Tag Archives: Carbohydrates

TOP 10 HEALTHY AFTERSCHOOL SNACKS

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Here’s a recent blog I wrote for The Parent Express: 
NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST AND MOTHER, AMANDA ASHY-BOYD, SHARES HER TOP 10 HEALTHY AFTERSCHOOL SNACKS THAT KIDS WILL EAT AND LOVE

Follow Amanda on Instagram for healthy lunch box ideas or to register for her Eat a Rainbow course.  Alternatively, check out some of her recipes at The Healthy Happy Baby.

Collecting kids from school requires logistical planning comparative to a NASA expedition.

For working parents, wrap-around care needs to be in place five days a week; for mums on maternity leave, it’s praying for that perfectly timed break in between naps and feeds, and hoping that baby will willingly get into the variable sling, car seat and pushchair without making you (both) cry along the way.

For me, three days a week, it’s an hour-long outing, first collecting Melody from nursery, then driving, parking, and walking to collect Eliza on time. Often times I’m running from car to class, with Melody on my hip, desperately trying to avoid being the last parent at the classroom door.

The first thing that comes out of their mouths, having not seen me for six-plus hours is, “Snacky?”

Continue reading at The Parent Express

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Sweet Potato Wedges

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Ingredients for Coconut Sweet Potatoes

3-4 medium sweet potatoes cut into wedges

2 tbsp of coconut oil plus a bit to grease the casserole dish

Salt & Pepper

Ingredients for Buttered Sweet Potatoes

3-4 medium sweet potatoes cut into wedges

2 tbsp of ghee plus  a bit to grease the casserole dish

Salt & Pepper

Method

Preheat oven 400F, 200C, 180 Fan, Gas 6

Warm casserole dish with a little coconut oil or ghee for 3-4 minutes

Dump wedges into dish, spread out so they aren’t touching too much

Cook for 25 minutes, flipping once after about 15 minutes

Voila!

Sweet potato was one of the first foods I weaned my girls on, around the age of 6 months. At 6 months, for both of them, I did a bit of spoon feeding mixed with Baby Led Weaning, and by 7 months, they were predominately BLW. Until they were about 12 months, sweet potato was my go-to carbohydrate. It’s an easily digestible fibre, so it won’t irritate tiny digestive tracts, and as far as plant forms of vitamin A goes, this root veggie is leader of the pack. I always combine it with a good quality fat, for optimal nutrient absorption. These lovely tubers are also a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins and is a free radical scavenger, so definitely a friend of a family keen to be healthy! Enjoy!!

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Creamy Courgetti with Peas

Creamy Courgetti with Peas

 

Ingredients:

6 Courgette / Zucchini (medium)

1 Cup of Frozen Peas

1/4 + 1 tbsp Creme Fraiche

3 Cloves of garlic

2 tbsp butter (grass fed)

Spices: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp parsley flakes, 8-10 cracks of black pepper

Courgette

Method:

Prep all ingredients before cooking because the cooking goes so quickly, if you’re not prepared, time will get away from you

Prep:

– Spiralize courgette, squeeze water from courgette so they aren’t too wet, salt courgette, add boiling water to frozen peas to defrost, cut lemon in half, measure out creme fraiche 

  1. Melt 1.5 tbsp of butter, saving the remaining half tbsp for later, on med-low heat for 30 seconds, then add minced garlic. Cook for 30-40 seconds. You want the garlic to start to color a bit, but not to burn
  2. Take pan off the fire and add spiralized courgette and lemon juice. Mix really well then add back to the fire. Cook for 5 minutes on medium-low head, stirring occasionally
  3. Add remaining butter, creme fraiche, peas and spices
  4. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes for crunchier Courgetti and 5-7 minutes for al dente ‘noodles’. I prefer a crunchier texture, but Dad prefers more al dente. It’s 100% preference.
  5. Voila!

Courgetti in Pan

I made this light, super easy dish to accompany the sea bass I was cooking. While the sea bass was baking in the oven, I made this courgetti. If you’re organized, it takes less than 30 minutes.

So much can be done with this simple dish! It can be eaten alone, as a lovely, creamy vegetarian dish; you can have it with a light, white fish or you can chuck in some bacon for a gluten-free, ‘pasta’ Carbonara. If you’re opting for the vegetarian version, the peas add a good source of protein, but also an easily digestible, gluten-free, slow releasing starchy carbohydrate, which is great for blood sugar balancing. The Courgetti ‘pasta’ is made using a fresh, green vegetable – this adds vitamins, antioxidants, natural fibre and an all-around healthy nutrient profile to what also feels like an indulgent dish. It’s great for kids, to boost their veggie intake; great for mums looking for a lighter meal to maybe shift the pregnancy weight, and great for dads who might get home late and want to avoid a heavy pasta dish. Winner!

The magic of this dish is the garlic, butter and lemon combination. The lemon lightens up the richness of the butter and cream, adding a kiss of citrusy tang. And no good Italian dish is complete without garlic!

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family does. It’s all the pleasure of a pasta dish without the heavy, bloated feeling of a pasta dish. Bellissimo!

 

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Bolognese & Sweet Potato Noodles

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Ingredients:

500g ground red meat (grass-fed preferably)

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

4 mushrooms

4 cherry or plum tomatoes or 1 medium tomato

2 cups tomato sauce / passata

3/4 cups hot water

2 large sweet potato or 3 medium

Spices: olive oil, 2 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp basil, salt & pepper

Method

  1. Season meat with salt & pepper and start browning on a medium – low heat, covered, for about 2-3 minutes while you chop onion finely. Move the meat to one side and tip pan, letting the fat from the meat drain to one side. Add the onion to this natural fat and fry with lid on while you chop the garlic. Add the finely chopped garlic to the onions and fry for 2 minutes
  2. Quarter tomatoes and add to the onion and garlic. Fry for 2-3 minutes while you clean and chop the mushrooms. I usually slice the mushrooms 4-5 times horizontally and vertically
  3. Mix onions, garlic and tomatoes and mushrooms into the meat. Let itcook for 3-5 minutes while you prepare your sweet potato noodles using a spiralizer or julienne peeler (see below)
  4. Add the leftover core of the sweet potato (cut into cubes first) to the meat, as well as your spices: 1/4 tsp basil, 2 bay leaves, salt & pepper, tomato sauce and hot water. Cover, bring to a boil
  5. Once the sauce has boiled, reduce to a simmer, keep covered and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. In a separate frying pan, warm up 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add sweet potato noodles and cook on medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring once or twice each minute. You want the noodles to keep somewhat of a crunchy texture to them so they don’t wilt under the sauce.
  7. Add sauce to the sweet potato noodles
  8. Voila!

Sweet Potato Noodles

  1. Peel the sweet potato
  2. Using a spiralizer or julienne peeler start making your noodles. I use a julienne peeler because it works just as well as a spiralizer and I don’t have space in my kitchen for another large appliance. It’s very simple. Hold the potato and using the julienne peeler, firmly start to peel the potato. I usually do 4-5 peels before turning to start on the other side of the potato. Continue to do this until you’re left with about a 1/2″ core of the potato. (This core will be cubed and added to the sauce for natural sweetness)
  3. Salt noodles and continue with step 6 in Method

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I’ve never been a fan of boiling noodles. They take ages, and I end up obsessively watching the pasta cook for the last 5 minutes, constantly testing it to make sure it’s done. Sweet potato noodles solves that problem! Not only do these ‘noodles’ increase the nutritional value of the meal, but they take about 4 minutes to cook. Super simple!

As a mother and a nutritionist, I choose to restrict many grains and refined flours. I do this as a lifestyle choice for myself and also as a guideline for weaning and toddler nutrition, especially 0-2 years. Don’t get me wrong, I love a sandwich, and one of my best food experiences from my holiday in Italy was the large bowl of four cheese pasta that got devoured with a bottle of wine.

