Genius Ideas

Healthy breakfast ideas…

I really struggle with breakfast as I don’t like eating first thing in the morning. The most I can manage on waking is a couple of soya cappuccinos. I see them as protein drinks without the added protein powder. If I’m going to the gym I’ll eat a banana.

I need my first meal at about 10 or 11am and by then I’m starving. I thought I’d post up some of my favourite breakfasts (in addition to my Kilner jar breakfast from a previous post). Two of these recipes I can knock up at work with the toaster and two are strictly for weekends. Here they are…

Homemade wholewheat pretzel with a soft poached egg


Pretzel ingredients: 1⅟2 cups of water, 1⅟4 Tsp dry yeast, 2Tbsp brown sugar, 1⅟4 Tbsp salt, 1 cup Wholewheat bread flour, 3 cups flour, sea salt

Recipe as follows. Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water and dissolve, add sugar, salt and flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise. Make into pretzel shapes, sprinkle with salt and bake for 15 minutes gas mark 7.

Marmite, cream cheese and fresh tomatoes on toast


Oatbran pancakes with warmed strawberries


Recipe as follows. Mix 2 Tbsp oatbran, 1 egg and skimmed milk to make a pancake batter consistency. Spray a not stick pan with oil and split the mixture in half to fry two pancakes, flipping to cook on each side. Warm strawberries for 30 seconds to 1minute in the microwave and serve together. I sprinkled mine with sugar 🙂

Peanut butter and banana on toast


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Breakfast and lunch on the go…update

I wanted to do a follow up on my original post as I’ve been using my Kilner Jar for ‘work breakfasts’ ever since. It’s worked really well for me as I find them really filling in a way that cereal bars aren’t. I’ve been experimenting with the best ingredients to keep the fat content low and the flavour high. I initially swapped my fruit compote for frozen berries on the bottom layer, then seeded granola, dried fruit and yoghurt. As I make it the night before work, the yoghurt soaks into the granola, which creates a Swiss-style breakfast that’s really delicious.

I’ve just discovered tinned blackcurrants in juice though. This version (pictured) is like eating cheesecake for breakfast which suits me fine. Seeded granola, fat-free yoghurt and tinned blackcurrants only. I’ve been looking for a lower sugar granola as the shop bought one I use is quite high at 12g per 100g, even though I only need about 25g. If anyone can recommend one, let me know.

I have to admit that I haven’t used the Kilner Jar as much for salads as it’s much easier to eat a sandwich at your desk. I love the theory behind these salads though. If you put the dressing into the bottom of the jar and then layer ingredients on top, the salad doesn’t go soggy and they’ll stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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Fussy Little Eaters

Like most parents, I struggled to get my two children to eat a varied diet as they were both incredibly fussy eaters as toddlers. For the first few years of their lives, I made things that I knew they would eat, just glad that they wouldn’t be hungry. I knew that I was making a rod for my own back, but I allowed them to be fussy and rarely challenged them. It did bother me though and I knew that I had to deal with it at some point.

It’s something that I’ve dealt with now with both of my children (although it’s an ongoing project) and I thought I’d post up my strategies in case other parents might find them useful/ interesting. I’m not saying that these will work for everyone but they are working for me.

Here are the rules that I followed/ continue to follow:

  • We all eat dinner together at the table for the majority of meals.
  • I started by making meal plans based on the food that the children liked but adapted them for the whole family. e.g. they loved fish fingers so I bought brown rolls, good quality fish cakes, salad and tartare sauce. There was something in the meal that they liked and other things that they hadn’t tried. I still use the strategy of making unfamiliar foods familiar. I regularly let my kids put food they’re unsure about in a tortilla wrap or on a sandwich and they tend to try anything this way. If they eat it once, they’ll eat it again, often without the bread the next time.
  • I put all different foods out separately on plates or in bowls. My kids loved helping themselves to food and would put something from most bowls on their plate. I then encouraged them to have a taste of everything on their plate but I never made them eat more than a mouthful if they didn’t like it. Alternatively I let them make their food, like pizza or homemade breaded chicken. My youngest started by just having his pizza base with peas and cheese on it (gross) but from that point, in his mind he liked pizza and gradually he ate any variety. You’ll be glad to know I don’t need the separate plates anymore (less washing up!).
  • If they didn’t eat a healthy portion of their dinner and try one mouthful of everything, they didn’t get a treat – harsh I know and not always a rule I apply to myself.
  • I never ever made more than one dinner for the family but they could choose the elements that they put on their plate.
  • I didn’t criticise the kids for not eating something but they were encouraged to try new things (at least one bite) and they got a lot of praise when they did – I love an excuse to clap!
  • I did this consistently and adapted meals to become more adventurous. Like I say though, it’s an ongoing project!

Tonight’s meal was whole wheat pasta with chicken, onion and peppers, served in a tomato, basil and mozzarella sauce. Everyone cleaned their plate which hand on heart, would have been impossible six months ago. Out of all of those ingredients my youngest would only have eaten plain pasta. It’s a miracle and I’m going to have a little clap 🙂

I ran my strategies by Dr Anna Robins, Senior Lecturer/ Researcher in Exercise, Physical Activity and Health at the University of Salford (and mother of two) to see what she would advise from a professional point of view. This is what she said.

“It is not uncommon for young children to go through ‘ faddy’ stages with regards to eating, especially when they learn that there is more to life than food. However, at the point at which your child says ‘ I don’t like…’ whatever it may be, the worst thing a parent can do is to simply remove any sight, smell and taste of that food again.  It is crucial that children have a varied diet in order to meet their nutritional needs, and by continually reducing the types of food they will eat, this can not only lead to child and potentially adult neophobia (fear of new foods) but also the likelihood that they are deficient in some nutrients. It’s also incredibly embarrassing from a social point of view to have a child that is a fussy eater. Failing to put healthy eating and a varied diet high on the agenda early on in their life, will only come back to bite you as a parent very hard later on.

Jayne, you’ve done the right thing by thinking of ways in which to make eating interesting and giving your children some autonomy with regards to food choice, albeit within a covertly decided range of healthy foods. It is advised that a child will need to be exposed to a disliked food at least 8-10 times before preferences begin to shift favourably towards that food. This certainly does not mean force feeding your child with the disliked food, but instead thinking of ways in which to increase the consumption of that food and also introducing novel foods into their diet. It is worth knowing that besides ‘exposure’ increasing the chance of a disliked food to become a liked food, ‘social’ and ‘associative learning’ can also help.  For example, if a child dislikes carrots yet a very good friend is seen to tuck into carrots when eating together, this can increase the likelihood of your child trying that food.  At a young age, superhero’s and well liked adults (usually well known family members) eating important foods can also increase the chance of your child also trying these foods.  Jayne, I see you’ve tried rewarding your children for eating required and healthy foods. This is good although it is not advisable to reward with treats (which may be less healthy) as the reward food is then seen as more positive than the access food. Positive adult behaviour can be sufficient in itself, but this needs to be very enthusiastic behavior, especially at the beginning – so try a gold sticker chart or something similar.  Children love to be able to literally see the benefits of their good behaviour (eating in this instance) and if you have more than one child it is inevitable that the competition between siblings can actually be advantageous.

And yes, getting children to continue to eat as healthily as possible when outside of your reach is incredibly hard, which is why you have to lay the foundations down very early on.  You will then find that as your children grow, they actually start to make informed healthy choices themselves and that is so rewarding to watch as a mother/parent. Well done, and carry on the good work! ” (Anna)

I’d like to thank Dr Anna Robins and The University of Salford for taking the time to contribute to this blog on ‘fussy little eaters’. We hope that’s its useful to other parents out there.

