Meal Prepping


Our weekly organic veg box arrived earlier this week. I haven’t been meal planning lately and have been wasting a lot of food as a result. It makes me cringe each and every time I find some godawful thing at the back of the fridge that was a vegetable in a previous life. We updated our budget recently and I am on a mission not to waste anything (not just for the sake of the budget, but also because it is just plain terrible to waste food!). I’ve also gone through my (makeshift) pantry (I don’t have a real one…) and have discovered all sorts of things like quinoa, dried chickpeas and adzuki beans, falafel mix, dried shitake mushrooms, among other bits and pieces.

When I’m on a mission (and have the time) there are a few key things I like to do when our veg box arrives to get things sorted and minimise waste. So the other night, when most of my brain was voting for me to go to bed with my laptop to watch Outlander, I:

:: chopped up a giant bunch of silverbeet and another giant bunch of spinach and washed it all thoroughly in a sink full of cold water. I blanched it until bright green then froze in portion-sized batches to use in soups, curries, stir-fries; as you would use any other frozen vegetable.

:: popped a fresh bunch of coriander in a jar of water in my fridge.

:: chopped up an abundance of sweet potatoes and potatoes into little bite size pieces and roasted them with a few dregs of mixed spices (rosemary, oregano, thyme) plus a squeeze of fresh lemon (finally got through them all!) and some salt and pepper. I divvied them up into a container for my lunch at work, a container in the fridge for snacking on or eating with lunches, and also threw some on top of our bowls of spaghetti. I’ve still got a lot more, I will roast some whole to eat with salad and kim chi for lunch, and make some into a mash to have with… something…

:: cleaned out the crisper and neatly arranged all the other produce in a way that was visually pleasing. Ok, so I just wiped it out and then plonked the new veggies in… but that didn’t sound as good.

Yesterday I pushed on and made another orange blossom cake (we have so many oranges suddenly!) for afternoon teas this week… unfortunately, as it is cooked with almond meal, I can’t send it to school or kinder due to nut policies. OH, and as a precursor to this I made my own almond/flaxseed meal, making sure to add a little extra in order to have some leftover to sprinkle on morning oats. It is always best to prepare this fresh yourself, if possible, as it goes rancid very quickly.

I also cooked up some of the dried adzuki beans I’d found in my cupboard. I set aside some for the vegetarian pasta sauce Bird and I ate for dinner last night (meat sauce for the other three), I froze some in batches, and lastly made an adzuki bean hommus which I personally thought was italics worthy delicious. Unfortunately, the girls italics hated it, the baby even went so far as to burst into tears after I spooned a taste lovingly into her mouth. Bird turned to me and said, “What we’re trying to say is, it’s a bit strong tasting.” Enough said, I will, without complaint, proceed to eat the entire batch on my own… with corn chips, preferably.

Last but not least I used all the stalks and roots of the spinach and other leftover veggies from last week to make a vegetable stock paste. Hashtag, no waste!

I have to say, I’m super impressed with my efforts. It does take time and energy to eat wholefoods and prepare things from scratch. I don’t always have the time, or the inclination. But when I get on a roll, it is very satisfying. I find the most important things to do are to get the big leafy greens into some form that makes it easier for me to grab and eat, as these tend to be the veggies I pretend to ignore when I open my fridge (so much effort, not my favourite to eat, but so so good for our bodies). Blanching and freezing works best for us. I also find herbs keep longer if you pop them in a jar of water. Other than that, chopping and having things ready to use helps as well. I’m sure you all have many tricks of your own, feel free to share in the comments, I’m always interested to hear how others manage their food.

In Our Kitchen

Our kitchen has been a lacklustre place of late. In the past twelve months we have been juggling a couple of new dietary requirements, due to various health reasons.

Between the five of us we have one vegetarian, one ketogenic, one dairy intolerance (narrowed down to milk and hard cheese), one better off not eating egg and one free and happy to eat anything. Prior to KB starting the ketogenic diet and realising that the Pixie had a mild dairy intolerance, we were eating mostly vegetarian, mostly plant-based foods (with me eating only vegetarian foods). I would add in a meat dish here and there for the others. Now things have changed fairly drastically and meat has been on the table more than I would like, but given the ketogenic diet is working wonders to help KB manage type one diabetes we need to figure out how to make it work for us. It is still a work in progress and meal planning is essential to ensuring everyone gets what they need, which is where I have been falling flat, as cooking two to three meals each evening is not my idea of fun – and getting in the habit of planning all those meals out is proving difficult.

