Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Banana Berry Smoothie

Forgive my ignorance here, but what’s the deal with all these absurdly calorific recipe videos flying around at the moment? They appear to have taken over my newsfeed and it sparks a reaction in me I can’t quite comprehend. I’m not sure if it’s anger or disbelief. With conditions such a diabetes and obesity at an all time high I’m not convinced this is in anyone’s interest. Above all, most of them actually look disgusting. Who wants to eat Pizzagne? That I assume needs no further explanation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bit of indulgence here and there, everything in moderation, but come on guys… let’s actually apply some common sense. Surely fueling your body with all that sugar and saturated fat isn’t a good thing. It’s gluttony in its purest form, is it not?

I’ve seen all sorts of ridiculously bazaar recipes floating about on social media being shared to high heaven. Has anyone ever attempted to make any of these gruesome looking dishes I wonder? Okay, I’ve seen some video recipes that look nice and dare I say healthy, but they are few and far between. I’ve seen meatballs stuffed with whole blocks of cheese, covered in sauce with added sugar and topped with more cheese. Fajita pasta, cooked in five cups of milk no less, and, you guessed it, smothered with cheese. To top things off, today I witnessed Pizzagne – made using three whole pizzas, and yes more cheese!

Peanut butter “protein” balls – pah, this one makes me laugh… butter, peanut butter, rice crispies and three cups of icing sugar. Oh and then, just because that’s not quite enough sugar and fat, they were then dipped in chocolate. Is it any wonder people have a problem keeping their weight down these days? What on earth happened to clean eating and treating your body to the raw, natural foods that it so desperately needs?

I’m cross with the idiocy of the creators of these gluttonous recipes… yes there is a time and a place for it, but i fear social media isn’t the place. Let’s get sharing some healthy recipes people!

I’ve been eating clean for the past couple of weeks and I’m feeling great for it. When I say clean, I mean cutting out all processed foods, fats and sugars. I’ve allowed myself some essential fats such as nuts and omega 3 rich salmon, but refined sugar is off the menu. For now at least.

I’ve been making smoothies for breakfast every morning. Now I appreciate that fruit has sugar in it, but it’s no comparison to refined sugars given that it’s packed with vitamins, antioxidants and is generally very high in fiber. I’m even sneaking in chia seeds and spinach for antioxidants, protein and more fiber. Don’t be put off by the spinach or the alarming look of a green smoothie, they can be surprising delicious. One of my Facebook friends commented “spinach and bananas, yuck!” – there was a time when I would have agreed that this sounds odd, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it Helen. ? I’ve found these smoothies very filling, so I’m less inclined to  snack before lunchtime.

I’ve lost 10lbs in 2 weeks and I’m feeling great. There seems to be a whole lot of truth in the fact that if you cut sugar from your diet the less you crave it. I’m actually realising that if I plan correctly, eat less carbs and sugar and have smoothies for breakfast I don’t need that packet of crisps or digestive biscuit at 11am. I can sail straight through to lunchtime without giving sugary snacks a thought. Honest!

I’ve also been drinking lots of water, which has inevitably meant more trips to the loo. But, that’s a small price to pay for the obvious benefits it has. My skin is looking great!

So next time you’re tempted to share that creamy, cheesy, indulgent recipe video. Stop. Hit up your Pinterest app and type in ‘clean eats’, ‘healthy snacks’ or ‘energy rich foods’ – you might surprise yourself at how “Tasty” some of these recipes look.

Here’s one of the delicious smoothies I’ve been having – banana, berries and spinach… yummy!

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Mushroom toasts with bacon, thyme, garlic and roasted bone marrow

This is without doubt one of the most deliciously mouth watering recipes I’ve ever devised, for obvious reasons I guess. Roasted bone marrow spooned over garlicky mushrooms and salty jewels of bacon and perfumed woody thyme… what’s not to love? These mushroom toasts would be ideal for a Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinner party. Just go easy on the garlic so as not to knock your guests side ways with your garlic breath.

This recipe really packs a punch in terms of flavour and it’s just so simple. Aside from waiting for the bone marrow to cook it only takes about 10 minutes to throw together, so even when you’ve still got some last minute wrapping to do you can find 10 minutes right?

