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

Advertisements

(Thai) curry in a hurry

I love a good curry, and although I do most cooking from scratch I usually rely on shop bought pastes to start off a curry.  Another thing I’m pretty fond of is Thai food, but it’s very hard to be sure it’s vegetarian, due to the prolific usage of Nam Pla (fish sauce).  Most Thai curry pastes I’ve picked up in the supermarket have it – green curry seems to be the least likely to contain it from my unscientific survey.  Until now – there’s a brand called Thai Gold which surprisingly and delightfully is based in my home town of Wexford.

I’ve used their massamam, green & red curry pastes, all of which are clearly marked Gluten Free & Vegetarian.  The pastes themselves are the basic set up for your curry – they’re not swimming in oil, and require you to add the sugar/oyster sauce/fish sauce yourself in the cooking process. So they’re easily adaptable.  It may not be totally authentic, but I just substitute the oyster sauce & nam pla with some soy sauce and bobs your uncle.

I make them with tofu and veggies (spuds for the massamam) and some brown rice.  They’re a great dinner to make a big batch of for 2 days – the flavour seems to develop even more overnight.  And best of all – Dominic has declared them ‘is deliciousss mammy’.

Jill

I was not bribed in any way to write this post.  No-one ever sends me anything frankly.

What’s the difference between a tangerine and a mandarin?

Tangerines have a medium fibre content, mandarin low… Who knew?

WARNING: this post contains poo!

One of the biggest changes in my life when I had a baby, was the amount of time spent thinking about, discussing and generally dealing with poo.  Months go by when it’s not a big deal,  and it’s just another part of your day when you and your partner ask each other or the minder in creche “poo today?”

Then once in a while, it becomes a focus – there’s too much, or not enough.  Right now there’s not enough.  I nearly had words with the pharmacist yesterday so vexed was I by her quizzing – no, he doesn’t even eat bananas, he has weetabix & porridge for brekkie, his diet hasn’t changed, he gets enough fibre I think given his general diet… I think it was caused by teething initially a couple of weeks ago – that catch all ailment that explains away so many things.

She seemed happy that that could be the main trigger and recommended 2.5 mls of Duphalac twice a day and keep going past the point of it improving.

But I’m on a mission now to solve the problem at source, as I can only listen to my little guy shouting ‘sore bum bum, no poooooo’ as he grips onto my shoulders for so long.  Lunch of brown bread and baked beans and dinner of brown rice, babycorn & green beans with marinated tofu.  And, the biggest treat of all, we’ve been giving him watered down prune juice.  It’s gross, but he thinks its christmas as it’s usually water or milk all the way in this house.

I found this link to the Dietary Fibre Content of Common Foods  really helpful in sussing out my meal plans.  Obviously common sense played a part, but when I was marinading tofu I had no clue how high or low fibre that is (low).  It’s also made me rethink his snacks for the week – for example – convenient Organix fruit pots (apple & peach) and grapes are out, the pear & kiwi puree I have in the freezer is in.  I always puree any fruits I don’t think we’re going to get through, and they come in handy for a snack.  In fact, the same puree even went into the pancake mix this morning instead of banana!

If you have managed to read this far, then you must be a parent, and you’ll be pleased to know: there was a big result before bedtime without half as much discomfort as last time. Anyone any other tips on how to help this along naturally?

Jill

2 strikes and we’re out

Oh dear!  A streak of bad luck has befallen our cooking!

First up, yesterday for dinner I made Vegan Yum Yum’s Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu.  This a great site, full of imaginative vegan grub, and lots of beautiful food photography.  I had a bit of an urge on me for good old fashioned radioactive coloured sweet and sour sauce, like the very first Chinese take out I had age 12 in my cousin Carmel’s house.  I thought it was so exotic.  It was, compared to our standard fare.

So in this recipe, the tofu method was spot on.  I didn’t have any egg replacer, being not of the vegan variety, but the tofu went lovely and crispy using the cornflour alone.  But, it was thrown across the table by his nibs, who clearly prefers my other tofu dish.  As for the sauce, hmm, I think I’ll keep looking.  It was a great consistency, but I think it was the ketchup I didn’t like in it.  Pineapple might not be authentically Chinese (or is it?  is ketchup?) but I think this might be what this dish was lacking for me.  Hungry Dom does not tolerate new foods for long if he doesn’t like the first bite, so it was forkfuls of plain white rice for the rest of his dinner.   Actually, the rice was perfectly cooked, using this method – Rinse basmati really well in a sieve, cover with water – 1.5cms approx above the rice (I start with boiling water).  12 mins covered on a low simmer. Voilà.

nooooo!

