One of the biggest questions I get asked is, what about the kids? Will I be cooking different meals for the family every night? My answer is 'absolutely not' all the recipes that I provide are meals that we eat at home as a family (that includes a very fussy teenager!!)
As a family of 5, it is so important that we all eat the same dinners as I really couldn't cope with cooking 3 different meals every day!
Here are some of my tips to encourage your kids to eat well:
1. Lead by example! If you eat well as a family, your child is much more likely to follow suit!
2. Keep their portions manageable and small, it is much less daunting to them and they can always have more after.
3. Don't let them drink sugar- stick to milk and water (you can even infuse water with fresh fruit if that helps)
4. Make it exciting for them- take them on a food shop with you and let them choose their favourite fruit and veg and then challenge them to find one vegetable that they have never tried and cook that at home (you will always find recipes online if you are stuck)
5. Don't use food as a reward- unfortunately this is where so many of our bad habits have stemmed from so don't repeat the same mistake (stickers, football cards, trips to the park, mini lego figures are all great substitutes)
6. Make it really tasty! Don't be afraid to try new herbs and spices and to season your food- you are much more likely to get a positive result from this!
7. Think about their favourite foods and experiment with ways to make a better option. Even changing fries to sweet potato chips is a big step forward.
8. Smoothies are a great way to get so much goodness into them (I don't mean shop bought ones) You can even hide some dark leafy greens in such as spinach.
9. Encourage your children to eat a rainbow every day- create a chart for each member of the family (including you) with the different colours and they can tick off the colours they have eaten every day.
10. Try to cut down on snacks (if your kids are anything like mine, this mostly boils down to boredom!)
11. Increase activity before meals to build up hunger (even just letting them run around the garden whilst you are prepping dinner)
12. Give them your full attention whilst you are having dinner- sit with them and converse with them. This will keep them engaged and show them that this is time for you and them!
13. MOST importantly- cook from scratch! This doesn't need to be expensive or time consuming- even a simple omelette is a good option!
A favourite family recipe:
C H I C K E N A N D C A S H E W S T I R F R Y
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Skinless chicken thigh fillets
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Cups broccoli florets
1 Red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 Cup sugar snap peas
½ Cup carrots, thinly sliced
⅓ Cup unsalted cashews
2 Onions, chopped
For the sauce:
4 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
3 Tbsp peanut butter (make sure it’s 100% peanuts)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 or 3 Tbsp water
To make the sauce, whisk together tamari (or soy sauce), peanut butter, honey, sesame oil, and grated ginger in a small bowl. Whisk in 2 or 3 tablespoons of water, depending on the consistency you prefer, and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and add chicken. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, mixing it with the chicken.
Add broccoli, bell pepper, snap peas and carrots to the skillet, incorporating everything together.
Cook an additional 5 minutes, until veggies are tender and chicken is cooked through, then add cashews and green onions and drizzle the peanut sauce over top.
Mix everything together with the sauce, coating well, and cook for one more minute. Serve and enjoy!
So if you've found yourself on T H E F R E S H L I F E page then you probably care about what you put in your body but how about what you put on your body or even around your house!?
We are currently in the middle of packing the house to move near the sea (just a little excited!) and whilst the packing is coming along nicely- the cleaning got a little neglected which in turn stresses me and the husband out!
Yesterday was the day to tackle it- I had spent the majority of Sunday lying horizontal on the sofa after an amazing night celebrating our friends wedding so I was feeling motivated and raring to go!
As someone with an extremely sensitive nose, I love to surround myself with lovely smells which in turn uplift and inspire me but gone are the days of zoflora doing the trick!!!
I became a Neals Yard Organic consultant at roughly the same time as starting The Fresh Life as I wanted to make sure that I made all the right choices for my body from the food I eat, to the deodorant I wear, to the cleaning products I use in our home! It's not something I tend to scream and shout about purely because my focus is predominantly on building The Fresh Life but I also get so much pleasure out of using their products so why not share the love!?