Bring some restaurant elegance into your home

It is easy to bring a little bit of restaurant into your own kitchen. In fact, Christmas has to be the ideal time. Your guests will really appreciate the touch of elegance it brings to the dinner table, plus you’ll look extra chefy. All you have to do is ask your butcher for some femur bone cut into small discs and pop it into the oven. Job done! Well almost…

The inspiration for the recipe

The inspiration for this recipe came from a book I recently bought for a friend. It’s a book I feel compelled to share with all foodies I know. ‘The Flavour Thesaurus’ is always on hand in my kitchen. If you’re a foodie and you’ve not heard of it or read it I urge you to pop out and grab a copy. As the title suggests, the book is set out like a thesaurus and is a bible of parings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook. On many an occasion I’ve taken inspiration from the book, perhaps when I have a random ingredient left over and I’m not sure what to pair it with. I can always count on The Flavour Thesaurus to come up with the goods.

The recipe

Garlic mushroom toasts with bacon, thyme and roasted bone marrow
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter, Main, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 250g mushrooms (I used Chestnut and Shiitake), roughly chopped
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
  • Splash of white wine
  • 2 disks of femur bone (bone marrow) - ask your butcher for this
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 tbsp each of butter and olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Turn the oven on to the highest temperature and pop in the bone marrow (in a roasting tin). It will take about 35-40 minutes.
  2. When the marrow has only 10 minutes from being done heat the butter and olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Then add a splash of wine and allow to cook until reduced. Season to taste.
  5. Pop the slices of sourdough bread under the grill. Remove when lightly toasted and whilst still hot rub them with a garlic clove.
  6. Remove the bone marrow from the oven and carefully spoon out the soft marrow from the middle - stir this through the mushroom mix.
  7. Pile the mushroom mix on to the toasts and garnish with a little fresh thyme.
  8. Serve immediately.

 

 

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Adorable teddy bear sugar cookies

It’s no secret, I have an absolute obsession with Pinterest. I can idle away hours scanning through the images and picking up inspiration for recipes, tips and ideas. Back in September it was Jemima’s first birthday, so I began searching party ideas on Pinterest in the July… I was a rather excited mother. After all, it was her very first Birthday. I happened across this teddy bear picnic idea and I actually knew someone who had hosted this type of party before, so the idea was cast and I embarked on two months of party planning.

Who knew planning a party for a one year old would be so fun? Obviously from a food point of view the pressure was off as a traditional teddy bear picnic would mean everyone bringing their own lunch along. This meant that I was able to decide what food to offer without the pressure of having to provide a huge variety of sandwiches, meats and sweets etc. And, I didn’t have the worry of catering for exact numbers.

Having seen the adorable teddy bear picnic ideas on Pinterest I just had to decide which ones to run with. I’d never attempted iced sugar cookies before so it seemed a fitting time to try. I’ll be honest and say this is by no means a quick task and it requires a certain level of patience – the kind of patience I don’t normally have. However, it being Jemima’s first Birthday it warranted all the time and effort.

Everyone seemed to be greatly impressed with the effort . The food on the day turned out great and everything was so fitting with the theme. Richard’s niece Emily is an amazing baker and made Jemima a wonderful teddy bear Birthday cake – she’s also a blogger so you can check out her amazing creation here.

If teddy bears are not your thing, you could of course make any design you like. With Christmas just around the corner I’ll certainly be trying my hand at some festive designs. Most of us have made biscuits before right? So we know about making a dough that won’t spread in the oven meaning we lose the desired shape? Well, if you are shaking your head, don’t worry… there are a couple of super simple tips that will guarantee your biscuits are perfect every time.

Top tips for perfect sugar cookies

  • Don’t use baking powder – even if a recipe states you should
  • Don’t open the oven – even if you’re really tempted to check
  • Roll the dough out so it’s no thicker than a one pound coin
  • Place the cut out biscuits on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  • Chill the dough for 45 minutes in the fridge/freezer

Chocolate teddy bear sugar cookie recipe

Iced teddy bear biscuits (sugar cookies)
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Sweet
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 230g softened butter
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g coco powder
  • 300g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, mix to combine
  4. Add the dry ingredients and bring together using a wooden spoon
  5. Turn the mixture out on to a floured work surface and knead until you have formed a smooth dough (try not to handle it too much).
  6. Flatten out the dough, wrap in cling and place in the fridge for a minimum of 45 minutes
  7. Remove from fridge and roll out to the thickness of one pound coin
  8. Use a cookie cutter to cut out your cookie shapes
  9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet
  10. Place in the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for 8 minutes

 

 

To make the flood icing

Outline the biscuits using thinned royal icing mixed with food coloring of choice (I actually used coco powder for my teddy bears), use a thin piping nozzle. Once you have piped the outline, immediately flood the rest of the biscuit with icing using a slightly thicker nozzle. Use a wooden skewer (or a scribe if you have one) to evenly distribute the icing. Gently tap the biscuit to settle the icing. . If using other colours such as the black and white you can add these after the initial colour has set for about 30 minutes. Allow 8-12 hours for the icing to thoroughly set

I found YouTube a great help when learning how to flood the icing.

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

… and toys are most certainly everywhere… all over my lounge floor that is. As if pulling out the Christmas decorations and untangling the yards of spaghetti entwined lights isn’t a task in itself. Try doing it with wooden blocks and various other toys underfoot. We figured, rather than trying desperately to adorn the Christmas tree with lights before Jemima pulled the whole thing over, we’d wait until she was asleep. A genius plan I know!

Before your life is blessed with the joy of children you have no concept of just how difficult the smallest tasks become. There are thousands of smug child free people out there right now admiring their wonderfully glistening, beautifully decorated trees. Spare a thought for us parents who, by Christmas day, will be sick of the sight of our half decorated, bare and withered looking trees that have been abused by small human beings. In my desperation to keep the tree looking it’s best I have imprisoned it in a child proof play pen (picture below).

I already know Christmas is going to be more exciting this year. Jemima is at such a wonderful age for it. Sure she’ll enjoy ripping the paper and playing with the boxes more than the toys, but who cares? Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year and Richard is just as keen on the festive season as me. We love nothing more than to get busy in the kitchen making mince pies, gingerbread muffins, sausage rolls and Christmas cocktails. Then of course there’s Richard’s famous Christmas lunch. I’d say that makes me one lucky girl.

We often host Christmas lunch for a large crowd, but this year is very much an exception. It’s just me, Richard and Jemima and I wouldn’t have it any other way. That said, we are going to a family party in the evening, which means, drinking, laughing and an inevitable hangover on Boxing Day.

Friday is my last working day before I have two weeks off work. Hurrah! And, family time means cooking time! I’m really looking forward to getting back in the kitchen and turning out some delicious festive treats. I have finished all of my Christmas gift shopping which means I’ll have plenty of time to make a whole host of edible Christmas gifts, so keep a look out for the recipes.

The greatest joy

Becoming a parent is the greatest joy you’ll ever experience. Becoming a parent and working full time is the greatest tiredness you’ll ever experience. It means I rarely have time to blog. I feel completely out of sorts with the blogging world as I knew it. Having a break from blogging has made me realise that the priorities in my life have so much more meaning now. Sure I love blogging, but I love Jemima unconditionally (tantrums and all) and that’s pretty special. Over the Christmas holidays though, I am going to forge out some time to read other food blogs and get busy in my own kitchen working up some content for my blog.

Every year I say that my new year’s resolution is to blog more and every year find myself reviewing that progress in December and I find I’ve yet again not had the time to keep this resolution. So this year, I’m not going to pledge to blog more, cook more or be regimented in the way I write this blog, I am simply going to remember the reasons I began writing this blog. Cooking and writing are my hobbies and a much needed distraction from everyday life.

And, do you know what? If only a handful of people read it, that’s okay with me.

Merry Christmas one and all… happy cooking!

Mummy & Jemima at the Christmas Market
The Jemima proofed Christmas tree
Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Pizza Party (on a Friday night)

There is something rather joyful about covering the kitchen in flour and making pizza. Granted it’s a terribly messy task, but that’s where the fun is right? We love making pizzas on a Friday night when we have Rich’s children Max and Daisy. It’s a great family activity – everyone gets stuck in. The children go mad for them and love rolling out the dough and choosing their own toppings.

Rich makes a huge load of dough and I knock up a big batch of tomato sauce. Or we swap jobs, but Rich is rather good at kneading dough so I tend to let him do the hard work. We have everything laid out ready for the kids, dough, rolling pins, aprons, tomato sauce and as many different toppings as we can find. We like to see who can make the nicest looking, the biggest or  most flavourful pizza. Max won in the ‘best looking’ category hands down… here is his little chorizo masterpiece. Yes, it did taste as good as it looked.

Max's Pizza CookedFlourMax's Pizza Uncooked

Miss Friday’s Pizza

Mine was rather a funny shape and size, but for me it’s ALL about the flavour and that crunchy texture on the crust – delicious. And a pizza is simply not worth eating unless it has anchovies and olives on it. Of course, the kids would totally disagree – it’s all about cheese and pepperoni.

