Be prepared! Short and snappy recipes 

I am going into hospital to get a fairly small procedure done. It’s not the procedure I’m fretting about (maybe a little) it’s the post-procedure recovery. 

I had severe carpal tunnel syndrome when I was pregnant  which is lingering and stopping me enjoying life to the full so I have opted for the op…

I will have no use of my hands for a while after the procedure and will therefore need lots of help from family to look after my own little family while I’m recovering. However,  not wanting to be a complete burden and leaving my family high and dry, I have been preparing meals for us all for the time I will be incapacitated.

I did several meals in one go so they had to be quick to make and easily frozen for later munching.

Being prepared is definitely the secret to being able able to make home cooked meals rather than using shop bought food for your family. Although processed food has its place, I don’t regret the time I spend in the kitchen making Harris meals from scratch.

Here is the recipes for the meals I cooked this week. (Some are already in the blog). I warn you, these are rough recipes as they were done off the top of my head and hardly anything was measured.

Curried lentil pie

1 large parsnip, diced
5 shallots, finely chopped 
2 carrots,  diced
1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander and curry powder
2 cloves garlic
1 cup of green lentils
600ml veg stock
1 large potato and 1 large sweet potato

Fry the shallots and finely chopped garlic until soft. Add the parsnips and carrots and cook for around 5 minutes and then add the spices and stir around for another 5 mins. Add the stock and some pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and stock is almost absorbed into the mixture. Whilst waiting for the lentil mix to cook, boil the tatties and roughly mash them with a fork adding a little olive oil and season to taste.

Make into a pie…put the lentil mix in an oven proof dish and top with the potato mixture.

You can either bake in the oven as it is for 40 minutes at 200c or, as I did here, cool it and stick it in the freezer for using later. Remember and defrost fully before cooking.

I made lentil soup – which you can find elsewhere in my blog.

I made the kiddy korma. I made it slightly different though. Since Harris is less of a baby and more toddler now, I added rice and, as instead of at the end, I added diced sweet potato at the beginning of the cooking with the other veg. Using the same korma recipe, just add 1/4 cup of rinsed white rice to the cooking process after the lentils have been added and an extra 1/4 cup of water.

Thai style Risotto

Risotto is one of Harris’s (and mine) favourites so I was super stoked at making this tasty and creamy risotto…

Use

100g risotto rice
1 clove garlic
1/2 tin of coconut milk
500ml stock (i used 1/2 a cube)
7 or 8 chestnut mushrooms
4 shallots or 1 onion
1/2 large courgette or 1 small courgette
1/4 cup frozen peas
Juice of 1 lime

Cook the shallots and garlic in a little oil and add the mushrooms and courgette – cook for about 5 minutes and add the rice. Stir in a little more oil if needed and cook until the rice looks all nice and shiny (just a few minutes). Make up the stock and add the coconut milk to it. Start adding the milk and stock liquid to the rice and veg, a little at a time until it’s absorbed and repeat and repeat again until the liquid is used up and soaked up by the rice – make sure the mixture doesn’t dry out though, you want it creamy. Right at the end of the cooking process, add the peas and squeeze in the lime juice. Leave to sit off the heat with a lid on for a few minutes and then serve.

Enjoy!

I have loads more to share with you lovely people but I have to stop now and will be back in a few weeks when I can type again. In the meantime, try cooking something new and if you need any help or have any questions about my recipes please drop me a note and ask! Would love to hear from you.

Sweet potato and coriander soup 

Sweet potatoes are ace, so tasty and, unlike normal potatoes, you can count them as part of your ‘5 a day’. You can make chips with them, bake ’em, do wedges in the oven or mash them on top of a “gardeners pie” so yummy! 
I was super proud when the nursery manager commented on the range of food Harris takes for lunch – unlike a lot of the kids who take a sandwich. So, I had better keep up the good work! 

