Hello and a very Merry Christmas from the team at Shelley’s Good Eats! In this weeks post we’re going to chat about some simple ways to get your kids involved in some fun Christmas cooking during the weeks leading up to December’s main event…Christmas!
At Shelley’s Good Eats, we understand that the school holidays can be a stressful time of the year for parents! With the seemingly endless weeks of unplanned hours stretching out in front of us at the beginning of this time (no pressure), it can be hard to keep coming up with fun activities to do with your little ones.
Here at SGE’s we believe in Santa Claus…therefore, we want to give you and your kids the pre-Christmas gift you not only want, but also the gift you deserve! In the form of fun Christmas cooking activities, from your very own Shelley’s Good Eats recipe archive!
Not only does this gift give you the chance to spend quality, planned time with your children over the long Christmas school holiday break (phew!)…It also gives your kids some valuable cooking skills, which will only benefit them (and you when they are old enough to give you the night off cooking) in their future.
Spending the time to get your children involved in some of the household cooking is an important sensory experience for developing kids of all ages. This experience allows the children to touch, see and taste different foods during the cooking process. This sensory experience builds a safe and fun environment to expose your little ones to a wider range of foods at all their different stages during the cooking process.
Allowing children to be involved during the cooking experience, gives kids more ownership over their food choices. This feeling of ownership has been proven to make children more likely to try the foods they otherwise might have usually stubbornly and consistently refused at the dinner table.
You can get children as young as 2 involved in the kitchen, though of course we don’t want those sensitive little fingers going anywhere near a hot oven or oily pan…So it is always best to check out the recipe beforehand to see what stages of the cooking process will be easiest for your children depending on their age and abilities.
Fortunately, here at SGE’s we have done the hard work for you and have handpicked some of our favorite recipes and linked them below to make your silly season cooking activities as easy and stress free as possible!
No one should miss out on delicious ginger bread this silly season so we have created a high fibre, low sugar variation that doesn’t compromise on taste! It is great to get your kids involved in cutting out the biscuits with their favourite cookie cutter’s. But you might need to help them with some of the other steps depending on their age, such as putting it in the oven, and rolling out the dough, as it can be tough! When they are cooked, get your kids to help decorate them as well!
This recipe is as simple as it is tasty and is a perfect chance to get your kids involved in the cooking process. You don’t need to get your kids involved in every stage of the cooking process, but for this recipe, we would recommend getting them to help you with the mixing and rolling of the cracker dough. This keeps those little hands away from the hot oven, while still helping to develop those important sensory skills. However, depending on your children’s age, you may need to help them with the rolling, as the dough can be a little tough and might require a bit more omff to flatten it out.
This savoury sensation is the perfect time to give your children more ownership over their food choices by letting them help choose their mix in ingredients. And if that wasn’t enough they can also get their hands nice and gooey by helping to mix the mixture all together. Though, when it comes to the oven stage of the process, it might be best to take over to avoid any burnt fingers and teary eyes.
Have you seen anything as creative or adorable as these little edible Santa hats…go ahead, we’ll wait! These little hats are the perfect tasty Christmas treat, not only for your mouth but also your eyes. The best time for your little ones to join in this recipe is during the mixing and making of the gingerbread dough. Though when it comes to putting those beautiful ginger babies into the oven, it might be a good idea to take over (have we said that enough?). Another great time for the children to join in the fun is during the hat assembling, that is of course after you torched yourself some tasty meringue and it has cooled enough to avoid any burnt fingers or mouths.
These Christmas mocktails couldn’t make getting kids involved in the kitchen any easier! Simply mix all those refreshing ingredients together and sip away the silly season until your hearts content. These mocktails are so tasty, you may even consider switching up your normal Christmas drink for a special adult spiked version of these. Just remember to use a different container to avoid any unwanted Christmas surprises.
Kids Christmas fruit platter
While not quite a recipe, it’s great for your kids all together! Making fruit fun again, this kids Christmas platter is super simple, tasty and of course, Merry. After you’re done chopping up the fruits into smaller, more manageable portions, your children can take charge and create some festive fruit shapes using your Christmas cookie cutters. The perfect part is you can eat them straight away!
Have a lovely Christmas! With love from from the SGE Team!
We are coming into the holiday seasons – aka a month of a whole lot of entertaining so I like to make some delicious healthy treats for my usual cheese platters.