Today, it was husbag’s turn.  He turned a blind eye to the whole supermarket shop I did yesterday after his head was turned by The Good Cook on BBC.   Off we went to Fallon & Byrne for some gorgeous overpriced veg, and a trip to the offie for Vermouth.  He likes an aul cheffy dish (read: using every saucepan and utensil going) and made this Braised Fennel with Butter & Parmesan for a light dinner this evening.  Fennel cooked like this is so good for baby led weaning – perfect fingers of sliced fennel to hold, soft enough to chew easily.  To our adult taste buds, this was divine.  The vermouth is not a strong taste and the alcohol is clearly gone.  I know fennel is divisive, but one quick chew and it was spat out by our cantankerous toddler.  Talk about barely giving it a chance!

Honestly though, this is the kind of dish I’d serve as part of my meal if I were on Come Dine With Me.  Child doesn’t know what he’s missing.  He had a yogurt and 2 kiwi’s for his dinner instead.

To make up for such rejection, I decided I’d make a sure fire winner, with none for baby!  Step up the fabulous Babaduck, whose baked goods are becoming legendary via their pale imitations round here.  Husbag asked in a urgent worried tone if any of these were going into work with me as I took them out of the oven. Take that baby boy… we’re eating all of these now you’re gone to bed…

Jill

Risotto. Italian for yum.

We’re big fans of risotto in our house.  It used to be one of those things that we thought was really hard, or time consuming, but it’s actually not.   Especially now –   Mark tried out the BLW cookbook oven-cooked one with aubergine & courgette a while ago, as opposed to the stand and stir variety and we actually found it nicer – less stodgy and clumpy.  It’s definitely  less effort too.

After a lovely long zoo trip the other day, when Dom was almost running on empty – tired out from animals, slides & other kids  – we thought a variation on the oven cooked risotto starring what ever was in the fridge/garden would go down a treat.

Mark set to getting onions, garlic & peppers on the pan, while I went into the garden.  Yes, dear reader, I harvested a few little carrots, and some sage and parsley.  The pride!  I was bursting with it.   Now, I don’t think Tesco will come a-calling with orders any day soon, but I don’t care, my double-pronged carroty wonders were awesome.  Except the one with the approx 18 inch long root, for what lay beneath was a miserable greeny tinged number.  There’s a lesson there somewhere.

Hurry up and take photo so I can eat.

The carrots softened nicely in the 20 mins in the oven, as all the stock goes in at once so they get a chance to cook through.  This means I don’t have to go picking out crunchy carrot bits from Dom’s dinner.

Risotto is a brilliant BLW food.   You can use low salt stock, get a variety of vegetables and cheesiness into junior. It sticks nicely to spoons and forks and little hands.  Our friend Tina over at Cookwithtina.com was enquiring about freezing risotto on The Twitter the other day, but I honestly can’t say I’ve ever tried – ours is always gone with one sitting & one batch of leftovers.

– Jill

Baby Led Weaning Cookbook – Tomato Chicken

This was such a simple dish.  I’m not sure I’m going to convince Mark to blog about food ala My Daddy Cooks so I don’t know how useful me blogging about meaty dishes will be.

This was a particularly simple dish.  We were pretty confident serving it up as we know Dominic loves tomato, and he’s fairly into his chicken too.  He’s coming round to red meat too though, according to the creche.  In fact, his minder asked me in a half worried tone the other day if I’d noticed his appetite increase.  He used to eat about half the amount of the other baby’s portions, and about an hour after them, til one day he started to screech when he saw the little girl there being fed.  He gets dinner at lunchtime then we generally try and give him a blw type dinner in the evening too if its not a grab-n-nuke soup from the freezer evening.  Two Dinners Dominic we’re calling him, a nickname passed down from father to son after the infamous time Mark ate both offerings at a wedding in a particularly nice foodie hotel.

There’s a clear reason for the new found savagery – forward motion.  He’s flying around the place now.  He even has a new foodie interest which I’m really not pleased about – the cats’ food bowls.  Argh!  This morning alone I took him away from their bowl 3 times in under 2 minutes.  My heart is broke, but it’s amazing to see how quickly he went from 0-60, and how quickly it affected his food intake.  We currently reducing bottle sizes too during the day, he’s just not as interested.

So anyway, the tomatoey chicken…  It’s a good one for putting together when you get in after work because it doesn’t need much monitoring, and goes well with rice.  I’d say you could mash up a bit of spud into the sauce too, for pre-loaded spoons.

Not the best review in the world. But what can I say, I didn’t make it or eat it!

jill