Rethink Breakfast Cereals

Rethink Breakfast Cereals

Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #8

So you’ve all heard about the origins of Kellogg’s corn flakes right? No? Mwahahaha! You’re in for a treat then. Dr Kellogg was a Seventh Day Adventist who believed that “Neither plague, nor war, nor small-pox have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism. Such a victim dies literally by his own hand.”

Yep, to cut a long story short, Dr Kellogg developed corn flakes to cure the life and soul destroying effects of masturbstion!

Quackery as it sounds though, he had a point. No! Not that having a sex drive is bad! In fact, having a healthy libido is a key sign that your health is generally doing ok. If your health is under par then your body won’t necessarily want to encourage behaviour that might end in pregnancy.  His point that cereals reduce libido though? That one. That’s the point I’d like to expand on. 

Until Kellogg began promoting his anti-libido cereals at the turn of the 20th century, western breakfast eaters were fueling themselves with either meat and eggs or some kind of porridge. Until the misinformed diet police started getting their knickers in a twist over fatty breakfasts we were breakfasting on just the right stuff for good energy and, yes, a healthy libido! Here’s why: cholesterol and saturated fats are vital components of all hormone production! And having a healthy sex drive is reliant on your body being able to synthesise sex hormones, namely testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone, oxytocin and vasopressin. If Dr Kellogg wanted to reduce sex drive then restricting the ingredients of traditional breakfast fare was an effective measure!

And if you aren’t convinced by the whole libido argument. How about breakfast cereals messing up your stress hormone cycles? Starting your day with a carbohydrate based breakfast causes your blood sugar levels to rise, which in turn increases your insulin production. Both of which interfere with your natural daily cortisol cycle. And when your cortisol levels are high then your non-emergency functions such as digestion, reproduction and wound healing are going to get suppressed. 

Those low-fat, added vitamins, superfoods enriched health claims on the side of the box aren’t looking so hot now are they?

What about those lovely, natural, fibre containing, organic and whole grain cereals from the health food shop? Well, it’s also worth noting that whole grains contain both enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion and phytic acid that combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc and blocks absorption of these vital minerals. So sorry, but these aren’t great either. And check the nutrition panel for sugar. Don’t be fooled by the wholesome sounding ingredients like honey, maple syrup or, I don’t know, enchanted fairy nectar. Every 4.2 grams equals one teaspoon of sugar. Add up the weight of your serving (I’m guessing it’s more than the suggested 30g.) Do the maths. 

So, what can you eat for breakfast? 

The first thing to remember is that the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mantra is misleading. Breakfast literally means to break your fast. There is no rule that says that this has to be as soon as you wake up, or even in the morning. It’s the quality that counts. Not the timing. 

But I’m not about to deprive you of “something in a bowl” of a morning so if that’s your bag you can always try my breakfast porridge, my chia breakfast bowl or my yoghurt breakfast bowl. And, when I get round to it I will blog a lovely sugar free and low carb granola post for you. Because I realise that was a cruel trick to post a picture of some healthy homemade stuff and not actually  give you a recipe. Sorry…

If a hot drink is the most you can face then Bulletproof coffee is great. Or, try my hot coconut and vanilla shake or my breakfast hot chocolate 

A weekend breakfast is the perfect time for a fry up. But if you are missing pastries or bagels then you could try my peanut butter muffins or my breakfast cheesecake. (I’ve also just realised I have omitted to write a recipe post for pancakes! Whaaat? I will rectify this soon. Promise!)

And, of course, there’s always bone broth! (How could I finish a post about breakfast without it?!)

Broth for Breakfast

I did a talk last week for a very lovely group of student teachers and newly qualified teachers. Those of you reading who have experienced full time teaching will know all too well the sheer resilience, stamina and sheer bloody mindedness required to survive in such an environment. My heart went out to these enthusiastic, intelligent and capable young adults who were already showing some signs of stress and exhaustion. 

My talk was on stress management through making easy tweaks to some of the most vital influences on human health – those of sunlight, movement, nutrition, hydration and sleep. I hope they make some of the changes I suggested. They were time honoured diet and lifestyle habits that should discourage early burn-out. 

