Jumping the kale bandwagon: healthy fried rice with kale & spring onions

Just call me Gwyneth, the high priestess of worthy eating herself.  I bought 2 bags of kale last week, for the first time in my life.  I went to trusty twitter to find out what to do with them, forgetting to mention I don’t have a juicing contraption so green smoothies and juices are pretty much out.  I learned that it can take the place of spinach in most things, so that set me on the right path.   But also, kale crisps.  Crisps is an overstatement, but I ate a 250g bag of kale in 2 days that way.

Then I go to write up this post only to find that this very weeks Irish Times magazine has a write up on the Superfood Du Jour.  The health benefits are outlined as below, pretty impressive I reckon you’ll agree:

A single cup of chopped kale is estimated to contain 134 per cent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C – and 206 per cent of the recommended intake of vitamin A. That’s not quite as impressive as the 684 per cent of vitamin K. So kale delivers vitamins A, C and K, copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorous and lots of alpha-linoleic acid, which is good for the brain. The same cup of kale contains just 33 calories. 

I couldn’t just buy kale for snacking, and there was no selling them as ‘crissups’ to a 4 year old boy so I found this lovely Gwyneth Paltrow recipe on the Red website – Healthy Fried Rice with Kale & Spring Onions

So the original article declares that the Paltrow-Martin children call this green rice, which I think is stating the obvious on their behalf, and they couldn’t really claim any copyright to what is just in essence a statement of fact rather than some sort of creative naming on their part.  In fact I’d say give my 1 year old another couple of months and he’ll come up with that one himself.

Image:  Ellen Silverman/Red Online
Image: Ellen Silverman/Red Online

Scoffing at celebrity children (or rather the media portrayal of) aside, this really is delicious.  It packs a punch as a light meal in itself, but I served with with some quorn pieces baked in pesto and creme fraiche. To be honest I was afraid the rice would be entirely rejected.  It was eyed with suspicion by Dominic who doesn’t like you to tell him he’s having something he knows and likes (rice) and then fill it full of something else (kale). But he ate it happily enough after a fashion.  Teddy attacked it with gusto, and was the recipient of the leftovers for lunch the next day too.

I would say that kale is a little faffy to prepare.  So if you can at all trim the leaf from the stem during nap time/before work/while kids are at school/the night before.  You do not want to be doing it with a small child screaming for their grub.  After you’ve worked through a bag with a  kitchen scissors (way easier than a knife), then it just works like spinach but takes a little longer.

If you’re worried about offering your children something you don’t think they’ll eat, here’s how I approach it.

  • You’re not allowed say you don’t like something if you haven’t tried it.
  • There isn’t alternatives offered.  I may, in this instance, give the tricky customer a serving that has a bit more plain rice, and a bit less kale, to entice them in.  Or in an easier scenario than this, keep the new ingredient a bit separate so it can be just sampled then eaten around.
  • Nobody has to clear their plates.  If you say you’re full or done, then I believe you if you’ve eaten any reasonable amount.  I cannot be doing with a half hour of cajoling.
  • Re: the above, I am a reasonable adult and realise that even if there’s food left on your plate and you say you’re full there’s always room for ‘something nice’.  That’s how I operate, so I get that you do too.

Of course this has worked on the elder child for the most part, but come back to me in a couple of years to check the toddler isn’t living on just orange food.

Meanwhile, kale FTW!

Jill

Surprise. There’s spinach on your window.

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I was musing to myself earlier, as some spinach flew past my ear, I should really share the good *and* the bad more often.  Oh you hear all about my wonderful childrens eating habits, eschewing primary coloured yogurt pots for the natural stuff and  chomping down on chickpeas instead of chicken nuggets.  Just there on tuesday they both ate fajitas – salsa, guacamole – the whole shebang, Dominic’s all nicely wrapped, as in the above picture, Theo’s in its constituent parts.  Tonight, my spinach pasties rebranded as ‘green parcels’, did not go well.  Despite spanakopita usually going down a treat.

The meal plan said Thursday:  Puff Pastry Surprise.  This was a weak attempt at meal planning in fairness, I chalked it up there knowing full well that meant frozen pastry taken out this morning with whatever veg were still standing (but not walking on their own yet) that evening.  First mistake – we didn’t actually have puff pastry, only shortcrust.  That’ll do.  So I grated courgette, defrosted and patted dry some spinach and sauteed the two with some garlic.  I grated a good hunk of cheddar in, mixed the whole lot with an egg, grated nutmeg, and a bunch of herbs. Then I divided it into Daddy Bear, Mummy Bear & Baby Bear style portions on the pastry sheet.  I folded each piece over, glazed with egg  & stuck them in the oven.  Job done.

“Mammy what’s for dinner?”

“Er…Green Parcels!” I exclaim.

“I don’t li…” (thinks, what is she talking about?) “…ke them things I want eggy”

“Oh love there’s eggy in Green Parcels” (If I keep capitalising it, it’ll become a real thing.)

(Considerably calmer) “I just want the eggy then okaaayy?”

