Before i share our family favourite meals i thought id give a brief overview of our family's journey with food.
About 18 months ago we began a journey which completely changed our diet. We didn't set out to be vegan, we just wanted to mainly cut out sugar and processed food. After researching with the boys (we had just started home schooling) we discovered how bad the food industries have become in their quest to lower prices and increase profits, particular the meat industry in the main, we decided to try a vegan diet.
We began our journey eating a completely whole food plant based diet, cooking everything from scratch and soon felt really amazing. We were shocked by how much more energy we had especially as the twins were only 6months old and really not sleeping. We were all really enjoying eating well although it did take up a lot of time.
Our new diet went really well for over six months, the boys were so onboard and nobody missed any of our old foods. The only exception was Hunter, we always gave the boys the choice on what they wanted to eat when we were out and Hunter didn't want to stop eating pepperoni pizza.
We left for travelling in April 2017 and this meant our diet soon became extremely difficult to keep up. Often eating on the go, dairy was very hard to avoid but we continued to not eat any meat.
Since settling back in the UK we have reintroduced a few things to our diet that were not present when we first set out on this journey. Where we are at now works for us as a family. We felt like we went on a real journey with health and food with the boys and now have a list of family favourite meals that we eat weekly that the boys love and don't take us too long to prepare. I think with everything in life its finding that balance that works for you and your family. We eat a mainly plant based diet , a small amount of dairy and eggs. We also have one meal with salmon, we have that once a week. We make our own bread (in a bread maker) and don't buy processed food or have any sugar (unless we are out and we still let the boys choose what they would like, we just don't buy it in our shopping). All the boys choose not to eat meat and this is where we have settled.
I often get asked for tips on how to get children to eat healthier food. First tip, don't stress, Ralph lived on a diet of weetabix, yoghurt, and cheese sandwiches at the age of 2. I tried so many things, invented card games, reward charts and i even wrote a short children's story about eating. None of these things worked and it wasn't until he was older that he started to eat a more varied diet.
These tips may or may not work, every child is so different but these are the things that have worked for us.
Eat Together - We eat all of our main meals together as a family, even if one adults is working etc the boys always eat together with one of us. I never tell them they must eat anything. We talk, but not about food, i'll ignore whether they are eating or not and don't make a fuss either way. At the end of the meal if we have finished and they haven't eaten i will make them an alternative, fruit, toast or cereal but i won't make another meal. If they need an alternative, they have this after dinner while i am clearing up rather than during the meal time.
Giving them choice - If the meal allows i will put the different ingredients on the table in bowls and the boys get to choose what to put on their plate, i have found this to be really effective, letting them feel empowered. Again i don't make a fuss, they see us eating different things and eventually try new foods.
Meal toppings - Is there foods/snacks that your children love which could help them enjoy a meal. We have used Kettle Chips as a topper for my cous cous Salmon recipe and this has become their favourite dish.
Letting them Cook - If i am trying a completely new recipe i will involve them in the cooking, they love cooking and this always helps with them trying the new foods.
Education - Id say the best approach with our eldest two (age 10 and 8) has been teaching them about whole foods, eating a rainbow of colour and what each colour and food does for their bodies.
Chilli and Cauliflower Rice
3 red onions
2 garlic cloves
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 can of kidney beans
chilli powder add to taste
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Fry onions for 2 minutes, add minced garlic
Add chopped peppers
Fry for 5 minutes
Add kidney beans, tomatoes and some chilli powder
After 10 minutes taste the chilli and add more chilli powder if desired and add gravy granules very slowly, stirring in-between until your ideal consistency has been reached.
Place cauliflower into a food processor or blender until finely chopped, serve with the chilli, gently warm in a pan if preferred.
VEGETABLE SOUP (serves 4)
2 Onions, chopped
3 Medium Potatoes, cubed
2 Carrots, cubed
1 Leek, finely chopped
1/2 Sweetheart cabbage, finely chopped
1 vegetable stockpot
Fry the onions for 2 minutes, add the potatoes and water and bring to the boil.
Add the carrots and stockpot, simmer for 10 minutes
Add the cabbage and leeks, simmer for 10 minutes
Mash the soup with and potato masher, add salt and pepper if desired
Fry a selection of your favourite vegetables in coconut oil until soft, we use
Place in your favourites wraps with desired toppings such as avocado, humous, salsa.
For the wraps we use Crosta & Mollica Wholeblend Flatbreads as they contain only natural ingredients.
Salmon Cous Cous
Finely chop the carrots, apple, avocado and broccoli
Cook the cous cous, we use wholewheat giant cous cous so it takes 6-8 mins
Mix all the ingredients
Flake the salmon into the dish and top with crushed Kettle Chips
3 red onions
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Half a cauliflower
Half an aubergine
4 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Finely chop onions, peppers and cauliflower
Fry the onions until brown, then add the garlic peppers and cauliflower, fry for another few minutes
Add the tomatoes and chopped basil, also add salt and pepper to taste
Use a suitable size baking dish and layer the following
Thinly sliced aubergine
Repeat until the ingredients have been used up
Top with grated cheese and bake for 20 minutes at 180c
Stir Fry Vegetables and Sweet Potatoes Wedges
Stir fry your favourite vegetables in coconut oil
Bake Sweet potato in coconut oil, chopped into wedges or cubes, we sometimes use white potato or both depending on what we have
Serve with sliced avocado, pitta bread, humous, salsa or other favourite toppings
Avocado on Toast
(my favourite breakfast)
Fry some chopped onions until brown
Add some chopped tomato and fry for a couple of minutes
Toast sourdough bread
Spread generous layer of crushed avocado
Top with onions and tomatoes, garnish with chopped basil or chilli flakes
1/3 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of muscovado brown sugar
1 cup of Wholewheat Spelt flour
1 tea spoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of porridge oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 muffin cases
Melt the coconut oil over a pan of warm water and mash the bananas, add together in a mixing bowl
Mix in the sugar then the flour, baking powder, raisins and oats (saving a few oats for the top of the muffins)
Split the mixtures into the 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin
Top with a few oats and bake in a preheated oven at 180c, for around 20 minutes but keep an eye on them until they start to brown. When the tops start to brown, place a fork into a muffin, if the fork comes out clean they are cooked.
Vegetable Sticks and Humous Dip
The boys love a variety of raw chopped vegetable with a
selection of different humous flavours
Another 3 meals that are working well for us are
Butternut squash Curry
Sweet pepper pasta with chickpeas and kale
Spicy lentil soup
However i am still experimenting with ingredients and quantities etc, if you are interested in these i can update the post in a few weeks.
Thanks for reading