Category Archives: Travel

Easy Holidays Meals for families

Holidays. In my mind they are meant to be about relaxing, having adventures, exploring new places, lazing around, tryIng new foods, cocktails, having family funtimes, having me-times. 

Life with 3 children means they are actually full of early dinners, constant requests for snacks, children struggling to sleep in different beds, packing the whole house to take but forgetting the vital teddy, overtired toddlers and the delightful “mummy, how many minutes” in the car. 

Dietitian UK: Easy Holiday Meals •

 

For us, self catering works out so much easier. Don’t get me wrong, I love being cooked for… but finding a restaurant that serves food I can eat (wheat free) and will let us eat early enough, along with it being that moment in the day that one child will be wailing, well it’s just not as relaxing as it could be. Being able to have breakfast when everyone fancies it and a ready stock of snacks available just makes life a bit better. Picnics for lunch tend to be our staple, it means we can get out, stay out and not worry about what time the first person’s tummy starts to rumble! A small cool back with crackers, cheese, ham, hummus, raw veggies, fruit, crisps, drinks and my bunch are happy.

When we are away, I like to keep the cooking simple and instead look around at the local food or farm shops for some special ingredients to make it interesting. Often that means buying some nice cheeses for hubby and I to enjoy after the small ones are in bed, or getting nice veggies and meat.  I tend to pack the basics so there is less shopping needed on holiday, plus there is nothing worse than a long journey and having no tea bags and milk when you arrive. 

So here are some of my easy cook evening meals, nothing gourmet, but filling and tasty:

  1. The first night, I always take something already cooked from home. Then I don’t have the stress of arriving somewhere and having to unpack, amuse kidlets and cook.
  2. Jacket potatoes. You can cook these in the microwave in 10-12 minutes, finish in the oven for 15 minutes at Gas mark 4 if you have time. My family love: baked beans and cheese or tuna, sweetcorn and mayo. Serve with a salad. 
  3. Pasta with pesto and veggies. So simple. If you use frozen veg it can be a one pot job. Cook the pasta, in the last few minutes add the veg to the water too. Drain and stir in the pesto. 
  4. Tacos. This holiday I bought a taco kit, then just cooked it up with some mince and a pile of veg. It went down a treat. Serve with a salad and you will be getting those veggies in.
  5. Sausage casserole. Chop the sausages and cook in a pan with a pile of veggies (leek, carrot and pepper work well), add 1 tin chopped tomatoes and some mixed herbs. Simmer and serve with rice. Take microwave rice to save a job!
  6. Salmon fish fingers, with potato wedges and corn on the cob. All of this can go in the oven. I slice the potatoes into wedges and spread on a plate then microwave for 5 minutes. Heat the oven to gas 8. Put in the wedges, then 10 minutes later add the fish fingers and corn on the cob, wrapped in foil. Or totally cheap and treat yourself to chips to go with it! 

Picnic Food, wheat and gluten free.

Picnics, they can be amazing and they can be awful. Good location, company and food are essential, and to me having food that is easy to eat and easy to prepare is the key. My toddler is a complete outdoors girl so picnics have become a must. Here are some of my top tips and food ideas that don’t include sandwiches:

Picnic Tips:

  • Have a specific picnic bag. We have an insulated one that keeps the food cool with a seperate section for plates, cutlery, cups, serviettes, an empty carrier bag for the rubbish and the all essential corkscrew 😉 Keeping it all together makes it easier for those picnic moments, no more rushing around to find plastic plates.
  • Remember to plan the drinks: if it’s cold then go for ice in the drinks, don’t forget a flask of tea/coffee too.
  • Picnic blankets can make or break an occasion for me…. I’m not a fan of sitting on my coat.
  • If you have young ones a beach shelter can be good for a bit of shade.
  • Take some bits to amuse small children – bats/balls then you may get some peace! Mine loves a large space to just run in.

Dietitian UK: Outdoor Fun

Picnic Food:

  1. Hummous with raw vegetables, an absolute must, try raw carrots, peppers, cucumber and celery. Don’t forget you can make your own.
  2. Frittata packed with your favourite veggies, make it ahead of time, slice it up and it’s good to go.
  3. Quiche, an old 70’s favourite… try my gluten free version here.
  4. Salads: quinoa, rice, potato for the carbohydrate part of the meal.
  5. Cold homemade pizza.
  6. Cheese and crackers.
  7. Mixed salad for the colour and veggie side of things – try grated carrot, sweetcorn, chopped raw mushrooms, broccoli and sugar snap peas along side the usual tomato, lettuce and cucumber.
  8. Fresh fruit salad, we are into melon and grapes right now.
  9. Boiled eggs. Enough said.
  10. And in a rush we just grab Sushi from the shop!

