Tag Archives: health

Tuna, Spinach and Potato Salad

So, I am sheepishly adding this distinctly non-vegetarian recipe to the blog because it genuinely is so tasty and is one of the first meals I ever invented. Generally I don’t eat much fish but sometimes I just can’t resist. Steak? Don’t get the big fuss over it at all. Chicken? Way too paranoid about food poisoning to ever truly enjoy it. Pork? My history teacher once told me that this is what human flesh tastes like so….no. Bacon? Oh okay, you got me there. Like a big fat walking cliche, bacon is a temptation that is truly a struggle to resist. But there is just something about fish, it makes me feel healthy. Even if my so-called healthy dinners are followed by ice cream or, er, an entire week’s worth of advent calendar chocolate.

Am I the only one who just isn’t very good at the whole Christmas thing? I am keeping up the festive charade for the sake of Ivy, bless her greedy present-obsessed little heart, but if it were up to me I would gladly trade Christmas for an entire year of summertime instead. Yesterday I decided to buy an expensive Christmas candle off Amazon in an attempt to feel less Scrooge-like but I accidentally ordered it to our old house address in totally different city and by the time I emailed the seller to change the address they had already dispatched it, so the new tenants are going to be receiving a nice little Christmas gift from old Scrooge over here. That certainly didn’t help my Christmas cheer!

But I AM good at buying presents. Well, I am shit at buying presents for friends and family (not as bad as my boyfriend who, 2 years ago, kindly bought me an M&M dispenser and a book by someone he knows I hate) but when it comes to kids toys, I am in the zone. Where I lack in genuine festive spirit, I make up for in genuine materialistic consumerism. And I am definitely not alone there, right?!

Luckily, it seems that Ivy is more of a festive soul than myself – as evidenced by the fact that she spotted these in Tesco a few days ago and has pretty much refused to take them off since. Look how CASUAL she is about it, like this has been her life’s calling all along:

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So seeing her young and innocent enthusiasm for the holiday as made me a little more determined to muster up some myself this year. This weekend will be spent Christmas tree decorating, mince pie making, watching A Muppets Christmas Carol (the superior Christmas film, I can no longer watch Home Alone without thinking about that tragic bee sting scene in My Girl…URGH see how bad I am at this?!) and going to a kids Christmas disco on Sunday, which also happens to be her daddy’s birthday. Maybe I’ll get him drunk and convince him to sit on Santa’s lap and request a present. Nothing could get me in the holiday mood more than seeing that. 

This salad is a great lunch or a good side dish to a homemade pizza or something. Does Pizza Express exist in the US? If not, I am sure any fairly creamy salad dressing would taste just as good.

Tuna, spinach and potato salad (serves 4)

185g tin of tuna in spring water, drained and separated with a fork

1/2 red pepper and 1/2 orange pepper, chopped

50g green beans

6-8 new potatoes, sliced

200g bag baby leaf spinach, washed

Pizza Express light olive oil dressing

Bring pan of water to boil and add new potatoes and green beans, simmer until tender. Place the spinach in a salad bowl, mix in the peppers and tuna, then add the potatoes and green beans on top. Drizzle with salad dressing and serve as a side to dinner or a slice of warm ciabatta bread for lunch.

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So, terrible meal for a true vegetarian, delicious meal for the rest of us flakes.

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Vegetable Couscous Salad

2 recipes posted in under a week? If you are guessing that I must have something really important to do, and that this is the perfect form of procrastination – then indeed you are right. This is pretty mild procrastination compared to the lengths of my desperation yesterday. I actually entered myself into this month long novel-writing challenge and while I should have been analysing identity theory, I was in my own fantasy world writing pages and pages about an impending apocalypse. I have serious issues when it comes to work motivation.

