Weeks Eats {7.5.17}

So my diet went completely out of the window for the early part of this week.

I did start with good intentions. I made some really tasty and healthy banana flapjacks. I love this recipe because while so many healthy flapjacks I’ve made are dry and bland, these are moist and delicious!

Banana Flapjacks

Ingredients

90g low fat butter spread

2tbsp honey

2 bananas

60g sultanas

240g oats

1tsp cinnamon

Method

Grease a square cake tin, around 20cmx20cm. Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Melt the butter spread and honey together in a saucepan.

Mash the bananas thoroughly with a fork. Add the oats, cinnamon and sultanas & mix.

Add the melted honey & butter spread. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin. Gently push into the corners and flatten so that the mixture fills the tin evenly.

Bake for around 25 minutes, until golden. They will still be a bit squidgy but they’ll firm up as they cool so don’t panic!

Leave to cool a bit for around 15-20 minutes. Then slice into 12 flapjacks and carefully remove from the tin.

These are delicious warm but they can be kept in an airtight container for about 3 days.

flapjacks

Then it was Bank Holiday Monday. We had a family day out, starting with breakfast at McDonalds (shock horror) then seeing Boss Baby at the cinema (obviously involving a large bucket of popcorn) then a nice walk around town. On getting home, knackered, we quickly decided on ordering Chinese takeaway for dinner. Oh dear!

On Tuesday Husband and I had a day off together to celebrate our wedding anniversary. So we went for brunch at Ed’s Easy Diner then another cinema trip to see Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2. I might have skipped on movie snacks but that brunch was epic and packed with calories – I don’t even want to think about how many. Although as it was our anniversary, I’m not going to feel guilty about treating myself!

breakfast

I’ve managed to rein things in a little later in the week. Yesterday I made a cous cous and chickpea salad that will last me 3 lunches. Meal prepping definitely helps keep me on track when dieting as there’s healthy food all ready and waiting in the fridge so I’m less likely to be tempted by unhealthy stuff.

Chickpea & Cous Cous Salad

Ingredients

150g cous cous (uncooked)

40g raisins

300ml chicken or vegetable stock

2tbsp vegetable or olive oil

2tbsp lemon juice

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp ground coriander

1/2tsp ground ginger

1 carrot, grated

1 tin chickpeas, drained & rinsed

Method

Put the cous cous and raisins in a bowl. Heat the stock (or use while still hot after making it), then pour it over the cous cous and raisins. Leave for around 8 mins or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Use a fork to mix up the cous cous.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, cumin, coriander and ginger. Add this and, the chickpeas and the grated carrot to the cous cous mixture.

And that’s it! This will make 2 whole lunches or 4 lunches if you add some veggies (I had mine with steamed broccoli).

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What do you eat to treat yourself? How do you stick to healthy eating?

 

 

Weeks Eats {24.4.17}

We had some more gorgeous weather in Cardiff for the second week of Easter holidays. It’s at this time of year that I love to dig out our picnic bag and head to the park!

On Tuesday, we went to Cefn Onn Park to meet some friends for a picnic. Here’s what we packed….

These picnic recipes are really simple but perfect for sunny weather. Just make sure you pop an ice pack in your bag to keep everything cool!

As my daughter usually goes to her school breakfast club during term time, I like to put a bit more effort into breakfasts during the holidays. We get more time to make it together and relax while we eat and chat about what we’re getting up to that day. However, holidays are still busy and the time is precious! So to make these special breakfasts quicker and simpler, I’ve been using packs of frozen fruit. Cheaper than fresh and providing a supply of fruit that won’t suddenly spoil, I love this idea and I’d definitely recommend it to all! Here are a couple of breakfast ideas that I’ve used with frozen fruit.

Crumpets with fruit, yoghurt and honey

I got this idea from the Hairy Bikers diet series. You simply heat up a mix of frozen berries with some honey in a saucepan. Once they’re entirely defrosted and nicely warm, spoon the mixture onto two toasted crumpets, then add a dollop of greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey on top. Simple yet delicious!

