Saturday, March 28, 2020

What we ate in our second week of COVID-19 isolation

Well that escalated quickly. 

Last week our family was voluntarily self-isolating as much as possible to help contain COVID-19. This week the New Zealand government instituted a nation-wide lockdown. Even though I'd been expecting it, it still came as a shock. How does that work?

Are you feeling as strange about the lockdown as I am? It was definitely the right call, but it's still going to take some getting use to, even for us, who already homeschool. I can't imagine how different it must be for peeps who are used to heading out to work and school every day. 

The girls and I were at their private music lessons on Monday when we heard the news, so we made a quick stop into Countdown on our way home and bought a few more things to see us through. I elected to buy items that I could use to make more foods with, out of my store of dry goods. Things like tahini and bottled roast capsicum, which I can mix with the chickpeas I already own to make hummus. 

I know that the grocery stores are staying open, so we can still buy food if we run out, but I'd love it if my family could properly manage to isolate for a couple of weeks at least, if not longer. The sooner we kick this virus in the butt, the sooner we can lift this nation-wide lockdown. 

Here's what we ate in our second week of "self-isolation." (I put "self-isolation" in speech marks, because I still went out in public twice before the lockdown was enforced, to get ready for it.) 

Sunday
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for me

Lunch - Sandwiches and mini salami

Snack - Trim Healthy Mama seed crackers (from the original book)

Dinner - Steak, rice, cumin sautéed cabbage, vegetable crudités.

Monday
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; I intermittent fasted

Lunch - Trim Healthy Mama seed crackers with tomato and basil pesto

Snack - Orchard apples, orchard grapes. We stopped in at the orchard shop and bought two cases of freshly picked apples, as well as a bunch of fresh grapes. It was all so crisp and sweet. I still had a bowl of older apples at home, so I peeled and sliced those and threw them in the dehydrator to make a shelf-stable snack.

Dinner - Teriyaki chicken on rice with a side of raw vegetables. I bought the teriyaki chicken from a sushi shop that had reduced its boxes at the end of the day to sell. The shop was next to Countdown, and since we were out later than normal getting groceries, I thought it would help to have a pre-made dinner so I wouldn't have to cook.

Tuesday
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; I intermittent fasted.

Lunch - Sausage rolls and fruit platters for the kids; Quick Keto Toast with basil pesto and tomatoes for me (pictured above). (One of the food items I bought this week was a carton of egg whites, so I could do lots of keto baking while we're in isolation.)

Snack - Dehydrated apple slices. Seriously, everybody loved these. They devoured most of them in the first day, kind of defeating the point of me making a shelf-stable food item.

Dinner - Chicken pasta bake that I pulled out of the freezer, served with steamed broccoli. That was the last of the broccoli until our garden starts producing it again.

Wednesday
Breakfast - The girls made baked beans on toast for the kids; I ate strawberry chia seed pudding that I had prepared the night before. (This was similar to my Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding recipe, except I used strawberry Kids Good Stuff and strawberry Avalanche sugar-free drinking mix to flavour my base of chia seeds, coconut cream, water and collagen/protein powder. I also chopped in a few frozen strawberries for more strawberry goodness.

Lunch - Miss L prepared salami, cheese, cucumber, tomato and lettuce sandwiches for the kids; I ate leftover Chicken and Tarragon Pie.

Snack - Dehydrated apple slices.

Dinner - Spaghetti bolognese, with a side of sliced pear and apple (pictured above). I added pureed pumpkin and shredded zucchini from our garden to the bolognese sauce, as well as red lentils to bulk it out, so that I could freeze the excess for another meal.

Thursday
Breakfast - Strawberry Smoothies for all, and a couple of the kids also had cereal.

Lunch - A grazing platter of salami, crackers, cucumber, apple and peanut butter for the kids; Quick Keto Toast with basil pesto and tomatoes for me.

Snack - Raspberry and White Chocolate muesli bars (store-bought).

Dinner - Enchiladas with a side of apple slices and cherry tomatoes (pictured above). I used my homegrown zucchini in the enchiladas, but the rest of the ingredients were store-bought.

Friday
Breakfast - Paul cooked pancakes for the kids and him; I intermittent-fasted.