There was some good discussion on a few of the ideas, particularly with regard to sleep practices. But the question they asked that probably took the most explanation was this, “So what do you eat for breakfast?”

The look of horror and incredulity on their faces when I replied, “well… currently it’s bone broth!” was priceless. A few months ago I’d have laughed at me too. Because something sweet and carby is surely the ultimate in breakfast? Perking you up when you don’t really want to eat much but need a boost? No..?

Well no. Because that sweet and carby stuff does a number on your blood sugar levels and so, in turn messes up your natural cortisol cycle. And what does cortisol do? It waits in the wings ready to increase your blood glucose to help fuel a flight-or-fight response. Then you’ve got to produce insulin to deal with that spike. And the more you call on cortisol and insulin at the wrong times the less response you get when you need them. And so bit by bit we set up an unnatural stress hormone cycle that is highly deleterious to health. 

But broth and vegetables for breakfast is weird right? Well no. Ever had left over curry or noodles for breakfast? Or gorged on a fry up? Or grabbed a flakey meat pasty on the way to work? These all have that salty and comforting flavour; and combination of fat and protein that takes us back to our more primal instinctive taste preferences. But most of us probably don’t have the time or stomach to gnaw on a mammoth bone before our hunt of the day so bone broth is a perfect modern day alternative.  

Glorious savoury umami flavours ready in less than five minutes and with the ability to keep you going all morning and well into the afternoon. Would you like a recipe?

Ok. The first bit does take a while, although the prep is minimal. Stick some roasted bones (chicken, beef, pork, lamb or a mixture) in a slow cooker and cover with water and a tablespoon or so of sea salt. Add extra flavour if you like (garlic, onion, carrot, celery, black pepper) but don’t feel obliged. Simmer on the lowest setting for around 48 hours. 

Five minutes before you want to eat, melt some pastured pork lard, beef tallow or butter ghee in a frying pan, flash fry some veg and tip into a bowl. Then ladle in a few scoops of broth straight from the crockpot. That’s it! Change the vegetables you use, experiment with herbs and spices, add some cooked meat or eggs if you need the extra protein (although your broth will have a decent amount already.) 

And there you have it! A serving or two of vegetables, some healthy fat, some essential minerals and a tonne of gut-healing, infection-fighting, inflammation-reducing, bone building and skin-beautifying collagen all before you leave the house. Let me know if you’ve tried it or are planning to!

Winging It Without Waste

I am a (charmingly) chaotic cook. I think about main meals about an hour before I need to serve them up. Breakfast surprises even myself each morning; I get it on the table pretty much before my brain has woken up! Furthermore my shopping lists rarely contain much more than a reminder to pick up loo roll and I have not ever written a meal plan unless it was for Christmas Day. One year I didn’t even plan that but spent a lovely few hours pottering in the kitchen with my veggie box while the others watched Mary Poppins and we still feasted on a glorious roast with ALL the trimmings.

Recently I’ve been trawling through countless zero waste blogs and the most common advice where food is concerned seems to revolve around planning. Which got me thinking because we haven’t ever needed to use our council-provided food-waste box. So, for those of you that are perpetual wingers of the kitchen arena, here is how I do it!

Get a regular organic delivery. Organic food lovingly raised, harvested or produced tends to be on the expensive side. While it’s easy to chuck out a bag of discounted supermarket pre-prepped veggies gone to mush, I defy you to forget about that proud head of kale that takes up half your fridge. And because a) it tastes so much better and b) is seasonal – meaning you aren’t bored of using the same produce month-in-month-out it’s more exciting to use. In addition, I find our locally grown, non-air freighted, non Modified Atmosphere Packaged veggies stay fresh much longer anyway. Probably because they actually are fresh!

Don’t buy crap. Self explanatory really! If you buy crap you are unlikely to have much appetite or respect for it. So, unless you are a junk food binger (I’m not judging, I’ve been there) you probably won’t want to eat it all. And you probably don’t want to force feed it to anyone else either. And your compost bin won’t want it. So instead you hold it in your hand going what the hell did I buy this for? And, with no sensible answer other than it was on offer and I was PMSing and I just wanted to get out of the shop with the bright lights and other peoples screaming children and get home to have a cup of tea you chuck it out. Because it isn’t food. It’s crap.

