Autumn Sunshine Smoothie

Hello October! 🍁 The season has definitely changed here in London: after an endless-feeling hot summer, there is a chill in the air and it’s downright cold in the shade. There are still lots of bright blue skies (alternating with drizzle and gales) and we’ve had a fair bit of sunshine this week, but the foliage is turning, the evenings are shortening, and – surest sign of autumn setting in – everyone I meet seems to be fighting a cold!

Sunset on Primrose Hill 01.10.18

This smoothie is great for a quick cheerful blast of bright autumn sunshine on a dull grey morning, as well as being a delicious powerhouse of immune-boosting vitamin C. The warming ginger spices up the luscious, icy mango and apple, giving their classic pairing an autumnal twist.

Ingredients:

  • 200ml fresh juice – apple & pear is wonderfully autumnal, but you could also choose fresh orange juice if you’re fighting a cold
  • Generous handful of frozen mango pieces
  • 2x cubes frozen ginger purΓ©e, or a thumbnail-sized piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced finely across the direction of the fibres (this is why purΓ©e is preferable; see pictures below if you’ve not tried it before).

Method:

  • Blend, pour, enjoy!

A note on convenience ingredients: I am all about convenience ingredients! I have two babies. 😬 If it’s not convenient, it’s not getting made!

A note on frozen fruit: I like using frozen fruit for smoothies, because I think if you have a ripe fresh mango it’s best enjoyed there-and-then, unadulterated, rather than blended up with other things. Also a big bag of frozen mango pieces is about Β£2 in my local supermarket, keeps for ages, and is a pleasing ingredient to have on hand for smoothies, puddings, the occasional Thai massuman curry…

🎲 BABY DICE πŸŽ²

I have a theory that when you have a baby in attendance, you can put in as much effort as you like into making an event lovely and enjoyable and fun, and then… you roll the Baby Dice.

  • Roll a 1, and whatever preparation you made was utterly in vain because the baby? Has gone feral! Angry beetroot mode: bright red, inconsolable, embarrassingly loud. There is no continuing with the plan: Priority One is diffuse the baby, and nothing else matters til that’s done. Expensive food? Delicate negotiation? Audience with the Queen? Doesn’t matter! You have to break off and get out of there, or else.
  • Roll a 2, and you have an angry crying baby on your hands who will only be settled with constant, devoted parental attention and who will dissolve back into crying the moment that attention lapses onto something else, eg any hint of a conversation. If this baby deigns to breastfeed, it will do so with maximum back arching, whining and writhing so as to expose as much boob to passersby as humanly possible. And then it will vomit.
  • Roll a 3, and you have a grumpy baby. Liable to kick off but easily mollified with lots of smiling and shushing and rocking; comparatively a breeze!
  • Roll a 4, and you have a lovely sociable baby with big smiles and minimal grouchiness. She may cry in your friend’s arms but will instantly settle with you. She is basically cute AF. People will smile indulgently in your general direction. However, she may also re-roll into a 3 or below with precious little warning, so relax and stop paying attention at your peril.
  • Roll a 5, and your baby is asleep. So damn beautiful. So quiet. “Is she always like this?” people ask in hushed wonderment, and you will laugh wryly and demure that no, no, often she’s quite a handful (or other adorable euphemism). She will not wake up and demonstrate how non-cute the reality can be.
  • Roll a 6, and your baby is awesome. Awake! Smiley! Chatty, even! Charming strangers and turning your own heart to putty. She will prefer to babble and coo, and show no interest in crying or shrieking. She will pull adorable instagrammable faces, or play entertainingly intensely with her toys. If this baby feeds, she will do so with efficient gusto and then fall soundly asleep wearing a beatific smile.

Of course, when you have twins, at every occasion you roll two dice. Good luck! 🀞

Chilled and content… for now!

Anyway, today during a random afternoon in Stoke Newington we rolled two 6s and it was great. We went for a walk in Clissold Park, pottered along Church Street, then got hungry and debated for a while: curbside eating? Picnic in the park? Risk taking our whole ensemble of cockerpoo and bulky double buggy somewhere indoors?!

