We all know that being a Mum is not easy ! I put a few feelers out there amongst some of the mums I know and on my Facebook page to ask what they find hardest about motherhood, and resoundingly the biggest challenge for most busy mums is definitely lack of time. At whatever stage you are with your parenting – be it babies and toddlers or school-aged kids, life seems to get busier and busier as time goes on. What often happens unfortunately, is that we tend to put ourselves last in the pecking order. In honour of Mothers Day in Australia next weekend and for all the busy mums out there, I thought I would share some of my favourite tips for making some more time in your day. I hope that you manage to spend some of this extra time on yourselves! I am also sharing a new yummy pancake recipe so that your loved ones (or even you!) can spoil yourself with a delicious, healthy and comforting breakfast next Sunday. They are Thermomix friendly but you could use a food processor or blender just as easily. Don’t you think they would be yummy to have in bed with a cup of tea and the Sunday papers next weekend? Hint .. hint ..!
Here are just some of my suggestions to increase some time for yourself during your busy day:
- Prioritise! Decide what really matters to you and organise yourself so that you can make time to fit those things in.
- Get up an hour earlier and factor some time for yourself– walk, run or even meditate. If you find it hard to get motivated for morning exercise, make sure you have a plan so you know exactly what to do when your alarm goes off. Set your clothes out the night before, fill up your drink bottle and put it next to your keys. Download some music to make your walk/run more interesting. Make a commitment by writing it in your diary or organise to meet up with a friend so you will be more motivated to go.
- Go to bed an hour earlier. The best time to get your important sleep is before midnight and everything is so much better when you are well rested (plus if you have an early night it makes it easier to wake up the next morning!)
- Don’t be afraid to ask those close to you for help if you are struggling! If you need a little time-out, your partner could watch the kids for so you can go for a walk or have a relaxing bath.
- Be clever in the kitchen – pack school lunches the night before, when you buy fruit chop it and pack it up straight away so it’s easy to grab in a hurry, freeze sandwiches in bulk, make more at dinner and freeze half/ or have for lunch the next day. Do big cook ups on the weekend so you don’t have to worry about it during the week. Cook batches of chicken, hard boiled eggs, quinoa, rice etc and keep on hand in the fridge so you can quickly pull together healthy meals. There are some great gadgets out there that are designed to make your life easier in the kitchen. The Thermomix (or thermo-type appliances) or a slow cooker can really save time. Try my Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks, my Chicken and Eggplant Bake or Greek Inspired Shepherds Pie which are all easy to make double of and all freeze beautifully.
At the end of the day we should be grateful that our lives are so full – those little people might be hard work – but they are more precious than anything! Happy Mothers Day!
The Shrinking Hubby’s Almond Meal Pancakes
– Serves 4 –
What you will need:
- 1 1/2 cups Almond Meal
- 1 1/2 teaspoons aluminium free baking powder
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 organic free range eggs
- 1 1/4 cup water
- Organic butter or coconut oil for cooking
- Fruit, yoghurt and/or organic maple syrup or honey to serve
How to pull it together:
Put all the ingredients in your Thermomix or food processor and blitz for about 30 seconds speed 9/10 until well blended and of a consistency you are happy with. You may wish to experiment with the amount of water you use depending on how thick you like your batter.
Heat a large frying pan, add a dollop of butter (or coconut oil) and let it melt. Spoon out the batter (I did 3 small pancakes at a time). Watch carefully and when nicely browned, flip and cook the other side until ready.
Serve as you like – Some suggestions are: fruit, organic maple syrup, raw honey, almond butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dollop of greek yoghurt.
One of the things I would like to achieve this year is a happy balance when it comes to dinner time. Of course some nights it is too hard to sit down as a family with work commitments, extra curricular activities (ours and theirs) and life in general. However by by feeding the kids early and then cooking a separate meal for Andrew and I, I feel that a) we are missing out on connecting with our kids and b) I am working twice as hard as I need to! The problem is that Andrew and I really haven’t been eating the same food as our kids. We love our vegetables and chili and sophisticated flavours and as a rule tend to avoid starchy carbohydrates at night. They love their simple food such as gluten free pasta, potato and rice. They are also super fussy and likely to turn their noses up at most meals I put in front of them which makes it very frustrating. So I have decided to create a new section on this website dedicated to family friendly meals that can be adapted to please mum and dads and the kids without too much angst.
First off the rank is my Bolognese (or Bolognaise if that’s the way you spell it!). I made this sauce the other night (see the recipe below). I don’t like cooking bolognese in my Thermomix but I find the Thermomix is brilliant for chopping the onions and garlic and getting the vegetables to the exact consistency that I like. I have noted where I used my Thermomix below.
For the children I serve it on top of gluten free pasta with a sprinkling of lactose free cheese (my 5 year old is lactose intolerant). My 8 year old however tried Parmesan for the first time the other night (not being put off by the smell) and loved it – an excellent surprise! They say persistence is the key (sigh) …
I served ours on a bed of zucchini noodles (see how I make my zucchini noodles below). I didn’t even heat the noodles, I just topped with the hot sauce and then with an avocado and caper salsa (see below).
The Shrinking Hubby’s Bolognese
This makes an enormous batch of bolognese sauce. Enough to feed a family for a good 3-4 nights. I freeze some in family sized portions and some in ice cube trays for a quick mid-week kids dinner on the fly. Don’t be alarmed if it seems like it will be too watery, it thickens up beautifully over the cooking time.
What you will need:
- 1 Kg grass-fed beef mince
- 1-2 tablespoons Olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic (or teaspoons of good quality organic minced garlic – I like the Spiral brand)
- 1 largish brown onion
- 2-3 cups vegetables – whatever you have in the fridge really. I like to use carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms depending on what I have.
- 2 bottles of organic passata sauce (I use 690 gram jars or about 25 ounces). *Passata is a tomato puree
- 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- Dried herbs e.g Italian herb mix (there are many available), paprika, dried oregano
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
1. Chop the onions and garlic (if using a Thermomix throw onion and garlic in and blitz for 3 seconds speed 5).
2. Finely chop the vegetables, or place the vegetables in a food processor and blitz until chopped to your liking. (if using a Thermomix throw veggies in and chop for 5-8 seconds speed 5-6 depending on how finely you like them chopped.
How to pull it together:
Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. When oil is hot add the onions and garlic and a generous sprinkle of sea salt, turn down the heat and saute for about 5 minutes stirring frequently. When onion is well cooked, add the meat and cook until browned. When meat is cooked, add the vegetables and 1/2 cup of red wine (if using), 1/2 cup red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup tomato paste. Stir through until well combined.
Add both bottles of passata. Fill the empty bottles with water and add both bottles of water at the same time (it will seem like a lot of sauce but will reduce during the cooking time). Add a generous amount of herbs (italian herb mix, paprika, dried oregano) and 2-3 bay leaves). Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour covered. Stir from time to time adding salt to taste if required.
You can serve with pasta or zucchini noodles topped with fresh parmesan.
How to prepare your Zucchini Noodles
What you will need:
- 3 zucchinis/courgettes per person
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- a vegetable spiraliser
Create the zucchini noodles using a vegetable spiraliser. Place noodles in a colander, sprinkle liberally with good quality sea salt and drizzle with a splash of olive oil. Toss and let sit for about 30 minutes. You will find a lot of liquid leaves the noodles which means that they can shrink quite a bit.
I have tried many spiralisers to make vegetable ‘noodles’ and the GEFU Spiral Slicer Spiral Fix is by far the easiest and most effective I’ve used.
If you like the idea of Zucchini noodles and want more inspiration I have used Zucchini noodles previously with the delicious Dina’s Tomato Sauce here and my Salmon with Pesto Zucchini Noodles here.
