25 September 2013

Kinder Kitchen Top Tips on Shopping Smart

Kinder Kitchen Top Tips on Shopping Smart
Supermarkets are crafty. ‘2 for 1’ or ‘3 for 2’ deals make us think we are getting a good deal but more often than not we buy more than we actually need, often throwing items that are out of date away or eating double of something just because it’s in the cupboard and we think it was a bargain.
Below are some tips on how to save money on your weekly shop. A few involve a little preparation on your part but when you add up the yearly savings you’d make, you’d be surprised and keen to carry on!
1. Don’t be induced by ‘2 for 1’ or ‘3 for 2’ offers. Only buy what you really need on perishable products and the offers for items such as cleaning products and other non-perishables with a longish use by date.

2. Use-by vs best before.
  • A use-by date is used for perishable products such as meat, fish and fresh fruit and vegetables. I’d recommend to use these within the date timeframes to avoid food poising. Some fruit and vegetables tend to be ok for a couple of days after but be cautious. If meat or fish has been reduced, check that it can be frozen and place it in your freezer to use on a later date.
  • A best before date is found on frozen foods, tins, dried and other foods. This date is about the quality of the product not the safety. We throw so much food away so just be aware what you are throwing away as it may be still be perfectly ok to eat.
3. Before doing your shopping, take 5 minutes to go through your fridge and cupboards and list the meals you will be cooking that week
4. Don’t go shopping when you are hungry. You will buy more food than you actually need!
5. If you are only doing a small shop, use a basket and not a trolley as this way the weight of your shopping will stop you buying too much.
More tips to coming soon……

24 September 2013

Kinder Kitchen Top Tip - mealtime scheduling

Before having children, my life outside work was 'unscheduled.' I liked a certain routine during the week but weekends were very laissez-faire. I'd get up when I wanted, eat when I was hungry and stay up until the early hours. After the birth of my first child, I realised that I had to become very disciplined and my weekdays as well as my weekends began to follow my child's schedule. My eldest definitely thrives on routine although some children don't need it as much.

Now my children are a little older, weekends again are a little less routinized. However - one schedule that needs to be adhered to in my house is mealtime. Mood swings and general grouchiness start to invade the airwaves. I've often noticed on play dates, that once the children have been fed all arguments and snatching-of-toys dissipates as soon as tummies are full.

We all have different routines and ways of bringing up our children but when it comes to food, I really do believe that feeding your children at a regular time each day and not going too long inbetween meals and/or snacks does make for an easier life.

Below is my routine which really does work. I am not saying that you follow my times, but just stick to regular times that fit in with your family.

My mealtime schedule is:

Breakfast @ 07.30-08.00
Morning snack @ 10.30
Lunch @ 12.30 - 13.00
Afternoon snack @ 15.30
Dinner @ 17.30 - 18.00

It can be quite hard to stick to a schedule, and believe me it has taken me some time to get used to it but do give it a go if you can. You may just notice a real difference!


17 September 2013

Kinder Kitchen recipe - Pink salad delight

So as I mentioned yesterday, I have a kitchen full of amazing produce and for lunch today I made my delicious pink delight salad.

I just love beetroot. I know many people don't like it but for me there is nothing better than freshly boiled beetroot in a salad.

My children have not taken to beetroot yet but by eating this dish in front of my son, he took an interest (in the colour particularly) and asked me what I was eating. I served him just the rice with the quinoa and apple mixed in.

Anyway for all you adults out there needing a little pinkness in your lives (and beetroot loving children too) here is my recipe for my pink salad delight.


1/2 mug cooked brown rice
4 tbsp. cooked quinoa
4 radishes, sliced
3 small beetroot, cubed
1 apple, grated
3 tbsp. salad dressing (http://kinderkitchenrecipes.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/todays-nutritious-recipe-from-kinder_20.html)

I didn't add any, but some fresh parsley, chives or coriander would top this salad off perfectly.

  1. Cook the rice and quinoa (as per the instructions on the packet)
  2. Wash and slice the radishes, peel and cube the beetroot and grate the apple
  3. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well
  4. Eat on it's own or with some freshly fried salmon steak and corn on the cob. Yum!
Top Tip:

Over the summer and early autumn months I generally eat a salad daily. Making up a daily dressing can take time so I make enough to last me a whole week and keep it in the fridge. By keeping it in a recycled jam jar, you can just give it a good shake and pour when you need to use it.

