Tag Archives: healthy eating

In pursuit of veg

How do you get your toddler to eat more vegetables?

This was not a question I thought I’d be asking. Having followed Arthur’s lead on weaning, a year ago he would happily tuck into courgette, mushroom, sweet potato, broccoli – pretty much everything, in fact, that we put in front of him. In the back of my mind I knew it was too good to be true.

Nowadays cucumber is the only thing we can be sure of. And potatoes, but I don’t think they count. He normally likes peas and sweetcorn, and will go for a carrot stick on a good day. But that’s it!

So I am always on the lookout for new ideas to persuade him that actually vegetables are pretty delicious. Having had lots of fun with bluenana muffins last week something that would involve him in the whole culinary creative process was even more appealing. So when I came across the idea of omelette muffins I knew I had to give it a go.

Veg, cheese and eggs. All put together in a cupcake tin and forgotten about whilst it cooks. What’s not to love?


Arthur was intrigued by the smorgasbord of ingredients put in front of him, and was super keen to get involved with the liberal sprinkling into the (well-greased) tins.


Once we’d we’d exhausted our supply of fillings, it was time for eggs. That was even more exciting – Arthur loved having a go at cracking them against the jug, and then mixing them up ready to pour.


Once the pan was topped up with eggs, they went into the oven. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from these super-healthy, super-paleo muffins, but they looked amazing once they’d done their time.


And they tasted pretty awesome too! But before I get into that here’s the recipe in case you want to have a go…

Super healthy omelette muffins

One of the brilliant things about this recipe is that the flavour possibilities are almost endless. What follows is what worked for me, but feel free to mix it up with whatever you’ve got to hand!

You will need:

12 hole cupcake/muffin tin


Finely chopped:

Half a red onion

Half a courgette

3 mushrooms

Half a red pepper

Small handful chives

Cheese to taste

9 eggs

Splash of water

Salt and pepper

Olive oil for greasing


1) Preheat the oven to 180 c

2) Grease the cupcake tin liberally with olive oil

3) Evenly distribute the vegetables and cheese amongst the tins

4) Whisk together the eggs with a splash of water

5) Pour egg mixture into tins

6) Place tins in hot oven for 20 mins, or until raised and lightly browned

7) Allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out to serve


This is is the perfect lunch for toddlers and adults alike, working just as well with carrot sticks on the side or on top of a dressed leafy salad.


They also provided the perfect snack for my husband to keep his brain going in the run up to his medical school finals, and worked just as well cold the next day.

All in all, for someone who loves eggs but finds conventional omelettes a bit of a chore, these were a revelation.


Arthur wasn’t entirely convinced.

He observed and poked and prodded and nibbled, but not an awful lot was actually ingested.


So the quest for veg to please the toddler is still ongoing.

These have definitely made it onto my regular lunch list (sorry kiddo), but if you have any other suggestions for ways to get Arthur to eat more vegetables then please share them below!

Mums' Days

Arthur’s bluenana muffins

On Saturday afternoon Arthur and I decided to make muffins. Faced with an abundance of blueberries and very ripe bananas, as well as a few hours to kill whilst Leigh knuckled down to some revision, there was nothing else for it really.


I decided to go for a paleo recipe – coconut flour, coconut oil and no added sugar. We’re not strictly paleo here by any means, but I do like to mix things up a bit. And if I’m taking the time to bake I figure it makes sense to go for something nutritious and delicious – especially since Arthur’s current diet is beginning to look a bit stereotypically toddler-esque for my liking…

I’m pleased to say that Arthur took the whole thing very seriously. He was particularly taken with the gloopiness of the eggs, and almost managed to whisk them without spilling half of them on the counter. Almost.



He was happy for me to keep an eye on the recipe, resuming his duties once everything was ready for the final mix – again using the worktop as the testing ground for the consistency, natch.



(I decided at this point that the batter was looking a little bit too solid, and added a generous glut of coconut milk to the mix. This might not necessarily have been a very good idea…)

Arthur’s attention wavered at this point, and he left me to get the muffins into their cases and on to cook whilst he got started on a second batch.



These ones took way less time to cook, and it was mere seconds before he ran off to grab his unsuspecting taster.



I can only imagine that dolly decided they needed a little more time, as they were soon back in the oven for another burst of cooking.


By now fortunately the original bluenana muffins were starting to waft their almost-cooked scent across the kitchen, and Arthur could barely contain his excitement.



A few minutes later and the muffins were finally ready. Despite my insistence that they needed to cool, Arthur was straight up there to check for himself, blowing on them impatiently.


