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Recipe Index

Healthy, tasty & easy recipes on a budget

Ahoy there busy mums! You don't need bags of time, experience & money to make great meals. Check out my easy-to-follow tasty and easy budget recipes. When you feel the pinch look out for 'Credit Munch' recipes. Delicious, nutritious and easy budget recipes below £1.25 per serving!

 

Monday
Jun202016

Easy Carob Brownies

The first and only time I've eaten a dessert made with carob was in the Algarve where there's an abundance of alfarrobeira (carob trees). Alfarroba (carob fruit) is a brown pod with inedible seeds. The seeds are discarded and the pods dried and made into carob flour or carob powder which is used in delicious cakes and desserts such as the incredible tarte de alfarroba (carob tart).

I've only seen carob in the UK in products in health food shops - it's treated like a super food, some call it 'healthy' chocolate. The carob bars and coated raisins are a far cry from the gooey cakes and tarts of the Algarve. I looked into the health benefits of carob (if you bake with it) and unless you're allergic to caffeine there's no health benefits to eating it instead of chocolate. However, it tastes incredible - like a cross between chocolate and figs - and that is a good enough reason to eat it as far as I'm concerned.

I have been trying to re-create my favourite dessert tarte de alfarroba for some time. I love the gooey texture of the tart, but I can't be bothered to make pastry, so carob brownies are a good compromise. They are rich, fudgey and delicious. They are also very quick and very easy to make. I made them for my dad yesterday on Father's Day. He's Portuguese. They got his approval.

I brought back loads of carob flour from Portugal to experiment with. It's quite similar to cocoa powder but slightly sweeter. I found mixing it with hot water gives better results (it can be dry like cocoa powder). You can buy carob flour (AKA carob powder) from Amazon or health food stores. It's quite expensive but you only need a little, so you'll be able to make loads of delicious brownies using one bag. It's kind of a good investment.

Easy Carob Brownies: Makes 9 servings / 18 small triangles:

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil for greasing
  • 65g carob flour or powder
  • 100ml hot (not boiling) water from the kettle 
  • 150g butter, cubed
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • Good pinch of salt (leave out if using salted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 75g plain flour
  • 50g sliced almonds (optional)
  • Icing sugar to dredge

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 160 fan / gas mark 4.
  2. Grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with baking paper. Lightly grease the baking paper.
  3. Put the carob flour and the hot water in a small pan and whisk together until smooth. 
  4. Put the pan on the hob over a low heat and add the butter, sugar and salt (if using). Stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has almost dissolved.
  5. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool until slightly warm.
  6. Add the vanilla and eggs to the pan and whisk again until smooth and well combined.
  7. Add the flour and use a spatula to combine the flour into the mixture using a figure 8 motion.
  8. Pour the mixture into the greased tin and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the tin and give it a little shake. If the middle is wobbly put it back in the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. If it doesn't wobble use a skewer to check if it has cooked through. If it comes out coated in mixture return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. The skewer should come out just clean when the carob brownies are ready. Keep a close eye on the carob brownies towards the end and check them with the skewer often so they don't over bake.
  9. Leave the carob brownies to cool in the tin. Remove from tin and place on a cutting board. Dredge generously with icing sugar and cut into 9 squares. Cut each square in half to make a triangle.
  10. Carob brownies will keep for 3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. 
Sunday
Jun052016

Brabantia WallFix Airer Review & Video #LoveNature

Brabantia are encouraging people to take a #LoveNaturePledge - a promise to dry laundry outside for 30 days to help the environment. Because they care about the environment, Brabantia plant a tree for free for every airer they sell as part of their #LoveNature campaign.

I was sent a Brabantia WallFix Airer to review. We moved 18 months ago into a house with decking instead of lawn. There was no place to put a hole in the ground for my rotary line, so a wall-mounted retractable washing line seemed like a good solution.

The airer was easy to install - Mr K drilled four holes for screws and mounted the line onto the wall. The screws heads were concealed neatly with plastic caps which came with it. When closed, the line is 107 x 16 x 15 cm in size so quite small and discrete.

The washing line can be used indoors and outdoors or in a carport or similar. A handy little cover clips over it when closed to keep the lines clean when not in use.