16 September 2013

Kinder Kitchen Kid's Healthy Recipe - Kid Friendly Guacamole

It's sunshine and rain showers here in North London. It was also very cold here this morning and a new season is definitely upon us. After months of sunshine I thought I was going to miss the warm days and hazy evenings but actually I am ready to embrace autumn. Autumn is harvest time and along with produce spilling over from the summer months, there is an abundance of wonderfully fresh autumnal foods available to buy.

I brought peaches, plums, radishes, beetroot, sweetcorn, apples, Mediterranean grapes, aubergines, tomatoes, melons, peppers and avocados to name a few. My kitchen is full of colour from all the wonderful fruit and vegetables.

In my afterschool school class today we tasted a selection of the fruit that I bought today - including pomegranate seeds and honeydew melon. The kids also made my kids friendly guacamole. A few of the children had never tasted an avocado before and were a little hesitant but all but one tried it and liked it.

There are lots of different processes to making the guacamole such as squeezing the lime, chopping up the tomatoes into small cubes and mashing the avocado flesh with a fork. Here's the recipe for you to try at home:


2 very ripe avocados
1 large tomato
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp. olive oil
A little salt and pepper
1 tbsp. chopped coriander


1. On a board, chop the tomatoes up as small as possible
2. Cut the avocados in half, take out the stone and remove the flesh with a tablespoon. Place the avocado flesh into a bowl and mash them up with a fork
3. Now add the tomatoes, lime juice, olive oil, coriander, salt & pepper and mix well
4. Serve the guacamole with pitta bread, sliced carrots, peppers or for a treat some tortilla chips

14 September 2013

Portion control and letting children decide when enough is enough

I have read quite a few articles lately on how we should let our children tell us when they have had enough to eat. We should let them leave food on their plate and say well done for eating as much as they have. I have been guilty of spoon feeding my 5 year old the last bits of leftovers on her plate and these articles got me thinking.

I have always believed that babies were able to tell us they have had enough by refusing to open their mouths and pushing the spoon away - so why do I not still listen to my children now that they are that bit older and able to verbally communicate this with me? I must admit that some of the portions I serve my two are probably larger than they really need. They are both good eaters if not a little fussy at times. My younger one who turns 4 next week is the fussier of the two and I have therefore been a little more forceful in getting him to finish his food. He also had a tendency to wake up early the next morning if he had not had a big tea and my anticipation of another early wake up call probably contributed. My daughter on the other hand has always had a great appetite but I have still been spoon feeding her the last bit on her plate.

My mother and grandmother never liked to see food go to waste and we were always told to finish our plate of food before we could leave the table. I therefore also do not like seeing food go to waste.
Also, on a subconscious level, the thought of my children being hungry tugs at my maternal heart strings. On a rational level this is ludicrous. My children have never had a day without food like many millions of children throughout the world do on a regular basis.

I have a healthy appetite too but with raising levels of obesity and related diseases, I have decided to lessen the portions we all eat and allow my children to ask for seconds if they so decide. If they are still hungry when they go to bed maybe the following day I they will give them an extra potato and floret of broccoli.

A friend told me of a relative's philosophy. He lived in India and he lived till his mid 90s.

He said the key to a long life is:

At dinnertime, fill your tummy with 50% food, 25% water and 25% fresh air (by a leisurely after-dinner walk)

Sounds good to me. Now, I just need to find the time!

9 September 2013

Kinder Kitchen Cooking Tip - Pink Pasta

Although most children like pasta, there are some that don't or get bored by it. White pasta is also not as healthy as brown pasta due to processing. I am slowly getting my children used to whole wheat pasta as they still prefer white pasta. Babies and young children do not need as much fibre so white pasta is fine when they are really young.

A way of adding a healthy twist to pasta and giving it a great new colour is to use the water that you have boiled beetroot in. The old wives tale of drinking your spinach water is not one to be discarded. This not only adds some wonderful nutrients from the beetroot to the pasta but it also colours your pasta a wonderful shade of pink.