Ok, back to the cleaning... I picked up a few natural cleaning tips that I absolutely love and want to share with you. All the oils I use are Neals Yard Essential Oils and they leave the house smelling so fresh and clean! Now I would love to gain some more tips as these are all very basic so please do add a comment below if you have anything to add.
1. G E N E R A L C L E A N E R
Using a spray bottle with 50/50 water and vinegar with a few drops of the 'cleanse' blend.
If using on granite or marble just use water and leave the vinegar out.
2. H O O V E R I N G
I add a few drops of lavender oil or the 'Calming' blend to the hoover bag which gives off a wonderful smell whilst hoovering and leaves the carpets smelling fresh.
3. W I N D O W S
I use a glass spray bottle for this and a microfibre cloth.
2 Cups filtered water
2 Tbsps VInegar
10 Drops essential oil of choice (I used lemon)
Shake well and use!
Wipe round the window sills with some citronella to keep the bugs away at this time of year!
4. F L O O R C L E A N E R
Add a few drops of 'Organic Defence' blend to hot water and mop away!
Your house will be smelling absolutely amazing by now and you will be feeling good! To add to the feel good smells in the house I always have the soto diffuser going with a few of my favourite oils and in the winter I add a few drops of oil to cotton pads and rub down the radiators so that when the heating is on, the smell rises!
5. R O O M S P R A Y
Rosemary, Sage and Lavender
2 Sprigs rosemary
Sprig of sage
10 drops lavender oil
1 lemon sliced
500 ml water
Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer of a medium heat, cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Let it cool, then strain the liquid and pour into a spray bottle.
This will store for up to a year!
These are all super simple but leave me feeling super happy!
If you would like to know any more about using Neals Yard products or would like any samples then please do get in touch.
I've decided to give plant based living a trial for the next few weeks, mainly because I feel that during the kids holidays, my enthusiasm for being inventive in the kitchen has waned slightly and this is such a great way to get stuck in there again and get the creative juices flowing!
Admittedly it is only day two and I had a slight fail on day one due to using ghee when proudly cooking my chickpea and sweet potato curry (my husband took great pleasure in pointing this out!) but so far, I'm really enjoying it.
I am trying my best not to use replacement products such as 'vegan cheese' etc but more to develop natural flavours that will nourish my body.
Today's lunch was a delicious carrot, broccoli and cashew nut stir fry with a tahini dressing that I tend to throw on anything I can get my hands on! It's worth making extra dressing and store it in a jar as it can totally transform the flavour of your dish.
This literally took 10 mins to make and I just used my julienne peeler for the carrots as I couldn't be bothered to wash my spiraliser!
For the stir fry:
Broccoli florets lightly steamed
Small handful of raw cashew nuts
Chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 Large carrot, spiralised
1 Tsp Olive oil
1 Tsp Tamari
1 Tsp Toasted sesame oil
For the Dressing
1 Tbsp Tahini
Juice of 1 Lime
1/2 Tsp Maple Syrup
Heat your olive oil in a wok and toss in your broccoli, carrots and mushrooms
Add your tamari and sesame oil and give it a good stir
Throw in your cashew nuts and let them brown a little
Mix your dressing ingredients together and drizzle over your stir-fry and enjoy!
Ok, I am totally done with the longest winter EVER! With three kids at home, I need to find something for them to do that's not eating their body weight in Easter Eggs...
We have opted for a day of crafts and baking today- eeek! My slight OCD is screaming at me right now but we are going for it. I find that if the kids are involved in preparing and baking their healthier snacks then they are much more likely to eat them. Here are some of the recipes that we love making together and the kids enjoy munching on. Let me know in the comments below if you give any of them a try.
Banana and Oat Cookies
1 Banana Mashed
1 Cup Oats
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 180
Mash your banana and mix in your oats and cinnamon
Gather a tablespoon amount and lay out on a lined baking tray
Bake for 10-15 mins
Leave to cool and enjoy with a delicious herbal tea!
