Sunday, 21 September 2014

Meal Planning Monday: Autumn beckons

We had our first casserole last week, a variation on my chicken leek and butternut squash recipe that I made and froze pre-Harry. This conclusively means one thing, autumn is upon us.

Now we're more used to having a bubba around, we've got back to battling with the house and garden. I say we, but I'm frequently pinned to the sofa feeding Harry so it's mainly M. I'm concentrating on finishing touches, we need a big mirror and some artwork for the lounge, and to start our photo wall in the dining room.

Anyway, back to the meal plan:

I've succumbed to dips and crackers for lunches as when M's at work I need food I can manage with one hand.

Breakfasts are fruit and today that my lovely husband brings me while I'm feeding the baby in bed.


Monday - leftover pasta bake

Tuesday - sausages, baked potatoes and beans

Wednesday - courgetti spaghetti

Thursday - pizza

Friday - cottage pie

Saturday - leftover cottage pie

Sunday - roast chicken

So that's us, the sausages and cottage pie are clear indicators of that slide into autumn. What are your go to dishes as the seasons change?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Feeding the baby: 5 foodie tips to help with your breastmilk supply

Harry and I had a tricky start on the breastfeeding front - as he was in NICU we weren't able to have an immediate attempt at feeding after he was born (first 6 hours are recommended) that would have been important in order to stimulate my milk supply. On the morning after he was born Mark found me on the post natal ward sobbing as I had no idea what to do in order to feed my baby as he was somewhere else in the building and I couldn't get there as I was still full of epidural and spinal block from the emergency c section. . And no one to help me do it either. Fortunately Mark wheeled me to NICU where the staff were only too happy to help and I was provided with a breast pump, steriliser and bottles to start expressing. Great I thought, (only no one told me I wouldn't have anything to express at that point - there was me expecting it just to happen...) and so started our journey to establish breastfeeding.

I'm really lucky now - well part of me's lucky and the other part has worked bloody hard to get a milk supply that's established enough for Harry to start putting on weight. I'm lucky because of the support I've had - a good friend who knows what she's doing, rocked up at the hospital with fruit, nipple shields and photocopied explanations of what we were going to do. I was instructed to eat plenty, drink lots and keep on expressing. And my friend sat with me, distracted me, and kept me going - because it wasn't easy. I expressed, I tried to feed, I fed, I slept, I ate, I drank all the water and I started the whole shebang again. And nearly fifteen weeks on it's getting much easier but my milk supply has needed some help so I just thought I'd note down some foodie things we've found helpful in increasing my milk:

  • Fenugreek - God I hate this stuff, I won't use it when I'm cooking currys because I can just smell it everywhere for ever. However, in capsule form (I got mine from Holland and Barrett) it's a great supplement to help with breast milk - 2 capsules, 3 times a day. And if you swallow them quickly you can't taste them. 
  • Fenugreek water - half a cup a day of the recipe in tomorrow's post (I dilute it in strongly flavoured juice as it's really strong tasting)
  • Oats - porridge, Hobnobs, flapjacks, Orange barley water.
  • Lots of fluids - I have a sports bottle that is permanently full or being drunk from so about to be refilled. I have no idea how much water I'm drinking a day, but lots is a good estimation
  • EAT - largely healthy, but factor in treats also - but mainly just eat. You need to, otherwise milk production will suffer, and I just wouldn't have the energy to feed at all. It's tiring. Amazing, but tiring. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. And keep asking. I ask everyone if my latch is OK. I get Harry weighed at every opportunity. And I keep going to breastfeeding group. Tenacity and stubborness are good skills. 
I'm not a breastfeeding specialist, and this is just my experience, but these things were helpful for me and I hope they're helpful for you. If you have any other food based suggestions of ways to support breastfeeding, why not add them in the comments.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Meal Planning Monday: quick and to the point

 Those who know me, know I'm pretty much a control freak - I like my lists, to be organised, to plan, to finish one thing before starting another. And then I had Harry. I still make lists... I just then promptly lose them or forget about them only to find them two weeks later and realise that I either haven't yet dusted the bedroom or it's been so long since I did that it needs doing again. 

