Plant Based Mum Blog

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Back to School Recipes

With school summer holidays coming to an end in Australia, it’s time to start planning for the school year ahead! Whilst my little ones aren’t yet in “big school” (primary) we still like to have easy choices for snacks and lunches during the week.

I love to meal plan for the week ahead so that I won’t be stuck for ideas when it’s been a long and busy day. Some of our favourite snacks and meals are quick, super easy, allergy-friendly. Full of delicious organic fruits and vegetables to keep us healthy and full of energy for active days of play and learning.  

If you’re looking for some new lunch ideas or new snack inspiration, below are some of our go-to food choices: 

Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Black Bean Tortilla Wraps 

This can be a messy one but they are so delicious it is worth the risk! To make, simply fill a tortilla with pre-roasted sweet potato, zucchini and carrot cubes, some diced red capsicum (or ‘red bell peppers’), diced tomato, cooked black beans and diced avocado. Squeeze the juice of a fresh lime over the tortilla ingredients as your ‘dressing’. Add oragano on top, fold your tortilla ‘soft burrito style’, wrap a section of the tortilla around the bottom to hold it all in place and you’re in business!  

Vegetable Mini Pizzas  

We love homemade pizzas in our household. They are simple to make, the kids can help and it is a great way to get your little ones to enjoy their vegetables.

For the crust: Boil and mash up two large sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Now add to your bowl half a cup of oat flour (you can use almond flour instead if there are no nut allergies in your household), a good pinch of himalayan salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons egg replacer and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix all ingredients throughly until a ‘doughy’ ball of sweet potato goodness is formed. Divide sweet potato ‘dough’ into four smaller balls.

Roll out your sweet potato pizza ‘crusts’ to about 1/2 inch in thickness. Top them with organic tomato paste and vegetables of your choice - we change ours up often but usually favour a combination of thinly sliced asparagus, some kale, chopped red bell peppers (capsicum), diced tomato, some baby spinach leaves and thinly sliced zucchini - the best bit is getting to be creative! Bake at 200°C for 10 minutes (or until crust starts to brown). Serve your mini pizzas warm or cool. 

Apple, Carrot, Chia and Oat Muffins

These Apple, Carrot, Chia and Oat Muffins make for an easy snack, and they are a great way to get more vegetables into your little ones.

Combine a cup of oat flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, half a teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons apple sauce (or your chosen egg replacer), and 2 tablespoons maple syrup.

Once a smooth batter is formed, add to your mixture some finely chopped grated carrot, finely chopped apple, and two teaspoons of black chia seeds (or you could use white chia seeds if your little one is fussy). Mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Add mixture to a lined muffin tray (makes 6). Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180°C (until golden on top and you can pop a knife in one and pull it out clean). Let cool, then serve. 

Chickpea Burgers with Green Bean and Sweet Potato ‘Fries’ 

Who doesn’t love a good burger?! I usually purchase ready-made burger patties, and there are plenty of good healthy options out there  - such as these organic veggie patties from Bite Me Foods. Paired with sides, a good veggie burger is delicious, provides a good source of protein and is a quick and easy choice.

Cook your veggie burger patties according to packet directions. To make your ‘fries’, peel and cut a large sweet potato into batons and chop up some green beans until they are a good size for little hands. Par-boil your sweet potato batons for 3-4 minutes. Then, pop them in the oven at 190°C for around 5-10 minutes on one side (until browned ever so slightly), then flip them to crisp up the remaining side for around 5 minutes. Once out of the oven, sprinkle on some rosemary and/or a pinch of himalayan salt. Boil your green beans for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry.

Your ‘fries’ are now all ready! Serve your veggie burgers on burger buns of your choice, with your green bean and sweet potato ‘fries’ as a side, and enjoy!

Homemade Sushi Rolls 

With some vegetables, brown rice and this handy sushi kit you can enjoy homemade sushi rolls for a healthy snack! There’s plenty of options for the filling too - from batons of carrot, cucumber and zucchini, to strips of eggplant, capsicum, tofu and avocado. Fun to make - and even better to eat! 

Animal Pasta Salad 

A pasta salad is one of our favourite lunch options as it is quick and easy. Prepare pasta of your choice according to packet directions (there are some great ‘animal’ shaped pasta options out there!), and let cool. Once pasta is cooled combine with vegetables of your choice (this is your chance to load in as many vegetables as you want! We like to make it as colourful as we can - with diced zucchini, diced carrot, diced yellow capsicum, green capsicum, red capsicum, lentils, chickpeas, quartered grape tomatoes, broccoli - the list could go on). To finish, add pesto or dressing of choice. This is an easy one to make the night before too - just store in an airtight container in the fridge and you are ready to go the following day.