But dips are just for entertaining OR cheese platters. They are a great sensory experience for your kids. No only do they provide great colour and a different texture to their plates it also provides a different ‘action’ for finger food! So here are my favourite three dips this summer – which all provide another serve of veg or legumes as well!
Pumpkin White Bean Hummus
Make your own buckwheat crackers to accompany these amazing creamy dip!
Pumpkin White Bean Hummus
Roast pumpkin packs this dip with flavour for the perfect mix of sweet, savoury and creamy!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
- 400 g white beans
- 400 g butternut pumpkin roasted
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200C. Spread the cubed pumpkin over a tray. Roast in the oven for 30mins and then allow to cool slightly.
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend on high for 2-3mins until smooth. Top with a little olive oil and hemp seeds.
Fresh Beetroot Dip
Serve it up with fresh veggies of your choosing, or slathered on toast and topped with an egg.
Fresh Beetroot Dip
Fresh Vibrant beetroots make for a 'fun coloured dip for yum kids, or a delicious addition to your cheese platter.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
- 3 large beetroots
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp corriander
- 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1/4 cup mint leaves
- 1/4 tsp salt
Place the beetroots in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil for 30mins. Remove from the water and allow to cool for 5mins, then use paper towel to rub the skin off the beetroot. Place the beetroot and remaining ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend on high for 2-3min until smooth.
Serve them up with the incredible zaartar pita chips for something extra delicious!
Hummus With crispy Pita chips
The ultimate creamy hummus perfect for dipping with veggies sticks or cripsy pita chips!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 People
- 1 x 400g can Chickpeas
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- Salt and pepper
- 2 large pitas
- 1 tbsp zaatar seasoning*
- Spray cooking oil
Drain the chickpeas and pour them into a saucepan. Top with water until chickpeas are covered. Bring the chickpeas to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10mins. This step is optional, but makes for the creamiest hummus!
Drain the chickpeas through a colander with a jug beneath it to capture ½ cup of the cooking water.
Add your chickpeas, tahini, and cooking water to the food processor. Processes for 1min until smooth and then add in remaining ingredients and process on high for 2mins until creamy!
Serve with crunch pita chips.
To prepare the pita chips:
*(or 1tsp sesame seeds, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, salt and pepper if you can’t find zaatar in your local supermarket!)
If you have read anything online in the past 4 years you will probably believe that sugar is evil and honey, maple syrup, rice malt syrup and dates are the god send. They are the healthy alternative. Look I don’t blame you for believing this. I believed it before I actually studied nutrition and found out exactly how our body digests it all.
I spent a good year ignoring the caster sugar and brown sugar in my cupboard and replaced it with coconut sugar, medjool dates and honey (you name the replacement, I tried it!) to make the perfect ‘healthy baked treats’.
But guess what. All of these ‘replacements’ are all still forms of sugar. We are told they are healthier because they are natural or unrefined.
This statement is completely flawed.
Caster sugar and brown sugar comes from a plant!!! – aka natural
Coconut sugar and rice malt syrup are also all refined and processed!!!
You don’t find them like that in nature. They have to have something done to them to allow them to sit on our shelf.
You could claim that honey, maple syrup and medjool dates are quite natural, they are all found as is in nature. But just like sugar they contain glucose and fructose. While honey contains slightly less fructose and glucose than white sugar it is actually worse for weight loss. Why? Because honey actually contains more calories than white sugar.
It is true that white sugar has a higher glycaemic index than honey meaning it will increase your blood sugar levels faster. However, when have you ever eaten white sugar alone?
Generally, it is added to baking or a beverage which can reduced the glycaemic index and slow down the absorption.
All of these products contain either glucose or fructose or both.
So how is sugar (Sucrose, glucose and fructose) broken down by the body?
I am going to try and keep this as simple as possible.
Glucose and fructose bind together to form sucrose. So, the first thing the body does is break that bond to individually break down glucose and fructose. Once they are broken down into these single molecules, they are free to be absorbed across the intestinal lining into the blood stream to be taken to the liver for further processing (another reason you don’t need to detox).
Glucose is then moved to cells around the body where it is broken down through a process called glycolysis where glucose is broken down into two carbon molecules called pyruvate before then converting to ATP which can be used by our cells to power our muscles and organs.
