Posts tagged kids

‘Yes!’ excited children, ‘you CAN have ice-cream for breakfast!’

My kids love that Optus ad on the TV – the one where Josh Thomas is saying ‘yes’ all the time. I’ve got to assume it’s because it’s so lovely to consider a land where you get a ‘yes’ answer to everything you want.

A few years ago in parenting land, it was emphasised often how important is was to always say ‘yes’ to your children. It was NEVER ok to say ‘no’. I can’t even remember why it is now, I think something to do with exploration and self-esteem and creative play. When they said, “I want lollies.” I’d say, “yes, great idea, but right now we’re going to have some fruit.” And in the shop they’d say, “give me the toy,” and I’d say, “yes, I agree that this toy is lovely, what a great choice you’ve made, but right now we’re going to pop it back on the shelf so that it’s ready for some other child.”

I’m exhausted just remembering it.

Fair to say that my kids are pretty familiar with the word ‘no’ these days and I genuinely can’t remember at what stage that shift occurred. Now they only ask if they think there’s a reasonable chance that I’d say yes, which is what makes this breakfast dish so fab. They’d never ever ask for ice-cream at breakfast time (they only really eat it at Nanna’s house), so imagine their excitement when I offer them a bowl of it.

This breakfast has been a bit of a lifesaver over winter as it’s a power punch of vitamins first thing in the day. It’s kept the sniffles at bay and lifted their spirit and energy levels on quite a few mornings. And eating ice-cream on a cold winter’s morning? Well, they’re so damn excited by this recipe that it’s never been an issue. Although I have been waiting for almost-Spring to share it, figuring that other children might be more sensible than mine.

vegie smugglers breakfast ice cream

‘Yes!’ to a breakfast treat that also packs in nutrition.

Breakfast Ice-cream

To get an ‘ice-cream’ consistency, either the berries or banana (or both) need to be frozen – this winter I’ve just been using regular bananas and frozen berries – play around and see what consistency your kids prefer.

1 banana
1 cup frozen berries
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup spinach leaves (I grow silverbeet and English spinach in my Vegepod and use whichever is available)
1/4 cup milk (soy or rice also both work)
1 tbsp C Berry Blast powder – This is an organic vitamin C powder by NutraOrganics. I love their products and am happy to support my friend Vanessa’s small family business.

Pop everything into a blender or mini-food processor and blitz until it’s a consistency to suit your family.

Serves 2-3 kids.


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Beautiful school holiday baking boredom busters…

What do you think, enough alliteration for one headline? After an intense term of school, my brain has started to dissolve now we’ve hit the school holidays! Mainly I can’t believe that half the year has gone already.

With the wind being chilly I’m keen to stay indoors a bit, but I’m keen to keep the kids off screens too, so the textas are out, the old toy boxes are down from the top of the cupboards and my cooking-shy kids are even venturing into the warm kitchen. You’re not going to see my kids on Junior Masterchef anytime soon, so to pique their interest, we resort to baking treats. At least when they’re made at home we know the ingredients are quality AND they do learn a few kitchen skills along the way.

Here’s some suggestions of things you might like to whip up with your little lovelies (click to link to the recipe)…

Traditional American-style pancakes.

Traditional American-style pancakes.

...awwwwww, transported straight to Queensland with these pineapple cakes.

…awwwwww, transported straight to Queensland with these pineapple cakes.

fruit chocolate slice recipe

Chocolate and butter… it must be school holidays!

Delicious bliss balls, with a bit of power-nutrition packed in.

Delicious bliss balls, with a bit of power-nutrition packed in.


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Do your kids love each other?

Love is all around, just not easily spoken about.

Love is all around, just not easily spoken about.

Possibly suffering from an overactive fourth (heart) chakra the other night, I decided it was time for the kids to express their love for each other.

Earlier in the day it had occurred to me that while I am effusive in my gushing love for them both, they never tell each other any of their feelings other than “you’re hurting me,” or even the odd “I hate you.”

