Quinoa stir-fry

I really like this healthy, but tasty stir-fry and better still it’s quick and easy to make.  We hope you love it too!

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I’ve become a big fan of quinoa recently and luckily the kids seem to like it too.  It’s a great source of protein and really easy to cook.  As such a small grain it’s also great to use in weaning recipes, particularly if little ones have few teeth and are only getting used to managing solids!

Makes 2 large portions and 1 small portion

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The what:

120g quinoa

100g Edamme beans

a bunch of spring onions

1cm ginger

handful of coriander

2 baby pak choi

5 baby corn

juice of 1/2 lime

small handful sesame seeds

1/2 tbsp sunflower oil

For the sauce:

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp Oyster sauce

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The how:

Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the packet.

To make the sauce mix together all the ingredients.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large saute pan and saute the onions, garlic and ginger.  Remove and set aside.  Add all the other vegetables to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the sauce and cook for a further 2-3 depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables.  Stir in the onions, garlic, ginger and quinoa.  Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and coriander and serve.

 

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Cucumber and Pineapple Smoothie

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I love this flavour combination, which I happened upon accidentally while creating Riata for my chickpea and sweet potato curry (click here in case you missed it!).  I don’t know why I never thought of cucumber and pineapple before, but I’m sure glad I’ve found it now!!

Lentil loves smoothies and now regularly asks for them, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new concoctions and this one definitely seems to be a winner. Smoothies are also a great way to use up that leftover bit of cucumber in the fridge that would otherwise end up in the bin.

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The what:

a think slice of pineapple, peeled and chopped

1/3 cucumber, peeled and sliced

handful fresh mint

4 tbsp natural yoghurt

1 tsp honey

The how:

Blend the pineapple, cucumber and mint in a food processor, then add the yoghurt and honey and blend until well combined.  You can either serve as a textured smoothie, or pass through a sieve if you prefer a drinkable smoothie without any “bits”.  Personally, I prefer the former, but some kids might be put off by the “bits”.

Have a smoooooothie day!

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Glazed Salmon with Carrot and Courgette Ribbons

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Once Coco and Lentil got used to the early weaning vegetable purees I made, I was keen to introduce fish.  I wasn’t a great fish eater as a child: I only ate my mother’s fish pie which she topped with crumbled crisps and even then, I ate more of the potato and crisps than the fish! Thankfully, Coco and Lentil aren’t yet showing any signs of my fish pickiness. Salmon was the first fish they tried and one I come back to regularly.  As an anadromous fish it’s great brain food, a good source of vitamin D, and, of course, it’s omega-3 properties are well publicised.  It is also very versatile and can be baked, cured, eaten raw, grilled, poached, sautéed or smoked.  This recipe calls for a saute pan and a little glaze.  It’s yummy and healthy!

You can check out our other fish recipes here.

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Makes 2 adult and 2 child portions

The what:

3 salmon fillets, skinned

1 courgette, topped & tailed

1 carrot, peeled, topped & tailed

1 cm ginger, finely sliced

1/2 celeraic, outer skin peeled

1/2 tbsp olive oil

for the sauce:

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp reduced salt soy

2 tsp honey

The how:

Slice the carrot, celeraic and courgette into thin vertical strips using a potato peeler, or alternatively if you have a spiralizer, slice into ribbons.  You can prepare the vegetables in advance – just place in a bowl with water and refrigerate.  Drain and pat dry with some kitchen towel when needed.

To make the glaze mix all the ingredients together in a shallow bowl and marinade the salmon fillets for 2 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan for the vegetables.  Heat another dry pan for the salmon.  Remove the salmon from glaze (but retain the glaze for later) and add to the dry, hot pan. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn, pour over the glaze and cook for further 2 minutes.  Add the spiralized vegetables to the oiled pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

To serve, arrange the vegetables on a plate and place the salmon on top. Drizzle over the remaining glaze from the hot pan.

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Mayo-less Potato Salad

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As a child I hated potato salad.  I don’t know if it was the dry, floury potatoes or the combination of cold potatoes, raw onion and mayonnaise that put me off, but nothing would entice me to eat it! Today I still approach potato salad with a certain degree of trepidation and have yet to find a traditional potato salad recipe that I love.  When spending some time in Germany as a teenager a fairy godmother (and fabulous domestic cook) thought me to make a potato salad that doesn’t require any mayonnaise at all.  This is my version of that salad: it’s my desert island salad!  It’s one that Lentil loves too (even if he picks out a few of the gherkins) and so hopefully he won’t grow up with my potato salad phobia!

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The what:

330g baby new / Charlotte potatoes

2 slices bacon

4 spring onions, sliced

10 mini gherkins, topped and sliced

For the dressing:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tbsp of the pickled juice from the gherkin jar

pinch of ground black pepper

Tip: When serving salads, I normally wait until shortly before serving to add the dressing so they don’t become soggy.  However, this salad tastes best if the potatoes are left to soak in the dressing for a while.