Zucchini, Green Pea and Sweet Potato Fritters 

Fritters are a great addition to the lunch box, or a nice after school snack option. These fritters are so easy to prepare, which makes them prefect for back to school (or kindy!) time.

Combine in a large bowl 3 cups grated zucchini (ensuring all water content is squeezed out beforehand), 1 cup grated sweet potato, a generous handful of green peas and 1/2 a cup of chickpea flour (almond or coconut flour would also work well here).

Now add 1 clove minced garlic, 1 teaspoon egg replacer, 2 tablespoons water, 1/2 a teaspoon himalayan salt, a sprinkle of black pepper, juice from 1 lemon and a small handful of finely chopped parsley. Stir to roughly combine all ingredients.

Grab a large plate and using a teaspoon spoon out your mixture into balls, slightly flattening them on the plate. You will end up with 8-10 ‘fritter balls’, depending on how big you want to make them. Now heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large frypan over a medium heat. Add your fritter balls, cooking well on each side until they are nice and golden. Let cool and serve! 

Avocado, Banana and Kale Icy Treats 

These icy treats are a cool after school (or kindy!) treat on a hot summers day. The night before school (or kindy), simply blend up a small handful of kale until smooth, then add to your blender a whole avocado and two frozen bananas. Blend these additions until smooth and well combined with the kale. Place blended mixture in ice lolly molds, and pop them into your freezer. The ice lollies will be all ready to enjoy after school! 

Bon Appétit!  

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Cafe of the Month - Cafe 435, Pascoe Vale

Any cafe with a little playspace out the back is a winner in our heart.

Cafe 435 boasts a 100% plant based menu, good coffee, delicious treats and a beautiful little playspace for your little ones to explore while you enjoy your meal nearby.

This is the place to be in the North! Click here to find out more!

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Look Who’s Walkin’ - Part Two: Our Top Family Beach-Side Walks in Melbourne

With summer on our doorstep, Melbourne is calling you for seaside walks and sand-filled play. Here are some of our favourite beach-side adventures:

St Kilda 

Not many can resist the fun of Luna Park in St Kilda. If your little ones are just that bit too little then there is a fantastic park to be found at Neptune Street. Sister of Soul is the place to visit for a yummy juice or smoothie to sip on as you stroll along the pier with bubba.

Hampton 

The beach-side suburb of Hampton provides lots of entertainment for families, with it’s parks and swimming beaches. Thomas Street South Reserve has a great wooden playground for the little ones to explore. With plenty of outdoor seating, Cornerstone and Co. Cafe makes a good spot to stop for lunch.

Elwood 

There is a beautiful walk in store for you along the Ormond Esplanade. Be sure to bring your hats, apply that sunscreen and pop on the sunglasses as it gets quite hot and glarey. For lunch, Little Sunflower Cafe is not far up Glen Huntley/Ormond Road. They serve the best buddha bowls in town and there is seating out the front for parents with prams. 

Chelsea 

Chelsea beach is a nice spot to visit. The Bicentennial playground is the perfect place for your little ones to run wild and Soul Press in nearby Edithvale will cure your smoothie craving. 

Frankston Foreshore  

Frankston Beach is a plesant spot to spend the afternoon. Nature Cafe makes a good choice for lunch with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. Frankston Foreshore playground is lots of fun for the little ones, or there is the bright and bold Bellam Park further inland on Cranbourne Road.

Mornington Pier   

A nice walk around Mornington Pier is always lots of fun. There is a fantastic playground and reserve for the little ones to run around at Mornington Park. Soul Press is the place to go when hunger strikes with their nourishing açaí bowls and delicious smoothies, or you can try Thanks Albert with a yummy selection of vegetarian burgers to choose from. If you need to do some shopping while you are out and about Natural Balance along the main street has a big range of organic goodies. 

Remember to always be sun-safe on your walks! Visit www.sunsmart.com.au for more sun-safety tips.

Enjoy your summer! 

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Melbourne with Kids - Best Kid Friendly Cafes and Adventures in Melbourne

Melbourne has so much to offer families it’s hard to know where to begin, so let us help you start your journey by sharing some of our top picks for meal time, kid friendly fun activities and adventures. 

