Why is Breakfast So Difficult?

breakfast

NOTE: This photograph is quite clearly not my kitchen as I cannot face the shame of putting up a picture of the scene of devastation left by my kids in the morning! This is a free pic from Google Images chosen simply to represent breakfast. 

With 20 years of parenting experience and plenty of practice making homemade meals every day, you would think I had the breakfast routine pretty much sorted. However, that is definitely not the case and it seems the most difficult meal of the day to organize.

In the evenings, we always sit down together as a family to a homemade meal I have prepared. This usually involves me cooking using a variety of ingredients for approximately an hour before sitting down at the table. To make the meal, I will often have both the hob and the oven on while using an array of pans, dishes, and utensils.

At the same time as cooking, I usually have the dog running around my ankles, my younger children racing through the house, my older son asking about going out with his mates and my daughter ringing me to ask all sorts of ridiculous questions (she has just moved into her own place and realized she needs to function like a normal person). 

Despite these complications and distractions, I am perfectly capable of serving a decent meal to the family, so why can I not function to serve breakfast?

Breakfast at my house is typically either cereal, porridge, toast or a yogurt for the children and a strong cup of coffee for me. To achieve these two ‘meals’, I simply need to chuck a couple of slices of bread into a toaster and pour some cereal and milk into a bowl. Simple enough?

It seems to verge on the impossible to do this some days. Nobody seems to make it to the dining table at breakfast and eats their breakfast wherever they are sitting, I serve the wrong food to the wrong child on a regular basis, I burn the toast and spill cereal all over the kitchen. The minute the food hits the bowls, the children change their mind about what they want and they refuse to eat what you serve. 

Yes, a food blogger and former catering professional is admitting she cannot cook toast and serving cereal is an impossibility. I guess I am just not a morning person! I am just thankful that my husband feeds himself in the morning. 

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10 Things to Make with Nutella- Just for Fun!

nutella

Nutella is a popular chocolate and hazelnut spread that many people across the globe adore. While most people serve this on hot, buttered toast, there are a surprising number of ways that you can use this spread as an ingredient. Just for fun, here are some things you can make with Nutella. 

  1. Chocolate and Nutella cake– Add two heaped spoons of Nutella to your chocolate cake mix before baking. When your cake has cooled, slice in half horizontally and add a layer of Nutella to the centre.
  2. Banana and Nutella sandwiches– Nutella is delicious on a sandwich and sliced bananas just add extra tastiness.
  3. Nutella filled pancakes– An alternative to traditional pancake fillings is to spread on a layer of Nutella.
  4. Nutella cheesecake– Add three heaped tablespoons of Nutella into your usual cheesecake mix for a completely new taste.
  5. Nutella topped cupcakes– If you enjoy baking cupcakes, trying icing Nutella onto the top and adding colourful sprinkles or mini marshmallows. 
  6. Nutella crispy cakes– This is one to make with the kids. Stir either cornflakes or rice crispies into a mix of melted cooking chocolate and Nutella. Separate into fairy cake cases and leave to set.
  7. Nutella dipped fruit–  Chop fruit into large pieces and dip one half of each piece into Nutella. This works particularly well with bananas and strawberries.
  8. Nutella and yogurt dip– Create a mixture of yogurt and Nutella to make a dip. Serve this with pieces of fruit, chopped cake, and biscuits for dipping.
  9. Nutella sundaes– Layer vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, and large blobs of Nutella. Top with whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate sauce and sprinkle with chopped nuts.
  10. Nutella pizza– Sweet pizzas are a relatively new concept but they are becoming very fashionable at the moment. Make a pizza base, or use a ready bought one, and add Nutella. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. 

 

The Benefits of Cooking with Children

s in the kitchen

Meet my three youngest children, the mini chefs, (from left to right) Freddie, Nathan, and Alfie. 

I was recently criticised for allowing my children to cook with me as I was told it is a waste of time, money, effort and food allowing the children to get involved in the kitchen. However, I completely disagree as I think there are many benefits for children in joining in with food preparation. Here are just a few reasons why I believe that teaching children to cook is important.

Life skills- Cooking is one of the most important life skills that you can teach your children. There are many different cooking processes and techniques to learn, so the sooner you start teaching them, the better.

Social skills- Developing social skills is one of the biggest benefits of cooking with children. They can learn to communicate effectively, listen, share, take turns, and work as part of a team as well as using their own initiative. 

Science- Many aspects of cooking involve scientific processes taking place. For example, liquids becoming solids, temperature changes taking place, and so on. Cooking is the ideal way to introduce these concepts to your child in a fun way.

Literacy- While some kids love reading, others hate it and refuse to so much as pick up a book. Cooking is one way of getting them to read without thinking of it as a literacy activity. Reading recipes or instructions from packaging is an important part of the cooking process. They may also extend their vocabulary in the process. 

Maths- Cooking can make maths fun for kids. There are many mathematical concepts used in cooking that you may not have even realized. Just some of the topics you can teach your children about when cooking include temperature, weight, volume, and time. 

Safety- Some of the equipment used in the kitchen is potentially dangerous. There is always a risk of burns, scalds, and cuts when working in the kitchen. However, rather than looking at this as a negative, use it as an opportunity to teach the children about safety and hygiene in the kitchen. If you are always supervising the children in the kitchen and you choose age-appropriate activities for them to get involved with, then the risks are greatly reduced. 

Bonding- Day-to-day responsibilities often get in the way of a busy family spending time together. Making meals is one of the tasks that can detract you from spending time with the children. Instead of this happening, use the food preparation time as a way of enjoying an activity together.

Creativity- Most children love to get involved in creative activities, especially ones that involve any level of mess-making. Cooking is definitely a creative activity, from preparing the ingredients to presenting a meal on a plate. 

Fun- Last but most certainly not least, cooking is a fun activity that most children enjoy. Having fun together as a family is just as important as all the educational benefits of cooking with children. 

RECIPE: Funky Red Cabbage Slaw

red cabbage slaw

Although I make the regular slaw, my kids really love my funky red cabbage slaw as there is something fun about having such a colorful side dish on the plate. It is quick and simple to make and is a great way of getting the kids to eat a variety of vegetables. Here is a quick guide on how to make funky red cabbage slaw. It makes enough for approximately eight good-sized side dishes to accompany a meal.

Ingredients for Funky Red Cabbage Slaw

  • 1/2 red cabbage grated or finely sliced
  • 4 large carrots grated
  • 1 red onion finely sliced
  • 8 heaped tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons of salad cream
  • 100 ml double cream
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Funky Red Cabbage Slaw

  1. Grate the carrots and red cabbage and finely slice the red onion.
  2. Add the grated and sliced vegetables to a large mixing bowl
  3. Add the mayonnaise, salad cream, and double cream to the bowl.
  4. Stir well until all the vegetables are coated.
  5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Tips

  • Extra ingredients– you can add extra ingredients if you want a little variety. Try adding chopped apples, sultanas, or walnuts for a twist. 
  • Spice it up– this is delicious as it is, but you can also spice up this dish. Adding a teaspoon of curry powder or smoked paprika are just two ways you can change the flavor of this accompaniment.
  • Reduce the fat– it is easy to reduce the fat content of this side dish. Simply use low-fat mayonnaise and salad cream and omit the double cream from the recipe. 

 

 

Hot to Get Kids Eating Vegetables

veg stall

Vegetables are an essential part of a varied, healthy and balanced diet.  It is important that your child eats vegetables daily so that they remain healthy and develop normally.  One of the biggest challenges parents face is getting their children to eat vegetables. This is sometimes because they don’t like the taste, texture, or color and occasionally because they have choked on a particular food when they were younger and this has developed into a phobia.  Here are some tips on how you can get your children to eat vegetables.

Start As You Mean To Go On

It is important to introduce a wide range of vegetables from the start.  This can be done even in the early stages of weaning your child as vegetables are ideal for mashing pureeing.  They are also fantastic finger foods when your child moves to the next stage.

Set an Example

Children mimic their parent’s behaviour  If they see you eating a variety of vegetables daily, then they will see this as being the norm and follow your lead.  If they only see you eating junk food, then vegetables will become an alien concept that they be unwilling to eat. 

Make It Fun and Involve Them

Making mealtimes and the food that is served can help the meal to seem more appealing.  One way of doing this is to turn the food into pictures.  For example, top a pizza with cherry tomatoes and slices of pepper arranged into the design of a face.  Children also like to be involved in the cooking process and if they have made the food their selves or helped to prepare it, it can make the vegetables served more appealing.

Grow Your Own

Seeing the whole process of the creation of vegetables, from seed to serving on a plate, can make the food seem interesting. If they get involved in this process, they will feel pride in what they have achieved.  It is also a great way to educate children about how plants grow and the sources of different food types.

Disguise the Vegetables

If you are really struggling to get your child to eat vegetables and want them to benefit from the nutrients, then you can disguise the vegetables.  One way is to dice them up very finely in foods like casseroles, chilli con carne or spaghetti bolognese.  Soups are also a great way to disguise the vegetable content as they are usually pureed.  Similarly, making homemade pasta sauces with ingredients such as tomatoes, peppers and onions is a good way of disguising what their meal contains.

How to Make Pizza Bases

pizzeria

I love pizza, but my pet hate is frozen pizzas. The base always tastes like cardboard and the cheese topping usually resembles melted plastic. My children also love pizza but were only usually treated to it if we are eating out as I hated keeping pizzas in the freezer.

Instead, I decided to learn how to make delicious homemade pizza bases just like the Italians. There were many fantastic recipes and guides online with great tips on how to make the perfect pizza base.

The children loved it when I started making homemade pizza bases as it meant they could choose their own toppings and decorate the pizza themselves. My kids love getting involved in the kitchen and are more likely to eat all their meals when they have contributed to the preparation. Cooking is an important life skill to learn, a fun way to spend time with children and a great way to teach them about science and maths.

If you want to learn how to make pizza bases so you can make them yourself at home and get the kids involved in cooking, then this is a great video to watch: