I’m still in my kitchen…



It’s been so long since I posted here. I have very little time at the moment. Hetty, a rescue Collie cross came into our lives in February at 5 months old and it’s been quite a rocky road.

I was very naive and on being told she was probably from a farm in Ireland, pictured her in a barn with her mum and pups on hay bales. But of course the reality is that she was probably from a puppy farm. And we have no idea what she went through. I have very mixed feelings about having adopted her. The organisation that we adopted her through is maintaining demand from these puppy farms in a way so I do feel some responsibility for that. And yet we now have Hetty, who I love to bits. But without my perseverance we would not have been able to keep her and it would be unlikely that she could have been rehomed.

It’s been very touch and go, as she’s had a lot of behaviour issues, well they’re not issues to her but of course to us they have been. We’ve had help from a wonderful dog behaviourist called Denise at Paws in Hand and also an excellent trainer called Lisa at Paws 4 Reward. The key to the training is me following through with the things they teach me and being consistent – so I am being trained too in a way. We’ve turned a corner and Hetty is calmer but there’s still lots of work to do – a work in progress, and a lovely work in progress at that.

Which is why it’s been so quiet on here, I am still pretty much cooking from scratch every day and Hetty eats a raw food diet so that adds another layer of admin and then there’s the veggie garden…and work too and I have another new project I am working on.

Also it has to be said that cooking can be just another job you have to do as a parent and sometimes when you’re juggling so much, you can loose a bit of inspiration. So I have been making a lot of my usual recipes that are on here and are happily eaten but haven’t really had the energy to get creative and come up with amazing new ideas.

This month my blog was up for renewal with WordPress and I really had to think about whether I wanted to keep it. There are so many amazing, creative prolific recipe blogs out there and I wondered what mine contributed as I have little time in the kitchen to be creative at the moment.

I know there are so many parents like me who need quick healthy recipes and a bit of guidance on nutrition so I am going to carry on posting.

And then I remembered that the original idea was to have somewhere to record my recipes – and I do use the blog to look up my recipes so I know it’s useful! Also all the recipes are tried and tested so you know you won’t waste ingredients.

It needs organising and so I will start to work on that, and there are a few blog posts/recipes I have in mind….


Right, am off to walk the dog, have a great weekend!


How memories can influence eating habits…


It’s been a while, work and family and the dog and growing veg has all meant no time for writing posts.

Also, I am vegan now – as of Monday. So I haven’t been feeling creative with food as have been wanting to stop eating dairy, eggs and fish which were the last animal products still in my diet.

So it’s just me in my family whose vegan at the moment, they don’t know it but eventually I will only be cooking vegan meals at home, it’s a time of transition.

Anyway, I’ve had this short blog post in my mind for a long time.


My mum was ahead of her time in many ways. She worked Earthscan publishing, and I can remember on one of our visits to Wales her taking us to the newly established, Centre for Alternative Technology, she also stayed at the Findhorn Garden and was very much a free spirit. One year, I can’t remember whether it was 1976 or 1977 – we went on a train to Wales to go to a festival at Tipi Village. We hitched a lift with friends and stayed in their tipi.

I will never forget that weekend, though it’s very vague now. But one thing has stayed with me – carrots. There were sacks of carrots scattered around the site – and all the children would grab a carrot as they ran past. I can remember cantering round the site, pretending to be horses and munching carrots.

Now, most times I go shopping, I buy organic British carrots (non organic and/or imported just don’t have that carroty flavour).  I eat them whole on the way home. And yes I don’t wash them but with them being organic, I don’t have to worry about pesticide residues.

Every time I eat one I think of that festival, every time. My children usually have one and though it might not be as exciting as a festival, maybe when they grow up, sometimes they’ll eat carrots whole and remember being with me.

Food Associations

So it’s not a randomised control study, it’s anecdotal evidence. But it illustrates if you give fruit and veggies to children at celebrations, events and special times,* they will associate them with positive feelings and memories and by doing so, you’re helping lay down healthy eating habits for adulthood.