These are just our top favourites, I’d love to hear yours, please comment below and let me know.

Philips: Mother and Child Care Advisory Panel Meeting.

 I love talking and sharing knowledge about breastfeeding, pregnancy, nutrition and weaning, so when I was asked to come on board as the nutrition expert for the Philips Mother and Child Care Advisory Panel I instantly said Yes.

The panel met at the High Tech Campus, Eindhoven, The Netherlands and it was an action packed few days of tours, discussions and presentations.

 

 It was very refreshing to be in a room of experts plus the Philips team who were all open to new ideas, constructive criticism and focused on the evidence base. I was struck by the desire Philips Avent have for driving new initiatives forward and trying to find the balance being creative yet basing ideas on current research.

 Highlights for me included meeting some very knowledgeable experts and getting top tips from them and having some key discussions on the what the current needs are for mums and babies in terms of nutrition.

 A visit to the Maxima Institute was eye opening, showing family centered care taking place. A place where mums and babies are cared for together post-birth, families have space to be family together, there are no visiting hours, there is even a “guest house” and toddler play ground and the medical team are seen as visiting the family. However safety and care are still at the heart of this place. Personally as a pregnant women I was walking round thinking how much I’d love to give birth in a place like that!

 

When in Spain…Eat Paella.

With parents living in Spain I’ve eaten a fair bit of paella and I must admit it’s yummy but often very rich and just a bit too much for our tummies. I’m also wheat intolerant and let’s just say that the area of Spain my parents live in is NOT good for special diets. We went out for tapas today and there was nothing suitable for me to eat. So as true Spainish residents my parentals set about cooking up a huge paella feast for us tonight that was family friendly.

Dietitian UK: Paella
Dietitian UK: Paella

Paella for me is full of food memories. A few that stand out in my mind: I’m pretty sure it was mine and my hubby’s (then fiances’) first visit to Spain, it was Christmas and we had the most wonderful paella at a local restaurant in a town called La Cala. That food memory has led to a bit of a Christmas tradition and on quite a few years we have cooked paella over the Christmas season. A notable one being a year when everyone in my family was ill except poor hubby who had to cook it (he isn’t the best cook but did an amazing job – bless him).

Our family version of paella is a celebration of veggies. Think saffron rice, cooked in stock with peppers, whole garlic cloves, mushrooms, pea, carrots and pumpkin seeds. As I’m pregnant so staying away from too much seafood this version just had white fish in.

We tend to make this dish by starting off cooking chorizo or pancetta, onions and garlic in a little oil.Add peppers,, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms, cook till softened. Add  saffron, paprika and rice. Traditionally Spainish short grain rice is used but you can use basmati. Coat the rice in the oil and spices, then add some white wine, when it is bubbling add a good quality stock and stir frequently like a risotto. Add the fish and cover with a lid, let it cook for about 10 minutes. Now add peas and a combination of fresh herbs, allow to cook gently until the rice is ready. Add the seafood at the end of cooking, cover with a lid and it will cook in the steam.

Paella cooked like this at home really is a whole family dish, you can put whatever you like it in, just cook it slowly like you would a risotto and make it your own. What would you add in to a paella? Do you have any paella stories to share?

 

 

Holiday Foods: what does it mean to you?

Holidays, what do they mean to you? To me it’s usually about relaxing, enjoying great food, seeing amazing sights and making special memories. My parents live out in Spain, which means we have to go out and visit them from time to time…..all that sun, sea and Sangria…. it’s a hard life 😉

This holiday has involved having the joys of a toddler…and I really do mean the joys. Today I loved hearing “Wow, horses” at horse drawn carriages and watching her sheer delight on the beach has been amazing, plus being in a hot place has meant the treat of an ice lolly.

Being pregnant and having a toddler has meant things are slightly different… no going out in the evenings for dinners and drinks, no long lazy lunches as toddler needs a nap, the constant need to find toilets (for me) and carry snacks (for us both) and definitely no Sangria (major BOO).

However, I do have a toddler who is also loves food, trying new places to eat and new experiences. So we have been treated by my parents to some super yummy meals cooked at home and have enjoyed snacking out and about. Being wheat free makes it slightly more complicated but not impossible.

I’ve been having giant amazing strawberries with breakfast, lots of different cheeses, my mum has cooked steak for my hubby (his favourite) and prawn for me (one of my favourites).

What are your favourite holiday foods?