Cosied up on my bed after bathtime, we snuggled away and I listed through my usual love chatter. It goes like this….
“Do you know how much I love you?”
“No” they say in unison.
“I love you more than all the trees in the world.”
“Aaawwww” they say.
“No! Wait! I love you more than all the leaves on all the trees in the world.”
“Awwwww” they say.
“No! Wait! I love you more than all the trees and leaves and bugs on those leaves and bits of dirt that those trees grow in.”
“Awwwww” they say. And it doesn’t matter the area we’re covering (we’ve quantity surveyed most areas of matter over the years), their answer is always the same… “I love you all that PLUS infinity.”
And I say, “I love you all that PLUS infinity PLUS one.”

And then we skew off into a discussion of theoretical mathematics and things descend into general confusion.

But the other night I finished up by saying, “Miss Fruitarian. Do you love Mr Meat & Potatoes?”
“Yes” she said.
“Well then, you should tell him.”
“I love you sometimes… Mr M&P”.

Mr M&P smirked his way through that exchange, but then it was his turn.

“Mr Meat & Potatoes, do you love Miss Fruitarian?”
“So you should tell her. It’s important to tell people that you love them.”
He actually giggled before spitting out, “I love you Miss F, when you’re not being annoying.”

Being a MASSIVE tell-people-you-love-them type (don’t come too close after I’ve had a few wines), I was slightly appalled at how difficult they found this simple task.

I’m vowing to enforce more of a love-in so that they can share positive feelings naturally and without me around.

So now I’m curious. Do you tell your siblings that you love them? And do your kids comfortably express love for each other?

Here’s something else they do both love…

Full of love (and tuna, egg & vegies)

Full of love (and tuna, egg & vegies)

Tuna, egg & vegie pastry pockets

180g can tuna in springwater, drained, flaked
2 boiled eggs, peeled, mashed
1 small carrot, grated
Handful green beans, ends removed and finely sliced
1/2 cup spinach leaves (english spinach or silverbeet), very finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh herbs, finely chopped (dill, chives, parsley are all good), optional
1 cup firmly packed grated cheese
5 sheets store-bought puff pastry
1 egg, whisked, for sticking and glazing

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Separate out your sheets of frozen pastry and leave to thaw.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tuna, eggs, carrot, beans, spinach, herbs and cheese.

Either cut each of your pastry sheets into four squares, or go all fancy and use a small saucer to help you cut out four circles. Divide the tuna mix between each of the 20 bits of pastry (ends up being about 2 tbsp per piece).

Use a pastry brush to spread some egg mix over half the circle edge. Ease over the pastry. Seal with your fingers then press down on the edges with a fork to secure them. Pop onto your baking trays. Brush with extra egg.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden.

Makes 20

Toddler Recipes: What (and how) to feed fussy eaters

Advice on how to get your toddler eating a wide variety of vegetables with 26 clever recipes that smuggle the healthy ingredients in.

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4-ingredient frozen yoghurt

Do your kids fight? Mine do, in fact, they can manage to find an argument in pretty much every circumstance. This week, with a bit of welcome rainfall, we’ve been focusing all our squabbles on THE UMBRELLA.

Rain has been such a rare event this summer that as we were dashing out the door the other day, I couldn’t find an umbrella each, so the two kids had to ‘work together’ (my quote) and use the one large umbrella, which theoretically is more than large enough to shelter them both.

You’ll probably not be shocked to hear that so far with this system we end up at our final destination with someone dry & victorious and someone soggy & bitterly wronged. ‘Working together’ will have to wait for another week, apparently.

Working together perfectly are the four ingredients in this ‘frozen yoghurt’. And it’s a simple blitz & chill which takes about 2 minutes to make. Since the fruit content is high, it freezes hard, so remember to pop it out of the freezer a half hour before you want to eat to ensure it’s a scoopable consistency.

So pretty!

So pretty!

Fruity Frozen Yoghurt

1 banana, frozen, peeled, roughly sliced
½ pear, peeled, roughly diced
½ cup frozen berries
½ cup vanilla yoghurt

Pop all your ingredients into the bowl of a blender (or pop them into a large sturdy jug and use your stick blender). Blitz until smooth. At this stage you have a delicious berry smoothie, but if you pour it into a container and freeze for an hour or so, it will harden more and you’ll be able to serve scoops of delicious frozen yoghurt.

