Last Friday was the last day of the half term holidays and the only day of the holidays that we were all going to be together as a family. I hadn’t really had a plan in mind but then I remembered that months ago I’d bought Zizzi vouchers using £20 worth of Tesco Clubcard coupons and knew that they were due to expire in February. I looked up the email I’d received and sure enough, I bought them back in August 2014 and basically forgotten all about them! I ran the lunch idea past the hubster and it was a no-brainer. Normally we like to have lunch out with the children but our budget mostly stretches to somewhere like McDonalds or Wetherspoons so it was a bit of a treat to rock up to the Farnham Zizzi instead (not least because I adore Italian food!).
Anyone who has been reading this blog recently will know that I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment and trying to be relatively virtuous – avoiding refined sugar and carbs where possible. I have had hardly any bread, lots of salads with protein rich ingredients for lunches and dinners and the odd potato. But what I miss is my sweet treats. I have a very sweet tooth and I do like my cakes and pastries but they are most definitely off the agenda right now. With this in mind I decided to look into baking an alternative version of a cake – one with no flour or sugar added (other than the sugar from the fruit).
Yesterday I put a little bit of theory into motion. On Monday night I ordered a lot of fruit and veggies and after dropping the kids off in their respective Tuesday places, I went home and broke out the old smoothie making machine. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going for to begin with so I grabbed a left over half avocado, handful of strawberries, handful of blueberries, big bundle of fresh baby spinach leaves and whizzed it all up with some coconut water. I forgot to take a piccie – it looked a bit murky to be honest – but it tasted nice and the avocado really did lend a creaminess to it. Then I thought I’d try one of Katrina’s (aka Mrs Cool Bananas‘) juice recipes. I altered the amounts a bit and used 2 carrots, one orange and a slice of root ginger with some more coconut water. Unfortunately I don’t have a juicer so after I’d whizzed it up I put it through a sieve. It was still a bit bitty though, and I’m not 100% sold on the flavour but maybe I just didn’t get the balance quite right.
Last week I decided enough was enough and I needed to get my children’s diets back on track a little bit with something a bit healthy and which would include some veggies that they would actually eat happily! I’ve made Annabel Karmel’s Chicken and Apple Balls before in the past, so when I came across this recipe on the Sainsburys Little Ones web site and noticed the similarities I thought it was worth a go. The kids love finger food and these burgers could almost be described as a meal in a burger as they have chicken, breadcrumbs, courgette and apple in them, all bound together with an egg. I swapped out the grated carrot from the Sainsburys recipe with grated apple as I know my four year old will object to too many obvious ingredients that he can examine in any given foodstuff and also, I had a couple of half gnawed apples from the two of them which needed using up!
I’m so happy to be able to say that I have finally got around to trying my hand at this very easy crusty bread recipe which I got the idea for from the lovely Mel over at Le Coin De Mel (who in turn found the recipe on another blog!). Mel’s version was a lovely round free form loaf and I loved the idea of that but I decided that it would be more practical for my family’s needs to bake it in a loaf tin (the boys are a sucker for baked beans on toast!).
I have to admit that I too was sceptical about the liklihood of anything edible, let alone delicious, coming from something with just three ingredients plus water, but it really works, is the perfect vehicle for other flavours, and is so quick and easy (which is ideal for me as I’m a bit lazy at the best of times!). My grandma always used to bake batches of bread on a regular basis and it seemed like a right old faff with a million ingredients (including black treacle!) and hours of rising and proving and bashing and folding and whacking! Admittedly it was very tasty bread (and my Dad took on the recipe and now bakes regularly as he became addicted to it and couldn’t bear the idea of living without it!) but in my opinion it was just too much hassle!
Before my 18 month old, EJ, was born in July 2012 I had a window of opportunity to do a bit of baking at a time when my then two year old was still taking lunchtime naps. I knew that I wanted to do something quick and easy and quickly discovered that muffins would be ideal for the purpose. I tried out several different kinds at the time but I think these toffee apple ones were my favourites. I served them up as a dessert at a barbeque (I know most people think Barbeque = Meat but my philosophy is, where there’s a main meal [of any kind] there should always be some sort of dessert too!). They went down very well!
Well this is new! I’m linking up to #ThriftyThursday over at Cold Tea and Smelly Nappies which is a fun way to share some tips and ideas on how to live a bit more frugally and save some money.
The picture above shows my new(ish) Starbucks cup on the go. I was talked into buying it by the amazing persuasive powers of the Starbucks ‘youves’ who assured me that it was a bargain at £6.50 (a third off!) and I would “make my money back” by using it instead of their paper cups when I came in for my skinny lattes from that point on (you get 25p off if you use your own cup).