Monday, 28 April 2014

Pasta Salad for the Whole Family

Pasta salad is one of those things you can use any old stuff in.  Leftover cooked chicken?  Marvellous.  Tuna?  Equally at home.  Well I'd picked up an avocado which was actually ripe (unheard of so of course it was down to 20p and 'reduced for quick sale'!)  I would have loved some guacamole and maybe I'll use the other half for that but I had nothing to serve it with so a pasta salad it was.  It's a great way to squeeze in fruit and vegetables which your child might not ordinarily try.

I should have made this during my week of eating 7 fruits and vegetables a day!  A surprising hit with my youngster who's normally a bit of a salad dodger.  Substitute the dressing for mayonnaise or a mayo / yogurt mix if you prefer.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Living below the line

Unfortunately due to personal circumstances (moving house for the 2nd time in 2 weeks) I won't get to take part in the 'live below the line' challenge this year but I thought I would tell you about it and tell you why it deserves your attention.

1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty in the world.  1.2 BILLION that's over 15% of the world population.  The live below the line challenge is to try and experience, and raise money for people who live in extreme poverty by only spending £1 a day on food and drink.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Baked Onion Rings

Onion rings, love them but don't love the oiliness.  I'm not some health freak but I can feel my arteries hardening as I eat!  These are cunningly baked so much less fatty!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Weetabix Cake

Weetabix cake?  Am I serious?  Well I'd been trying different ways of using cereals quite a bit recently what with rice krispies with mackerel but I'd never found a way of using them in cakes like I had with bran loaf.  Shreddies seemed promising but were a bit of a failure when I gave them a go.  Who knew Weetabix would work?

This tastes similar to my bran loaf, loads of fibre, sweet whilst being low in added sugar, dairy free fat free and lovely with a pot of tea!

Weetabix cake

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Pesto Crusted Fish

Bored of fish pie?  Want something interesting with fish and kid friendly?  This is a way to introduce a different flavour to white fish and great if your kids are less keen on fish without some kind of disguise.  Very quick and thrifty to prepare too.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Chocolate Custard (low sugar)

Custard.  I never make it from scratch but I do make it from custard powder.  It occurred to me when making some custard from custard powder the other day that custard powder is simply cornflour (cornstarch) natural flavouring (vanilla) and colour (normally a natural colour like annatto).  I don't have much annatto floating around the house and there feels like something wrong about making white custard even though that's the colour it would be if not made with eggs, so my idea was to make chocolate custard.

This would be great hot with chocolate cake, poured over banana (if you want to keep on my 7 a day routine), on it's own or allowed to cool in small pots and eaten cold like blancmange.  It's pretty low sugar too with only 1 tsp added sugar per portion.  There's more sugar in a fromage frais!

Chocolate custard

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

7 a day challenge - Day 7

Today was the last day of my challenge to eat 7 portions of fruit and vegetables in 7 days.


I started the day with my fruity toast (like I had on day 5).  Delicious.


I was with a visitor at work today so I had a buffet from the canteen.  For all my criticism earlier in the week, they didn't let me down, the fruit platter saved the day.  It was served with orange juice as well on the side and every sandwich had a salad garnish and coleslaw inside.  I easily racked up three portions with the juice (even if that always feels like a cheat.)

Monday, 7 April 2014

7 a Day Challenge - Day 6

On the home run now...  A few days ago I set myself the challenge to eat 7 portions of different fruits and vegetables over 7 days and see how it impacted me and my wallet.


I'd had enough of trying to squeeze fruit and vegetables into breakfast for one day.  So it was toast with marmalade and proper butter.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

7 a day challenge; day 5

I'm trying to eat 7 portions of 7 different fruits and vegetables in 7 days to see how easy or hard it is, how it affects me and how it affects my wallet.  If you want to read more, see my first post on my 7 a Day challenge.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

7 a Day Challenge; Day 4

Last week I set myself a challenge to have 7 days of eating 7 fruits or vegetables a day in the recommended portion sizes.

So I woke up at 4am this morning.  This isn't a massively unusual occurrence for me, especially when I'm busy or stressed and 2am has been known.  I don't think I can put that down to the vegetables.


