Tag Archives: childrens cookery

Saving my sanity by meal planning – simple family meals.

One of the things I am passionate about is making food simple. If you have time and can afford to be fancy with your meals then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Go for it. Normal life for my family in the week involves basic range ingredients, plenty of fresh and frozen veggies and quick meals.  So that is what I am sharing with you today.  Trust me, as a working single mum to 3 wonderfully active, inquisitive, helpful kids (you could read that as noisy, full of questions and chatter, like to stick their fingers where I don’t want them to) I need fast food. However I am wheat intolerant (the proper kind where eating wheat upsets my digestive system for several days) and my boy is lactose intolerance – which quite frankly sucks for him. So we have to cook from scratch. 

I aim to plan at the weekend. This sometimes involves a bit of “get ahead cooking” where I cook a few meals for Monday and Tuesday in advance, or it just comes down to a vague plan. Either way without a rough plan my head gets super stressed.

Family meal ideas for busy parents from a dietitian

“What am I cooking today? How will I fit it into my day? Do I have the ingredients?  Do I have time to get to the shop?”  These are questions that will float around my head taking up valuable time and energy. With a plan I’m part way there and will prep a bit throughout my day. That could mean I prep the veggies or even just get the ingredients out on the worktop so I can cook after the school run. It all helps.

So here is an example of our weeks meals and some of the recipes I cook. Simple things my children eat and that work with our dietary needs. I hope it gives you some inspiration.

 

One Pot Pepper Pasta:

This is one of those meals which I love to make as it is so easy, there is minimal washing up and my kids love it. WINNER.

It’s also a vegetarian, plant based and vegan recipe. So if you are looking for simple ways to increase your vegetable intake here you go. Of course you can totally make this your own and add in any veggies you like.

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One Pot Red Pepper Pasta

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 large red peppers Thickly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium courgette grated
  • 1 tin sweetcorn
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • pinch paprika
  • pinch dried mixed herbs
  • 300g dried pasta
  • 750ml boiling water
  • 50g grated cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in the pan, add the garlic and gently cook.

  2. Add in the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes

  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and spices. Bring to a simmer. 

  4. Add the pasta and water, stir well and bring to a simmer.

  5. Lid on and simmer 12-15 minutes until the pasta is cooked.

  6. Season and serve with grated cheese. 

Fish Pesto Parcels:

These are so simple that I like to get my kids to make their own. That way they can’t moan about the veggies I’ve put in! 

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Fish Pesto Parcels

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 400 g white fish (can be frozen and defrosted)
  • 2 carrots, chunkily sliced
  • 1/2 broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 courgette, chunkily sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thick slices
  • 4 tsp pesto
  • 12 small potatoes (if they are too large they will not cook in time so slice up using large potato)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7

  2. Lay out a square of foil big enough to pop everything in and seal up. About 1.5 times your dinner plate. 

  3. Place a selection of veggies and potatoes on the foil, top with the fish and spread 1 tsp pesto on top.

  4. Fold the foil parcel up so everything is covered and pop onto a baking tray.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes

Lentil Bolognaise:

A regular favourite for us and so versatile. You can use up your odds and ends of veggies, and make this into lasagne, cottage pie of as a bolognaise. It freezes super well too.

Recipe here.

Salmon and Broccoli Risotto:

Perfect weaning food and a great meal to get veggies into! I usually grate a courgette in to boost the veggies up.

Recipe here.

Pizza Wraps:

Literally the easiest thing on a Friday after school. I give the kids a wrap, squirt tomato puree on, they pile on toppings from a selection on a chopping board and we cook them for 10 minutes at Gas Mark 5. Do keep a close eye on them as they cook very quickly! 

Chicken Satay Stir Fry:

You can’t beat a stir fry for ease. My kids love peanut butter so satay is usually a winner. Totally use a frozen veg mix or a stir fry pack for ease if you want to. Serve with noodles or rice.

Recipe here

Sausages and wedges:

As much as I like to have some plant based meals in our week my kids are firm fans of sausages. I’ve been using some meat free variations out and they have been largely successful, plus easy to cook straight from frozen – so do think about the meat free range. No recipe as I literally cook the sausages in the oven, along with potatoes cut into wedges with olive oil and garlic on them. Serve with veggies! 

I hope these are helpful and give you some ideas on how to keep meals simple in your week. I’d love to hear your ideas too as I always need inspiration.

Easy Peasy Paella

With parents who reside in Spain, paella is something my whole family loves, my mum has been taught how to cook it by the locals. This weekend with my mum in the UK at my home I decided to cook her my version. It’s probably not a true paella but hey, it’s tasty family food and a one pot meal that you can put in the middle of the table so everyone helps themselves. 

