Little Green Lives

Family lifestyle blog with a hint of green

Baby-led Weaning- helping babies to love good food from the first bite, great for babies and the environment.

LOVE FOODsam Jennings4 Comments

I feel very passionate about encouraging kids to enjoy healthy whole foods. So when considering the options, baby-led weaning was a natural choice for us. We used this method exclusively and very successfully with all three kiddies when they showed signs of readiness at six-months old.

I’m not a ‘nutritionist’, but a Midwife/Mummy. I’ve researched this technique extensively and have previously hosted BLW workshops. Here is my very honest account of the Baby-led weaning process.

5 quick and easy, healthy meals for busy school nights or action packed weekends.

LOVE FOODsam Jennings12 Comments
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Little Green Lives Healthy meals

It’s 5 pm in Toronto. The little people of the house are tired. Behaviours deteriorate. Crying and whining are the preferred form of communication. Sibling rivalry intensifies.

The after-school snack was ‘Hours ago, Mummy’. Little tummies are rumbling. The kitchen is a hive of unwanted attention.

Mum considers pouring herself a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Is it too early? (It’s been one of those days.)

But still one feat stands before her…the daily, ever tedious question: what are we going to have for dinner tonight?

I love to cook, love experimenting with new recipes. The preparation, sautéing rainbow coloured vegetables, inhaling the aroma whilst chopping fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden. The process can be therapeutic, a pleasure. Just not on school nights!

Oh the witching hour

Some call 5-6 pm the witching hour. Quite possibly the hour of the day mums dread most.

Here’s what it looks like in our house.

An exhausted 5-year-old, weary from school, just wants to enjoy 30 minutes of Paw Patrol, but can’t. He’s accosted by his kid brother who has missed him all day.

Our tired and spirited daughter, our 3-nager, with every passing minute she’s closer to the point of meltdown.

My baby boy, who’s maybe in good form (after a great lunch-time nap) is, at best, emptying my cupboards, dragging his chair over to the worktop or antagonising his older siblings. At worst (after a not-so-great lunch-time nap) he is a tired, whining mess of a child, clinging to my leg with ‘Mummy-up Mummy- up’ on repeat, or attached to my boob while I attempt to make a meal one-handed.

Despite the above, like me, are you still determined to serve healthy meals of homemade goodness,(you know exactly what the ingredients are) but want to do it quickly with minimal stress?

From experience, here’s what works best for us:

A)      Choose easy meals (15 min total prep time or less)

B)      Cook meals which can be prepared partly in advance and pulled together 5-10 min max at the crucial moment. 

C)      Minimal clear up (because I loathe nothing more than returning to the kitchen after the ‘bed and bath routine’ to do a big clean up).

 

Our 5 favourite quick and healthy meals - perfect for school nights or busy weekends:

1)      Pesto pasta with steamed or raw veggies. (Our fav recipe from Food 52 is vegan but add parmesan if you fancy.)

In the time it takes to boil pasta you can prepare a delicious batch of homemade basil pesto. Put all ingredients in the food processor or blender and it’s ready.

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

 

2)  Pancakes from oat flour, with bananas and milk. Recipe from simple vegan blog, served with a side of yogurt and fresh fruit or a smoothie. Relax, all food groups are covered and if you prep the batter ahead of time, they it can be ready in a matter of minutes. Breakfast for dinner, we are huge fans.

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

3)  Homemade falafel, (love this recipe from Epicurios) Either served with rice, in a pita with salad and lathered in fresh homemade humus or as a tasty addition to a Buddha bowl.

I always soak (overnight) and then boil (for an hour) a big batch of chic peas every few days then store them in an extra-large mason jar in the fridge. Ready for action in falafel or humus when needed. The falafel mixture is best chilled, so prep ahead of time, then roll into balls and fry. Super quick and just one bowl to clean up.

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

4) Buddha bowls (a glorious bowl of healthy hearty goodness, fresh or roasted veggies, beans or lentils and a healthy grain topped with nuts and seeds with a delicious dressing). These can be prepped ahead of time, are a great way to use up leftovers and kids love them because of all the different colours and textures.

Little green lives 5 quick and healthy meals

5) Pizza. This crust is a 5-minute job from simple ingredients, can be made ahead of time or immediately prior to popping into a super hot oven. My kiddies do eat cheese, actually they only eat plain cheese pizza.  But for my vegan pizza it’s tomato sauce, fresh veggies, a sprinkling of Quinoa, some avocado, vegan mayo and fresh basil. Super quick and easy, your choice of toppings served with a salad, heaps of raw veggies or fresh fruit for desert.

