Delicious oaty & fruity bake in 20 minutes

I adapted a normal crumble topping recipe for a friend who was intolerant to wheat. It worked so well with oats that I started to try adding other ingredients to make it even healthier (seeds and dried fruit). The oat topping goes crisp in the oven almost like a granola, and gives a nice crunch to the topping. The seeds toast in the oven and give it a nutty flavour, as well as providing you with Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fats.  I’ve used frozen fruit as it is often cheaper and as it is frozen straight after picking it has more nutrients than fresh fruit that is a few days old. Using margarine instead of butter makes this lower in saturated fat, and can be eaten if you are intolerant to lactose (check carefully in the ingredients as some margarines do contain lactose, however Stork and the ‘Pure’ range are lactose free and widely available).

I made this last night for some friends last minute and I adapted the recipe slightly by using a mixture of all the frozen fruit I had in my freezer – blueberries, cherries, mixed forest fruits and raspberries. I didn’t have any fresh strawberries so I omitted them. I also used some apple & mango juice instead of orange juice and it still worked really well.

Oaty, fruity bake recipe

Oaty fruity bake

Oaty fruity bake

 

Hassle-free alternative to fish pie recipe in 22 minutes

Most fish pie recipes involve making a white sauce, with some even suggesting poaching ingredients in the milk you use. White sauces with lots of cheese are delicious but are high in saturated fat, and the constant stirring stops you from getting on with other things. This recipe is quicker and healthier, and gives you a meal in one dish. Many people are frightened of making a white sauce, and rightly so as it is very easy to get a lumpy goo stuck to the bottom of your pan. If you are well practised then it does become easier, but I always feel like it’s a chore to stand there and stir all the time to get the right consistency without it catching. I made this fish pie yesterday and we all loved it, including my kids. As it has pasta, fish and veg you don’t need to cook anything else along side unless you wanted to.

When layering the fish and lasagne I suggest doing 3 fish layers and 2 lasagne layers, starting and ending with a fish sauce layer. This means when you grill the cheese on top the sauce will bubble instead of crisping up the lasagne and making it tough to eat. Enjoy!

Hassle-free alternative to fish pie recipe

Hassle-free alternative to fish pie

Hassle-free alternative to fish pie

A Spanish inspired dish in 20 mins – Pork, chorizo and butter bean stew

I cooked a lovely Spanish inspired dish yesterday for my lunch in 20 minutes, which was then eaten by the boys for their tea, and the remainder was polished off by the baby sitter in the evening. This dish was enjoyed by 4 very different people at 3 different times, and saved me cooking separate meals 3 times during my busy day. I often struggle to think of what to eat at lunch time if I am at home, and get tired of the same old sandwiches. When you have been rushing around all morning you often need a more substantial lunch. I cooked this dish as I had some Chorizo in the fridge and some Pork & Chorizo sausages from Asda in my freezer.  You could use any good quality pork sausages instead of the pork chops/fillet listed in this recipe. The lovely smoky, tangy flavor in this dish from the paprika and lemon compliments the simplicity of the potatoes and butter beans.  The paprika and Spanish sherry ( E.g. Manzanilla or Amontillado – find it with normal sherry in the spirit aisle) are easy to get hold of in supermarkets, if you don’t already have it in your store cupboard. You will use them up as they are an easy way of giving any dish an authentic Spanish flavour. As you can see from the photos below my youngest (Ethan – just 2) loved it so much that he tried to lick as much as he could off his bib. Even my very fussy 6 year old (who, by the way, only started getting fussy with food about 2 months ago) said ‘Mmmm Mummy this is quite nice actually’ and asked for a second portion!

Pork, chorizo, butter bean stew recipe

Pork, chorizo, butter bean stew

Pork, chorizo, butter bean stew

Ethan loving his Pork, chorizo, butter bean stew!

Ethan loving his Pork, chorizo, butter bean stew!

I've licked the bowl - is there any left?

I've licked the bowl - is there any left?

A fast, healthy evening meal from scratch in 15 minutes

On Wednesdays my parents travel all the way from Otford to Watford to look after my 2 boys whilst I go to work. They travel about 120 miles in one day to do this for us, and it is something I am very grateful for. It is fantastic if you can get family to help with childcare, and I do realise how lucky I am to have this once a week. I didn’t get in until gone 7 pm this evening, and needed to cook something delicious and quick for us and my parents before they left for their journey home. I cooked my ‘Fragrant Thai chicken noodle soup’, and is cooked from scratch in 15 minutes. It not only produces immediate mouth watering aromas to get your appetite going, but you don’t have to wait long to eat the finished result. There are plenty of times when you may need evening meal inspiration for your family, and it is often when you are exceptionally hungry and tired at the same time – a bad combination and often results in take away (expensive and often a longer wait than my recipes on this blog!). I wrote the recipe using ‘straight to wok’ udon noodles, but it works equally as well with dry egg or wheat noodles (reduce the amount from 600g to about 450g if using dry noodles).