*Also I’d say every mealtime and snacks too but really that goes without saying.

Organic apricot and oat breakfast bake for #WakeuptoOrganic


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Only a 3 sleeps to go to Wake up to Organic at your local independent retailer on 15th June 2016 where stores, farm shops and  cafes dish up free organic breakfasts to celebrate organic and show how easy it is to make the switch to organic at breakfast.

Follow us at @WakeuptoOrganic on twitter to keep up to date with the campaign and find out if your local retailer is taking part and if you do go along to an event please post photos on instragram, twitter and/or facebook using the hashtag #WakeuptoOrganic. See the bottom of this post for a full list of participating stores – though there are some last minute ones signing up!

We have lots of lovely Organic Trade Board member brands who are supporting the campaign. If you’re interested in becoming a member, you can find out more and join us by registering on our website, by clicking here.

One of the brands taking part is Clearspring who make a peach and apple fruit puree with no added sugar. When I saw it I thought it would be perfect to adapt my apple oaty bake to a Summer version, using apricots.

This recipe is really easy, and using the puree makes it quicker – you literally mix the ingredients the night before and leave in the fridge overnight, and put it in the oven to bake for 30 minutes first thing.

Organic Apricot oaty breakfast bake

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

You will need…

160-200g apricots (or you can use peaches or nectarines) chopped
350g whole oats (oatmeal isn’t the same)
100g of dried apricots
2x 100g pack of Clearspring fruit puree with no added sugar
300ml milk (or non dairy milk alternative)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of maple syrup (optional)*
3 medium eggs, beaten
50g melted unsalted butter

How to…

  • Grease a shallow dish.
  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Pour in the dish, cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
  • In the morning heat the oven to 160º c fan oven / 180º c / gas mark 5 for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with a little milk poured over and chopped fruit.

*in apple recipe I don’t use maple syrup – it’s not necessary and without it there’s no sugar apart from natural fruit sugars.


Vegetarian recipe posts for #nvw16


I first went veggie when I was 9 and it lasted 2 years, until I went to secondary school.

My sister, Bec went veggie a couple of years later and has stuck with it.

My Gram (pictured) was a great influence as she made me delicious veggie foods, like rissoles, nut roast and these delicious tarts that tasted like they had bacon in them – I need to find that recipe. She also made vegetarian sausage rolls at Christmas which I will post later this year.

She worked for the Jewish Vegetarian Society in the 1960’s, and also knew the head of the Soil Association (according to my dad). She would send me off to school with some nuts which I would add to my school dinner, as at the time being vegetarian was pretty unheard of. And the dinner ladies were brilliant – they would make me a vegetarian version of meat dish – instead of spam fritters – cheese fritters! Tasty but really unhealthy!

Gram took us out to a vegetarian restaurant in the early 1980’s and it was memorable for being very, very bland. I think she’d be very pleased at how things are turning out today the amount of choice and options and … recipes.

I went veggie again in the new year (2016), with plans of making the whole family veggie, but it’s not quie worked out as planned, I am still eating fish, and the rest of the family are still eating meat, only organic, but meat. I’ve decided to see this as a bit of a journey, from meat eating to vegan, and I plan to take my family with me, so will be adding a new vegetarian recipe to the rota each week.

The one thing that’s made it tricky is time to try out new recipes. Vegetarian and especially vegan diets need to have a good amount of high quality protein: eggs, seeds, nuts, lentils and beans. So any recipes I make will include those ingredients as a general rule.

So right at the end of National Vegetarian week, here are my veggie posts to celebrate:

First up is mushroom and red lentil pasta which is a quick an easy midweek supper.


Then there’s nettle and red lentil soup – which is perfect for this time of year.

nettle soup
nettle soup
Then a favourite in our house, Spanish tortilla, we make our’s with smoked paprika, and you can add all sorts of left over veggies – I’ve made it with sweet potato, carrot and beetroot too, which is really tasty.

Minestrone soup is a great soup to make anytime of the year as the vegetables are available all year round.


One of my favourite soup recipes is this one by Rose Elliot – who’s an amazing vegetarian cookery writer, It’s a celery and tomato soup and is literally, onions, celery, garlic, stock and tomatoes, and it is delicious.


Then there’s this post on cauliflower three ways: cauliflower cheese – was something often had when I was growing up, and then there’s roasted cauliflower which I much prefer to steamed now, and of course cauliflower base for pizza, which adds more high quality protein to the dish (from eggs and ground almonds) compared to pizza with a bread base.

Cauliflower cheese

I had also forgotten about veggie spag bol which is a great alternative to the classic dish.

dished up veggie spag bol

Roasted vegetable lasagne is one to get back on the rota as my eldest used to love it – I need to try adding some berlotti beans to up the high quality protein content, and you can get gluten free lasagne sheets too.


Then there’s chickpea and leek soup which is quick and easy to make for lunch, especially if you have tinned chickpeas.


And finally, Summer bean stew with chickpeas – which I haven’t made for ages and peppers are just coming into season so it’s time to try it again…


Pulling all my veggie posts together has shown me that I need a bit more variety, inspiration and creativity. So am off to get some…



Avocado and frozen berry #smoothiebowl


This recipe feels like a bit of a cheat really, as it’s made up and is so simple. I am all for keeping things fast and easy in the kitchen, as life is so busy at the moment. So anything that fits in with the daily routine and saves time and is healthy is a win, win, win. I never really ever follow recipes for smoothies or juices and I don’t have much time when I am working from home so this is a healthy option for me for breakfast after I’ve done the school run or for lunch.

I’ve been seeing smoothie bowls on my instagram feed for a while and didn’t really get them until I made a smoothie in my NutriNinja and it was too thick so I poured it into a bowl and it was delicious – I didn’t realise how good it would taste especially with the toppings – I used fruit, coconut flakes and local bee pollen. And of course it looks so pretty and the possibilities are endless – the only limitation being your imagination and of course, your tastebuds!

I will post some info about the nutrition info soon, but just need to get this posted for #WakeuptoOrganic events happening in independent retailers on 15th June.

Avocado and frozen berry Smoothie bowl

Makes: 2 smoothie bowls
Prep time: 10 minutes tops

You will need…
1 Avocado peeled chopped
1 avocado seed (optional – if you have a high powered blender)
120g frozen berries
300ml coconut water
1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 tablespoon of bee pollen
1 dessert spoon of spirulina, wheatgrass or chlorella
1 lemon peeled and chopped
1 carrot peeled, top and tailed and chopped
1 beetroot bulb, top and tailed and chopped

How to…

Blend together with a hand blender, or in a blender or high powered blender, put in bowls and decorate with toppings of your choice.

#WakeuptoOrganic breakfast bars with #noaddedsugar


This time last month I was at Natural and Organic Products Show Europe where we launched the Organic Trade Board’s Wake up to Organic Campaign with the help of food blogger and food tutor, and more, Laura Scott. Laura made a cool green smoothie which had a great minty zing and a sumptuous granola breakfast parfait.

The campaign will take place on the morning of 15th June (it’s our second year) where all over the UK independent retailers will host #WakeuptoOrganic events where they serve free organic breakfasts to their customers and passers by to show how easy it is to make the switch to organic.

Why organic?

There are plenty of reasons to choose organic, it’s better for the environment, the animals are reared using higher animal welfare standards and of course organic produce has lower pesticide residues and is GM free. There is evidence now that there’s a difference in terms of nutrition.  A recent study  by researchers at Newcastle University, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that organically grown fruit and vegetables have:

  • Higher levels of antioxidants
  • Lower pesticide residues (which were 4 times higher in non organic) and
  • Significantly lower levels of the toxic heavy metal, Cadmium.

