Super Kale Muffins

Bean and I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately. He simply loves ‘posting’ the various ingredients into the mixing bowl, mixing it all together and, of course, tasting all the little titbits along the way. Not only is this a great sensory play activity for him, it creates a special bonding time for both of us and I get to make healthy meals and snacks for my Little.

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In an effort to impart a healthy lifestyle onto Bean, I have been including as many superfoods as possible into his diet, and today’s recipe includes Kale & Chia seeds. Here are the benefits:

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence, containing iron, vitamins K, A & C, magnesium, potassium & calcium, to name a few. This superfood is also high in fibre and has a variety of antioxidants.

Chia seeds are high in fibre, omega 3 fatty acids (hooray for brain development), protein, antioxidants and other micronutrients.

Kale, Feta & Chia Savoury Muffin Recipe

I based this recipe on my ‘3 Ingredient Bread’ recipe (get it here).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • ¼ cup sugar or xylitol
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2  cups of packed kale leaves (trim the outer leaves off the hard centre stem)
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 2 tbs chia seeds

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a regular muffin tin (I like using coconut oil for this).
  3. Blend the kale leaves in a food processor until very finely chopped.
  4. Sift the flour, salt and chia seeds into a mixing bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar/xylitol and egg until mixed and add the buttermilk. Mix again.
  6. Add the kale to the wet mixture.
  7. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  8. Spoon equal amounts of the dough into the muffin tin.
  9. Place the tin into the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
  10. To test whether the muffins are baked, poke a skewer, knife or toothpick into the centre of a muffin – if it comes out clean (i.e. no sticky dough) then it’s in ready.
  11. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

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These savoury muffins freeze very well. Once defrosted, simply place them into the oven for a few minutes to crisp up before eating.

They are delicious with some butter or cheese spread.

Enjoy!

 

5 Tips to Beat Sleep Deprivation

If there is one thing that we as a human race should invent, it has to be a system to store sleep. We live in a world filled with technological geniuses who create new inventions almost daily and yet no one has been able to find a scientific solution to the very common problem of sleep deprivation, except, of course, to tell us to sleep more. But as every parent knows, sleep is one luxury that is in very low supply.

This weekend, for example, we went on a much-anticipated date night. When we got home, tired and ready for bed, Bean was wide awake. With difficulty, he finally fell asleep around 2 am, only to wake up again at 6 am. Now, how absolutely amazing would it have been if we could have simply tapped into a supply of stored sleep, instead of getting through our day like a pair of zombies?

Seeing as our scientific community has, however, let us down in this department, I have put together a list of 5 tips to help every parent deal with the continuous lack of sleep.

  1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself

I get it, you are tired. Being a parent means that you probably didn’t get enough sleep last night, or the night before, or even the night before that, but wallowing in a sea of self-pity will only make the situation worse and bring unnecessary negativity into your life and home.

These sleep-deprived days are exhausting, but you need to ‘man up’ as they say, make the best of the day ahead and trust that one day you will sleep again.

  1. Share the load

Take the night and early morning shifts in turns, ask someone to watch your child while you have an afternoon nap (even a 15-minute power nap can work wonders) or indulge in a sneaky snooze while your child naps (the dishes can wait).

If you have no one to share the sleep-deprivation-load with, take a couple of minutes out of every day to simply be. Sit down somewhere alone and just breathe, centre yourself. I often have an extra-long shower in the morning and most of this time is spent simply standing still, letting the water wash over me. It is the only time I have to just be and I relish it.

  1. Ditch the Caffeine & Eat Healthily

Yes, I know, ditching caffeine sounds counterintuitive – coffee is what makes me get through most mornings as well. The good news is that you do not have to give it up altogether, simply in the afternoons and evenings. Believe it or not, sleep is the best cure for sleep deprivation (insert sarcastic wink here) and the best way to guarantee enough sleep is to sleep when your child is sleeping. And that means going to bed early. Having too much caffeine during the day will prevent you from doing this.

