Sunday, 20 July 2014

A Stubborn Toddler Who Won't Eat Her Dinner + Veggie Update

I thought I would quickly update you on my vegetarian week mission... a few messages have popped up because I didn't post a recipe yesterday. The truth is, I didn't like what I made at all! I made creamy asparagus and pea pasta and to be perfectly honest I was a little devastated that it tasted so very bland. I didn't see much point in posting a recipe as such because I would not recommend this meal to anyone. I really wanted to like it so much because asparagus is my absolute favourite vegetable. I will not make it again because I can't think of any single way that I could improve it to my taste or my little fam's... bless them.



Last night I just wanted to make something simple. Classic. Easy. That I knew we would all enjoy. Needless to say, none of us ate too much of the previous nights meal. 

Classic Tomato Spaghetti

I Used...


1 Onion
2 Cloves of garlic
1 Large Handful of Fresh Basil
2 400g Cans Of Chopped Tomatoes
2 Handfuls Of Cherry Tomatoes
A Pinch Of Chilli Flakes
250-300g Spaghetti

First of all I brought a pan of water to the boil, added the spaghetti and let it simmer. I then roughly chopped the garlic, onion, cherry tomatoes and the basil. Next, I placed 1 can of chopped tomatoes in a blender, followed by onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes and then the other can of chopped tomatoes. I added the basil on top and started to blend for a couple of minutes. I then pulsed it for about half a minute until it was at a thick and almost creamy consistency that I like. When the spaghetti had cooked through, I drained it of and added the sauce to the pan to heat and cook through for about 3-5 minutes. To serve I grated a little cheese on top however I would usually use parmesan but I didn't have any on this occasion. I also added a few basil leaves to mine (Because I friggin' love it!)... And that is pretty much it. It was gorgeous!!!






Scores...

Matt 6/10
Noah 8/10
Ellenah 2/10 
Me 9/10

Conclusion...

We all really enjoyed the simplicity of this meal last night. It is definitely a reliable dinner time staple in our house. It is extremely tasty and incredibly easy to make. Winner! 

One thing I have noticed over the past few weeks is that Els is barely eating any meals at dinner time. Even meals I know that she loves. She has NEVER been a fussy eater, so I am a little thrown. She does eat in the day so I make sure she eats a healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks but I am finding it very frustrating I have to say. I feel like I have tried every trick going. I am going to get her to cook with me a few times during this week and to get her to help pick out bits while we are shopping to see if that will make a difference but other than that... I am pretty stuck. Noah went through a phase, I am hoping it is that and she will snap out of it if we don't make it a big deal. If any of you have any tricks or experience with stubborn toddlers who won't eat their dinner... feel free to throw a little advice or a few tips this way. I would greatly appreciate it.

Love
x Maria x

Beauty. Stillness. Inspiration.

As I mentioned in this post HERE, on Friday evening my little bunch and I went for a little stroll along the beach in Herne Bay. It was such a hot day so after we had all boiled ourselves, I thought it would be a good idea to chase a possible sea breeze and cool down. 

So that is what we did. We didn't get there until about half past seven in the evening. Even though it was still super humid, there was the occasional breeze which was very welcome.

We grabbed a couple of bag of chips and went and sat on the beach. I just love the beach when the weather is nice. Everybody is so friendly, everybody smiles at each other, people are walking there dogs, children for some reason are allowed to stay up late and enjoy the experience, a bag of chips become an acceptable meal followed by an ice cream as you walk along. Lovely!

I also really enjoy watching the sun set at the beach... I got some pretty beautiful pictures even if I do say so myself.



 If this makes any sense at all, the beach can be so noisy, a hustle and bustle... but there is also a very peaceful silence surrounding it. Appreciation. Beauty. Stillness. Inspiration. 



I love the freedom of the beach. The freedom to just be. The freedom for the children to run and play, unable to come to any real harm or any real danger. The freedom to just be children. Enquisitive. Curious. Innocent. 




It is a happy place. A special place. A place I love. A place where I can exist with my absolute favourite people in the whole wide world. A place of reminder, that to the world they may just be numbers but to me they are the world.





We did have a little walk through the arcades which the children enjoyed very much and as we left, the setting sun was shying away from the aggressive clouds of a brewing storm. 



As we drove home, we were driving through the beginning of what turned out to be quite a magnificent one. It was simply beautiful.

Lots of Love
x Maria x

Friday, 18 July 2014

Heat Wave.....

Today has been LOOOOOOOONG! I went off to work as the sun was still burning off any haze but by the time I got there, the sun was shining bright. My Sister and I have literally cooked ourselves today in our shop. It has quite honestly been a task to stay upright and/or awake. At one point I found myself laying on some uniform packaging on our office floor as the coolness slightly... VERY slightly resembled the cold part of your pillow at night. That is not normal behaviour!!!

Needless to say, by the time half past four came around we were hurtling ourselves out of the door and shouting "I'll be back on Monday!!!!". Earlier on in the day, I made a very organised and specific trip to Tesco... to buy birthday cards and the ingredients for tonights meal. I returned back, boiled and feeling half dead and popped my ingredients in the work fridge (Yes, I was incredibly tempted to climb in there with it!). So when I was throwing myself out of the door in a frenzy to pick Ellenah up from her Aunties and Noah up from his Nan's... I forgot my very precious bag of shopping. I realised too late and considering my body was about to call things quits on me, I thought sod it... I'm taking the kids to the beach where we will eat a bag of chips and ice-cream. 

None of us are particularly hungry today... the heat has seen to that!!! I'm pretty sure my 'Vegetarian Week' meal of 'Creamy Asparagus And Pea Pasta' wouldn't be appreciated, so I thought to myself... the weather wins once again. We will hit the arcades and go for a swim while we are there. Everything in moderation I guess!

I didn't completely give up however. Before we went, I made myself a rather healthy snack that I have become quite recently obsessed with.


Ryvita With Hot Salsa And Avocado(Sprinkled With Black Pepper)


This snack is quite surprisingly very filling and I find it so satisfying. It is no secret how much I love avocado and its health benefits. It is an amazing source of protein and they contain many vitamins and minerals which we struggle to get in our diets. I would definitely recommend this wonderful snack, you should try it.

What healthy snacks do you like the most?

Love
x maria x


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Hooray... The Circus Is Coming!!!



Not too long ago on a walk back home from Faversham Town, Noah noticed a rather bright, colourful poster stuck on an empty shop window. The poster was informing us that a travelling circus was going to be nearby. Very excitedly, Noah jumped with joy and asked, scrap that... pleaded for me to take him. Unfortunately, the poster was months out of date so I had to say no. Noah understood but feeling quite obviously upset about it, he hung his head.

For some reason, this particularly upset me. My children are most definitely not spoilt... they don't go without either but more importantly, they are not spoilt children at all. I think I felt frustrated that I couldn't say, "In a few days Noah, we will go..." because I didn't know when the circus would be back.

I could feel his desperation to go and his need to experience all of the complete wonders of the circus... I really wanted him to have that. So, I said to him, "Noah, the next time that I know of a circus visiting, we will definitely go... I promise I will take you as a treat!!"

And Like magic, the idea of 'someday' was enough to turn Noah's frown upside down. 

So yesterday, I felt very excited to find out that 'Billy Smarts Circus' was going to be visiting our neck of the woods. They are visiting Mote Park in Maidstone between the 15th-20th July, Canterbury, Kingsmead 22nd-27th July and Radnor Park in Folkestone 29th July- 3rd August... How exciting?! I just wanted to share the information in case any of you want to take your little Darlings for a smashing evening out at the circus. I know I can not wait to go now... The look on Noah's face will be priceless.



If you follow the link, you will see that it looks like a pretty marvellous show. I am looking forward to seeing 'The flying Aces' which is a flying trapeze act and 'Caroline' who is a solo trapeze act, she sounds rather graceful even if she will be swinging and twisting around above the circus ring. I think that Noah is going to love love love 'The Asadullin Troupe' who use a specially constructed seesaw to propel each other high up in the air. Ooooooh, I feel a bit nervous just thinking about it. 


Can you keep a secret... Noah doesn't know a thing about it?!!! I honestly can not wait to see the look on his face...

If you manage to get there, I hope you have a great time!! I know we will. Sorry to those who this post doesn't apply to. If you read my blog regularly, first of all thank you!! secondly, you will know just how little Noah ever asks for so hopefully you will understand why I am so excited. I also hope that you too have some wonderful things to look forward to.

Love
x Maria x  

A Welcome Treat In Vegetarian Week...

Vegetarian Week, Day Three

Homemade Margherita Pizza




I am pretty much LOVING vegetarian week so far. Not only do I feel great but I am really looking forward to cooking our family meals each night. However, for tonights meal, I thought I would do something quite basic and something that the children would recognise and eat without any questions or fuss. 

I have been no stranger in the past to rely on frozen, supermarket pizza's for the nights where I have to mad dash the children from the school run, home for dinner to go straight back out again for Noah's swimming lesson. Or in fact the evenings where I have worked the whole day, I then have to zoom to pick up Noah from his Nan's while Matt leaves work and has to collect Ellenah from nursery just to meet me back at home at around quarter past six... and dinner hasn't even been started. You know what???? I'm pretty sure, after I practise a couple of times and get this meal down to a fine art.... I could have this meal prepared by the time the oven has finished preheating!!! 

And it tastes a million times better and is MUCH healthier.


I used...


300g Super Strong Bread Flour
1 tsp Easy Bake Yeast
1 tbs Salt
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
100ml Tomato Passata 
Generous Handful Of Fresh Basil
2 Garlic Cloves
Handful Cherry Tomatoes
A Large Serving of Mozzerella

First I preheated the oven to 240C/Fan 220C/ Gas 8. I literally sieved the flour into a large bowl, added the yeast and salt and mixed it all up. I then made a dip in the centre of the mix, poured in 200ml of warm water and the oil. I folded it all in to make a soft, moist dough. I popped it on to a light floured surface and kneaded it for about 3-5 minutes. I then smoothed it in to a ball and popped a clean tea towel over it.



I then mixed up the roughly chopped basil, finely chopped garlic and passata in a bowl to make the pizza sauce. I left that to sit at room temperature. 



I then gave the dough a quick knead, split it in two and rolled each one out on a light floured surface. I rolled them out fairly thin (My preference) keeping in mind they will rise a tad in the oven. As soon as I got them right, I popped them on round pizza trays and I spread the sauce over them. The first one (for the children) I just added mozzarella and to the second one, I added mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. I bunged these in the oven for 10minutes, until slightly golden and crisp. I served the children's up then added some more fresh basil to ours with an  extra dash of olive oil. Job done!!!!




Scores...

Matt 9/10

Noah 9/10

Ellenah 4/10 (Miss Bella Roo is super fussy at the moment... I think it is the heat unfortunately. On a different day I know she would like this though.

Me 9/10

Conclusion...

What a hit?!!! Who knew something as simple as pizza could be so satisfying??? I will definitely be making this again and again. Now I have tasted how amazing a homemade pizza can be, I will NEVER buy a frozen, supermarket one ever again. Noah literally wanted more and more and Matt has put in a standing order for the next batch. Result!!

Also, I thought I should say, I ended up making four pizza's in total tonight! Matt thought it was so nice that he politely requested some to take to work for lunch tomorrow... Noah soon picked up on what was happening and asked for some in his packed lunch too. I am most definitely popular in my house tonight!

Love 
x Maria x 

Green Breakfast Smoothie....


As I mentioned in my Vlog and Blog yesterday... I have been totally run down. So along with my 'vegetarian week' I thought I would get myself back on track with making smoothies too. I have been eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables but I tend to have more in drink form. So yesterday, I woke up, got ready and got myself in the kitchen to prepare a delicious and super healthy smoothie to start the day off right.