These are the easiest things to make and take all of 3 ingredients. They are also a great one for very little hands to get involved with!
1 Can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsps raw cacao
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 ½ Tbsp coconut sugar (or maple syrup)
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp vanilla extract
½ Tsp nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 190 and line your baking tray with baking paper
Next place the chickpeas into a bowl and add all the ingredients and let your little one get their hands dirty by combining all the ingredients, ensuring every single chickpea is covered.
Spread the chickpeas out on the baking paper and place in the oven for 40 minutes stirring and turning occasionally.
Once baked, turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave in there for another 15 minutes.
Cookie Dough Balls
1 Cup Cashew Nuts
¼ Cup Rolled Oats
5 Pitted Dates
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp Nut Butter
½ Tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp Chopped 90% Dark Chocolate
Blend the cashew nuts and oats in a food processor to create a fine flour
Add the dates and process again until finely chopped
Mix in the maple syrup, nut butter, vanilla and salt and process until combined.
If it’s too dry, add a tbsp of water
Pulse in the chocolate chips until combined
Roll the mixture into balls and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins to set
Prepare 8 cup cake cases in a muffin tray
2 Cups Brown Puffed Rice
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Raisins
Melt the coconut oil on a low heat in a large pan
Once melted, add in the raw cacao powder and stir until combined
Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup
Pour in your brown puffed rice and raisins and coat well
Place an equal amount in each case and place in the fridge until set
These will need to stay in the fridge to avoid melting!
These are so much better than the ones that your kids make at nursery- although, they are pretty good!
I use Rude Health Brown Puffed Rice for these which you can buy from Sainsbury's. They are also great to have as a cereal alternative served with some coconut yogurt and fruit!
Pancake Day! One of my favourite days of the year... especially when it involves quick, easy to make, healthy pancakes!
We tried out a couple yesterday to share with you all and will no doubt try out a few more tomorrow!
Our basic pancakes are so incredibly easy and involve just 3 ingredients...
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Whizz in the blender to create a batter
Heat some oil in a pan (I used coconut oil)
Pour in small amounts of your batter (like small blinis)
Cook for around 2/3 mins on one side and the flip over and cook for another 2/3 mins.
Now for some real flavour...
We went for chocolate, cardamom and date and they were absolutely delicious and demolished by all the family!
Once you have created you batter from above,
Throw in some chopped dates
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
Pulse in your blender until combined and then cook as above.
Serve with some coconut yoghurt, chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds for a real feast!
P.s. I would love to hear your favourite pancake flavour combinations, comment below.
Oats are definitely one of those underestimated ingredients. Porridge used to remind me of my grandmother clattering through the hall with what can only be described as a congealed lump of overcooked oats, topped with a mountain of sugar to obtain some taste! Now it has to be one of my absolute favourites as it's so easy to change the flavours and experience every day!
Here are 7 days of oats done 7 ways...
M O N D A Y
Perhaps you're running to work, feeling slightly disorganised despite your best efforts over the weekend so let's go for overnight oats!
Soak your oats from the night before, I tend to soak a large kilner jar full of oats with coconut milk to keep me going through the week as even if I want warm porridge, it's quicker to cook if they have been soaked.
Now for the flavour, one of my favourite overnight oats combinations is...
Chocolate and Orange.
(kids love this!)
1 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tbsp raw cacao
1/2 satsuma per portion plus rind
Blend milk, date and cacao powder together
Put oats in a pan and pour milk over
Stir on a low heat until the milk thickens
Chop satsumas up and grate some rind
You could blend a banana in with the milk etc for a little extra sweetness!
T U E S D A Y
Chocolate and Pistachio Porridge
1 cup porridge oats
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
Pinch of good quality salt
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
Crushed pistachio nuts
1 tsp maca powder
1/2 tsp honey
Place your oats in a pan on a low heat with your coconut milk and water (add more milk if you want it creamier)
Stir slowly and add your cacao powder and a pinch of good quality salt
Once your porridge has cooked, serve in a bowl with any toppings you like!