Lunch - Overnight bread topped with butter, salami and cucumber.

Snack - Raspberry and White Chocolate muesli bars (store-bought), apples, pretzels.

Dinner - Steak, mashed potatoes, beans and peas (pictured above).

Saturday
Breakfast - Paul cooked pancakes again, which he and the younger two ate. Miss L made a feijoa smoothie for me and her. I also had Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding, which I had prepped the night before.

Lunch - Chicken nuggets for the kids, with a platter of apple, pear and cucumber slices, as well as New Zealand cranberries picked fresh from our garden. I ate Quick Keto Toast with homemade basil pesto and tomatoes from my garden.

Snack - I don't think anyone snacked, unless it was on apples.

Dinner - Homemade gnocchi with pasta sauce and cheese. The kids loved last week's gnocchi so much, they've been begging to have it again. I made sure I saved one cup of mashed potatoes from Friday night's dinner so I could make the gnocchi. Miss S helped me knead, roll and cut the dough this time.


What have you been eating during week one of New Zealand's pandemic lockdown? Have you been able to find what you need in the stores, or are you living on what you already had in the house?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Quick Keto Bread Recipe

I like to make this Quick Keto Bread for myself as a healthy breakfast or lunch option, since I know eating gluten-based foods isn't the best thing for my gut or waist-line. We do still eat a lot of gluten around here, but I like to have tasty alternatives available so I'm not always eating it.

This bread is my take on the 90-second keto bread recipe you might have seen doing the rounds. It's low-carb, gluten-free and pretty darn tasty.

Simply mix all the ingredients together and cook in the microwave for the quickest option possible, or take it one step further and fry your microwaved bread in butter to create a satisfyingly crispy crunch on the outside.

I buy carton egg-whites especially to make this recipe, because I don't like the eggy taste you get with using a whole egg and I find it tedious to separate eggs. However, use whatever you have on hand.

Serves: One
Preparation and cooking time: 8 minutes

Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp almond meal / ground almonds
  • 3 Tbsp ground flaxseed (if you don't have flaxseed, simply double the almond meal)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 Tbsp egg white (from a carton), or two egg whites, or one whole egg
  • 1 Tbsp unflavoured softened coconut oil
  • Sprinkle of dried oregano, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Method
  1. Stir together all the ingredients in a bread-sized square or rectangular microwave-safe glass container. (I prefer to use a rectangular container that is about the size of two pieces of bread sitting side-by-side. It results in two thinner slices of bread, when sliced down the middle. Using a square bread-sized container results in a fatter, single piece of bread.)
  2. Smooth the mixture in the container as much as possible.
  3. Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Meanwhile, preheat a frying pan if you're going to fry the bread.
  4. Carefully remove bread from glass container with a spatula. You can eat it as is, but I prefer to do the next step.
  5. Fry the bread on a medium heat in a nob of butter for a couple of minutes on each side to crisp it up.
  6. Plate and serve with your favourite toast or sandwich toppings. You can see I favour basil pesto and fresh tomatoes from my garden when I have them, but I've also eaten this bread as a hamburger bun, eaten it with smoked salmon and cream cheese, and eaten it with fried eggs on top. I simply fried the eggs right alongside the bread.
Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

What we ate in our first week of COVID-19 isolation

Big changes in a week, huh? We started off this week socialising with friends and family as normal, but by Wednesday had made the call to self-isolate.

With the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand growing exponentially each day, our family has chosen to stay away from other people as much as possible until further notice, to try and help slow the spread of this nasty virus so it doesn't overwhelm our medical system.

The timing of all of this is pretty crazy, since I had been doing so well at eating through our pantry and freezer in an attempt to come out of this month with nothing owing on our credit card. Alas, Paul helped me see reason last weekend - that this probably wasn't the best time to clear our home of all its food.

I spent a few days restocking everything, including our stores of dried food, our health cabinet and our garden. Hopefully I've thought of everything we'll need but, if not, I guess you'll be seeing a lot more creative recipes coming out of Craving Fresh in the coming weeks.