Of course you could totally add chicken, fish or your own favourite vegetables to this, I used what I had in my kitchen. Make your own version and let me know how it goes.

Easy Peasy Paella
Serves 6
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
490 calories
70 g
105 g
13 g
23 g
4 g
335 g
736 g
5 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
335g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 490
Calories from Fat 114
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g
20%
Saturated Fat 4g
18%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 105mg
35%
Sodium 736mg
31%
Total Carbohydrates 70g
23%
Dietary Fiber 5g
21%
Sugars 5g
Protein 23g
Vitamin A
88%
Vitamin C
27%
Calcium
9%
Iron
14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 tsp tumeric
  2. 1/2 tsp paprika
  3. 1/2 tsp cumin
  4. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  5. pinch of saffron (optional)
  6. 1 tbsp olive oil
  7. 100g chorizo, chopped
  8. 3 cloves garlic
  9. 450g basmati rice (you could use paella rice)
  10. 1 tsp Italian mixed herb mixture
  11. 2 dried lime leafs (optional)
  12. 450ml chicken stock (mine was homemade or use a stock cube and water)
  13. 2 large carrots grated
  14. 2 medium courgetes grated
  15. 100g mushrooms
  16. 100g peas
  17. 450-600ml water approx, judge it on the rice as it cooks
  18. dash of lemon juice
  19. 250g frozen prawns
  20. large handful of fresh herbs, chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the spices in a large wide based pan on a medium heat, add the boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the chorizo and allow it to release its oils.
  3. Next add the garlic and rice, cook for 2 minutes. Then add the stock, dried herbs and lime leaf.
  4. Allow this to simmer whilst you prep the veggies, you could use any veggies you like!
  5. Add in the vegetables one at a time and stir in.
  6. Add the water and place the lid on the pan. Allow it to simmer until the rice is cooked.
  7. Finish with the lemon juice and prawns, allowing the prawns to cook in the pan with the rice for a few minutes.
  8. Finally add the herbs, taste and season.
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calories
490
fat
13g
protein
23g
carbs
70g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
Check out a little video of us cooking it here. My 7 year old girl was on “sous chef” duty tonight and she totally enjoyed helping out. Her tasks were to measure the rice using the Carb Spoon, to cut the chorizo up, grate some vegetables, add them and stir the pan. She added the stock, picked the herbs and chopped them too. Plus she got the prawns out of the freezer and added those for me.

I’m trying to get my children to each cook with me once a week, making it a scheduled activity and time with mummy all at once. It slows me down and means more planning is needed but it is also teaching them valuable skills.

 

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Apple and Pecan Energy Balls (no bake)

My kids seem to need a 3 course meal to eat after school/pre-school,  so my snack tin needs to be topped up with nutritious and filling foods. These apple energy balls are something I saw another dietitian friend making on Instagram and we adapted it slightly, using different nuts to suit our tastes.

My 4 year old boy literally loved making and eating these. He raved about them and each day after preschool has been asking for them. It has been lovely to see him proudly showing them off to his older sister:

“I made these and they are yummy”.

I’ve not managed to do a vlog for ages… 3 children and work has meant a kitchen that is rarely tidy enough for filming in and few of those moments where we have the right moment with all children quiet and happy to join in. However I’m hoping to get back into it now.  I’d love to know your idea and thoughts for future videos.

Apple and Pecan Energy Balls
Serves 12
Super simple, tasty, nutritious and filling energy balls.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
153 calories
20 g
0 g
7 g
4 g
1 g
56 g
17 g
6 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
56g
Servings
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 153
Calories from Fat 59
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
11%
Saturated Fat 1g
4%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 17mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 20g
7%
Dietary Fiber 3g
14%
Sugars 6g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
2%
Calcium
2%
Iron
6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 300g apple
  2. 200g oats
  3. 70g pecans
  4. 60g raisins
  5. 40g peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Put the apple in the food processor first and use a grater attachement or you could grate by harns. Add a dash of hot water to make a rough purée.
  2. Now add the oats, pecans, raisins and nut butter and combine.
  3. Roll into balls using your hands.
  4. Pop in the fridge to chill.
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calories
153
fat
7g
protein
4g
carbs
20g
more
Adapted from Catherine Lippe, Lippe Nutrition
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Easy Peasy Star Biscuits

So when your toddler asks to make star biscuits, you can’t really say No. I’m not a fan of my kids having too much sugar so we always are on the look out for ways to reduce the sugar content of our baking, here we have used just a little apple juice and it worked well. A plain biscuit but you could add spices to it and make it your own. The plain biscuits are good for weaning too.