The washing line is super easy to open and close with one hand. There's a little handle at the front which you simply lift and pull to open up the lines, and click to lock them in place. Same to close it.

When open, there are 24 metres of nice and taut non-slip, UV resistant line. The longest outside line is 120cm long.

The airer is large enough to hang one family-sized load of washing. It has a maximum weight capacity of 20kg, so it's fairly strong.

When open, the line is approximately 180cm wide and deep. The kids can still ride their trikes on the decking underneath it because there's no central pole. It also makes a nice little shaded area for them to sit under in the sun.

The end of each of the three long arms has a specially designed hole for hangers. Perfect for jumpers and other items which can easily become out of shape when hung up.

The line is strong and sturdy. It's weather resistant and made of anti-corrosive materials. It's the usual great quality and design that you would expect from Brabanita. I would definitely recommend it for someone who has limited space but looking to dry their clothes naturally.

 

Do a #LoveNaturePledge - dry your laundry outside for 30 days. It's good for your clothes and the environment! It's also free and gives your laundry a lovely fresh smell.

Brabantia cares about the products it creates and the impact they have on people and planet. For every rotary dryer sold Brabantia & WeForest will plant a tree for you, for free. Since the start of the #LoveNature campaign in 2015, WeForest has planted more than 500,000 Brabantia trees

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All words, opinions, photos and video content are my own. Images used with permission from Brabantia.

Friday
Jun032016

7 Brilliant Weaning Tips from Organix

I found weaning Joshua one of the trickiest stages of parenting. At the time, it seemed like a mission to get him from milk to three meals a day. I need not have worried, he happily chomped down whatever he was offered, which was mostly cubes of pureed organic food as baby-led weaning seemed relatively new at the time. Joshua, now 7, is a very adventurous eater and a keen cook. He eats huge portions at mealtimes and is always up for trying something new.

 

When it came to weaning Daniel, now 5, it was a different story. He wasn't keen on any of the pureed foods I offered him and heaven forbid he found a lump. Eventually he would take very fine purees and very gradually began to tolerate a little texture. The first time I saw him really enjoy something was when he had some dough balls at Pizza Express. Perhaps baby-led weaning would have been a better option for Daniel back then?

Isaac is only 10 weeks old, but I'm already thinking about how I'm going wean him. I recently asked a friend of mine who is a health visitor what the latest advice on weaning is. She said they're currently recommending a mixture of baby-led and purees as you can make sure a baby gets all the nutrients they need in the purees while exploring a mixture of flavours and textures through finger food. It makes sense to me and it seems like quite a natural way of doing it.

 

There's lots of great weaning advice in the downloadable Organix Little Book of Weaning which includes lots of great hints and tips. There's also lots of good recipes for weaning and beyond on the Organix website. They work with children’s food expert Lucy Thomas who has created lots of simple, fun activities to help inspire parents about introducing new taste sensations to their baby. Here's seven of them.

7 brilliant weaning tips from Organix

1. Fingers first

Help your baby to dip their fingers in some bright fruit or vegetable puree and guide their fingers to their mouth. Exploring the taste and sensation of food on their hands might be messy but it's the first step towards getting your little one to feed themselves.

2. Dip dip

Offer your baby finger food along with some puree to dip it in. Vegetables should be cooked until they are soft enough to squash between your fingers. Rice cakes are great for later on. Introducing different textures early on will help your baby become accustomed to both whole and purred foods.

 

3. Spice it up

Baby food needn't be bland - little ones will enjoy a tiny taste of herbs and spices in their food. Try sprinkling a little cinnamon or nutmeg on their porridge or apple puree, or curry powder on their parsnip puree. Let them have a lick of a slice of lemon from your water to experience the sour flavour.

4. Mirror mirror

Babies love to watch their own reflection. Hold a mirror in front of your baby while they are eating so they can see themselves and what they are exploring. It will help them with their coordination as well as their interest and confidence with food. This really works as you can see in this video.

5. Hot or cold

Encourage your little one to explore food at different temperatures by putting spots of fridge-cold puree alongside warm or room temperature puree. Let them feel it with their hands first so they become familiar with the sensation first. They may show a preference.