We bit the bullet and stopped in the Red Lion. It smelled really good (fresh hot pizza!) and was fairly empty, but to begin with I was laughably tense. Even though the babies were asleep, it felt like a lot could go wrong. And then… the babies kept sleeping! I relaxed a bit. The soothing combo of fairy lights and decent music worked its magic. We had a pizza and a tasting flight of ales, each. Then the babies woke up – and were really rather lovely! They sat quietly, fed peacefully, squeaked and burbled in ways that I found endlessly entertaining, and beamed at all and sundry.

This could go very wrong… 😬
All smiles!

Eventually, instead of a sudden meltdown, they gave us loads of warning that the grace period was nearing its end. We made a brisk but not too awkward exit, and escaped into the evening with almost zero hostile stares. Win!

I did not come away from this thinking we can go to the pub like we used to. I felt like we got bloody lucky. But I did come away feeling like it’s not impossible either, and that’s just what I needed this week.

Do you have any experiences of rolling the baby dice? I’m convinced it’s not just me who feels the success or total failure of an occasion is essentially left to chance these days! πŸ˜‚

1-pot 10-minute SOS Veggie Breakfast

Save Our Stomachs! We are living on coffee and catnaps at the moment… it’s been 3 weeks now of the babies sleeping like newborns i.e. NOT A LOT AT NIGHT. When they do sleep, they take it in turns, so there’s pretty much always one baby on the go.

Time and energy for food prep is in short supply, so I’m falling back on some old favourites. This breakfast/lunch/saviour meal takes 10 minutes, all in. It is protein packed, healthy, hearty vegetarian fare. And it tastes so good.

One pot breakfast: maximum flavour, minimal washing up

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 fresh chilli / generous teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 2 Cauldron sausages
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 Mushrooms
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tortilla wraps
  • Cream cheese
  • Large handful grated Cheddar cheese – I just buy it pre grated at the moment. If you don’t, you will need to grate it on your own time.
  • Large handful fresh coriander
  • Sriracha sauce / whatever chilli sauce you are partial to

A note on Cauldron sausages: these are the best vege sausages on the U.K. market in my opinion. Whenever I try other brands I am generally a bit disappointed. If you prefer something else, by all means substitute it, but you are going off piste and I can’t promise it will work!

A note on proportions: you know how hungry you are; increase portion sizes accordingly. Twice the sausages is good if you have a large enough pan, or you could make fewer eggs if you’re that way inclined.

Method:

  • 12:00 Get out in ingredients and a big non-stick frying pan
  • 12:01 Slosh of olive oil in the pan, medium heat, add sausages, shake to coat them in oil. Note: these cook in 8 minutes, turning regularly.
  • 12:02 Mince the garlic, slice the chilli, add to the pan. Stir & shake.
  • 12:03 Chop the mushrooms. Chop the coriander.
  • 12:04 Sweep the sausages to one side of the pan. Add mushrooms to other side of pan and stir to coat in oil. Stir half the coriander into the mushrooms.
  • 12:05 Get out 2 plates and put a tortilla on each. Spread with cream cheese.
  • 12:06 Turn sausages, stir mushrooms, make room in the pan. Carefully crack in the eggs.
  • 12:07 Chop the avocado and scoop out half onto each tortilla
  • 12:08 Turn the sausages, gently stir mushrooms if you think they need it. Everything should be almost cooked; if not, consider turning up the heat for a minute
  • 12:09 Divide the contents of the pan between the two tortillas. Put the pan in the sink and make sure the stove is off
  • 12:10 Scatter on the grated cheese, the remaining coriander leaves, and a generous dash sriracha. Eat!

Do you have any trusty SOS meals you fall back on in times of crisis? Let me know in the comments – we can virtual comfort-eat together πŸ˜‰

Do they sleep?

Why yes: but only on me. 😬

It wasn’t always like this. They are now 22 weeks old, which puts them right in the middle of the tricky (hellish) period known as the “4-month sleep regression”.

Until I had babies I’d never heard of sleep regressions; until a fortnight ago I wasn’t sure if I believed in them. Now? I’m pretty convinced!

It’s not that they no longer sleep at all, but rather that they like to sleep in our arms. For short periods. And very lightly. From an evolutionary perspective, I get it: they want to be safe from jaguars. Very sensible baby behaviour, frankly!

