Apologies for the hiatus lately I’ve been in a bit of a bubble.. A blissed out baby bubble. Our newest baby girl arrived two months ago and life has been a beautiful messy haze since then, finding my way as a mother of two and relaying between breastfeeding one whilst cooking for the other, nappy changing the baby while potty changing the toddler and sleeplessly loving on these two girls with all of my overflowing heart. Our days of late have been spent mainly at home, enjoying the garden, exploring the woods and making a mobile-home within our new (old!) caravan which we are planning summer time adventures in. The days seem long and tiring but they are by far the best days of my life. Adventure starts within our surroundings, of which I have come to realise makes for the most peaceful and relaxed days with a new baby attached to my body for the best part of the day. We wake up slow, cook and eat together, we walk, we see, we tell stories, we cuddle. Fern has taken to her big-sister role amazingly as I knew she would, always helping me to dress Cerys, bath her, change her and planting kisses on her forehead as she passes her as she runs around the house. I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I’m a a mother to two girls. Sisters! So so blessed I am to call myself mama to these amazing girls.
Over the past 8 weeks, our daily family suppers have changed somewhat to the ones I was making before Cerys graced our world with her love. Gone are the days where I could make a fancy meal with all the trimmings, maybe a dessert too?! Fern conveniently stopped her midday naps when Cerys was born so having any time pre-dinner to get ahead with dinner is almost impossible. I always get Fern involved in meal-prep as much as possible, giving her soft vegetables to chop or snap, letting her stir bowls or crack eggs and she generally hangs our by my side on the counter whilst I create meals. However, sans naps, she has become undeniably desperate for food (‘Now, mummy Now!’) come 5pm, and Cerys always decides it is defiantly her dinner time too as soon as I try and cook. In comes Geoff, ravenous after a long days manual labour and I can easily go from calm, relaxed mama to having three hungry people to see to in a flash! I end up wearing Cerys in a sling inevitably when I’m cooking so to keep her close and within reach of her food-on-tap. So meals need to be quick, simple enough for me to make with her tucked up on my chest and involve as little dishes as possible because, really, the last thing we want to be doing at the end of the day is washing a pile of dishes! So here you go, my ‘Meals to make with a newborn in a sling and toddler by your side’ series of recipes. Three recipes which have found there way into my repertoire by default of being made over and over the last two months. Recipes which you can make whilst your body is still recovering post-birth and the gifts of home-cooked meals have dried up. Or, just MEALS because we ALL deserve to give ourselves a break and bust out the simplest meals on a busy week night or lazy weekend. These are meals which are by no means compromised on taste, and all round approved by my opinionated two year old, big-appetite of a man and by me, ravenous breastfeeding mama who loves nothing more than hitting all the right notes come dinner time. Delicious.. check! Simple.. check! Nutritious.. check! Minimal clearing up.. check check check.
I’ve decided one three recipes, one breakfast, a filling lunch/ supper and a hearty one-pot meal which will feed 8 so there could be plenty leftover for the freezer or to revamp over the following days. All are super adaptable depending on what fresh ingredients you have to hand. Please, get creative and use my recipes as guidelines and inspiration! I love to see your creations using #nurturingkitchen and you can find more of my every day recipes on the hashtag #NKrecipe.
A note on the recipes: You’ll need to find 5 minutes to mix all of the ingredients together for the overnight oats the evening before. It can easily become a habit as ingrained as brushing your teeth, and waking up to a ready-to-go breakfast is so worth the minimal effort. I use rolled organic jumbo oats, but you could use quinoa/ ammaranth flakes or gluten free oats if you want to make it GF. The pesto will keep in a jar in the fridge for up to a week, or can be frozen for when you are in need of a simple dressing to some pasta when greens are less abundant. I use wholemeal spelt pasta, but any pasta or gluten free version would work fine. I’ve written the recipe for the chilli using canned beans, but I tend to batch-cook dried beans and potion them out into the freezer, so feel free to use dried and cooked beans if you have the time.Date + walnut Overnight Oats
Makes 2 generous portions. These make great take-out snacks too if you make them in screw-top jars and make them ahead.
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup water
1/2 cup dates soaked in 1 cup water
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp ground ginger and/or cinnamon
fresh fruit to serve
Place the walnuts and water into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the dates and their soak water and blend again until you have a thick ‘milk’. Divide the oats between two bowls or jars, add 1 tbs chia seeds to each one and half a tsp spices. Pour the walnut and date mixture over the oats, dividing it equally and stir well. Pop in the fridge over night or for at least 4 hours. In the morning, take the bowls or jars from the fridge, give them a stir and loosen with extra water or milk if you prefer a runnier porridge. Top with fresh fruits.
Any-green pesto spaghetti
150g Wholewheat spelt pasta, or pasta of your choice
1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1 large handful of leafy greens/ herbs (basil, parsley, corriander, rocket, kale, nettle tops, mizuna, spinach, nasturtium leaves are some of our favourites)
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
1 cup frozen peas
8 cherry tomatoes or some pre-roasted squash/ sweet potatoes
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and drop in the pasta, cooking according to the packet directions (about 10 minutes for spaghetti). Whilst the pasta is cooking, place the seeds, greens, olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast in a blender and blend until almost smooth. Pour the pesto into a jar or bowl. Three minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, add the frozen peas and turn up the heat so that they cook in the remaining few minutes with the pasta. Strain the pasta and peas through a colander then return to the pan and stir the pesto through until well coated. Divide between two or three large shallow bowls and top with half and avocado, sliced into chunks, cherry tomatoes and any other veg you have to hand (I love adding pre-roasted squash if I have it.) Serve immediately.
One pot chilli
Adapted from ‘Smokey black bean chili’ in Bowl and spoon
I use quite alot of dried spices in this which I always have to hand, so don’t be put off by the long ingredients list. This will make a huge pot so good for feeding a crowd with no fuss, or for stocking up the freezer. If I have them, I like to add some chopped mushrooms too, but you could throw in any veg you have to hand. Serve with a fresh green salad, mashed avocado and some yoghurt on the side.
1 can black beans
1 can butter beans
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano or mixed dried herbs
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup red lentils
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup brown rice
4 cups vegetable stock (I use 4 cups boiling water + 4 tsp bouillon powder)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
Finely chopped coriander leaf, to serve
Heat the coconut oil in a large sauce pan and gently fry the chopped onion over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and fry for a further two minutes before adding the ground cumin, herbs, paprika, chilli, cocoa powder and red lentils. Fry for a 1 more minute until the spices are fragrant before adding the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, rice and stock. Bring to the boil, stir well then reduce to a simmer for 35 minutes until the lentils and rice are cooked through and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add more liquid if required at this stage; you want a nice saucy base. Add the canned or pre-cooked beans, the apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a further 5 minutes before serving with flat-breads, tortilla chips, salad and guacamole.
What it all comes down to, for me is keeping things as simple as possible. Planning and preparing ahead and keeping the pantry stocked with dried whole-foods, spices and condiments meals breakfast, lunch and dinner can come together with no fuss and keep everyone satisfied! What meals, tips and tricks do you look to when life becomes full to the brim? Lets share our quick and nurturing meals!
Love Jo x