Cracking recipes: Wendy's Kale & Goat Cheese Pesto

Over the past year, one of the recipes on regular repeat in my kitchen is Wendy's Kale and Goat Cheese Pesto.

  Photo by  Bobbi Bowers

Photo by Bobbi Bowers

I've been following Wendy's blog, A Wee Bit of Cooking, for years now. Along the way, a number of her recipes, like the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritoshave become favourites in our house

However, it's her kale pesto I'm currently fixated on.

When talking about how to cook if time and energy are low it seems almost frivolous to mention a pesto recipe. However, Wendy's is a doozie which I just find really useful.

Firstly, of course, it tastes delicious!

Moreover, while the pesto isn't a meal unto itself, I find it can add flavour, texture and vegetable to a collection of otherwise disparate ingredients, turning them into a tasty meal.

It's also flexible and as I repeatedly say, I love a low fuss, flexible recipe. I like Wendy's idea of toasting the nuts and freely admit it would make the pesto even more delicious, nevertheless in the service of simplicity, saving time and reducing pan usage, I rarely follow this step. I also often adjust the recipe according to what's in my cupboard, changing the nuts or cheese and adding in fresh herbs or chilli, if I feel like it.

I make up a batch with a whole bunch of kale and then use it by the tablespoonful, tossed through chickpeas, pasta and rice, blobbed on the top of a vegetable soup, or folded into the middle of an omelette.

It is quite simply a brilliant and delightful recipe.

What recipes are currently on high rotation in your kitchen?

Spiced Peanut Butter Muesli Bars

Muesli bars make a great snack, however many of the brands available from the supermarket are crammed with dodgy sounding ingredients, so why not make your own?

Spiced Peanut Butter Muesli Bars

I've been making these muesli bars for a couple of years now. They originated from a recipe on Teresa Cutter's site. However, over time, I've tweaked the original, adding ingredients and changing the method until they've morphed into this current incarnation. 

My latest change has been the addition of peanut butter to the mixture which, along with the spices and golden syrup, gives a spicy and treacley flavour to the finished bars.

The bars are slightly crumbly, which is a texture I like. If this is a problem for you, then just add another egg which will help further bind them together. Makes 16 serves.


½ cup peanut butter
½ cup golden syrup
3 cups natural muesli
½ cup ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs
¼ cup pepitas* or flaked almonds

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Melt the peanut butter & golden syrup: Spoon the peanut butter and golden syrup into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Melt the ingredients, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly combined and smooth - you do need to watch this, as the syrup has a tendency to start boiling, before the peanut butter has become runny.

While the peanut butter & golden syrup are melting: In a large bowl, roughly combine the muesli, ground flaxseeds and mixed spice.

Whisk the eggs: Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk together. 

Mix all the ingredients: Once melted, pour the peanut butter and golden syrup into the muesli. Add the whisked egg and then, using a spoon, mix all the ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined and gloriously sticky.

Get the bars ready for baking: Spoon the muesli mixture into the prepared baking tin and press it down firmly – I find it easiest to do this with the back of a wet spoon. Scatter the pepitas or almonds over the top, squashing them down slightly into the muesli mixture.

Bake the muesli bars: Cook for 30 – 35 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack until they are completely cooled. Cut into 16 squares using a sharp knife and enjoy. 

Store the cooked muesli bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze them individually. 

Cooking Notes

Pepitas are dried pumpkin seeds. While you can find them un-hulled, salted and / or roasted, I always buy the raw hulled seeds. These are green and flat-ish in shape. Pepitas can be found in some supermarkets and all health food shops.

There are lots of ways to vary these muesli bars and make them your own. You could use different muesli blends, or make up your own muesli from rolled oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. One of my favourite combinations is dried fig and ginger. I make this with a combination of oats, walnuts, chopped dried figs, together with ground ginger and chunks of crystallised ginger.

Nutrition Notes

  • Can be made gluten free by using a gluten free muesli.
  • Suitable for vegetarians.
  • Lactose free.
  • Can be made low salt, as long as you use a no added salt peanut butter.

Have you ever made your own muesli bars?

Hello again

Hello, how are you? I've been missing in action for the last few months, taking time off for my health, but now I'm back.

It feels like the right time. Limes & Lycopene has been on hold, as have many aspects of my life, while I hoped, waited and worked on getting better. However my health has not improved as much as I'd wanted. 

Dizziness is still an ingredient in my everyday life and there's no foreseeable end to the problem. So, rather than waiting for things to get back to how they were, when my health was tip-top, it's time to strike a new path.

Things have changed for me considerably over the last 18 months, since the vestibular migraines started - I've been writing about my experiences here. I'm now living with a chronic illness which has forced me to resign from clinic, let go of many writing jobs, give up my driving license, slow right down. I have limited energy and limited mental resources, even on a good day.

 Image by  juhkystar.

Image by juhkystar.

In all these changes, the way I cook and think about food has also changed. It's had to. I am no longer able to spend the day planning what I'm going to cook that night. I don't have the energy to spend an hour cooking dinner and shopping, of any kind, is a big trigger for my dizziness - so browsing through farmers' markets and beautiful food stores is something I now mostly avoid.

However, it strikes me the problem of how to eat healthily and cook for yourself, when energy, time and motivation are in short supply, is a topic relevant to many. Certainly relevant to more than just the people with vestibular migraine, or even those with a chronic illness. 

Like others, I often struggle to summon the motivation for cooking; I get bored with eating the same thing, but don't have the energy for a lot of experimentation; I want delicious flavours but can't be bothered to cook for hours. Plus a late afternoon trip to the shops, to top up on ingredients, is not a good use of my time or energy, so I generally cook with what I have. 

It's still a work in progress.

I've missed this space over the last few months, but I've been uncertain about my capabilities and hesitant to commit to blogging again when my energy and health are limited. However, with the help of this site, sent to me by the lovely Elaine, I think I've worked out a sustainable approach. 

So I look forward to talking to you all some more over the next few months.