recently discovered quinoa pizzas and was experimenting with various recipes. I have a 16-month-old and an almost 4 year old and dinners in our house need to be quick, nutritious and tasty. So here I was making the quinoa pizza base. I’d made a pesto and wanted to add some chargrilled vegetables when it hit me. The sandwich press. Fast, tasty. Tick tick. The pizza was in fact the quietest dinner I’d made in a while – you know the one where the kids are just eating, settled, happy and only ask for more. Winner.

So here are a few meal ideas to take to your home. I hope you enjoy them as much as my boys have.

Quinoa pizza

I adapted a recipe from the very talented @deliciouslyella to meet our dietary needs. Check out her version and then my one below and see what you can come up with. If you haven’t stumbled on @deliciouslyella yet she’s worth a look. Her recipes are always tasty, nutritious and have enough removed that almost everyone can adapt them to meet their needs.

What you need
• Pizza stone or cast iron pizza pan or cast iron frypan
• 1 cup quinoa (I use white quinoa) soaked overnight and then rinsed well
• Splash of olive oil and in frypan/stone
• Herbs and spices – I use a mixture of oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley (all organic and dried or fresh if have them)
• Salt, pepper to taste
• Any vegetables you love to chargrill cut thinly and cooked superfast in the sandwich press with a splash of olive oil to make them crunchy. The thinner you cut them, the crunchier they will be. I use pumpkin, sweet potato, zucchini (green and yellow if I can source).
• Red capsicum that you’ve roasted in the oven, skinned and pulled apart
• Artichokes – freshly cooked or sandwich pressed in olive oil and salt or artichoke paste
• Olive paste
• Homemade pesto or cashew dip (see my earlier blogs for those recipes)
• Handful of baby spinach or arugula

Method
• Preheat the oven to at least 180C (I do full heat for speed when I have 20 mins to make dinner)
• Oil the cast iron pizza pan (or frypan)
• Put the quinoa, olive oil, herbs/spices, salt and pepper and mix in the food processor and mix. Stop regularly to scrape down the sides. Keep mixing even when you think it’s enough until it resembles a batter.
• Pour the mixture into the pizza pan and cook until it looks golden. Quinoa is a heavy base if it is too thick and my house likes crunchy bases so find it is better to spread it thinly. It should be cooked in 15-20 mins – just ensure it is firm. For super crunchy bases, just add more olive oil to the pan.
• While its cooking sandwich press the vegetables one by one. Roast the capsicum while the pizza is in the oven too. I tend to make extra vegetables as the boys love the toppings and can have them cold the next day if there are leftover (what leftovers?).
• Once the base is done, spread the cashew dip or pesto and then scatter the vegetables over it. Put dollops of the olive and artichoke paste around and then spread the arugula. Cut into slices and serve.
For a sweeter version

This can also make a delicious dessert pizza. Just modify the spices/herbs with cinnamon and vanilla powder in lieu. Spread a honeyed almond butter mix (almonds, cinnamon, vanilla and honey whizzed in a blender) and then top with sandwich pressed sliced peaches or apples or pears, dollops of goat’s curd and a sprinkling of crushed sunflower seeds and cinnamon mix.

Toasted sweet potato

If you haven’t ventured into toasted sweet potato as a bread alternative (or a yum snack) you’re missing out. When people cut out grains they usually find themselves missing something to hold a spread or to add to a meal for a carbohydrate source. From my blue-zone blog you’ll know that sweet potato is a superfood par excellence and should be encouraged as much as possible.
Whilst you can cut a sweet potato thickly and literally put it into a toaster in lieu of bread, thinly sliced sweet potato is much tastier and less ‘heavy’.

Try it with these food ideas:
• Cashew butter for a quick breakfast or snack
• Serve with a packed egg, pesto, avocado and sprouts all stacked-on top
• Make a roasted vegetable stack or hamburger and use the sweet potato as the ‘bun’
• Use as a base and add a thicker dhal (not the soup type) and then have some wilted spinach or grilled asparagus or brocollini placed on top

A little about me: I’m a realist, a mother, a foodie and a clinician. I’ve been in practice for almost 20 years and my own diet (and that of my family) has grown and changed as I have developed. Food has to taste good or else I’m not interested. I have worked with every food limitation or restriction possible so know how to find foods that are nutritious, tasty and healthy. Without having Lettuce Deliver for my own family for over 10 years now we wouldn’t be able to eat as well. I know how important it is to have access to their beautiful produce.

Read more about Leah Hechtman at: http://www.naturalhealthfertility.com/