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Oat Pancakes

Ingredients: 

100g oats

1tsp baking powder

1.5tsp cinnamon

100ml milk

1 egg

1tsp vanilla extract

Vegetable oil, or whichever oil you prefer, for cooking

Frozen fruit (we went with mango)

Method: 

Warm the frozen fruit in a saucepan (or you could use the microwave)

Meanwhile, put the oats in a blender (check that yours is suitable for the job, not all are) and turn them into flour (If you can’t do this, you can buy oat flour instead). Add cinnamon and baking powder.

Whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. Add a little milk if it thickens too much. Warning: this mixture does thicken as it stands.

Heat some oil in a pan, then add the batter to make small pancakes. You should get about 6 altogether and if you’ve got a large frying pan, you should be able to cook 2 or 3 at a time. Cook for about 2 minutes before flipping over then cook for another minute or so, both sides should be a lovely golden colour.

Serve with your warm fruit and a dollop of yoghurt, if you wish. Of course, you could try whatever toppings you fancy!

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The next edition of The Weeks Eats will be all about simple family dinners. If you have a recipe you’d like me to feature, do get in touch!

The Weeks Eats {14.4.17}

So we’re now on Easter Holidays! Is it just me or is this year going by really quickly?

With Pip at home and as we had family visiting earlier this week, we’ve been doing lots of Easter baking! To an extent, my diet has fallen by the wayside a little, although I am trying to keep with working and making sure that even if I’m having a few treats, my main meals are still healthy and low calorie. I have accepted that I’m simply not going to lose as much weight over the next couple of weeks.

But you’ve got to treat yourself, especially at special times of the year! So here are our two favourite Easter baking recipes:

Cornflake Nests

A staple recipe when cooking with children, we’ve been making these every year since Pip was about two. Only this year, now at 7 years old, has Pip been allowed to stir the melting chocolate in the saucepan (obviously with close supervision!).

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Ingredients: 

150g cornflakes

150g milk chocolate

75g butter

4 tbsp golden syrup

Cadbury’s Mini Eggs (optional)

Method:

Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to a small saucepan, along with the butter and golden syrup. Over a low to medium heat, stir until everything has melted. Leave for a few minutes to cool a bit (maybe while you weigh out your cornflakes).

Put the cornflakes in a large mixing bowl then pour the melted ingredients over them. Stir thoroughly to coat all the cornflakes but be careful not to crush them!

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases. Top with a couple of mini eggs, if using. Put them in the fridge for about an hour to set. Then tuck in!

Carrot Cupcakes

I wouldn’t call these healthy exactly but they are a little better than a standard cupcake. I don’t often use oil in cakes but that plus the carrots make these super moist – delicious!

carrot cupcakes

Ingredients: 

200g carrot, grated

200g self raising flour

175g light brown sugar

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

2tsp mixed spice

zest 1 orange

2 eggs

150ml vegetable or sunflower oil

225g icing sugar

3-4 tbsp hot water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Decorations (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan, gas mark 4). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.

Add to a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and orange zest. Mix well.

In another bowl or jug, add the oil and eggs and whisk together thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with the carrot. Mix everything until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared paper cases.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Then allow to cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, put the icing sugar in a mixing bowl, add the vanilla extract then gradually add the boiling water, mixing as you go. You should end up with a fairly thick icing but not a paste.

Use a spoon to pour icing over the cakes (who cares if it dribbles a bit, right?), then use the back of the spoon to spread the icing to cover each cake completely.

Add decorations, if using (I found these cute little carrots for mine but you could use sprinkles or anything else that takes your fancy!). Allow fifteen minutes or so for the icing to set.

 

This week I also tried out another meal prep idea. If you read the last The Weeks Eats, you’ll have seen my black bean and veg stew that lasted me a few days. This time, I’ve gone for turkey mince. I sautéed it in a little oil with a minced clove of garlic. Once it was cooked, I mixed half of it with chopped tomatoes and mixed herbs and the other half I mixed with chopped spring onions, soy sauce, honey and ginger. I shared each mixture between two food containers then added some steamed vegetables. Once they were cool, I popped them in the fridge. Four days of lovely lunches ready to go!

