Back to basics. Part 2

Hello again. I promised a follow-up and this is it.

Prepare to be excited by this one, I’ve really pulled out all of the stops and have a complete meal for you, which was a resounding success and resulted in two empty plates. I repeat; TWO EMPTY PLATES (and not because they’d thrown it all on the floor, or I’ve tossed it into the compost bin in anger, which are usually the only way plates get cleared in our house).

I’m calling it… Pesto Pasta. Groundbreaking, no, but if I say too many times out loud what is actually inside it, then either Boy A or Boy O will cotton on that it contains Actual Vegetables. Yes, Actual Green Vegetables. In fact, two different types of horrid green things. And for once they’ve not been blitzed in my food processor until they are microscopic. I’m very proud of myself.

I’ll keep it brief, because honestly there’s nothing new here, and also, it really did only take 10 minutes to prepare. Even less for Boy O to eat.

First-up, boil some pasta. Boy A picked up a packet of spelt pasta whilst in the shop today which I gladly bought for him, so we tried that out (it was yummy by the way, with lots of extra goodness and fibre, yet not at all tough like wholemeal pasta can be – bonus!)

Meanwhile, thinly chop a small leek and a couple of handfuls of curly kale. The key here is to chop the Offending Green Items very small. Also chop a chicken breast into small pieces (or not so small if chicken isn’t an Offending Food for anyone at your table).

Now, heat a little oil in a pan and gently fry the leek and kale for 5 or-so minutes until they’re nice a soft and even turning a little brown and / or crispy. Pop the chicken in and fry for another 5 minutes until cooked through. The chicken should be nicely coated in the Offending Green Items. Stir in a tablespoon of pesto and two tablespoons of soft cheese (or creme fraiche, should you prefer) and toss the sauce through the pasta to thoroughly coat it.

Serve with a sprinkling of black pepper, resisting the urge to offer grated cheese to go on top (it has cheese in it after all) and hold your breath, waiting to see whether they pick out the Offending Green Items and just eat the pasta and chicken. Or just the pasta in Boy A’s case.

Two. Empty. Plates. Hurrah.



Back to basics. Part 1

This week mealtimes have been somewhat more challenging than usual.

Our ‘eat it or go hungry’ ethos has meant more hungry bedtimes than I would have liked. My ‘at least if there’s bread on the table’ school of thought has meant they have eaten a LOT of bread. And the reliable fall-back of ‘douse it in ketchup / stir in some pesto / sprinkle cheese’ has not helped at all, instead has resulted in lots of sucked ketchup fingers and forkfuls of pesto consumed. Gah! I give up.

Well, inside, perhaps. But I won’t let them win!

So, a new week, a new slate.

First stop, a quick trip to the supermarket with Boy O: “Pick whatever you would like for lunch”, I hear myself saying. Uh-ho. Given genuine free reign I’m certain he would have chosen pasta, with pesto and peanut butter. Today however, my luck was in and he asked for fish fingers. So we headed to the frozen aisle where I looked for our usual blue box of chunky more-fish-than-crumb fingers, when he piped up with “what about these ones Mummy? My never had the red ones before” and promptly grabbed a box of crumbed haddock fillets. Man-sized. Fine. In fact, great! Now what to go with it… “Wraps Mummy!” Again, great! Especially when he proceeded to pick up the wholemeal ones. But I then went and ruined his flow with my vegetable obsession by asking him what offending greenery he waned to accompany his wrap. Cue meltdown; he, in the only way a two-year old knows how, and me, flapping and rushing us through the checkout embarrassed by his public tantrum. During this we somehow compromised on a carton of ready-made carrot and squash soup (surely that counts as one of your five-a-day?)

So here is the resulting wrap Baked crumbed haddock fillet gently broken up and rolled in a wholemeal wrap. With a mug of carrot and squash soup on the side, to dip the wrap into.

And some ketchup for Boy A. Don’t forget the ketchup.



Feeding two boys each with different tastes can be challenging and so I’m always looking for ways to please both, rather than serving a ‘supper-of-two-halves’.
Sometimes I cave in and we’ll have a something-for-everybody kind-of spread – especially weekend lunchtimes, as it really does make for a better afternoon if all three of my boys have a full stomach.
Recently however, I stumbled upon the perfect all-round supper and needless to say I am thrilled. Even better it’s healthy, full of amazing nutrients, super cheap, (did I mention healthy?), as well as quick and easy to throw together.
I challenge even the trickiest of eaters to find something to whinge about with this.

So, this post should be entitled “How to successfully feed the Vegetarian Who Doesn’t Eat Veg Except Roasted Carrots and Pasta Boy”

Here’s how…

Roast a couple of peppers drizzled in a little oil next time your oven is on. Set aside until needed.