Our body gives back what we put into it and the best way to refuel those tired old bones is to eat good food. I can feel the negative effects on my body when I have over-indulged in the bad stuff (specifically food high in preservatives, trans fats, colourants and sugars). I therefore try and stick to a healthy, natural diet, including as many super foods as possible, and it has had a huge impact on my daily energy levels.

  1. Exercise

The benefits of exercise have been well-documented so I am not going to list them all here (you are all aware of them), but I will note that exercise will make any tired body and mind feel refreshed and awake. I often go for early morning walks with Bean (even when I am really tired) and although it feels like a drag in the beginning, those endorphins soon kick in, making me feel fantastic, refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

If you do not have the means or the time to go to the gym or for a long walk, create your own 15-minute exercise circuit at home. You do not need a lot of space or time for this and best of all, your littles can join in on the fun.

  1. Limit screen time before bed

A while ago, I got into the habit of checking my phone, scrolling through all my social media feeds, before going to bed. Not only did this prevent me from going to sleep at a decent time, it often woke me up more when I saw something interesting. I soon realised that this ‘always-on’ mentality is encroaching on my much-needed sleep time, so I stopped it. Now, I read a book: it allows me to escape, to switch off from my daily troubles and to fall asleep peacefully.

A bedroom is supposed to be a sanctity for rest, so remove all screens from your room and invest in an alarm clock. Allow our mind to switch off properly before going to bed.

Maybe one day, we really will have a way in which we can store sleep. For now, the good news is that as our bodies get accustomed to less sleep, we have the opportunity to experience more of our daily lives and our kids in the limited time we have.

3 Ingredient Homemade Bread

This is such a quick, easy and versatile recipe for freshly baked bread, ideal for a picnic, a ‘braai’ or barbeque or simply because it’s so tasty and you feel like some bread. There is nothing better than biting into a warm slice of freshly baked bread, that delicious just-baked smell still wafting through the air, after all.

The base for the bread is really simple and the ‘flavour’ options are endless. I love making a raisin loaf if I feel like something sweeter, or a sweetcorn and cheese loaf for something a little more savoury. Making a kale and feta loaf is a great way to sneak in those extra greens into your child’s diet (with the added benefit of being able to serve up green bread).

I use the same recipe for savoury muffins as these are convenient to freeze and reheat as a quick meal or snack for Bean. Note: muffins only require 20 minutes in the oven. See recipe for Super Kale Muffins here.

Basic Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Grease a regular sized bread tin (I like using coconut oil for this)
  3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl
  4. Add the egg and buttermilk and mix well
  5. Pour the mixture into the bread tin
  6. Place the tin into the oven and bake for approximately 75 minutes
  7. To test whether the bread is baked, poke a skewer, knife or toothpick into the centre of the bread – if it comes out clean (i.e. no sticky dough) then the bread in ready
  8. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container

Raisin Loaf

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Ingredients:

  • Same ingredients as listed above
  • ½ cup sugar or xylitol
  • 1 cup raisins

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Grease a regular sized bread tin (I like using coconut oil for this)
  3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar/xylitol
  4. Add the egg, buttermilk & raisins and mix well
  5. Pour the mixture into the bread tin
  6. Place the tin into the oven and bake for approximately 75 minutes
  7. To test whether the bread is baked, poke a skewer, knife or toothpick into the centre of the bread – if it comes out clean (i.e. no sticky dough) then the bread in ready
  8. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container

Sweetcorn and Cheese Loaf

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Ingredients

  • Same ingredients as listed above
  • ¼ cup sugar or xylitol
  • 1 tin sweetcorn kernels (drained well)
  • 2 cups grated cheese (I use Cheddar but any hard cheese will do)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Grease a regular sized bread tin (I like using coconut oil for this)
  3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar/xylitol
  4. Add the egg, buttermilk, corn & cheese and mix well
  5. Pour the mixture into the bread tin
  6. Place the tin into the oven and bake for approximately 75 minutes
  7. To test whether the bread is baked, poke a skewer, knife or toothpick into the centre of the bread – if it comes out clean (i.e. no sticky dough), then the bread in ready
  8. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container

Enjoy!

