Celebrating imperfect cupcakes

I do enjoy pretty pictures of the delicious food. Creations that I imagine conjuring up in my kitchen and feeding to my enthusiastic family; at our perfectly set dinner table; in the spotless kitchen.

It doesn’t always work like that though. Sometimes frequently I create imperfect food. Often my family, particularly the younger members have varying degrees of enthusiasm. Always I create mess.

And you know what, I don’t really think it matters. (Well I suppose the mess matters a little when it’s 9pm and I still need to finish the cleaning)

What matters is that I really enjoy baking and cooking, especially when I can involve Sunflower, my almost 3-year old girl. Have a look here at the fun we had creating these chocolate cakes. I try to cook nutritious food, but balance this with occasional treats. To me the imperfect finished product; the flour dropped all over the floor is less important than her delight at joining me in the kitchen and my efforts to provide a balanced diet. Sometimes we do even manage to create a delicious treat such as these amazing carrot&coconut cake pops.

Today we attempted a healthy courgette cupcake made without butter, oil or refined sugar.

Ingredients

  • Wholemeal flour
  • Ground Almonds
  • Honey
  • Raisins
  • Courgettes
  • Cream cheese
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaked Almonds

They weren’t perfect. To be precise they were tasty but a bit squidgy. Annoyingly they didn’t peel well out of the wrapper.

But I am still going to celebrate their creation:

  • Sunflower and I shared a special time together.
  • She is now excited to eat courgettes.
  • Mr R ate 4 of them – they must have been at least edible.
  • My intentions – to create a healthy(ish) treat were good.

There are many factors that make cooking with a pre-schooler more complicated. (Just like my previous post about complicating factors when trying to exercise as a parent)

Complications when cooking with a pre-schooler:

  • The mess. Oh the mess. That’s all I have to say.
  • The repeated hand-washing, hand licking, hand washing cycle
  • The laborious need to stir everything
  • The time consumption involved in allowing a small person to spoon mixture into paper cases.
  • The need to drag steps everywhere around the kitchen to satisfy curiosity at each cooking stage.

For me it’s worth overcoming these complicating factors when Sunflower takes delight in the activity. I always feel better when I know that I have done something beneficial or enjoyable for her, even if there may have been other easier, less messy, options.

I think the same applies to exercise and physical activity. As a parent there are complicating factors, but there are definite benefits to being physically active. I usually find my body appreciates it when I do make an effort.

Of course like my cupcakes, the outcome of my exertions are not perfect. Today I ran another 5k Parkrun. I am still a couple of minutes slower than my personal best.

But it doesn’t really matter if my cupcakes are squidgy; my running slower than it was. I will aim to celebrate the imperfect outcomes and try to enjoy the process whatever the complications.

So here’s to squidgy cupcakes, messy kitchens, and relaxed running! I hope you all have fun this week and celebrate your endeavours regardless of the outcome.

30 second summary: Today I made squidgy cupcakes. I am still running more slowly than pre-baby. I am going to celebrate my imperfect achievements regardless.

What do you think? Is it ok to celebrate an imperfect outcome? Is it adequate to have fun and good intentions?

 

Mami 2 Five

Dried Fruit Compote

Dried Fruit Compoteg

A fruit compote is such a versatile dish. It could be used at breakfast as a topping for porridge. We all enjoy it with yoghurt as a healthy dessert. I have been known to pinch a few spoonfuls as a sweet snack with far more fibre and nutrients than a chocimageolate bar.

 

Here is one of my favourite versions made with a variety of dried fruits.

Ingredients

  • 50g prunes
  • 50g dried figs
  • 50g dried apricots
  • 50g currents
  • 50g dried dates
  • Enough orange juice to cover fruit in pan. Around 600ml.
  • Optional mixed spice, cinnamon stick and crystallised ginger.

Method

(This is so easy it barely counts as a method)

  • Place fruit in a saucepan and add spices and ginger if you are using them.
  • Cover with orange juice (it does work beautifully with apple juice too)
  • Simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the juice has reduced to a syrupy consistency.