PicMonkey Collage-2

Plenty of other bloggers have been posting their own Easter treats too! The following are a few of my favourites. Alice from NewYoungMum made these awesome looking Speckled Easter Cake – I love the alternating sponges inside. These Easter Egg Sprinkle Cookies from Sarah’s Little Kitchen are so cute! As a big peanut butter fan, I’d love to try these Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Eggs from Invisible No More – so beautifully decorated too!

So that’s my second The Weeks Eats done! I hope you enjoyed it. I’m hoping for some nice weather next week so I might be posting some of our favourite picnic ideas and recipes!

Thanks for reading.

The Weeks Eats {05.04.17}

I’ve been wanting to start blogging more about food for a while now. Since this week I really felt like I’ve fallen into some surprisingly good habits and managed to lose another 3lb (Yay!), now seems like a good time to start another good habit – a weekly blog post about food. I plan for this to be a sort of roundup of recipes I’ve used in the last week, what I’ve eaten outside home, tips and ideas for cooking and meal prep and recipes that I’ve found and fancy trying out soon. I hope you like it!

To begin with, here’s a recipe I used last week for several of my lunches:

Bean & Veggie Stew

Now this is my take on another recipe I tried ages ago that was actually a chilli. But I don’t actually like my food very hot so I took the chilli out so I can’t really call it a chilli anymore (we all remember Jamie Oliver’s paella debacle!). So instead it’s now a stew. Anyway, I like eating this with brown rice or stuffed in a pitta or even with a poached egg perched on top. It’s ridiculously simple and easy to make, very healthy and could easily be adapted with different beans or vegetables.

bean and veg stew collage

Ingredients:

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or very finely chopped

1 medium courgette, chopped

1 240g tin black beans, drained

1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 300g tin chickpeas, drained

A few sprays or about 1 tsp vegetable oil or other oil of your choice

1 tsp cumin

1tsp ground coriander

Method:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and courgette and fry for about 10 minutes or until softened a little.

Stir in the cumin and coriander.

Add the black beans, chickpeas and tomatoes.

Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about twenty minutes.

Serve and enjoy. Or portion into containers and store in the fridge for 3 days (possibly might be ok for a little longer, this is just how long it lasted for me!).

Serves: 4

Calories per portion: 176

Going out for food can be really tricky when you’re trying to be healthier. My usual rule is that, as I don’t do so very often, I can see it as a treat and not worry too much about what I have. However, something I do more regularly is to sit in a coffee shop and write for a couple of hours, perhaps accompanied by an insanely large mug of hot chocolate and some kind of pastry. I’ve had to admit to myself that this is IMG_1516actually just a bad habit but I am determined to still have my out-of-the-house writing time. So when I popped into Starbucks last Friday, I steered well clear of my usual and instead went for a can of Innocent Bubbles and a Skinny Blueberry muffin. This came in at 396 calories. Perhaps a little more than I’d usually have for a weekday breakfast but still, pretty good and still tasty. I thought the muffin would be a let down but actually the oats make it rather filling and it still tasted like a treat!

Speaking of treats, I’ve also been on the lookout for a snack I can have in the evenings, to substitute the bags propercornof crisps we often have while watching movies. I spotted Propercorn on offer at the local supermarket and decided to give them a go. I got the coconut and vanilla flavour, since the others there were savoury and I prefer my popcorn sweet. It’s delicious! Ok, they’re not super low in calories but still, a healthier movie snack than Doritos!

 

A couple of my favourite meals from this week….

PicMonkey Collage

I read lots of other blogs and that’s where I get lots of my own food inspiration. With next week being school holidays, I’d love to try building these Carrot and Runner Bean Towers from A Mummy Too with my daughter. Or as we’ll be out and about quite a bit, this recipe for Homemade Museli Flapjacks form Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary could come in handy! This recipe for Ten Minute Mango Pancakes from Deliciously Ella looks perfect for slightly lazier than normal mornings. Finally, as a big fan of banana bread, I’d love to try this healthy version from The Picky Eater.

So there we have it! I hope you enjoyed The Weeks Eats and look forward to next week’s post when I’ll be featuring some Easter themed treats!

Thanks for reading!