Learn to improvise. I’d never have the ingredients I’d need if I followed recipes. But I do love cookery books for the inspiration. Most evenings I just grab some meat out of our tiny fridge (hopefully I remembered to defrost something the night before!), chop up whichever veg looks like it needs using up sooner rather than later and then decide which herbs, spices or sauces will complete the dish. Here are some examples:

Raise non-picky kids. I made a deal with myself when our girls were young. I would cook good, healthy, delicious meals and expect them to either eat them or go without. They love their food and it is rare that they don’t finish what’s on their plates.
Raise non-picky pets. Once a week Simon prepares a large bowl of raw meat, eggs (including the shells), yoghurt and vegetables for Ella-the-dog and Poppy-the-cat. This gets divided into five portions (for one meal a day) and then they get raw bones, chicken gizzards, the pickings from the stock bones and any pan-scrapings or leftovers to top up or fill in the gaps. Until recently we’ve also always had free-range rabbits that got the cores and outer leaves of leafy veg like cabbages and the ends of root veg  like carrot tops. These bits now either get given to the dog or added to the compost bin.

The compost bin is a last resort and takes on any veg peelings that the pets don’t want; copious coffee grounds; tea bags, egg shells, the grotty bits from the sink strainer that fits in the plughole, the meat bones, and all of the egg boxes, paper and cardboard (largely used to package our organic veg) that we’ve used. In return we get great garden compost for free!

And that, my friends, is how we roll. Is there anything I haven’t covered? What are your top tips for winging it without waste?

Here Comes the Rain Again

Only one week to go before the Wolf Run. To say I’m scared witless would be an understatement.

I haven’t set myself up for any kind of sponsorship because I have a fear of not completing the course. Or indeed not turning up. But if you would like to sponsor my team mate I promise to try extra hard to get to that finish line. Here’s his page. Just Giving

24th October 2015. It’s cold. It’s p***ing down. Low cloud provides minimal visibility from less than half way up Crook Peak.

  Isn’t the view marvellous?!!

Today I power my way up, in leggings and a vest top, cheerily shouting out hello to the various groups of bemused and bedraggled hikers in their head-to-toe waterproofs and sturdy walking boots. I then skid and slide my way back down, nearly careering into my husband Simon and Ella-the-dog who are walking up through the cloud Ella-speed. Then I head BACK up the hill, with my own personal Darth Vader soundtrack, pausing only to wave at a hedge that is posing as Simon. Finally I walk back down with Simon and Ella who have heroically waited for me at the top. This is more like it. I am pretty darn proud of myself.

25th October 2015. It’s a perfect cold frosty morning as my Wolf Run team mate and I head out. My trainers are still wet from yesterday and my hands are like blocks of ice by the time we’ve walked up to the woods. But it’s a lovely 4.something mile run (ok, I’m still needing to walk some sections) and boy is it muddy!! We were both skidding all over the place even with off road treads. You know what I noticed about my trainers wide toe boxes today? There’s more room for the mud to squish around my toes…

27th October 2015. Finish a tedious morning at work and head out for a 2 mile run-walk-run across the fields. I focus on my breathing and not stomping down on my heels. I also feel under some pressure to keep my form from collapsing when I am watched so intently by horses, cows and sheep. In fact one horse quite definitely mutters something derogatory as I stumble past. I feel that quadrupeds could at least attempt a little sympathy for what Daniel Vitalis refers to as Homo sapiens domesticofragilis.

30th October 2015. Another post-work run across the fields. I manage 2 miles with only one minute of walking and no inhaler. And I have a revelation… I seem to have lost my fear of mud!! Just as well…

The non-running training, admittedly no longer on a daily basis, but all frequently. Deep breath… Resting squats, hang time, toe spacing, neutral feet, 10am coffee curfew, cold showers, jumping, hydrating, stretching and flexing. Plus:

  1. Kelly Starrett‘s couch stretch for hip extension, which I loathe but effectively opens out the hip and helps alleviate some types of knee, hip and back pain
  2. Startett’s hip flexion for 30 seconds on each side should give me a more fighting chance of being able to “run with good form and balance and channel power from my posterior chain.”
  3. I have fuelled each run this week with a fabulous Paleo Isotonic Super Booster. I do recommend you try it; it tastes lovely and zingy and gives you just the right amount of zip-and-go!