I have made a batch of soup so Harris has plenty for nursery, since he is now practically full time…4 days a week! My freezer is now overflowing with baby tupperware pots of soup, rice pud, sliced mango, paella, chilli, pasta, rice and more! You don’t always need to make special dinners for your little one. When making tea for Craig and I, I just make more than we need and freeze the extra in little pots for Harris. It’s not hard at all. 
Anyway, here’s the soup recipe:

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bashed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 vegetable stock cube
1.2l boiling water
A handful of fresh coriander leaves
Pepper to taste
A little lug of oil

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes then add the potatoes and ground coriander. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes stirring so the potatoes don’t stick. Mix the stock cube and boiling water and add to the pan. Stir and allow to boil for a minute then simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add the fresh coriander and pepper and allow to cool for ten minutes. You can either transfer to a blender or use a hand held one. Blend to a smooth consistency. If too thick then add a little water. I like it thick, especially for feeding Harris as sloppy soup goes everywhere! 

Why put off what you could start today?

We’re all bad for it…procrastination is a terrible thing isn’t it?

Image result for procrastination spongebob

Why do we all look to better ourselves at some point in the future? Like, before New Year, who will promise to do something as from the 1st of January, or in some cases, when we go back to work when the party season is over?…

Another one is, when I’m 40 I will make life changes, travel more, start a new business, be healthy…everyone has an aspiration to do something for themselves and so they should, and as the famous sports company says…JUST DO IT!

Why not start what you mean to do tomorrow (or on the 1st of January or when you turn 40 or 50 or when you retire!), today?  Try it and see what happens.

So, where am I going with this you ask. Well, if you know me, it will most definitely be something to do with health. You have probably guessed it…here it is…

If you want to get healthy in 2017, why not start now, in 2016, today. Make a little change here and there and soon you’ll be on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

Here are my top 10 tips.

  1. Cancel subscriptions to Slimming World, Weight watchers and the like – save your money for something more worthwhile. Why pay someone to tell you what you could tell yourself.
  2. Throw away the scales – go by how you feel, how your clothes fit – are you happy and healthy?
  3. Get out – take a walk with your family, go to the park, have an adventure, get on your bike, go for a jog or a run – whatever floats your boat – just go outside!
  4. Buy some good cook books. I love Jamie Oliver, Thug Kitchen, Vegan Richa, Ainsley Harriott and some other nondescript books that simply just take my fancy – I love getting ideas from these books and end up creating my own recipes. In addition to these, of course, you have the support of bloggers like me to give you ideas on what to cook for you and your family…If you’re going for the healthier lifestyle, go easy on the Mary Berry books though!
  5. Reduce the amount of processed food you eat, like processed meat, cheese, sauces, ready made meals, frozen meals, jars of baby food – sadly, the list is endless. Although I hate to say it, we all do sometimes need convenience food in our lives, but limit it to a couple of times a week.
  6. Get cooking! Home cooked food is far superior to the food you buy already prepared in the supermarkets. As a nation, we are overfed and undernourished and this is because of the convenience food we eat is far too accessible and easy. Rich in flavour (artificial flavourings and additives), and bulkers (potato starch, whey, emulsifiers) but lacking in nutrition. Instead of buying the ready made food, make homemade soup, stew, home bakes, pasta, risotto, curry, chilli, shepherds or even better, non-shepherds pie* – all of these meals can be done in one or two pans or dishes and they are so simple to make and freeze for future use.
  7. Ask for advice. Don’t be afraid to ask your GP or, in the case of young families, your health visitor. The NHS have lots of great initiatives to help people stay healthy. I mean, it will help them in the long run if we are not all riddled with some types of cancer, diabetes and heart conditions. Here is one to help get you started; http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/weight-loss-guide/Pages/losing-weight-getting-started.aspx
  8. Catch up with friends. It’s a well known fact that laughter helps the heart mind and soul stay fit and healthy – as long as you are not meeting up for a tray load of cakes and/or beer and wine!
  9. On that note, drink less! Drinking is empty calories – it does nothing for you and inevitably too much of it makes you feel pretty rubbish anyway.
  10. Leave the car and walk or bike to your destination, which will help the environment at the same time

Stop procrastinating and “Just do it”!