If I have one prepper-type tip to share with you in all of this uncertainty, it would be to save your meat bones and vegetable scraps and turn them into broth. You can make such a valuable, tasty, nourishing food out of something you'd usually just throw away. Head to this post to see how I've been making my chicken stock for more than a decade. Below, you'll see some of the ways I've used chicken stock this week.

If I have a second tip for you, it's to plant some vegetables in your garden or in pots, so you can ensure you've got fresh ingredients to use in your meals even if you do need to go into isolation. Any kind of dark leafy green is good to plant at this time of year in New Zealand. Think spinach, kale, silverbeet, cabbage, basil and coriander. You can also still plant broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, carrots, leeks, lettuces, radishes and spring onions. Lots of options.

And now, here's the rundown of what we've been eating in this week that started off so beautifully...

Sunday
Breakfast - The kids were at their cousins' house, so I'm not sure what they ate for breakfast. I intermittent fasted.

Lunch - The kids were still at their cousins'. I ate boysenberry yoghurt mixed with banana slices, as well as a couple of small salami sticks. (It was a throw-whatever-I-could-find-in-my-mouth meal as I was using the kid-free time to get the garden cleaned up. Boy am I glad I did that.)

Dinner - We ate dinner at my sister-in-law's house. It was my nephew's birthday party, so we had party food - Domino's pizza, mini mince pies, sausage rolls and cheerio sausages. I guess that will be the last party in a while. Strange times.

Monday
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Fried eggs on low-carb toast for me.

Lunch - The kids and I were out grocery shopping, so we bought St Pierre's sushi for lunch.

Snack - Orchard apples and pears that my mother-in-law grew.

Dinner - Butter chicken soup with naan bread. (The soup was loosely based on this Destitute Gourmet recipe and it featured my homemade chicken stock as its base. However, I changed the recipe up quite a bit and added two cups of puréed pumpkin from my garden as that's one thing we have in abundance right now. The soup turned out even better than usual. To make the naan bread, I simply fried tortillas in butter.)

Tuesday
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for me.

Lunch - Dairy-free strawberry smoothies, natural corn chips, raw vegetable platter, raw peanuts, bananas and peanut butter. (We had friends over who are gluten and dairy free, so the lunch was a mixture of what they had brought and what I could provide.)

Snack - Pumpkin bread, fruit.

Dinner - Hamburgers on homemade dinner rolls. (To make the hamburger patties, I simply shaped mince into patties, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and fried it in butter. We topped the burgers with tomatoes and lettuce from the garden, as well as cucumber, gherkins, cheese, mayonnaise, mustard and basil pesto.)

Wednesday
Breakfast - Baked beans on toast for the kids; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding and frozen raspberries for me.

Lunch - Leftover dinner rolls with salami, cheese and cucumber for the kids; Leftover butter chicken soup from Monday for me.

Snack - Chocolate chip oat cookies, pear and apple slices.

Dinner - Sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and broccoli, as well as green beans and cherry tomatoes from the garden (all pictured above). Steak is a rarity for us, but Paul loves it and I managed to get this one marked down by almost half a few weeks ago, so it's been waiting in the freezer for us.

Thursday
Breakfast - Cereal for the younger two kids; A salami, cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and carrot sandwich for my eldest child; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for me.

Lunch - Sausage rolls with a fruit and vegetable platter.

Snack - Chocolate chip oat cookies.

Dinner - Freshly made gnocchi (pictured above), served with pasta sauce and cheese, as well as the leftover fruit and vegetables from lunch. My daughter and I made the gnocchi from scratch, as part of her Good and the Beautiful Language Arts curriculum - experiencing Italian culture. We used the leftover mashed potatoes from Wednesday's dinner in the recipe.

Friday
Breakfast - Cereal for the younger two kids; A salami, cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and cucumber sandwich for my eldest child; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding with frozen raspberries for me.

Lunch - Leftover gnocchi and pasta sauce sprinkled with cheese. A raw vegetable platter.

Snack - Fruit

Dinner - Roast butterfly chicken, potato cubes, green beans and peas (pictured above). We saved half of the chicken for Saturday night's dinner. I made the potato cubes by dicing up potatoes, rubbing them in coconut oil, salt and pepper, and roasting them in the oven with the chicken.

