Christmas Menu

This Christmas is the first Christmas we will be celebrating at home with my little family and our lastest addition. Being only 2 and a bit weeks old, catering this Christmas was going to be a bit tricky with bub on board.

So I decided to keep it simple with my meal plan. I also got all my fresh supplies home delivered the evening of the 23rd as well as a few good quality Christmas treats.

For starters we had a cheese and antipasto platter with all local produce.
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And for the main event a free range roast chicken (ordered from our local shop)
Served with fresh sourdough loaf and
Salads.
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Salads: Green Salad with Mango
Potato Salad
Greek Salad
Pear Rocket and Parmesan Salad.

For dessert I served a fresh fruit platter with Charlies Mince pies, vanilla custard, gingerbread men and a delicious Christmas pudding from Aussie Farmers Direct.

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It was a success with hubby and Mr 5 eating well! And the leftovers were pretty good tooūüôā

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas from kidscaneatclean.

And so this is Christmas…

When I started this little venture just over 12 months ago I never knew that it would be as popular and successful as it was.

This year has seen some extreme highs and lows culminating in the birth of my second little boy.

Eating well while pregnant has been a massive battle for me and I can honestly say that I have never been more challenged in my life to keep family meals healthy, nutritional and additive free.  There have been lots of slip ups and many take away dinners.  But now that the pregnancy is over we are doing much better at eating well.

This is partly due to the fact that as gifts we have been receiving  homemade meals.  I can tell you this beats any baby shower or muslin cloth.  Being able to open up my fridge or freezer and provide a nutritious meal to my family has been invaluable.

This year we have also survived our first year of lunch boxes! My goodness they are exhausting to keep healthy, interesting and to have some variety.  Next year my eldest starts school so I will featuring some more lunch box ideas as the year progresses.

So with 9 sleeps to Christmas I am ready to sit back and relax! Baby born, shopping done, and christmas lunch is being home delivered!

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and joyous 2014.

Jess xx

Clean Eating Mum and Bub

Mother and Baby Giraffe

Well it has been a bit quiet over here in terms of cooking and recipes I have been neglecting my blog but hopefully you all will forgive me.

I am expecting bub number 2 and am now 22 weeks pregnant. ¬†It has been a turbulent couple of months and unfortunately I have had a killer case of morning sickness. ¬†Morning sickness is a funny thing, some women are terribly nauseated but don’t vomit at all, some vomit daily first thing in the morning for 12 weeks and then just stop, and some a barely affected. ¬†For a very small percentage of women, around 1%, experience Hyperemesis Gravidarum. ¬†Briefly it’s a severe morning sickness that requires medical treatment and is dangerous to the health of the mother. ¬†There are numerous theories about the cause of morning sickness. ¬†Including, hormonal changes, low blood sugar, emotional stress/anxiety and smell/taste changes.

Whatever the cause for some women it can be debilitating regardless of the level of severity.  While not my first experience with morning (and the rest of the day) sickness.  This has been a pretty debilitating and exhausting few months.  I lost 5kg and had trouble keeping hydrated, all food was disgusting and I was vomiting multiple times a day (or night-waking up at 3am has got to be a highlight!!).  After throwing up at work on a colleague I decided it was out of my control and sort the advice of my caregiver who prescribed an anti-emetic.  Finally I started to stop losing weight and eventually I even gained some!!

Early pregnancy is probably one of the few times I think it’s ok to let go of healthy eating ideas and principles and listen to your body. ¬†By all means if you can eat healthy and manage your morning sickness go for it! ¬†There is lot’s of advice out there when it comes to pregnancy, birth and parenthood so many ideas and suggestions. ¬†So I’m just going to add in another one!

Listen to your body, nausea often happens when your blood sugar is low or you feel stressed, one of the easiest ways to deal with this is eating. ¬†While the thought of food may seem appalling at these times it’s often just what you need. ¬†Having some quick portable anxiety relieving strategies doesn’t hurt either! ¬†Deep breathing is often a good one.

Don’t worry about the food pyramid, if you only want fruit eat fruit, if you can’t stand meat go vego, if you want milkshakes drink them. ¬†The most important thing is just to keep eating! ¬†If you do actually vomit it’s important to make sure you are hydrated, drink anything that you can tolerate other than alcohol/coffee/black tea.