Anyway... moving along from my slovenly domestic ways, happily distracted as I am by our wee man. Food has really gone by the wayside of late - to be honest if I can't fling it at the oven, or don't remember to hoik it out of the freezer we're not having it. I'm genuinely surprised at how little we've succumbed to take aways or toast and marmite as acceptable suppers. 

We're starting to add baby activities into our week now, so meals are not only planned around Harry's feeds, but also when we need to leave the house. Swimming is a favourite and not just because he sleeps like an angel after it. I swear if I didn't need to wake him for feeds he'd easily go through the night on a Saturday. 

Monday: Sausages, baked potatoes and corn on the cob

Tuesday: Ham, egg & chips

Wednesday: Leftover ham, egg & wedges (see, it's different. Honest)

Thursday: Baked tomato pasta with meatballs

Friday: Leftover pasta


Sunday: Roast chicken

What's on your meal plan this week?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Meal Planning Monday - ahead of the game this week?

Things here seem to be settling into a routine - sadly not one involving sleep, although Harry is great at night times so far. During the day is another matter entirely so if anyone else tells me to "sleep when the baby does" I will weep. Copiously. And possibly become violent.  Until the next growth spurt or developmental milestone or tomorrow's vaccinations *sobs* I kind of know where I am and what I'm doing - not in an organised or efficient way, but more of an - if he cries, check nappy, feed, activity mat. Regardless it seems to be working for us.

Tesco click and collect has been a godsend, I do the weekly shop one evening, link it in to a meal plan and it's there for M to collect on a Sunday. We'll skim over their inability to send fruit that isn't wildly overripe or incredibly short dated because the convenience of it is enough to make me weep with gratitiude.

This week is hopefully not too hectic (aside from aforementioned jabs *still sobbing*). We're visiting my mum on Tuesday, and aside from that I'm hoping for some family time.

Breakfasts: Cereal for me - trying to make sure I get my calcium, normally with a banana and some decaf tea.

Lunches: Halloumi and houmous pitta pockets with carrot and cucumber sticks. Oh and cherry tomatoes - that craving has not left.


Monday - Chilli stuffed marrow - based on this recipe, but using some chilli con carne I had in the freezer as the filling. Re-reading that post, I'll be sure to top the marrow with lots of cheese, and make the wedges to go with.

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday - Baked pasta and meatballs - I add bucketloads of mozzarella to this and love it at the moment.

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Pizza

Saturday - Courgetti spaghetti

Sunday - Leftovers

Baking wise, I haven't done any this weekend - although M's mum has kindly left us a bagful of homemade meringues so eton mess is definitely on the menu. But I'm planning on knocking up another Brioche and apple pudding as M liked the last one. And so did I - it was a fantastic breastfeeding snack.

OK - the plan is to post this now so that tomorrow it's there for me to do the link up with. If I remember. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Brioche and apple pudding

Growing up a real treat for us was my mum's bread pudding - done in the slow cooker, we'd come home to the fug of cinammon and nutmeg and know that pudding was on the menu. I realise now it was mainly a thrifty way to use up stale bread, but in my head it was manna from heaven. Really one of my favourite things. I've never made it as there's no 'real' recipe for it, more a kind of - well we do this until it looks a bit like this... which isn't helpful for you or I.

A couple of weeks back the people at Pasquier brioche asked if I'd like to have a go at trying some of their brioche and creating a recipe with it. Bread pudding was the obvious choice (well, obvious to me) I just needed the time and my wonderfully velcro baby to let me have some time in the kitchen.

The interweb is awash with recipes for bread and butter pudding, yet bread pudding seems to be a less common bake - maybe the fact that it's unfashionably retro - has none of the twee appeal of other more traditional bakes, or the fact that it is a dense pudding. I'm not sure I still love it.

Making the pudding with brioche made for a much lighter texture, and adding cooking apple from the garden cut through the sweetness. Otherwise it's a fairly traditional recipe that I've worked up.