The how:

Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Then simmer for about 15-20 minutes until cooked.  Remove from the heat, drain and leave to cool.

Meanwhile saute the spring onions in a little olive oil, remove, add the bacon to the saute-pan and cook, turning over half way through.  Once cooked, remove any rind from the bacon and dice.

Once the potatoes have cooled a little, slice and add to your salad bowl.  Toss in the spring onions, bacon and gherkins.

To make the dressing, add the mustard, gherkin juice to a jar, close the lid and shake well.  Then add the olive oil and pepper and shake well again.  Taste test with a potato slice.  Pour over the salad, mix and leave to soak a little before serving (see tip above).

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Fruity Coconut Porridge

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Porridge is a great breakfast to start off the day, especially for growing children and Lentil and Coco eat it most mornings.   It’s so simple and quick too. We usually add raisins, maybe some cinnamon, or other fruit. They don’t seem to tire of it, but I do!  So every so often, I try out a few new flavours. Coconut is a current favourite. I’ve used banana, strawberries and blueberries here, but you can add any fruit, whatever will get you going on a Monday morning!

Makes 1 adult and 1 child portion (about 4tbsp for an adult and 2 tbsp for a child portion).  Just multiply accordingly for the rest of the family.

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The what:

6 tbsp organic porridge oats

350ml milk

2 heaped tbsp coconut flakes plus extra for sprinkling on top

1 banana, sliced

handful of strawberries, topped and sliced

handful of blueberries

The how:

Add the porridge oats and milk to a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add the coconut flakes and simmer for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve with your favourite fruit (or whatever is leftover in the fruit bowl!) piled high and sprinkle some coconut flakes on top.

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Enjoy!

Courgetti and Strawberry Salad

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Since starting my blogging journey, I’ve been inspired by (and in awe of!) the many fabulous health food bloggers out there, creating amazing recipes with deliciously fresh ingredients, and sharing drool-inducing photos of their creations.  It was while perusing some of these awesome foodies’ websites and salivating over their culinary endeavours that I came across spiralizing. Clearly, I am way behind the times – how have I missed all the hype about fruit and veggie ribbons and spaghetti styled courgettes??  I wondered if the spiralizer was just the latest kitchen gadget: something I would use once and then retire to the cupboard over the fridge, which is rarely opened: I need a stool to reach it!

I reasoned that I use my mandolin regularly and love Japanese food.  Surely something food-related originating in Japan can’t be bad?  So after a little research on the various brands and models I purchased a spiralizer online and eagerly awaited its arrival!

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I’m certainly not giving up on my yummy homemade pasta (mon Dieu!) or carbs altogether.  I think they are an important part of a balanced diet, especially for children.  However, I am bursting with ideas for new recipes using my spiralizer and it is a fun way to introduce kids to new ways of eating fruit and veg.

So here is the first of my spiralizer creations……[drum roll!]

I’ve made this salad both with and without chicken and it’s as tasty either way so if you’re vegetarian just simply leave out the chicken.

Serves 2 adult & 1 child portion.

The what:

2 large (3 smaller) chicken fillets, diced

handful of spinach leaves, stems removed

12g flaked almonds

150g strawberries, topped and quartered

2 courgettes, topped and tailed

3 tbsp natural yoghurt

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For the dressing:

juice from 1/2 an orange

juice from 1/2 lime

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

a pinch of ground black pepper

Tip: If you don’t have a spiralizer, a mandolin or julienne peeler are just as good for thinly slicing the courgette. If using a julienne peeler, you may find it easier to slice the courgette length-ways.

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The how:

Marinade the chicken in the yoghurt for a couple of hours / overnight.

You can also prepare the dressing in advance: just give it a good shake / stir again before using as the oil will have settled on top.  Add all the ingredients to a jar and shake well.  Taste test with a spinach leaf.

Pre-heat the oven to 220 (200 fan) and back for about 8 minutes and then flip the chicken pieces over, draining off any excess liquid and bake for a further 8 minutes.  Be careful not to let the chicken dry out.

Meanwhile slice the courgettes, either using a using a spiralizer to make courgetti, a mandolin or a julienne peeler (see tip above).  Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and cook the courgette on medium heat for a couple of minutes to soften.  If you have used a mandolin and have very thin courgette slices, cook on a lower heat and stir and toss continuously in the pan to avoid too much browning, or burning.  Take of the heat and set aside.

toast the almonds in a dry saute pan on medium heat for about 1 minute, tossing regularly, and again being careful not to burn!

To assemble the salad, add the courgetti / courgette slices to your salad bowl.  Place the spinach leave on top and then add the chicken and strawberries. Sprinkle the almonds over the salad and pour the dressing on top.

Enjoy!