I used....


Large portion of pineapple
A handful of Strawberries
Coconut Water
Half of a cucumber
A large handful of spinach
A banana
Two tablespoons of flaxseed

I literally chopped it all down in to small chunks, popped it all in my blender and whizzed that bad boy in to a beverage. It was just sweet enough and didn't taste too... erm...'Green'!!! If you really want it sweeter, you could add slightly more fruit or your could use a natural sweetener. If you follow my guidelines... The flavour is rather subtle. Also, I find this smoothie quite filling and really didn't feel hungry after for a couple of hours.





I was quite surprised that Matt tried it... and liked it! he was a little put off by the 'bits' that are in it but he really isn't used to smoothies, he will probably get used to it. It wasn't that bad that it would be a problem. He enjoyed the taste a lot which is the most important thing.


Noah also had some of 'Hulks Drink'... (Shhhhhhhhh!)... Every time he took a sip, he peeked at his arms to see if he was 'Buff' yet, ha ha ha. It was a really nice feeling sending him off to school with a tummy full of goodness. He must have thought it was Christmas- Wheetos and Hulks Drink... winner!!! In all fairness, it must have been good because he came back for a second lot.


Scores...

Matt /10

Noah /10

Ellenah /10 (Miss Bella Roo would not entertain the idea of trying a 'green' drink and I didn't push it. She may change her mind as she grows.

Me 9/10

Conclusion...

This smoothie could very easily become a breakfast staple in our house. It is very simple to prepare and it made me feel good immediately. Yes, a lot of that would be in my mind but i'm pretty sure that sometimes that is half of the battle. It felt so good that Noah liked it and would happily drink it again.

What smoothies do you like? 

Love
x Maria x


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Quinoa Salad With Grilled Halloumi....


Vegetarian Week, Day Two...



Tonight I made a warm quinoa salad with grilled halloumi. All new things for all of us to be honest. We have never tried halloumi or quinoa... thinking about it, what did I actually eat when I was a vegetarian? I most certainly wasn't this mindful of what I was putting in to my body before.

I Used...


1 Red Onion (Finely Chopped)
1 Red Pepper (sliced) 
1 Large Clove Of Garlic (Finely Chopped)
250g Quinoa 
500g Vegetable Stock
Roughly Chopped Bunch of Parsley
Zest And Juice Of 1 Lemon
250g Sliced Halloumi 

This was another easy meal to make really. First I sliced and grilled the red pepper for about 15 minutes while I soaked the quinoa. I then fried the onion, garlic and the pepper all together. While this was cooking, I made up 500g of vegetable stock. I then added the drained off quinoa to the onion mix and let that cook for about 2 minutes. I then added the stock and half of the chopped parsley. I let this cook through for about 15 minutes until the quinoa was soft. Meanwhile, I heated the grill and popped the sliced halloumi in. After about 7 minutes, be sure to flip them over to cook the other side. Next, in a small bowl I grated the lemon, Cut it in to quarters and squeezed all of the juice in to it. I added 2 tablespoons of oil and the rest of the parsley to make a dressing. Beep, Beep, Beep went the oven!!! I then dished the quuinoa on to plates, popped the halloumi on the top and drizzled on the dressing. Done!







I have to say, when I make this again I will use extra virgin olive oil, a mix of lemon and lime (because limes I believe, are slightly better for you) and I will ditch the halloumi. I would have to think of something to replace it with. Maybe I would use grilled courgette    or maybe roasted butternut squash. This exact recipe is a winner if you like halloumi... We as a family just didn't seem to get on with it and the smell when I was cooking it made me feel a little queasy. The rest of it was delicious though so I will definitely make it again.

Scores...

Matt 7/10
Noah 5/10
Ellenah 3/10
Me 6/10

Conclusion...
I think with a couple of changes, this could be a really nice meal. I would like to have more vegetables in it really, then I think I would be happy and could happily rely on this meal in our collection.

Do you have any recommendations that I could replace halloumi with at all?

Love 
x Maria x