W E D N E S D A Y
Peanut Butter and Jelly
For the ‘Jelly’
5 Tsps Chia Seeds
1 ½ Cup Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Heat your raspberries in a pan until they are easy to crush
Add in your maple syrup and stir
Remove from the heat and stir in your vanilla extract and chia seeds
Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week
Allow the chia seeds to swell overnight before using
Stir your ‘Jelly’ and 1 Tsp Peanut Butter through your oats and Enjoy!
T H U R S D A Y
Black Forest Gateau
1 cup porridge oats
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 cup frozen cherries
1 tsp hemp seeds (optional)
Slowly cook your porridge in your coconut milk, stirring continuously. After a couple of minutes, add your cacao powder and your frozen cherries. Cook until your cherries soften and start to burst.
Serve with a scattering of hemp seeds for a little crunch!
F R I D A Y
Warming Spiced Oats
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
½ Tsp Ground Ginger
Zest of 1 Satsuma
1 Tsp Raw Honey
Pour your overnight oats into a pan and heat gently
Stir your spices and zest in
Remove from the heat, drizzle your honey over and serve!
S A T U R D A Y
Carrot Cake Oats
½ Carrot Grated
3 Walnuts Crushed
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
½ Tsp Vanilla Paste
Pinch of Good quality Salt
Add your oats to a pan and heat slowly, stirring continuously
Add in your grated carrot and keep stirring
Remove from the heat and add in your other ingredients.
S U N D A Y
Such a great one for those mornings when you have a little extra time. I tend to make a big one and enjoy a small slice as a mid-afternoon snack throughout the week.
Apple and Blackberry Baked Oats
Apple and Blackberry Baked Oats
3 Cups Oats
2 Apple (Peeled and grated)
1 ½ Cup Blackberries (this works well with blueberries too)
2 Cups Milk of choice
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly grease a baking dish with coconut oil.
Place the grated apple and most of the blackberries at the bottom of the dish.
Whisk up the egg and add the milk, maple syrup and cinnamon to it. Whisk everything together.
Add the oats to the egg and milk mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the oat mixture over the the blackberries and apple and then scatter the top with any remaining blackberries.
Give the mixture a light mix with a fork to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
Place the oats into the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve and enjoy.
So there you have it... Oats for 7 days, 7 ways!
Remember that you can download your free meal planner template here!
So much of our journey to a healthier lifestyle comes down to our mindset. I can't tell you the amount of times that I have heard the words 'My head's just not in the right place!' This can be a very frustrating feeling as you have the desire to be eating well, often even the desire or need to lose weight and yet somehow a barrier keeps on reappearing.
We've all been there and we all know the feeling but how do we adjust this way of thinking and fight that barrier down for good?
We first need to work out our 'WHY' Why do we want to eat better? Why does this matter to me? Why am I doing this? This may all seem very broad at the moment but work on breaking it down. If weight loss is your WHY then take 10 minutes to work out your specific goal, try not to do this as a number on the scales as this can fluctuate so easily, instead have an image in your head that you would like to achieve. Really feel how good this would make you feel, what would you wear? How confident would this make you feel? How do you look in an outfit that you have always wanted to wear? What effect will this have on your relationship with your partner? What will you be able to do that you can't do now? Have a very clear image in your head, one that you can return to whenever you lose motivation. Be precise and study every part of you. Write all of your answers down in pen on paper and refer back to them whenever required, you can use our visualisation template for this.
Another example of your WHY may be that you want to thrive in life rather than simply survive, you may be tired of riding on the ups and downs of sugar and caffeine and want to feel more in control of your eating habits which will in turn lead you to be more in control of your moods. How does that feel? How will you feel with less brain fog? Will your children benefit from this?
There are so many reasons why people want to live a healthier lifestyle but the most important part is making it personal to YOU as your goals need to excite you and boldly propel you into this new healthy chapter.
