Family dinner: one pan chicken

One pot chicken

When it comes to weekday dinners, I like them simple, healthy and easy to clean up after. Anything I can make in just one pan or pot makes me very happy, and this super easy chicken and veggie dish fits the bill. Are you trying to conceive, pregnant, nursing or just a very busy mama? Then you know how important it is to eat a good serving of protein at every meal. Every cell in the human body requires protein; protein helps your body to repair cells and create new ones and it is especially important during pregnancy. Chicken is a great source of protein, and we try to have it at least once a week.

Ingredients (to serve four):

Four free range and antibiotic free chicken breasts cut into large pieces

Four large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped

A cup of fresh green beans

A clove or two of garlic

Place all the ingredients in a oven safe pan, drizzle generously with olive oil, and season with pink salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 200C for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender, and the sweet potatoes are soft.

You can serve this with a salad, but I just stuck some cherry tomatoes in a bowl this time around, and we had fresh peaches for pudding for some extra nutrients and antioxidants. A really delicious and easy meal for the most basic cook (that would be me). You’re welcome!

{If you’re looking for a HypnoBirthing course in the Durban area, I have a new course starting on the 13 October! I also have space for birth and postpartum doula clients from November. Please contact me if you’d like some more information.}

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Just one thing

Vegetables

This healthy, minimalist lifestyle – it’s really, really hard, isn’t it? The world is so toxic and so cluttered, so cruel and so materialistic, that sometimes it seems just impossible to live any sort of counter-cultural life on a day to day basis. Sometimes, I just want to give up.

Last week, I had one of my “to hell with it” days. There was literally nothing (gluten free) I could eat in the house – I had had a busy week, and didn’t have time to get to the shops before my daughter’s extra-mural started. Even the fruit was finished. But I could feel myself starting to get irritable and shaky so I chose the lesser of two evils; the most divine peanut butter and jam sandwich I think I have ever had. It must be at least a year since I’ve had bread and it just tasted so good. As I bit into it, I knew it was activating my dodgy immune system, I could hear my doctor’s warnings in my ears; but just for a moment, I didn’t give a damn.

I have come to believe that there are no “perfect” choices in life; or at least very few. Those organic apples at R60 for 4? I could buy them – but they are so incredibly expensive for a family that eats at least eight apples a day that I would have to work double the hours I do just to pay for them. And that goes against one of those things I hold most dear: time with my children. And so I make the best choice I possibly can under the circumstances.

Looking back on the years since we started a family, and really started to move towards a healthier, simpler lifestyle, I also see how far we have come. There’s a long way to go but:

  • Both of us work fewer hours so that we can enjoy our young family. We work hard when we’re at work but promotions and pay raises (with the longer hours and increased pressure that they bring) have become far less important than time with our babies.
  • We (almost) never have any kinds of sweets, e-numbers or processed food in our house. Dark chocolate and home baked goods excepted of course!
  • The only take-away meal we enjoy is sushi. Deep pan pizzas and KFC are a thing of the past.
  • We have started an organic veggie garden. It’s small, and by no means meets all our fresh produce needs, but it’s a start.
  • 90% of the household cleaners and personal care products we use are organic and non-toxic.

There’s more to do of course. I need to cut down on my social media use for sure; our kids could eat more vegetables; perhaps we could give more to charity – oh! I could write a long list.

The Instagram accounts and blogs make it all look so easy. Perhaps it is for some. But start small, start now. Just do one thing and see where it takes you.

Go-to breakfast

Smoothies

I go through stages when it comes to breakfasts. I went through a strict Paleo stage, which had me eating giant fry-ups of bacon, mushrooms and other veggies at 6am. While delicious and filling, these meals took a bit more effort than I like to expend in the early morning. Onto the smoothie stage…which is where we are now. Smoothies are such a wonderful way to get in a whole lot of fruit and/or veggies plus a protein serving early on in your day. A big smoothie with two bananas can carry me through to lunchtime and the inherent sweetness means you probably won’t be craving chocolate at 10am (no guarantees if you’re pregnant – that’s another story!). Here’s my favourite recipe at the moment:

250ml milk of your choice (I use a mixture of coconut and rice milk)

1-2 ripe bananas

1 big tablespoon frozen berries

1 big tablespoon nut butter (a good quality sugar free peanut butter is fine)

Any powdered superfood or supplement you may want to add – e.g. glutamine, green powder, probiotics etc.

Blitz and you’re done! Sugar free, gluten free, dairy free if you wish and full of goodness.

(It’s been a busy year over at Gentle Welcome but I do have doula vacancies from January 2017. Initial meet and greets are free, and I would love to chat to you about your birth wishes and how I can help. I also offer HypnoBirthing classes, birth story sessions and private mother-to-mother coaching sessions.)

Healthy Brownies

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I had the craziest cravings for sweet things during both my pregnancies. While I was on bed rest with my daughter, I remember sending my poor husband out to get me a very specific brand of chocolate Easter eggs, and crying in despair when he came back with the wrong kind. Yes, those cravings were pretty strong!

I wish I knew then what I know now; that it is entirely possible to satisfy your sweet tooth with healthy, nourishing treats like this one, instead of processed, unhealthy rubbish. This recipe is sugar, gluten and dairy free. And it tastes amazing.

Ingredients:

2 ripe, mashed bananas

1/2 cup sugar free peanut butter (we use Peels or Yum Yum)*

3-4 TBSP raw cocoa (we use the Manoli’s one)

Optional: chocolate chips/cranberries/pecan nuts etc

Use a strong hand held blender to blend the first three ingredients together. You should have a creamy batter, much like normal brownies. If it is too dry, add a little milk. Stir in any additional ingredients.

Pour into a lined, small bread tin, and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes (the top should just be hard). Cool, cut into squares and enjoy! Keep in the fridge.

*If you’re wondering if you should be eating peanuts during pregnancy, yes you should! Unless, of course, you are allergic to peanuts. Research shows that eating a wide variety of all kinds of foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding is one of the best ways to avoid allergies in babies and young children.

 

Peanut butter choc chip cookies

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We generally don’t go a week around these parts without baking something or other. It’s a great activity to keep the kids busy on those “I’m SOOO bored” days, and besides, I have an insanely sweet tooth that needs satisfying.

I have a few requirements of any recipes we try; they must be gluten free (due to my food intolerance), they must require just a few basic ingredients and they should preferably be refined sugar free and contain some kind of disguised fruit or vegetable.

This recipe is certainly not sugar free but I consider it an acceptable compromise as we ease off the excess of December and move back into our generally quite healthy lifestyle.

Ingredients:

1 cup peanut butter (we use the Yum Yum brand)

1 cup brown sugar

1 beaten egg

5 ml vanilla essence

Chocolate chips

Pink salt for sprinkling

Mix everything together with the exception of the pink salt. Roll balls of dough, place on baking paper on a large baking tray and press flat with a fork. Sprinkle lightly with pink salt. Bake at 180 C for 15-20 minutes and eat once cool.

This is a super easy, super delicious recipe with just the right combination of salty and sweet. Enjoy!