Dinners, Kids meals, Recipes

Chicken Korma

Friday night take-aways are a bit of a tradition, aren’t they? From “Fish and chip Friday” to that end of the week feeling of not wanting to cook, just kick back and relax. The problem is that take-away food is often high in added sugar, high in bad fats (think deep fat fried in sunflower oil!), high in refined carbohydrates and low in vegetables. For me, it’s like the perfect storm for feeling rubbish on waking up Saturday morning, even though I completely support taking a break from cooking and spending some time chilling out and relaxing.

So in our household, it’s usually a Friday night “fake-away”, that’s a classic take-away style food, but homemade so just as nutritious as it is delicious. And today I want to share with you a winner of a curry that satisfies the whole family. It’s not super quick to make, but you can either slow cook it over the course of that afternoon and simply dish it out, or make it in advance and freeze portions to reheat quickly. It’s also free from gluten, dairy and of course, refined sugar, and can be made nut-free for those with nut allergies too.

Here I’ve served with some brown rice and a cheeky poppadum (because my kids think everything tastes better on a poppadum!) Peas are also a great accompanying flavour, so mutter paneer cheesy peas or simply some plain peas on the side for the kids.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp approx. grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 tsp grated fresh turmeric
  • 2 tbsp korma powder
  • 600g chicken – breast and thigh meat are both good, just as long as there are no bones, diced into large chunks
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced into large chunks
  • 2 red peppers, diced (optional – this makes it less traditional but tastes great and adds another veg to the mix!)
  • 300-500 mls chicken stock
  • 400 ml tin of coconut milk
  • 50 ground almonds (optional, use a little corn flour to thicken if needs be if you’re nut free)
  • Small handful chopped fresh coriander to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C (fan). Heat the coconut oil in a large casserole pan, and fry the onion for 1-2 minutes on a low heat without burning it. Then add the garlic, grated ginger, turmeric and korma powder, and cook for a further 1-2 minutes to release all the flavours, stirring well so that it doesn’t stick.
  2. Increase the heat to medium and add the chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring and turning the chicken pieces until they are all white and the meat is sealed.
  3. Add the sweet potato chunks and red peppers if using, chicken stock and coconut milk, cover and bring to the boil.
  4. Transfer to the oven and allow to cook slowly for at least 1 hour, checking and stirring occasionally to ensure there is sufficient liquid (top up with stock or water if the sauce is getting too thick. I often leave for two hours to make sure it’s extra tender and melt in the mouth, but it will need more liquid for this.
  5. Remove from the over when the sauce is fairly thick and the chicken is well cooked and falling apart. Stir in the ground almonds if using, or thicken with a little corn flour if not, and serve.
Breakfast, Lunchboxes, Recipes, Savoury

Crustless Quiches

I know when I was growing up, the school lunchbox revolved around a sandwich, a packet of crisps, piece of cake or a chocolate bar, a piece of fruit (usually and apple or banana) and a juice. I am thankful to have been one of the lucky ones, as my Mum bakes her own bread, always used real butter not low-fat margarine, and would bake delicious cakes full of fresh and dried fruit and nuts.

But the science can’t be disputed now, and although this was a pretty good example, most lunchboxes that follow this theme are not nutritionally sufficient. Our kids need good proteins and fibre to sustain their energy to learn, good fats to support their brains, and a myriad of other nutrients to allow their growing bodies to flourish in the numerous tasks it needs to carry out over the course of the day.

But they also need to be eaten, and so herein lies the challenge us lunchbox mums face on a daily basis…

I have quite a few staples that I batch make and freeze for ease in the mornings, and over the coming weeks and months, I’m planning a project to share some more of them with you as my time permits, but here’s one that proved a popular request last week – crustless quiches. Great for breakfast, great cold in lunchboxes too.

These are so quick and easy to do, and as long as you have eggs, the rest can really be made of whatever you have to hand: veggies, leftover meat or fish, cheese, olives. Why not try blending in spinach? Makes them an amazing bright green! Whatever you do, the aim is to get a few different colours into the mix (for different micronutrients and phytonutrients), and the protein and fats are taken care of by the humble yet nutritionally wonderful egg.

Ingredients:

  • ½ baked sweet potato
  • 6 eggs
  • Small handful of parsley
  • 50g ham, chopped
  • 50g (frozen) sweetcorn
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a muffin tin (use butter, coconut oil or rice bran oil)
  2. Blend together the eggs, sweet potato and parsley in a blender
  3. Mix the ham, sweetcorn and half the cheese, then pour into the muffin tin (makes 12)
  4. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese, and bake for 12-15 mins until solid and slightly golden on top.
  5. Allow to cool in the tin, then remove with a spatula (they can stick a little so be gentle!)

