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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!

 

Wednesday
Jul152015

Ten Tips for Cooking with Kids

Getting kids involved in the kitchen is a sure fire way to encourage them to explore a wider variety of food. Even if they are just playing, it can contribute to a healthy relationship with food as an adult. They will also pick up lots of skills from just watching adults. Here's a few tips for cooking with kids:

1) Give them choice

Kids love to be in control. Give them options. For example, if you're making pizza, give them a choice of tuna or ham and then a few different veggies. They'll feel proud they got to choose, but they will still eat well. Everyone's a winner.

2) Don't worry about the mess

Mess happens. Clear the surfaces of anything you don't want to get messed up, wear aprons, even use newspaper on the floor if you must, but don't worry. It's mess to grown ups but for kids it's exploring and part of forming a healthy relationship with food. Allow them to explore.

3) Use all the senses

Children’s food expert for Organix, Lucy Thomas, advises children to explore food by feeling, smelling and licking. Encourage them to describe the sensations, for example strawberries feel bumpy. My kids love to do this, even with food they don't like. They are exploring those foods, without feeling forced to eat it.

4) It will take longer than you think

Factor in the extra time. It's going to take ages. Choose a simple recipe and perhaps do some of the boring prep work in advance. Chopping half a pepper might be fun, but not three. Some kids lose interest quickly.

5) Wash your hands

Teaching kids about food hygiene is just as important as teaching them about food. Teach them to wash their hands properly and especially after touching raw meat, fish and eggs. I taught my kids this so young, but they really got it. They hold their hands up after handling raw eggs and say "I have eggy hands" on their way to the sink.

6) Have your tablet ready 

You Tube is amazing for clips of where food comes from or how it's made. Mine have learned so much without leaving the house! Some of their favourites include, how olives are pitted, where pineapples come from and how carrots grow. It's so brilliant. 

7) Keep it simple, light and fun

Pick an easy, quick recipe, like whizzing up houmous - kids love gadgets. They can choose their own crudités. Make it fun, like half a jacket potato made into a boat with a slice of cheese sail and grated carrot sea.

 

8) If at first you don't succeed

Kids are fickle. They love something one day and hate with a passion the next. Be consistent - little and often is the key. Don't feel discouraged or guilty if it's not worked out the first time. Don't force them.

9) Get the right kit

The right equipment can make all the difference. There's a little knife you can get from pampered chef which is super-safe but great for kids to cut vegetables with. Some kids might like their own special apron or baking kit. 

10) Explain why

If your child is old enough, explain to them why certain foods are good for us. I have this great little book which explains why apples are healthy, because they contain 'boron for bones' to make us strong. You don't have to be an expert, just the odd little fact can encourage healthy eating for life.

 

Organix has launched its Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families. It’s packed with advice and tips for parents on providing a healthy diet for little ones as they continue their exciting journey with food through the early years and beyond.  You can download your free copy here: www.organix.com/lovegoodfood

 

 

For lots more advice on toddler foods and tasty, healthy recipes for all the family please visit www.organix.com. To download a copy of The Organix Little Book of Good Food - Toddlers & Families visit www.organix.com/lovegoodfood and you can watch the Love Good Food video at: #lovegoodfood. Join the conversation at #LoveGoodFood.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Tuesday
Jul072015

Tips and advice for healthy eating for toddlers

The toddler years are a key point for establishing lifelong healthy eating habits and a love of food. This makes it all the more stressful if your child starts to become a fussy eater! If your little one is going through a picky phase then read on.

Organix has launched its #LoveGoodFood campaign for toddlers, designed to help little ones love good food in these early years, so they grow up to be healthy, little food explorers. 

Together with children’s food expert Lucy Thomas, and dietician Dr Frankie Phillips, they have put together their 'Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families'. It’s packed with advice and tips for parents on providing a healthy diet for little ones. Download your free copy here.

Organix is also launching a series of Love Good Food short videos, with Lucy and a group of toddlers exploring, enjoying and sharing the wonderful world of fruit and vegetables, from broccoli to bananas, through play, rhymes, song and storytelling. You can watch them here: #lovegoodfood

Lucy has some great advice for encouraging your little ones to explore and enjoy fruit and veg:

  1. Encourage a wider interest in food, without asking them to eat or taste anything.  Get them to smell, kiss, lick or crunch.  You can show your child how to smell strawberries and lick one to feel the bumpiness of the seeds on the outside.  

  2. Give them lots of opportunities to touch and handle fresh fruit and vegetables, whether out shopping, at home cooking or even growing food.  This will help them be more relaxed and interested in food.

  3. Get a little messy - let your little one squash a tomato or squeeze an orange while you are cooking. If they feel comfortable handling a food they are more likely to want to eat it.