Ready and Poised to Wax or Wane

Two weeks to go now until the Wolf Run and it ain’t looking great…

17th October 2015. Despite 6 blasts of salbutamol I deafen myself with the sound of my own tuneless wheezing as I charge up Crook Peak today with my weighted backpack. It’s about 10 degrees Celsius (50 F) and the northerly wind is causing my lungs to protest loudly. Birds take off and fly away, squawking at the horrific sound of high decibel wheezing while cows, dozing beside the track, shake their heads sadly at me as I cough up muck and spit into the wind. There’s stuff I still need to learn here and I’ve only got three weeks to learn it…

18th October 2015. Run up to the woods with my Wolf Run team mate in order to break in his new trail shoes. Disappointingly it’s fairly dry so he doesn’t get the full boggy experience. I am aware that this sounds harsh, but it is entirely his fault that I’ve had to go through this trauma of trying to get fit to a deadline. He trumps my bramble lasso experience by getting his ankles tangled in some barbed wire. So I guess we are quits now.
19th October 2015. Take dog for 4.5 mile walk across fields. Her top pace is a 19 minute mile so I guess it’s a stroll really! We negotiate gates blocked by cows; inquisitive horses, cute but feisty sheep and many dogs off the lead and out of control.

 The three things I most hate to have shouted at me? Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you! always cheerfully yelled as dog runs up slavering, growling and getting in the way. She just wants to say hello! Which is generally preceded by the damn dog jumping up and getting muddy paws all up your legs or back and ahhh, why don’t you let your poor doggy off the lead? Seriously? Sorry if I sound grumpy. I am still PMSing. Seems the last Equinox has knocked my cycle off schedule. I feel like I am trying to move through water and all I want to do is sleep.

20th October 2015. Keeping it honest… Today has been a day of binge eating, sofa sleeping and absolutely no training whatsoever. Zero. Zilch.

21st October 2015. My 12 year old arrives back from school with the news that she has run 2.3 km in 10 mins 42. What the hell?! I want her to run in my place but my Wolf Run team mate rudely reminds me that the organisers would notice that she is much younger than me and that my race t-shirt would be far too big for her.

22nd October 2015. Cycle is back on track but I still can’t run. Cramp, clumsiness and nausea will not let this happen.

23rd October 2015. I have a day off and head into Bristol with my husband where we walk 2 miles of hills interspersed with a latte or two. When I get home I pull on trainers and head out for a brisk 1.5 mile run. It’s really hard work but I am relived that I can manage it. Roll on the weekend. I can do this…

The non-running training stuff: yep, still with the resting squats, hang time, toe spacing, neutral feet, coffee curfew (now 10am) and cold showers. But I’ve now added the following:

  1. Jumping. With a) a lack of equipment and b) a lack of space I am adapting Kelly Starrett’s standard #12 Jumping and Landing in order to improve my running mechanics. Because who doesn’t want good running mechanics? Firstly ten barefoot and feet together jumps as far as I can all in one go; embarrassingly, this is enough to get me out of puff. Then thirty jumps on my right foot (pretending I have a skipping rope!) and thirty jumps on my left. All these with a focus on straight feet, neutral knees and strong arches.
  2. Hydration. I’m always pretty good at drinking plenty of water and sometimes adding salt to my water to maximise hydration. But this week I’m making sure to drink a 2.5 – 3l daily and supplementing with electrolytes.
  3. Stretching and Flexing.   I’m working on good ankle motion here and doubling up with calf stretches. While blogging and entertaining the cat. Hey, wait! Poppy this IS entertaining! Don’t look away….

Title stolen from a Christina Rosetti poem. 

Liver Hash

 I’m always on the lookout for liver recipes. I have a strong tendency to become anaemic, and liver provides a great source of easily absorbed iron, which in turn makes me marginally less inclined to drowsiness at certain times of the month. So this relatively mild tasting lambs offal is in our weekly organic delivery from Riverford and thus features regularly on the weekend menu!