6 September 2013

Fish - Mega brain food

Homemade sesame coated fish fingers with sweet potato chips
Having just spent a week in Cornwall and eating the most wonderfully fresh fish, I have carried on at home and fish is making a very regular appearance on our dinning table.

My children love fish. Yes, I am lucky but here luck has had little to do with it. I made sure that my children ate fish from a very young age. As babies they ate fish mashed up with sweet potatoes, flaked up in a cheese sauce with leeks or in a fish pie.

Like most children they love their frozen fish fingers but I more often than not make my own homemade ones.

Many people are put off by fish because of the smell and because they are not sure how to cook it.

Fresh fish does not smell. It only starts to smell once it is going off. 

When buy whole fish,  look out for:
  • bright, clear eyes - dull-eyed fish can be safe to eat but are a couple of days old
  • does the fish look clean and metallic? - if it looks shiny and metallic this is means that the fish is fresh
  • a pungent smell - fresh fish should not have a strong smell

When buying fish fillets, look out for:
  • vibrant flesh - a fish's colour begins to fade with age and the skin should look shiny and metallic
  • no smell - again the fish should not have a strong smell
  • clear liquid - if the liquid on the fish is milky, this is the first stage of decay
If you are worried about bones, you could get the fish monger to fillet it for you and you could feed your kids the tail end of a fillet of fish as there are generally less and smaller bones that end. Also, there are a number of fish that do not contain hard bones:
  • whiting
  • dover/lemon sole
  • tilapia
In my opinion, fish is the easiest food to cook. It hardly takes any time and is very versatile.

I find poaching the easiest way to cook fish. In a pan, pour some milk and add a few pepper corns and a bay leaf. Lay the fillet of fish gently into the milk (ensuring its covered) and on a low heat, simmer the milk. The fillet, depending on its thickness will cook with 5 minutes of the milk simmering.

To fry a fillet, place some oil or butter into a saucepan on a medium. Taking a salmon steak here as an example, lay the steak into the pan skin-side down and fry for around 3 minutes or until you can see the flesh on the bottom turning lighter in colour towards the middle of the steak. Flip over carefully and fry for a further minute. Now turn off the heat and allow it to rest in the pan for 5 minutes with a lid on. It will slowly carry on cooking and have time to rest resulting in all the juices collecting in the pan.

Fish can be very costly. I generally buy fish that is on special offer or that is not so well known. Cod  and haddock generally are much more expensive but always look out for other white fish that can cost up to half the price as the aforementioned. Fish with it's skin on is also cheaper.

Fish is such a great food and tastes mighty good on it's own or covered in sauces and marinades.

Here are some links to some old posts of mine containing this wonderful food for the brain.

mash with fish and sweetcorn

easy fishcake fingers

homemade fish fingers


1 September 2013

Foodies delight - the jewels of England's countryside

I am back in London after a week in Cornwall and a long weekend in Suffolk. I am rested and well fed. I have eaten so well over the last couple of weeks and so have my children. With all the sun and good food their trousers have become too short on both of them.

Living in London makes me sometimes forget how simple food can be as we have such an array of different ingredients and influences that I love to use. Being out in the countryside or by the sea where farm shops primarily sell local produce helped me get back to the real basics of cooking. Suffolk lamb was some of the best I'd ever tasted - even comparable to the lamb feeding from the herb filled hillsides of Sardinia. On a couple of coastal walks I saw happy cows grazing on the green grass nourished from the sea's morning dew. With every mouthful of the sirloin steak I ate I thought of those cows and thanked them for providing me with such tender delicious meat - although the farmers have something to do with that too.

My children also became a little more adventurous. After years of sitting down with us at the dinning table and watching us eat all and sundry my daughter tried scallops and langoustine tails. On the way back home at a pit stop off the M4 she tried sushi too. This has made me so happy because I have never pushed her into eating anything as her diet has been varied. Now however after years of my influence she is becoming more adventurous. My son too ate some carrots (he has been much more fussy) and tried some steak. He is only three so he has a couple more years watching us eat before his taste buds start to prompt him to become a little more adventurous.

The school term is about to start and so are my cookery classes. I can't wait to start teaching children the basics of cooking again and imparting my love of food to them.