Kids won’t eat veg? Don’t stress, just outfox them!

Secret superfood shake: Milk (whole for kids); handful frozen raspberries; 1/2 banana; 1/4 avocado; 1/4 pear; 1 kiwi fruit; 1 teaspoon local honey. Whizz up, and drink straight away.

I’m a mum who wants my children to benefit from a healthy diet to enable them to be healthy and strong. So it’s always a stinger when my eldest refuses point blank to eat anything that resemble a vegetable. He just doesn’t ‘do’ them. ‘Yuk’ is his standard response when presented with anything with even a hint of green, and orange, oh and red.

Knowing what I now know about nutrition now, it’s hard for me to stand by and let him win this one, so I’ve begun to work out ways on how I can out-smart him into eating things which are good for him. It’s a tough one. He’s sussed out my hidden vegetable tomato sauces for pasta (it was great while it lasted!) – and won’t eat anything red on anything. I try and sneak in spinach to pesto – which sometimes works unless he pulls the ‘mummy I wanted plain pasta’ line, and digs his heels in. Faced with the option of giving him said plain pasta, or being woken up through the night by a hungry child, I must admit I usually submit. But adding and whizzing up veg into ‘pestos’ and ‘plain’ sauces can be a very effective way of upping veg intake.

Carbs are no problem for him, at all – he could eat them til the cows come home. So as a rule, he doesn’t get the opportunity to eat white bread and instead gets wholemeal, rye, and sourdough – which, thankfully he loves. His pasta is for the most part wholemeal now, which he also doesn’t seem to object to.

He LOVES jam, honey, chocolate, crisps, and other heinous, sugar and salt-laden snacks.  He doesn’t have much of an opportunity to eat them on my watch! I’m about to buy a mandolin to enable me to slice potatoes and sweet potatoes, and courgettes very thinly to turn into healthier versions of crisps. In the meantime, I have realised that he will eat roasted potato peelings when I tell him he has ‘crisps’ for dinner. Win!

I also have my sights set on a dehydrator which allows you to make all kinds of delicious crispy-type snacks which are bursting with health. He will not beat me, oh no!

Looking at the good stuff he likes to eat, he will eat chicken, apple, pear, cucumber, and healthy peanut butter (£5 for a kg from Holland and Barrett / Poppy’s Pantry if you’re local to Woodbridge, and no added nasties at all). So I capitalise on this, and this is what he tends to get for dinner, breakfast, lunch. I think sometimes you just have to accept they’ll be fussy.

My favourite way of getting goodness into him is through the milkshake or smoothie. I laughed (or was it a victory cackle) inside this morning as I gave him his requested raspberry milkshake (using full fat milk for calcium, frozen berries – full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants, cheaper than fresh, and they chill the drink) knowing that I’ve also put in half a banana, 1/3 avocado (packed with protein), 1/2 pear and a kiwi fruit (yet more vitamin C). I even manage to get spinach into them sometimes which he doesn’t notice, either. Ha!

Yesterday, I invented some ultra-healthy oaty cookies with no sugar in at all, containing oats, oatmeal, and even flaxseeds. A momentary look of uncertainty crossed his face as he bit into one, then he polished off three. They get my thumbs up for a health-laden sweet treat that I also enjoy.

Knowing that my son’s getting adequate nutrition is so important to me, and I shall continue to try and outwit him. With young children, you have to be prepared to jump on any hint of healthy that they are up for, and keep trying new things without forcing it upon them. They’ll come round when they’re good and ready, and I think life’s too short to battle. Fussiness, as with many things relating to children, is for the most part only a phase, and as smart, clever parents, let’s go forth and outwit our little resistors, making it the playful game that bringing up children should be.

‘Til next time.

Sophiex

Cocoa-heaven hot drink

Evening! I can’t resist posting this on a cold, blustery night when warming the cockles is the order of the day.

If you don’t want to load up on calories or send your blood sugar into overdrive, but need a soothing, warming, delicious drink, pop a spoonful of cocoa powder (organic, ideally but not essential – and NOT one of the ready-made ‘hot-chocolate’ drinks) into a mug. Pour boiled water into the mug, then sweeten with Agave nectar if you need to.

Sip and enjoy your antioxidant-packed, low cal, yet satisfyingly chocolatey drink. It’s particularly good when you’re flagging mid-afternoon and craving something sweet but are seeking a healthier alternative!

 

 

A warming way to start a winter’s day

Staying hydrated in the winter months can be tough, and there’s nothing better than a warming drink to brighten your spirits.

This ginger infusion will provide a boost to your body through hydration and is a great way to start your day (after your pint of water).

As well as the water in the infusion benefitting your skin, ginger is well documented to aid digestion, help nose and throat congestion, soothe gurgling guts, and according to Ayurvedic texts even gives you a boost in the bedroom!

 

Method

Simply grate about an inch of root ginger (powdered ginger won’t do in this situation), and steep in water for 5 minutes. It’s worth noting that slicing doesn’t release the flavours as effectively as grating.

Strain and enjoy!

Time for ‘me’

At this time of year there are so many bugs around, and I know that over half term I probably came into contact with about three different ones, not to mention the one that hubby was nursing whilst I was away. Safe to say, I caught one of them, and last Saturday, a mini-virus knocked me for six. And it got me thinking.

How do we protect ourselves from illness, stress and exhaustion? When is a good time to stop and take time for ‘me’? And, when we’re busy in our careers, bringing up young children, supporting older children, helping out with grandchildren, or any combination of the above, how do we stop our health and wellbeing from finding itself at the bottom of the list?

Limit your plans so they’re realistic
Last weekend, I had a late gig Friday night. Saturday I had organised to chat to my very patient exam case-study, look after the kids while hubby did decorating, catch up on some ironing, tidy the house (which is upside down as we are renovating the downstairs toilet), and cook some meals so we’re organised for the following week.

