The 5 best one pot meals for busy parents

We all know the drill. Dinner time is approaching fast, the kids are being difficult, and there is a mountain of washing up in the kitchen. It happens to all of us.

Over time, our household has accumulated a list of one pot meals that we love. They’re quick and easy to prepare, they require minimal ingredients, and don’t take ages to cook. Our 17 month old loves them, and so does my husband and extended family. What’s more, they’re packed with healthy ingredients. Win win!

  1. Coconut Chickpea Vegan Curry

We love this one! It uses just 5 major ingredients, and some spices I guarantee you already have in your food cupboard. It took less than half an hour to make from start to finish, and was practically inhaled by my very picky toddler. It’s so creamy, and makes for perfect comfort food that you don’t have to feel bad about. It also does very well in the freezer, so its the ideal meal to batch cook and defrost later!

This recipe is by Jessica In The Kitchen. It’s not only vegan but gluten free (which is ideal if, like me, you have multiple family members with allergies. Jessica posts lots of recipes that are fit for those with allergies, so if you’re an allergy mum like me, you should check her out!

2. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Trust me, if you’ve got a child who’s a picky eater (or more than one!), you will love this recipe. The brilliant thing about fajitas is that you can so easily customise them! While this recipe calls for specific vegetables, we’ve used just about every vegetable we can think of, and our little monkey has gobbled it all up! This recipe uses vegan ingredients for the marinade, so you can make the fajitas vegan, vegetarian or full of meat. You can even use gluten free wraps if you have Celiac disease like me. We love sheet pan meals because you pop it all in the oven together and forget about it, which is brilliant if you have little people to keep an eye on!

This recipe comes from Show Me the Yummy.

3. Healthy Enchilada Pasta

Do your kids panic when they see anything green on their plate? Are they basically vegetable-phobic? In our household, anything with cheese is a winner, but anything that’s green gets left behind. This one pot enchilada pasta has the best of both worlds. It uses beans and pulses as the source of protein, so you know they’re getting healthy food, but to your little ones, it probably won’t feel like it. It’s also topped with a healthy portion of cheese, which in my experience will always make it attractive to little ones! Like the fajitas, we love this recipe because it’s so customisable!

This recipe comes from the wonderful Peas and Crayons

4. Chicken Chow Mein

Had a rough day and craving take-away, but need to feed the kids too? This one is for you. This chicken chow mein can be prepared and cooked from start to finish in half an hour. It uses spaghetti rather than fancy noodles, which you’re more than likely to find in your cupboard!

We use low sodium soy sauce and chicken stock when making this recipe as we are feeding our little one too, but if you’re making this solely for adults, feel free to omit this step!

In our experience, spaghetti is usually a winner in the toddler department, so we often have a spaghetti dish once a week. This recipe is great as it contains lots of veggies (but they’re covered in a flavourful sauce, so your little might not mind that much!).

This recipe hails from The Recipe Rebel

5. Italian Chicken and Vegetables

We LOVE Italian food. I love it even more when my daughter eats her vegetables! This recipe is super easy, super simple and very customisable. I love that it only takes twenty/thirty minutes; it’s the perfect food for your ‘oh my goodness, how is it nearly dinner time?’ moments.

This dish is also ideal for those nights when you desperately want something light to eat! As much as I love pasta (and often call my daughter the carb queen) I want her to learn that meals without it can be tasty too!

This recipe does call for 2 tbsp white wine OR stock. We use stock and have found it to be just as tasty! Find this recipe at Sweet C’s.

Do you love a good one pot meal? Have you got any great ideas that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Mummy I want something else!

“I want something else”

Please say I’m not the only parent who hears these words mere minutes after her toddler has ‘finished’ her dinner!

Imogen has always been so good at eating. She’s usually liked trying new things, just sometimes has needed a little encouragement. I know there’s of course going to be those things she will not like for a while, (maybe even ever)… such as peppers, but on the whole, if it’s sliced up small enough, in another meal she’s wolfed it up. So over the last couple of months this new refusal to eat pretty much anything I’ve put in front of her has been a bit of a shock. I’ve been so smug and naïve!

At 2 and a half Imogen has become such a fiercely independent young lady. She’s putting on most of her clothes herself, she’s choosing what she wants to wear, what she likes and dislikes, so I guess it’s only natural that she would be trying to choose what she wants to eat. Of course anyone who didn’t know the repercussions would want to eat nothing but chocolate and biscuits, but trying to get it through to a toddler that this isn’t possible is not easy is it!?

I tried different techniques: gentle persuasion, cartoons on the TV, no TV at all, music, sitting next to Imogen for emotional support, eating all together at set meal times, eating out in public, negotiation, and the more desperate approach of bribery with dessert/cake. Nothing was working!! This toddler had me wrapped around her little finger and she knew it. All those meals she used to love… spaghetti Bolognese, moussaka, sausages, chicken nuggets… Imogen was now telling me “I DON’T LIKE IT! I WANT SOMETHING ELSE!”

WHY????!! You liked it a couple of months ago!

I was even considering putting my daughter in nursery for the entire 5 days a week because every time I’ve gone to pick her up, the darling has eaten double portions of all the meals they’ve been serving. At least, I thought, she would be eating! But no, in all honesty I enjoy my time with her and that wouldn’t be what I wanted really. I also can’t imagine having the finances to do that.