Serves 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS

PS: this is the perfect recipe to pop in some Superfoodz for kids “C Berry Blast”, for a bit of added nutritional oomph!

C Berry Blast – 200g



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Holiday treat – rocky road

Last week I promised chocolate. Being a woman of my word, here’s a fab little chocolate treat just in time for the school holidays.

Cooking with the kids can be a fun educational way to spend a couple of hours together. If your kids aren’t naturally inclined towards the kitchen (like mine), then the best way to get them involved is to cook treats. Unlike the marble cake or chocolate slice from previous holiday posts, this recipe has the advantage that it’s a no-oven winner, which means that you’ll have the recipe wrapped up before anyone can stutter “I’m bored” or “what time can I play PS3?”.

And unlike those showy-offy sponges or uber-posh macarons, rocky road’s charm is in it’s randomness. Each piece is special, just a little bit ugly and best of all you can’t really get it wrong, which all appeals to a down-to-earth lass like myself.

Bumpy and imperfect, just like life.

Bumpy and imperfect, just like life.

Rocky Road

4 full cups of chunks –choose any or all of…
Marshmallows, cranberries, goji berries, sultanas, currants, dried strawberries or pears, shredded coconut, nuts (peanuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamias) turkish delight, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas
200g block dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tbsp golden syrup
25g butter
¾ cup dark chocolate melts (or more dark chocolate, roughly chopped)

Line a 18x28cm slice tray with baking paper.

Mix your choice of chunks in a large bowl. Place the 200g chocolate, syrup and butter into a small saucepan over gentle heat and stir to melt. Remove from heat, tip in the extra chocolate (I like melts, since they quickly stick into the mix, but they’ll stay chunky enough that you’ll get good chocolate chunks through the finished mix). Pour into the dry ingredients. Combine well, tip into the tray and refrigerate.


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The best vegie-laden toddler food

Got one of those delightful little creatures between 18 months and 4? Ahhh, aren’t they great! So fiesty, so confident, so able to share their feelings in a considerate and thoughtful way. Or not. Perhaps your lovelies are more like mine, kind of complaining and crying a lot of the time, especially at dinnertime when apparently you are trying to feed them POISON. But no longer! Here’s some food that saved my sanity during their toddler years.

Seriously though, if you can find a few healthy things that they like to eat, you can sneak in some vegies and improve their nutrition. It’s amazing what a difference it can make to their behaviour.

Salmon Pikelets

Try the salmon pikelets (easy to hold and munch)

vegie smugglers pork fennel apple sausage rolls

Sausage rolls.

Start simple. Here.

Home made tinned spaghetti.

Tuna bites recipes smuggles zucchini

Salmon & zucchini bites.

Lamb and feta meatballs

Lamb & feta meatballs, with pasta.

Will your toddler eat these? I’m always keen to know what works in other people’s households. Make sure you get in touch and let me know.

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Yule be right – the shortest day is almost done

About 15 years ago I got really interested in Wicca. I was living in London and watching the seasons swing by. It was pretty fascinating to visit some pagan sites and become a bit in tune with nature. It made SENSE to me in a way that Christianity never has.

Of course this crazy new concept called the internet was in its infancy, so I did heaps of my research in BOOKS, with helpful chapters like “How to find a coven” and “Why were witches persecuted?”. Needless to say I never did find a coven and coming back to Australia, with the opposing seasons, it all got a bit confusing and topsy turvy.

Northern Hemisphere paganism definitely fits more nicely into the calendar year. In June, when sunk in the depths of winter depression, I always think how nice an upcoming Christmas (or ‘yule’ if you’re a witch) celebration would be. I could really use something cheery, with presents and family and food. There’s not really any need for it here in December – such an overload of good times!

For me, reaching the winter solstice is an annual milestone. I like to quietly note it. I’m thinking of including the kids in a little candle lighting ceremony this year. The tradition is to spend a minute or so in the dark, contemplating the darkest day of the year. Then light just one candle, to symbolise life being reborn (sorry, does that sound too witchy?).

At the moment week 8 tiredness has combined with winter illness to transform my children into feral creatures, so it’ll be nice to force them into stillness. Although I strongly suspect my meaningful moment will be interspersed with Mr M&P doing a fart noise, then Miss F setting half the kitchen on fire. They’re just a bit crazy like that right now.

But if we make it through, I’ll finish off with a simple dinner of celebration. You might want to too. Turkey, pork and traditional ‘Christmas’ foods are good. And finish with a dessert that pays tribute to the simple seasonality of life, like these baked apples.

Symbolic, easy and most importantly, delicious.

Baked apples

For each small/medium apple, you will need…

1 tbsp currants
6 hazelnuts (or 2 tsp hazelnut meal)
2 walnuts
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp Amaretto liqueur or brandy would also be nice (you may want to leave this out of the kid’s ones)
1 tsp treacle

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Core the apple. Slice around the circumference to avoid it bursting during cooking. Place it in a baking tray (I use a loaf tin lined with baking paper).

Mix all of the other ingredients together and fill up the empty centres. Drizzle some water (about a 1/4 cup should do) in the tray to help them cook.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until soft. Serve with icecream.


PS My husband is constantly telling me that if I want my biz & blog to be more successful, then I need to self promote more. He says I need photos of myself everywhere. But I HATE having my photo taken. So I’m compromising with my Winter-solstice, self-portrait.

Self portrait (before I light the candle).

Happy solstice to all!

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Supermarket fun

The fabulous Parent’s Jury got in touch recently, asking me to take part in an upcoming #KidsSuperSnaps campaign. From July 18-24 you’re invited to hand your camera to the kids and let them snap what they see at their local supermarket. Then you can tweet (hashtag #kidssupersnaps) or upload your images at the Parent’s Jury website. It’s part of their initiative to encourage supermarkets to make 50% of checkouts lolly-free zones and also to start a general discussion about how supermarkets target the kids.

Mr M&P recently reported that he wants to be a photographer when he grows up, so he was SUPER excited when I handed him my phone and told him he could go crazy. It was REALLY interesting. I have to say, he was just as happy shooting the fruit & veg (since that’s where we started) as the junk, and being a meat man he veered off quickly to his beloved butchery section and took most of his shots there.

At my supermarket right next door to the meat is the confectionery section and all those shiny wrappers proved irresistable to my budding artist. But by the end of that aisle he was bored and gave the camera back to me. Hmmmmmm.

Ever wonder why it is that supermarket aisles are placed the way they are? There’s a fantastic article all about it here. Who knew that “Counter-clockwise shoppers spend, on average, $2 more per trip, than do clockwise shoppers”. Perhaps we’re dizzier travelling that way? And all this time I thought I was a ‘smart’ shopper who zipped around the edges of the supermarket, darting down aisles to grab stuff, but actually, I’m entirely regular – that’s actually how the bulk of us shop. I’m gonna start watching folks more in the future to see if this is all true.

Anyway, it was a fun thing to do and the most peaceful trip in a while. Of course I only had one child with me, so there was no squabbling for the camera.

For me, this exercise emphasised a couple of points…

1. Kids look at whatever you’re looking at. So while we walk down the confectionery aisle (the breakfast cereal is on the other side), my kids don’t fixate on the lollies since they know that I’m not going to be buying any.

2. Supermarkets are full of all sorts of stuff and teaching the kids how to negotiate through good and bad food choices is essential if you want to raise healthy adults.

3. Kids have a short attention spans. Strategic shopping is best when you’ve got the kids with you. But you all already know this and I’m sure, like me, whenever possible, you leave the kids elsewhere when you need to do a large shop.

But if you do have to take them with you, then I reckon a visit with the camera is a pretty fun idea.

Here’s how we went…

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Get the machines to do the work (cause I’m guessing you’re pretty busy)

The MACHINES will do my work!

Have you noticed a bit less Vegie Smugglers chatter lately? I’ve been a bit scarce, having just started back into magazine land, working on a 6 month, part-time contract. A two-day a week job doesn’t come along every day, and I would have been an idiot to say no. I should be able to do it and keep VS running as well, with no discernable difference to you guys (maybe a few more spelling miztakes).