Saturday
Breakfast - Bacon and toast for the kids. (I intermittent fasted.)

Lunch - Bagels with butter and jam for the younger two; A salami, cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and cucumber sandwich for my eldest child. (I was still fasting.)

Snack - Frozen blueberries, sliced apple and sliced cucumber for the kids.

Dinner - Chicken and Tarragon Pie - loosely based on this Countdown recipe, but I used onion instead of leek and added in grated zucchini from my garden. This pie did feature more of my homemade chicken stock. That stuff is pure gold.

I hope you've been finding what you need in the stores, or finding work-arounds for any missing ingredients.

My prayers are with all the people facing financial and health uncertainty at this time.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

What we ate, week ending 14 March 2020

Another week, another menu plan. Here's what my family ate this week...

Sunday
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; I intermittent fasted this day, so didn't have breakfast.

Lunch - Sandwiches for the kids; leftover lasagne (from last week's What We Ate) for me and Paul.

Snack - Choc Bar Minis. (We were out running errands, so bought a box of these ice creams from the supermarket and shared them out between us.)

Dinner - Paul cooked us a beautiful dinner of lamb racks served over mashed potatoes with a side of peas and carrots (pictured above). My eldest daughter wanted to let you know that she absolutely loved this dinner.

Monday
Breakfast - Cereal for the younger two; A salami, cheese, cucumber and tomato sandwich for my eldest child; Bircher Muesli for me.

Lunch - French Toast cooked for us by Paul, who was working from home. (I actually skipped lunch this day as I was still full from my Bircher Muesli.)

Snack - Orchard apples and grapes. (We swung by the local orchard shop and restocked our fruit supply with a case-load of fresh apples and the sweetest grapes I've ever tasted.)

Dinner - Pumpkin and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese served with a side of green beans and peas as well as a raw vegetable platter. This was our third dinner using the same mac and cheese I made a couple of weeks ago. At the time, I had frozen the surplus in a lidded Pyrex container, so all I had to do was set it out to defrost on Sunday night and then bake it in the oven directly in its Pyrex container.

Tuesday
Breakfast - Baked beans on toast for the kids; I was intermittent fasting, so I skipped breakfast.

Lunch - Chicken Chipees and banana smoothies for the kids. I made the smoothies by whizzing together frozen banana, milk kefir, greek yoghurt, milk and vanilla essence. My lunch was Chocolate Bircher Muesli I made the night before by mixing together rolled oats, desiccated coconut, cocoa, vanilla, Greek yoghurt and Natvia in a small lidded Pyrex container and setting it in the fridge to soak overnight.

Snack - Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, honey roasted peanuts and orchard apples. We met up with friends at Western Springs, so I brought our afternoon tea with me in a backpack.

Dinner - Cashew Chicken on basmati rice cooked in homemade chicken stock (pictured above). This was a box mix of Cashew Chicken that I bought at the discount store, Why Knot. It came with cashews, baby corn and sauce, so I added onion, chicken, carrots, beans and peas from home, as well as a bit of extra fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar to make it taste nicer.

Wednesday
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Chocolate Bircher Muesli for me (pictured above). (I made two of these on Monday night.)

Lunch - Overnight bread topped with butter, salami, cheese, cucumber and tomato.

Snack - Checkerboard Cookies and apple slices. (We had a friend of my children's come over for afternoon tea, so I baked the cookies as a treat to share with her.)

Dinner - Chicken kebab skewers, fried rice with a yoghurt mint dressing and a homegrown salad. Peach and apricot crumble for dessert. (We went to our friends' house for dinner, so it was cooked by them. I just brought the salad from my garden.)

Thursday
Breakfast - Cereal for the younger two; A salami, cheese, cucumber and tomato sandwich for my eldest child; Bircher Muesli for me. (I soaked this bircher muesli in milk kefir instead of yoghurt, which I had run out of, and also grated apple into it on a reader's advice. Thanks Jill!)

Lunch and snack - It was a lunch-box day for the kids. They didn't all have the same things, but this is the complete list of food that made it into at least one of their lunch-boxes: Sandwiches, overnight bread with butter, crackers, mini salami sticks, apple slices with peanut butter to dip, checkerboard cookies, chocolate chip and oat cookies, cucumber slices, NZ cranberries and cherry tomatoes from our garden. I bought myself a peanut butter and banana smoothie and some teriyaki sushi, because I didn't get organised enough to pack my own lunch.

Dinner - A mince and cheese pie served with a raw vegetable platter (pictured above). (We had a big day of activities followed by grocery shopping, so I decided on this super simple meal. All I had to do was pop the pie in the oven and let it cook while I unpacked the groceries and washed the dishes from the day.)

Friday
Breakfast - Cereal; Pumpkin bread (a friend who has lived in America gave me the idea to make pumpkin bread this week. Apparently it was a favourite of hers when she lived there, and I have a whole lot of pumpkins from my garden I need to find recipes for. It as very delicious. The recipe, which makes two loaves, called for two cups of sugar. That is a lot of sugar, so I subbed in Natvia for some of it.)

Lunch - Random leftovers from the week, like pie and stir-fry.

Snack - Pumpkin bread.

Dinner - Asian mince and cabbage stir-fry. (This was a quick, low-carb, throw-together meal, where I browned the mince and onion, and then added a bunch of different Asian sauces like soy sauce, fish sauce and oyster sauce, as well as ginger and garlic, and then threw in half a cabbage I had shredded. I cooked the cabbage down before adding a cup of homemade chicken stock and further cooking it until it was soft.)

Saturday
Breakfast - The kids were at a sleepover so I don't know what they ate, but I had leftover Asian mince and cabbage stir-fry.

Snack - I spent the day at a Women's Retreat at my church. For morning tea we were served fresh orchard apples, bliss balls, melting moments and muesli slice. I was on the committee for the Women's Retreat, so I made my favourite bliss balls for it.

Lunch - Still at the Women's Retreat, I got to eat a delicious lunch (pictured above) of bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken breast, artisan sourdough bread, and several different salads.  I made a large Revive Cafe Moroccan Chickpea Salad as my contribution to the lunch. It's always a crowd favourite.

Dinner - Our family had dinner at my sister-in-law's house (where the kids had been staying). My sister-in-law cooked us a delicious meal of roast chicken, roast potatoes and kumara, sweet corn on the cob and broccoli salad. (I brought some of the leftover salad from the retreat, leftover bliss balls and a couple of loaves of garlic bread to share.)

And there you have it. Another week done and dusted.

Are you finding these What We Ate posts helpful? Should I keep doing them?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Easy overnight bread recipe

I've made this overnight bread recipe so many times lately that I know it by heart (not that it's hard). The recipe is both simple and affordable to make, and is always appreciated by hungry stomachs.

I can't take any credit for this recipe. I discovered it at Del's Cooking Twist, and I'm sure she discovered it somewhere else. It's one of those recipes that lots of people make and no one quite knows who invented it. Thank you to whoever did.

Overnight bread is a lovely accompaniment to soup, or just as a lunch on its own with butter and other favourite sandwich toppings. It's best eaten fresh, or within the day of being baked. After that, you'll need to toast it to freshen it back up.

Prep time: 5 minutes night before and 5 minutes in the morning
Baking time: 40 minutes (plus allow time for the oven to preheat)

Ingredients
  • 3 cups plain white flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt (plus extra sea salt for sprinkling)
  • 0.5 tsp active yeast
  • 1.5 cups water

Method
  1. The night before you want to eat the bread, stir all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Cover and leave the ingredients to rise overnight.
  3. In the morning, preheat your oven along with a lidded baking dish to 220°C.
  4. When the oven has reached 220°C, remove the lidded baking dish and line it with baking paper (being careful not to burn yourself). 
  5. Using wet hands, scrape the bread dough out of its bowl, shape it into a ball and drop it into the preheated and lined baking dish. 
  6. Sprinkle extra sea salt or flour over the bread dough before replacing the lid on the baking dish and placing it in the preheated oven.
  7. Bake covered for 30 minutes and then remove the lid and bake uncovered for a further 10 minutes. The bread is ready when it's a lovely golden colour and sounds hollow if tapped with a wooden spoon.


Enjoy! 