I hope you enjoy this simple recipe dried fruit compote recipe. Do let me know if you would be interested in mE publishing nutritional profiles for any of the recipes on ‘Ten Minutes Spare?’

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Indulgent Easy Ice Cream

Indulgent Easy Ice Cream

This is a belated publication of a recipe that I made on Mother’s Day. An incredibly rich and delicious ice-cream that is a doddle to make. No messing on with an ice-cream maker, no repeated stirring in the freezer, just combine 3 ingredients and freeze. After all I wanted to relax a little on Mother’s Day and enjoy my family time.

Now I’m not even going to pretend this recipe has a healthy twist, it does contain a little fruit but is a delicious, decadent treat. I think we all need an indulgence occasionally.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint double cream
  • 400g tin Condensed milk
  • 400g mixed berries (can use fresh or frozen)

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I used a bag of frozen fruit but this would be a great summer recipe with fresh fruit.

Method

  1. Whip double cream to a mousse like consistency
  2. Combine cream and condensed milk.
  3. Stir through fruit to create pretty ripples
  4. Freeze until firm and enjoy!

So there you have it… I did say it was easy and trust me it is really delicious!

30 second summary: Please make and enjoy this delicious easy ice cream when you need a little indulgence.

As always I do enjoy your comments if you have a few spare minutes!

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Gym Bunny Mummy

Chocolate Easter Nests – A healthier version

Health(ier) Chocolate Easter Nests

Google doesn’t really tell me when making chocolate nests became an Easter tradition.

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Easter is ultimately a celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Eggs are symbolic of this new life. In more recent times chocolate has firmly encroached on all the action, and at some point chocolate Easter nests have also become synonymous with this season.

In my household the success of the chocolate nest is fairly easy to explain. Firstly and most importantly I like chocolate. Secondly I do sometimes enjoy the kind of baking that doesn’t really involve ‘baking’. Particularly when Sunflower is involved!

Following the relative success (as gauged by Sunflowers consumption) of my adapted healthier version of cake pops last week, I decided to attempt a healthier makeover of the traditional chocolate nest.

Ingredients

  • 2 large shredded wheat
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • I tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • Grapes to decorate

 Method

  • Melt peanut butter, honey and cocoa powder over a gentle heat
  • Crumble shredded wheat into the melted mixture
  • Spoon into paper cases and press into nest shapes
  • Top with halved grapes

So there you have it. Easy peasy no bake recipe. I’m not claiming that this is the ultimate healthy recipe. In fact if you would like a true healthy Easter nest have a look at this carrot and cucumber version.

However there is more protein and fibre in peanut butter compared to traditional butter and although it is high in fat, most of this is monounsaturated.

The simple substitution of grapes instead of eggs also drastically reduces the calorie and fat content of these little nests, although arguable removes them one step further from Easter!

Nutrition in 3 mini eggs

  • Calories 45
  • fat 1.89g

Nutrition in 3 grapes

  • Calories 10
  • Fat <0.1g

Results

These chocolate Easter nests actually taste very rich. The unsweetened coca powder combined with the taste of nuts results in a slightly more sophisticated flavour combination than traditional Easter nests. The addition of the grapes  helps to cut through this richness.

Sunflower as my taste tester consumed only half a nest, this compares to my need to restrain her from eating her fourth cake pop last week. Mr R and I have really enjoyed the more adult version!

30 second summary: A slightly more nutrient filled version of the traditional chocolate Easter nest. Child-friendly baking but more adult flavours.

Do let me know your thoughts or comments? Have any of you made or consumed an alternative version to the tradition chocolate Easter nest?

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Friday Food: Carrot and coconut cake pops

Carrot and Coconut Cake Pops

Sunflower LOVES baking cake pops, however the traditional cake mixture we often use is not particularly healthy, particularly by the time they are smothered in chocolate and coated in pretty sprinkles!

Today I attempted to create a much healthier carrot and coconut cake pop.

