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