Friday, May 25, 2012

Failsafe Food

I am a bit cooked out at the moment. My two older daughters have been on the RPAH/Failsafe elimination diet for the past month (free of additives, low in salycalates, amines and flavour enhancers), find information here and here. I have been making everything from scratch and having to think about every bite they consume. But I had a few wins with very limited ingredients so I thought I would post my most succesful recipes here - Pasta, Chow Mein, Chicken Meat Balls, Pear Pikelets and Muesli Bars.

A few tips on how we survived the diet and made it easier for the whole family to get involved:
  • Incentives! 50 C pieces in a jar on the bench for good eating and no complaining twice a day worked for us. I took them to the shops early on so they could decide what they were saving for (Barbie dolls!).
  • Treats - milky bars, milk bottles, werthers original caramels.
  • Salt and garlic and lots of them, particularly in the meals we were eating too.
  • Lots of baked goodies on hand - white chocolate chip biscuits, pear muffins, homemade muesli bars (recipe below), vanilla cake.
  • Magic cordial - homemade citric acid cordial since regular juice and cordial are not allowed.
  • Make a list of options for every meal. For example our Breakfast list - rice bubbles, weetbix, porridge, toast (golden syrup, pear jam, cashew spread), eggs, pancakes, homemade waffles... I also included a column of NO foods to remind us of regular items they couldn't have. (This really helped my husband and enabled him to feed the kids without running everything by me).
  • Empty out a shelf of the pantry at kids height and put everything they are allowed on that one shelf. And hide all their usual favourites out of site and reach.
  • Try and eat the same food as your kids some nights - they started to check what we were having! Other nights we waited til they were in bed to eat forbidden food.
  • We explained to the kids they could only have "no numbers" food. They were very good about checking and if I they wanted something they would ask if it "had numbers".
You can find other failsafe recipes on these sites:
Fed Up Website Recipes
Fed Up Newsletters Recipes
Real Meals blog
Cooking for Oscar blog
Bambi and Bimbi blog
Search: failsafe and thermomix

Unfortunately there hasn't been the improvement in behaviour I was hoping for so after nearly 4 weeks we are stopping and seeing what happens.
Ed: turns out it was helping as things went downhill when we stopped so we are back on the diet again!
Failsafe Mince and Lentil Pasta
makes 2 family serves
The whole family enjoyed this for dinner, grown ups included (we were pleasantly surprised). I made this into a pasta bake topped with a white sauce which disguised the grey unappetising colour of the sauce! I made individual serves of the pasta bake in small ramekins and froze them for ready meals for the kids - they reheated well.

canola oil
1/2 swede, grated
4 brussel sprouts, finely chopped
1/8 white cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 tin cannelini or kidney beans, drained
500g mince beef
1 leek, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1 can lentils
1 - 2 C chicken stock (homemade to keep it failsafe)
1 tsp cornflour (optional - to thicken sauce)
White Sauce (enough for half the above sauce recipe)
60g butter
4 tbsp flour
2 C milk
1/2 C ricotta or cream cheese


Heat a splash of oil in a large frypan and fry swede, brussel sprouts and cabbage until cooked. Remove and puree with tinned beans.

In the same frypan heat a little more oil and fry the mince until browned and remove.

Finally heat a last splash of oil and gently fry the leek, garlic and celery until softened. Add the pureed vegetables, beef, lentils and stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cornflour dissolved in a little water if required to thicken the sauce. Season to taste.

To make the white sauce, melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir with a whisk for a couple of minutes. Gradually add milk and continuing whisking to form a smooth paste. Continue stirring over low heat until thickened then stir in cheese. Season to taste.

Cook enough pasta to serve your family (double if you want to freeze a pasta bake). Stir the sauce through the pasta and spoon into a baking dish. Top with cheese sauce and bake at 180 C to warm.

Failsafe Chow Mein
1 family serve

canola oil
500g beef mince
2 cloves garlic
1 leek, finely chopped
1 celery, diced
1/8 white cabbage, finely chopped
2 C rice vermicelli, broken into short lengths
1 C swede, boiled and pureed
1 C chicken stock (home made)
1 C beans, cut into short lengths

In a wok or large frypan, heat the oil over high heat and fry the beef until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add a bit more oil and fry the garlic, leek and celery. Add the remaining ingredients and the cooked beef and cook a few minutes until the noodles and beans are cooked.

Serve on rice.

Failsafe Chicken Balls
These freeze well uncooked, ready for an instant meal for the kids. My 8 month old loves these and eats as many as we will give her.

Canola oil
1 leek, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 brussel sprouts, finely chopped
1/2 swede, boiled and pureed
500g chicken mince
1 egg
1/2 C homemade breadcrumbs

In a frypan over medium heat cook the leek, garlic and sprouts until softened. Remove from the heat and cool. Combine with all the other ingredients in a large bowl and mix, hands is best! Shape into small meat balls. Freeze at this stage if required.

Cook balls in a little oil in a frypan, rotating regularly.

Serve with pear ketchup (recipe on

Pear Pikelets

3/4 C self-raising flour
1 egg, beaten
2/3 C milk
1 pear, peeled and grated

Combine flour, egg and most of the milk and mix with a whisk until combined. Stir in the grated pear with a spatula or spoon. You are after a thick dropping consistency. Add the remaining milk as needed.

Cook in a frypan over medium heat in a little butter.

Serve spread with butter and/or golden syrup.

Muesli Bars
This is a failsafe version of my favourite muesli bar recipe. If not failsafe add your favourite dried fruit, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame.

2 C rolled oats
2 C rice bubbles
1/2 C dried pear, chopped into small pieces
1/2 C cashews, chopped
1 tin sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 130 C. Grease and line a slice tin.

Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan. Pour over the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a spatula.

Spread mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes for soft chewy bars, longer for crispy.