A recent meta analysis published by the same researchers in British Journal of Nutrition found that organic meat and dairy had:

  • about 50% higher levels of healthy omega 3 fats (which are good for heart and brain health as well as protecting against cancer)
  • Under organic standards cows must eat a 60% fresh grass based diet or hay/silage (conserved grass) which is likely to be a factor in the higher omega 3 levels.
  • Organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats linked to heart disease.
  • Organic milk and diary has 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has been associated with reduced cardiovascular heart disease, some cancers and obesity.
  • Organic milk contains slightly higher concentrations of vitamin E.
  • Less iodine than non-organic milk.¹

Both studies were meta-analyses of the available evidence which assessed peer-reviewed papers. Where studies did not meet the standards set by the researchers for methodology and/or reporting they were excluded from the review. This means the quality of the evidence included is good and the evidence is robust.

So to celebrate our Wake up to Organic launch I made these breakfast bars, based on my popular no added sugar banana and date flapjack recipe. I’ve also added nuts and seeds to increase the protein content. While these contain no added sugar they do have dried fruit in them, so it’s a good idea to have them with a glass of milk and drink water after to protect your teeth!

Wake up to Organic breakfast bars

Preparation: 20 minutes
Baking: 25 minutes
Makes 12

You will need…

150g Oats
2 medium bananas (about 190-200g)
50g desiccated coconut
120g chopped dates (if you don’t have enough dates substitute chopped raisins)
100g melted coconut oil (or butter)
80g nuts and seeds (I used pumpkin seeds, chia and pecan)

How to…

Mash the bananas on a plate and put in a bowl.
Add the coconut oil, dates nuts and desiccated coconut and mix well.
Now add the oats and again mix well
Turn into a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Press down so it’s evenly spread
Bake in an oven at 190 °C or 160 °C in a fan oven or gas mark 3 for 25 minutes.
Cut into slices whilst still warm.


¹Historic research highlighted that organic milk contained less iodine. However, the industry has taken steps to address this. OMSCo (the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative) representing over 65% of the UK’s organic milk supply, announced that in 2015 organic milk had achieved comparable levels of iodine to conventional and in 2016, following recent testing of bottled milk, they announced these levels of iodine have been maintained. Richard Hampton, managing director at OMSCo, said; “We initiated projects to boost iodine levels and applied these to our farmer members’ enterprises, and by early 2015 we announced that we’d achieved comparable levels with those in the conventional market. Our latest results have shown that one year on from the initial milestone we’re maintaining those levels.”



Pecan and date spelt breakfast muffins



I’ve been looking for healthier breakfast muffin recipes because, who doesn’t love cake for breakfast, especially children. And if it’s lower sugar then you’re good to go.

Helping with the Organic Trade Board’s  Wake up to Organic campaign has made me want to come up with some new ideas for breakfast. On 15th of June all over the UK independent retailers will dish up a free organic breakfast to their customers and passers by. The idea is to show easy it is to make the switch to organic. Follow us on twitter to keep up with the campaign

Gluten free

I haven’t tried this recipe with gluten free flour but I am sure it will work – you can also use gluten free oats. I am going to try to make them with buckwheat flour and will report on how well it works.

Dairy free

This recipe is dairy free but if you want to use butter instead of coconut oil or milk instead of dairy free alternatives to milk.


These muffins have no refined sugar in them – though they do have maple syrup which as a syrup is classified as sugar. I will be trying this recipe without maple syrup as I think they can easily be made without – 30ml contains about 15g of sugar which is equal to about 1.3g of sugar per muffin, the dates contribute 7g of sugar, the bananas provide just under 1.8g sugar per muffin, the coconut milk provides less than a gram. So in total each muffin has about 2 teaspoons of sugar which sounds like a lot but most shop bought muffins will be bigger portion sizes and contain 4-5 teaspoons of sugar, and they also won’t be in natural fruit form – which of course include lots of micronutrients, from vitamin B6 in the dates, to potassium in bananas. Under the latest Scientific Advisory Committee guidance this is equivalent to just over 1 teaspoon of refined sugars.

We do have some sugar in our diet in our family and I want to reduce it. Have you found that children don’t notice any changes to what you feed them, if you don’t mention it and also make those changes gradually. In between work, parenting, and walking the dog I don’t have much time to experiment in the kitchen so I need tried and tested recipes that work, like this one. These make a great treat breakfast and of course can be put in lunch boxes too.

Pecan and date spelt breakfast muffins

Vegan, soy free

Makes 12 muffins
Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes

You will need…

240g white spelt flour (or a mixture of white and wholemeal)
130g dates chopped
190ml coconut milk or almond milk or other diary free milk.
2 small to medium bananas mashed (about 180g)
30ml of maple syrup
30g chia seeds
30g pumpkin seeds
50g pecans chopped
30g oats
60ml coconut oil melted
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
Medium carrot finely grated (about 80g)
pinch of salt

How to…

  • Preheat your oven to 190˚C/gas mark 5/350°F.
  • Put the mashed banana in a big bowl with the carrots, milk, maple syrup, vinegar and vanilla extract  and melted coconut oil, mix well.
  • Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, mixed spice and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
  • Gently fold in the seeds, nuts, dates and oats.
  • Don’t over mix as this helps keep the muffins fluffy.
  • Place the mixture in 12 muffin tins.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes. You can test with a skewer and if it comes out with mixture on it bake for a few more minutes.
  • Cool on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Serve with some chopped fruit and/or a cup of milk.

Mushroom and red lentil pasta for #meatfreeMonday

  • 20160201_195617.jpg

I made this last night at 11pm, when I realised my daughter needed lunch for the Childminders today. It’s easy peasy, one of those pasta sauces you throw together at the last minute, not sure whether it’s going to work and it does, as long as the little person likes mushrooms…

I’ve stopped eating meat since the beginning of January, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, and it’s great. While I am not stopping the rest of the family from eating meat, I am not cooking it! So am looking for more vegetarian recipes that include high quality protein like lentils, beans, quinoa, nuts and seeds, and eggs, that also appeal to the kids.

Mushroom and red lentil pasta
You will need…

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, top and tailed peeled and grated
50g red lentils, rinsed
about 6 mushrooms sliced (have more if you want_
Teaspoon of dried oregano (or mixed herbs)
Carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
100g water

How to…

  • Heat the oil in a pan
    Add the onions and carrots and cook until softened
    Add the dried herbs and mushrooms.
    Stir and cook for 5 more minutes.
    Add the lentils and stir well.
    Add the tinned tomatoes and about 100g water.
    Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is nice and rich and the lentils cooked through.

You can make this dish gluten free, using gluten free pasta and it’s vegan if you don’t have the cheese.

Notes from a 3 year old’s birthday party



I just wanted to share some food ideas for little people’s birthday parties, having just hosted one that went well, thanks to parents helping out, as well as my husband and eldest daughter, amidst the  chaos. And I wanted to show you don’t have to resort to beige party food, and tons of sugar for kids to enjoy it.

DIY pizza

We made wholemeal spelt flour pizza bases. My bread maker had broken and I was in a bit of a panic about it as I usually make the pizza dough in it. Then I found this great recipe on Doves Farm website. I use spelt flour as, based on experience – mine and lots of parents, I know, while it’s not gluten-free, people who have gluten intolerance seem to be able to tolerate spelt. Because its gluten content is low compared to modern wheat flour.

My new favourite thing in the kitchen is this pin and board, which was made by my brother-in-Law, Garry, I am going to be selling some of his products in the not-too-distant future. He was inspired by  a vintage Welsh pin and board. If you want to roll the perfect pizza base or pie crust this is for you, though as you can see from the photo, I need a bit of practice. Anyway it is a really rather lovely thing to use. My eldest took over the pizza making – always a good idea to delegate.



Passata is easy to make. We had about 12 children and I made the passata by heating 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, adding finely chopped garlic and dried mixed herbs, letting it cook for a couple of minutes then adding 2 tins of chopped tomatoes. After stirring I let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes before taking off the heat and blending til smooth – I then put it in two bowls and let it cool.

Toppings – do as many as you can think of. We did chickpeas, organic ham, peas, sweetcorn, orange and yellow pepper, mushrooms, grated cheese and I forgot the basil. You can drizzle with virgin olive oil which adds a lovely flavour.