6. Eat your greens

Introducing your little one to tricker tastes, particularly green vegetables, will help them accept them more readily later on. Don't be tempted to mask the strong or bitter flavour of something like spinach or cabbage, offer it to them lots of times while singing or smiling. It can take 10-15 attempts before they accepts a new food, it's completely normal for them to pull a face!

7. Frozen fun

While the ups and downs of teething can interfere with weaning, cold foods can help to sooth babies gums as well as offering a new taste too. Offer older babies a frozen homemade mini-pancake, a frozen cube of puree or peeled frozen celery stick to gum on. Remove the lid of mini pots of sugar-free baby fromage frais and insert a spoon into them before freezing to make great little frozen yoghurt pops.

 

 Disclosure: This is the third in a series of sponsored posts for Organix. Words and most images are my own. Video used from Organix.

Tuesday
May032016

Eat the Seasons and a recipe for Simple Dahl 

Earlier this year I shared how Organix asked me to be a 'No Junk Mum' and join their 'No Junk Journey' this year. The aim of the campaign is to help parents make healthy food choices for their kids. It's had a big impact on how we've been eating as a family. If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen some of the healthy swaps I've made.

As well as avoiding processed food, we're eating a much wider range of fruit and vegetables. My boys are really into trying new things now. It's so great to see them exploring new foods and getting excited about it. They get a sticker for trying something new even if they decide don't like it. 

I try to shop seasonally because fruit and veg that's in season always tastes better and it's cheaper as well. It's also more naturally grown. I now try to buy organic as much as possible as well, especially for the kids. The flavour is so much better, I'm amazed at how good organic carrots taste compared to regular ones.

Getting my boys to help in the kitchen encourages them to eat better. I let them choose fruit for their lunch boxes in the supermarket as well, they love that. They also love to watch You Tube videos showing how food is grown and harvested. It's great for kids to watch and learn about food in this way, and it's easy too.

It's important for kids to eat a variety of purple, green, yellow, red, orange and beige fruit and vegetables as the different colours contain specific nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy, for example, orange fruits and vegetables help keep eyes healthy and red ones can help keep blood pressure low.

I love this Simple Dahl recipe from Organix which is topped with roasted courgettes. Most of the ingredients are from the store cupboard and you can swap the courgettes with any vegetables you need to use up in the fridge. It also freezes well and can be eaten with rice, quinoa or on it's own. Great for weaning babies.

 

Simple Dahl: Serves 4 adults & 1 baby

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsps coconut oil or olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger
  • 4 cardamom pods (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsps curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 x 400ml can coconut milk
  • 250g red lentils
  • 300mls water
  • 2 courgettes (or other vegetables - see notes)
  • To serve (optional): brown rice or quinoa, squeeze of lime, fresh coriander

Method

  1. Finely chop the onion and sauté in the oil in a large deep frying pan or saucepan over a low heat until soft.
  2. Crush the garlic and finely grate or chop the ginger, then add to the pan.
  3. Remove the seeds from the centre of the cardamom pods (if using) and grind with a pestle and mortar along with the cumin and coriander seeds (or use ground spice).
  4. Add the spices, coconut milk, lentils and water.
  5. Cook for 35-45 minutes until lentils are soft and the consistency has thickened.
  6. In the meantime, cook the rice according to pack instructions, usually about 20-25 minutes.
  7. Whilst the dahl is cooking, dice the courgettes and place on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil, then roast for 20-25 minutes at 200°C / 180°C fan / gas 6 until golden.
  8. Top the dahl with the roasted courgette and serve with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime accompanied by brown rice or quinoa if desired.

 

Now over to you - I'd love to hear about your family’s food and healthy eating. Do you have any tips or tricks for encouraging your kids to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables? Comment below or tweet using #NoJunkJourney 


Disclosure: This is the second in a series of sponsored posts for Organix. Words and opinions are my own. Recipe and images used with permission from Organix.