Saturday, March 7, 2020

What we ate, week ending 7 March 2020

Can you believe we're already in our third week of What We Ate? I can't. Time seems to be flying by at an ever-increasing rate. Up until now, I've simply been sharing our breakfasts, lunches and dinners, but this week I decided to add snacks into the roundup as well.

Sunday
Breakfast - Paul made the kids pancakes; I had spent the night at my sister-in-law's house, where I was helping her paint her dining room, so she cooked me fried eggs on toast. So yummy.

Lunch - Sandwiches (peanut butter or Nuttvia) and a fruit platter. I bought several bags of fresh fruit from a local orchard - pears, apples and plums - so we've been eating those as snacks or cut up with our meals.

Snack - The kids just munched on orchard fruit from the fruit bowl. They're allowed to help themselves to fruit whenever they want it.

Dinner - Leftover Pumpkin and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese (pictured above). We still had half a dish from the previous night's dinner (which I shared in last week's What We Ate), so Paul just threw that in the oven to reheat and it made for a really simple dinner. I was recovering from a small outpatient surgery earlier in the day, so it was nice not having to prepare anything.

Monday 

Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for me (pictured above). I made it the night before, so breakfast prep was as simple as pulling it out of the fridge and sprinkling it with frozen berries.

Lunch - Sandwiches and a fruit platter. (There's that delicious orchard fruit making an appearance again.)

Snack - I baked chocolate oatmeal cookies to have as an afternoon snack. (Whenever I bake, I set a few aside in a container in the freezer to use for future lunchbox fillers. It helps me feel prepared.)

Dinner - Honey Soy Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs served on rice cooked in homemade chicken stock and with a side of green beans from our garden as well as store-bought broccoli. This was another easy dinner for me while I recovered, as the slow cooker and the rice cooker did all the hard work. I basically just had to serve it up.

Tuesday
Breakfast -  Cereal or homemade yoghurt and frozen bananas and blueberries for the kids; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for me.

Lunch - Sausage rolls, Chicken Chipees and a vegetable platter (pictured above). I like to keep a stash of easy protein-based heat-and-go foods in the freezer so I can just pop them in the oven and keep working with the kids on their homeschool while lunch cooks. When it's done cooking, we get to sit down together to eat and it makes for a lovely pause from our work during our day.

Snack - Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. I defrosted a big bag of shredded zucchini from the freezer, which I had harvested from our garden earlier this summer. I set aside half for dinner that night, and used the other half in these muffins. I love sneaking vegetables into things, especially when those vegetables are my own homegrown, organic produce. The kids never know it's there, but I know it's there and get to pat myself on the back.

Dinner - Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas (pictured top). Zucchini wasn't called for in this recipe, but I added in the rest of the bag leftover from that afternoon's muffins, again, sneaking in extra greens. I hadn't made this particular recipe before, but it was really good. Everyone enjoyed it, so I'll definitely be making it again.

Wednesday 
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for me. Since I have to open a can of coconut cream to make my chia seed pudding, I usually end up making it for a few days in a row, until the can is used up.

Lunch - Boiled eggs (from our chooks) and a vegetable platter.

Snack - Fruit platter, stove-popped popcorn, Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (leftover from the previous day) and Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies (pictured above). We had friends come over for afternoon tea, so I baked the cookies specially to share with them.

Dinner - Sausage crumble tacos topped with a One Night in Mexico chipotle sauce and featuring lettuce and tomatoes from the garden, as well as grated carrot and cheese. We ate this with a side of homegrown sweetcorn smeared in butter.

Thursday
Breakfast - Cereal for two of the kids; a cheese toastie sandwich for the other kid; Green smoothie for me. (My green smoothie was a mixture of fresh cucumber, frozen spinach, frozen strawberries, milk kefir, greek yoghurt, chia seeds soaked in water, boabab powder, vanilla collagen and protein powder, Natvia, cinnamon and spirulina powder.)

Lunch and snacks - This was a lunchbox day, so the kids packed various sandwiches, cheese toastie sandwiches, crackers, mini salamis, cherry tomatoes, homemade Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies, raisins and apple slices with peanut butter to dip them in.

