Pumpkins

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you’ve all had a fun weekend, we’ve been carving pumpkins today and I was wondering what everybody has done with the leftovers? Our pumpkins didn’t turn out terribly well – this is the best one!


For a start we picked out all the seeds, it doesn’t matter if there are stringy bits of pumpkin left, they can be nice and sweet.

I drizzled over olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt before roasting at 150°C for around half an hour or until they’re browned and crispy. You could add other flavourings such as paprika or chilli if desired. I’ll warn you though, they’re addictive!


As we carved 2 pumpkins I froze the flesh from one and have saved the other ready to make soup tomorrow.


Soup

I simply fried an onion with a clove of garlic and added pumpkin, 3 carrots, a few new potatoes and a handful of red lentils.  1tsp each of ground coriander, cumin and turmeric. I added vegetable bouillon and boiling water, around 750ml maybe but you can add as much as you lik. Blend (or mash if your hand blender has broken like mine!) and serve. You can add crème fraîche, yoghurt or coconut cream, a sprig of coriander would make it very classy!


I added some leftover Camembert and lots of black pepper, it was delicious and very filling!

With the frozen pumpkin flesh I will make lentil butternut squash curry but use pumpkin instead. This recipe fab, so easy and tasty, it’s currently one of my favourites. Plus the whole family love it. I’m hoping it’ll be just as good with pumpkin.

Lentil butternut squash curry

Based on a recipe from Super Healthy Kids: http://www.superhealthykids.com/10-quick-healthy-freezer-slow-cooker-meals-no-prep-cooking-needed/

Prep: 5 minutes    Cook: slow cooker 6-8 hours Low or 5-6 hours High or 45 minutes stove-top     Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash/pumpkin
  • 1 x 400g can coconut milk
  • 1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Marsala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Slow cooker method

  1. Add 4 cups of water to the slow cooker before cooking. Just before serving add an additional teaspoon of both curry powder and graham Marsala if desired, stirring to combine.

Stove top method

  1. Fry the onion in 1 tbsp vegetable oil, then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 35 minute or until the vegetables are soft, the lentils tender and it is well combined.

Serve with: rice, flatbread or naan

I’d love to hear what you have done with your pumpkin leftovers, I was thinking of making a cake but decided to stick with what I know. Has anyone tried any sweet recipes?

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Recipe: Free-from Everything Coleslaw

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for a healthy accompaniment. It is low in calories and high in fibre and prebiotics. It is free from dairy, soy, egg, nuts, wheat, gluten and fish. Well basically everything! And it is thrifty because you can use up vegetables that would otherwise have been wasted.

Prep: 10 minutes

Ingredients (all very approximate and can be altered with what you have in the fridge)

  • 1/2 white cabbage, chopped into chunks or sliced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 handfuls of radishes, sliced
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds – optional (this could be any seeds or nuts, depending on what you have and can tolerate – poppy seeds or walnuts are very nice!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Combine everything in a plastic container. If you use one with a lid it’s ready for storage straight away.
  2. Store in the fridge
  3. Give it a mix before you serve as the oil and vinegar sink to the bottom. It goes well as an accompaniment to any meal. I like it in a sandwich.

Told you it was easy! And you hardly have any washing up. This would be good to make on a Sunday evening for grown- up packed lunches as it keeps well for a few days in the fridge.

Fussy eating

Fussy or picky eating is very common in toddlers and children, it often starts around the time that they move around independently and can peak at about 2 year’s old. If you don’t have a fussy eater you are very lucky as neophobia (the fear of new things) is a phase most children go through. It is thought that it is an evolutionary trait which prevents young children eating poisonous berries and that sort of thing off the ground. My 4 year old is going through an extended fussy stage so I can empathise on this subject, it’s very frustrating!

frustrated-mom-cartoon

Now, fussy, picky or faddy eating is on a sliding scale which goes all the way to oral hypersensitivity and extreme food refusal. Oral hypersensitivity is more like a phobia to food and children will often hate things in their mouths or getting messy at all. They may also have very rigid behaviours such as only eating crunchy things, food of a certain colour, or food that has to be the same brand. If your child is displaying any of these signs, please speak to your GP or Paediatrician, they may need to be referred to a specialist feeding clinic. If you are not sure, I would be happy to have a chat to establish if specialised help is needed. If you believe your child is losing weight, has symptoms of extreme fatigue or gastrointestinal problems including constipation please contact your GP or Dietitian.

