Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Chopped Salads… 

I try my very hardest to eat healthy and cleanly as much as I can, of course it’s more difficult when you are out or busy but on the whole we eat a good healthy diet… this is a difficult thing to do when you have a large family of picky eaters.  Getting my two youngest children to eat well is a challenge, I believe in never forcing them to eat, but I do try and encourage them to try something, sometimes they love it, like Florrie with fresh peas at the farm when we were picking them,  she took one taste and loved them, but when I was spiralizing the carrots she asked to taste them and hated them straight away, the face she pulled was quite funny.  I have discovered recently that their best meal of the day is breakfast, they love fresh eggs fried with coconut oil every morning, and now we get freshly laid eggs from our neighbor next door, they are delicious, they love strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and watermelon, they love smoothies and homemade pancakes, Jamie Oliver’s one cup recipe, so simple and quick, they will eat these until the cows come home, they are also delicious when you swap the flour out for a gluten free flour too. I try most days to make breakfast their most important meal of the day as they eat really well, then I feel there  is not so much pressure for the rest of the day as I know they have eaten one good meal that day.


Lunch is another meal I kind of miss with,  it’s usually just me I’m making lunch for, my babies are happy to graze after a large breakfast, I kind of always fail for myself.  I make fresh salads for Paul and Mabel, but I always forget myself… I’ve come up with a new plan, Salad lunch prep for the week, I will make enough basic salad for a week, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and scallions,  a tip I have just learnt is to line your containers with kitchen roll paper to absorb the moisture, then daily using leftovers from dinner change each salad up daily, today we will be having a lemon rosemary roasted chicken, I’m having shrimp, with a kale Cesar salad and tortilla wraps, so I’ll shred some chicken, or add shrimp and add it to the salad and bake a couple of wraps to crisp them up to add to the salad… I’m hoping this will keep me on track instead of snacking with my children.  

I have recently discovered I absolutely love chopped salad, we have had it before a few years ago, recipes from Jamie Oliver again, but I really hadn’t thought about chopping every salad we have until I visited a new salad place that has just opened in a local town, in Chopt you pick your salad then they ask if you want it chopped up, Kale Cesar salad with tofu totally chopped up and it was totally delicious.  I thought I’d try it out on my family… huge success, they prefer their salad ingredients chopped up, but as you can imagine chopping 8 salads is very time consuming, each person likes certain things in their salads, so I’ve been tossing salad ingredients into separate bowls then emptying the bowls onto a board and finely chopping them… until last night when I came up with the genius idea of the food processor, you can start with the harder veggies like carrot and broccoli, pulse them a couple of times then add the rest of the salad ingredients, it worked perfectly, and it was a lot quicker, you just have to clean up the food processor bowl and blade, but not too bad.  So my chopped salads have been a huge success, my family are enjoying them so much they are saying they do not need the carbs along with their protein just the salad it’s so filling… My only problem now is how much Salad veggies I am getting through, but at least everyone is eating their greens, well except for one extremely picky eater, who likes everything as plain as it can be.


I’ll leave you on a sweet note… I was visiting friends for lunch yesterday, I usually take desert with us, but I’ve been in search for healthier sweet treats, some I’ve made have been ok, but just not quite right, yesterday I came across this recipe for Lemon coconut muffins, they were healthier because the sugar was very low, and could easily be swapped out for honey, or some other healthy substitute, they contained coconut oil and yogurt, I think they would even be good with gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour… they were a huge success both at lunch and at home, but be warned if you try these at home, the batter is extremely thick, she does say that on the recipe, but I was surprised at just how thick it was, I added a little more coconut milk just to loosen it a little… but despite that they will definitely be something I will be making again and again.


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New Year… new food.

Meat eaters, vegetarians, gluten free or just plain picky eaters… I’ve devised a new way to plan a weekly menu for a large family there is every type of eater.


