Cooking with Kids: Making Mini Pizzas

We love cooking with kids (as you probably know) and we are always on the look out for tasty and healthy treats. The Girl (aged 4) came home from preschool today with this fabulous and DELICIOUS treat – Muffin Mini Pizzas. For those of you that are not familiar with muffins – they are a bit like a roll, slightly sweeter bread. Of course, if you can’t get these near you, use Pitta bread or some french bread instead! The great thing about these Mini Pizzas, is that they are healthy, the kids will love making them and the majority of kids will also eat them. A great way to get some cutting practice AND eating some healthy veg.

Mini Pizzas - cooking with kids

 

Muffin Mini Pizza Recipe:

* 1/2 a muffin per pizza

* a mushroom

* some olives (black ones tend to be sweeter)

* sweet corn

* peppers

* cheese

* tomato puree

1) Let the children have a go at cutting their vegetables themselves. Of course do this supervised and don’t give them the sharpest knives – but sharp enough that it does cut. Let them choose what they want.

2) Put some tomato puree on your muffin and spread.

3) Add your toppings , with the cheese to go last.

4) Place under the gril until the cheese has melted and starts to brown.

I loved that The Girl “gobbled it all up”, eventhough normally she doesn’t like green peppers. She declared it as yummy and that we need to make more for all the family!

DIY Muesli Recipe

We do love making things ourselves and I also love to show the kids how easy it is to recreate certain things that we “eat all the time” at home. So I thought we would have  a go at making own DIY Muesli. The great thing about making your own muesli, is that you totally control what goes into your breakfast cereal – even the leading “healthy” brands are often sweetened with milk powders and “natural sugars” (isn’t all sugar natural?!). So making your own you can manage the added sugar. The other benefit of making your muesli, or more to the point THIS particular muesli recipe, is that you just “use what you have in”…. if you have less dried fruit that week, add more nuts. Also, you can vitamin and mineral rich items such as pumpkin seeds (great for pregnant mamas) or linseeds – i.e. if therare nutritional gaps in your diet, seek out muesli ingredients that fill those.

Finally, we have used our homemade muesli to “quickly and easily” make granola bars – just “add butter, sugar and honey” as per these granola bar instructions here!

DYI Muesli RecipeThe above are what we added to our muesli – the precise measurements are not important. Also, if you can’t get one ingredient, e.g. rye flakes, replace it with another, e.g. oats. Roughly we used:

  • 1 cup of Oats
  • 1 cup of Rye Flakes
  • 1 cup of Barley
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup linseeds
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup (homegrown!) walnuts
  • 1 cup ground almonds (sweetens the muesli a little)
  • 1 cup of mixed dried fruit (in our case, cranberries, raisins and apricots)

And then you just mix it all up and store in an air tight container.

I had the children help  me – with the measuring and pouring and stirring. Insterestingly, the Boy, ate a small bowl full of it straight away and declared it YUMMY. The next day, he didn’t find it sweet enough – but I don’t mind adding a little sugar for him and none for me. And as mentioned above, this was PERFECT for making granola bars too.

 

Sleep better in 5 simple steps

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We all know that feeling when your alarm goes off in the morning and you’ve had little to no sleep throughout the night. You get to work feeling irritable, groggy and exhausted and there is very little you can do feel more energised and alert.

Insomnia can be triggered by a number of different reasons, usually work stress and depression, but there are some things you can do to control it. Simple changes to your diet and habits before bedtime could help you get your full, restful eight hours.

Here are our top five tips to getting a great night’s sleep.

1. Have a sleep-happy diet

Your diet is the fastest and easiest thing you can do to improve your sleep patterns. Start by cutting down on your caffeine intake. Limit your coffees to only before lunchtime and switch to decaf drinks for the afternoon. But look out for hidden caffeine in cough and cold medicine, some chocolate and multivitamins.

Magnesium is a brilliant nutrient for aiding sleep so make sure your diet is rich in legumes, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables like wild lettuce, whole grains and nuts like almonds and cashews. Magnesium acts as a natural sedative so will help you drift off faster.

Tryptophan is an amino acid which can really help you drift off. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted into melatonin, the hormone that controls your body’s sleep patterns. White meats such as turkey and chicken and fish like salmon, halibut and cod are all rich in tryptophan.

2. De-stress to sleep better

Stress is the biggest cause of insomnia but it can be controlled with the help of some relaxation techniques and breathing exercises. If you find it hard to switch off, try going to a regular yoga class, here the instructor will teach you deep breathing exercises, meditation and stretching so you can incorporate some of the techniques before bed. It will help de-stress, calm and empty your mind for a good night’s sleep.