Even if I had been feeling well, perhaps I could have spread that workload over two days, and incorporated some much needed chill time for me in there. What does your weekend look like, and is there enough time for ‘me’ in there?

Aim for a healthy diet, combined with regular exercise
Granted, the magic combo can’t protect you from every bug going, but whatever your age it will certainly enable your body to function at it’s optimum meaning you will feel more vital when you’re not sick, and help your body to recover more quickly when you are.

Adequate sleep. 
Is essential to allow your body to repair and function at it’s best. With a young family, sleep can be a rare commodity. Get it while you can with early nights, or catch up naps. If you’re working, sometimes stress from work can prevent you from getting a good night – regular exercise is a great stress-buster, as well as rounding off the day with a warm bath and hunkering down in bed with a light read before lights out. Avoid Facebooking and emailing while you’re in bed as this can make it harder to ‘switch off’ and get the rest you need.

Call in support
Whether it’s friends, family, or bought-in, sometimes practical help is just a necessity to enable you to have the feet-up time you need. Grab yours where you can get it. Whether it’s a friend looking after the kids for a couple of hours while you get a massage, or a cleaner who can help tidy the house – own it, get help, and take charge.

Don’t wait until you’re at breaking point before taking time out
It isn’t good for you (note to self) to be at the end of your energy stores before resting and recharging. See below for how to ensure you’re never deplete of ‘me’ time!

Make time for ‘me’ today
This is the number one action you can take today to keep your wellbeing at the top of the list. Schedule time in to your diary as non-negotiable time for ‘me’. Ringfence it, say no to anything which might interrupt it (ok, except an emergency), and enjoy every second of it!

How will you be making time for ‘me’ this week?
I admit, I am a work-myself-into-the-ground-aholic. I work, study, look after the kids and family and matters of domesticity, look out for my friends, and then when I can take no more, I collapse.

I know that I would benefit from regularly taking my foot off the gas to reflect, and recharge. I also recognise that unless I do, I will simply end up too exhausted to be any good to anyone!

So, today, I am going to schedule regular ‘time for me’ into my diary – whether it’s a couple of hours to meet with a friend, a lie down with a good book, getting out into the garden to sweep leaves, listen to a favourite album or do just as I please.

When do you have your ‘me’ time? Do you have enough of it? If you could do with more, make the commitment today to allocate some into your diary – your body will thank you, and it will be another great step towards living the healthy and energised life you deserve.

‘Til next time,

Sophiex

 

No-sugar, ultra-healthy oaty cookies

No-sugar, ultra-healthy oaty cookies
So good, you’ll have a job keeping your hands off them!

Ingredients

200g pitted dates
100g flaxseed, ground (or buy pre-ground flaxseed)
200g oatmeal
100g oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
4 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

You will need: a bowl, a spoon, baking trays lined with greaseproof paper. The oven pre-heated to 180degrees.

 

Method

Soak the 200g of pitted dates in a jug / bowl of boiling water for approx 10 mins to soften them. While they’re soaking, grind the flaxseed then add to another bowl along with the oatmeal, oats, cinnamon and baking powder, and stir.

Mulch the dates – I used a Bamix hand food processor to make it easier – so they form a sticky paste.

Melt the 4 tbsps coconut oil, then add it, the dates, and the eggs to the oaty mixture. Stir it all together. It should be quite a sticky consistency.

Taking your greaseproof paper-lined trays, roll the mixture into balls then flatten with your hand, or the back of a spoon. Put them in the oven and cook for around 15 mins or until lightly browned.

Enjoy them as a snack on your own, or share them with the family. Delicious and nutritious, what more could you ask for?

How to be smart throughout the Festive season

Argh! Christmas is just 6 weeks away today, so on this firework night, let’s light the touchpaper and get thinking about how we can positively manage the festive season to stay feeling trim, full of energy, and looking and feeling great.

1)  Drink water.
Obvious, I know, but I also know how hard it is when the wine and cocktails are flowing to keep drinking water. To help myself out, I like drinking mine still with ice and slice of citrus, or sparkling in a cocktail glass. No-one notices once the evening’s in full flow and your body and skin are seriously going to thank you.

2) Eat dinner before you go out.
Of course, if it’s a sit-down dinner, don’t. But eating a healthy and nutritious dinner before you go out to a ‘do’ with canapes will stop you from gorging on the delicious-but-no-doubt-fried-and-full-of-fat snacks. The trick is not to then gorge on canapes as well as dinner! Trust me, I know this is hard – ask my friends, my capacity for eating catering teams out of house and home is well-known, but resist, and you’ll feel fab for it (and slightly smug).

3) Choose a treat meal/night out a week.
Whether it’s the amazing canapes here, or the fabulous dinner to be served up by your friend there, or a boozy night out with friends, choose the one event where you’re going to let your hair down and fully enjoy what’s on offer.

4) Stick to your regular exercise regime.
As much as you are able to, ringfence your workouts to ensure you’re maintaining your fitness levels to keep your energy expenditure up. Just as you get fitter with more exercise, the effects reverse when you don’t go, so keep fit by keeping going!

5) Be smart with your choices.
I think I can conclude here that you don’t have to wear a halo throughout the festive season, after all that would be too boring. But know your limits and keep your wellbeing in check by making the right choices with meals and snacks so the food you eat doesn’t sap your energy. Don’t overdo it on the booze. Drink water. Keep your body moving and energised regularly. Spend time with the people you love and who care about you, or revel in the peace of spending time solo. Be positive and kind. Say ‘no’ when you need to. Lastly, and most importantly enjoy the festive season whatever shape it takes for you!

See you soon!

Sophiex