Dinner - Spaghetti and Venison Meatballs (pictured above) served with a side of buttery peas and broccoli, as well as a raw vegetable platter. (My kids really like raw vegetables, so I serve them with a lot of our meals.)

Friday
Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Fried eggs and tomatoes on low-carb toast for me.

Lunch - This was a leftovers meal for us. I finished off the last couple of enchiladas from Tuesday, and the kids ate the leftover spaghetti and peas from Thursday (pictured above). I added a little bit of diced salami to their spaghetti, since all the meatballs had been eaten at dinner-time. As usual, I also served up a raw vegetable platter to accompany our meal.

Dinner - Chicken barley soup and toasty soldiers. I pulled the soup out of the freezer, so all I had to do was reheat it and toast some bread for an easy dinner.

Snack - Stove-popped popcorn, lollies and ice cream spiders. (Paul and the kids have a family movie night every Friday while I get some "me" time, so he makes them a small pile of treats for during the movie.)

Saturday
Breakfast - Homemade banana yoghurt

Lunch - Chicken barley soup (the other half of the soup from Friday) and homemade dinner rolls.

Snack - Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. (We had friends and family over so the tray of cookies got eaten in about 10 seconds flat.)

Dinner - Lasagne served with homegrown salad and sweetcorn. It was a big lasagne because we had friends and family over for dinner (which I completely failed to get any photos of. Sorry!).


So that wraps up another week of meals around here. As mentioned, I've added in our snacks this week, but is there anything else you'd like to see? Any recipes you definitely think I should try?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Chocolate chia seed pudding recipe

Considering how often I make this chocolate chia seed pudding recipe for breakfast, it's surprising I haven't posted it here before now. Better late than never, right?

I love eating chia seed pudding for breakfast because it's delicious, filling and healthy. This recipe is vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free and gluten-free, so it pretty much suits any dietary requirement you can think of.

Chia seed pudding is full of healthful Omega 3 fatty acids from the chia seeds. As I'm sure you know, Omega 3 fatty acids are essential because we need them, but can't make them in our bodies. We have to get them from our diet. Not only are chia seeds an easy source of Omega 3 fatty acids, but they're also a good protein source with about 17 grams of protein per 100 grams. 

And then there's the magic x-factor of chia seeds. They absorb water and thicken whatever they're added to in a matter of minutes. This makes for a wonderful pudding-like texture that is satisfying to eat.

I like to throw all sorts of other healthful ingredients into my chia seed puddings, depending on what I have in my pantry at the time. Think, any random powder you've ever bought from a health food store, like maca or boabab powder. This pudding is a good place to incorporate them.

Also, don't be afraid to customise this chia seed pudding recipe to suit your taste buds. This is a very forgiving recipe. It's hard to screw it up. 

I've split the ingredients list into Base Ingredients and Extra Ingredients, so you can simply take the base recipe and add your own twist to it. Maybe you're a fan of strawberry or lemon flavours - see what you can find to create healthy and delicious versions of this recipe with those.


Base Ingredients

  • 3Tbsp coconut cream from a can
  • 150mls water 
  • 3Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1Tbsp Natvia (or other stevia-based sweetener)


Extra Ingredients

  • 1.5Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 scoop protein or collagen powder (vanilla, chocolate or plain)
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1/4tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 1Tbsp sugar-free peanut butter
  • Frozen berries to top, eg. raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or blackberries


Method

  1. The night before you want to eat this recipe (or up to three days before), mix the coconut cream with the water until smooth and incorporated. (Mix it directly in the bowl you're planning to eat it out of.) *As an alternative to coconut cream and water, you could use 200mls of any milk of your choice. 
  2. Stir through the chia seeds until they're all coated in water.
  3. Stir through the Natvia.
  4. Add the cocoa, protein powder, cinnamon and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.
  5. Add the peanut butter and stir it through, but leave it a bit chunky so little pockets of peanut buttery deliciousness can surprise you.
  6. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. 
  7. In the morning, remove the cover and sprinkle the top of your chia seed pudding with frozen berries. 
  8. Dig in and enjoy.

There you have it. My go-to, chocolate chia seed pudding recipe. What's your favourite way to eat chia seed pudding?