This is a pretty undemanding way to both cook and consume lambs liver. If the taste is still a bit strong for you feel free to stir it into a big bowl of rice.
First you’ll want to trim the liver (organic every time) of any membranes and stringy bits – give them to your meat-eating pets who will noisily knock it back in the manner of the wolves and wild-cats they dream themselves to be while they doze on downy divans. Then chop the liver into bite size pieces and toss in gluten-free flour seasoned with salt, pepper and something spicy like Cajun seasoning. Fry some onions in plenty of butter or coconut oil until soft then add courgette and give it another ten minutes. Next some kale (pictured is Black Russian kale but curly kale or Savoy cabbage would be great too) and then push all the veggies to the outside of the frying pan. Turn your heat up high and pop the liver in the centre of the pan to brown on all sides. You want each cube to be lightly crispy on the outside and only-just-cooked on the inside. Like a Daim bar. But not. All done? Just stir it up, add extra seasoning if you like and serve. Fifteen minutes altogether I reckon, and a darn tasty way to get your inner-wild-animal revved up and ready to go.

Related post

Loving Liver?

Where Pattering Acorns Oddly Drop

As promised last week, here is my four-weeks-to-go-until-the-Wolf-Run training diary for your general amusement…

3rd October 2015. Hopes and dreams crushed, nay pulverised by a nasty vertigo attack this morning. I jest! I had planned another woodland run but had a lazy morning on the sofa instead. With the nausea and grogginess abated, I headed out at 6pm instead for a pleasant 1.5m steady jog alongside the river. My path was blocked at one point by several grumpy looking bullocks (wildlife: score 1) so I improvised my training and did some balancing work on some sturdy horse jumps with abundant nettles and jeering sheep to provide extra incentive not to fall off. Man those sheep are judgemental! But the last laugh was on them because they were too busy doing their sheep thang to appreciate the gorgeous sunset that turned both the sky and therefore the river from orange to pink to purple. (Flojo: score 1)
5th October 2015. My morning run in the woods has been trés jolie as we’ve had rain and wind in the night rendering the paths multicoloured with fallen leaves. Downside to the leaves was that they hid a multitude of slippery rocks and tree roots but the trailfreak wide toe box and flexible trainer soles meant that my feet were able to respond quickly; I didn’t slip even once. This is a big deal, I am nothing if not clumsy. Forgot my inhaler so took it steady, but I think that this probably works out better anyway because I’m really listening to my body’s pacing preferences. Had an acorn thrown at my head by something up a tree (wildlife:1) and the numerous low-lying brambles have ensured that it will be a few days before I can shave my legs again (wildlife:2) but I scared off a pheasant (Flojo:1) and a small family of grouse (Flojo:2) so Yay Me!

8th October 2015. Turns out that having a late lunch isn’t the smartest idea before heading out for an early evening run but hey! Ran through the fields alongside the river today and pushed myself a couple of times by 1) sometimes going a bit faster than was comfortable and 2) deliberately choosing to run through long grass every so often so as to force myself to really pick my knees up in anticipation of a tyre-section in the wolf run. I had to walk a couple of short sections but I was still pretty pleased with today. Added bonus of picking up some extra protein in the form of a couple of lungfuls of midges along the way (I think this is still a wildlife: 1)

Meanwhile my non-running training this week has focussed on three things.

  1. Resting squats. A cumulative five minutes a day of sitting back into a deep squat to stretch out and strengthen all the joints from hip to foot. I spend 1-2 minutes at a time in this position, always aiming to keep my heels on the ground, my knees over my feet in a neutral position, my ass/arse as low as I can get it and my back as straight as I can manage. The theory says that I should be able to run faster and with less effort with this exercise.
  2. Hang time. A cumulative two minutes a day of just hanging from our over-door pull-up bar. I’m going to need this brachiation exercise when it comes to the monkey bar challenge during the wolf run.
  3. Toe stretches. A couple of hours daily of wearing my toe-separating socks is helping my feet to more fully articulate – while I’m running I want each toe joint to be able to splay, stretch or flex according to need every time my feet hit the ground. These socks help to repair the damage caused by constrictive footwear worn over the years and by a hereditary predisposition to bunions.