Heading back into the traditional workforce means that my CV gets updated, there’s enough cash to get the gutters fixed, the kids finally get to join their friends at after-school care and I’m plonked back into the time-poor, stressed, parenting cycle.

I used to work three days a week, so two should be easy, right? Sigh. I’m slowly getting back into the swing of it, but getting everyone out of the house by 7am is stinging a little.

At least the kids are a bit older now and night-times aren’t the disaster zones that they used to be. There’s nothing quite as harrowing as picking up toddlers at 6pm (lets not even discuss how bad the guilt levels are when your child is the last one to be collected), getting them home (singing songs the whole way, so they don’t fall asleep in the car), washed (mid-tantrum) and somehow fed (banana, anyone?). These days I have a bit more time before their behaviour turns rancid, but without a hot, daycare-supplied lunch, I’m more on the hook for providing a decent dinner each night.

So I’m turning to my fabulous kitchen machines to help me out. I’ve just bought a slow-cooker (I never had the space to store one before I moved to a house) and so far I’ve made beef stew, Italian casserole, pulled pork, chicken mole and poached pears! I need to tweak these recipes, but will try to post one or two of the best soon. And I’ve had my rice cooker working overtime. With my love of rice, I’ve always found this gadget to be extremely worthwhile. I’ve got a slightly fancy one with a sauté function. If you do too, then HOORAY, this recipe is especially for you (although you can still make it without)…

vegie smugglers cauliflower and cashew pilaf

Pilaf. Fun to say and good to eat.

Cauliflower and cashew pilaf

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, finely chopped into tiny bits
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods (give them a smash with the back of a knife)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
3/4 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1/3 cup sultanas
2/3 cup cashews, roughly chopped

Heat oil in the rice cooker (on the sauté function, if it has one). Add the onion, stir then cover for two minutes. Add the cauliflower and spices; stir then cover for another two minutes.

Add in the rinsed, drained rice and the stock. Stir well, cover and leave the cooker to do its thing on the regular cook setting.

Once done, add in the carrot, sultanas and cashews, mix and leave on the warm setting for 5-10 minutes.

Cook this the day before work (cool quickly and refrigerate), and then you can reheat it (topped with frozen peas) and fry up a couple of cutlets to pop on top. Delish!

*NO RICE COOKER? Cook everything in a saucepan, as described. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer until the rice has absorbed the liquid & is tender.


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When did kids turn into such monsters?

Who else is volunteering at school these days?

With more time on my hands, I’ve put my name down for all sorts of things around school this year – reading groups being one of them. It’s proving to be an… um…. interesting experience.

Each Monday by 10am, I stumble out of the kindy room, slightly shell-shocked and desperately needing a cup of tea and a lay down.

I know naughty kids have always existed, but it does seem as though there are so MANY of them these days. Admittedly, the boisterous behaviour seems to have settled down by year 2 (I do reading with them another day), but the kindy kids are BLOWING MY MIND. Today, a boy was hitting me. I asked him to settle down, did all the ‘good’ parenting strategies, then ended up just wanting to smack him. I pointed out that he should be showing his best behaviour when there’s a guest in the classroom. “You’re not a guest, you’re just a mum”.

When and HOW did five year olds get so rude and disobedient?

I’d like to think it’s good parenting that has seen my kids grow up as lovely little people. But I’m not that smug and suspect that good luck has had quite a bit to do with it. Although I do maintain that good nutrition plays a major role. I’d love to know what these revolting little kids have eaten for breakfast – they just seem so out of control.

Afterwards, a mum of 3 and I debriefed. Both of us remember being incredibly awed and respectful of parents (our own and others). We decided that if we could pinpoint the moment, or the social change or value shift that altered this, we’d make a fortune. So what do you think it is? What has created this new normal of fearless kids who lack respect and are almost uncontrollable?

And PS, teachers, I love you ALL. You are all saints, and I thank you for your commitment to shaping the next generation. It’s astonishingly hard work.

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