Little green lives Healthy meals

There you have it, 5 quick, easy and healthy meals. 

Lets inspire each other, please add your favourite easy meal ideas in the comments.

Interested in how you can source all the ingredients for these recipes without creating all the garbage? check out this post.

Or how about some quick and easy recipes for playdate/school lunch box snacks.

Thanks for popping in.

Sam

 

Let's go apple picking - Fill your kitchen with the delicious smells of Fall

LOVE FOODsam Jennings10 Comments
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Little green lives -Lets go apple picking

After a busy week there is always huge temptation on the weekend to stay home, have a quiet day, relax a little, comfy sofas and a mug of hot Earl Grey tea, a book, a snooze.  A kiddie shouts! and I’m jolted back to reality. Who am I kidding? We have three kids under five. Relaxation isn’t something that comes easy around here. I actually find it more relaxing to go outside, go exploring. Even if I’m alone. Rather than stay indoors with all their energy to burn.

Lets go apple picking

There is something magical and exciting about heading out on a Fall morning to go apple picking. Arriving at the orchards in the warm sunshine, clutching bags and baskets with one thing in mind: Apple Crumble! Sweet, warm apple sauce topped with cinnamon and crunchy, baked crumble with lashings of vanilla ice cream. So armed with empty sacks and good friends for company we boarded tractors at the orchard last weekend in search of trees laden with Cortland and Silken apples.

We picked, well the kiddies did, with abundance. They picked like pros, so efficient! (…totally unlike their performance a few months back in the strawberry patch….) I just sat and enjoyed the scene. The kids ran from tree to tree with enormous smiles, returning with armfuls of rosy red apples. They made light work of filling our bags.  

Little green lives -Lets go apple picking

Little green lives -Lets go apple picking

Little green lives -Lets go apple picking

It's easy to get carried away in the orchard. A wonderful morning, close to the land. They picked. I imagined the warm, delicious apple pie smells floating around my kitchen for the next few weeks. Reverie really, until it’s time to carry your harvest back to the car. Wrangling three little people (one heavy, weary little guy in a sling, a tired three-year old who can't possibly walk another step) and 46 lbs of apples, this was no mean feat. (It took all of five minutes before all three of the kids were sleeping soundly on the drive home.)

Little green lives -Lets go apple picking

We love this little family farm, and return every year. You get to enjoy fresh hot sweet corns and roast hot dogs over open coals for your morning snack. The kids clamber on the enormous stacks of hay bails, and dig deep with their construction toys in several feet of dry corn in one of the barns.

Little green lives - lets go apple picking

Little Green Lives - Lets go Apple Picking

We picked two varieties of apples. Looking for those that are the perfect size for school lunches and snacks on the run, others the perfect taste and texture for baking.

So now you have pounds of apples. I would definitely recommend taking a look through them. My kiddies didn’t discriminate against apples with blemishes, or those with a bug or two living inside. Use these apples first. Apples will store very nicely in a cold garage or cellar for several months, but if you’re eager to get cooking, here are our favourite suggestions:

1) Apple sauce.  Always a favourite, great by itself warm or cold. We mix it with our morning oats and scoop it into our favourite smoothies. Delicious.

Little Green Lives _ lets go Apple Picking

 

2) Mini Vegan Apple pie from My California Roots  and Easy vegan Apple Crisp from Love and Lemons which are our family favourite.

3) Apple muffins – We love these One Bowl Carrot Apple Muffins from the Minimalist Baker.

4) Fresh apple juice.

 Theo said this evening as he devoured an enormous bowl of apple sauce, ‘This tastes like sunshine.’ I think he’s right.

We still have baskets of apples. If you have any favourite recipes please post them in the comments box below, I would love to try them.

Thanks for popping in.

Sam

Five quick, easy and exceedingly healthy recipes to wow your friends at playdates; perfect for school lunches too.

LOVE FOODsam Jennings9 Comments
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Little green lives healthy recipes for playdates - Banana muffins

Mmm…what to bake for this morning’s gathering of mummy friends and little people at snack time? Warm banana muffins with crisp crumble topping? Granola bars packed with tri- colour seeds? Or my crew’s favourite - date and coconut cookies?

Despite the morning chaos I try to make a little homemade something before we all leave the house. I love that Theo goes off to school with something warm in his lunch box and Jonathan has a healthy treat to enjoy with his morning coffee in the office.