  4. Let your child explore different textures of food by juicing, blending, grating or mashing foods with your help.

  5. Explore vegetables raw as well as cooked, it’s a great way to overcome a dislike of a vegetable. For example, small crunchy florets of cauliflower for dipping are delicious - and taste very different to cooked cauliflower. 

Dr Frankie Phillips also has the following tips for giving young children a healthy diet:

  • Regular healthy meals and snacks – toddlers need to snack as their tummies aren’t big enough to take on board enough energy and nutrients from just three meals a day.

  • Plenty of choice and balance – a varied diet containing a selection of foods will provide the essential nutrients they need.

  • Each day aim for 5 portions of starchy foods, 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 3 portions of dairy foods and 2 portions of meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses (3 if vegetarian).

  • Lots of tastes in a range of different fruit and vegetables.

  • Different colours, tastes and textures to add variety to the diet.

  • ‘Me-sized’ portions.  There’s no such thing as an ideal portion size for all children, as size, growth and physical activity levels vary.  

  • Not adding extra sugar or salt – too much salt isn’t good for toddler’s kidneys and sugary food encourages a sweet tooth and can cause tooth decay.

  • Enough healthy drinks to keep them well-hydrated. 

For lots more advice on toddler foods and tasty, healthy recipes for all the family please visit www.organix.com. To download a copy of The Organix Little Book of Good Food - Toddlers & Families visit www.organix.com/lovegoodfood and you can watch the Love Good Food video at: #lovegoodfood. Join the conversation at #LoveGoodFood.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Tuesday
Jun022015

Aubergine No Pasta Lasagne

This aubergine no-pasta lasagne is perfect for gluten or wheat free diets - or for people who just avoid carbs like the plague, which is most people I know these days. It's really easy to make - just a simple ragu meat sauce (I used turkey thigh mince but any mince would work) layered with griddled aubergines and a cheats cheese sauce - using cottage cheese which takes a minute to make! Enjoy with crusty bread, without the guilt, or salad for the carb dodgers.

Aubergines are one of those vegetables I always wonder what to do with, but they are perfect in this recipe. They are really easy to cut into thin slices and take no time at all to griddle quickly. If you don't have a griddle pan just use a hot frying pan.

If you have never made a quick cheese sauce using cottage cheese you will be amazed at how quick, easy and tasty it is. It really works a treat, and so much less effort than a full on bechamel sauce during the week. Swap the meat ragu for a beany version for a veggie dish.

Aubergine No Pasta Lasagne: Serves 4:

Time:  25 mins prep + 20 mins cooking
Cost:  £1.25 per serving
Calories:  439 per serving

For the pasta free lasagne:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 500g turkey thigh mince
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 150g mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 medium aubergines, cut into 1-2mm thick slices

For the cheats cheese sauce:

  • 300g tub cottage cheese
  • 75g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and carrot until soft.
  2. Add the turkey mince and stir fry until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the garlic, mushrooms and Italian seasoning. Cook until the mushrooms are soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, stock, soy sauce and black pepper to taste.
  5. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid had reduced.
  6. Meanwhile, heat up a griddle pan and brush it with the remaining 1 tbsp oil.
  7. Griddle the aubergine slices for 30-60 seconds on each side in batches. Put to one side.
  8. In a bowl, blend the cottage cheese, cheddar and milk until smooth to make the cheese sauce.
  9. To assemble the lasagne: use an ovenproof dish roughly 26 x 20 cm in size. Spoon in a third of the turkey mince and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish. Arrange a third of the aubergine slices on top of the mince, slightly overlapping. Dot half the cheese sauce evenly over the aubergine slices. 
  10. Repeat another layer of mince, aubergine and cheese using the same quantities. Top the second cheese layer with the remaining mince and finish the lasagne with the final layer of aubergine slices.
  11. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C / 160 fan / gas mark 4 for 20 minutes until bubbling around the edges and piping hot. 
Wednesday
May062015

Chicken & Chorizo Gratin (with Schwartz Flavour Shots)

I rarely use pre-made spice mixes, but I like these flavour shots from Schwartz. They are a blend of spices infused in oil, so very convenient. I've used the Spanish Smoked Paprika Chicken twice now, and each time the food has been really delicious. 

This chicken and chorizo gratin recipe is easy and delicious. It's packed with veg so it only needs some crusty bread on the side. A fresh crispy green salad in the warmer months is a great accompaniment. In winter this would be great with some mashed potato.

This is a recipe I tweaked from Schwartz. I try to cut out saturated fat whenever I can so I just reduced the chorizo, left the cheese out of the breadcrumb and cheese topping and increased the veg. 

