Yippee, school is back! Well actually, I lie. I did enjoy the holidays. I'm one of those parents that detests waking early (earlier than 7.30), and when it's holidays my husband allows me the sweet pleasure of sleeping in. However, when school is back I dread the alarm going off at 7.10am; I feel the need to wake up a few minutes before everyone else, just to enjoy a cup of tea before the rush begins.
Getting my clan fed is no easy task. I am finicky about what they have for breakfast, it needs to be something that will give them energy until their first break which will be about three hours away, and I understand that most of the important learning at school takes place in the morning. For this reason, I ensure my kids have a meal with adequate protein, complex carbohydrates and essential fats.
The next task is ensuring my kids have enough food in their lunchboxes to keep them satisfied during the day. Follow me on instagram, @vickytsoleridis for some pics of their lunchboxes. I'm not bento-crazed, star shaping sandwich making mother, gosh no. I'm into simple, tasty and nutritious foods. That's the key word - food. When it comes to snacks, I like to make my own so that I am aware of what I'm feeding my kids. Any ingredients with numbers, artificial colours, flavourings, preservatives are a complete no-no, and as far as I'm concerned, they are not food. It comes under the classification - rubbish - in my household. Sometimes my youngest, aged 5, will ask, "Mummy is this rubbish or food?” She understands from a young age that food is something her body recognises and knows how to metabolise and use for good in her body. Rubbish is a cocktail of chemicals and numbers that her body does not know how to use to better her brain, muscles, bones and immune system. These conversations should be had in all households. Children as young as 4 understand the difference, and if the conversation is made simple they will grasp the concept very quickly. By the time your child is pre-teen you will unlikely have to worry about them eating rubbish food for their rest of their lives. I do need to make something clear; I am by no means a martyr with food. I allow my kids to enjoy sweet and savoury treats. However, they understand what to put into our trolley at the supermarket. At parties, I allow them to choose what they want to eat. After all it is a party. They can choose all the chips and lollies they like, but as I watch them, something interesting happens. They have a little bit of rubbish and then go off and play - but as soon as the fruit and vegetables come out, they are happy to fill up on the good stuff. I am proud that they understand the importance of proper nutrition without obsessing about it. It's a fine balance, as I don't want to give them complexes or food disorders. But I am confident my kids look at me and think, well mum eats a lot (yes, I do eat a lot!), but she enjoys proper food so there's no need to obsess over it.
So, anyway… a week ago I did a write up for Essential Kids regarding lunchboxes (read it here) about lunchboxes... and from it came questions from concerned mothers – “What can you suggest for treats?” Here is a healthy sweet treat that is designed to keep your kids full and alert!
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup spelt flour (if you wish you can make this a gluten free alternative )
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 heaped Tbsp skyr (or full cream plain yogurt)
3 heaped Tbsp coconut oil - melted (it will be around 1/4-1/2 cup when melted)
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk (or if you prefer dairy free, choose your own nut milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional - these are for flavourings - juice of half a lemon + finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon at stage 2 OR
add finely grated apple at stage 2 OR 1/2 punnet raspberries/blueberries that you will add just before they go into the oven, stage 3.
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees and grease a madeleine tray
2. In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients
3. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients
4. Place about 1 Tbsp of batter into each mould, don't worry if they're not perfect, they will even out in the baking process. If you wish, at this stage, add 2-3 raspberries / blueberries to each batter then pop into the oven
5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until they go golden brown on the edges, remove from oven allow to sit for 10 mins then pop each cake out onto a cooling rack.
6. This batter makes for about 20 mini cakes, so you will have to repeat stage 4 until all the batter is used up.
NUT alternatives - so the hero of this meal is the nut meal as it gives it plenty of protein punch and essential minerals like calcium and magnesium as well as a healthy dose of vitamin E. Should you wish to avoid using nutmeal, feel free to use something like plain flour or a gluten free flour with protein powder. My favourite is NutraOrganics fremented protein, but you can use any brand you like. I opt for a flavourless one, so I am free to create my own flavours when I bake. However, instead of using 1 cup of protein powder, you will get a better result is you use 1 cup of spelt/gluten free flour and 1/2 cup protein powder. Alternatively, if you want something that has loads of magnesium, manganese and fibre, try 1/2 cup quinoa flour or amaranth flour.
Otherwise, if you want to stick with nut meals, try hazlenut meal or coconut flour for something different.
These keep really well in the freezer for a month - or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
For something fun, I melt carob and drizzle it over the top - if your kids are not into carob, a little dark chocolate is totally fine. Enjoy health nuts!