What I am talking about here is behavioural picky eating, so for example my child is very picky with lots of food and would only eat sausage and chips if he were to choose but will eat other things when encouraged and he loves olives. Clearly he is not orally hypersensitive and most importantly he is lively, healthy and is growing appropriately.

So, how do we tackle fussy eating? Well, there are whole books on the subject so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but here are a few pointers.

The Golden Rules of tackling fussy eating:

  1. RELAX! I know you don’t believe me, but if you’re stressed the whole situation will be stressful for everyone concerned. It may mean that children are not looking forward to mealtimes due to the atmosphere and you have a problem before they’ve even sat down.
  2. Have 3 regular meal times sat at the table. You may have to have a star chart to even get this far! It is ideal for the whole family to sit down together but if you can’t, at least sit down next to your child while they are eating.
  3. You dictate what is on the menu. Don’t ask them what they want as they will then refuse anything you suggest. If you have nailed number 2 then you present them with food as they sit down.
  4. Offer food that is acceptable to them along with a challenging food. It depends how fussy your child is, a lot will be ok with the challenging food being on their plate, some will not. You may have to put what the rest of the family are having on a small plate next to them. If they show ANY interest in the challenging food, heap praise on them. Even if they just smell or poke it.
  5. When your child refuses to eat something, DON’T react. Children love attention and unfortunately that can include negative attention. Just ignore any unwanted behaviour or shrug it off.
  6. Praise any wanted behaviour. This can include sitting at the table, smelling food, touching food, talking about food and of course eating food. Star charts or getting stickers for eating well can be good motivators too.
  7. Get children involved. With everything food related, shopping, planning, cooking, even growing food. The more you demystify food the better. And it’s a great sense of achievement for children to eat something they have made.
  8. DON’T make deals! Never say, if you eat this you can have your pudding. All they have heard is pudding and it’s game over!
  9. ALWAYS offer pudding. I know it’s counter-intuitive but it doesn’t need to be chocolate fudge cake. A yoghurt and a piece of fruit would be fine. have the second course just means they have more opportunity for extra nutrients.
  10. DON’T disguise or hide food. They are not daft, it might work in tomato sauce a few times but as soon as they figure it out they’re not even going to eat the original food that they did like.
  11. Remember that their portions should be quite small. If they say they are full after a few mouthfuls then they might be. The Infant and toddler forum have an excellent fact sheet which shows what portion sizes should look like, click here.
  12. Give them a supplement containing vitamin D. New guidance has come out which recommends that everyone in the British population should be taking a vitamin D supplement, children need 10mcg or 400IU per day. And if you think their diet is particularly narrow give them a multivitamin suitable for their age.

And remember, this will not solve itself overnight. It is a long slow process. A child has to try something 15 times for them to get used to it. I know it’s difficult but do try to not worry. If your child is lively, growing well, opening their bowels and passing urine regularly they are probably doing ok!

The Infant and Toddler Forum  and www.gosh.nhs.uk from Great Ormond Street Hospital have good factsheets on fussy or picky eating. If you need general advice on healthy eating for children, this fact sheet from the BDA is useful.

If you are still worried and need to speak to somebody urgently, you can contact me and I can help or advise who is best to speak to.

Do you matter?

Silly question, of course you do! But who thinks that? Your family? Of course! Your friends? Of course! You? Well…?

I’m sure you do, but do you take care of yourself as well as you do your loved ones? Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too philosophical! I’m thinking nutritionally, as ever. Take me for example, I spend hours a week planning and cooking meals, thinking about my children and my husband’s nutritional requirements. Yesterday I dutifully helped my husband take a packed lunch with 2 portions of salad. But what did I have when left to my own devices? You know, the dietitian who has studied nutrition for 4 years undergrad and 4 years part-time post-grad? A cheese sandwich and a packet of crisps! 🙈🙊🙉 Now I’m not saying that was the worst lunch in the world, but yesterday my total fruit and veg count was 1 which is shameful! Our tortoise eats way better than me, hence the photo above!