Traditional anti nausea remedies can work.  Mint, ginger, fruits high in pectin (apples, berries etc.), oregano, aniseed, cinnamon, cloves and cumin are all meant to have anti nausea properties.

Try mint or ginger tea, ginger ale, ginger cordial, ginger tablets, fresh juices with mint/ginger.

Stewing fruit can increase the amount of pectin-stewed apples with cinnamon or apples and pears together

Some people find snacking on dry biscuits or crackers helps as well.

Make sure to snack, if you are working pack plenty of snacks and leave on your desk for easy access.

Bubbles help for some people: mineral water is a good option or ginger ale or lemonade.

There are a few foods that need to be avoided, this list seems to be growing, so it’s best to speak with your caregiver.

Finally now I can start to eat like a normal person again! As long as I eat regularlyūüôā

Lazy Fried Rice

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Lazy Fried Rice

So after a busy day and a late run to the shops we needed a quick wholesome meal so I settled on fried rice. ¬†I call this version “lazy” as I mostly used frozen or pre-prepared ingredients. ¬†Obviously you can substitute with what every fresh ingredients you have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • Half a brown onion sliced
  • Crushed garlic
  • Crush chilli paste or dried chilli flakes
  • Bacon diced
  • A packet of frozen steam vegies
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • A handful of baby spinach leaves
  • Oil suitable for high heat e.g. rice bran oil
  • 2-3 cups of cooked rice (we used basmati, but brown would be fine)
  • Tamari

Method:

  1. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil in a wok on medium high heat. Add in onion and stir well.
  2. After 1 minute add in a teaspoon or two of garlic and chilli to taste. Stir well and allow onion to cook until almost soft.
  3. Add in bacon pieces and stir until well cooked.
  4. Tip the contents of the wok into a bowl, cover and set aside.
  5. Put the wok back on the heat and add in frozen vegies and peas and cook for 2-3 mins until cooked through
  6. Add in rice and toss through vegies cooking for around a minute
  7. Add in spinach leaves and return onion and bacon mixture to the wok.  Cook until spinach welts.
  8. Turn off the heat and add in Tamari to taste, stir through and serve.

Notes:

  • For a vegetarian version omit bacon, whisk two eggs and cook on a non-stick frypan as you would a pancake. ¬†When cooked through roll up and slice with a knife and add into wok when you add in the spinach.
  • Fresh vegies taste amazing use whatever is available or in season-you may find you need to add a little water or stock to the wok when cooking vegies in step 5.
  • If you have them sesame seeds or shallots make a great garnish.
  • Using a rice cooker makes this even lazier! Or even you could purchase two-minute rice.

Winter Staples: Super Easy Pumpkin Soup

Whole Pumpkin

I can’t take full credit for this recipe the idea came from a MasterChef episode from a couple of years back. ¬†What I can say is it is super duper easy and yummy. ¬†This recipe works best with a food processor but don’t despair you can also make it by hand if you don’t own a food processor. ¬†When using pumpkin in cooking it pays to purchase a whole pumpkin, it keeps fresh longer and boy does it taste good. ¬†This is a very basic recipe and can easily be modified to enhance the flavour of the soup. ¬†Some suggestions would be a little chilli, or cumin or curry paste for something different. ¬†A handful of parsley or fresh basil would be amazing as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large pumpkin
  • 1 brown onion
  • Good quality organic butter or olive oil
  • About 1 litre or so of good quality vegetable stock

To Serve:

  • Crusty bread or toast
  • Sour cream, natural yoghurt or real cream to garnish. Or as pictured real feta.

Method

  1. First prepare your pumpkin.  Cut into manageable pieces that will fit in your food processor and peel of the skin.
  2. Put the finest grater/shredding part into your processor and grate all your pumpkin. Alternatively grate your pumpkin on a hand grater and put aside.
  3. Next peel the onion, cut into quarters and grate in the food processor. Alternatively finely dice with a sharp knife.
  4. Put a large based pot on the stove and add in butter or oil. Once heated add in onion and cook for 1-2 minutes until translucent.
  5. Add in your pumpkin and stir well making sure the butter and onion mix coat the pumpkin.
  6. Cook on a medium heat until the pumpkin breaks down and begins to resemble mashed pumpkin.  Do not let it dry out or stick to the pot-if this happens add in a little stock to keep it wet.
  7. Prepare your stock and slowly begin to add into the pot with the pumpkin, stirring as you go.
  8. Once the stock is added in and mixed through your pumpkin soup should be ready to serve.  For super smooth soup use a stick mix or your blender.
  9. Serve with your choice of garnish and bread, season well with salt and pepper.