How does 1 chaotic morning + 3 busy kids = homemade goodies for the road? Here’s the secret:

  1. Tackle only the recipes with dry ingredients you can pre-mix ahead of time
  2. Super quick prep time 10 mins or less.
  3. Maximum one mixing bowl only required (minimal washing up for me is key). Nothing worse than returning home at lunch time to a sink full of dirty dishes.

We take 30 minutes on Sunday nights with a G&T (or two) and fill six or eight mason jars with the dry ingredients for the week’s snacks of choice. Using this strategy, I can make granola bars in less than five minutes!

So if you have a playdate planned, or a school trip, this week you’re going to be ‘that mummy’. (the one in the group known for showing up with warm delicious baked goods).

Five quick, easy and exceedingly healthy recipes to wow your friends at playdates; perfect for school lunches too.

Sure to leave the little people licking their lips and begging for more, and your favourite big people thinking you’re a rock star mummy

1)      Vegan Banana Crumb Muffins from Minimalist Baker

Totally delicious. We’ll never tire of these.

If you don’t already follow The Minimalist Baker I HIGHLY recommend you go check out her amazing blog and Instagram feed. All her recipes are plant-based and GF. But most importantly for a busy mum they meet all the above criteria. If you’re not vegan, use real eggs instead of ‘flax eggs’.

Little green lives healthy recipes - Banana muffins

2)  The Original Glo Bar from Oh She Glows.

 Great for on the go. Crammed full of healthy oats and seeds.

To be school safe, sub the peanut butter out for sunflower butter. Isla is not a big fan of large seeds so I take an extra second to grind them in our coffee grinder. Oh She Glows is an amazing blog, series of cook books and now even an app.

Little green lives -Glo bars- Oh she glows - healthy snacks

 

3)      2 Ingredient cookies from Wholefood simply 

This blog is crammed full of great recipes, where the ingredients and methods used are simple without compromising on taste. These tasty cookies could not be easier, seriously only 2 ingredients and they taste so good.

4) Black Bean Brownies by Chocolate Covered Katie

It is still simply amazing to me that these can be so healthy and crammed full of protein yet still be totally delicious. If you’re a chocolate lover this is a recipe you are going to fall in love with.

Little Green Lives - Healthy recipes Black bean brownie

I just couldn't resist sharing a few extra pics here as Indi came to join me while I was photographing these brownies.

Little Green Lives - Healthy recipes Black bean brownie

Little Green Lives - Healthy recipes Black bean brownie

Little Green Lives - Healthy recipes Black bean brownie

Little Green Lives - Healthy recipes Black bean brownie

5)      Vegan Pumpkin Apple Muffins from Minimalist baker

Its that time of year, fridges are full of apples fresh from sunny mornings spent in orchards. These muffins are so delicious, the perfect taste of fall and always a crowd pleaser.

Enjoy, would love to hear about which recipes you try and which ones you enjoy the most. Please feel free to share below your favourite kiddies snack recipes.

Thanks for popping in

Sam

Five easy tips to a stronger immune system, increased energy and a healthy glow from the inside out

LOVE FOODsam Jennings4 Comments
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Little green lives 5 steps to better health You know the feeling: when a five-minute shower feels like a visit to the spa. (No kids in sight or ear shot.) Or when that cup of HOT tea at nap time feels like high tea at the Ritz. Everyday simplicities can feel like indulgent, healthy luxuries for us busy mums.

That glorious alone time just to focus on our own needs is heaven—even if it’s just momentarily.

I used to think being healthy and fit was complicated, time consuming and expensive. Not for the likes of us sleep-deprived busy mums, something to shoot for maybe 10 years from now.

But I've since learned that it’s actually the little things I do for myself each day that help me survive these crazy years. (With my body, health and sanity intact). In order to be a strong, healthy and happy mummy to my little people I need to invest in myself…and teach my little people that taking care of yourself is important.

Several months ago I hit rock bottom physically. I got sick several times back-to-back and needed antibiotics. I took this as a sign. My body was screaming, “Ok. I’m in need of some time and attention here!”

 So I took action and you can too.

Try these five easy, totally achievable tips throughout your day for seven days. Trust me, your tired body will feel the difference.

Nurture yourself in five minute blocks during the day. Steal moments while the kids are happily playing alone, during nap time, or with a baby on the hip. Five minutes is all it takes: you can boost your immune system, eliminate toxins, rehydrate and energize your body.

**I’ve included links to some of my favourite tips and recipes and shared what works for me. But I recommend you choose your personal preferences by using the ingredients you have/use/love, and consider any dietary requirements and allergies.**

Let’s do this!