Ingredients

  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 60ml coconut oil melted
  • 100g wholewheat self raising flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g grated carrots
  • 80g sultanas
  • Few drops vanilla essence

Topping

  • Ricotta cheese or soft cream cheese
  • Icing sugar
  • Chia Seeds
  • Desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Melt coconut oil
  2. Whisk sugar, eggs and oil for a couple of minutes
  3. Sift the flour into the bowel
  4. Fold in the grated carrots and sultanas
  5. Divide mixture into 20 greased cake pop moulds
  6. Bake at 180 degrees for around 15 minutes
  7. Once the cakes have cooled ice with ricotta cheese/cream cheese and icing sugar to taste
  8. Roll in desiccated coconut or chia seeds

Results

The cake pops once removed from the oven where not as tidy as when I’ve made them using a traditional mixture. I think they could be improved by finely grating the carrots to give a more even appearance. However once they were iced this didn’t matter at all!

I have to say they tasted DELICIOUS, actually much better than boring old vanilla cakes. They didn’t even particularly need the icing.

I found the cream cheese icing slightly easier to work with. Sunflower couldn’t comment on this as she was too busy trying to eat it!

Overall defiantly a recipe we are going to make again!


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Gym Bunny Mummy

Friday Food: Healthy Lasagne

Healthy Lasagne

The other night one of Mr R’s friends was coming round for dinner. By dinner I mean food in front of the TV watching the football, rather than of the dinner party variety.

I decided to make a lasagne because its one of those meals I rarely make just for us and the kids – I’d love to hear from, and be totally inspired by, any Mummy who can regularly make a meal involving white sauce with a 2 year old and 9 month old running around the kitchen.

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So to make this meal I split it into two parts of cooking. I made the meat sauce in time to feed the children and mixed it with their favourite ‘twirly pasta’ (fusilli) and chilled the rest.

Once they were in bed I assembled the actual lasagne and created a fairly healthy version based on our current fridge ingredients

ingredients

  • 500g Turkey Mince (yes completely non-traditional I know but much lower in fat)
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 large flat mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Black pepper (I didn’t add any salt as Pumpkin only 9 months)
  • Lasagne sheets

White Sauce

In all honesty I didn’t measure my quantities for the white sauce but a traditional recipe would involve:

  • 25g butter
  • 25g flour – I used a mix of half plain flour and half wholemeal
  • 1 pint skimmed milk
  • grating of nutmeg

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Method

  1.  Chop onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms
  2. Fry in a little olive oil until softened
  3. In the meantime chop carrots and boil in water (I find otherwise they stay too crunchy)
  4. Fry turkey mince with herbs and seasoning
  5. Add all vegetables and chopped tomatoes to the mince

To make white sauce

  1. Melt butter and add flour until a paste is formed
  2. Slowly add milk whilst stirring continuously (this is why it’s almost impossible to make with small children in the kitchen)
  3. Add grating of nutmeg

To assemble lasagne

(I used a 22cm square dish)

  1. Layer of vegetables and mince at the bottom of dish
  2. Poor over white sauce
  3. Layer of lasagne
  4. Repeat layers finishing with white sauce and a tiny sprinkling of cheese

30 Second Summary: This variation on a traditional lasagne uses turkey mince instead of traditional beef and a high proportion of vegetables to meat. White sauce is made with the addition of wholewheat flour for extra fibre.

Do let me know your thoughts I love to hear any comments – anyone else have a favourite variation on a lasagne dish?

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Friday Food: Portable chocolate cakes!

The other day Sunflower and I had a fun morning creating some chaos and chocolate cake in the kitchen.

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We were making little chocolate cakes inspired by an article in one of Mr R’s fitness magazines. Essentially these cakes were designed be used as portable nutrition, to be taken and eaten on a long run or cycle, instead of a pre-packaged sports bar or drink.