3. Aromatherapy

The familiar scent of lavender has long been used as a remedy for sleeplessness. Research has found that women respond to the scent better and it does help in reaching deep sleep and lengthening sleep time. Just a couple of drops of essential oil on your pillow or a lavender sachet  will help you drift off. Another great idea is to have a lavender scented bubble bath – the bath and warm water will help you relax after a long day at work.

4. Natural remedies

Taking supplements could help your get your sleep patterns under control. Vitamins and minerals like magnesium and calcium are both sleep boosters, and when they are taken together, the become even more effective. Hops is also known to help calm and sedate (most will know it from beer!) but for sleep purposes, it can help fight anxiety and insomnia. Another less known treatment is oxygen therapy. Users have reported that after breathing in the oxygen-enriched air from the can, they felt more relaxed and less stressed – perfect if you’re looking to unwind before bedtime.

5. Light control

If you have trouble drifting off to sleep at night, it might be because you need more light in the morning. Light exposure is very important as it tells the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Taking a walk first thing the morning is a great way to boost your ‘light intake’ or you could try a light ala

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Breakfast Banana Muffins: Cooking with Kids

Well.. yes, we had some of those blackened bananas that NO ONE will touch in the fruit bowl. The flies were beginning toget excited, so I decided to get baking with the kids – actually with The Girl, as the Boy started back at school today (boooo). We went for a Honey, Oats and Banana muffins. The are DELICIOUS, easy to make and are also a great alternative Breakfast muffin or add them to the children’s lunchbox. They will keep a week in air tight container. I like to stick them in the fridge too (why not!).

Banana Muffin Recipe

Banana Muffins Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125ml of milk
  • 100g butter
  • 2 tbls runny honey
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 200g porridge oats
  • handful of raisins and walnuts (optional)

Banana Muffins Method

1. Melt the butter and honey in a pot on the stove and set aside

2. Squish your 3 bananas with a fork, in a bowl. Add the eggs and milk and whisk.

3. Add your oats, flour and raisins/ nuts. And mix with a wooden spoon.

4. Pour in the butter and honey. Mix again.

5. Divide into cupcake cases. Ours were quite small, we ended up with 18 cupcakes. Normally this will make around 12 medium – large cupcakes.

6. Bake 20 – 30 minutes (20min if small…) until golden brown.

Let cool on a rack and enjoy! You will end up with a sweet and moist and filling breakfast muffin!

From Blackened Bananas that no one will touch to Honey, Oat & Banana Muffins, that we can’t get enough of! We need some smell-o-vision SOON!

Outdoor Time

Image tagBefore I had children, I was always “quite certain” that I would be the sort of parent that would be “great” at spending time outdoors with my kids. Afterall, what can be said against fresh air, moving around and enjoying your environment? And we have a garden, a small one all be it, but a garden, so hard can it be to just pop outside for those magic 30 minutes?

Then I had The Boy. I was out and about a lot, whilst he was still small. Afterall a little baby is easily transportable and you just “stick them in the pram”, pop the rain cover over and off you go.

Then we hit the toddler years and things changed. I started randomly pulling plants out of the flowerbeds, that look like they may have poisonous berries. Then I cut back a really thorny bush. I dug up some more random bits. And before it our garden was a mess. The secret garden it once was, now was a paved, muddy mess. Add to that, that everytime you set a foot outdoor, you have to wrap your toddler in hats, gloves, coats and shoes – and said toddler frequently is incompliant, going outdoors for a quick 30min suddenly seemed like a lot of hassle.

I set myself the challenge of creating monthly nature crafts – to get us out and about more. It helped, but it still wasn’t enough.

I realised I need to do two things:

1) sort the garden out. The mess needed to be made child friendly – you can read all about what we came up with here – we are so excited and happy about the neat, clean new garden with the great “play shed”. All that is missing in our garden now is some lovely garden furniture and I will be popping over to Kandco.com to see what they have on offer.

2) I needed to manage my expectations. Like with exercise, setting “too high a target” often results in a flurry of activity and then exhaustion and no more. Best to start gradually – 5-10min every other day and build your way up!

So. With these two new approaches in hand…. I can safely say, we are finally turning a “play outdoors more” corner. The revamp garden is simply wonderful. The kids are SO excited about spending time outside, that even the dark and cold winter afternoons won’t stop them. And I need to focus on going to the park with them at least once a week.

Slowly. Gradually, we are spending more time outdoors (and after we are done, we deserve the occasional family movie session!). Hooray.