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The Happy Cookbook Challenge

I’m a goal driven person. Set me a challenge and I’m all in, guns blazing, and ready to go! I love the drive that comes with crossing off steps to reach the new goal, then the thrill that you feel when it’s all done. The pride and absolute sense of achievement is something I thrive on.

I’ve been reflecting on cookbooks and the previous cookbook challenge I set myself – to make all the recipes from Donna Hay’s Seasons Cookbook – and while that challenge is long ended and for various reasons still unfinished, I’m ready for a new goal to reach.

So, I decided on Lola Berry’s The Happy Cookbook for my next cookbook challenge.

A few reasons – I wasn’t able to complete the last one due to a few factors. I’ve become extremely lactose intolerant and am now unable to taste a lot of the leftover recipes. I live very remotely in Central Queensland and am unable to source a lot of the ingredients, like fresh seafood. However, I was able to complete 150 of the 200 recipes in the book, so I’m pretty happy with that effort.

I chose The Happy Cookbook because the recipes are Dairy and Gluten free, which is how I cook now. I’ve already made quite a few of the recipes in the book (but will be remaking them as a part of the challenge) and I know they’re full of flavour and not too difficult for me. I will be using my Thermomix with the challenge and will blog about it along the way. And I’ll be able to source the ingredients locally or online.

No, I won’t be sharing the recipes from the book. There are copy-write laws against that. I can write about my method and how I found the challenge but if you’d like the recipes to make yourself, The Happy Cookbook can be found at all good bookstores. 

I’m hoping to be inspired to try new techniques, food that I don’t usually eat and to make more creations of my own in the kitchen.

So this evening I added up all the recipes and there’s 145 in total. If I give myself 6 months to make them all that’s 6 recipes a week. Some are smoothies, some are salad dressings.

Many are desserts, that’s okay with me.

The Happy Cookbook Challenge = 145 Recipes in 6 months. Before Monday April 25th.


Follow me on Instagram at Thestrandsofme and my Facebook Page to see how I’m going!

The best homemade Pumpkin Soup


I love Pumpkin and I love soup and I’m the only one in my household who loves both Pumpkin and soup, so this dish is always just for me! Lately I’ve been making it for myself once a week and enjoying the leftovers for breakfast or dinner and with my fussy kids and Hubby’s strict elimination diet, it works so well having some in the fridge and not have to cook 10,000 dishes every night of the week. Or so it seems.

Add turmeric not only gives it the vibrant sunset colour that’s associated with the root, but boosts immunity within the soup. I swear this recipe gets better every time I make it, and I enjoy it so much! I make it in my Thermomix but you could cook it all together on the stove top then blitz it in your processor/with a bar mix.

Homemade Pumpkin Soup

You’ll need:

  • 500g Pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 Garlic Clove, peeled
  • 1 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • 200g Coconut Milk
  • 1 Tbs Vegetable Stock Paste
  • 1 Tsp Tumeric Powder
  • Handful of Cashews


  1. Add the onion and garlic to the Thermomix Mixing bowl and chop for 3 Sec/Speed 5. Add the coconut oil and sauté for 3 Min/100C/Speed 2 (alternatively, finely chop your onion and garlic then sauté in a pot with coconut oil until translucent)
  2. Add 250g Water, the coconut milk, vegetable stock paste and turmeric to the mixing bowl. Add the Pumpkin to the steaming basket and place inside the mixing bowl. Cook for 20 Min/Varoma/Speed 2 with the Varmoa in place. (alternatively: add the water, milk, stock paste, turmeric and pumpkin to the pot and cook until the pumpkin is soft)
  3. Once the pumpkin is soft turn into the liquid, adding the cashews to the mix. Process for 1 Min/Speed 5 gradually increasing to Speed 9 for a smooth, thick soup. (alternatively: add the cashews to the soup then tip into a food processor and process until smooth)

I enjoyed mine tonight with some smashed avocado (with coriander chopped through it! Yum!). There are heaps of other options to add to your soups, or scoop it onto some paleo bread. Take 1 cup out and blitz it with more cashews to make it even thicker and it’s an awesome sauce for steamed chicken and fish too. 

Paleo All In One Thermomix Dinner!


During the working week I’m time poor. While I weekly menu plan and can organise my pantry to within an inch of it’s life, I can’t find any extra time at the end of the day anywhere. Which is why I love these Thermomix All-In-One meals. Soup and Dinner without having to stand there and watch the dishes, dirtying 10,000 things and making one hell of a mess. No thanks, I don’t have time to clean that all up!

Also, no one else in my house eats soup, so making a simple meal like this feeds the family for the night and me for breakfast for the next two days! Win-Win!

I love the Chicken Volute meal but having converted to a more Paleo way of eating I wanted to cut out the starchy Potatoes and add in some extra flavour. So I created my Creamy Pumpkin Soup entree and Steamed Chicken with Vegetables with Spicy Pumpkin sauce main. I love Pumpkin Soup especially with a dash of coconut milk, just like my Dad makes it. It’s warm and comforting and reminds me of home.

This is a great dish for the whole family too. I’ll offer the kids some steamed chicken and vegetables without the sauce (they don’t like sauce anyway) and can spice it up for Hubby and I. Or keep it subtle and smooth. And the added dash of turmeric keeps the orange vibrant and adds a boost to your immune system.

Completely Dairy and Gluten Free and Paleo Friendly.


Paleo All In One Thermomix Dinner

You’ll Need:

For the Soup:

  • 1 Onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 Garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 Tsp Ginger
  • 1Tbs Coconut Oil
  • 165ml Can of Coconut Milk (or make your own)
  • 1 Tbs Vegetable Stock Paste
  • 1 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Leek, cut into quarters
  • 300g Pumpkin, peeled and chopped into inch cubes

For the Chicken Main

  • 2 Chicken Breast, cut into strips
  • 2 Zucchini, peeled into ribbons
  • 2 Carrots, peeled into ribbons
  • A small bunch of Coriander, stalk and leaves
  • 2 Tbs Cashews
  • 1 Pinch of Chilli Flakes


  1. Into the mixing bowl place the onion, garlic and ginger then chip at Speed 5 / 5 Seconds.
  2. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the coconut oil and sauce for 3 Min / 100 C / Speed 2. 
  4. Once sauteed, open the scales and add the 165ml of coconut milk then top up with water until the scales reach 500g. Add the vegetable stock paste and turmeric.
  5. Insert steaming basket into the mixing bowl.
  6. Add the Pumpkin and Leek to the steaming basket and put the mixing bowl Lid in place.
  7. Into the Varoma add the Chicken and season well. (If you wish you can add extra herbs here). Cook for 17 Min / Varoma Temp / Speed 2. 
  8. Check Chicken when the timer has finished. Add the peeled vegetables to the Varoma tray and put into place. Cook for a further 5 Min / Varoma Temp / Speed 2. 
  9. Check Chicken is cooked. If needed, cook for a further 5 Min.
  10. Once cooked remove Varoma and place on top of ThermoServer to keep warm. Remove lip and set aside. Remove Steaming basket using the spatula and tip the Pumpkin and Leek into the liquid in the bowl.
  11. Blitz for 1 Min / Speed 6 Gradually Increasing to Speed 9. 
  12. Remove most of the Pumpkin Soup into the ThermoServer, leaving just enough in to cover the blades.
  13. For the Sauce add the cashews, chilli flakes, coriander, salt and pepper to the remaining sauce. Blitz for 1 Min / Speed 6 Gradually Increasing to Speed 9. 
  14. Serve Pumpkin Soup first followed by steamed Chicken and Vegetables, covered in the Chilli Pumpkin Sauce.

Am I the only one to drink Pumpkin Soup from a cup?

One Pan Rainbow Cake

I know you’ve all seen them. The tall cake, covered in white buttercream icing with the rainbow surprise waiting on the inside.

That cake is big enough to feed a huge birthday party and while I wanted to make something similar for Phoenix’s birthday last year, I knew the leftovers from such a big cake wouldn’t be eaten, so I opted for a smaller, unique cake.

Rainbow Cake

I’d seen this technique before but with only two colours so had the idea to try it as a multi-coloured rainbow for a smaller cake, and it worked beautifully. For the cake mix I used two gluten free vanilla cake’s and substituted the butter for coconut oil.

After combining all the ingredients I separated the mixture into five bowls and added gel food colouring. I know, I know, there are healthier options but I wanted the vibrant colours you can only get from gel. And it’s a once-a-year birthday cake.

I then put a table spoon into each bowl and that was my measuring spoon. I lined up all the bowls and into my greased cake tin I put one dollop of each colour, one after the other, always into the centre of the pan. As the mixture got heavier it forced the previous colours out. Looking like:


Then because it was Phoenix’s birthday, you have to let them lick the bowls….


After the cake was baked and cooled I made up the buttercream icing that came with the packet mix but used coconut yoghurt instead of butter. I slathered that onto the cake then covered it in pink fondant (it’s Phoenix’s favourite colour), a painstakingly cut out number 3 and some edible glitter, cos’ at this point it what it really needs is more sugar…


But the end result was a beautifully moist one pan rainbow cake and one happy little girl. Less dishes = happy Mum too!

Rainbow Cake