Oh my, I do love a good cookie

I have recently begun baking once a week so that the Abomb has a little treat for his lunch box. I don’t want it to be too unhealthy but I do want him to feel a little special when he opens his lunch box.

I make a mean vegetable cake that the boys love and similar muffins. They also enjoy fruit muffins but I often find if they’re not eaten quickly enough, the fruit can go off and ruin the taste of the muffin.

Many cookies I find are too sweet and often include chocolate plus dried fruit plus A LOT of sugar – particularly if it is a US recipe. I don’t have a high threshold for sugary things (my preference is in fact savoury) and I’m really put off if something is too sweet. I know my boys aren’t but really, given their resistance to healthy things, they don’t need any more sugar than they already have.

So I found this recipe which suited all our needs. I’m usually resistant to put chocolate chips in cookies for the boys especially when recipe’s sugar content is also high. But, this recipe doesn’t call for a large amount of chocolate and the other ingredients are healthy enough to balance it out.

So, without any more ado, here is the recipe:

 Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup flour (I used wholemeal)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (I would use 1/2 – 2/3 cup in future, they were a tiny bit too sweet for me)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (you could use vegetable or canola oil instead but the coconut oil was DIVINE)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (or sunflower seeds, or walnuts, or…?) (I didn’t use these because the boys won’t touch nuts)
  • rounded 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Combine the oats, flour, salt, cinnamon and coconut in a bowl. In another bowl, combine and whisk together oil, vanilla and syrup. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until all is moistened. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. At this point, if I have the time, I like to cover the dough and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes, but it isn’t essential.

Form dough into equal-size balls, place on cookie sheet, gently press down balls (but don’t flatten), bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, then remove from pan, let cool on a cooling rack

How I got my stubborn preschooler to devour spinach

I’ve talked before about how resistant my middle boy is to vegetables. The only ones that pass his lips are tomatoes, in the form of bolognese, and corn, in the form of pancakes. I do not exaggerate when I say, that this is. IT.

Suffice to say, it drives me totally mildly insane. But I can’t even begin to mention that here because this post will be completely hijacked and, fact is, I have something GREAT to share.

I’ve read about green smoothies a lot round the web and while I was initially interested in them for myself, I kept reading that they are a great way for kids to get a daily intake of vegetables, and raw ones at that which are much more nutritious and beneficial.

I was sceptical to say the least. As if they won’t taste the kale or spinach or chard. As if they won’t see you putting that stuff in and flat out refuse to take a sip. As if their brother’s protestations at how ‘gross’ it looks won’t put them completely off.

Well, I stand corrected. While I did make the first one secretly so they couldn’t see the ingredients I no longer have to because they just love them too much to ever refuse.

There are many recipes round the web for green smoothies. It seems the most health conscious ones avoid milk all together but I’m not stupid. I knew I had to make it as appetising as possible in order to include the healthy bits.

So, during this winter period when berries are at their most expensive, I use frozen berries. I think ultimately this is a cheaper option all year round (unless you get great deals) but also, they are easy to measure.

I also use vanilla soymilk. This is sweet but pretty nutritious and I’m keen to get the boys to avoid dairy when I can. I’m told again and again by my kinesiologist that dairy, particularly as a main food group in our diets, is not healthy. So, I thought this was a good alternative. Vanilla soymilk doesn’t have a heap of sugar in it and the ingredients are pretty good.

Then, I include a handful of English spinach leaves. I will say no more on this point but, brilliant.

I blend the frozen berries and soymilk for 30 seconds on their own and then add the spinach. I then blend it all for another 1-2 minutes in order to make sure the spinach has all but disintegrated. My eldest is not appreciative of little bits of spinach caught in his teeth although my middle boy, who is most revolted by vegetables, doesn’t seem to mind at all.

In fact, he now tells all and sundry that he LOVES spinach. Man, have I been waiting to hear those words.

There are many other ingredients you can include. I’m starting with these three because their easy and I don’t have to think too hard in the mornings when I whizz up a household of breakfast smoothies.

Go ahead, make one today. 

Crazy for kale

I discovered kale last winter after reading about it on some food blogs. In fact, my obsession with kale began with a recipe for kale chips (which you’ll find below). I was intrigued how a member of the brassica (or cabbage) family could be make into chips. Because, you know, I. Love. Chips.