Monday
Mar072016

Breakfast Hacks - 3 ways with Fruit and Oats 

Here are three super-quick, easy, healthy and tasty breakfast ideas for you to try using oats and cans of Princes fruit in juice - overnight oats with peaches, granola with pineapple and oat mango smoothie. All of these recipes contain one of your 5-a-day and take seconds to prepare, as you can see in this video.

Princes cans of fruit in juice are an affordable and speedy breakfast option. Because there's no peeling or chopping involved they're also a convenient way to get one of your 5-a-day. Princes ring-pull cans are easy to open in the mornings and the fruit is great quality for a quick, simple and delicious breakfast.

 

1. Creamy Overnight Oats with Peaches

  • 70g rolled oats
  • 250g natural yoghurt
  • 220g can Princes sliced peaches in juice
  • Splash of milk (optional)

Method: 

  1. Combine the oats and yoghurt very well in a jar or container with a lid.
  2. Put the lid on tightly and chill in the fridge overnight (minimum 4 hours).
  3. Open and drain the peach slices. Mix well with the creamy oats.
  4. Serve with a splash of milk if desired. Serves 2.

 

 

2. Granola with Pineapple & Coconut

  • 35g granola
  • 4 teaspoons natural yoghurt
  • 227g can Princes pineapple chunks in juice
  • 1 teaspoon desiccated coconut

Method: 

  1. Place the granola in a bowl and top with the yoghurt
  2. Open and drain the pineapple chunks.
  3. Spoon half the pineapple chunks over the yoghurt and granola.
  4. Serve sprinkled with desiccated coconut. Serves 1.

 

 

3. Mango & Oat Smoothie

  • 100g rolled oats
  • 600ml milk
  • 3 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 425g can Princes mango slices in a light syrup

Method:

  • Place oats, milk and yoghurt in a food processor or blender.
  • Open and drain the mango slices and add to the blender.
  • Blend the mixture until smooth and serve. Serves 3.

 

 

This is a sponsored post in association with Princes. 

Wednesday
Jan272016

A fresh start for 2016 with Organix No Junk Journey

2015 was a rough year for us. We lost our baby girl at the end of 2014 three weeks after we moved into our new home. It's been emotional, painful and tough as well as busy. It's definitely had an effect on the way we eat - more comfort food and junk food for us and more convenience food for the kids.

But it's a new year. A fresh start and a new beginning. We're much brighter in ourselves as we've come into 2016 and we've done lots of work on the house including a new kitchen/dining room. It's time to get back to eating well again.

I was delighted when Organix asked me to be a 'No Junk Mum' and join their 'No Junk Journey' this year. The aim of the campaign in a nut shell is to help parents make healthy food choices for their kids. The accountability of being part of the campaign will definitely help us to eat better as a family. The timing could not be better.

I hope you will enjoy sharing our No Junk Journey along the way.

'Engineered' food vs 'real' food 

Organix recently commissioned a study Engineering taste - is this the future of our children's food? by Greg Tucker, Taste Psychologist, and Professor Andy Taylor from the University of Nottingham Food Science Department. They asked me to have a read through and share my thoughts.

Reading the study was a real wake up call and made me realise I have to make some serious changes to our diet. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the odd sweet treat or take away - it's about making engineered food, i.e. convenience food, the exception rather than the rule.

I decided to make a video of Joshua, my 7 year old, to see knew the difference between engineered and real foods. The results were suprising! 

He's been shopping and cooking with me since he was tiny and generally prefers healthy food. However, he thought fish fingers were 'real' food over fish fillet. He also thought strawberry yoghurt was real becuase it had a picture of a strawberry on it!

Thankfully, he knew that chickens have bones but he definitely prefer nuggets to the real thing and he's not alone! 66% of kids prefer nuggets to chicken breast according to the study, and 81% would choose fish fingers over a fillet of fish. Part of me thinks they're just kids and they will grow out of it, but part of me worries that children are growing up without an appreciation of what foods taste like or looks like in it's natural form.

Overall, the study revealed some rather worrying findings regarding the effect of engineered food on children's taste buds and eating habits. I've explained some of the highlight below, but I would definitely recommend having a good read of the full report especially if you're a parent.