Caper, Avocado and Tomato Salsa (serves 2)
Combine in a small bowl 1 tablespoon salted baby capers (well rinsed), 1/2 avocado diced, 1/4 cucumber diced, 1/2 tomato diced. Toss with juice of 1 lime, sea salt and pepper.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned on here before just how fussy our children (we have 3 girls aged 3,4 and 7) are when it comes to food. They have all had the very best of starts – I breastfed each of them for 6-9 months depending on when they had had enough of me, I was so pedantic about introducing only the very best organic produce (including a broad range of fruit and vegetables) to them when they were ready to start solids. Yet somewhere along the way, each of them became impossible at meal times.
Having said that I have definitely noticed some recent gains with them and in particular with my 7 year old who is FINALLY becoming more open to accepting the right kinds of food. And considering she was the fussiest of all 3 as a toddler I am going to draw the conclusion that perhaps fussiness in children is a little bit developmental and that taste buds definitely have the ability to evolve. I also think that despite their defiance there is massive benefit to sharing and demonstrating our passion about healthy food with our kids, because as they get older they will become more rational about their food choices and with that comes the choice to be healthy based on what they have learned from their parents.
I wanted to write this blog post to share my daily experiences with my kids and food because I know that I am not alone. The Shrinking Hubby and I eat a wonderful, varied, delicious and highly nutritious diet and our kids see this – yet they refuse to join us! I have been making a concerted effort this year though to try and gain some ground when it comes to their nutrition. So today I wanted to share some of the positive experiences I have had lately. I like to look at my small victories with food as ‘Mummy Wins’ and if I can get 1 or 2 of these ‘Mummy Wins’ in each day then I can sleep well at night knowing that I am making a difference and have made a positive contribution to my children’s health.
I want to stress here that I am very conscious of focussing on nutrition for health reasons rather than body image. It is frightening how conscious most young girls are of their body image from a really young age. Furthermore, our kids know that their father went through a massive body transformation before they were were born so it is definitely something that we talk about from time to time. We make a point of making sure they see us enjoy healthy foods to feed our bodies rather than deprive ourselves of food to lose weight. It is a subtle but important difference and the last thing we want to do is encourage unhealthy body image in our children.
Here are some of the recent Mummy Wins I have had with our kids. I hope that these humble steps towards improving our kids’ nutrition encourage you to keep trying to encourage healthy eating habits in your families.
I’m going to start with ‘The Juice’. You may have read about my new found passion for juicing here, and Little Miss 7 decided that she wanted me to start making her a daily juice too. However she made it very clear that I was NOT to put any green vegetables in her juice. I made her a combination of orange and carrot to start, which she complained about at first (as you can apparently smell the carrot), however wolfed it down each time I made it. She then requested the inclusion of green apple which I happily obliged with because once a tinge of green was included I granted myself a little bit of license and added a cucumber in as well! She loves the new version, and I get so much joy from her asking for her daily juice each day. We were discussing adding vegetables in her juice this morning and believe it or not my stubborn fussy daughter has agreed to try kale in her juice tomorrow! Definitely a Mummy Win!
We recently had a family holiday where they served a decadent breakfast buffet each morning. For my children the highlight of this buffet was the pancake station where they offered not only sweet, white and floury pancakes and waffles but also ice cream, syrup and chocolate sauce to go with it all. My absolute nightmare – and this was for breakfast! Against everything I stand for I admit I allowed my 7 year old to indulge once or twice (after she ate a relatively healthy fruit and weet bix ). When we got home they were begging for pancakes for breakfast and so we made them our healthy version of pancakes (recipe here) with the addition of a tablespoon of chia seeds and I have to say they were just as successful as the ones from the hotel. Now THAT felt like a Mummy Win …
This is one of my favourite dinners to feed them and it is so quick and healthy I thought I’d share it here as a Mummy Win. I made this the other night, and instead of fussing and whining, the 3 of them cleaned their plates (even the greens – except for Miss 3!). I boil up about a litre of filtered water and add a couple of tablespoons of organic miso paste. When that is boiling I add a salmon fillet and cook for 2 minutes. Then I add a couple of bunches of organic soba noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Then I add some broccolini and beans and cook for 2 minutes. So once the miso is boiling it is 6 minutes all up. Mummy Win.