Well these chips, they kinda stole my heart. And the hearts of everyone I introduced them to. In fact, I don’t ‘do’ dinner parties, but I do kale chips for all and sundry. It’s now my thing.

And in discovering these chips, I also discovered my new favourite vegetable in kale. I’ve never been a fan of cooked cabbage (think over-boiled, under salted brussel sprouts) so I’m pretty thrilled to have found something that has more health benefits but is so damn tasty at the same time.

I can’t emphasise how wonderful tasty kale is. Got that? D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. But I thought I’d share a few health facts about it too:

  • Kale has large quantities of Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as generous helpings of manganese and dietary fiber, and a bit of protein as well.
  • Kale has proven anti-cancer properties, illustrated in a number of studies over the years. These include colon, ovarian, prostate, breast, and bladder cancer. These properties are linked to its high concentration of antioxidants.
  • Kale also has high levels of anti-inflammatory agents, namely its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. A mere 100 calories of kale is enough to provide you with 25-35% of your daily recommended intake.
  • Kale will help lower LDL cholesterols (the bad cholesterol), as well.

Take all these health benefits, and add their detoxification and digestive qualities, and the result is a super food.

Here is the recipe for the kale chips

1 bunch of kale (I tend to use the less curly kale but I hear curly is good too – and I love using the word ‘curly’)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt, to taste

Preheat the oven at 150 degrees Celsius. Rinse and dry the kale (I sometimes skip this bit if the kale looks super clean – which it often does. Also, if you do wash, make sure you dry completely because otherwise the chips are potentially soggy), then remove the stems and tough centre ribs.

Cut into large pieces, toss with the olive oil in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on  a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp (make sure you watch the oven vigilantly because they can cook a bit quicker sometimes).

Apart from the chips, I really love kale fried with some onion, garlic and chilli. I used to blanch it for 3 minutes before putting it into the fry pan, but now I love a slightly hardier taste when you just fry it in olive oil.

And here’s the meal I made last night that was so yummy, I thought you might like too:

I roasted carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, brussel sprouts (SO good roasted), parsnip and zucchini for 40 minutes in a preheated oven of 180-200 degrees Celsius.

While the veges roasted, I finely diced one onion and shredded half a bushel of kale. I fried these in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and added a crushed clove of garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons of chilli flakes PLUS half a tin of organic lentils. I fried these for about 8-10 minutes.

So, when the veges were done, I loaded them up on some brown rice and dressed them with this dressing which is so wonderful with roasted veges.

3 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey

1 tablespoon of hot mustard

S&P.

Then I put the kale fry up on top of this and then dressed the whole thing with about 100g of crumbled goats cheese.

Have I said how crazily divine it was? Well……

Here is another recipe for kale that I absolutely love as well and which I used to make every week when I was eating more dairy (which I’ve been avoiding because of my intolerant baby – just introducing a bit of goats cheese now).

What’s your favourite vegetable this winter?

 

My first recipe – Roast cauliflower soup

I had grand plans for posting my first recipe. I envisaged spending a few hours trying to capture pretty pictures of the meal and then posting these with the recipe. Simple.

But I forgot. And before I knew it, we had this.

Because, you know, this soup is DYNAMO! Oh me, oh my. No pretty pictures here. No time!

Make it. Eat it. That’s all I can say. Oh, and autumn is the perfect time.

Roast Cauliflower Soup

500g cauliflower, broken into largish florets* and stems sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 red chilli, finely diced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli)

500ml chicken (or vegetable) stock

500ml water*

freshly grated parmasen cheese to serve (optional)

very best extra virgin olive oil to serve (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place cauliflower on an oven tray. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast for approximately 25 minutes until golden on the edges (oh, and try not to nibble too much cauliflower when it comes out, it’s so caramalised and tasty).

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan and cook onion covered over a low heat until onion is soft but not brown. Add garlic and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes. Add stock and water and bring to a simmer.

When the cauliflower is ready, add to the soup and simmer, covered for an additional 10 minutes or until cauliflower is well cooked through. Puree with a stick blender or in batches in the food processor. Season with salt and pepper and divide between two warmed soup bowls. Grate over cheese and drizzle sparingly with extra virgin oil, if desired (I often don’t add these and it’s still wonderfully tasty).

* I have roasted small florets in the past but I find the taste is better when the florets are large.

** I do half stock and half water because it allows the taste of the cauliflower to come through.