I’m not for a second suggesting this is a “mum”thing. Before I had children if my husband went out for dinner I used to either have a takeaway or a bowl of cereal. I think that’s enough about me, but surely I’m not the only one! It’s just so difficult to have motivation to look after yourself. It’s so typical of people living on their own to not bother cooking dinner for themselves. In extreme cases this leads to malnutrition, either with people becoming under or overweight.

There has been recent research which was recently in the press which gives more evidence to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the importance of eating at least 2 portions of vegetables at lunch and dinner and one portion of fruit with each meal as well as other suggestions outlined below.

pyramid

According to UK guidelines we should all be aiming for at least 5 portions of fruit and veg per day. There is some useful information on the NHS choices website.  Ideally we should all be aiming for 7 but sadly, the average person in the UK is unlikely to reach 5.

A portion of fruit or vegetables is approximately a handful and includes one 150ml glass of fruit juice or a smoothie, frozen, fresh and dried. You can find what counts as a portion here.

I propose that we do something to look after ourselves. We are important and we do matter! I’m going to start tweeting and putting on Facebook how many portions of fruit and veg I eat per day with the hashtag #myhealthmatters even if it’s terrible! When I was in university a friend and I had a daily competition of how many portions we ate per day. It sounds silly but it really improved my intake of fruit and veg. Plus, there’s only so much rubbish you can eat when you’re trying to fit in extra portions. Therefore this is going to be my daily motivation to improve my health and look after myself better. Why don’t you join me? You don’t have to count portions of fruit and veg if you already eat lots, you could put your step count or water intake, whatever is important to you. You don’t even have to do it every day, this isn’t a gimmick or a 30 day challenge. This is an attempt to nudge us into better habits.

Don’t forget how much you matter! Join me with #myhealthmatters and let’s create some healthy habits.

Homemade wholemeal pizza

Here’s a healthier version of pizza. It is higher in fibre than regular pizza with a homemade sauce which you can adjust to your own taste. It has less salt than shop bought ones and you can make it dairy free by using a soya cheese or dairy and soya free cheese such as Violife. For us it’s a Saturday morning activity as it’s fun to do!

Tip: if you’re using a dairy free cheese, make the base really thin and cook in a very hot oven. A pizza oven is the best for this if you have one handy!

It’s great if you have a picky eater in your house as they might just accept this healthy version. It’s brilliant if you can get them involved in the preparation as rising dough is fascinating and will hopefully make them more keen to try it.

I looked for a decent recipe for wholemeal dough for ages and a friend gave me this one. It’s nice and light. I use my bread machine to make the dough as I find it so much easier but if you don’t have one you can make it using the traditional method. I like to put the sauce on in the morning so that it is nice and rich for tea-time, and properly cooled. I tend to put it on when the dough is prooving for the first time.

Prep: 2-3 hours including proving              Cook: 20 minutes             Serves: 4

Ingredients – Dough

  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups wholewheat bread flour
  • 1 ½ cups plain bread flour

Topping

  • 500ml passata
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Mozzarella cheese, cheddar or dairy free cheese
  • Any other topping you like

Method

  1. If you have a bread maker, put all the dough ingredients in and switch onto the dough setting. If not, combine all the ingredients and knead until smooth, place in an oiled bowl, leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size. Knead again and divide into 2 balls. Allow to rise for another 45 minutes.
    When I use the breadmaker, I put it in an oiled bowl in the fridge until I have time to roll it out.

    Ready to be rolled.
  2. Meanwhile fry the onion until soft, add the passata and balsamic vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer without a lid for 30 minutes at least to thicken. You could also add 1 tsp of oregano or basil if your children can cope with bits!
  3. Preheat oven to 220oC (200oC fan). Roll out the 2 bases, top with the tomato sauce, mozzarella and any other toppings you like. You will probably have too much tomato sauce – this can be used as a base for pasta sauce or frozen for next time you have pizza.

    My little helper – he usually avoids tomato sauce like the plague but loves it if he’s made it!
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden at the edge and the cheese is completely melted. Enjoy!
An adult portion
Here’s an idea of the thickness