Next, I want you to work out and write down HOW you will achieve these goals. This may include eating a balanced whole food diet, reducing sugar from my diet, allowing yourself one healthy treat per week, getting up earlier to make a good breakfast, taking 30 mins on a Sunday to prep some snacks for the week ahead, joining The Fresh Life for more support and accountability, increasing my step count daily etc. These are just some ideas of what it might require but only when you really believe and see your WHY will you be able to achieve your HOW.
Now I want you to assume success, you CAN do this and you absolutely WILL do this because you now understand and can taste your WHY and you can refer back to it whenever required.
So now that we have worked on your WHY and looked at your HOW, we need to put this all into practice in a way that is sustainable and achievable. You may feel like this plan all takes too much time that you simply don't have but in reality, this will set you up to save time in the future by having a system that works for you.
First, set aside some time to create a meal plan for the following week. It's a really good idea at this stage to keep it simple and manageable, create dinners that you can use the leftovers on the following day for lunch and have your snacks ready to go (I like to portion out my nuts etc so that I am not tempted to keep going in for more!)
Write your meal plan down and stick to it! Perhaps you are used to having a takeaway on a Friday night so have a quick easy option for that night that you will really enjoy. You may have to run your kids to clubs on a Wednesday so that may be the night to use the slow cooker to have it ready. Really think about your weekly routine to work out how this will work best for you as there is no point of sticking in a roast dinner on a Tuesday if you're not home till late etc.
It is worth keeping a food diary at this stage (check out our template here) as we often eat without even thinking about it but somehow putting pen to paper makes us more mindful about what we are eating. It is also worth keeping a 'Tracking Diary' to keep a note of how your body is responding. So often we don't listen to our bodies as we are used to feeling bloated or uncomfortable so this is a great way of listening in to our bodies tiny whispers. This also helps us understand our eating habits and we need to have a good understanding to have the ability to change them.
I want you to also learn to forgive yourself. Guilt is one emotion that should never be associated with food! If you do eat something that perhaps doesn't fit with your new principles then accept it and move on. Don't use this as an opportunity to wait until the next day to 'get back on track' as that often then moves to Monday and before you know it, you've lost sight of your goals entirely. Whereas, when we don't look at foods as 'good or bad' we can simply focus on what food make us truly feel good which will soon become part of you and the way you are.
Remember that these changes won't happen overnight so give your body the time it needs and deserves to benefit from this way of living and remember to be kind to yourself.
Our online monthly support groups, encourage you to make and sustain these changes as well as providing you with recipes and meal plan suggestions. To find out more, head over to Join Now.
After the birth of my beautiful first daughter (12 years ago) I was blessed not only with stretch marks but also with rosacea!
Now at only 20 years old, not only was I trying to come to terms with motherhood and a body that no longer felt like mine, rosacea was the last thing that my young, very conscious self needed! After years and £££’s on all the lotions and potions out there, including some very strong antibiotics, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands! Gluten and cows dairy* were the first things to go and that made such a significant difference to my skin. I focussed on eating the right foods, including a variety of vegetables daily, I quit refined sugar and added a number of healthy fats into my diet and I de-stressed! My face no longer felt like it was constantly red, angry, itchy and sore and I finally felt like I could leave the house without applying a face full of makeup to hide behind and slowly, as my water intake increased, so did my glow!
This was such a telling sign for me, that I had been suffering with inflammation for such a long time and yet failed to ever take the time to listen to my body!
I have since been fortunate to find a number of natural products that are still kind to my skin, my favourites being ‘coconut oil’ as a daily cleanser, A•S apothecary facial serum and the soothing face mask by amaranthine!
Drop me a comment below if you have any questions or tips that you would like to share.
*If you have previously joined one of my monthly ‘challenges’ you will know that I recommend that you cut gluten and dairy from your diet for 2 weeks, if you feel no different then gradually introduce one and then the other but all the while, make sure that you are in tune to your body and really listen out for those little whispers!