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When Kids are Mean

The other day we were sitting in the doctor’s waiting room and Bean was busy exploring, when a mother with her two sons walked in. The younger of the two must have been around 3 or 4 and my 16 month old took a liking to him immediately. He promptly grabbed a children’s book (the first thing he could grab), ran up to the boy with the biggest grin on his face, saying “oooh ooh ooooh” and excitedly tried to give him the book. My heart almost exploded with pride – my little Bean was trying to make a friend! The boy, however, did not think this as cute and promptly waved Bean away. Not in a rude way, but rather, in a confused, ‘I did not expect this boy charging up to me as I was peacefully following my mom into this strange room’ kind of way. My heart sank, but instead of interfering, I decided to watch what would happen next. A little confused by the rejection, Bean tried to make contact again and followed the boy around for a good couple of minutes. The boy however simply did not want to play and after a while Bean gave up, walked over to me with his thumb in his mouth and climbed into my lap.

A few days later, we went to friends for lunch. Another couple and their daughter, who is a few months older than Bean, were also there. Although this girl was initially quite sweet to Bean, something made her angry and she became mean, once purposefully pushing him into a wall and another time yanking at his hair, hard.

I interfered both times: the first time, to take Bean out of the situation and to console my hysterical child, and the second time to calmly tell the girl that she must please be gentle with other kids. Her mom of course also got involved and the rest of the afternoon went by rather peacefully, everyone having a good time.

This scenario reminded me of yet another incident, when we were at a playgroup and one of the older kids decided it was a good idea to throw balls at Bean’s head. That day, I kept quiet, not wanting to reprimand someone else’s child. In retrospect, however, I should have said something. Not something mean, or derogatory, but something firm and gentle. Just a simple, ‘balls are not for throwing at other people’s heads, why don’t we kick the ball instead’.

What upset me the most about all the incidents described above was not that the kids were mean or shy or indifferent, but rather, that Bean could not understand why they were acting the way they were. He could not understand that the child in the first incident was probably just a little bit shy, or a bit confused as to why he was being bombarded with a book. He could not understand that the little girl was probably feeling threatened or that the older boy was probably simply seeing what would happen if he threw a ball at someone’s head.

Being a mom, I want to protect my Bean from indifferent and mean people, I want to protect him from heart ache and I wish there was a way in which I could always protect him from the very many negative aspects of this world. But reality is, I can’t.

We as parents set the example for our children and although I do believe that children need to learn to fight their own battles, they learn how to act, react, and how they fight these battles, from us. By saying something, standing up for my son, I want to teach and encourage my child to stand up for himself. Not in a mean way, but in a fair, firm and gentle way. I want to teach my child to have enough self confidence that he will not allow himself to be bullied, I want to teach him enough empathy to stand up for those who are and I want to instill enough discipline in him not to become the bully himself.

As the Dalai Lama so poignantly said, “It is vital that when educating our children’s brains, we do not neglect to educate their hearts by nurturing their compassionate nature”.

 

Yummy Cheesy Scones

This recipe is based on my mother-in-law’s fail proof, easy-to-make recipe for scones. I simply changed the oil type and added in some cheese for flavour, so that Bean can eat them on their own as a snack or for breakfast. The scones take about 30 minutes to make and bake, so they are ideal for busy-body, on-the-go moms like myself and they are delicious: so much cheesy goodness! Best of all, this recipe has no sugar in it – so it is perfect for toddlers.

Recipe makes 6 scones.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • extra coconut oil
  • ¾ cup milk (estimate – see method below)
  • ½ cup grated cheese (cheddar or gouda)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C
  • Spread a thin layer of the extra coconut oil into the muffin tray
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and cheese in a mixing bowl
  • In a cup, add the coconut oil and the egg (beaten)
  • Top up the egg and coconut oil mixture with milk so that the combined mixture measures 1 cup.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently mix using a knife (this is important as the success of a well baked scone lies in the fact that the dough is not overworked).
  • Place equal amounts of dough into the muffin tray (although this is not the traditional way of baking scones, it does make the baking process a lot easier).
  • Place the tray into the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Once baked, remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.

They are great on their own or with jam and cream.

Enjoy and let me know how yours turned out!