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Chickpea, Orka and Sweet Potato Curry

IMG_5552bWe got a little peckish while at Kew Gardens (so beautiful!) recently and headed to the Pavilion expecting to tuck into one of their summer favourites from the grill and barbecue.  But despite the warm English sunshine there was sadly no barbecue.  We didn’t go hungry though: Peyton and Byrne’s indoor restaurant was serving.  I went for the Indian veggie curry, which was really quite delicious and inspired me to try out my own.  My version has more of a Thai than Indian influence, but its quick and easy to make.  I’ll have to go back for the Full of Spice festival for further inspiration!

As well as being beautiful and great for picnics in this weather, there is also lots of fun for the kids.  Following lunch we wandered along the Xstrata Treetop Walkway to view all the trees from above.  A small warning: the walkway does sway quite a bit in the breeze so probably best avoided by those with Acrophobia!  Next we headed to the Treehouse Towers playground: Lentil had a swell time climbing, sliding, walking ropes and of course getting very dirty in the process.  Thank goodness for washing machines!

Anyway, back to the curry……here is my veggie version:

 

The what:

400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

80g peas

80g okra

4 shallots, peeled and sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

400ml coconut milk

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric

1cm ginger, finely chopped

200ml stock

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For the Riata:

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 slice pineapple, chopped

4 tbsp natural / greek style yoghurt

1/4 tsp of ground cumin (optional)

a handful of mint, finely chopped

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The how:

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and saute the cumin seeds, onion and garlic for a minute.  Then add the remaining spices except the turmeric and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, turmeric and sweet potato, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the sweet potato is cooked.  Add the chickpeas, peas and okra and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked, but still have a bite to them.

To make the Riata:

Put the cucumber, pineapple and mint in a food processor and pulse a couple of times so you have small chunks.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in the yoghurt and cumin.

Serve the curry and Riata with some rice.  I used brown basmati and wild rice, which works well, but any rice will do.

Enjoy!

 

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Strawberry Goodness Dessert Pot

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“More strawberries?” I hear you say.  But it’s summer and they are just soooooo delicious! I just can’t get enough of these scarlet berries at the moment.  Plus I’m getting all caught up in Wimbledon fever, especially with this fantastic weather.  And heaven forbid we waste any strawberries!  So here is a little dessert I created earlier this week.  It went down such a treat with Lentil and Mr C&L that we’re having it again this evening. You can use whatever fruit you like: it’s a great way of using up any leftovers while they are still fresh.  And it’s so quick and easy, just an assembly job really, which leaves more time to focus on the main course. Just as well as I have no clue what we’re having yet! Hoping to get a little inspiration when I head to the fishmongers later. As delicious as this pot of goodness it, I’m not sure Mr C&L would want to forego a main dish for it……

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Makes one Papa-sized sharing pot and one smaller pot with two kiddie portions.

The what:

6 large strawberries, stem removed and quartered

75g blueberries

5 tbsp natural yoghurt

1 tbsp honey

large handful of granola

some orange zest for sprinkling on top

The how:

Mix the yoghurt and honey together.  If making in one large bowl, layer the bottom of your bowl/jar with half the quartered strawberries.  Dollop 4 tbsp of the honey yoghurt on top.  Next add the granola and layer the blueberries on top of that.  Add the remaining strawberries and 1 tbsp of honey yoghurt.  Finally sprinkle a little orange zest on top.  Be sure to just use the outer zest as if you go too close to the orange flesh it will be bitter.

Then grab a spoon and tuck into to this pot of deliciousness!

Would love to hear any other ideas you have for fruits to use.  xx

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Strawberry, Banana and Cucumber Smoothie

 

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In good old British tradition, we started off the week with strawberries and cream as temperatures soared and the players retreated to Wimbledon’s new ice baths!

I’ve never been a big fan of the ice treatments some spas offer following a sauna or steam – I prefer my spas to be an enjoyable experience! I did however once try a home-made ice bath after a training run for a marathon a few years ago.  I wasn’t able to stay in it for very long and I’m not sure how much it helped, but Mr Coco&Lentil certainly found it amusing!

So leaving the ice baths to the players, we’re starting day 3 off with a healthy strawberry smoothie instead to keep us nice and refreshed as heatwave continues.

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This recipe makes two large and one mini smoothie (for little Coco!) but you can just increase the ingredients to make more. Smoothies are a great way to get extra fruit and veg into little tummies. Lentil asks for seconds of this one and would never guess there is cucumber in it!

The what:

1 banana, peeled and chopped

6 big / 8 small strawberries, topped and quartered

1/4 cucumber, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp natural yoghurt

The how:

Add the banana, cucumber and strawberries to the blender and blitz until smooth.  Then add the yoghurt and blend until you have a thick, but smooth smoothie.

Pour into a glass and sit back and enjoy as there is more sun and Wimbledon excitement in store today: Djokovic meets Jarkko Nieminen of Finland; GB’s Heather Watson takes on Daniela Hantuchova; and Serena Williams finishes the order of play on Centre Court.  Can’t wait?  Neither can we!

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