Fragrant Thai chicken noodle soup

Fragrant Thai chicken noodle soup

Healthy ‘fast food’ for a quick kids tea when you’ve had a hectic day

I had Luke’s 6th birthday party on Saturday and amongst organising the party, making the cake, sorting party bags and the excitement of the day you don’t realise how late it is when you get home. It gets to 6 pm and all you want to do is slump in a heap when you realise the kids need something to eat before they go to bed. I find this kind of thing happens often as parents – it doesn’t just have to be a special event like a birthday party, it could be a late day at work means you aren’t back in time to embark on a culinary masterpiece for your children! I have been following a thread on Netmums about this in particular, and it seems there are a lot of mums who feel guilty that when they work they don’t have time to cook healthy meals for their children. A lot of working mums suggested a slow cooker. I have one of these and do find it useful although only tend to use it every now and then. They are very welcoming when you walk in to your house to the beautiful aroma of slow coked meat for example. It does however limit you somewhat, and doesn’t account for the days when you are caught on the hop. The author of the thread responded to my email mentioning this blog, and she thought it was a great idea. I said I would post her a recipe of mine that included fish that her daughter would like. So, as promised I am including my ‘Lime & dill salmon fishcakes’. The recipe uses tinned salmon so you can have it in the cupboard ready. I make sure I use wild Alaskan tinned salmon (available from all major supermarkets) for this recipe as it ensures you are buying fish from a sustainable source. It is also better for you as it has not been bred in fish farms (like the fresh standard and organic supermarket salmon) and as a result is higher in Omega-3, and will not have any levels of toxins and chemicals present. Look out for the sustainable source logo on the tin. Please do buy skinless and boneless, it makes it much quicker and kids don’t like the crunch you get even with soft bones. If you don’t have any fresh dill then try dried, or any other fresh herb you may have. I used coriander for my last batch, but do think dill goes really well.

I have recently started using cold pressed rapeseed oil as it is much healthier than cooking in olive oil. Olive oil has twice as much saturated fat than rapeseed oil. I bought mine in Asda and is a beautiful golden colour and gives these fishcakes a wonderful crunch and colour without high levels of saturated fat. I checked the back of all the oil bottles in Asda and it’s true – rapeseed oil is healthier for you. I’m going to start cooking with it now instead of olive oil. Serve these fishcakes with peas and/or sweetcorn as this can be done whilst they are frying. If they like them why not do a big batch and freeze them?

Lime & dill salmon fish cakes

Lime & dill salmon fishcakes

Lime & dill salmon fishcakes

Food Revolution Day!

Jamie Oliver and his team have taken on the absolutely mammoth task of organizing a global Food Revolution Day!! It’s officially on 19th of May and is a chance for people who love food to come together to share information, talents and resources; to pass on their knowledge and highlight the world’s food issues. Their aim is one I share an absolute passion with ‘ …to inspire change in people’s food habits and to promote the mission for better food and education for everyone.’ www.foodrevolutionday.com

You can submit recipes (which I will be doing!) and even create your own event. Why not take a look and see if there is an event going on near you, or sign up to the petition and share it with your Facebook friends once you have done so to spread the word?

Jamie Oliver inspired me to start this blog. I thought it would be hard to regularly update a blog. I have however realized that if you are truly passionate about a subject it’s incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling to write about it. In fact, I talk about health and food a lot during my day and my blog gives me the canvas and opportunity to explore and expand my thoughts. I now understand why people enjoy writing blogs, and also reading them.

I have another recipe here, which is of course super quick and healthy. It is ‘Olive and semi-dried tomato tapenade’ and is delicious spread on oatcakes. I have used semi-dried tomatoes instead of sun-dried tomatoes as they contain less salt. It keeps well and is high in antioxidants and will help boost your immune system. Enjoy!

Olive & semi-dried tomato tapenade

Olive & semi-dried tomato tapenade

Olive & semi-dried tomato tapenade

Is it really possible to cook quickly and healthily at the same time?

The very notion of ‘fast food’ conjures up images of walking into McDonald’s and picking up a burger and chips. Although we are now assured that the ‘pink slime’ recently present in the McD burgers is now gone, it still isn’t good for us on a regular basis. Pink slime was coined as a term for ammonia treated finely ground beef scraps and connective tissue. Just search the web for ‘pink slime’ and loads of articles will come up if you are interested to know more. I know that some evenings it’s nice not to cook, and you don’t feel bad about getting fast food such as McD’s because it’s affordable. However the price you pay to your health if you eat fast food like McD’s on a regular basis is high. I do really mean on a regular basis – I don’t think that banning your children from eating fast food like this altogether is the right move either – they will only want it more. Luke enjoys a McDonald’s, but I think he would soon get bored of it if he ate it more regularly. He enjoys it because it is rare and he gets a free toy – but he understands why it wouldn’t do him good if he ate it often. Pink slime production has seen a massive drop over the last month due to the publicity surrounding this disgusting stuff (much to do with the wonderful Jamie Oliver and his fabulous crusade for healthy eating). Some factories producing the stuff have even had to close down! Hurrah – this proves that if we really want to we can make a difference to what goes in our food. If we ate less fast food more fast food chains would close down! However, McDonald’s are opening another 1,300 outlets this year alone including their biggest ever restaurant at London’s Olympic Park (1,500 seats). It doesn’t look like they are going anywhere! Supermarkets are getting better at ensuring clearer labelling goes onto their products, but marketing is still unclear in many cases. For example, Fruit Shoots by Robinson advertise no artificial flavours etc, but stick loads of aspartame etc in the drink. Isn’t fruit juice sweet enough for children? Anyhow, I appreciate I maybe moving off tangent somewhat from the topic of this post! It is possible to cook quickly and healthily when you are short of time. The recipe below is another healthy recipe made in under 22 minutes for you to try.

