Raspberry, Pineapple and Kale Smoothies

I should preface this by saying, in this smoothie, you can’t taste the kale. I can confirm based on the fact my children will drink it and one of them doesn’t like green vegetables; the other doesn’t like any vegetables. When my kids are asking for ice lollies constantly, it’s a good, healthy replacement. If you use lots of frozen fruit, it makes a slushy type of consistency that they can eat with a spoon. This recipe is more the consistency of juice. You can also freeze it in lolly moulds to make ice lollies.

Ingredients

1 frozen banana
handful of frozen raspberries
small handful of pineapple
handful of kale
apple/pineapple juice to just cover the fruit and veg.

Method

Add a frozen banana broken in two and a handful of frozen raspberries or other berries to the bottom of a blender. Place pineapple and kale on top and fill with juice until it just covers the ingredients. Blend until smooth.

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Courgette Cake/ Zucchini Bread Recipe

Today I was in the mood for some baking and I recently remembered I used to make zucchini bread and how addictive it is. It sounds strange but the courgettes cook down into a treacly consistency, so it just tastes like a sweet, caramel-type cake. I decided to make two loaves since this always goes down well in our house.

(Makes two cakes.)

Ingredients

3 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil
3 tsps. vanilla extract
2 cups of grated courgettes

Method

Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon, backing powder and bicarb of soda together. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla extract. Combine the wet and dry ingredients well. Add the grated courgettes and mix well. Put in two greased loaf tins. Cook at 160c for 45 minutes, covering with tin foil halfway through to stop the top getting too crispy.

Difficult Weeks and Simple Distractions

This week has been really draining. My daughter broke her finger and had to get an operation yesterday, so I decided after two days of waiting in hospitals, we were due a relaxing day in the house. My sister had sent us a fairy garden to assemble, so we decided to put it together. I had to improvise and steal soil from other plants, but we managed to get enough to hold it together. My daughter enjoyed planting the grass seeds and assembling the little house. There was a pebble path to add, a washing line, little figures and fairy dust. It’s a good way to gently spend the day when you’ve had a taxing week. I’m a firm believer in the power of crafts to get you through difficult situations. Every time I’m feeling low, I try to create something positive out of it. Then, when you look back on the situation, you aren’t left with only negatives – you have made something worthwhile because of it. Even if it is just something to decorate your house with, a way to entertain your kids or some treats to enjoy in the house, it helps lighten the atmosphere around you.

It looks like we will be having a quiet few weeks while my daughter is recovering and her hand is out of use, and I plan to use it as an excuse to do all the projects I put off. I learned recently that drawing while my kids are awake is a good way to get their attention. They always want to get involved and draw their own pictures of the same things/ help to colour in. I think returning to activities that require creativity and the use of your hands are a good way of stripping everything back and removing your stress. Too often we are absorbed by electrical devices and forget about what’s important. Even though the last couple of days have been so tiring, sometimes events like that put everything into perspective and you realise the time you typically waste on useless worries.

Easy Chicken & Coconut Curry with Sticky Rice

I threw this together today and it was surprising good for how easy it is to make. I usually cook a roast chicken and then divide it up into different tubs, freezing some, so it’s ready to use when I need it. Shockingly, my kids admitted to liking this – probably because it is such a mild curry and the coconut milk makes it sweet. The rice is so easy and cheap to make and goes with everything. I just use the value range long grain rice.

(Serves two – or add more chicken and mushrooms/rice to stretch it further.)

Ingredients

Curry

1/2 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
oil
2 heaped tsps curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can of coconut milk
handful of chopped mushrooms
handful of cooked chicken
handful of chopped cashew nuts
handful of coriander and more to garnish

Rice

1 cup of long grain white rice
salt
boiled water

Method

To make the curry, fry a chopped onion with crushed garlic in oil. When it turns clear, add the curry powder, black pepper and mushrooms. Stir until coated and mushrooms cooked. Add the tin of coconut milk. Bring the heat down to a simmer. Add the chicken and coriander. Cook on a low heat for twenty minutes.