I used a greek yoghurt topping so the kids could decorate their biscuits which they loved. You need to only decorate the ones you aret going to eat there and then. Store the rest in a tin and the topping in the fridge. The decorating was a good after school activity and make your own snack session.

 

Easy Peasy Star Bicuits
Yields 20
Simple, low sugar star biscuits that you can add spices to and make your own.
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67 calories
8 g
1 g
3 g
1 g
1 g
19 g
4 g
0 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
19g
Yields
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 67
Calories from Fat 30
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
5%
Saturated Fat 1g
3%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 1mg
0%
Sodium 4mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 8g
3%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
3%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
1%
Iron
1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 100g wholemeal or rye flour
  2. 100g plain white flour
  3. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 75g margarine
  5. 75ml apple juice
Topping
  1. 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt and 1 tbsp cream cheese mixed with a dask of milk
  2. sunflower seeds
  3. chopped dried fruit
Instructions
  1. Weigh out the flour and baking powder.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour and baking powder mix.
  3. Add the apple juice and mix to a dough.
  4. Roll out on a floured surface.
  5. Cut and put onto a greased and lined baking tray.
  6. Bake at Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes.
  7. Eat as they are or top with the Greek yoghurt mix.
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calories
67
fat
3g
protein
1g
carbs
8g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Lean and Bean Burgers.

So one of the ways I get inspiration for meals and recipes is to go shopping. This week I went to Asda, not our usual supermarket but we went as someone had told me they had skipping ropes and hula hoops reduced right down. Just to interject here, shopping with a 3 month old, almost 3 year old and 5.5 year old on your own is madness. Of course by time I had navigated getting a baby and 2 kids into the car, found the shop, out of the car, across the car park, into and around the trolley and into the shop – there had sold them all.  Never one to like a wasted journey we had a little walk around and stocked up on a few essentials/not-so-much-essentials-but-childrens-requests. Did I mention the madness of shopping with 3 small people?!

I love looking at new food products. They seem to be coming onto the market continually. So when perusing the reduced section (I can’t step away from a bargain) I found “Lean and Bean Mince”. It is 60% beef and 40% beans. I love this. Adding the beans means you use less beef and more plant protein, making it lower in total and saturated fat but still high in protein and it is also saving you pennies. Normal lean beef mince was £7.80/kg for a 500g pack and this was £4.38/kg. It is also exactly the advice I often dish out to people: “bulk out your meat dishes by adding plant protein such as lentils, beans and other pulses”. Potentially a new health food product that is actually good!

NB: If you can’t get this mince then why not add a tin of chopped kidney beans to your mince and make it a 60/4-0 mix yourself?

Getting home I was then left with the dilemma of what to make with the new mince. Too many ideas, too little time. As I was cooking with the help of all the small people, I went for burgers. My thought being I could do it in stages and they may like to get their hands messy and help. Turns out they didn’t want to help, but they did want to help eat them at tea time.

Dietitan UK: Lean and Bean Burgers 2

This mince is definitely tasty, it does taste more like a veggie mince and is dryer than a normal beef version, but that is to be expected. It tasted good and held together well for burgers. We had some left so I used them the next day in a tomato based sauce for a pasta bolognaise that was very nice. I love it when you manage to cook 2 meals in one hit 🙂

Dietitan UK: Lean and Bean Burgers 1

Lean and Bean Burgers
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
179 calories
34 g
0 g
1 g
10 g
0 g
207 g
266 g
4 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
207g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 179
Calories from Fat 8
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 266mg
11%
Total Carbohydrates 34g
11%
Dietary Fiber 11g
44%
Sugars 4g
Protein 10g
Vitamin A
108%
Vitamin C
31%
Calcium
8%
Iron
15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 medium courgette
  2. 2 medium carrots
  3. 2 cloves of garlic
  4. 1 small onion
  5. large handful of parsley (including stalks)
  6. 400g lean and bean mince
  7. 1tbsp balsamic vinegar
  8. pinch dried rosemary
  9. Zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
Instructions
  1. Using a grater or food processor grate the courgette, carrots, onion, garlic and parsley.
  2. Mix the veggies in with the mince and all other ingredients.
  3. Shape into patties with your hands and place onto a lined, greased baking tray.
  4. Place in the fridge to firm up for a minimum 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
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calories
179
fat
1g
protein
10g
carbs
34g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/