Here are

Five ways busy mums can boost their health in under five minutes:  enjoying stronger immune systems, increased energy and a healthy glow from the inside out.

1) Start the day with a hot tonic

Hot tonics can restore and invigorate the body, promoting general health and well-being. Morning drinks lay the groundwork for the day. The right ones eliminate toxins, strengthen our immune systems and give us a little kick-start of energy. Tonics can be prepped fresh in the morning or made ahead of time. (It stays fresh for about a week).  Everyday I drink the Master tonic featured in this amazing  Superfresh Recipe book By Jennifer Houston. Take a glass of hot water and add your favourite ingredients.

 Little green lives - Five easy tips to a stronger immune system

Sip it and:

  • Feel the warmth of the fresh ginger, waking up your tired ass, giving you energy for the day ahead, expelling toxins and enhancing blood flow.
  • Let the fresh lemon/orange juice give you a super vitamin C boost to your immune system and help your body absorb iron.
  • Add a few leaves of fresh basil to help you feel calm and focussed, a clove or two of garlic (nature’s antibiotic) to ward of any germs.
  • Tip in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to help eliminate toxins.
  • Stir in honey/maple syrup for a touch of sweetness

 2) Kick ass with a killer breakfast

Pack school lunches. Get the kids dressed. Make a dash for the door with the crew in tow at 8 a.m. It’s super easy to run out of time to eat breakfast in the craziness of the morning routine. But this meal is so very important for the body. It sets blood sugar levels for the day so you avoid that mid-morning slump. Here's three energy-packed ideas to start the day on the right foot:

  1. A bowl of porridge made with steel cut oats (delicious with chai and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, blueberries, with a drizzle of maple syrup).
  2. Home-made granola. My favourite recipe is the Almond Joy granola from Minimalist baker with fresh fruit and yogurt
  3. A smoothie. In one delicious drink you can nail your five fruits/veg for the day. (Also a nutritious snack to have anytime during the day). Use whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have, with a milk, yogurt or juice base.

 Little green lives - Five easy tips to a stronger immune system

 

 My favourite ingredients are:

  • Bananas - nature’s powerhouses, packed with healthy carbohydrates and potassium to restore electrolyte balance (freeze a big batch without the peel so you never run out)
  • Kale - crammed full of vitamin A and C and calcium and iron
  • Spinach - magnesium and iron-rich, helping you to relax
  • Chia seeds - full of Omega 3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which reduce free radical damage to the skin, plus contain high levels of calcium
  • Blueberries - great antioxidant. Low in calories high in nutrients

3) Pack mummy snacks

Snacks aren’t just for the kiddos! Take five minutes to pack yourself some snacks. This reduces the need to buy (unhealthy) nibbles on the run. Arm yourself with foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. It also doesn’t hurt to have a fun container: I love my planet box.

Some easy and healthy snack-on-the-go ideas:

  • Try making a big batch of humus, cut sticks of veggies to use throughout the week
  • Fresh/dry fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Homemade granola bars. These are our absolute favourites from Oh She Glows.

 Little green lives - Five easy tips to a stronger immune system

 

4) Hydrate!

This one is easy and takes nearly NO time at all. Stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle on hand. Something of the non-spill variety. As busy mums we never seem to drink enough water. Keeping hydrated is also extra-important for breastfeeding mums to ensure a good milk supply and better energy levels and alertness. Not to mention, water also helps keep skin looking good.

Challenge yourself to drink 2 litres a day and notice the difference!

5) Fuel up with an energy-charged lunch

You aced breakfast now let’s focus on lunch.

If you can prep this ahead of time or have leftovers ready to eat all the better:

Make salad in a jar for you and your partner the evening before. Washed salad can be stored in glass for several days. Add protein to feel fuller longer and help beat the mid-afternoon energy slump. I’m vegan so in my case tofu, beans, chic peas, or nuts…for omnivores try your choice of meat.

The key is to have something already prepared. If you can grab something quick you won't be so tempted to eat your toddler’s peanut butter toast crusts.

Soups that are high in protein and veggies are another quick and tasty lunchtime alternative. Make a big batch and freeze the extras.

 A lunchtime favourite in our household is homemade hummus. we make a big batch ahead of time and put it into a few small tubs in our fridge. My husband takes some to work, and I snack on the rest whenever I find myself with a free hand or two.

Mama you got this. 

You’re five easy steps away from feeling fabulous.

Why not give it a try? I’d love to hear how it goes!

Fancy more great tips and recipe suggestions come follow on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Thanks for popping in

Sam