He just about managed to hold off until they were no longer boiling hot, and proceeded over the next hour or so to eat six. Six! I’m very glad I went for a healthy recipe is all I can say…


I have to admit though that I was not overly enamoured with them. It may well have been the extra coconut milk but fresh out of the oven they were a bit soggy for my liking… We managed to keep a few back and they were admittedly much tastier after a day in the fridge. Though Arthur wasn’t interested in them at all then! Go figure…

All in all it was a highly entertaining use of a couple of hours, not just the ‘real’ baking, but Arthur’s seamless segue into his imagination too. I will definitely revisit this recipe and see if I can’t perfect it a little: I’ll report back when I’ve had a bit of a play… In the meantime though there is a bunch of rhubarb in the fridge crying out to be made into oaty crumble bars. That’s tomorrow afternoon sorted then!

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Top tips for taming anxiety with a toddler in tow

The last few weeks have been pretty bonkers. So much so that this week, now that everything has started to calm down just a little bit, I’ve found myself struggling to focus and teetering on the edge of panic at the slightest thing.

It’s a tendency I recognise from periods in my life when I have been overcome by anxiety. Not the anxiety that is borne of a genuinely nerve-wracking situation, but rather the insidious and potentially overwhelming feeling that the world is about to spiral out of control.

It’s frustrating to say the least – there was so much I wanted to get done this week, and sitting here now at the tail end of it there is so much I haven’t achieved. But most of what I wanted to do required focus, a clear head – and those are the things that have been most elusive.


The difference though this time round is that I’ve recognised my symptoms for what they are – my sometimes fragile mental health crying out for a little attention after a relentless period where I was embroiled in the unknown territory of election campaigning (it worked by the way!), and my core support network of husband and mum have themselves been tied up in finals revision and preparing for my brother’s wedding respectively. But my anxiety hasn’t got the better of me, and I have made every effort to make sensible choices to enable myself to keep going.

Being accompanied by a toddler pretty much every minute of every day has definitely added a different dimension to that process. And not necessarily in a bad way.

It seems pretty apt, with this week being Mental Health Awareness Week, that I share a little of what’s been on my mind. So without further ado, these are my top tips for taming anxiety with a toddler in tow.

1) Catch up on sleep

I reckon this is possibly the most vital, though also the trickiest, part of the plan. I have tried to get to bed a bit earlier this week, though I’ve never really been very good at the discipline that involves (especially as we’re deep in the midst of season five of The Walking Dead).

For me snatching sleep has mostly happened during the day – taking my iPad up to bed so in the morning the toddler can snuggle up with a movie whilst I get a few extra zzzs, and for the first time in ages trying to nap when he naps.

I realise I’m lucky he still does, else I’m not entirely sure how I would have coped…

2) Eat healthily

I’m ordinarily pretty good at keeping a healthy diet going for all of us, but it had certainly started to slip over the last couple of weeks. I couldn’t face the battles that potentially ensued if I moved too far from toast and pasta, and didn’t have the energy to prepare something different for myself so ended up having my diet dictated by a two year old.


It’s silly, because I know how much good food makes the difference. This week I’ve been upping the fruit and veg, cutting down on carbs, (mostly) remembering to take my supplements – and feeling all the better for it.

3) Get some exercise

There’s been an awful lot of walking involved in the election campaign, but that was accompanied by a sense of drudgery in the later stages. This week I’ve, albeit tentatively, started reintegrating yoga and hula-hooping into my routine. With that and the Friday trampolining sessions that I’ve just about managed to keep ticking over I’ve started to feel the spring returning to my step.

4) Get outside

I have a real tendency when I’m feeling overwhelmed to go into hibernation mode – even opening the doors to the garden can feel like too much at times. But having a little person around who would ideally spent every waking moment outside definitely comes in handy.


We’ve had lunch outside a couple of times this week, and spent time just lounging around and looking up at the sky. The sunshine has helped – but actually the fresh air simply works wonders whatever the weather.

5) Tidy up!

Now this is something I’m rubbish at, and I still have a long way to go, but it is amazing how getting rid of the mess and the clutter makes the world seem so much more manageable!

I had a bit of a manic afternoon on Wednesday getting the kitchen ship shape as yesterday morning we were visited by a reporter from our local BBC News to interview me in relation to the local elections. It felt a little bit like torture at the time, but the kitchen is now definitely my happy place, a little oasis of calm amongst the widespread detritus which has come from just not having a second to get things under control (at least not without the toddler wreaking his own brand of havoc).

6) Tick some things off your to-do list

Now I have to admit first of all that the ever-increasing list of things I have to do is still residing mainly in my head. I know this isn’t helpful. My poor diary, that gave me such satisfaction when I first filled it in back in January, hasn’t had a look in for weeks.