I consider grains such as pasta and bread a treat, like ice cream, rather than a staple. Both are a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates along with protein and fat are categorized as macronutrients. A balanced macronutrient intake is essential for optimal health. As a starchy carbohydrate replacement, I prefer root vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash. I always have sweet potatoes in the house. Sweet potatoes are a nutrient powerhouse, packed with vitamins A and C, two well known antioxidants and immune supporters, as well B vitamins which our bodies require daily to make energy. Sweet potatos are also very easily digested – perfect for the developing digestive tract of a baby or toddler, and contain good fibers that when digested help to improve the microflora in the gut, contributing to a healthy digestive tract. Sweet potatoes are in season almost the entire year, making them a versatile and accessible carbohydrate.

Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Risotto

Rissoto

 

Ingredients

1 cup white basmati rice

1 onion finely diced

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 carrot

5 mushrooms

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup vegetable stock

1-2 cups water

1.5 tbsp grated Parmasean

2 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. Mix the vegetable stock and water together and add to a saucepan and warm. In a separate saucepan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and warm on low heat. While it’s warming, finely dice your onion and mince the garlic. Once olive oil is warm, add onion and fry for 5 minutes on low heat. Then, add garlic and fry for 3 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally
  2. Add rice and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Turn heat up to medium-high and fry the rice with the onions and garlic for 1-2 minutes, stirring
  3. After 1-2 minutes, add about 1 cup of warmed vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high fire for about 3-5 minutes, while you chop the carrot and mushrooms into small cubes. After 3-5 minutes, or when the rice absorbs most of the stock and just starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and the carrots and more warm liquid, mix. You want the rice to cook slowly, gaining a sticky consistency – adding liquid as it absorbs into the rice
  4. Next, add the mushrooms – you’re the judge of when and how much liquid to add, as you the one watching the rice cook and absorb, so if you need more liquid at this time, add more. All together, you will probably use about 2-3 cups of the liquid
  5. Continue to simmer, occasionally stirring, tasting the rice to check if its nearly cooked. This will probably be another 3-5 minutes. When the rice is nearly cooked, add the peas, tiny bit more liquid and salt and pepper. Let the rice now cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the rice is cooked, turn the heat off, add the grated parmesan, mix and cover. Leave to rest for 2 minutes. This is when the rice really takes form as a risotto and becomes a lovely, sticky consistency. Mix and serve
  7. Voila!

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Risotto requires a little bit of love and attention while preparing to ensure that the rice cooks well, and the grains achieve a smooth and sticky consistency. It might be worth setting a timer, maybe on your smart phone, for each stage to remind yourself to continuously check the rice. You don’t want to overcook it, and it does require constant liquid ladling. It might sound complex, but honestly, it’s such a simple dish. Cooking risotto is like making toast – you can’t really mess it up.

White rice is as cost effective as pasta, it’s definitely toddler approved and it’s more easily digested than pasta, so it’s a good alternative to what might seem like a constant rotation of pasta dishes in your house. You can make this recipe with risotto rice, but I use white basmati rice because I always have it in the house, and it cooks faster. This recipe can be prepped and cooked in about 30 minutes, and it requires no planning – spontaneous cooking at its best! You can add whatever vegetables you have in the house: carrots, mushrooms, green beans, butternut squash, sweet potato, leeks, kale – just try to add the more dense vegetables in the early cooking process, so they have time to soften.  If you want a more hearty meal, you can use homemade chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, and add chicken or salmon to the risotto. The chicken or fish stock will add depth and flavor galore, boost the nutrient profile, and make the dish a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. Adding an oily fish like salmon will also up the essential fatty acid profile which is so important in developing infants, babies and toddlers.

Cooking risotto fills the house with a beautiful smell that is unmistakable in its aroma. I would often cook it while both girls were taking their afternoon nap, and as Number 1 approached 2.5 years old, she would wake and come downstairs and ask, “did you make rice!?!” It’s a favorite of my girls, and of mine because they can easily feed themselves the sticky rice, there’s always enough for leftovers, it can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian and it feels gluttonous, but it’s actually very healthy. Hooray for risotto!