The magazine 220 Triathlon featured a great selection of these little treats that could be used by anyone doing endurance events. The idea behind these sort of snacks is that they are easily portable, wrappable and not too crumbly. They should contain easily digestible ingredients and should have calories to sustain around an hour of effort

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 Now my cakes were really just destined to be eaten as a marginally healthier treat than a standard chocolate cake, so my recipe does not exactly follow that recommended by triathlon 220. The result was tasty with a slightly chewier texture compared to standard cakes. I could definitely see why they could easily be wrapped and eaten on the move – almost as useful for hungry little ones in a pushchair as for an athlete running a marathon!

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Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter could be used)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp coco powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Half a loaf of bread
  • 50g chocolate chips

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Sensible method

  1. Melt coconut oil
  2. Mix all these ingredients in a food processor apart from the bread and chocolate chips
  3. Add bread to soak and blitz in food processor again.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips
  5. Divide into paper cases
  6. Bake at 180 degrees for around 15 minutes

Actual Method

  1. Futile debate with Sunflower about wisdom of baking whilst wearing fairy wings and tutu
  2. Sunflower wins debate with unimpeachable pre-schooler logic
  3. Wash Sunflower’s hands and put on apron (on top of tutu)
  4. Sunflower licks hands for unknown reason.
  5. Wash hands again.
  6. Collect ingredients whilst answering 1000 questions about why eggs might break if she carries them.
  7. Position steps to allow her to see work top
  8. Reposition steps to cater to random whim
  9. Allow her to handle egg in attempt to stem the flood of questions
  10. Make flying save to prevent egg toppling off bench
  11. Attempt to blitz ingredients in food processor but against better judgement resort to mixing bowl on floor to allow Sunflower participation
  12. Go to bread bin at other side of kitchen
  13. Return to scene below – cake mixture on Sunflower’s hands, nose, floor and the front of three kitchen drawers (how this is possible in 10 seconds I have yet to establish)
  14. Clean Sunflower’s hands.
  15. Sunflower commences imaginary game involving 3 stuffed rabbits
  16. Clean up chaos and complete rest of recipe in peace

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Happy Baking!

Mami 2 Five

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

10 Minute Meal

Quick and easy store cupboard meal

Most Mummies out there will probably relate to the feeling of impending dread at the chaos likely to ensue when entering the house sometime after 5 oclock with an whiney exhausted pre-schooler and a hungry, frustrated 8ish month old and no plan for dinner.

Hungry Pumpkin!
Hungry Pumpkin!

This happened to me today. A fun filled afternoon came to an abrupt end on entering the house with children displaying the above characteristics. Fortunately (or irresponsibly depending on your view point) I left the house in chaos which meant Sunflower was reasonably entertained muddling through the mess. Little Pumpkin was placated with a slice of avocado (he is still of the age that this is an entirely reasonable alternative to a biscuit, and frankly even if it was not, he is unable to express this in a manner in which I can interpret) I therefore had approximately 5 minutes to crash around the kitchen preparing something for dinner. I do need to expand my repertoire of emergency dinners but my fall back solution at the moment does tend to be pasta. Both kids love it, its fairly healthy and importantly speedy. I then threw a tin of chopped tomatoes into a pan, added a couple of glugs of olive oil and vinegar. One tin of tuna and tin of sweetcorn and a drizzle of cream and a serving of avocado on the side (or already mushed into his hair and ears in poor little Pumpkin’s case!) and I had a meal that contained approximately an appropriate percentage of protein, carbs and vegetables. Gourmet cuisine it may not be but it was about the best I could do in the circumstances with my stock cupboard ingredients. Although do check back as I hope this blog might motivate me to brach out with a few other emergency meals.

Store cupboard ingredients

  • Pasta of any variety
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Tin of sweetcorn
  • Tin of tuna
  • Olive oil and vinegar
  • Optional sour cream
  • Optional avacado

Do let me know if any of you have your own such speedy dinners….the above scenario happens on a reasonably regular basis in our house!

10 minute pasta meal
10 minute pasta meal

30 Second Summary: When being a domestic Goddess fails pasta is a quick and popular option for a 10 minute meal in our house!