Note: The finer you can grate the pumpkin the quicker it will cook.  This helps give the soup its flavour.

Pumpkin Soup

Voila super simple yummy soup.

Healthy Eating on a Budget.

404640681_5d75a06ad1Juggler by Helico

Trying to clean eat on a budget can feel often feel like juggling, weighing up cost against health. ¬†There is no doubt that buying clean food can be pricey for example some ingredients can only be imported or ordered online or purchased from small health food shops. ¬†However this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to eat well and be budget conscious at the same time. ¬†In fact cutting out processed foods can actually save $$$ at the checkout. ¬†Buying rare and exotic fruits and ingredients while great is not necessary on an everyday basis and can be saved for special occasions or when you have some money to spare. ¬†Ultimately “real” food should be cheap, however changing to cooking from scratch and using fresh ingredients can often lead to an increase in the cost of your shopping trolley. ¬†Like most mums out there cost, ease of preparation and health are all considerations when planning and purchasing groceries.

Common Traps

  • Adding too many new foods into the weekly shop. ¬†Variety is the spice of life but when it comes to $$$ adding lots of new and different ingredients in the one shop will see your total bill rising.
  • Buying the wrong quantity. ¬†There are some things that are worth buying in bulk think grains, dried legumes, nuts and others which are not, fresh fruit and vegetables for one.
  • Buying off-season. ¬†In the modern supermarket it’s pretty most impossible to know which items are in season and which are not. ¬†As a rule of thumb most “specials” in the fresh section are normally in season and anything imported is not.
  • Buying a packet of something for one recipe and 1/3 is left over and never used at the back of your pantry.
  • Health washing. ¬†Health washing is a term for items which appear to be “healthy” but in reality are not. ¬†They may say wonderful things on the front of the package but a quick read of the nutritional content reveals otherwise.
  • Buying “kids” food. ¬†I can say almost categorically that any item marketed as a “kids” product is not worth your time. ¬†The quantities are tiny and normally highly packaged. ¬†And often are nutritionally worse than there grown up counterpart.

My Top Tips for Cheap Clean Eating

  • Don’t be loyal. ¬†Most loyalty schemes are really incentives for the consumer to spend money they don’t need to. ¬†Don’t stick to the one supermarket and shop around. ¬†Often there may be some excellent specials at a different supermarket to where you normally shop.
  • Consider shopping at a budget supermarket. ¬†Places like Aldi, Costco and similar are popping up everywhere. ¬†Break out of your old habits and try shopping somewhere new.
  • Omit the aisles you don’t need. ¬†There are several aisles at the supermarket that can be omitted or skipped on a regular basis. ¬†Think the confectionary aisle, chip aisle, toy aisle, beauty aisle and soft drink aisle to name a few.
  • Use unit price to guide your choice of product. ¬†All major supermarkets in Australia have the unit price of an item on its ticket. ¬†This helps sort out the real savings from those sneaky promotions.
  • Learn to read nutritional content. ¬†Luckily in Australia we have good labelling standards and I know that there is push to make even more improvements. ¬†Ignore any catch phrases on the front of the package and go straight to the back. ¬†Knowing what you are looking for, helps sort the wheat from the chaff.
  • Write a list and a meal plan. ¬†In fact write your meal plan and then add any missing items to the list. ¬†Don’t immediately replace an item just because it runs out. ¬†If you are not going to need it that week wait until you do need it to purchase.
  • Buy in bulk-with caution. ¬†Buying in bulk can save a lot of money but it needs to be something that you have the space to store either in the freezer or pantry, or you need time to prepare the food to freeze/keep for later. ¬†Don’t buy things that you have never tried before in large quantity, start with a smaller amount and once you have perfected cooking with it and know which meals it works well in look at buying in bulk.
  • Shop seasonally, this does work!! But watch your quantities we don’t want to buy more than you need. ¬†Farmers Markets are great for this purpose as are local suppliers.
  • Consider a regular delivery of fresh fruit and or vegetables. ¬†Many places do this now and some can even be set up online. ¬†At our place fruit is demolished like a horde of fruit bats inhabit our walls so having a regular delivery of fresh in season fruit keeps the cost down. ¬†The best thing about these fruit and veggie boxes is that primarily they are at a fixed cost making it easier to budget.
  • Avoid waste. ¬†Try to stick to the quantities you need when buying perishable items. ¬†Excess often goes to waste, and with the average household throwing away one 1/5 of their groceries this is money literally been thrown in the bin. ¬†Not to mention the carbon footprint!
  • Replace things slowly. ¬†When embarking on a new eating plan or eating style I have noticed people like to purge all the “unhealthy” items from their cupboards and restock with “healthy” foods. ¬†This is very expensive. ¬†Replace foods as you go along. ¬†For example when your rice runs out,¬†buy brown rice instead or even try quinoa or wild rice. ¬†Same with flours, pastas and other grains.