So to try to get myself back in the spirit of things, yesterday I knuckled down and spent four hours in the kitchen (!). I made…

:: bread rolls

:: a big batch of popcorn (I like to pop our corn in coconut oil and sprinkle with savoury yeast flakes and a touch of organic sea salt)

:: a couple of batches of mango raspberry nicecream (frozen mango and berries whizzed with either ice or coconut yoghurt, vanilla extract and cinnamon, yum! This is best eaten immediately)

:: blueberry muffins (these are SO good, I added chia instead of flax and used wholemeal flour as that is what I had on hand)

:: raspberry coconut bliss balls

:: vegemite, pineapple and organic goat’s cheese scrolls (I actually haven’t tasted these yet, they sound bizarre but it was the combination the girls’ ordered!)

Alas, none of these options are suitable for Mr Keto but at least the girls are covered and school/kinder lunches are done for the week.

This morning I made a loaf of bread (pictured above) and am currently defrosting a batch of lentil dahl from the freezer to have with rice tonight (KB will have an omelette). Mondays are usually pretty boring in the food department here as our organic veg box and groceries arrive on a Tuesday night so we are onto the dregs now! I’m down to a couple of brown onions, two potatoes and a frozen leek in the vegetable department… hmmm… inspiring!

In other news outside the kitchen, I’ve started Yoga Teacher Training and couldn’t feel more at home. So far I’ve had one day intensive, a yoga class and a meditation class. I’m heading back to the studio for a class tonight and can’t wait to arrive. It feels indulgent doing something for myself, but every bit of me knows it’s the right choice.

I hope your Mondays are going well, wherever you may be.

P.S. These and these and these are on my list this week.

A Recipe: Red Lentil Dahl

IMG_7467

I have been receiving emails lately asking for recipes and ideas for meal planning. I thought I would share a few of my favourite staple recipes with you, beginning today with my step mother’s lentil dahl. A quick google search will uncover an entire world of dahl, I have made many different and more traditional versions, but this one with

Read More

on the eve of food: introducing solids, again

image

And just like that, it’s time to once again introduce a human baby to the wonderful world that is food.

I’ve done it before, of course. But a first time mama asked me yesterday how to go about introducing solids and I was a bit perplexed because I actually don’t remember. So time to pull out the resources and refresh my memory.

First things first, like I reiterated when introducing food to the Pixie, as a parent you must, you must, you absolutely must go with what feels right for you. If you’re dead set on giving your baby rice cereal as their first food because that is what feels comfortable for you, then go for it. However if you think that perhaps there may be more to life than rice cereal, please do read on.

Also, to update, Pixie has been a great eater. In my original food post I wondered if Birdie was a fluke, but Pixie has followed suit. Yes, at age three, there are some days that she simply will not eat. She doesn’t like green vegetables. She eats about three breakfasts each morning (not joking) and then slows down as the day progresses and eats like a sparrow at dinner time. Normal stuff. But overall I’d have to say she is maybe even a better eater than Bird was. Go figure.

Anyway. Here are some ideas/books/resources/schools of thought that have worked for me when introducing food (and beyond). This is where I will begin again, the third time around with Peach.

:: Learn about food. Whenever I lose my cooking mojo, particularly when it comes to kid food, the first book I consult is always Wholefood for Children* by Jude Blereau. I love her. Sometimes her recipes contain some ingredients which you may not automatically have on hand so if you’re not into winging it (like me) then you might want to plan your cooking out a little when using this book. This is definitely where I will be starting this time around. For older kids and families I really like It’s All Good* by Gwenyth Paltrow and Julia Turshen. It has great meal planners and a whole section on fun kid food. For you it might be another book or resource. Have a look around* and find what sits right with you, don’t just take the advertiser’s claims of “super food!” and run with it. Do some research of your own.

:: Avocado, bone broths and veggies is where it’s at for us. We’ll be skipping the rice cereal and heading straight for these delicious and wholesome alternatives as Peach’s first foods. Avocado mixed with breastmilk, it’s a baby’s dream, I’m sure of it. I’ll have to do some follow up reading but I’m sure sweet potato was also one of the front runners last time. Here is a little more information if you’re wondering why we would go down this route.

:: Be lead by your baby. Every time I’ve had a baby the recommended age to introduce food has changed. The ‘”rules” are constantly changing. So (within reason) go with what your baby is telling you. Watch them as they begin to stare at the food on your plate and follow it to your mouth. Watch them as they practice chomping and biting on things. Take note as they become interested in food. The signs are there, I promise.

:: No sugar. I slipped up a little on this with poor old Pix. She did have some sugar before she turned two, but it was very limited. Third time lucky: I’ll be sticking to my guns and doing my upmost to decline the sweet poison until Peach is two years old.

:: Natural, whole, actual, real, food. Basic, real food. Every day. Ignore the marketing telling you otherwise. Make real food attractive for kids and involve them in the process. The time you spend now will pay off later when your kid is munching broccoli next to their friend who will only eat refined cheese sticks out of a plastic wrapper. Since Birdie started kinder I have been using these bento boxes* (for kinder/outings) and these plates (for home) for both the older girls and they LOVE them. Kids go crazy for divided food… here is some inspiration.

