Are you sick of super foods yet?

What? Cacao and avocado do not a mousse make? You don’t care that you’re supposed to be doing post-Christmas food penance (it’s january still?), cauliflower rice is not a ‘thing’? You glide past bags of dark irontastic kale thinking of the washing those curly little buggers must need even if they’re only 39c this week?

Ah, but be intimidated no more! I have the kale use for you!

KalePesto

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A Week In Dinners: What We Ate Round Ours.

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As part of a look at what ‘real’ families eat, Sinéad over at Bumbles of Rice started a ‘Week In Dinners’ linky. I’m always interested in what other people are chomping down on, and I think it’s important to represent for the veggie contingent here in the Properfud house.

Monday: I concocted something with bulgar wheat, chickpeas and a creamy nutty dressing which was FINE but a bit forgettable. It got eaten by everyone but the leftovers are still in the fridge. I suppose I should chuck them now.

Tuesday: A random walk through the Marks & Spencer food hall meant some items threw themselves in my basket like Cheese Tasters, overpriced dark chocolate and stem ginger cookies (for a trip to a friends house), a Nutty Superfood Salad and a Sprouted Bean Salad.  For dinner the husband cooked up some quorn pieces with red pesto, a little stock and frozen spinach and we ate that served with the salads. The boys picked the bits they wanted out of the salads and we ate the rest. I didn’t even try to make them eat any more than they wanted because I wanted it all to myself.

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Me, when I get my hands on Cheese Tasters

Slim-With-TinaWednesday: I got my hands on the Slim With Tina book a couple of weeks ago. You can find out more and buy it here.

I’m not slimming (see above), but I do really like Tina’s approach to health and fitness and this book includes lots of great meal ideas. I learned to run properly on a Run With Tina group course, and have had a strong social media friendship with her since.  My ever-popular pancake recipe even made it into her book with some healthy modifications! I was like a proud mammy when I saw that in there.

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Anyway, she has a delicious simple Chana Masala recipe in the book. I had run out of chickpeas so it was technically Bean-a Masala, as I used a couple of tins of mixed beans. This is a real store-cupboard meal for me, I always have the ingredients (or substitutes!) on hand. I picked at food as I cooked and then ran out the door to my Boxfit class as the boys sat down for dinner. Plates were cleaned!  I also did some grilled aubergine and courgettes on the side because I swear I get itchy if my day doesn’t have enough veggies in it. My husband didn’t even offer them to anyone so I ate them all later *burp*

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Thursday: I made both banana bread and scones on Thursday so had run out of steam a bit by dinner time. Baking with a toddler is double the work, and due to waning enthusiasm for both bonding and cleaning up obviously I dispatched him to in front of the TV while I rolled and cut them. That tiny baby bib is what he insisted on wearing as his apron. It protected NOTHING.

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Luckily I found some Lorraine Pascale marscapone gnocchi in the freezer – this stuff is so good, I always make a good big batch and freeze some. I fried that up, served it on rocket with basil pesto, avocado and yellow peppers. Plates were served according to taste preferences – that is no leaves, loads of pepper for the kids. I think Teddy robbed about half my gnocchi.

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Friday: I cooked up some fresh rice and the boys ate leftover Chana Masala. I didn’t feel so great with a crappy sore throat, and the husband had his eye on a takeaway. I eyed up an avocado smoothie recipe in a bid to make myself feel healthy. Then I thought about the Cheese Tasters for a bit. Curse you M&S and your tasty snacks! I relented and made the smoothie (and it was delicious). Did I have takeaway later? You’ll never know…

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Don’t forget to look at all the other Week in Dinners posts over here!

Nuts for coconuts.

Yes, it’s that time of year; coconuts are cheap and plentiful in our supermarkets.  I was excited about this last year too, but it bears repeating given that in the intervening 12 months I have become an even bigger fan of the fuzzy ovals of goodness, adding it’s amazing oil to my Things I Love From Coconuts list, the contents of which are published below:

  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut water
  • Coconut flesh

Last year I used a corkscrew, but my husband – perhaps over-egging the coconut – decided a drill was yer only man for the task. Or you could try a screwdriver but probably not if you have a decent sense of self preservation and place value on not stabbing yourself in the hand.

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Yes, the coconut does indeed look like it’s weeing.

Drill through one of the dents (nope, still don’t know the proper word for those) and pour out the delicious coconut water through a sieve.