When ready to go, take said peppers, remove seeds and stem then pop in a food processor. Throw in a tsp of garlic paste (yes, super lazy, I know but a brilliant fridge stand-by staple), a tin of chopped tomatoes and a handful of basil leaves. Whizz until obliterated.

Scrape the tomato sauce mixture into a saucepan and throw in a couple of handfuls of rinsed red lentils. Be generous as they disappear so you can sneakily load up on fibre, protein and important minerals like iron and zinc without fussy Little People being any the wiser. Cook for around 20 minutes until the lentils are soft and disappearing, adding a little water if necessary to loosen the sauce.

Meanwhile, cook some spaghetti as per the instructions on the packet, grate some cheese and when ready, serve.

Voila, tomato pasta with cheese. No hidden goodness here. None. At. All.
I Promise [wink, wink]


Vegan Brownies

Recently I catered a mostly vegan party and wanted some scrummy vegan brownies on the menu (who doesn’t like brownies aside from Boy O who doesn’t like chocolate?)

Now over the years I have tried many vegan or ‘healthy’ brownie recipes and was constantly disappointed with them either being labour intensive or simply not quite right, so I set about making my own. After lots of trial and (lots and lots) of error, I’ve finally created my own recipe, which still isn’t ‘quite right’, but is pretty damn good.
They were the star of my menu at the party and got lots of compliments and requests for the recipe so I challenge you to make them and let me know what you think!

Now, in my true signature style this is a lazy ‘bung it all in and mix’ recipe.

Firstly, pre-heat your oven to 175* and line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

Then, you’ll need:
150g coconut oil
90g pure cacao (I love Willies 100% Venezuelan Black but any will work fine)
170g wholegrain SR flour
180g coconut sugar
50g ground almonds
200ml soya milk (or any other milk substitute of your choice)
50g nuts, coarsely chopped (Daddy and I like walnuts but children can find them bitter, so I generally use pistachios unless the brownies are not for sharing with Petite People)
1tsp baking powder
1tbsp rose water
130g frozen raspberries

Step 1> Gently melt the cacao and coconut oil over a pan of simmer water, set aside to cool.

Step 2> Pop all ingredients EXCEPT the raspberries into a mixer and thoroughly combine. Add the raspberries and quickly mix for another minute (don’t be afraid of them breaking up).

Step 3> Fill the lined baking tray and pop the brownies into the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Step 4> Remove from the oven (use a skewer to ensure they’re fully cooked through – if it comes out clean when poked in then it’s ready) then allow to fully cool in the tin before removing and cutting into slices.

These are best eaten within a couple of days of making and are yummy hot or cold and in fact, are delicious the next day re-heated in the microwave for approx 45 seconds and served warm with coconut ice-cream.
Daddy’s favourite.



Breakfast Bars

There are a lot of people making ‘healthy’ snack bars at the moment which is great, I’m all for anything healthy, however we must remember all these sugar and fat alternatives are still forms of sugar and fat (coconut oil is still FAT, raisins are fruit SUGAR etc…)

Instead of thinking we can eat as much as we like if it is made from all natural, non-processed ingredients and laden with fruit, therefore good for us, we should be thinking these snacks are better for us than the alternatives and like all food, should still be eaten in moderation.
Rant over.

Bake these and enjoy. Just in moderation.

Breakfast bites

200g oats
100g spelt flour
4 ripe / overripe bananas
50g pitted dates
2tbsp desiccated coconut
2tbsp raisins/currants/sultanas/cranberries/etc
3tbsp honey (or maple syrup if vegan)
100g coconut sugar
75g coconut oil, melted and cooled
75g coconut yogurt
200g rozen raspberries
2tsp baking powder
1tbsp poppy seeds

First-up, pre-heat your oven to 150* and line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

Then roughly whizz the oats in a food processor until they resemble a coarse flour. Pop them aside in a large mixing bowl and add the spelt flour and baking powder.

Next, pop the bananas, dates, coconut oil and yogurt in the food processor and blitz until it forms a kind of paste. Add this to the mixing bowl along with the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly until fully combined.

Spread the mixture evenly in the baking tin and pop in the oven for approx 45-50 minutes. You’ll know it’s cooked when poked with a skewer and it comes out clean.

Leave it to cool fully on a cooling rack before cutting into cubes.

The cubes will keep for around 4-5 days in an airtight container and I actually think taste even better when a day or two old, but they also freeze and defrost well so make a big batch and remove from the freezer an hour before you want to eat them.

I seldom manage to freeze any as Boy A, Boy O AND Daddy demolish them within a day or two. Boy O in particular, who when allowed likes two for a mid-morning snack; not bad after a breakfast comprising two ‘wheat biscuits’, some multigrain hoops and half a bagel with all-nut peanut butter. I’ve no idea where he puts it all.