This recipe is SO easy but I know when it comes to new lunch ideas for kiddos that it is always useful to find a new meal. Ivy is admittedly a fantastic eater but she seems to usually reserve all her open-mindedness for dinner. While I am cooking dinner she is usually so desperate for food that I can get her to literally eat anything. I’m not even kidding. This kid snacks on raw pepper and spinach like its chocolate spread on ice cream. What kind of toddler does that? But when it comes to lunch, she is usually strictly a scrambled-eggs-and-toast kinda gal. A few days ago we had almost nothing in the kitchen and due to my inability to cope with a minor cold, I was still in pyjamas and didn’t fancy venturing out the house, so I came up with this. And it was surprisingly incredibly tasty, made even more enjoyable by watching Ivy shovel down huge chunks of raw tomato and cucumber. You could add anything to this salad, I would have added some chopped parsley or coriander if it weren’t for the still-in-pyjamas issue, and I was going to add  black olives but Ivy was getting so stressed out watching me try to open the jar for 15 minutes that I decided it was best for all of us if I just gave up.

Anyway, this is a yum recipe and would make a good side dish to a dinner of falafel, pitta and tzatziki.

Vegetable Couscous Salad (serves 2)

150g couscous

300ml vegetable stock

1/4 large cucumber, cut into chunks

1-2 salad tomatoes, de-seeded and cut into chunks

1 teaspoon cumin

A dash of lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pour the stock on the couscous, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until soft. Combine the rest of the ingredients and serve.

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Evidence (the serious look on her face means she is enjoying it):

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Right, back to the apocalypse.

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Mushroom and Cherry Tomato Ragu

The U.K does not know how to celebrate Halloween properly. Every year, I watch Hocus Pocus approximately 10 times and totally forget that such a quaint and wholesome (minus the witches and zombies) Halloween doesn’t exist here. Sigh. Growing up in South West London, in a wealthy area filled with American families, I got to sample how Halloween SHOULD be. Grottos, street parties, kids overdosing on sugar in uncomfortable masks and cheap witches hats – unfortunately where we live now is not quite the same. On the upside, Ivy had a great time and has subsequently spent today saying ‘trick or treat’ instead of ‘hello’ to everyone she meets. Poor kid doesn’t realised that me and her daddy demolished half her sweet collection while she was sleeping last night – I was thinking about her teeth OKAY???

The funnest part for me is always the pumpkin carving. This year me and my boyfriend were in slight competition as per usual. I obviously won. I needn’t even say which one is mine.

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(But just in case my confidence is a little over-stated and deluded, its the one on the left)

I really wanted to come up with some amazing pumpkin inspired recipe but if I am being completely honest, I just don’t like pumpkin very much. Plus the whole pumpkin carving process was so stressful and treacherous that I had no desire to eat the damn thing once I  was done. When it comes to happy holiday celebrations, I am still learning. Upon second reading, I also realise that this contradicts with my previous statement proclaiming my love of pumpkin carving. But isn’t love stressful and treacherous sometimes? Bit of philosophical thinking for ya there.

So instead I came up this. I have only started liking and eating mushrooms recently. This is a very big deal for me, suddenly being a healthy vegetarian is so much easier! Plus, mushrooms are cheap. And really really tasty. I don’t know what I was thinking all these years.

Mushroom and Cherry Tomato Ragu (serves 4)

250g chesnut mushrooms, sliced

A handful of shiitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced

1 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 celery sticks, diced

150g cherry tomatoes, halved

Sugar

1 can chopped tomatoes

Tablespoon of tomato paste

Worcester sauce

100ml white wine

Handful of basil leaves, torn

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 200c. In a baking tray, lay out the halved cherry tomatoes, season with a little sugar, salt and pepper and a few glugs of olive oil and leave aside.

In a heavy based pan, heat oil. Add the onion and fry until softened, then adding the garlic, celery and mushrooms, cooking for a further 3-4 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, then adding the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, then simmer, adding the worcester sauce and a teaspoon of sugar.

Once the sauce is simmering, put the cherry tomatoes in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes then remove from oven. Carry on simmering the ragu sauce until it is quite thick, then stir in the tomatoes and heat for a few minutes. Serve on buttery spaghetti and add the basil leaves to garnish.