I pause 2 seconds, which these days elicits a swift “Yes or No? Mammy! Yes or No?” before I have time to think or rationalise or say maybe and I say “Yes”.

Now,  you try extracting molecules of egg from between the strands of grated courgette and mushed spinach encased in pastry.  Oh yeah, and he didn’t want the  ‘parcel’ opened for me to do this.  I haven’t been a mother long enough to learn how to perform keyhole surgery on pies. So I didn’t. And he ate a good bit of pastry and some green went in too. Some tears occurred at the injustice and yes, the spinach got on the window.

So I sit down to write this and discover through my fab Irish Parenting Bloggers group that Kate‘s kids ate squid for lunch today.  In school.  Okay maybe they did mistake it for pasta and weren’t super pleased.   But what I will say is that they only recently moved to Spain, where this and chickpea stew, and pork chops are on their school menu in the upcoming weeks.   The message I take from my and from her experience, is: Y’know what? Sometimes our kids will refuse stuff, and former favourites will be thrown back at you.  But keep offering, because though my bigger boy loves ham way too much he also knows his way around a lentil.  Don’t let your kid dictate your family meals, there’s no way they’ll starve. Variety is the spice of life.  Don’t sweat the small stuff. All those things.

Jill

I think we have a milk-product addiction.

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Grown up yogurts, full of seeds and such, sugar-free kids ones and sugar-packed fromage frais. Baby yogurts, a big tub of natural yogurt for everyone, a big tub of Greek yogurt because why not?

Some kids yogurt tube things, frozen for a pretend-it’s-an-ice-pop treat. (Never mind the Ben & Jerry’s, and mini Lidl magnum knock-offs)

Creme fraiche and sour cream – are they even that different?

Butter, salted & unsalted – waiting to become cake.

Dairygold spread- for weekend toast.

Milk, ‘pink’ and half or full-fat, to fulfill gender stereotypes

Mozzarella, 2 packs which might go to live on a pizza. Emmenthal & cheddar for sandwiches and the rest. Parmesan for cooking. Cream cheese for crackers for everyone. Feta for muffins & spanokopita. Cashel Blue for grown up treats. Halloumi for griddling with lemon juice & chilli…Sweet cheeses, that’s a lot!

Oh, there’s a lonely mini Baby-bel, bought in a net of its friends, on offer and mostly only played with.

This isn’t a list of things we buy over time – this is a list of what’s in our fridge right now. There’s another whole plethora of potential milk-based goodness that might be in there any other week (cream, ricotta, marscapone, the very occasional novelty cheese-string)

My sons are 3.5 and very nearly 1. The younger only has daily yogurt and some cheese in meals, he isn’t even drinking cows milk yet and yet still, this is what we get through as a family.

I dread to think of their teenage years, the pair of them hanging out of a fridge door downing milk straight from the carton. Actually I’m going to have to start looking for those massive American containers I’ve only ever seen on TV aren’t I? (What is a quart anyway?) I’m going to need a 3rd job, as if bringing up two boys and working full-time outside the home wasn’t enough. I’ll need to get my salary lodged straight to a dairy farmer.

We display no obvious allergies or sensitivities to any of the above but I can’t help thinking you can have too much of a good thing. Our diet is generally balanced (‘5-a-day’ is a minimum under my roof) and I quite like alternative milks to cows’ in my coffee – like rice, or almond or soya. So at home I wonder should I replace some of that lot with these? Or would it just be a homeopathic dose – a drop of almond milk in a bath of the cows kind?

Having written this post, I saw the Dairy Free Kids blog latest post this morning,  it’s inspired me to make some changes.  Have you or your family cut down on dairy and found tasty alternatives? I’d love to hear.

Jill

Time to revise!

A special post for all my new readers and followers!

Only interested in thumbs or boobs. For now.

Lil’ T is 15 weeks old.  It’s time I put on my hypothetical glasses  (thank you LASEK surgery) and get studying because in just a couple of months I’ll be offering my happy little guy a bit of solid food.  I’ve made lots of friends, in my virtual and real life during Theo’s short time on the planet, and I’m bowled over by how many are interested in Baby Led Weaning, whether fully or in combination with some purées.  I didn’t know anyone at all that had done it just 2.5 short years ago. In fact I can’t actually remember exactly how I came across it.  I think that I somehow found the My Daddy Cooks blog and took it from there.  The Daddy in question, Nick Coffer became a bit of a media mogul since that time whereas I have gotten one mention in the Irish Independent *blush*

So, I have a few tips for those that are starting out on the BLW journey for the first time.

1. Know why you’re doing what you’re doing

You will question yourself.  Other people will question you.  You will wonder why you don’t just freeze cubes and cubes of puréed food and defrost them one by one and mix them with ridiculously small pasta shapes and pop them in your changing bag and offer them up at regular intervals.  That way, you know what your kid is getting nutrition wise, and you know you’ll always have something appropriate for them when they need to eat.  Then you will remember the mantra:  Food under one is just for fun.  I wrote about this a month into our journey here.