Here are some of our favourite food moments so far:


Dietitian UK: Steak and Salad
Dietitian UK: Steak and Salad

Dietitian UK: Holiday Ice-Cream!
Dietitian UK: Holiday Ice-Cream!

 

Dietitian UK: Prawns of yumminess.
Dietitian UK: Prawns of yumminess.

Travelling with Toddlers

This Christmas we were treated by my grandparents to a holiday in Marrakech, originally a holiday for 15 of us, only 13 ended up making it there as my grandparents who had planned it all were too ill to come 🙁 It made for a different Christmas tinged with sadness in the sun.

Celebrating Christmas abroad and in the sun isn’t that new to us as we lived abroad for a few years, if I’m honest I’m not a huge fan of it. I miss all the English traditions – the decorations, the festive food, the cold Christmas weather, the films, the chocolates, my church, mulled wine…you know what I mean. Somehow for me Christmas is more like Christmas in the UK. Not that I’m complaining…..really!

 

Dietitian UK: Flying into Marrakech
Dietitian UK: Flying into Marrakech

Travelling with a toddler means thinking things through in a whole different way, especially when staying in a hotel. We’ve been fortunate enough to take our now 2 year old to Brussels, Sri-Lanka and now Morocco already so she is a seasoned traveller;)  Here are my top tips for toddler travel:

1. If dinner time is late then plan in naps and take snacks.

2. Always travel everywhere with snacks, my top ones this holiday are freeze dried fruit, bread sticks, rice cakes, raisins.

3. Find out if your hotel has a mini bar fridge, then stock it up! Ours has cheese, yoghurts, milk and … Baileys 😉

4. We usually use washable nappies, I’m so pleased we brought disposables for this holiday.

5. Take washing powder and be prepared to hand wash a few items.

6. Pack little treats that you can given out when needed – crayons, notepads, pots of playdoh etc…

7. Ask on the plane for a goody bag, my small one loves unwrapping it all.

8. If you have a tablet/ipod/equivalent load it up with games, puzzles and music. Invaluable.

9. Take a favourite toy to help them settle in.

10. Embrace the toddler fun, try to see things on their level so it’s fun for all.

Anyone got anymore tips?

Marrakech Market Love

Marrakech. It’s sunny and full of Souks. I could literally spend hours wandering around the streets, brousing the beautiful goods on offer, and when I say beautiful, I mean beautiful. Think colourful woven shawls, rugs, leather and material bags of every colour you know, leather shoes with sparkles and bling, jewellery that calls your name, shiny silver teapots and painted glasses, lamps, lamps and more lamps. Oh my. This could be a dangerous place to holiday!

Dietitian UK: Marrakech Lanterns of beauty
Dietitian UK: Marrakech Lanterns of beauty

Those streets really make me smile, but the bit that makes my heart sing the most is of course the food stalls. Spices, herbs, mint tea sellers, nuts and dried fruit. Why are our UK markets not this colourful and exciting on a daily basis? We could learn a lot from other cultures who actually buy their food from the market, I’d say this is the “super” market way of doing things.

Dietitian UK: Marrakech Nutaliciousness.

Dietiitan UK: Marrakech Olives on the Market
Dietiitan UK: Marrakech Nuts and Olives on the Market

 

Coming out of the market there were at least 5 stalls selling freshly squeezed orange juice for 4 dhs, that’s 33 pence a cup. Wowsers. What a way to recover from the hustle and bustle, sensory overload and shopping 😉

Our first time around the Souks we paid for a guide and this was brilliant, we would have got lost otherwise – Google maps is unlikely to cover this area 😉 The Souks are divided into different areas: leather, lamps, bags, shoes etc… so much to choose from.

What do you like to do on holiday? For me it’s about enjoying the local food, soaking up the atmosphere and relaxing in good company.

Oranges – bitter or sweet? A tidbit from Marrakech.

I’m in Marrakech right now, it’s a feast for the sense full of Souks alive with sights, smells and food to get your salivary glands going 😉

On the way to the Souks we walked through a beautiful park, full of Orange trees.

 

Dietitian UK: Orange Tree
Dietitian UK: Orange Tree

Being me I suggested we pick a few for our lunch, but was informed these orange trees have bitter oranges. How can you tell that I hear you cry?

The leaves….

 

Dietitian UK: Bitter Orange Leaf
Dietitian UK: Bitter Orange Leaf

If there is a double leaf as in this picture then it is a bitter orange tree. See the tiny little leaf right near the top of the stem? These oranges are exported to the UK for marmalade making.  Pretty cool fact huh. I love how nature has it’s own perfect code.