Cod Provencal

Cod Provencal

Cod Provencal

Are you always too busy feeding everyone else in the morning to think about yourself?

I am often leaving the house on the school/work/childminder run with no food or drink inside me. By the time I get back home I often dash straight out the door to get my train into work. This means that I am sitting at my desk about to start a days work having been up for at least 3 hours and not had a single thing to eat or drink. This leaves me feeling lethargic and then leads on to a headache. I am however happy that my children were fed a healthy and filling breakfast, and feel fantastic that they will have had a good start to their day. I have kidded myself for a long time that this warm glow of achievement is enough to keep me going in the morning too. I realise I am wrong! As a mum you do put your children’s needs first, and when everything is a mad rush you often leave yourself to last, and more often than not leave yourself out altogether. How do we expect to be able to operate our jobs as parents if we don’t fuel ourselves? I wanted to share a recipe that I used when I was breastfeeding Ethan, as it’s something you can give your children in the morning at breakfast and you can drink in gulps as you move around them getting them their drinks, packing their bags, finding their shoes, finding your car keys etc etc. It has healthy fruit, filling porridge oats and lots of calcium from yoghurt and milk. I have called it the Power Smoothie. I made it this morning and it is also a good thing to give your children if you have run out of your healthier breakfast options. This morning I found I was low on milk for cereal and had forgotten to order my normal ‘healthy’ bread on my Asda shop and only had a cardboard white loaf that my husband bought from the corner shop – a slice of that with jam would not keep my energy burning boys full for more than 5 minutes. I felt better when I was then able to give them the Power Smoothie alongside the cardboard bread and ticked all the boxes for what a good breakfast should contain. Plus, they love it and I left the house less hungry and ratty as I had managed a glass too.

Power Smoothie

Power Smoothie

Power Smoothie

 

Ethan enjoying his Power Smoothie!

Ethan wanting more power smoothie!

Ethan wanting more Power Smoothie!

Are you passionate about feeding you and your family healthy and delicious food at speed?

We eat so much fast food now because it is so readily available, and our lives don’t seem to allow us time to cook. I figure being a parent is hard enough without having the added time pressures of providing healthy and filling food for your family every day. If you are passionate about making sure you and your family is given healthy and delicious food, even when you have extremely little time (or no time) to cook, then I hope this blog will help you. I don’t want to create more regular recipes that aims for meals done in 30 minutes, because normally this is not quick enough. I want to make it easier for parents to feed themselves and their children by learning from my own family journey of fine-tuning my cooking to increase speed, maintain taste and improve nutrition.

I aim for recipes to take any time up to 22 minutes (the time it takes to cook oven chips). The recipes are easy to read and require minimal equipment. They are affordable, delicious, nutritious, filling and freezable. And, before you ask, yes I have tried buying a ready made dinner from M & S and Asda, and I can safely say it took me longer to get the meal out of the packet, read the instructions, get the oven warmed up (or stir the meal every 2 minutes in the microwave) than cooking from scratch. After all that I was still hungry as the portions were certainly not big enough, the salt content was too high and it was very expensive!

If you enjoy cooking then it can be relaxing to flick through your recipe books, decide on a recipe, buy all the ingredients and embark on the culinary skills and paraphernalia needed. Having a family does not allow you this pleasure very often, and why shouldn’t you have tasty meals every day of the week that don’t take forever to prepare? My recipes will require no arduous tasks such as whipping egg whites into stiff peaks, nor require any hard to find ingredients such as squid ink that leave you wandering through supermarket aisles searching forever! You won’t need to over spend on your food budget, as you will not be required to buy any truffle oil or Foie Gras.

You won’t be expected to turn the oven down to different temperatures at various intervals, or marinade anything overnight.  This does not mean that the food you produce from my recipes will taste any less delicious, and you will certainly have more time to get on with the thousand and one other things you need to be doing.

I have tried to keep words to a minimum so that you won’t spend 10 minutes just reading the recipe! I have designed recipes to suit a family journey – traveling from the very beginning of conceiving to raising your family. I hope my ideas will help you to feel more in control of your food and not feel so dragged down by the kitchen.

My fast food family journey so far has been years from the start of my first pregnancy. My journey will continue as a mum who is passionate about nutrition and taste in food for my family. I’d like you to cut some of the corners of the roads I have taken, and benefit from the lessons I have learnt to make it an easier and more enjoyable food journey for you and your family.

Morrocan prawn harissa