Here is this entry’s slightly more attractive photo:

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Thai Coconut Noodle Soup

Wow, I have been really crappy at keeping up with this blog. That is not to say that we have been eating crap this whole time, just that settling in in Brighton/festivals/enjoying the last of the summer has taken up my time. There isn’t a lot to report, aside from a lot of time watching Ivy go up and down those tacky slides they have along all English seafronts, buying a really expensive bell tent at last minute because the thought of festival-ing with our little shitty two man tent made me want to cry, and watching Ivy grow into a chatty little madam who is impartial to the odd poo joke every now and then.Image

So I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago and was surprised by how delicious it was. I made the mistake of using reduced fat coconut milk though so had to send Dom out on an emergency trip to buy creamed coconut as it just tasted too watery. You could also use a different thai paste if panang is too spicy for your liking, I am practicing the ‘forcing your child into having high spice tolerance’ style of parenting.

1 tablespoon oil (I use groundnut)

150g tenderstem broccoli, stalks chopped off

100g baby corn, halved

A few shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 head bok choy

1.5-2 tablespoons of a thai paste of your choice, I used panang

1 tin of coconut milk

150ml water

1 teaspoon of palm sugar

Thai fish sauce

150g noodles – I used sharwoods ‘straight to wok’ noodles but only because my crappy local tesco didn’t supply rice noodles

A bunch of chopped coriander

Heat oil in the pan and add paste and a splash of the coconut milk and stir fry until aromatic. Add the chopped vegetables, the rest of the coconut milk and water, a few dashes of fish sauce and the palm sugar and simmer for half an hour, adding more water if it begins to thicken too much. Add noodles and simmer for a further 5 minutes then remove from heat, stir through chopped coriander and serve.

Voila.

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Lentil Lasagne

I just wrote a very long and detailed entry about all that we have been upto over this month, and then accidentally pressed the backspace and the entire thing was wiped out. I literally said ‘NOOOOOO’ in the most film-ish way. Why is it so easy to delete a new post? Can’t you be more like hotmail and ask me if I’m sure that I want to leave the page? I can’t believe I am wanting anything to be more like crappy hotmail, but there you go.

So because I simply do not have the will to type out everything again, here are the keywords from the post: last minute camping trip, late nights, unpacking, toddler tantrums and huge argument with psychotic neighbour. Maybe I should just write all my entries like this, to save myself any future backspace accidents. I fear I may break my laptop in some kind of hasty vengeance next time.

I am going to be frank; I really hate making lasagne. There is too much chopping, frying, baking and subsequently washing up for my liking, but because it tastes so good every couple of months I finally stop being so lame and make one. This is the first time I used lentils in one and my boyfriend was very hesitant, but the entire dish was completely annihilated and he said he would have happily eaten double the amount which is probably a good sign. I used merchant gourmet puy lentils but to be honest, it seemed like a shame to add them to a sauce when they already taste to delicious on their own, so next time I would probably just use regular canned lentils. You could use dried too, but only if you have more patience than I do because cooking dried lentils takes waaaaaayyy longer than my brain will allow me to wait.

Lentil Lasagne (serves 3-4)

250g puy lentils

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato puree

100ml red wine (optional – depending on how comfortable you are with putting alcohol in your child’s food. I personally am borderline TOO-relaxed)

1 red onion, finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1-2 carrots, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

1 bay leaf

Approx. six lasagne sheets, soaked in warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

Pepper, to taste

Grated cheese (I use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)

For the white sauce:

25g butter

25 flour

300ml milk

A handful of grated cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 200c. Heat olive oil in a pan and add onion, gently fry for 2 or 3 minutes. Add garlic, pepper, celery and carrots and cook gently for a further ten minutes. Add the red wine if using and turn up to a high heat for a few minutes, then add tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, sugar, lentils and black pepper and turn down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan and stir in flour to form a paste. Remove from the heat and stir in milk slowly, to avoid forming lumps. Put back onto the heat and bring to a boil and then down to a simmer. Add cheese if using and continue stirring until smooth.

In a pie or baking dish, make a thin layer of the lentil sauce, put lasagne sheets on top (you will probably have to break them up into pieces to spread evenly across) and add a generous layer of white sauce. Repeat until you are at the top of the dish – will probably make 3 layers. On the top layer, add white sauce and then sprinkle with cheese.

Put the dish in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until you can put a knife through and feel that the lasagne sheets are soft and cooked, and the cheese on top has browned. Serve with salad or vegetables.

