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!


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The Happy Pear Cookbook: Us Four Give It A Go.

I’m a big fan of The Happy Pear, the grocers and cafe run by a pair of handsome man-twins seen being optimistic and cheery and wearing unseasonal shorts all over the media late last year. That was shortly before my birthday and the reason they were so ubiquitous was that they released a book, so I sat on my hands to avoid purchasing it and waited. With not a hint dropped my BFF turned up with the goods and I don’t quite recall but I probably snatched it from her in a my preciousssss style.

The book hasn’t let me down. Though their food is my style – vegetarian, hearty, unpretentious – I will preface this by saying I’m not entirely on board with all their methods. I’ve pretty much halved or cut out the salt in the recipes I’ve made from it, and have been more liberal with my oil use: olive, rapeseed, sesame and coconut are my fats of choice. The guys are not fans of oil use at all as they explain in the book. However I heartily agree with the main thrust of their philosophy, which is:


Sure you can’t argue with that. Continue reading

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.

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.

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!


Psst! Know where you can get cheap coconut water?


Warning. May contain coconut water.
  • Take a corkscrew to the coconut holey bit. Stick a chopstick or similar into the hole and wheegie (it’s a word) it about to make a bigger hole.
  • Decant contents into a drinking receptacle through a sieve (repeat a couple of times if you like).   This coconut yielded about 200mls compared to that Vita Coco carton which has 330ml and sells for about €2.50-€3.  It’s gorgeous, potassium-packed and super hydrating, but I can’t afford it frankly.
  • Add a straw and fight over it with your 15 month old. (I’m so mature)
  • Congratulate self on many euros saved, and enjoy rest of delicious coconut flesh.   If anyone has any recipes for fresh coconut they’d like to share please do!

I also have it on good authority that Lidl will have coconuts for a mere 49c next week.

Wow! Who is this super healthy mum & her amazing eating toddler?*

Fame at last

*Eek!  It’s me!

I just got a text from my nearly-sister-in-law (3 weeks to go!) to tell me that me & Dominic’s blog got a mention in today’s Irish Independent magazine.   Having stayed up til the unholy hour of 1230am – VdeP table quiz, we didn’t win –  then risen for teething & rugby by 6am, I’ve not been very tuned in today at all.  So this bit of news has dragged me away from a saturday night wine & telly slump, as Dominic is fast asleep as any 21 month old should be & can’t be disturbed to blog.  Welcome any and all new readers!

I feel slightly fradulent here – Dom’s going through an awfully fussy time this week – 2 lower incisors are to blame, but in general, he is getting harder to please.   He did chow down on sweet potato wedges for lunch, but this evening he threw lovely courgette slices & sweet red pepper chunks (previous  favourites) across the table and proceeded to spoon out plain white rice for himself.  He may have had some creamy almond butter sauce but it definitely wasn’t intentional.

(One point to note, is that Dominic is not actually vegetarian, neither is my husband.  I never cook meat/fish, Mark does about once a week.  I fully intend to buy That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals for Dom though and guide him towards his mamma’s way of life…)

Tentative words.

I *think* we have our mojo back.  Maybe it’s because I started with a recipe from a cook book instead of my imagination, after the bad run of dinners.

We got The Silver Spoon as a present from a friend.  Now I’m sure I read before that it was traditionally given by Italian mothers to their daughter-in-law-to-be before they wed her son.  Ahahahaha. Charming.  Of course, I can’t find any reference to this now, but all I can say is I’m glad it’s a whopping great book, because if it were given to me with any such inference it’d be used as a weapon.

“Looka after mya little boya,  I’ve-a markeda hisss favourites…”


(Luckily my mother in law doesn’t conform to any such stereotypes – sometimes indulging her son’s meaty cravings when we visit but also always feeding me imaginative veggie food, and all the while conforming to her own Coeliac and her husband’s Diabetic dietary requirements. Yikes)

I was going to make baked beans, and had soaked and cooked cannellini beans in prep for that.  Then I realised I forgot to defrost the tomato sauce, and had a quick scan through my reasonably small cook book collection for an alternative.  (Aside: I find as a vegetarian, I don’t have a huge grá for cookbooks.  Despite watching lots of cookery shows, the associated books are usually way too meaty to bother buying.  I’ve just ordered Simon Hopkinson’s Vegetarian Option though – I can’t wait to flick through and cook from it. )

I love beans – they’re filling & super nutrious. I came across this simple healthy recipe, which was a nice contrast to the heavy creamy pasta we’d had the previous night (not complaining but I can’t eat cream/mozzarella laden dinner every night)

good to go

Summer Cannellini Beans (Serves 4)

3 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Garlic clove

1 diced Aubergine

1 Yellow pepper diced (only had red. sue me)

2 Tomatoes (only had cherry toms so used 1/2 a tin of chopped toms.)

350g Cannellini beans

Grated rind 1/2 Lemon

Basil leaves & Parsley, chopped

Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic & cook until browned, then remove and discard (what! discard garlic, never…).

Add the aubergine, and pepper to the pan and cook over a high heat for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and beans, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Season with salt & pepper and cook, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the beans to a warm serving dish and sprinkle with the lemon rind, basil and parsley.

Mix well and serve.

Dominic really loved this.  He doesn’t have a particular problem with veg, or any one food we offer (besides unreconstructed bananas) but I’ve definitely noticed that as he’s gotten older he has gotten that bit fussier maybe just due to being more aware of what things are.  When he’s happily eating one thing, he’s not really into trying the different coloured/textured thing beside it.  Maybe he’s a bit OCD! So he might lay into his sweet potato wedges, but not touch the roasted peppers.  Or eat the tofu but not the noodles.  Last night he ate every single scrap of his scrambled egg, but wouldn’t touch the toasty soldiers.  This is a great one pot dinner – where the ingredients sorta stick together, each forkful contains lots of different bits and pieces, and the textures are not dissimilar.