Top Picks for Child Friendly, Plant Friendly Cafes in Melbourne (and surrounds):

Top picks for fun family activities in Melbourne (and surrounds):

  • Visit the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

  • Explore the Melbourne Museum

  • Experience the Melbourne Sealife Aquarium

  • Partake in ArtPlay by the Yarra

  • Check out the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

  • Visit the Melbourne Zoo

  • Experience Collingwood Children’s Farm

  • Check out Scienceworks

Top picks for free family adventures in Melbourne:

  • Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens

  • Jog around the tan with the pram

  • Stroll down Anzac Avenue (St Kilda Road)

  • Pay a visit to the Melbourne City Library

  • Walk along St Kilda pier with baby in the carrier

  • Explore Melbourne’s CBD by foot

Top playground picks in Melbourne (and surrounds):

  • Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne

  • Ron Barassi Snr Park on Docklands Drive, Docklands

  • Royal Park Nature Play in Parkville (right near the Royal Children’s Hospital)

  • Middle Park Community Playground on Canterbury Road, Middle Park (Albert Park)

  • McNish Reserve on Court Street in Yarraville

  • Coburg Lake Reserve on Murray Road in Coburg North

  • Skinners Adventure Playground in Dorcas Street, South Melbourne

  • St Kilda Adventure Playground in Neptune Street, St Kilda

Want more cafes to choose from in Melbourne? Read about them here.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy our beautiful city! 

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Homemade Ice Lollies

With the heatwave continuing in Melbourne, I thought I’d share a recipe for our favourite treat to help keep our toddler cool. 

Apple, Mango and Banana Ice Lolly Treat 

Simply blend 1 roughly chopped apple, 1 banana, 1 roughly chopped mango and half a cup of water. Place mixture into NUK ‘Fresh Freeze Pop’ Ice lolly molds. Leave overnight in freezer. To serve; firstly run mold under warm water, release lolly from mold and provide to toddler (tip: make sure you have a bib for them as it can get messy!).

These ice lollies can also be used for little baby once they are onto solids - or you can even freeze breast milk in the molds instead, to help ensure they are getting all those natural nutrients. As a bonus, these treats don’t only work well in the summer, but they are great all year ‘round for when baby is teething too.

Thanks for reading!  

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Family Travel - New Zealand with Baby

In February we embarked on a family holiday to New Zealand - and this was baby’s first time on a plane, and her first time overseas. 

We share our top recommendations for family friendly travel in New Zealand’s South Island... 

Our Top Travel Tips for Travel with Baby 

  • If it is baby’s first time overseas, organise the passport well in advance - and make sure all family members passports are still current!

  • Breastfeed your baby on takeoff and desend - it helps with the pressure in their ears, it worked for us so much so that our bubba fell asleep! Offering a bottle of formula (or some water if your baby is old enough) would work in the exact same way - fed and sleeping baby for the flight is a win win!

  • Pack hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes for the flight so you can wipe the area down and clean little hands before they eat - the last thing you want to deal with on your fun family holiday is illness

  • Bring on board a change of clothes and spare bibs for baby and a fresh top for yourself

  • Carry a couple of small books and small toys on the flight if you have the room, they are great for distractions

  • Pack one of baby’s comfort items to ease the transition to napping and sleeping in a different cot and unfamiliar environment

  • Try to plan activities and sightseeing around your baby’s routine if a routine is what they are used to

  • For Mum and Dad, invest in a local pre paid SIM card to pop in your phone, this will come in very handy in the event you get separated from a family member, experience an emergency when out and about or you need to access WiFi to find details of a local doctor. And don’t forget to pack your charger and an international power adapter or two!

Our top picks for baby friendly cafes in South Island NZ

  • Joe’s Garage in Christchurch

  • Water Drop in Christchurch

  • Fergburger in Queenstown

  • Bespoke Kitchen in Queenstown

  • The Spice Room in Wanaka

  • Maggie's Kitchen in Greymouth

Our top picks for family activities in South Island NZ

  • Hop on the gondola, stroll the bontanical parks or visit the fascinating Orana Wildlife Park or the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch

  • Stroll around historical Arrowtown, taking a visit to the Lakes District Museum, Dorothy Brown’s Cinema and the famous Remarkable Sweet Lolly Shop

  • Visit the Kiwi Bird Wildlife Park, take a Jurassic Safari of the Highlands or embark on a scenic family cruise in Queenstown

  • Stop by the Shantytown Heritage Park in Greymouth

  • Take in the view of the beautiful Lake Tekapo and visit nearby Mount Cook

  • Walk around the stunning lake Wanaka with baby in the ergo carrier or pram

  • Visit the UNESCO world heritage listed Fiordland National Park

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Close by - check, stunning scenery - check, plenty of family friendly fun - check...New Zealand certainly is the perfect family friendly destination - especially for those travelling from Australia with baby for the first time!