Boring post, but TELL ME THIS DOESNT LOOK DELICIOUS:

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And proof that it wasn’t just the adults in the house who had second helpings:
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Chickpea Fajitas

Yep, chickpeas again.

My ability to stay calm when a sense of urgency is really necessary is a truly well-honed skill. In a couple of days we are moving all the way from Bristol to Brighton, and on top of that today was Ivy’s birthday, I have a uni assignment due in and I also seem to have caught whatever diseases Ivy has decided to pass onto me this week. Colds, by the way, do not seem to be helped by traipsing around in the rain for over an hour while Ivy is pushed around on her new scooter like some kind of queen of the world:

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Dom took Ivy away to his parent’s for 5 days so I can “get us organised” and what do I do? Go to London for two days, come back to Bristol with a chronic hangover and spend the next 2 nights watching 90s teen horror films and sobbing a little bit when thinking about how much I miss Ivy. I am so shit.

It is kind of impossible for me to think about how much we have to do over this weekend without feeling a little like I am about to have a heart attack, so instead I have decided not to bother tidying up Ivy’s birthday crap because it’ll all be going into boxes anyway, and am currently eating the face off of Ivy’s caterpillar cake. So the last few days of living in our lovely house will be spent in a room looking like this:

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Of course, I left the present-wrapping and balloon-inflating until last minute as well so had to make a quick and easy dinner that didn’t require venturing out into the rain and buying ingredients (seriously England, what the fuck? Its July!). Because I was using what was in my kitchen, I replaced soured cream with half fat creme fraiche which was just as delicious. I also made my own seasoning using this recipe:http://cookingtipoftheday.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/recipe-fajita-seasoning.html but replaced the chicken stock cube with a vegetable stock cube. Ivy likes a bit of spice but you can obviously adjust the amount of chilli and cayenne powder depending on how much of a badass your kid is.

Chickpea Fajitas (2 adults, 1 kid)

5-6 flour tortillas

1 packet of fajita seasoning or homemade seasoning from link above

2 peppers (I used green and yellow)

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

1 onion, sliced

Soured cream or creme fraiche

Salsa

Avocado, diced

Heat oil in a pan and add onion for a few minutes until it starts to soften, then add the peppers, chickpeas and seasoning and cook until the chickpeas have softened. Serve with the cream, salsa and avocado and a big side salad and sweet potato wedges.

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Stewed Apple with Manuka Honey

So I have a poorly Ivy this week. I hate seeing her feel rubbish but hey, its an excuse to stay in pyjamas and watch Peter Pan on the laptop so Ivy is coping, little soldier

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It is so tough when they aren’t old enough to verbalise how they are feeling, but going by the fact that she had a temperature last night, a little puke and has been refusing to eat any solid foods today I am guessing that she has some kind of throat infection. Feeding her a cup a soup (her first full sentence today was ‘more soup please’, after saying ‘more please soup’ about 5 times) I just NEEDED to get some vitamins into her, watch her gulp down those horrid salty crappy tasting soups was painful for me.

So I decided to make some stewed apple, then remembered the manuka honey sitting in my cupboard, unused after all those months ago when my mum called me repeatedly and barked the health benefits at me until I finally relented and bought a jar to appease her. Apparently manuka honey is great for healing wounds, sore throats and other general cold and flu symptoms. Usually, I am a bit skeptical of anything that claims to miraculously heal you and make you live to 100 when the prices are usually insanely high, but I figured it was worth a try and it would probably make the stew taste a little nicer anyway.

Here is the very simple recipe. It feels like kind of a waste of a post but given that I haven’t cooked anything for 2 days it was either this or instructions on how to boil water and stir it into soup mix.

Stewed Apple with Manuka Honey (serves 2)

2 dessert apples; I used pink ladies

1 teaspoon cinnamon

15g raisins

1 tablespoon manuka honey

75ml water

Peel and core apple and chop into small cubes. Place the apple in a small saucepan and add the rest of the ingredients, stir, cover and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until very soft and mushy, stirring occasionally. Next time I make this, I think I’ll try sprinkling some oats and adding a dollop of greek honey and the end, so I can trick myself into thinking I’m eating apple pie.

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It went down well

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As a side note, has anyone else watched Peter Pan recently? I don’t remember him being such an asshole, geez.

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