So I’ve tried something new.

I bought the Fred Dinner Winner Kids’ Dinner Tray, with dinosaurs on, for my little dinosaur lover. If you’ve not seen these dinner trays they look like board games, with a little windy path to the hidden prize at the end.

I also printed out a little sticker rewards chart which has gone on to the wall next to where she eats.

The dinner tray has gone down well. My only comments on it really are that Imogen hasn’t got her head around eating from the slots in order, but on the plus side, she has been eating it all. When she’s older, I’m sure she’ll get the idea around it being like a board game, but right now I think it’s appealing because of the dinosaurs and the surprise at the end. The prize slot is a little small, so what I thought I might do is maybe draw a small picture of a yoghurt pot etc on a folded piece of paper, so she knows what her surprise is when she opens it up. It’s just too small for anything really other than a couple pieces of chocolate. When Imogen has eaten her dinner we have the exciting job of adding a star to the reward chart, and it shows a reminder that she has been eating all week. So far, it has been working, but I don’t know how long it will work for. I’m hoping that if we make it our new routine hopefully Imogen will start eating better. We also need everyone else to be on board, i.e. the grandparents who have a tendency to give children what they ask for!

If you have any dinner time tips for getting a fussy or bossy little one to eat, please share them here for everyone to see, we’d love to hear them! 🙂

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25 easy candy free Easter gift ideas for kids

Everyone loves gift-giving, and there is something especially magical about giving gifts to children. But have you ever considered the sugar content in those sugary treats?

A Dairy Milk buttons easter egg fits in the palm of your hand and also comes with a small pack of chocolate buttons. While that may seem ideal for a child, the egg itself contains 40g (10 teaspoons) of sugar, and the buttons contain a further 8.1g (2 teaspoons). To put that into perspective, a child aged 4-6 should have no more than 19g of sugar a day, and this increases to 24g in children aged 7-10.

What are the alternatives? Well, anything that isn’t super sugary chocolatey treats, basically. So, in the spirit of Easter, here is a list of alternatives.

Outside fun

  • Pavement chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimming costumes
  • Ride on toys
  • Scooters and rollerblades
  • Tickets to amusement parks, zoos and other attractions
  • Hula hoop
  • Frisbee
  • Plant seeds

Inside fun

  • Easter themed movies
  • Play dough
  • Finger paints
  • Fridge magnets
  • Lego
  • Colouring books and crayons/pens (age dependent)
  • Puzzles
  • Books (Easter themed)
  • Dolls/ toy figures
  • Bath toys
  • Educational playing cards such as wild cards
  • Stickers
  • Child’s first Bible
  • Board games to play as a family
  • Dressing up clothes

As a child, we had an easter egg hunt every year, complete with a treasure map. While I won’t be giving my daughter excessive amounts of chocolate this year, you could still recreate the classic easter egg hunt, just with other, healthier gifts which will enrich your kids for much longer than the 10 seconds it takes them to scoff that egg!

What are your plans for Easter this year?

Vegan/Veggie curry recipe

As a mummy who was given a huge kick up the bum by her partner to finally go vegan as I’ve been threatening for years, I thought I would share my favourite vegan recipe for any other undecided people out there.
This one is fab, because you can get so many vegetables into it, and it’s even a hit with my little 15 month old (today) Olivia.
INGREDIENTS
A tin of chopped tomatoes
Vegetable stock
Tomato puree
1x brown onion
1x butternut squash
A tin of chickpeas
Oil
Basil
Mild vegan curry paste
A handful of spinach
Enough brown rice for whoever is eating
RICE METHOD
1. Add 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of cold water and put the pan on a low heat. Do not let the rice boil, and keep it moving to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2. Rice takes a while to cook, so keep checking back with it. When it’s ready, drain it and cover over with a teatowel to absorb the excess moisture.
CURRY METHOD
1. Pour roughly a tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan and set the pan on a medium heat
2. Core, peel and dice the onion and the butternut squash and put both into the pan
3. Stir regularly for about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to soften and turn clear, then add 3 tablespoons of curry paste (if you’re not vegan, don’t worry about making sure it doesn’t contain milk or eggs, but if you are, you may need to find a vegan subsitute).
4. Mix the curry paste in well, making sure to cover all of the squash and the onion, keep stirring for a couple of minutes.
5. Add 300ml of vegetable stock and make sure there are no lumps of curry paste. Keep stirring and add the tomatoes. Let it simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Don’t let it start to boil!
6. Add in some tomato puree. You can add as much as you like depending on how thick you want your curry sauce. Then add in some black pepper and basil for seasoning.
7. Drain the chickpeas and add them into the mixture. Let the pan simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
8. Tear up a few handfuls of spinach sprinkle into the mixture. Remember, spinach reduces when it’s cooked, so add in slightly more than you think you need. Keep the curry simmering for a couple of minutes to heat it through.
9. Plate up the rice when it’s ready, and then pour the curry on top! If you’re still waiting for the rice to cook, keep the curry on a low heat until it’s ready.
I hope you enjoy trying this one out. You could also add in carrots and peas to get all of your 5 a day in one meal, but this is healthy enough already, and ridiculously tasty!
Please share pictures of your dishes if you attempt the recipe! Here’s mine…

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