Here’s our pure coconut water – mean mammy would only hand over a small bit – and a few days of healthy snacking.  All for a mere 69c.

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Pre-bedtime hydration

Jumping the kale bandwagon: healthy fried rice with kale & spring onions

Just call me Gwyneth, the high priestess of worthy eating herself.  I bought 2 bags of kale last week, for the first time in my life.  I went to trusty twitter to find out what to do with them, forgetting to mention I don’t have a juicing contraption so green smoothies and juices are pretty much out.  I learned that it can take the place of spinach in most things, so that set me on the right path.   But also, kale crisps.  Crisps is an overstatement, but I ate a 250g bag of kale in 2 days that way.

Then I go to write up this post only to find that this very weeks Irish Times magazine has a write up on the Superfood Du Jour.  The health benefits are outlined as below, pretty impressive I reckon you’ll agree:

A single cup of chopped kale is estimated to contain 134 per cent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C – and 206 per cent of the recommended intake of vitamin A. That’s not quite as impressive as the 684 per cent of vitamin K. So kale delivers vitamins A, C and K, copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorous and lots of alpha-linoleic acid, which is good for the brain. The same cup of kale contains just 33 calories. 

I couldn’t just buy kale for snacking, and there was no selling them as ‘crissups’ to a 4 year old boy so I found this lovely Gwyneth Paltrow recipe on the Red website – Healthy Fried Rice with Kale & Spring Onions

So the original article declares that the Paltrow-Martin children call this green rice, which I think is stating the obvious on their behalf, and they couldn’t really claim any copyright to what is just in essence a statement of fact rather than some sort of creative naming on their part.  In fact I’d say give my 1 year old another couple of months and he’ll come up with that one himself.

Image:  Ellen Silverman/Red Online
Image: Ellen Silverman/Red Online

Scoffing at celebrity children (or rather the media portrayal of) aside, this really is delicious.  It packs a punch as a light meal in itself, but I served with with some quorn pieces baked in pesto and creme fraiche. To be honest I was afraid the rice would be entirely rejected.  It was eyed with suspicion by Dominic who doesn’t like you to tell him he’s having something he knows and likes (rice) and then fill it full of something else (kale). But he ate it happily enough after a fashion.  Teddy attacked it with gusto, and was the recipient of the leftovers for lunch the next day too.

I would say that kale is a little faffy to prepare.  So if you can at all trim the leaf from the stem during nap time/before work/while kids are at school/the night before.  You do not want to be doing it with a small child screaming for their grub.  After you’ve worked through a bag with a  kitchen scissors (way easier than a knife), then it just works like spinach but takes a little longer.

If you’re worried about offering your children something you don’t think they’ll eat, here’s how I approach it.

  • You’re not allowed say you don’t like something if you haven’t tried it.
  • There isn’t alternatives offered.  I may, in this instance, give the tricky customer a serving that has a bit more plain rice, and a bit less kale, to entice them in.  Or in an easier scenario than this, keep the new ingredient a bit separate so it can be just sampled then eaten around.
  • Nobody has to clear their plates.  If you say you’re full or done, then I believe you if you’ve eaten any reasonable amount.  I cannot be doing with a half hour of cajoling.
  • Re: the above, I am a reasonable adult and realise that even if there’s food left on your plate and you say you’re full there’s always room for ‘something nice’.  That’s how I operate, so I get that you do too.

Of course this has worked on the elder child for the most part, but come back to me in a couple of years to check the toddler isn’t living on just orange food.

Meanwhile, kale FTW!

Jill

Surprise. There’s spinach on your window.

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I was musing to myself earlier, as some spinach flew past my ear, I should really share the good *and* the bad more often.  Oh you hear all about my wonderful childrens eating habits, eschewing primary coloured yogurt pots for the natural stuff and  chomping down on chickpeas instead of chicken nuggets.  Just there on tuesday they both ate fajitas – salsa, guacamole – the whole shebang, Dominic’s all nicely wrapped, as in the above picture, Theo’s in its constituent parts.  Tonight, my spinach pasties rebranded as ‘green parcels’, did not go well.  Despite spanakopita usually going down a treat.

The meal plan said Thursday:  Puff Pastry Surprise.  This was a weak attempt at meal planning in fairness, I chalked it up there knowing full well that meant frozen pastry taken out this morning with whatever veg were still standing (but not walking on their own yet) that evening.  First mistake – we didn’t actually have puff pastry, only shortcrust.  That’ll do.  So I grated courgette, defrosted and patted dry some spinach and sauteed the two with some garlic.  I grated a good hunk of cheddar in, mixed the whole lot with an egg, grated nutmeg, and a bunch of herbs. Then I divided it into Daddy Bear, Mummy Bear & Baby Bear style portions on the pastry sheet.  I folded each piece over, glazed with egg  & stuck them in the oven.  Job done.

“Mammy what’s for dinner?”

“Er…Green Parcels!” I exclaim.

“I don’t li…” (thinks, what is she talking about?) “…ke them things I want eggy”

“Oh love there’s eggy in Green Parcels” (If I keep capitalising it, it’ll become a real thing.)

(Considerably calmer) “I just want the eggy then okaaayy?”

I pause 2 seconds, which these days elicits a swift “Yes or No? Mammy! Yes or No?” before I have time to think or rationalise or say maybe and I say “Yes”.

Now,  you try extracting molecules of egg from between the strands of grated courgette and mushed spinach encased in pastry.  Oh yeah, and he didn’t want the  ‘parcel’ opened for me to do this.  I haven’t been a mother long enough to learn how to perform keyhole surgery on pies. So I didn’t. And he ate a good bit of pastry and some green went in too. Some tears occurred at the injustice and yes, the spinach got on the window.

So I sit down to write this and discover through my fab Irish Parenting Bloggers group that Kate‘s kids ate squid for lunch today.  In school.  Okay maybe they did mistake it for pasta and weren’t super pleased.   But what I will say is that they only recently moved to Spain, where this and chickpea stew, and pork chops are on their school menu in the upcoming weeks.   The message I take from my and from her experience, is: Y’know what? Sometimes our kids will refuse stuff, and former favourites will be thrown back at you.  But keep offering, because though my bigger boy loves ham way too much he also knows his way around a lentil.  Don’t let your kid dictate your family meals, there’s no way they’ll starve. Variety is the spice of life.  Don’t sweat the small stuff. All those things.

Jill

I think we have a milk-product addiction.

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Grown up yogurts, full of seeds and such, sugar-free kids ones and sugar-packed fromage frais. Baby yogurts, a big tub of natural yogurt for everyone, a big tub of Greek yogurt because why not?

Some kids yogurt tube things, frozen for a pretend-it’s-an-ice-pop treat. (Never mind the Ben & Jerry’s, and mini Lidl magnum knock-offs)

Creme fraiche and sour cream – are they even that different?

Butter, salted & unsalted – waiting to become cake.

Dairygold spread- for weekend toast.

Milk, ‘pink’ and half or full-fat, to fulfill gender stereotypes

Mozzarella, 2 packs which might go to live on a pizza. Emmenthal & cheddar for sandwiches and the rest. Parmesan for cooking. Cream cheese for crackers for everyone. Feta for muffins & spanokopita. Cashel Blue for grown up treats. Halloumi for griddling with lemon juice & chilli…Sweet cheeses, that’s a lot!

Oh, there’s a lonely mini Baby-bel, bought in a net of its friends, on offer and mostly only played with.

This isn’t a list of things we buy over time – this is a list of what’s in our fridge right now. There’s another whole plethora of potential milk-based goodness that might be in there any other week (cream, ricotta, marscapone, the very occasional novelty cheese-string)

My sons are 3.5 and very nearly 1. The younger only has daily yogurt and some cheese in meals, he isn’t even drinking cows milk yet and yet still, this is what we get through as a family.

I dread to think of their teenage years, the pair of them hanging out of a fridge door downing milk straight from the carton. Actually I’m going to have to start looking for those massive American containers I’ve only ever seen on TV aren’t I? (What is a quart anyway?) I’m going to need a 3rd job, as if bringing up two boys and working full-time outside the home wasn’t enough. I’ll need to get my salary lodged straight to a dairy farmer.

We display no obvious allergies or sensitivities to any of the above but I can’t help thinking you can have too much of a good thing. Our diet is generally balanced (‘5-a-day’ is a minimum under my roof) and I quite like alternative milks to cows’ in my coffee – like rice, or almond or soya. So at home I wonder should I replace some of that lot with these? Or would it just be a homeopathic dose – a drop of almond milk in a bath of the cows kind?

Having written this post, I saw the Dairy Free Kids blog latest post this morning,  it’s inspired me to make some changes.  Have you or your family cut down on dairy and found tasty alternatives? I’d love to hear.

Jill