:: Baby lead + mushed up = mix it up! There is so much advice out there it can be overwhelming. There is no need to stick to one method. I like to try lots of different things, your baby might too. Sometimes if you’re going out it might be easier for you to share some of your meal with your baby (amazing how long a crust of bread can keep them entertained). Other times you might mix some breastmilk through yoghurt or avocado or mashed veggies and feed it to you baby with a spoon. See what works. Each day will be different. Here is some more general advice.

:: They must try it. This one is a tip for toddlers and up, not babies. We don’t force our kids to eat everything on their plates, but they must at the very least try everything. We often hear “I don’t like [insert random food here]” when they have never had it before. The rule is they must taste everything on their plates before they are allowed to say they don’t like something… unfortunately for them they will probably still have to keep trying it in subsequent meals if it is an important food!

:: Following on from that, don’t believe them when they say they don’t like it! One taste often isn’t enough. Birdie never wanted to eat lentil dahl but now she devours it by the bowlful. Taste buds grow and develop too.

:: Take it slowly and relax. The child will eat, eventually.

I could go on and on about this topic, but you really just have to get out there and try it yourself to see what works. In a few weeks time that is exactly what I will be doing. Happy eating!

* if you purchase via my marked affiliate links I will earn a small commission.

the flowers and so on

image

Spring has officially arrived in the Southern Hemisphere. Over the past year we have done a little bit of work here and there in our garden and although there is a lot more to be done (and we generally have no idea what we are doing) I was amazed at the variety of flowers that bloomed to announce the beginning of the new season. I love Winter, but the last few weeks always seem to drag a little. Everyone seems to have a sunnier disposition all of a sudden now there is some colour in our days.

It always takes me a while to shake off the darkness of Winter. I thrash through my wardrobe wondering what to wear when the sun comes out and warms the air. I keep putting nourishing yet heavy stews on the meal plan, unsure of what to do with those fresh leafy greens that arrive in my veggie box. (While we adjust our favourite go-to meal is currently a tray of roast vegetables, raw greens, a handful of seeds and a blob of hommus. It has enough possibilities to suit the whole family in one form or another.)

At the start of each season I always spend some time consulting this book. It grounds me in the here and now and no matter what is going on in my life, it always has something to say to me. I love the recipes and find that with a quick refresh of the suggested seasonal pantry items the kitchen is in business again. I’ve had about five minutes to peruse it this season, but I have kept it out on the kitchen table so it is within grabbing distance at opportune moments. I was also given this book for my birthday back in May which I absolutely love and am happy to say Peach has finally allowed me the chance to test out some of the recipes, many of which are perfect for the warmer weather headed our way.

Speaking of warmer weather (or lack of it) for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere who are bundling up and slowly retreating into Autumn, I am very excited to be featured in the Autumn issue of Tend Magazine, talking about creating a sense of place for our children in our homes and local landscapes. Pop over here to check it out.

I think that’s all for now, my head is a little foggy with less sleep than I would generally like, and the end of the school term in sight. I’m looking forward to KB being on long service leave and I can think of little else. FIST PUMP! Ciao.

TendVol3AutumnCover2

school lunches // take two

1427012698791

(rainbow chard fritters + a sneak peek at my massive 29 week belly)

Thank you so much for all your lunchy suggestions! I am finally finding my feet in the kinder lunch box department and Birdie has only had the odd sandwich thrown in the last few weeks (once after I asked her what she wanted for lunch and she looked at me with pleading eyes – “Mum, can I just have a vegemite sandwich, like the other kids?” :/ )

On the agenda this afternoon was a big batch of fritters for this week’s lunches. A few weeks ago we had an influx of rainbow chard in our veggie box. When this happens I always have good intentions to eat said chard, but I don’t like it very much so those good intentions seem to turn sour quite quickly, ending with a soggy heap of green stuff at the bottom of my fridge. So this time I tried chopping the whole bunch up, blanching it briefly and then froze in small lots to use (hide) in meals. Fritters seemed like a good way to get these nutritious greens into not just the kid, but into me too!

Rainbow Chard Fritters – with millet and corn

:: 1-2 cups blanched rainbow chard (or other green veg like spinach or maybe even kale… they would also be delicious with coriander added)

:: 1 cup millet

:: 1 can or 2 cobs of corn

:: 2-3 tablespoons of arrowroot flour or similar

:: 2 eggs

:: salt/pepper if you like

You can really do whatever you like with these – any grain or flour would do the trick really. Quinoa? Oats? Or you could start with just your basic pancake recipe and add veggies… whatever works. I’m so haphazard with cooking and generally just feel my way. Trial and error – there’s no better way! Lucky for me, these turned out well.