Chicken & Chorizo Gratin: Serves 4:

Time:  10 minutes prep 35 mins cooking
Cost:  £1.64 per serving (flavour shot RRP £1.40)
Calories:  304 per serving

For the gratin:

  • 1 Schwartz Flavour Shots Spanish Smoked Paprika Chicken
  • 50g sliced chorizo cut into match sticks
  • 400g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 2 courgettes, halved and sliced
  • 2 peppers (preferably red and yellow) diced
  • 50g dry breadcrumbs

Method: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200˚C, 400˚F, Gas Mark 6.
  2. Spoon the Flavour Shot, chorizo and chicken into a pan, cook on a medium heat for 7-8 minutes, until browned.
  3. Transfer to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon (so the oil stays in the pan) and set aside. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, until softened. 
  4. Add the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Stir in courgette, pepper, chopped tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil, transfer to the ovenproof dish with the chicken and stir.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling. This is really delicious just served with crusty bread. As it contains so much veg it doesn't really need anything else, but you could serve with a green salad if you like.

This post is in association with Schwartz 

Wednesday
Apr152015

Fun Food Plates for Kids

When I started to wean Joshua, almost 6 years ago now, I said that I would never fuss or arrange his food for him. To be fair, I never needed to. He wolfed down whatever was served and still does. He loved his food from the first bite and he still does. Then, I had Daniel.

Feeding Daniel remains one of my greatest daily challenges. He was a nightmare to wean and he is still an incredibly fussy eater at the age of 4. Rightly or wrongly I jump thorough hoops to tempt him to eat, fussing with arranging his food constantly.

Any parent of a fussy eater will tell you, it is a massive worry and stress having a child that just won't eat. You wonder how they survive! The 'rule book' goes out of the window. I've chilled out a lot over the years, I do what works, I take one day at a time and I try to keep things fun.

My kids love it when I arrange their food in fun shapes on their plate. With Daniel I have taken it one step further - I am the voice of the food on his plate (which cries when he eats it because it's dark and scary in his mouth - but that's another story). He eats and I get a huge sense of peace & achievement. Everyone is a winner.

I was delighted to read this quote from Dr Frankie Phillips who is the Nutrition Advisor to Organix, “...parents can encourage a positive attitude to food by making mealtimes fun for their child and allowing them to play with and experiment with their food.”

I found it a great comfort and encouragement that an expert says that playing with food and fun mealtimes are positive experiences for kids. Maybe being the voice of Daniels food isn't so silly after all? Maybe being wrapped round Daniels little finger is actually a good thing? 

I am really inspired by these cute little fun food plates from Organix. They all use different colours, textures and flavours of food and they look really inviting and tasty. I've shared all the recipes below if you want to know how they are made - they are so easy and really healthy too.

Kids love getting involved making up plates like this as much as they love eating them. For fussy eaters it's a control thing. I find that Daniel will always eat better if he has helped make his own dinner - especially if he (thinks that he) has chosen some of the ingredients.

 

 

For lots more advice on finger foods and recipes please visit www.organix.com and sign up to download your free copy of the Organix Little Book of Weaning at www.organix.com/littlebookofweaning which is packed with lots of great advice and inspiration for weaning little ones.

This is a sponsored post. All words and opinions are my own.

Monday
Mar162015

Homemade Houmous Recipe without Tahini

I'm still not sure how to spell houmous. My computer auto corrects it to humous, in the shops it's called houmous and some of my friends call it hummus. One thing I do know about houmous (I'll settle for that) is that we eat it lots. When I was a kid, it was saved for dinner parties along with a Walls Viennetta - which are way smaller now then they were in the 80's by the way.

Because we eat so much houmous, I have started making my own. It very easy, works out at less than half the price and has less salt and additives than shop bought. I've jumped on the bandwagon of using  peanut butter as a substitute to tahini and it works pretty well. Dunk in veggies, spread it on sarnies or even use it in a pasta dish. It's low fat, high in protein and high in fibre. Hooray.

Houmous without Tahini: Makes 12:

  • Time:  5 minutes 
  • Cost:  41p per batch
  • Calories:  27 per tablespoon

Ingredients for the houmous:

  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 250g chickpeas)
  • Juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 a clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (as a substitute for tahini)
  • Pinch of cumin & smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • Splash of water (optional)

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. You may have to keep stopping it and scraping the sides at first, but keep going until the consistency is even. If it's too stiff, add a little splash of water to loosen it.
  2. Have a taste and adjust seasoning as required. You may need some more salt or lemon juice. Blitz again and taste again until you're happy. Keeps in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days.