This week I am going a bit off-piste….. I wanted to write about food. Partly as a reference for myself but also because people often ask me about it.
Through an amazing network of healthy cooks and my mums’ group we now have some quick healthy meals families like ours love. Great staple recipes which we rotate but I get bored easily so I am constantly looking for more ideas and resources.
I do find that some recipe resources work well for some people and not others – generally I find you need to try something to see if it is to your taste!
When we were on our fertility journey we were super strict with what we ate and drank – a lot of food groups were OUT. Now we are somewhat/ a lot more relaxed especially when we eat out but at home we are mostly sugar, gluten and dairy free with certain exceptions.
Sugar and your health
Sugar was a big one for me, since I have polycystic ovarian syndrome which is closely associated to blood sugar levels. So while I was on the fertility journey I cut out sugar completely – even natural sugar from fruit was dramatically reduced – normally only 1 piece of fruit per day.
Before I started down this journey I was so unaware of how much sugar I ate. Of course the sweet things are obvious but its all the savoury things that are stuffed full of sugar which is shocking – pasta sauce, cereal, many breads…the list goes on. Check the labels of any processed food and sauces.
If you have been here before you know I like ingredient lists. If you want to avoid sugar you need to look out for these artificial sweeteners as well – Aspartame (E951), saccharin (E954), Neotame (E961), cyclamate (E952), high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), acesulfame potassium (E950), dextrose.
It does take you a little time to adjust to a sugar free diet – you will probably crave it for a while but it goes away and your taste buds change. I now really don’t like anything too sweet and I would choose my homemade ice cream over shop bought any day.
Favourite recipe resources
Before I go into the details of my favourite recipes I wanted to share some of the resources that I use for inspiration. These cooks are amazing – creating food that is not only healthy but also delicious.
Cookie & Kate
Kate is a self-taught cook and photographer. She believes that eating food as close to its source as possible is the best for our health. Her recipes are vegetarian, but do contain some dairy and gluten. She always offers substitutes which I love.
Little Green Spoon
Indy is an Irish nutritionist. Her philosophy is about embracing natural, nutritious and nourishing foods. She uses meat and dairy but is mainly gluten free and her newer recipes are plant based.
Luke Hines – is an Australian wellness coach and healthy eating expert. His recipes are Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and refined sugar free.
Wellness Mama – Katie from wellness mama is a wealth of information. She is a mother of 4 and has a fantastic website with all sorts of information about cooking, homemade beauty products and remedies.
Chocolate Covered Katie – she has some great recipes but not all of them are refined sugar free, and even the ones that are tended to have a lot of maple syrup. I reduce the amount she suggests to make them less sweet but nonetheless these are for treats in our house.
These are my top 4 go tos. I also use Deliciously Ella and Oh She Glows from time to time.
Meat based dishes everyone loves
We don’t eat meat that often, probably every 3 days or so. There are many reasons for this – the environment, the cost and the fact that there are so many amazing vegetarian/vegan cooks out there tempting us with their delicious creations. But I don’t think I could give up meat completely, I enjoy the variety and I would worry that I wouldn’t be able to eat enough vegetables to make up the nutrients.
Nachos from Luke Hines – These are so good, no need for processed corn chips just delicious, crispy, homemade vegetable chips, with a bolognese sauce & guacamole. We have never made the cashew feta, it is delicious without it. Get the recipe here.
Chicken and Broccoli bake from Little Green Spoon – this is a new one that we tried recently and will be extra good for winter. There is no way you would think this wasn’t made with a heavy cream sauce but it is just the magic of mushrooms. Get the recipe here.
Chicken Kiev from Little Green Spoon
These are so yummy. Who needs breadcrumbs when they have almond meal – sticks just as well, totally delicious and so much better for you. You can use the almond meal for schnitzel. The recipe for this is here. We improvise with this one too – whatever cheese is around or we have made it without cheese. If you are short on time pesto works for the stuffing.
Vegetarian, plant based dishes
Quiche adapted from Cookie and Kate – This quiche is nutritious and delicious. The little one gobbles it every time we make it. The original recipe has goats cheese but we leave that out and just substitute what we have in the fridge. We often add leeks because it gives a creamy texture with spinach which is super yummy. A version of this recipe is on the Cookie and Kate site here.
Carrot salad from Cookie and Kate – this salad is such a simple idea but totally delicious and we eat it all the time. It is basically carrots – you roast half in batons and leave the other half raw and chop into rounds, add some fresh mint or basil and then make the dressing. The dressing is truly yummy – we use normal Greek yogurt but coconut yogurt would also work, we don’t add the honey – it is tart but even the baby loves it (she doesn’t like the raw carrot but does love the roasted batons with the dressing). Get the recipe for salad and dressing here.
Pasta sauce from Wellness Mama – this is a truly yummy tomato based pasta sauce with lots of extra goodness. It does require a long cooking time, which is its only downside in my opinion. Get the recipe here on wellness mama.
Porridge Bread from Little Green Spoon – this is my new favourite, it is so delicious I am literally having some with hummus now….yummy. Really easy to make and full of oaty goodness. We make it with ordinary yogurt these days but you can make it with coconut yogurt to be dairy free – just very hard to find in Hong Kong. Get the recipe from little green spoon.
For smoothies but also urgent sweet treats we always keep peeled, chopped banana in the freezer…saved us in many emergencies!
Pancakes from a mummy friend – this is soooo simple and Florence eats them for breakfast a few times a week. Mash 1 banana, 2 eggs – we add left over porridge from the day before and baby spinach which we buy fresh and put in the freezer. Once it is frozen we crush it up in the bag and that makes it easy to add to these pancakes and to her porridge. So far no complaints….fingers crossed it stays that way!
Caramel Slice from Luke Hines
This is a real treat and a bit of a palava to make – 3 layers! – but I promise you it is worth the effort. Absolutely delicious. We have his cook book but now he doesn’t put his recipes on his website as he has an online program to introduce people to his way of eating which is a subscription model. But I found these little gems here – try them!
Chocolate ‘Ice cream’ adapted ourselves – this is a quick one that I was making every night for a while….just a little bit addictive. You need a good blender or food processor – put about 1 frozen banana, chopped into the blender with a handful of cashews (any nuts will do but cashews are creamy), two tablespoons of cacao powder and about 1/4 cup of water (you will have to gauge this, add a little more if you can’t get a smooth consistency) but you do not want it too liquid – creamy and slips off the spoon rather than pores is the aim. Put it in individual little bowls, we like to sprinkle with cacao nibs to give it a bit of crunch and pop in the freezer for about 30 mins to allow it to harden up – you don’t want it rock solid, it is best when still soft in the middle. If it does go hard just pop in the blender again.
Chocolate hearts from a friend – these are seriously so easy and we always have the ingredients in the house so if I need a sweet hit I make these:
1/4 cup of: coconut oil, Cacao powder, nut butter of choice
Put all 3 ingredients into a pan – heat and mix until in a smooth paste. Pour into little, individual molds (could be heart shaped like ours;) and add a tiny bit of something a little bit sweet and/or a bit of crunch to each. We like chopped frozen banana or cacao nibs, or a cashew or a frozen berry – blueberry, raspberry. Pop them in the freezer for 10 mins and they are ready. If you don’t eat them all at once keep in the freezer as they melt quickly at room temperature.
If you haven’t seen my previous post on living consciously this is where it all started. Food can be one of those things where we are not conscious at all, when we get busy we just eat whatever is nearest and easiest. For us I think it has become about habit.
We have meals and treats that are easy to whip up so it takes part of the deliberation out of it and helps us make better choices. The result is quick healthy meals families like yours will hopefully love too.
This doesn not happen all the time – last Friday I ate all my meals out from breakfast dim sum to basically an all-you-can-eat pasta and dessert fest – all of it yummy but certainly not healthy but that is not every day and we all need to let our hair down sometimes 😉
Let me know if you have any suggestions of dishes your family loves – I am always up for trying new options!