These lists are no means exhaustive and I would love to know how you save $$$ when you are at the checkout.

Jess xx

Dinner Table an essential ingredient in Clean Eating Household

A little pinterest inspiration

I have been thinking about updating our dining setting for some time now and browsing Pinterest and Google for some inspiration.  I have always been a big fan of eating at the table together as a family.  I always felt that it was good quality time as a family where the focus was on talking to each other and discussing the issues of the day.  Learning to take turns in conversation and table manners have always been a focus in our household, and we found when dealing with our fussy toddler that eating together was a good strategy.  Recently I have begun thinking more in-depth about some of the benefits of eating together and putting my research hat on I am glad to find that there are well researched benefits of eating together.

Childhood obesity is huge news worthy issue in the western world. ¬†But did you know that children who eat in front of the television are more likely to be obese or overweight? ¬†Also families that eat together have been shown in the US to fewer fried foods, soft drinks and foods high in trans fats. ¬†And it isn’t just the littlelies that can benefit, the is also some research that shows teenagers who eat with their families eat more fruit and vegetables than those who don’t! ¬†Also from a recent survey in the US, teenagers who ate with their families had reduced rates of substance abuse and did better at school. ¬†How much can be gained from changing one small part of the evening meal?!

For me personally one of my reasons for wanting family meals was to attempt to teach healthy eating behaviours and habits to my son. ¬†I wanted to show him that food can be fun, enjoyable and remove any emotional baggage from eating. ¬† At our house we don’t say “yuk” or “I don’t like it” (this one I learnt from my mumūüôā ) we are only allowed to say “I don’t know if I like this…”. ¬†We must try everything on our plates however we don’t have to like or enjoy everything, and eat until we are full. ¬†And when I say we I don’t mean kids only all of us, Mum and Dad included. ¬†Another piece of research I found interesting was that children who are “fussy eaters” and unwilling to try new foods often have parents who are also reluctant to try new foods. ¬†Role modelling is an important aspect of dining to together. ¬†As parents we role model many behaviours to the impressionable minds of our children, some good, some less so. ¬†Why not utilise the dinner table as your own method of delivering healthy food concepts to your family?

 

References:

http://www.healthyfoodguide.com.au/articles/2009/june/how-to-turn-around-a-fussy-eater#sthash.kg8M9dgK.dpuf

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/family-dinners-are-important

Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2012

Review: Hello Fresh

So I happened to stumble upon this grocery home delivery company called Hello Fresh. ¬†I love home delivery! ¬†I know many people are put off by the extra cost of using home delivery for the groceries and fresh food. ¬†Personally ¬†I think the extra cost is more than worth it. ¬†Best thing about online shopping is that you can see your check out figure the entire time. ¬†Like walking the aisles with a calculator. ¬†Sorting items by unit price helps you make some smart decisions about how much your willing to pay for a particular item. And if the total is too much, you can go back and revise until it’s the right amount. ¬†Plus no queuing, waiting or naughty kids raiding the lollies at the checkout. ¬†Now with so many great companies out there doing fresh food delivery you can get some great local, seasonal fruit and veg-without having to step out the door. ¬† For me home delivery is a great time saver, and by ordering mixed box of fruit and veg for a set price, I get to try new foods and challenge my¬†culinary¬†skills.

Well let me tell you Hello Fresh takes it just that one step further.  You set up a subscription for a dinner box for 2,4, or 6 people for either 3 or 5 meals.  Everything for those meals comes in the box, as well as recipes with easy to follow instructions.  So what that means is no meal planning and no shopping!  All you need to do is follow the recipe.  Like any Mum planning the weekly meals can be exhausting.  There are different food preferences to take into account, working out the right quantities of food to avoid wastage, kinder and work lunches to plan and then preparing it all.  So what a relief to get everything I need for 3 dinners delivered straight to my door without having to do anything.