 Aren’t they pretty..?
Ok. Loving your comments – keep ’em coming! Xx

Tread Softly, For You Tread on My Dreams. 

 Nearly a year ago, while I was high on the reality of my primal based diet demolishing my depression, I was persuaded to join a friend to sign up for the winter Wolf Run: a mud, trail and obstacle 10k course. Now regular readers will know that I am at heart lazy and somewhat lacking in grit and my family must have oft despaired that my planning and sticking to schedule abilities are somewhat lacking. Friends have observed that I don’t like getting dirty and my doctor has diagnosed exercise-induced asthma. With this in mind can you deduce the amount of training I have done? It is now five weeks until the mud run. Would you like a laugh? Ok, I shall blog you a five week countdown…
So far my training has run (pun!) thusly:

November 14-January 15. Think about running a lot. See myself breezing through the course with much beautific smiling, balletic leaping and bona-fide flying. Attempt a couple of road runs. Wheeze. Bitch. Assume someone will wave a magic wand. Hopefully soon.
February 15-April 15. Read Kelly Starrett’s Ready to Run. Take on board a few key points, namely working on neutral feet, taking salts alongside my good hydration habit; and realising that my squat technique sucks. See a doctor for the wheezing and get an inhaler Question my obviously non-existant diagnostic skills for never realising that fighting for breath and chest pain weren’t normal. Do a few more road runs. Wheeze less. Bitch the same amount. Still awaiting that magic wand.
May 15-July 15. Read Katy Bowman’s Move your DNA. Start to, well, move around a bit more. I also do some of her foot exercises when I remember, spend some time hanging on our pull-up bar, get rid of one of my two pillows, try and sit on the floor more and wear some fancy toe alignment socks when I know nobody will visit. I’m not sure if I’m doing some really good running prep or just putting off the actual running itself but it feels good so I’m happy. I do head out for a few short runs but it’s tiring and I don’t like feeling tired or sweaty. Plus my legs feel heavy and useless.
August 15. Read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and am astonished by what is actually possible, albeit for runners who live and breathe running rather than just reading about it. Ahem! Walk a lot more – barefoot where possible but wearing nice flat soled converse shoes when not. Make a point of really noting how my feet touch the ground. How they adapt to hills, to gravel, to mud, to sand. Develop a huge appreciation for what my feet do and also for the the ground itself in its capacity as what Katy Bowman refers to as an “external force.” I note that barefoot walking is slower than shod walking but is also kind of meditative in that you have a hightened awareness for your environment. It’s less tiring. Calming but refreshing and somehow invigorating. Lots to ponder there! Meanwhile I hear about Erwan le Corre’s Movnat and get very inspired. Follow some of his unique and rather brilliant exercise routines on Breaking Muscle. Realise how domesticated I have allowed my body to become. Bitch internally. Resist running.
September 15. Start panicking. Do several more long and beautiful walks with a 4kg weighted backpack but only do a couple of runs because it hurts and I really hate my trainers. Order Vivobarefoot Trailfreaks with their zero-drop, uncushioned and non-built up soles and wide toe-box; and try to avoid looking at bank balance.
23rd-28th September 2015 Horizontal 24/7 with Benign Paroxymal Positional Vertigo. In English? Every time I move my head, turn over, lie down or try to sit up the room spins at a thousand miles an hour. If I’m sitting up or am on my feet when it hits I fall over.
29th-30th September. Attempt a few short walks staggering around like a drunkard at first but gradually building up strength and balance. It’s nice to be out in the sunshine though!
1st October 2015 (Today). Receive aforementioned Trailfreaks in post and head up to woods near home. It’s sunny but mild. The paths are muddy, rocky, strewn with tree roots and brambles. Fallen tree branches require ducking under or climbing over. The terrain is hilly. It’s perfect. I run two miles lightly, quietly, easily and happily. My feet are comfortable and relishing the challenge of reacting to the topography rather than just being rigidly plonked up and down like those pneumatic things we used to see people digging up the road with. (Help me out here if you can remember what they’re called!) I don’t need my inhaler. My thin-soled shoes keep me mindful of how I move so I don’t slam my heels down, stride out beyond my capabilities and try to push through pain. Instead my non-running training of late has allowed me to veritably bounce up hills using the springiness of me rather than relying on technology. This is a revelation! This is actually fun and it feels good! I’m hoping these shoes are my magic wand. Please let them be. Stay tuned folks…