As I woke so early and was intending to run, my body was saying to me "GIVE ME FOOD".  Pre running you don't exactly want a fry up in your belly, so going for watermelon (as I did), which is high GI can actually be a great idea.

After my run I opted for a simple bowl of cereal.  I was going to have scrambled eggs with mushrooms but I decided against it because after running nearly 6 miles, you don't really feel like whipping up a storm.


I made an adaptation of my mushroom pasta bake recipe for lunch except adding an extra vegetable in the form of defrosted chopped spinach into the mix.  To up the fruit and vegetable content more I also made some coleslaw on the side with red cabbage (see my photo above.  I do love the colours.)  The plate was all the colours of the rainbow and much more comforting than the light soup lunches I had been eating which helped me feel more sated.  Home made coleslaw is a really accessible way towards your 7 a day because all of the ingredients are cheap and you can get them all year round.  My son had double portions of both.  Success!

Friday, 4 April 2014

7 a Day Challenge; Day 3 - Vegetable Pakoras

7 fruits and vegetables a day is a bit harder than I thought.

A few days ago, I set myself a challenge to eat 7 fruits and vegetables minimum in 7 days to see how it affected me, my wellbeing and how hard or easy it might be.

I'm on day 3 now and I need to find ways to liven things up!


I was at work early today so took breakfast of rice crispies and a banana.  This is actually far more than I'd normally eat for breakfast so I ended up saving the banana for mid morning.  I will definitely be stretching myself more from a culinary point of view at the weekend when I have more time!


Lunch was Gazpacho again (2 portions of vegetables) due to making a double batch yesterday with watermelon and a satsuma afterwards.  I was up to 5 of my 7 after lunch but felt the need to 'retox' with some chocolate cake.  A girl needs something unvirtuous!


Ok... this week has been harder (even by day 3) than I expected.  I needed fried.  So wrong.  I know, I had chocolate there was even some sugar on the rice crispies.

But the problem is I'm just so full!  Maybe I don't eat big portions but 7 lots of vegetables, in the portion sizes recommended really limits what else you can eat.

So I needed fried.  I needed something which felt wrong even if it was full of vegetables.  Pakora it is!

Vegetable Pakoras - Makes enough for two

Thursday, 3 April 2014

7 a day challenge: Day 2

Day 2 of trying to eat 7 a day.

After the widespread media reports that 7 a day or more are much better than 5, I challenged myself to eat 7 or more a day for 7 days to see how hard it is for someone who already eats reasonably healthily.  The challenge continues...


I had some maple / pecan crisp today with a grated apple in it.  A bit boring I know and I have to admit I was a bit bored by it.  It made me wonder if the cereal packets showing the cereal lovingly scattered with berries were just a sign of the deep unhealthiness of the cereal.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

7 a day challenge: Carrot cake Bircher Muesli

The things I learned the most in my first day of trying to have 7 fruits and vegetables in my diet were:
  • It takes organisation
  • I need to buy more fruit and veg urgently (so much so after only buying some on Monday I went out for more today)
  • A 'portion' is bigger than I thought so it's not just about variety but about quantity
  • It's a bit confusing what a portion size is for a child so for my 3 year old I aimed for variety and didn't get too hung up on how much he ate
  • I'm going to get very bored weighing ingredients very, very quickly...
Today was a day at home with my son.


My first day of 7 fruit and vegetables in 7 days started with a Bircher Muesli.  It might look like a bowl of mush (ok it is kind of a bowl of mush) but it's also a great way to get raw fruit and vegetables into your breakfast.

As I said yesterday, I think the key to getting to 7 in a day is to include fruit and vegetables into every meal.

I didn't add any sugar or honey and you could if you like but both my son and I liked it as it was  ("it delicious!")

Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli - Makes 1 adult portion

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Seven a Day!

It was widely reported by British media today that official government advice on fruit and vegetables should perhaps change because 7 rather than 5 a day is what we should be aiming for.

This might be pretty scary to most of us who fail to get anywhere near.  Recent research indicated only 1 in 5 people manage to eat that level.  I was wondering why and feeling smug, then I had a moment of realisation.