Additional Note

This will serve 4 – two toddlers and two adults. Or, if you’re having fish or chicken to accompany it, which is what we do, this recipe will serve 4, with leftovers.

Enjoy!

 

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Broccoli & Mushroom Casserole

Casserole

 

Ingredients

4-5 cups broccoli

1.5 cup mushrooms

1 chopped onion

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 cup double cream

1.5 cup cooked quinoa (1/4 cup dry)

Spices: 1/4 tsp salt, cracked black pepper, garlic granules

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, 180C, Gas 4
  2. Wash and cook quinoa. For 1/4 cup quinoa, add 3/4 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes
  3. Wash and prepare broccoli, mushroom and onions. Broccoli into small toddler pieces and  mushroom and onion roughly chopped
  4. Chuck vegetables in a steamer for 10 minutes to take the edge off the rawness
  5. While veg are steaming, grate cheese
  6. Tip the steamed veg into a 9×12 rectangular pyrex dish, or something similar
  7. Add cheese, cream and mix in quinoa and spices
  8. Put into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. You want the cheese to turn a nice golden color and crisp around the edges
  9. Voila!

Broc Cass 1

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When I’m craving a pizza, on a Tuesday night, but don’t want the bloated and guilty feeling that comes with eating a pizza, on a Tuesday night, I make my grandmother’s casserole dish. My grandmother was an amazing cook. She lived around the corner from us, and I spent a lot of time at her house, eating her food. One year, during the Thanksgiving holiday, I packed a bag and moved in with her and my grandfather for an entire week. This is a long time for a seven year old. But we were tight. I loved being at her house.

We always ate real food in our family. This recipe, although it might sound indulgent, is all real food ingredients. Nothing processed – nothing refined, much healthier than a pizza. I modified the original because I’m a nutritionist, and that’s what I do, but the flavor is identical. It’s healthy and it makes my family happy. Dad devoured half of the casserole, standing over the stove. That is food joy!

Diary – should we eat it or shouldn’t we?  Choosing a diary-free diet is almost as common as a gluten-free diet, and for good reason – many people are allergic or intolerant. However, if you don’t react badly to dairy, and if you consume it moderately from farms that respect their cows and produce organic, grass-fed products, in its full fat form, then I think dairy can be a wonderful and fun addition to cuisine. Real cream, real butter and whole milk not only taste better than the alternatives, but they are actually better for you. To be boring, consuming full fat dairy over low-fat alternatives will reduce insulin spikes, keep blood sugar balanced and it has a better fatty acid profile. So, ditch the low-fat, skimmed, soy alternatives and indulge in the option that is more of a real, whole food.

Enjoy!

 

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Ashy Family Tabbouleh Salad

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Ingredients

3 cup cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)

1.5 – 2 cup finely chopped parsley

1 tomato

4 green onions

3 sprigs of mint (15-20 leaves)

1 1/2 lemons

2 tbs olive oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

3 pinches of cayenne pepper

Equipment

Mortar and Pestle aka “Knocker” (wooden preferably)

Large salad bowl

* double all ingredients for a larger batch

Method

  1. Cook and cool the quinoa. Once quinoa is cooled, add to large salad bowl. You can either cook the quinoa the night before, or you can cook it and cool it in the fridge while preparing the other ingredients
  2. Wash parsley, onions, tomatoes and mint
  3. Start chopping vegetables. I start with the parsley – cut stems off as close to the leaf as possible. Do this in handful sizes. Bunch the parsley up and chop finely. It usually requires a horizontal and vertical chop to get it to a fine consistency. You can use flat or curly parsley; curly parsley is quicker and easier. Once chopped, chuck into your quinoa in a large salad bowl *see note below
  4. Chop onions (white and green) and tomatoes quite finely and add to quinoa
  5. Remove mint leaves from stem and chop. Add to the knocker with pinch of coarse salt. Knock and mash the mint with considerable pressure until you get a paste consistency. The coarse salt helps to grind the mint down into a paste. This usually takes 60 seconds of firm knocking and mixing
  6. Squeeze juice from lemons and add to the mint paste along with salt, pepper and olive oil Mix together well then pour over quinoa. Mix well
  7. Serve chilled in lettuce wraps
  8. Voila!