For a long, long time I’ve suffered to all the meat eaters in my family, I cook them the main meal every night, I cook the picky eaters a basic meal then when it comes to me, I just can’t be bothered, so I just grab anything that’s easy, usually it is not that healthy, I try but I just can’t cook 3 separate meals a night.  For anyone that knows me well, I love healthy eating, I make sure my family have healthy meals involving bone broth, lots of super grains and veggies, I even disguise the veggies in sauces and casseroles by pureeing them.  Well it’s time for change, I want to be inspired by food again, eat things I enjoy not just what the meat eaters in my family love, I hate beef in Guinness, I hate chicken noodle soup, or even chicken pot pie, it’s just not who I am… I love lots of healthy salads, eggs, lots of eggs, avocado toast and warm winter soups creamy and full of veggies, so I have devised a new strategy for menu planning for a large family of picky eaters, why I didn’t think of this sooner is beyond me. 

I have been researching lots of vegetarian recipes, the kind I like to eat, then I plan a meat to compliment that dish, hopefully it is plain enough for those that are plain eaters, I then add a carbohydrate for those that want it and voila… basically one meal three ways.

This weeks menu plan… 

Sunday – lemon chicken for some, Salmon for others, baked potatoes for some, baked sweet potatoes for others and salad

Monday – Jamie Oliver’s aubergine daal served with rice and salad and roasted chicken

Tuesday – Jamie Oliver’s blue cheese and sweet potato frittata served with salad, sausages and bread for those that want it.

Wednesday – Jamie Oliver’s chopped salad with a pasta bake.

Thursday – Jamie Oliver’s baked squash with quinoa and meatballs for those that want it.

Friday is always cheat day… no cooking, pizza day!

I always try to buy as much organic foods as my budget will allow or I can get, I am planning on some homemade bread baking this week too, clean eating is not always as easy as it sounds especially if you eat out, but I try very hard to keep my shopping very healthy with a large proportion of my budget going to fruit and vegetables and organic meat.

And so you have it, a menu planned for a very large family, three ways, meat for the meat eaters, grains for the carbohydrate fans, basic and plain for the picky eaters and the perfect vegetarian meal as the core of the plan… simple and hopefully delicious.

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Resolutions for a mindful New Year

Resolutions are a difficult things to keep, we start each new year with things we want to change, things we want to achieve and just things that would make a little difference, but usually we don’t last very long and easily revert back to our old ways, so that is why I started earlier this year… 2016 is the last full year I will be in my forties, something I have struggled with enormously, but it has made me very critical of who I am and what I want to change in my life… I believe in peace, love and happiness, I believe you get what you give out, if you are a kind generous person, you will get those things back in return.

I began my journey of resolutions in my life with positivity, instead of being angry at everything and everyone I looked at the positives of what I had, my family, my home, who I am as a person… I let go of anger and replaced it with love, I began to decluttering my mind and my life of things that make me unhappy, it means that I have thrown away many years of possessions that I mindlessly purchased,  I have been  decluttering my home, I have a long way to go, but if I don’t love it, or use it, I toss it, well not literally, I recycle, I donate… I do not believe in trashing this world we live in, one mans trash is another mans treasure.


I have always been a person who believes in natural remedies before anything else, I discovered my love of essential oils a few years ago, I love to rub lavender oil into my babies feet, to boost their immunity, if I have an ache or just feel blue I rub my oils into my joints… I believe in a pure life, less chemicals more nature in all things. The same can be said for the food that we eat, now don’t get me wrong we eat junk food like anyone else, pizza fridays, chocolate Saturdays… but in general 95% of the time I believe we eat very cleanly, my grocery shopping is 45% fresh organic produce, I buy as much organic, natural meat as I can find and I look at ingredients in every product I buy, pasta is gluten free, rice is organic, I make a weekly batch of my own broth either bone or vegetarian and starting the first week of January I will be making a hidden ingredients pasta sauce in bulk ready for homemade pizzas and pasta dishes.

As for my home, I have looked at a new kitchen as a new start in decluttering my life, we boxed our kitchen up months ago, before Memorial Day, I tossed a lot of old broken things, and then I evaluated whether I would want them in my new kitchen… doing this felt so good I decided to carry on through everything, the funny thing is I tossed a lot of my old things and recently I have been buying someone else’s old things… #gotanaddictiontoantiques.  I found a life changing post on Pinterest for a cleaning routine in my home, I adapted it to suit my needs and implemented it, it works for me and has changed how I view my home, I get my babies to help and they love it.