They’re gaining new skills daily (chief amongst them: flipping over and getting stuck) and I guess their accelerating metabolisms and growing brains have stimulated their appetites again. So we’re back to hourly feeding, which is fine, except for when it’s not, which is whenever I want to do anything else. Like SLEEP.

Anyway. There comes a point in rolling sleep deprivation where you admit defeat and live on coffee… This is my fave at the moment.

Cold milk on ice, a dash of maple syrup, and a double espresso. β˜•οΈ #survivalmode

Ingredients

  • Half a glass of milk
  • Large handful ice cubes
  • 25ml maple syrup
  • 50ml espresso

Method

Everything in the glass

Stir

Down in one! πŸ˜‰

Double-G Granola

There comes a time when a person stops feeling comfortable eating a tray of flapjack every week (or does there?).

And now that time has come for me, this is what I’ve started making instead: similarly tasty, but lower fat and altogether more wholesome, homemade granola.

Ingredients :

    2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
    2 tbsp maple syrup
    1 tbsp raw honey
    1 tbsp cocoa
    300g oats
    100g chopped almonds
    100g chopped dried apricots
    50g sultanas
    50g chopped hazelnuts (optional, but cocoa + toasted hazelnuts = Nutella vibes, so why wouldn’t you?)
    50g pumpkin seeds
    50g golden linseed

Note: if pushed for time, you can substitute all the dry ingredients for 500g your favourite muesli, plus a handful of any extra nuts or dried fruit you fancy.

Note on ingredients: oats, almonds, apricots and golden linseed have a reputation for stimulating milk supply, however there is no convincing scientific evidence for this. But the tasty, slow-release energy they provide does not go amiss when one is up all hours of the day and night sustaining two small humans!

One of my small humans. Obviously use whatever cocoa you like, but I’m partial to this one. πŸ˜‰

Method

In a big bowl or pan, mix the oats, oil, syrup, honey and cocoa until all the oats are coated. Then stir in everything else. This should smell really good.

Scoop loosely onto 2 lined baking trays; don’t press down, as you want to toast all the individual pieces evenly.

Bake for 10 mins at 150’C. By now it should smell insanely good!

Allow to cool, then stir to break up any large clumps.

Somehow get it into a mason jar (other jars are available). I do this by using the baking parchment as a funnel and pouring it into the jar, which is quick but some inevitably spills…

Consume by the bowlful with milk of your choice, with yoghurt & fruit, scattered over ice cream, or – my fave – dry, by the desert spoonful, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.

Snacktastic: avocado toast

One of the joyous things about breastfeeding is the ravenous hunger that must be sated with tasty things, which taste all the better because your body is crying out for sugars and fats like it’s running a marathon (which, metabolically, it is!).

The only hunger I’ve felt like it before is post-scuba-dive hunger, where you’ve spent an hour underwater metabolising like crazy to keep warm but too distracted by all the fish and coral and beautiful dangerous things (hello shark! Hello anemones!) to notice, and then you heave yourself and your tank back onto the boat or beach, and peel off the heavy wetsuit, and dry off in the sun, and suddenly: starving. And everything tastes so good!

Anyway, multiply that by 50 and it’s comparable with breastfeeding hunger, in my experience.

And while often I just want to eat, like, several handfuls of chocolate biscuits, or half a tub of ice cream, or cereal bars spread thickly with Nutella–sometimes I have the wherewithal to make a healthy plate like this, which is so good in a different way, and actually sates the cravings for longer.

Note: this is only good if you can get ripe avocados.

Avocado, basil & chilli sourdough

This is the simplest thing in the world to assemble, but as I’m just getting started with recipe blogging I’m going to write the whole thing out. 😊

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado per person (half if barely hungry)
  • 2 slices of sourdough per avocado
  • 1 large handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Few fresh basil leaves (coriander if preferred), rolled then thinly sliced, to form ribbons
  • 1 dried chilli, finely chopped
  • Wedge of fresh lime
  • The nicest olive oil in your kitchen

Method

  • Toast the toast
  • Halve the avocados πŸ₯‘, slice within their halves then scoop out with a spoon. Use any remaining avocado as a spread first, then fan the slices on top.
  • Arrange tomatoes as desired
  • Scatter with chilli and basil
  • Drizzle with oil and lime juice
  • Season with flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste