Gluten Free Vegetarian Pasta Bake

There is just something about the old classic, the pasta bake...
It instantly reminds me of my mother and dark, rainy nights snuggled in front of a cosy fire when we lived in the country. Happily eating her pasta bakes covered in crochet blankets!
Warm memories.
I love the way food is such an experience that certain foods are linked for us with events and times of our lives. Food really does tell a story and for me the pasta bake was one of my first comfort foods.

Now I make it for my kids too, but with a healthy twist, now we are also not gluten intolerant but I like to do a large amount of our meals and snacks gluten free as I believe it is more kinder on the bowels!!

This dish can be whipped up in not very long at all, it freezes really well and makes fantastic leftovers and school lunches too or a bring a plate dish for the next BBQ!

If you like pasta bake or macaroni cheese you will love this healthy version.
Gluten Free Vegetarian Pasta Bake
Ingredients
  • 1 box of gluten free pasta, cooked according to packet directions.
    (I also find it helps to add a little dash of oil in the boiling water with gluten free pasta to stop it all sticking together.
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free flour
  • 500ml almond, soy or dairy milk ( I used almond.)
  • half a teaspoon nutmeg ground
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (look for a really good quality one - it makes a lot of difference!)
  • !/2 cup broccoli, very finely chopped.
  • 2 carrots peeled and finely grated.
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped.
  • 3 large tomatoes. 2 chopped one sliced.
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and grated.
  • 1 cup grated cheese.
  • Freshly chopped parsley to taste ( I used about a good handful ).
  • Fresh and thinly chopped chives to taste. (I used about 9 stalks).
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard (or to taste)
  • 1 free range egg.
  • 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes (optional)
  • pepper
  • himalayan salt - to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped.

  • Cook gluten free pasta according to directions, rinse very lightly and then drained and set aside.
  • Very, (extra very for fussy eating kids) chop the broccoli
  • Grate the carrot and zucchini.
  • Place the vegetables into a mixing bowl or even straight into the baking dish.
  • Place the butter into a saucepan and melt slowly over a low heat.
  • Once melted add in the flour, stir constantly for 1 minute.
  • Add small amounts of the milk stirring the whole time until they are combined with the flour mix, keep doing this until all the milk has been used and it is a nice consistency. Use a whisk of needed to make sure it is nice and smooth.
  • Season with the nutmeg, paprika and a pinch of himalayan salt and add in the mustard. Taste. 
  • Add in the cheese and stir through until melted in. Taste again add more mustard or salt and pepper if needed.
  • Let the sauce cool a bit and then whisk in the egg.
  • Mix everything together except the sliced tomatoes and a small amount of the chopped mixed herbs.
  • Pour into a deep baking dish top with the sliced tomato and some of the fresh herbs.
  • Bake at 180' fan forced for 20 minutes or until nice and golden on top.
  • Serve on its own as a simple dinner or with a nice fresh salad with a zesty dressing and optional garlic bread for a great tasty meal.
Notes
  • This dish is great for leftovers and school lunchboxes.
  • Make and freeze ahead for those tired nights.
  • Add some chili for more punch.
  • Add mushrooms at the last step before cooking.
  • For VEGANS, leave out the egg, make the white sauce with olive oil in place of butter and leave out the cheese, add another half cup of milk when making the sauce and instead add savoury yeast flakes for a lovely cheesey flavour.
Toddler/Kids Tips
  • Kids love the cheesey flavour. You can make it even stronger my adding a strong flavoured cheese that is suitable or more grated cheese.
  • Freeze lunch sized amounts in container for easy lunchboxes and pack on the day with a fresh salad or chopped raw crunchy vegetables.

Live Well. Eat Beautiful. Stay Calm. Be Active.

Bek xx


WATER. Hydration for Health & Happiness and a water filter review


WATER
Beautiful, life sustaining water.
I think in modern times, and even especially now that healthy eating has become so very in, we often forget the simple things and one of the most important ingredients of all for a healthy, happy life, WATER...


Up to 60% of the human body is water, every cell in our body uses water. We need water to function, to live and yet so many people don't drink enough water! And don't worry for many years that was me too...
More and more studies have been done that show dehydration to be found in almost every known disease to mankind and it also makes almost every illness's symptoms worse.
Think about it, when something is seriously wrong what do they do in hospital? Put you on a drip! Because they know how important proper hydration is.
Last year I read an incredible book on this very subject coming from decades of medical research called, "Your not sick, your dehydrated."

Wow, what an amazing book and eye opening read.

It wasn't long after reading it and being inspired to include much more water into my day that I began to really notice and worry about the chemicals and toxins found in tap water.
I can totally understand why they are in there. Council's have to make sure no moulds, bacteria or anything harmful gets into people's drinking water, no easy feat when it usually comes from lakes and dams I can imagine.
BUT, if I am making all this healthy, chemical free, beautiful food and trying really hard to have a chemical free house then surely these chemicals are counterproductive?



It was right when I was thinking this over and wondering also at the state of the inside also of my rainwater tank which the owner told em he wasn't sure had been ever cleaned (eek, I know right) that I was contacted about reviewing an amazing, high tech, extremely efficient (and complicated)  in home water filtration system that conveniently is all inside a handy jug!

It is just the perfect size for a family, would fit into any household and is portable so also very convenient for anyone who is renting.
And while the process it undertakes to clean and energise the water is highly complex, you don't have to do much of anything! (Perfect for a busy mum like me) who has little time for more complicated things in life.

It is even designed into an attractive jug that would not clash with any kitchen decor either for that matter.
Which funnily enough has always been of great importance to me and my kitchen purchases ;)

I also LOVE that the company you buy it from is created by Joanne Musgrave, a certified health coach who uses her own training along with naturopath Julie McNab to offer a range on her website that you know has been really well researched, not just the ingredients but the company itself too and their ethics. What is there is beautiful products and you know you can trust what you find at Shop Naturally.

Now this means a lot to me, and I really place a lot of value in businesses that take their products and their word on said products seriously. This makes my life so much easier as a shopper and busy mum and also gives me great respect and admiration for their integrity and passion.
I am just delighted to say that Shop Naturally is one such business.

I don't have hours and hours of spare time to research everything, I just don't so when I can trust a beautiful business that makes my life and shopping experiences so much better.
On the Sunshine Coast I have this trust with the Jeffers Market stores where I know Stephen Jeffers would not stock anything he had not extensively researched and now I have it online at Shop Naturally now I have discovered them too.

The water jug I reviewed and fell in love with is called

Waters Co Bio Mineral Pot Ace 1.5L Water Filter Jug
Check out out here 

It is 1.5 litre, adds minerals back into your water, has a nine stage filtration system, alkalines the water and filters out chlorine and fluoride.

The 9 filtration stages are: prefilter, activated carbon filter medium, ion exchange resin, bio organic alkaline minerals, organic germanium, far infrared and magnets. They filter out chlorine, heavy metals, fluoride, nitrate, odours, sediment, bacteria, cysts & viruses. At the same time, the filtration system adds around 60 bio organic trace minerals & restructures the water molecules to significantly increase cellular hydration, adding 'Ki' (Life energy)." Website quote. 

It even comes with a PH testing kit, something as a horticulturalist I was very impressed with and interested in.
I have long since suspected the Sunshine Coast water to be acidic and I found out I was right and considering research also sais that cancer can only live in an acid environment I think we all want to improve our bodies PH to be more alkaline and one of the easiest ways to do this is drinking alkaline water everyday.

Improving your hydration and becoming alkaline improves your skin, eyes, hair, weight, mood, bowel movements and is said to be powerful healing for everyone and especially people with auto immune diseases, arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Reactive Arthritis, asthma, chrons, eczema etc etc

Drinking more water always sounds simple but in reality so often ends up being a bit slap dash!!
I find this jug not only gives me better tasting water that is so much better for me and my family but it also keeps me accountable too as I know just how many times I should be refilling it and drinking from it for me and my two gorgeous girls everyday!

Thank you goes to Shop Naturally for this review and for introducing me to an easy way to beautiful, clean, alkaline healing water for me and my children.

Eat Beautiful, Be Active, Live Well, Find Calm AND stay hydrated!

LOVE Bek XX
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