It’s important to remember why you’re doing it.  In fact it’s important to know why in the first place.  BLW is slightly trendier now for want of a better word.  Plenty of people’s mums did it with them before it had a name, when parenting was more about community and instinct than internet and books.  But there is a big following now, and lots of information out there to explain why it’s a good idea and no, your child isn’t going to choke.

(Incidentally even the slow moving behemoth that is the HSE says “See how your baby responds to the different flavours and textures. Offer your baby finger foods such as small pieces of fruit and vegetables or toast. How much your baby takes is less important than getting used to the idea of food other than milk.”)

With that in mind, I can’t recommend the official BLW book highly enough.  It’s an easy read and if you’re of a similar mind to me you’ll be “aha!-ing” along with eureka moments at every turn and will be like “this is awesome and totally for me and my family”.  The book covers 7 topics in depth but I found it easy to dip in and out of as a reference (though I did read it cover to cover and plan to again)

  • What is Baby Led Weaning
  • How does Baby Led Weaning work
  • Getting Started
  • First foods
  • After the Early Days
  • Baby Led Weaning and Family Life
  • A Healthy Diet for Everyone

There is also a cookbook that has 130 recipes and a succinct explanation of the theory and practise of Baby Led Weaning.  This will do as a stand-alone guide, but I like to have the ‘full’ book as a reference.

2. You may hit stumbling blocks

If you’re a stay at home mum, you might not come across this particular problem.  Dominic combined BLW with spoonfeeding when he went to creche (not at home).  From my point of view our biggest stumbling block was that he started creche at 9 months old.  I didn’t feel his eating was well enough established when he realised he could sit back and open his baby bird mouth for a spoon to be popped in – and he quite liked that thank you very much.  Lazy like his mammy…  So we had tempt him with even more delicious foods at home.  After a couple of months, the 2 went alongside nicely.  And as a full time work outside the home mum, I was always confident he’d had a good meal no matter what I was able to provide that evening.  Happy mammy = happy baby.  It fits in so many spheres, that phrase!
But you know what?  Whatever method of feeding you choose, it’s not all going to go swimmingly all of the time.  This applies to breast or bottle, purées or finger food.   Parenting, it ain’t easy.  With this in mind, you may like to…

3. …Connect with like minded people.

The Baby Led Weaning forum.  The original and the best.  There’s oodles opportunities for discussion out there, including lots of Facebook groups, Irish based and otherwise.  However that forum is practical and well organised, covering everyone from newbies to experienced blw’ers, and providing lots of recipes and tips.

4. The Gear.

You don’t really need any special gear, but who doesn’t love new baby stuff?

  • My 2 favourite pull-up-to-the-table highchairs are at the complete opposite end of the budget spectrum – the Stokke Tripp Trapp & the Ikea Antilop.  The former for our small kitchen, where design and a small footprint were both important to me.  The latter for grandparents houses, a little bigger, no nonense, easy to store and frankly, brilliant.
  • Because you can pull these right up to the table, you may want to protect your slick new fancy modern table, or your heirloom solid hardwood table.  Get an oil cloth tablecoth. Ours is still going strong over 2 years later, cleaned about 3 times a day, with barely any stains (Warning: oil cloth will stain so if you go for a pale colour watch tomatoey/curry things and give them a speedy enough clean – after the meal like not immediately as the kids spills you don’t need to be that highly strung!)
  • Long sleeved bibs. Good ol’ Ikea.  More recently Dominic’s favourite is a Pixar Cars one from Tesco, but the sleeves are slim fitting stretchy cotton, well that’s no good over your dressing gown of a lazy saturday morning now is it? And yes, my nearly 3 year old still wears bibs.  He requests them, and anything that suggests his clothes may possibly get a second outing when I’m dealing with the laundry load of him and an infant is A-OK with me. Neoprene bibs are great too, very absorbent.
  • In fact, the above and more are mentioned here  when I wrote about the gear we had early on.  What would I add to that? Yep, the ‘I’ word again – all of this Ikea childrens tablewear.

5. Trust your instincts & they don’t have to clear their plate!

They might gag. (They might not also) You’ll have to sit on your hands a couple of times to not to intervene.  If you’ve read your BLW book you’ll know there’s no big issue here (ok, that’s not instinct, that’s science.)

They won’t starve. If they stop eating, they’re done with it.  I’m a committed plate clearer due to an eighties childhood filled with children starving in Africa, their sorry fate dangled over my head during every stew and potato-based battle of wills.

There’ll be a bit of a mess for a while.  Relax, you can deal with it later.

Now, any questions?

Jill

Everything changes. A bit about best practice and current weaning guidelines.

I’m at an inbetweeny stage feeding-wise at the moment.  I have a toddler who does 2 things all day in creche: eats and talks – then comes home and does the same – and an almost fully cooked bump that won’t be leading me towards weaning for another 6.5 months approx.  So I hope to maybe diversify slightly in the blog’s subject matter for a bit, with food and nutrition still being my primary interest.

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