All 3 of them love tuna mornay (I make a white sauce with some organic butter, spelt flour and raw milk, add a tin of drained tuna and serve with brown rice) however the lack of green bugs me. So I have started peeling an organic zucchini (or 2 if they are little) and grating it (I use the food processor to save time). I sauté the grated zucchini with the butter before making the sauce. They (all 3) wolf it down. This one is a great one to double and freeze half – great for those busy days. Mummy Win.
I know that some might say that blackmail isn’t the way to go, but if the promise of dessert (usually fruit and yoghurt) or a sticker on their star chart can get them to eat a couple of beans or a stick of broccolini I am going to take that as a Mummy Win too. The trick is to be very firm (and consistent). And the feeling of watching them chew down those vegetables whether or not it involved bribery? Mummy Win.
Rolled oats for breakfast
My 7 year old has decided she loves porridge for breakfast because I sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on the top and it caramelises. I know how bad the sugar is, but if it means that she eats a bowl of organic unstabilised oats with raw milk before a busy day of school I am much happier with that than one of the other processed cereals with much more sugar than that in them. Mummy Win.
I recently discovered that even though they know that there is a whole bunch of blended kale in their chocolate brownies, they will still eat them. If I bake the brownies myself I am in control of the ingredients and I have been playing around with organic dark chocolate, organic butter, sugar substitutes and different flours i.e. no vegetable oil, cane sugar or nasty additives. Mummy Win.
My 4 year old is OBSESSED with mashed potato. I cook up a couple of organic potatoes (peeled and chopped) in a pot of salted boiling water with a head or half a head of chopped organic cauliflower (which I add about halfway through the potatoes boiling) until tender. Then I drain and mash it all up (or even better put it in the blender/food processor so it is silky smooth) with some organic butter and milk and she is none the wiser. Mummy Win.
My kids have all always been obsessed with plain pasta and cheese. I have worked out a way to make this a nutritional win (and send extras to school with them the next day for their lunch in their thermos which they love). I use organic gluten free pasta and when the pasta is cooked I drain, then t0ss it on a low heat with some organic butter, 1-2 free range eggs and a couple of tablespoons of ground white chia seeds (I grind them in a spice grinder). Delicious. Mummy Win.
So as you can see from the above, I am an advocate of hiding veggies into their food, but then I sleep better at night knowing they’ve eaten them. I also make them eat the vegetables in their original form so that they learn to get used to it. By hiding I mean I blitz the raw vegetables (whatever I have on hand but zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots etc work well) in my food processor before adding to bolognese, sausage rolls, risottos, meatballs etc … Mummy Win.
Morning juice with a *tinge* of green – Mummy Win!
I am far from perfect but at least I am trying. I would love to know how you get your kids to eat well – please feel free to comment on this article or on my facebook page www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby. I look forward to hearing from you. (And if your kids enjoy a varied and healthy diet with little or no opposition towards you then you are very lucky and should embrace it!)
I promise these are just as good, if not better than your traditional pancake recipe. Our girls love them and I love watching them eat them knowing how healthy they really are. As a treat I love to drizzle them with organic maple syrup, but organic honey would be yummy too and if you’d rather not indulge quite so much then fruit and yoghurt would also be great. They would also make a great lunchbox snack if you make them into pikelet size – (you may have missed my post on healthy snacks for children …). This is my favourite Saturday morning post-workout brecky!!!
This recipe comes from the people at Bodyism (www.bodyism.com) – James Duigan is a great mentor for clean eating. (I have added the vanilla)
Healthy Oat Pancakes
(serves 2-4 but for our family of 2 adults and 3 children I would make 1 1/2 times this recipe)
You will need:
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
How to make them:
Whiz the cottage cheese, oats, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla in a food processor until well blended.
Heat some coconut oil (or olive oil, or organic butter) in a pan and ladle a spoonful of mixture. Cook like you would a normal pancake (just be careful when flipping and make sure they don’t burn).
Top with fresh fruit (I love strawberries, blueberries and banana) and a drizzle of maple syrup (make sure it’s the real deal and not the awful artificial stuff) or some honey if desired. You could also spoon a dollop of yoghurt with the fruit if you like …