Piggy Stew! (Oh Pa-He-ggy Stew)*

 Give me a full fridge and I don’t know where to start. There’s too much choice and my brain goes into meltdown!  The evenings when I need to serve up a filling, nutritious and delicious meal to my family in an hour or so and all I’ve got are leftovers? That’s when the magic happens. My best meals are invariably the ones where I’m under pressure and tonight’s stew was no exception. I reckon you could adapt it quite easily – take a look in your fridge and see what you’ve got.

This evening I had leftover roast pork and cold sausages staring balefully at me from Tupperware boxes. And a drawer of odds and sods of veggies from last week’s organic box. And my cupboard was, uncharacteristicly sporting a couple of tins of tomatoes from a day when I must have been trying to forward plan. I forget what I was planning…

I fried chopped onions, garlic, carrot and courgette with fennel seeds, chilli seeds and thyme for about twenty minutes. Added the pork, chopped sausages and tinned chopped tomatoes. Bought it all to the boil, seasoned it, simmered it, went for a dog walk**, added some shredded Savoy cabbage and a splash of water, put the laundry on drier racks***, served it up, drizzled, ok,  poured olive oil on the top and settled down to hear the troll-like slurping going on round the table from my own piggies.

*Apologies for the poor pun on Buddy Holly’s 1957 hit 


***also optional

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Loving Liver?

When my girls were babies I made a bargain with myself on their behalf. I figured that if I made sure that I always made them food that was both tasty and nutritious, they could at least eat the damn stuff! And so they ate everything we did. Roast dinner, curry, tagine, stew, chilli, salad, every kind of raw or cooked vegetable, fish, meat, egg dish, smoothie; their pudgy little hands shovelled it in their mouths. And if they didn’t there was no alternative.

It’s got to be said, daughter number one found this somewhat tricky at times. She has an amazingly sensitive palette and stronger flavours challenged her. While daughter number two crammed cubes of medium rare beef, strips of raw pepper or fried mushroom into her gummy mouth, my then three year old would put her head in her hands and wait out the mealtime. Man those times were hard! But I would do it all again because despite grave warnings from friends that I would stress my girls into early eating disorders there is nothing that I can’t serve up to my pre-teens!

Yes there is some bargaining, “you can leave x as long as you finish y” but we all look forward to the half-an-hour twice-a-day mealtimes that we sit around the table. They set and clear the table, and increasingly prepare parts of the meal. Their palettes easily pick out and identify particular herbs and spices, and we will often discuss how a dish could be improved for next time (I would like to point out here that mealtime discussions are in no way limited to food! How tedious would that be?!)

My two girls also know why we, as a family, eat significantly more fat and protein than others, and why we might not scrape every last scrap of mud off our carrots. They’re on board with the fact that our food bill overshadows, well, every other bill we pay, and they are proud of the fact that they don’t need any meal dumbed down for them. Hot curry, medium rare steak, 85% chocolate, unsweetened yoghurt, a tiny cup of espresso, a taste of wine? No problem! They also fully appreciate that our food choices give them boundless energy, sound sleep and bodies that allow them to take on physical challenges that not all their peers would attempt. But most importantly, they absolutely love eating! 

But, bodacious blog buddies, I need your help!  I recently added a pack of liver to my weekly Riverford organic delivery order for it’s stellar health benefits. And I’ve been serving it up as me and my husband love it, chopped and sprinkled with seasoned, gluten-free flour before being flash fried, lightly doused in balsamic vinegar; added to a bowl of caramelised onion, fried courgettes, pepper and bacon; and topped with chopped hard boiled egg and parsley. I am literally salivating as I type these words out! But sadly my girls are not loving this meal. And this does not sit well with me because food should be loved if it is to be eaten regularly. So please throw ideas at me! Tell me your favourite ways to make liver eating a pleasure rather than a chore. Help me people!