For my family… I have always been a person to want to get out there and see things, I am homeschooling my babies right now and I love to visit new places, show them new things, so I plan to continue this incorporating field trips into their learning… hopefully we will be doing a snowy winters beach trip very soon, getting back to the zoo and visiting a local museum.  I love to take photos and I have started to learn far more about what my camera can do, that is something I plan to continue with too.

Yoga and Meditation have entered my life and I love them, I want to find more time to develop them in the coming year, to have a healthy mind, body and spirit, but none of these things are my Resolutions for the coming year, I just want to do them and enjoy them… I have one simple New Years Resolution this year, once a week when I buy my groceries I am going to buy a bunch of flowers for my home, I love flowers 🌺 they brighten everything around you, so I want to fill my family home with the beauty of nature.


Happy New Year to each and everyone of you 🌟

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Thanksgiving begins…

Planning our Thanksgiving… as a person who moved over to the US nearly 10 years ago, which believe me seems unbelievable, we were happy to adopt Thanksgiving as our own family tradition too, and now with our own two little Americans we celebrate it for them as well as for us.


I love my slow cooker, it is a must have appliance in my kitchen, for soups, casseroles and just cooking a joint of meat, I use it all the time and it is a Thanksgiving must have for all sorts of dishes.  This year I am going to make a warm soup to start of our meal, I want to use cozy Fall flavors, so I’m thinking a light Jamie Oliver cauliflower and coconut soup, cauliflower is a super food in our house at the moment, we are having cauliflower rice as a replacement for carb laden additions to meals and I just love anything with coconut added, so it seemed a perfect choice to add warmth and is sure to give me leftovers for the next few days.

My family are all huge ham lovers, so ham it is, with a little turkey on the side… I do not like handling meat so I will buy a pre-prepared turkey breast.  My plan this year is to cook the meats on the grill outside, it doesn’t matter the weather, snow, hail, rain I plan to fire up that grill, I had enough practice over the summer months cooking everything on the grill, without a kitchen, so it should be fun, and of course less mess in my new oven 😃

I’m a huge cheat when it comes to the potatoes for dinner, Costco do a fantastic tray of the lightest most buttery mashed potato, they even have a tray of sweet potatoes too, and they are both organic always a plus, 8 minutes in the microwave, stir, another 8 minutes in the microwave then stir again… serve, easy peasy. As for the other veggies, they have yet to be decided, it could even be a nice big warm Fall salad, one of my favorite meals when the weather turns chilly.


I will be making another Jamie Oliver recipe Gluten free cornbread, American style, I have become a huge fan of cornbread since moving over here, it’s easy and quick to make, you can add in anything you like for flavor and it all cooks in my cast iron skillets, making it perfect with soups, casseroles and my Thanksgiving  feast.

As for the stuffing and gravy it’s a must, I am a fan of making my own fresh stuffing but my children like the boxed kind, oh well it’s easy, so who am I to argue too much, but the gravy is always homemade, I will be using my own bone broth, and gluten free thickener this year so it should be interesting. 


I have been asked to make a salted caramel apple pie again this year for desert, so who am I to refuse, I’ll cheat a little again with buying a store bought crust and jarred caramel sauce, although both are easy to make, it’s just easier but the apples and crisp/crumble topping will be organic and homemade… perfection!


Finally Black Friday sandwiches have become a tradition in our house, many, many years ago we visited Portsmouth in England for a little shopping trip, right in the center of the Mall was a little stand that had roast meats perfected, they served them in warm bread topped with stuffing and homemade gravy, it was on that day many years before we moved to the US that the Black Friday leftover sandwich was invented, we just didn’t know it back then.  We have been having this sandwich on Black Friday ever since our first Thanksgiving over here, it is more important in our house than the dinner that precedes it, so I always have to make sure there will be enough leftovers which in our house can be difficult. These days this leftover sandwich is all over Food Network at this time of year, but I like to think I invented it way back when many years ago in the little sea town of Portsmouth in England… well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The Black Friday Sandwich my way…

Take all the leftovers, stuffing, meats and mashed potatoes, minus the veggies, drizzle with the gravy and place in a foil baking pan, for ease and no washing up, heat in a 400f oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  In the meantime cut your French baguette in half, ciabatta is also good for this too, once the leftovers are heated place it piled high into the bread, wrap each loaf with foil and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes… take it out unwrap it, cut into wedges, wrap each wedge of sandwich in kitchen roll, good for handling and cleaning your hands after you’ve eaten, again no clearing up and serve with bowls of the warm gravy (sorry this will be your only washing up)… ENJOY 😋