Making it at home is not going to compare to that stone baked taste you get from making it in a traditional pizza oven, but it’s still pretty darn tasty. I’ve posted about my uncle’s pizza oven before and shared the dough recipe that I use.

Jemima (my 10 month old) even had her very own pizza – future Miss Friday right there!

Do you have a perfect topping combination? Feel free to share it in the comments!

Nicole's Pizza CookedNew Picture (10)Jemima's Pizza

 

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Tex Mex: Feed a Crowd Chilli Con Carne

Cooking for a crowd is great fun; the prospect of getting creative and offering up a huge variety of dishes that will really impress your friends and family excites me, but it often sends me into a whirlwind of energy and pressure. I’ve come to learn the secret of stress free entertaining, base many dishes around one recipe – a huge pot of smokin’ chilli con carne. It’s super easy to cook and oh so good to eat – serve it with jacket potatoes, rice, nachos or in a toasted pitta bread topped with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, fresh salsa and some fresh coriander, all washed down with an ice cold beer. Move over Chimichanga, I think I’ve died and gone to homemade Tex Mex heaven.

It’s great fun to base meals for a large number of people on a particular theme, you can simply throw together various dishes and people love getting stuck in to food they can eat with their hands. Nachos and stuffed pitta breads are great for this.

I won’t take all the credit for the scrummy looking food, Rich (the fiancé) made the loaded potato skins (look out for his guest recipe coming soon) and we kind of just threw the rest together whilst drinking with my brother Kelv and his girlfriend JoJo.

Now, i’m totally guilty of saying I can’t find the time to cook for myself, let alone to entertain, but if your guests happen to be relaxed family who also have a baby it’s all quite good fun. We managed to feed, entertain and put the babies to bed, have a drink and a laugh ourselves and we still managed to pull together this delicious feast and photograph it for the blog. A pretty successful evening all round.

The Recipe

I’ve included the recipe using my new recipe plug in below, so if you want to make this recipe for more or less people, just use the handy scroll bar and decide how many you want to cook for. The ingredient quantities will automatically update. Impressive I know! Also, don’t forget you can print the recipe using the small blue print icon. Happy cooking!

Chilli in PittaLoaded skinsChilli PotCold beerNachos

Print Recipe
Chilli Con Carne
This is a recipe for a rich smokey chilli con carne. This dish is so versatile it can be served with plain rice, on a jacket potato, in a pitta bread, or on top of nachos - however you choose to serve it though, be sure not to forget the essential condiments, grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, freshly chopped coriander and most importantly an ice cold beer. This recipe is great for feeding a crowd and it freezes well, so don't worry about leftovers - all the more for you.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan, add the mince and cook until browned.
  2. Remove the mince from the pan and set aside, leaving a little oil in the pan, then add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, mushrooms, carrot, red pepper and then return the mince to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the oregano and spices, chopped tomatoes and water. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Cook on a medium to low heat for one hour. The chilli will thicken and become rich. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.
  6. 10 minutes before the chilli is cooked, add the kidney beans and freshly chopped coriander.
  7. Serve either straight away, or after sitting for up to 20 minutes (I prefer it when it's not piping hot).
Share this Recipe
 
Berrynana Smoothie (1)

When life gets in the way

When life gets in the way of your hobbies it’s frustrating, but when it gets in the way of your passion it can be soul-destroying. Things have been a little tense lately and I’m discovering what long term sleep deprivation does to a person. I honestly believe it would turn even the sanest and most patient person into a ticking time bomb. Despite the lack of sleep, Jemima is the light of my life, she is the cutest little human being I’ve ever met, and she’s my little human, but finding time for your hobbies is also so important. Cooking and writing this blog are my hobbies and it’s often a wonderful escape from the pressures of everyday life.

Cooking has taken a back seat and has become about quick fixes, baby purees and baby led weaning – a rather joyful but messy task. I love making up her food from scratch to ensure she’s getting the healthiest most flavourful start in life. I can’t wait until she’s big enough to stand on a stall brandishing a wooden spoon, wearing a miniature apron and cover my kitchen with flour. I can see all the mums laughing and shaking their heads saying “just you wait”.

I’ve thought long and hard about whether, after all this time away from blogging, I should continue, but I have to. This blog is the thing I’m most proud of. I make myself feel guilty for not being one of those bloggers with a tight schedule posting three times a week – but the truth is, I have a life outside of my blog, one that consumes me. I’m a full time bid manager/proof reader, mother, fiancée and obsessive organiser – yet somehow I find time to see my friends and family. I guess blogging naturally takes a back seat, but time and again I come back to it, because it’s my passion.

I want to talk about meal planning and online food shopping and why it’s saved my sanity and allowed me to feel, and be, more organised. It’s a great way to save food and money. I’ve always been a super organised person, so meal planning makes me feel as though I’ve really got my shit together. I love having a plan for the week ahead and a stocked up freezer of batch cooked meals on hand, it’s essential these days.

I take a quiet hour and write a rough meal plan for the week, taking into consideration what I’ll be doing each evening – that way I can decide if I need a quick meal, or if I have the luxury of time to get creative. For instance, on the rare occasion I get the opportunity to dash out for a drink with friends, I plan to throw together a quick salad, rather than preparing something time-consuming.

I decided to try online food shopping for the first time, which at first was a horrific experience. I used ASDA online – never again. I don’t think I have ever experienced such awful customer service. They had to rearrange my delivery for a day later than I wanted and they were still late. Their customer service team seem to be non existent; either that or they had better things to do than answer the phone. When my shopping did finally arrive the delivery driver was rude and some of my items were missing. However, don’t let this put you off online shopping as I had an entirely different experience using Ocado – using the website was easy, it wasn’t anywhere near as expensive as I anticipated it would be, the service was brilliant, the food arrived on time with more than acceptable ‘use by dates’ and they even threw in a free tea towel.

Shopping online means I only buy what I need and can review my basket at the end and spend some time swapping brand named items for cheaper alternatives – I knocked about £15 off my total by doing this. So, if like me you’re an online food shopping virgin, go on, give it a go and remember to write that meal plan – you’ll save money and you’ll feel super organised.

 

 

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Persian Love Cake and a Marriage Proposal

First Picture

Heavily spiced and beautifully balanced – Iranian cuisine is definitely a new interest of mine. I was lucky enough to attend a Persian dinner party on Saturday with some good friends. I was also fortunate enough to receive a marriage proposal! Of course I accepted – so this has definitely been a Valentine’s weekend to remember. In fact, it has been the best weekend I’ve had for a long time – the food was exceptional, the proposal unexpected and the hangover, well rather inevitable.

I’m not one to attend a dinner party empty handed. Of course taking wine is perfectly expectable, but whipping up a delicious, decadent dessert is even better. Given that the theme for the evening was Persian food, I set about researching some recipes and I found myself confused as to why I hadn’t discovered Iranian food sooner. It all looks so wonderfully unfamiliar and exotic – that excites me a little. There is certainly nothing boring about cardamom, saffron and rose water all rolled into the one recipe. I stumbled upon a recipe for a Persian Love Cake on the brilliant Twigg Studios blog written by Aimee Twigger. What better recipe for a Persian dinner party on Valentine’s weekend?

There is something quite wonderful about a cake decorated with crimson rose petals and bright green pistachios – it’s a real show-stopper. I couldn’t quite believe how well it complemented the Raan (roast leg of lamb in yogurt that Bryan cooked) with spiced side dishes of spinach, cauliflower, rice and potatoes.

Second Picture

Our friend Bryan’s surname is Haines and we call him the Haines Manual, because he is a endless fountain of knowledge. I asked him for the Raan recipe and he bought out this book, the cover fell apart from the pages as I opened it – obviously a rather old and well used book. Bryan tells me it has many a delicious Iranian recipe – The Yoghurt Book by Arto Der Haroutunian (Syrian born). The book was first published in 1983, but I’m hoping I can find a copy online. I will have a go at the dish myself at some point and share the recipe with you, once I have photographs to go with it.

The Persian Love Cake was made with many of the same ingredients, cardamom, saffron, almonds and complemented the meal beautifully. You can view the recipe here.

I still can’t quite believe that I’m engaged – let the wedding planning commence.

ring

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Blueberry & Almond Pancakes

DSC_0216

Ordinarily, I’m a fan of pancakes with sugar and lemon. It’s reminiscent of my childhood, when mum and dad would goof around in the kitchen and more of the pancakes would end up on the wall, the ceiling and the floor than on the plate. But we’ve all made bog standard pancakes right?