Image result for procrastination

*Non-shepherds pie is Gardeners pie in my blog.

Gardeners pie 

So, thanks to Julia,  my non-shepherds pie has a name, Gardeners pie! It is so easy to make and what I love about it, you can use most veg and pulses to make it so no excuses that you don’t have the right food to make it, just substitute it with something else. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong sometimes, and you won’t ever get it that wrong anyway. Cooking is supposed to be fun and passing this trait down to your kids will be a valuable lesson for them in their future. 

In this recipe I have used chickpeas but in the one I made previously I used puy  (green) lentils. Use whatever is your favourite – lentils, peas and beans all work!

Ingredients

I cooked my own chickpeas but I used around about the same weight as a tin.
1 carrot, cubed
Turnip, cubed (around the same amount as carrots)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 a green pepper, cubed
1/2 courgette, grated
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 clove garlic
5 medium sized potatoes
Olive oil
1/2 veg stock cube crumbled into 500ml boiling water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method

Peel the potatoes and boil them in salted water for around 25 minutes or until ready.

Chop all the veg. Add a little oil to a heated pan and add the onion and minced garlic. Saute until softened then add all other veg. Cook for 10 minutes then add the tomato puree and cayenne pepper. Stir up and add the stock – just enough to cover the veg. Add the chickpeas and allow to simmer without a lid for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Pre-heat your oven to 200C.

Once the tatties are ready, mash them with a little olive oil and milk (I used almond) and add a little salt and pepper to taste. If you’re making this for your little one don’t add the salt as the stock also has salt in it.

Take one casserole dish or tray and line the bottom layer with the chickpea mix and top with the mash, pop it into the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is nice and crisp and serve up with some beets (freshly roasted in the oven with some oil and maple syrup…yum!) or broccoli.

This is a great recipe to make for your dinner and save a few portions for your little one. Harris loves it with broccoli.

Exercise Mama! Exercise!

Nobody said that being a mum and keeping fit would be easy. I returned to exercise by going skiing (for the very first time) when Harris was just 5 weeks old and the following day I got on my mountain bike and did a loop of the upper red at Laggan and the fun park…in the snow! I love exercising and being outdoors but sometimes you need a little more and this is where gym classes come in – not just any gym class though. Ultimate fitness class in Stonehaven is where its at. My strength has come on leaps and bounds since starting up with Sean who runs the class (he also does PT sessions). The classes gave me the confidence after having Harris to get right in there and become a strong, fighting mama machine (well, I strive to be at least), and to boot it helps when I’m on my bike too. 

Over the past couple of months, I lost my mojo – not sure who was hiding it! Anyway, at last, I found it again and got my butt back to class and aren’t I totally stoked that I did! My legs are like jelly and my arms like Olive oil from Popeye  (all wobbly). So, to celebrate I want to share my recipe for, what I consider to be, the best protein shake there is! Inspired by a protein shake we had in Ibiza in the summer.

(Makes 3/4 pint) ish 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon 100% peanut butter
1 tablespoon cacao powder
1 tablespoon (or however much you normally use) protein powder – I use pea protein
1 small-ish banana
Half pint milk – I use almond or cashew
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
2 ice cubes

Method

Add it all into a blender and wazz it up for a minute or 2 and pour. Lush!


Time for the kids – veggie paella and wiggly worms

Greetings everyone! It’s been a while since I have blogged (reasons for this coming soon), but I am breaking my silence with a couple of recipes for the kids. I have some family recipes simmering away and will share them soon but, as most of you know, the kids gotta come first!