Hubster kept a tab on who’s pizza was who’s with a plan of the oven shelves on our kitchen blackboard.

Sides and drinks

We did sides of vegetable crudités, sliced cherry tomatoes, low salt crisps and popcorn, water and watered down juice (1:1).


I found this amazing chocolate cake recipe which is gluten free, and dairy free and has no processed sugar (just 125g maple syrup which is effectively 62g of sugar – so is very low), it is delicious and because it’s so moist you don’t need icing. If ever my kids have a cupcake the icing gets eaten first, and if it’s butter icing (which I know is really yummy) then it’s packed full of sugar. Per 100g, this cake contains about a third (11g) of the amount of sugar found in shop-bought iced chocolate cakes (29-34g). Portion sizes for the kids were about 20-30g.

There were no complaints (even from older children) about the lack of icing and the cake went down really well with vanilla ice-cream and mango. I also made gluten-free mini Victoria sponges with reduced sugar jam from this Dove’s Farm Recipe.

For the chocolate cake, I used a bundt tin and lined it – painstakingly with greased parchment paper, in strips all the way round, otherwise the cake sticks to the tin. I also replaced vanilla extract with orange oil. I made two cakes and cut sections out to make it into a 3.

Party bags

I had these paper bags, which some of the kids decorated at the party, and some took home to decorate, and put a dried fruit snack in (instead of sweets or chocolate), a small pack of coloured modelling clay and a wildlife colouring book, bubbles were meant to go in but were forgotten in the chaos.

I’ve just realised a couple of days later that while the kids had a great time, it was relatively calm amidst the chaos and we didn’t have any tantrums or meltdowns…I wonder why…

What I did wasn’t perfect, am sure you have lots of other ideas you have for your children’s party – would be great if you could share them using the comments section below….


#Glutenfree #alcoholfree #Christmaspudding recipe


I can’t quite believe am managing to get this post done with all that’s going on in the house and its gone 1am but I made this, and  even though I say so myself, it tasted great, so wanted to share the recipe.

Tris Strover at Tootsie’s nursery kindly gave me his Christmas Pudding recipe way back in 2011. He does all the cooking for Tootsies, and has won the Nursery World Food Award twice, and deservedly so. Anyway it’s one of my most popular posts, this time of year, funnily enough.

I’ve tried making it with gluten-free flour this year but it didn’t quite work. Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the crusts off the bread I used to make breadcrumbs. Anyway, moving on…

I’ve come up with grain-free, alcohol free version. Why do we think it’s ok for kids to eat food with alcohol in it?  If you’re eating this and think you might miss the alcohol,  have a glass of something with it.

Anyway Merry Christmas!!!

Gluten free, alcohol free Christmas pudding

You will need…
1 lb pudding basin
Greaseproof paper
Cotton or muslin
String or wool
150g raisins
150g sultanas
50g candied peel
100g prunes, chopped
50g cranberries or natural glacé cherries
50g flaked almonds
zest and juice from one clementine
150ml maple syrup
90g ground almonds
3 medium sized eggs
level teaspoon mixed spice
level teaspoon cinnamon
level teaspoon baking powder
125g gluten free vegetable suet
1 apple peeled and chopped into small pieces

How to…

  • Mix together all the dried fruit in a bowl.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl.
  • Add the clementine juice, zest and maple syrup and mix well.
  • Add the suet and again, mix well.
  • Add the dried fruit, almonds, spices, baking powder and ground almonds and mix through very well.
  • Pour into the pudding basin.
  • Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit just over the top of the pudding.
  • Cut a piece of muslin or cotton sheet to size cover the top with it, large enough so it falls below the rim where you tie the string around it.
  • Once you have tied the string around the basin, make a handle over the top using two pieces of string, going across the middle from one side to the other, this makes it easy  to take the pudding out of the hot pan.
  • Steam for 4 hours keep adding water, as it can dry out. I had to put mine on a pastry cutter, in my steaming pan.
  • Steam for an hour before serving.