Let me know what you put in yours!

Recipes, Sweet treats

Sweet potato biscuits

Sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, the building blocks for vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is really important for our eyes, so while eating lots of beta-carotene rich carrots may not give you the ability to see in the dark, they certainly can help with maintaining healthy vision!

I do love a biscuit, and am constantly looking for ways to satisfy my children’s desire to be “normal” and eat sweet treats in a more healthy way. When I started making this recipe, I was actually aiming for a savoury cracker, but the caramel flavour of the roast sweet potatoes ended up lending itself much more easily to this sweet treat instead.

In addition to the beta-carotene, these biscuits provide a great source of fibre, “good” fats, and if made with ground almonds, protein too. Plus all that fibre, fat and protein slows down how quickly the sugar is released into our blood stream, meaning that we, and our little ones, stay fuller for longer and don’t experience that crazy rush of energy followed by slump.

Ingredients:

  • 200g baked sweet potato (approx. one large potato)
  • 50g butter / coconut oil
  • 225g flour (I used 50% rice flour, 50% ground almonds)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 45g sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Gently melt the butter
  3. Peel then mash the sweet potato and mix with the butter
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices (better if you sieve them but not essential), then mix the dry ingredients with the sweet potato mixture a spoon at a time
  5. Roll the mixture out on a floured surface to ½ cm thick, cut out, and place on a lined and greased baking sheet
  6. Bake for approx. 15 mins, then remove to cool on a wire rack
Recipes, Sweet treats

Yummy Gummy Bears

My son started Reception year at school just two weeks ago, and already he’s finished class with a “sweetie” handout three times for birthday celebrations. What do you think? I hate to be the bad guy and take them away, but I don’t feel like it’s the best time to be having these “treats” (so he’s bouncing off the walls while I try and prepare a healthy dinner which he inevitably won’t have quite the same appetite for after his sugar fix!)

I’ve seen these recipes for homemade gummy bears around – not entirely healthy, but lower in sugar, using gelatin which is great for joint health and digestion, and including real fruit and vegetable juice and therefore all the additional nutrients they provide (in this case a nice dose of vitamin C and beta carotene which help immune function amongst other things, so great for fighting the back-to-school bugs!)

They were surprisingly easy to do, so why not have a go? Pop them in a nice little bag or jar ready for pick-up, and you’re prepped for a quick switch-over if those dreaded plastic bags appear from the gates!

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) fruit juice or pureed fruit*

1-2tsp honey (or alternative sweetener such as maple syrup)

3 tbs gelatin

*Pureed fruit will retain the healthy fibre that is stripped in the juicing process, but the end result is cloudy and less “authentic”, hence I started with the juice only version.

Method:

  1. Pour the juice and honey into a saucepan and sprinkle over the gelatin powder. Heat slowly on a low heat, whisking together to prevent the gelatin from clumping. Adding the gelatin a spoonful at a time whilst whisking will minimise the risk of this and subsequent work of “de-clumping” (which you can do by squashing them against the edge of the pan with the back of a spoon if needs be).
  2. Once the gelatin is all dissolved, bring gently to boiling point, and then remove from the heat and allow to stand for about 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  3. Place three silicone gummy bear trays (approx. 150 bears) on a baking tray so that you can then move them once filled, and use a pipette to carefully fill them.
  4. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour (I left them overnight) before popping them out.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

For the gelatin, I used this one: http://www.gelatingreatlakes.co.uk/store/p1/Great_Lakes_Gelatin_Co.%0ABeef_Hide_Gelatin.html It’s a beef product, kosher but not halal. Alternatively you could use agar agar for a vegetarian option, but in my experience the texture is slightly different.

For the juice, I used a mix of half freshly squeezed orange juice, and half carrot juice to give it the bright orange colour. I will be experimenting with other colours and flavours though as they were a big hit with my boys (2 and 4yrs).

If you’re looking for the silicone molds and pipette to make these, I just ordered a little set from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Candy-Silicone-SENHAI-Gumdrop-Chocolate/dp/B01JYBP7R6/ref=sr_1_4?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1506069157&sr=1-4&keywords=gummy+bear+mold

I am not endorsing any of the products I am sharing on this page, and do not have any financial gains from doing so.