:: cook millet on stove

:: whiz up blanched greens in blender, then add in two eggs and other ingredients. Depending on your blender you could blend a little, or if it will get too chop-happy, tip everything into a bowl and mix through with a wooden spoon. You want the corn to be whole, not blended.

:: use fat of choice (I used coconut oil) and cook up in fry pan or on BBQ.

:: eat!

I’m on kinder duty tomorrow so I’ve also packed a lunch for me – I mixed some sweet chilli sauce and cream cheese together to go with these… I don’t know if this is completely weird or if it is normal, my pregnancy taste buds have got the better of me at the moment. For Birdie I’ve packed a small container of yoghurt for her to dip them into. If she eats them, I’ll be super duper happy.

on the menu

IMG_9002

Cooking, cooking, always cooking. I borrowed Supergrains: Cook Your Way to Great Health by Chrissy Freer from a friend, so that has influenced our meal planner this week.

Here’s what’s cooking at my house:

Monday // pesto pasta with slow roasted tomatoes with a few modifications

Tuesday // tofu and veg stirfry with brown rice

Wednesday // lemon, herb and oat crumbed fish with salad or veg (from the Supergrains cookbook)

Thursday // chickpea, tomato and quinoa soup with pesto toasts (also from Supergrains)

Friday // bacon, spinach and leek frittata

Saturday // leftovers and/or homemade spelt pizza with whatever is in the fridge on top

Sunday // (I’m going out for dinner!) but the rest of the family will have either roast chicken with veg or healing chicken and millet soup (surprise, from Supergrains) depending on the weather along with the state of Birdie’s cold which she woke up with this morning.

What’s on the menu at your place?

time for rejuvenation

IMG_4598 IMG_4600 IMG_4601 IMG_4597 IMG_4603

Spring is in the air, and it has not gone unnoticed here.

In an effort to live more in tune with the seasons, I have paid attention to the Spring twitch, to the Spring itch, that has quietly begun nudging me to step things up a notch this week.

Until I noticed this feeling, I didn’t realise how much I had slowed down – for better or worse – over Winter. We have been in a flurry of illness, one after the other, for the last couple of months. During this time there have been many blessings – one of which is the Pixie’s sudden ability to sleep longer than 45 minutes at a time. HALLELUJAH KID. Better late than never. There have also been downfalls, sickness, lethargy and coffee – lots of coffee. Lots. Did I mention there has been lots of coffee?

There was a point during the depths of winter that I reflected on all the little things I used to do and prepare and think about in order to help us to live a healthy and happy life, that I haven’t really felt able to do since the Pixie’s arrival (uh, nearly one year ago). There have been moments of motivation and feelings of I’ve-Got-It-Together, but if I’m being honest, they have been few and far between. I’ve enjoyed the winter, as I always do, but I’ve mainly been feeling like a bit of an under-achiever. I haven’t wanted to blog much and have felt that when I have, my posts have been silly and on the surface like. None of the real stuff, the in depth thoughts, the confusion, the clarity. I haven’t really had the words. I’m not sure if I do now. Maybe I never have.

Suddenly though, with the eruption of Spring sunshine and blooming flowers, I am making almond milk. I am scribbling seasonal meals onto our meal planner in silver pen. Yes, silver. I am cutting back on the coffee and drinking ginger tea in the afternoons. I am feeling that nesting urge (minus the pregnant bit) to clean things up and throw things out. I’m feeling invigorated and motivated.

Things accumulate. Stuff, feelings, thoughts. Spring is the opportunity to shake off, cleanse, tidy, refresh. Spring is the opportunity to reset.

So that is what I’m doing.

Firstly, I took the plunge and signed up for two yoga classes a week. Two SIX AM yoga classes. I can only hope that my Spring energy shows me the money.

Secondly, I’m back in action in the kitchen. When I’m feeling crappy, I eat crappy. If I eat crappy, we all eat crappy because I am the crappy crap cook. Then I feel crappy because I’m being crappy and eating crappy and the girls feel crappy because I’m feeding them crappy crap and then Prince Charming gets crappy because I’m crappy in his direction and it’s all just a big cycle of crap. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Thirdly, I’m cleaning out. I’ve cleaned out our study/sewing room and our lounge. Next on the list is the kitchen and living area and then onto our bedroom. The back deck after that. I get so overwhelmed sorting through stuff but my method is simple – three bags/boxes. One labelled OP SHOP, one labelled SHIT (or rubbish if you prefer), one labelled KEEP. My only downfall with this method is that the KEEP box ends up full of stuff that then sits there for ages and accumulates more stuff and the cycle has to then begin again, so my one tip is to sort the KEEP box ASAP.

Fourthly, ok I’m not sure if there is a fourthly but the moral of the story is: Spring is good.

Are you feeling the Spring love? Maybe it’s Autumn where you are and the leaves are starting to colour?