Categories: Genius Ideas, Intelligent Food | 3 Comments

Breakfast and lunch on the go…

Its that time of year again, the Christmas Countdown, when I try to lose a few pounds before the festivities. Last year I peaked too soon, lost weight early but on the big day had to wear leggings. Not good! This year I’m starting a bit later, today in fact. The idea for using Kilner Jars for lunch came through Pintrest, so I thought I’d give it a go. They certainly look ace! Today I’ll be eating Greek style fat free yoghurt with fruit compote and seeded granola (breakfast) and beetroot, smoked haddock, horseradish and cous cous salad (lunch).


added in the evening…

It was really delicious!

Ingredients: Layered beetroot, mixed salad drizzled with olive oil and black pepper, cous cous with raisins and smoked mackerel blended with creamed horseradish.

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The Frozen Aisle

‘Studies have confirmed that food starts to lose its nutritional value as soon as it’s harvested. Freezing food within hours dramatically slows down the rate of deterioration and frozen vegetables retain their natural Vitamin C more than fresh vegetables’.

I love this fact! Cooking from frozen is so quick, we just need some really great products available in the freezer and a few are starting to appear.

Sainsbury’s has a new fresh frozen range including frozen plum tomatoes, frozen mushrooms and frozen roasted vegetables. I decided to try out the new chopped vegetable mix first, containing onions, celery and carrots . I used it as a base to make Vegetable and Red Lentil Soup and Thai Spiced Noodles with Pak Choi. Both meals are low in fat, contain all natural, unprocessed ingredients and both meals were cooked concurrently (including absolutely all preparation) in less than 17 minutes, to provide dinner and lunch for the next day. My recipes are below.

Recipe 1: Vegetable and Red Lentil Soup

I placed the chopped frozen vegetables into a pan of water, added red lentils and heated. When the lentils were cooked through, I added fresh coriander and used a hand blender to get the required consistency. 

Total time to prepare and cook 17 minutes.

Tip. Throw in some frozen garlic and ginger for added flavour and add tinned tomatoes, cayenne, paprika, turmeric and cumin to spice it up. This is a great base soup which you can alter to suit your taste.

Recipe 2: Thai Spiced Noodles with Pak Choi

I fried the turkey mince and the chopped vegetable mix in one calorie spray oil until almost cooked through and then added the Gang Ped paste for a minute at the end. I removed the mix from the pan, replaced with noodles, a little water and sesame oil for flavour. As the noodles softened, I placed washed Pak Choi on top and covered briefly. I served the noodles, spiced mince and vegetables with fresh coriander and a generous squeeze of lime on top.

Total time to prepare and cook 14 minutes.

Tip. I removed half of the mince mix before adding the Thai spice and added chopped tomatoes  instead for the kids. They ate four types of vegetables, some lean protein, as well as carbohydrates in this meal and it went down a treat!

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The Delicate Matter of Taste

I don’t know if anyone remembers a series by Martin Parr called, Signs of the Times. He explored the, ‘delicate matter of the nation’s taste’.

Filming inside people’s homes he recorded their commentary on why they’d bought certain objects. It was excruciating but compulsive viewing, silently making judgments on people because of the things that they owned.

If you look in my food cupboard I wonder what you’d think. I have to admit that ‘tasteful’ pieces are few and far between as in most supermarkets you have to look really hard for a beautiful object. A couple in cereals, chocolate, tea, soft drinks and preserves about sums it up (serious apologies if I’ve missed someone out, I’ve just remembered a great one in sausages and obviously taste is totally subjective).

Anyway, in the spirit of being Saucy, I thought we’d run a couple of polls. We’d love your ideas please on: 1) the most beautiful food brand (I can’t say sexy food brand because I’m convinced everyone will say GÜ) 2) the most beautiful food brand that you’ve had the longest relationship with.  

Here’s some great inspiration showing fifty beautiful packaging ideas, and I wish my food cupboard was full of this stuff.

So, I’ll go first 1) I’m going to go Bottle Green and 2) definitely Green & Blacks

Send us your thoughts X

Categories: Genius Ideas | 4 Comments

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