I’ll work on that…

But in the meantime I have been having stern words with myself about just getting things done rather than ruminating over how much I need to do them. Writing blog posts, for example. Or emails. Or paying bills. All sorts of little bits and pieces that have literally felt like a weight off my mind once I’ve actually achieved them.

(It still took me until this evening to get round to writing this post. I never said I was perfect.)

7) Be kind to yourself

This is another biggie, and is one that is challenging to put into practise when your head is full of noise. But in order not to be consumed by it, it is vital to work on your internal dialogue.

I say dialogue, because at times like this there are two voices in my head rather than just the one. There’s one that seems determined to pull me down – with comparisons, with regrets, with paranoia. And there’s another, the one that needs to fight to get heard, that is trying its utmost to focus on the positive – to remember that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s ok to slow down, it’s ok not to achieve everything I wanted to, because actually, on balance, I’m doing a pretty awesome job of this whole life business.

8) Make the most of all the cuddles

This is where the toddler truly comes into his own, where having an extra little shadow really does become a blessing rather than just another cause of messiness and having too much to juggle.

I don’t know about yours, but my little person absolutely loves to snuggle up. Not all the time, but certainly more than I normally slow down to give him credit for. And this week I have been making the most of all of that physical contact filled with warmth and love – whether it’s lingering in bed a little longer in the mornings, cosying down together to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the umpteenth time, or seeing off an approaching tantrum by whipping him up into the sling.


There have been many times when I have been the centre of calm for my child, but it is a wonderful realisation that he can return that favour too.


My word of the week this week is anxiety.

The Reading Residence

Also linking up with this week’s prompt of calm. I’m getting there!

Mums' Days

(Not so) guilty pleasures

It was Leigh’s birthday yesterday, and with a birthday of course comes cake. Cake’s always a bit difficult for me: I have an allergy to nuts, and the potential for cross-contamination makes sweet treats a bit of a minefield. The obvious solution is to bake them myself and in recent years that’s exactly what I’ve done. It took me a while to get over my fear of baking: I’ve come to love cooking over the years, but my approach is rather ad hoc. The experimental attitude never seemed so appropriate for baking: get the careful mix of flour and sugar and fats wrong, and it would all be a bit of a flop.

I finally started to chill out a bit after mastering the cupcake with the help of a friend and flat mate with whom nearly three years ago I actually made two hundred cupcakes for the sake of my wedding. There was still something that niggled at me though, and that was the ingredients themselves: however good quality they may be, there’s never going to be anything very nutritious about white flour and sugar.

Particularly since the arrival of Arthur I’ve been keen to keep empty calories off the menu as much as possible. Of course there will be times when we’ll treat ourselves or resort to unhealthy snacks for the sake of convenience, but if I’m taking the time to bake at home I’d rather try to create something a bit more worthwhile. And with a bit of online investigation, I soon discovered that there are rather more options for the simple act of baking a cake than I ever imagined.

The cake I made for Leigh’s birthday is one I’ve made a couple of times before, and every time I do I think it gets a little bit tastier. It’s nut free, gluten free, refined sugar free, instead being full of all sorts of natural nutrients – and despite all that it’s really quite delicious.


Beetroot and Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Avocado Buttercream



450g cooked beetroots

4 eggs

125ml melted coconut oil

125ml maple syrup

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp mixed spice

50g unsweetened cocoa powder

60g coconut flour


1 ripe avocado

50g unsweetened cocoa powder

125ml maple syrup


My favourite tool for speed baking with a toddler in tow is my hand-held blender: all my mixing was therefore done with this, though if you have more subtle methods I’m sure the result will be even better.

1) Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius

2) In a large bowl, mix the beetroot, eggs and coconut oil

3) Add the maple syrup, vanilla, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices and mix well

4) Add the cocoa powder and coconut flour and mix until smooth

5) Pour the batter into a greased cake tin – I used an 8 inch tin

6) Cook for about 45 minutes – longer if necessary – until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean

7) Allow to cool

8) Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the icing until smooth

9) Spread the icing on the cake and decorate as desired (I used blueberries)


This cake was very well received at the end of Leigh’s birthday dinner last night, and tasted even better chilled with coffee for breakfast this morning. There was an undeniable wholesomeness to its flavour, but this was offset by the fact that it left us feeling well nourished and satisfied. As rich chocolatey pleasures go there was certainly a lot less guilt involved than you might expect!

Thank you to Sara at ‘Mum turned Mom’ for inspiring this post with her prompt ‘guilty pleasures’.


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com