Brioche and apple pudding

500g (1 loaf) brioche - whizzed into breadcrumbs in the processor or chopped up roughly by hand
500g dried fruit - I used a mix of sultanas and currants as that's what we had. You could use anything you have to hand.
100g cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated
1.5 tablespoons sweet mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinammon
1/2 nutmeg grated
1 pint milk
2 eggs, beaten
140g soft brown sugar
100g melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons demerera sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees, and butter and line a square, deep dish cake tin (I use the one I use for brownies and similar)

In a big mixing bowl combine the breadcrumbs, dried fruit, grated apple, spices and sugar.
Mix the milk and eggs together
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and using your hands make sure that everything is really well mushed up
Leave to stand and soak for half an hour or so (it doesn't matter if you leave it for longer)
Melt the butter and pour over the ingredients. Make sure it's well combined.
Pour into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for and hour and a half, covered with tin foil. 30 minutes before the end remove the foil.

Serve warm with ice cream, custard or cream. Or leave to cool and have in a packed lunch.

Thanks to Pasquier for sending me the brioche - the rolls were excellent sustenance for the 10am feeds! 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Curry in a hurry - good curry

You know those nights you're late home from work, or in our world - your partner has been attached to the sofa feeding the baby all day and there's nothing that you can just wallop in the oven and be done with in the house? That's where (to my foodie shame) ready meals for me step in. Cheaper than a takeaway, and these days if you're careful you can find those without too many nasties so you aren't overwhelmed by the guilt. Oh the guilt.

A few weeks back - 7 in fact, the nice people at Charlie Brighams got in contact with me regarding trying some of their ready meals. Busy as we were at the time, getting ready for the baby I thought they would be an ideal solution to our busy days - M was working in Birmingham, we were trying to fit in our NCT classes, finish decorating the nursery (nope, still not quite done) as well as sort the house out. They were the ideal way to ensure we didn't succumb to takeaway - too expensive - or toast and marmite - not ideal.

We picked up two of the new curry ready meals - Chicken tikka masala and Chicken korma. Both served two, so my plan was to cook both curries and one set of rice one night, and then the other portion of rice the next to have with the leftovers.

My prevailing opinion of the curries were that they were quite sweet - and even for two curries on the milder end of the spectrum, very mild. That said, they tasted clean and fresh and we definitely enjoyed them. The only other comment would be that portion wise I would dispute each meal serving two - I ended up making a very quick veggie dhaal to go with in order to bulk our dinners out.

I would definitely buy the meals again, but would consider adding some extra spicing, or maybe not the curries - some of the other options looked really interesting.

I should also point out - this was the last thing I ate before I went into labour!

Thanks to Charlie Bighams for sending me vouchers to buy both curries. This post is my own opinion.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday: Sunny days and sleepy nights

This week's meal plan is late (again - sorry about that) but done nonetheless - we've got M's parents staying with us for 4 days this week so our meal plan is bearing that in mind.

The sunny weather of late has been glorious, but has completely killed my appetite for proper food and I've been getting by with some very unhealthy snacking which keeps me going but isn't great for breastfeeding. So I'm trying desperately to eat properly, so this week's shop has included some bits and bobs I can eat with one hand as well as cordial to make the necessary litres of water a bit more interesting.

Breakfasts: Oatibix (oats are good for supplementing breast milk supply) and a banana

Lunches: either halloumi and houmous in pitta bread with salad, or houmous and avocado in pitta bread with salad. I've had to move away from bowls of salad as I just can't eat salad one handed whilst feeding without getting it down me or on the baby.


Monday: leftover pulled pork in burritos with mushrooms, peppers and avocadao. There wasn't much pork leftover so I needed to bulk it out from the fridge.

Tuesday: Courgetti spaghetti

Wednesday: Leftover Courgetti spaghetti

Thursday: Cottage pie

Friday: Baked pasta and meatballs

Saturday: Chilli con carne in the slow cooker

 I baked a variation on bread pudding yesterday so that's our cake supply for the week sorted - blog post to follow.

What's on your meal plan this week? Do you find your appetite diminishes in the heat? How do you get around that?

Don't forget to pop on over to At home with Mrs M and see what the other meal planners are up to.


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