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving and crazy Black Friday (remember Black Friday is Friday not Thursday, give those poor people who work in retail a break and let them have time at home with their loved ones) ✨

Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Paleo lifestyle

Ive been playing around with a Paleo lifestyle for a while, it’s hard when you have no kitchen to be fully into it, it’s so easy to say I’ll grill some sausages and stick them in a bun just because you don’t have countertops, an oven, Stove top or dishwasher, but really right now I’m a little more equipped to start it full time, I have some countertops, soon to be a a lot of countertop space, I have the grill, a microwave and a multi task slow cooker, what more does a girl want?  My kitchen stuff is all still packed away, but I now have pantry space to buy and store ingredients like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and all the staples for nutrition that I have there to hand usually, and my refrigerator is looking more sparse now I have cleared out all the pantry stuff I had no storage space for.

Against all grains blueberry pancakes.

I am resuming my organic delivery once again this week Door to Door Organics, I love  to buy organic when I can and this delivery service is great for all things organic, I’ve been putting it on hold most weeks but it’s time to get my Paleo lifestyle kicked up a notch.

I’ve also cheated a little bit with my menu planning, I found a website with some Paleo recipes and I have just used these, so here we go, here is my menu plan for the coming week…

Deconstructed hamburger salad

Mexican breakfast for dinner

Easy taco soup

Loaded nachos 

Tomato basil chicken

Spicy sausage soup

Left over night… My favorite night.

As with everything in life, things are never easy, and my family don’t make cooking for them easy at all, I have several picky eaters, myself who doesn’t really eat meat and then others who eat everything.  How do I cope with this I hear you ask when you are cooking for such a large family, well I have just learnt to adapt my cooking technique, meat cooked separately and added after to soups and some casseroles, veggies added after I’m dished up certain meals… You do what you can, and I will try to simplify this menu and make it work for everyone and their tastes as I go along.

Of course not everyone in my family wants to be Paleo, and although I think everyone will benefit from a little of this in their diet, I fully understand that I need to add a carbohydrate to our protein and veggies, so I will serve up a separate side dish with every meal, sometimes it will be noodles, other times rice, tortilla chips or even bread, whatever suits the meal I’m serving and also makes my life easier.

Feeding a large family the healthy way can be a challenge sometimes, but with a little planning it can work out in the end.

Diet and nutrition, Kitchen renovation, Kitchen renovation

No kitchen, eight children and trying to eat healthy. 

What do you do when your kitchen is demolished and awaiting renovation, you have eight children who need to eat, your Mum is staying with you and you still want to eat healthily… You change up your menu planning and cheat just a little bit! 

As you all know I love to eat healthily and having a limited, very limited kitchen does not mean I want to eat out all the time, I’m useless when we dine out, I always feel it’s like a treat and eat the worst foods, I can’t justify a salad as I could easily make that myself at home and sometimes I wonder if salads are as full of calories as some of the other dishes… I love me some dressing.

So that’s when my menu plan idea struck me, why not cheat a little… And Costco is the best place for that, they make great ready cooked meals that I could add a simple healthy side to.  So with my limited cooking aids I set about a healthy’ish menu plan for this week…

Today… Chicken curry, jasmine rice and naan bread

Costco have a great chicken curry dish, I add a little more rotisserie chicken breast and some frozen organic veggies into the slow cooker to heat through slowly, I can then warm the naan breads on the grill and serve with a simple green salad of spring mix and cucumber sticks.

Monday… Chicken and cheese quesadilla with healthy hemp and sweet potato chips, guacamole and organic fresh salsa

Costco’s are now selling a pack of fresh rotisserie chicken breast, it’s not organic but it’s fresh, lean and moist chicken breast that is easy to use in many dishes, we will chop up the chicken, add ready shredded Mexican cheese blends, again from Costco, place into warm flour and corn tortillas for the gluten free people in my house, I will then add the fresh organic salsa and warm on the grill until the cheese is nice and melted.  This will be served with ready made guacamole and my new favorite from Costco sweet potato and hemp chips, also add a bowl of salsa into the mix too.