For the rice, add 1/2 a cup of rice per person. Add double the amount of boiled water, add salt and cover with lid. Cook on a very low heat for 20-25 minutes. Don’t stir, but check intermittently to make sure the water hasn’t all been absorbed. It will clump together like sticky rice when cooked this way so you don’t need to drain it. Add some more coriander at the end to make the dish look pretty 🙂

Garden Blackberry Picking

I never used to notice much around me, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to observe my surroundings the last few years. I tend to get lost in my thoughts and forget to pay attention to things. If you’re having a hard time and getting stuck in your own mind, it’s good to take some time to notice the simple things around you. A few days ago, I was walking outside in my mum-trance to put something in the bin. Then I noticed in the hedges in my garden that there were lots of blackberries growing. I got the girls to help me pick them, which they loved. They devoured them in seconds and seemed to enjoy them more because of the novelty of picking them themselves. I was really excited because I usually successfully end the life of every plant in my vicinity. I have a strawberry plant that has only produced two strawberries this summer, so that made up for our strawberry drought. (Unless my kids are eating them without my awareness.) Sometimes when you’re racing around, trying to do too much, it’s worth taking the time to slow down or sit with a cup of tea in the garden and not to allow yourself to think thoughts other than observational ones about your surroundings. If you don’t, you might miss something small that makes your day salvageable.

No Spend Days with Kids

I try to have no spend days regularly to make up for days when I’ve overspent, for example, at vintage fairs and other such dangerous places. Visits to shops are the main thing I strive to avoid. When I walk into a shop for one thing I tend to come out with fifteen, so it’s safer to avoid them altogether. Sometimes I like having days where we just do simple things and life is stripped back, and my kids get to have an old fashioned childhood. So, today we baked a coconut cake and had a family day. I put on old jazz/blues and let them follow me round the kitchen. I think it’s good to start young with child labour so they help to do the dishes too. I think my daughter’s favourite activity at the moment is vacuuming the house. It even makes her carefully pick up her toys because she’s scared of them getting sucked up the hoover 😃
The girls have one of those fold-out art sets that takes over the kitchen table (and the floor) so they get it out and we do art together at the table/ have a pretend cafe.
I got a milk frother online a while ago, and some flavoured syrups so I can make the girls babyccinos when I have coffee. I just put some syrup in foamy milk and sprinkle some hot chocolate powder on top. Making my house cosy, lighting candles and putting on calm music might be my favourite things to do that don’t involve spending money.
I’ve realised recently that the main reason I like going out for coffee is because of the atmosphere in a coffee shop. But if you can create that at home, you are less likely to go out for coffee as often. Although, it doesn’t combat cabin fever, so for my sanity we still walked two miles and went to the park. There was some whining but the pay off was that my kids were both soundly asleep by seven. (Long may it last.)

Cheap Minestrone Soup

This is my “I can’t be arsed going to the shops” recipe. It’s a good way to use up leftover vegetables and pasta too. I always keep frozen vegetables in the house so I can make healthy meals without having to go out and buy fresh stuff first. My kids mostly just pick the pasta out of this, eating around everything that is a vegetable/could be posing as a vegetable – but with their fussiness levels, that is to be expected. You can use any veg you like. It’s good with a mixture of root veg/greens/pulses.

Ingredients

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots
1 potato
2 large mushrooms
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
900ml veg stock
Two handfuls of random pasta shapes
Broccoli/frozen green veg
Large handful of peas/beans
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Generous shake of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Fry garlic, onion, chopped carrots, potatoes, mushrooms (all fresh veg) in oil until onions are clear. Add tin of tomatoes and stock, herbs/seasoning and cook on medium heat for 15 mins. Add pasta and lower heat. Add frozen veg and beans/peas for last few minutes. Allow it to cook until thickened and flavours developed. This is good with homemade bread and cheese sprinkled on top.