 

So I was determined to give it a go and see whether it was as good as it sounded.  We ordered a 4 person, 3 meal box.  I chose this one as there would be left overs from the meals for lunches and it still gave me flexibility for the other nights when I want to prepare my own food.  Delivery was within the specified time frame 4-9pm, and the box was packed well and all cold items kept cool in an insulated polystyrene esky.  The meals on offer this week were: Tofu Stir Fry, Steak with Cavolo Nero and Chickpeas, Oregano Chicken with Bean and Olive Salad.

The first meal we tried was the chicken. ¬†In terms of¬†preparation¬†difficulty I would say it was about medium. ¬†Primarily¬†because¬†the timing of the chicken and salad was a little tricky. ¬†In terms of flavour I did reduce the onion from 2 to 1 for the salad – I’m not a huge fan of raw onion. ¬†I¬†accidentally¬†used more oregano and beans than the recipe indicated, these were actually meant for the other dishes! ¬†I quite enjoyed the dish and would rate it 4 out of 5, ¬†Mr 4 1/2 enjoyed the chicken but wasn’t too keen on the salad, and Hubby felt it was too lemony and rated it 2 out of 5. ¬†However with encouragement he did have it for left overs the next day and said that the flavour was much better, 3.5 out of 5. ¬†Serving sizes were pretty generous, and it made 4 adult meals plus one child meal.

Next was the tofu stir fry. ¬†This was medium level of preparation skill. ¬†Like all stir fries the is a lot of chopping and cutting vegies. ¬†This can be time-consuming and tricky particularly if your knife skills or your knife aren’t the best. ¬†Lucky I had some helping hands and things moved more quickly¬†because¬†of that! ¬†I didn’t have the beans for this recipe, however it was very generous in terms of vegies and I didn’t feel these were missed. ¬†Rather than boiling the rice, I prefer to use an absorption method if on the stove or my rice cooker. ¬†The serving sizes were quite generous, and we made 4 adult meals and 3 child meals. ¬†While all adults enjoyed this one, the kids were mixed in their reviews. ¬†Mr 5 enjoyed his tofu and a few vegies but wasn’t keen on the rice, Mr 4 1/2 enjoyed his rice and needed encouragement to try tofu and a few of the different vegies. ¬†Mr 4 1/2 stated the tofu was like “chicken, but different chicken”. ¬†Mr 1 1/2 was the easiest pleased and tried it all.

And last was the Steak dish. ¬†In terms of¬†preparation¬†this was the easiest, and I wonder if it could even be converted to a one pot meal. ¬†I substituted a little dried oregano as I had already used all my fresh on the chicken dish. ¬†In terms of flavour this was both mine and hubby’s favourite, rating it 5 out of 5 and ¬†4 out of 5¬†respectfully. ¬†Mr 4 1/2 wouldn’t even touch this one, and after 30 mins we sent him to bed without dinner. ¬†Serving sizes were generous and we made 6 adult serves. ¬†Best of all this one was freezer friendly so I have packed away 2 serves for a lunch or a quick dinner.

 

Overall it was reasonably successful experiment-one I am keen to try again this week.

Winter staples: macaroni cheese

I love macaroni and cheeseūüôā its so warm, creamy and delicious. The perfect winter food. My recipe doesn’t include ham or bacon but you could add these in if you wish.

Ingredients
-1 brown onion diced
-2 medium tomatoes diced
-1 tablespoon of capers rinsed
– about 250 grams of wholemeal macaroni or short pasta
– 3 cups of skim milk
– 2 tablespoons of nuttelex
– 1/3 cup flour (wholemeal or corn flour)
– 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
– about a cup of wholemeal bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2. Bring pot of water to the boil and cook pasta till al dente
3. Meanwhile start on cheese sauce. Melt nuttelex in small saucepan and add in flour slowly.
4. Add milk gradually and bring to the boil, then simmer till thickened whisking continuously. When thick add half of Parmesan and stir through.
5. In a small frypan sauté onion and tomato add a little white wine or white balsamic vinegar and simmer till soft
6. Spray an oven proof dish with oil and add in pasta, cheese sauce, and tomato, mix.
7. Stir in capers and sprinkle top of dish with bread crumbs and the rest of the cheese
8. Cook for 20-30mins until top is browned and cheese melted