If you are one of those people who buy the ‘pancake mix’ already made, this is the part where you should hang your head in shame, for you are essentially buying overpriced flour. Pancakes are not difficult to make – flour, eggs, milk and vegetable oil. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, does it?

We decided to make our pancakes over the weekend, for one of two reasons really. We had Richard’s children and we knew they would want a piece of the action, and secondly because I barely have time to feed myself in the week now, let alone lark about making pancakes and photographing them for my blog. Oh and of course, so that I can strategically post this on my blog the day before Pancake Day.

We managed to find a spare hour on Sunday, so we set about making them; of course everyone wanted something different. I had to be the odd one out and decide I didn’t want plain pancakes. I wanted to make something a little more interesting – I decided on American style blueberry and almond pancakes. They are that bit more substantial, not great for the diet mind. This recipe makes around 10 pancakes.

DSC_0222

Blueberry & Almond Pancakes
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 50g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • 1tbsp powdered sweetener
  • Maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks, placing each in their own large mixing bowl. Add the almonds, flour, baking powder and milk to the yolk. Mix well to form a thick batter.
  2. Add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until you have stiff peaks. Fold this into the batter.
  3. Heat a pan on a medium heat. Using a ladle pour your batter into the pan, topping the pancake with 5-6 blueberries. Once the pancake starts to look golden around the edges, flip the pancake using a spatula. These pancakes only take about 1 minute on each side in a hot pan.
  4. In a separate saucepan, place 100g blueberries over a high heat, sprinkle with 1 tbsp powered sweetener and allow to cook until the berries have burst and are a deep purple liquid.
  5. Serve the pancakes stacked and drizzled with blueberry sauce. You can also add a splash of maple syrup if it takes your fancy.

 

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Batch cooking for the entire family – baby and all

Now I’m not talking hundreds of portions of shepherd’s pie that will take up your entire freezer space and leave you, well quite frankly, fed up with shepherd’s pie. But, picture this. You come home from a long day at the office, the kids need help with their homework, they need bathing – oh and there’s that jigsaw puzzle you promised to help your child finish. You then spend an hour cooking dinner, washing up and by the time you sit down in the evening you’re frazzled and falling asleep. Sound familiar? Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Batch cooking will make your life a little easier. I love to make extra portions that I can pop in the freezer for those times when I’m rushed and cooking is the last thing I have the time or energy for. Not only does batch cooking save you time and energy, it generally works out to be much cheaper, and it can even help you to eat healthier, more nutritious food.

My boyfriend would probably say I have an obsession with batch cooking; I’m always saving ‘a bit for lunch tomorrow’, or cooking extra to see us through the week. Recently, this obsession has stepped up level. I’ve just started weaning my daughter Jemima, something I think I’m enjoying more than her. She is actually a really good little eater and I’m determined to ensure that she tries as many new foods as quickly as possible. Having done my research on the subject, it would appear that this approach is less likely to result in a fussy eater. I’m not sure I’d cope with having a child that is a fussy eater.

To ensure I’m giving my baby the very best start in life, I’m applying a ‘no jarred or packet food rule’ – if it isn’t fresh, she doesn’t have it. Both Richard and I are in agreement on this. We often comment when we see parents giving their babies chocolate buttons and such. Why on earth would you feed a baby chocolate? They don’t know what it is until you introduce it, so why subject your tiny baby to so much sugar so early in their eating experience? It will most likely put them off wanting other things, such as broccoli. Who wants to eat broccoli over chocolate given the choice? I’m certain this will provoke a lot of debate, but ultimately it’s your choice as a parent what you feed your child; I just want to make sure she’s getting the healthiest start I can give her. Chocolate buttons can wait until she’s that bit older.

I digress. I’ve made the decision to go back to work fairly early. Jemima is not even five months old, so I had to ensure that she had enough meals at the ready and that jarred food wouldn’t become a quick go to for the childminders. She’s spending her week between nursery and various family members, so being prepared is the way forward. I’m not going to be getting the blender out every night to make her lunch for the next day! To make up a months worth of various vegetable and fruit purées probably took me less than 90 minutes. Surely that’s worth spending the time over a weekend. You’ll save a shed load of money too!

DSC_0180

If you are beginning the process of weaning, I’ve found that some of the best foods to start with are potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, carrot, broccoli, stewed apple and pear. And, you can start by mixing any of these with baby rice or breast/formula milk to create more of a familiar taste for baby too. Sweet potato is definitely Jemima’s favourite so far.

Happy batch cooking folks!