Example of how finely to chop tomatoes, onions and parsley

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Growing up in a Lebanese family, in south Louisiana, is quite a unique experience. My great-grandparents left their country in the early 1900’s and migrated to the southern parts of America. They chose the south because they were Christian, and they were French speaking. South Louisiana offered a home to both of those attributes. We southern Lebanese descendants now proudly refer to ourselves as Leba-Cajuns because of the rich cultural experience we received growing up in Acadiana Parish. Cooking, eating and drinking shaped our existence.

My mother’s father was Lebanese and her mother was French, so my mom grew up with a predominately Cajun-Creole cuisine. When my mom married into the Ashy family, she was taught through the generations the recipes of the Old Country. My mom was a great student and an even better teacher. I’m so grateful to my mom for teaching us that nothing tastes quite as good as food prepared in your own kitchen.

Traditionally, Tabbouleh is made with number 2 medium grind bulgur wheat. My ancestors might not approve, but I substitute bulgar wheat with quinoa. Quinoa much improves the nutritional value of the dish, and I actually prefer the taste. Quinoa is one of the few plant foods containing all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, which makes this version of Tabbouleh a well balanced vegetarian salad providing essential fat, protein and carbohydrates.

I make Tabbouleh at least once a fortnight. The girls taste it & Number 1 likes it more & more. Number 2 still struggles to chew leaves, especially parsley, but she will get there. And so, the Lebanese tradition continues to be passed down through generations – with food this tasty and healthy, how could it not!

Additional Notes

Chopping parsley is the most time consuming part of the preparation. It’s worth taking the time to hand chop, so maybe plan to make this salad on a weekend. However, being a realist as well as a busy mom, I have many times chucked the parsley in a food processor and whizzed it up in seconds. If you do this, make sure not to over process; otherwise, you will end up with soggy parsley.

Enjoy!

  

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Savory Smokey Carrot Soup

Carrot soup

 

Ingredients

6 large carrots, peeled and chopped

6 small potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 cup of cashews

1 onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 tbsp ginger

zest of 1/2 lime

juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 tsp salt

2.5 cups of vegetable stock or homemade chicken stock (see note below)

2 cups of water

Ghee for frying

Garnish with olive oil and smoked paprika

Method

  1. Cook the onions in ghee for 5 minutes then add chopped garlic, cover and cook until soft
  2. Add carrots, potatoes, cashews, zest of lime and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little more ghee or water if necessary, so the vegetables don’t burn
  3. Add stock, water, ginger, salt and lime juice
  4. Cook for 25-30 minutes
  5. Transfer to blender and blend until smooth
  6. Garnish with drizzle of olive oil, dash of smoked paprika.  If you want extra protein try hulled hemp seeds sprinkled on top

If you follow my recipes, you’ve probably noticed a trend with my recipes favoring the orange vegetable. I love these immune boosting vegetables, not only because they’re packed full of phytonutrients but also because I think orange makes food fun! So, here comes another one. This time it’s carrots!

Usually carrot soups are sweet rather than savory, however, I include potatoes as my starchy carbohydrate and cashews as a source of protein, so this soup is more savory than sweet.  To enhance the savoriness, I garnish with olive oil and smoked paprika – this is an important final touch as it adds great depth to the flavor.

I think it’s important for our tiny ones to develop their palate early on, so from the very beginning stages of weaning, I aimed to diversify my cooking to help achieve this.  So many store bought foods tip the scales of sweetness, continuously nurturing that one sweet tastebud.  I avoid store bought sauces like red sauce or curry sauce, and my girls rarely have ketchup.  My reason for this is simple, to grow their palate to appreciate all five sensations of taste.  I hope you like this soup as much as we do in our house.

Additional Note

I usually use homemade chicken stock in this recipe, in fact, I always have homemade chicken stock in the house. It’s cheaper and healthier than buying store bought stock.  I will post a recipe for both homemade vegetable and homemade chicken stock soon.

Enjoy!

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