Harris is a year old in just a few days and his eating is just going from strength to strength. He is constantly wanting to try new things and eating everything in sight…I just hope this continues. However, I have heard all the horror stories of kids who used to eat broccoli like sweeties and a year on won’t touch it with a barge pole. I am hoping with all the different tastes and textures that Harris has had so far that this won’t happen in our case. We shall see…

Anyway, for now he laps up these meals:-

Veggie Paella

Ingredients 

5cm of courgette
Half a small red pepper
1/4 red onion
1 mushroom
Handful of frozen peas, (I use petite pois)
1 cup of rice, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon of tumeric
1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 garlic clove
2 cups water
Splash of oil

Method

Heat the oil in a pan. Finely chop the veg (not the peas) and add this to the pan along with the minced garlic clove. Once the veg is softened, add the rice and spices and stir, then add the water and stir again. Allow the rice and veggies to gently simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed and once at this stage, add the peas and take off the heat. Allow the rice mixture to steam with the lid on until all the liquid is absorbed. If the rice isn’t cooked, add a little more water and cook further as necessary.

To cool, tip the mixture onto a flat dish or plate so that it cools quickly and then put it into your storage pots and store in the freezer until dinner time!

when defrosting, defrost in the fridge and heat as required.

Wiggly worms

This recipe is much the same as the above with some little tweaks.

Ingredients

5cm courgette
Half a small red pepper
1/4 red onion
1 mushroom
1/2 a tomato
1 garlic clove
Spaghetti noodles (or you cab ise normal spaghetti and break it into smaller noodles)
Splash of oil
A couple of basil leaves

Add the spaghetti to boiling water and cook as per the pack instructions. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oil in a pan and finely chop the veg and add this to the pan and cook along with the minced garlic clove. Once the spaghetti is cooked, add this to the veg and add a little splash of oil and basil leaves, roughly chopped.

Allow to cool, just like veggie paella, on a large flat dish and store until needed. This dish can also be frozen until needed.

Hope your little ones enjoy these dishes as much as Harris does!!

Kid’s in restaurants, the menus and a recipe for Korma

I’ve never really understood why, in restaurants, the main kid’s meals are always the most unhealthy, boring options. Usually bland, deep fried, processed junk food. Who decided that our kids should eat from a separate menu anyway? From pizza to chicken nuggets, fish fingers and sausage and mash oh, and don’t forget spag bol.

Now that Harris is eating, it infuriates me even more. Even if we were still meat eaters, I wouldn’t dream of allowing him to stuff deep fried anything down his throat let alone bits of chicken and sausage meat from goodness knows where. The thought of the salt content alone makes for a good horror story. 

Children are human beings, just like us adults and shouldn’t be excluded from the exciting world of food by being given a tiny and limited choice of 4 or 5 meals from a menu.  When we eat out Harris tries what we are eating and I also take a standby tub of homemade goodness to give him, just to make sure he has had a good healthy sized meal.

Can I suggest that once your baby is weaned and on solids that you take them to a restaurant and include them in the social aspect of eating,  don’t exclude them by feeding them what you think they want, from the limited and unhealthy kids menu, or what years of (bad) learned behaviour tells us we should be doing. Allow them a wide choice of colourful and good healthy foods, and if it doesn’t work out try again next time and they will get the hang of it,  they’re smart little cookies.

So, here is one of the recipes I have used at home but also take out with us for Harris to eat alongside our meal.

35g each of courgette, carrot and parsnip,  finely chopped 
1/2 cup of red or green (puy) lentils or feel free to use chickpeas.
1 tspn of korma curry paste (jar or homemade)
1 cup of coconut milk
1 cup water
1/2 sweet potato

Add a tspn of oil into a pan and add the veg and sauté for 5-10 minutes then add the curry paste along with the liquid and lentils, let this come to boiling point and then reduce to a low simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook the sweet potato. Either boil it in a pan of water or bake it. (I bake mine as more nutrients are retained this way). I start by microwaving it on full power for 5 minutes, turning over half way through cooking and finish it off in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200C. You only need half the potato for this dish so you could have the other half for your lunch or dinner!

Once the curry is ready (the liquid should be nice and creamy) add the potato pulp (no skin) by mashing it into the curry. This should make the curry an even thicker consistency.

And there you have it! A meal in one pot! You can add cous cous or rice to this dish if you have a hungry wee one like we do!

This can be divided into pots and frozen to use when needed.