Tuesday… Chicken, kale and mozzarella burgers, green salad and salsa

Costco has a good choice of fresh burgers, these are new, organic and gluten free, these go on the grill, served with a green salad, cucumber sticks and fresh salsa… So easy.

Wednesday… Chicken kebabs and salad

This one is quite possibly the easiest meal of the week, ready cooked chicken kebabs, again Costco’s finest, served with a green salad, more chips and salsa… Easy Peasy and very healthy.

Thursday… Turkey burgers served in rolls with grilled corn on the Cobb.

Costco sells a pretty good frozen turkey patty, cooked on the grill together with cheese and salad, and also some grilled corn on the Cobb… Lean, delicious and healthy.

Friday… Meatball subs and salad

Have you tried Costco’s fresh organic chicken, basil meatballs, if you haven’t you should, they are yummy and make delicious sub sandwiches, just heat and add your favorite jarred marinara sauce, warm your rolls on the grill… Then add saucy meatballs,top with shredded cheese and serve with a fresh green salad and some salsa… A favorite in my house!

Saturday… Tortellini and fresh pesto with grilled chicken

I always like to keep a jar of Costco fresh pesto in my refrigerator, it tastes so fresh, it’s a lovely bright green color and adds flavor to so many dishes and sandwiches, I have bought fresh tortellini from Costco, and for those of us that are GF, plain pasta is a good alternative with the pesto and grilled ready cooked chicken, throw in some organic peas and top with a little shredded cheese… Another healthy easy dish.

I have to add I hate disposable plates and cutlery, but needs must when you don’t have a sink in your kitchen and washing up space is at a minimum, it makes life so much easier, so I have relented and bought disposable everything.  

Living through a kitchen renovation is never easy, especially when you have a large family who all need feeding but I feel my foolproof plan for continuing to eat healthily is working, it may be difficult on the days we have the floors refinished and the cabinets go in, but for now it’s working, we are still healthy and it’s making me happy 😍

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Simplifying life…

When you are a mother of a large family you get to a point in life when it is time to simplify your chaotic crazy life.  The first step for me to do this was treating myself to the Romba vacuum, oh how I love this addition to the house, the Romba works hard, she never complains and always completes the task she has been given in good time, unlike some other members of our house, not to mention any names… Wink wink!

The next task in hand is a major de clutter of every room, over the years I have been known to collect and hoard unnecessary junk, you never know you may need it some day, but to make life simpler and easier I think that junk all around needs to go, simplifying everyday tasks and giving me more time to enjoy life.

The next thing I thought about was grocery shopping, it’s not a task I relish each week, but it is a necessity.  I am becoming more and more a natural, organic freak, if it’s not organic or gluten free it quite often doesn’t make my shopping cart, with this in mind I have decided to revisit online shopping, something I frequently did when we lived in the UK, Waitrose was my favorite delivery service giving me good quality products and great service, so I would like to replicate this over here, unfortunately due to our location I am restricted to two shops and there delivery options, not overly impressed I have decided to use a new service  Thrive Market in conjunction with an organic fruit and vegetable delivery.  I try to buy as much organic meat as I can, I have mentioned trying to use a local farm for my meat, but most of them are closed at the moment, so I will continue using Costco for now, they have some good quality organic meats and some nice nitrate free, gluten free sausages and bacon.  Hopefully shopping online will free up some much needed quality time for us.

Due to health issues in our house, gluten free is a diet we are adopting in the main, it’s been difficult finding recipes that live up to there claims and photos of being beautiful baked goods, so here is my recipe for a huge family favorite in our house… Gluten free skillet brownies

Ingredients 

A large skillet with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil coated on the bottom

1 cup of melted coconut oil or butter

2 cups of organic sugar or a sugar substitute of your choice, I’ve used Blu agave before and coconut sugar

4 organic large eggs

2/3 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of all purpose gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chunks 
Add sugar and eggs to melted coconut oil and beat til completely combined.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate chunks, stir until just combined, fold in the chocolate chunks until they are enemy distributed then pour into the oiled skillet, place in a pre-heated 350f oven and bake for 20-25 minutes… Take out of the oven and enjoy warm and sticky perfect gluten free brownies.