 

1. 'Engineered' foods are distorting children’s ability to recognise and enjoy the taste of ‘real’ foods

As obvious as it sounds, convenience food is not real food. Mums are busy and need meals which are quick and easy to prepare, but these convenience or engineered foods are not a true representation of the real food they are trying to emulate.

Over-seasoned chicken nuggets hardly taste like real chicken breast and super-sweet, highly-flavoured strawberry yoghurt is a far cry from a strawberry. These engineered foods provide "instant taste gratification" and are causing a shift in children’s palates. In summary, kids are losing appreciation for ‘real’ food.

The study found that there are children who believed that chickens do not have bones or skin and that apples don’t have cores - much to the surprise of their parents.


2. The zone of 'artifice' is a new space and is changing the way children eat

The study found the lines are blurring between real and artificial, creating a new space, the ‘zone of artifice’ which you can see on the graph below. I found this really shocking.

Engineered foods are easy to eat and deliver instant flavour but they are disingenuously delivered. In some cases natural ingredients are being used inappropriately, for example carrot juice in strawberry yoghurt to give it's appealing bright colour. The claim on the front of the pack states 'natural colours' - but carrot juice in yogurt? It's just plain unnecessary and misleading.

The food is being engineered to enhance the eating experience – the flavour, texture, colour and appeal. Kids grow up thinking food is really like this, but it's not. They lose appreciation of what real food is and become fussy adults. Yikes.

3. Misleading claims about ‘real’ and ‘natural’ mean parents are unable to make informed decisions

Parents are busier than ever. With the average family having just 15 minutes to prepare a meal convenience food is more in demand than ever before. But people still want healthy choices. The study showed that 72% of mums are more likely to buy something if it says 'real' or 'natural' and 63% think food is healthier if the label says it’s ‘real’ or ‘natural’ but these claims are misleading.

Here's a good example. One brand of chicken nuggets claimed to be "made with 100% chicken breast guaranteed” when in fact the ingredients show there is only 51% chicken breast and a total of 14 different ingredients. 49% of the nugget is not meat but breadcrumbs. It's hugely misleading, and not good value, but the food industry are not breaking the law.

The study found it's increasingly hard for parents to make good food choices, and they are increasingly angry about what they see as the ‘deceit and lies’ perpetrated by the food industry. 76% of mums in the study want the food industry to take more responsibility for this.

Berevement has defintely caused us to slip into the zone of artifice further than I care to be and this is the year to change that. Still, I can't help but feel conned by manufacturers who have led me to believe I have been making healthy choices for my kids while rushing down the freezer aisle when I clearly haven't.

 

Top Tips to help you become more label savvy from Organix

Here's some great tips from Organix to help you when you're out shopping. It's worth making a bit more time to do the food shop to get a feel for the labels:

 

  1. Know what’s in the food you feed your family.
  2. Don’t be lured by front-of-pack flashes such as "real" or "natural" which can actually mean very little when there is a long list of complicated ingredients in the small-print on the back.
  3. If you have the time, try to take a closer look at back of pack ingredients and the nutritional information.
  4. Go for fewer ingredients - if there are too many ingredients, or ones you don’t recognise, then the more additives there are likely to be.
  5. Look for ingredients that you recognise, that would appear in a recipe, or that you might find at home.
  6. Avoid colourings, artificial sweeteners, starches or thickeners, preservatives, flavour enhancers and flavourings.

 

 

Over to you

 

  • Are you concerned about the quality of convenience food marketed towards children?
  • How much time do you spend reading labels?
  • Do your children prefer fish fingers and chicken nuggets over the real thing?
  • Does that bother you if they do or do you just think they will grow out of it?

 

I'd love to know what you think! Please leave a comment!

Get involved

Join the discussion at Facebook: /organixfood, Twitter: @organixbrands, #OrganixTaste

Have a dig in your cupboards. Read the labels on the back of products claiming to be 'natural' or 'real' or 'healthy' - you might be surprised. Tweet a picture to @organixbrands using hashtag #OrganixTaste - I'll be doing this over the next few weeks. Follow me on twitter @GourmetMum if you're interested in my findings.

 

Disclosure: This is the first in a series of sponsored posts for Organix. Opinions and video content are my own. All images used with permission from Organix.