The breakdown of fructose is similar to this, however can generally only occurs in the liver.
Any glucose that isn’t required immediately for energy use is converted to glycogen and stored for later use. Fructose on the other hand can’t be stored, so is instead converted to glucose like molecules and stored as glycogen.
When the body reaches it glycogen storing capacity that is when glucose is converted to fat. But don’t get confused by the use of glucose in the previous sentence, remembering that both fructose is also converted to glucose like molecules and treated by the body in the exact same way.
So when professionals say that all sugars are treated the same way by the body, that’s because they are.
Whether a product contains glucose or fructose they are both types of sugars and broken down by the body in near exact processes. Remembering again that all the ‘sugar’ replacements do still in fact contain at least one of either glucose or fructose.
The slight different that these alternatives or replacements contain are micronutrients, but that makes next to no difference to how the sugar is actually broken down.
Overall the best advice I can give when talking about sugar (and by sugar, I mean any form of it!) is to try and reduce your overall amount. If you currently like 2 tsp of sugar or honey in your coffee reduce it by ¼ tsp each week and within a month you will have halved your sugar intake. The small incremental changes are the best way to reduce sugar intake and slowly adapt your taste buds.
The facts in the article are the reason I still use brown and white sugar in so many of the recipes you will find on my website. Where I can I reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe, but if it’s still quite high, enjoy it for what it is. A TREAT. Because whether a recipe has 1 cup of sugar or 10 medjool dates it isn’t something that we should be eating in high quantities.
I do still use maple syrup and honey in baking, but I do this for the flavour profiles they lend to a recipe, not the ‘health benefits.
Myth: You need to follow food combining principles for optimal digestion
Fad diets are everywhere, I don’t need to tell you that again. But is food combining a fad diet? Or is there some truth to the rumours.
Advocates for the food combining principles claim that it is necessary for optimal digestion. They claim, as different enzymes in the body are used to digest different foods, eating protein and carbohydrates together for example will cause digestive issues.
They claim that eating foods together will leave you with partially digested food that sits in your gut, basically claiming the body is unable to digest two different things at once.
Fact: Your digestive system is more complex than this ‘diet’ suggests
While this ‘diet’ doesn’t lead to the elimination of any food, just focusing on eating one food group at a time. It is still a diet, leading to obsession over food and well I think we all know my opinion of diets….
But my bias aside, lets dig into the actual facts so you can determine what works for you.
Food Combining principles suggest that the digestion system is very black and white. While one type of food is being digested, nothing else can be digested because it requires different enzymes.
For example, the enzyme amylase works to digest carbohydrates meanwhile proteases are needed to break down proteins. And while carbohydrates are being digested it means that protein sits around in the digestive system waiting its turn, causing it to ferment and create issues for your body.
However, the digestion system is not a sack as this theory might suggest, it is a track or a process. Digestion happens over multiple hours after consuming a food, starting with enzymes and chewing in the mouth going down to the acid in the stomach and enzymes within the small and large intestines which continue the digestion process.
The body is an amazing thing, it runs multiple, even thousands of processes at once. It allows you to breathe, pump blood through your arteries, move muscles in your hands as you type, run messages allow neural pathways from your brain all around your body and digest the food you ate a few hours ago.
Your digestive system alone has the ability to digest carbohydrates, fats and protein all at the same time. It is true that the process of all of these takes different lengths of time, but eating them separately will not make this process faster.
So whilst the basis of why people food combine is important – to increase your optimal digestion, eating different foods at different times is not going to do this. Instead to look after your digestive system is it more beneficial to focus on mindful eating, allowing yourself to chew food properly, eating slowing and eating lots of fibre rich and prebiotic rich foods for a healthy digestive track.
Myth: Healthy Foods are expensive
Yes, I agree. ‘Healthy’ food is expensive. Or more specifically fad dieting super foods that are cleverly marketed are expensive.
But those foods are not what you really need. They make up an elitist form of health or nutrition.
This perception that following a diet made up of expensive food is the only way to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle has become a barrier for a lot of people.
However, a study run in 2015/2016 by the Queensland university of technology actually showed that a healthy diet is cheaper than an unhealthy diet, when following the Australian national dietary guidelines.
Fact: Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank.
In 2017 alone nearly 46% of Australians were actively trying to lose weight and half of them spent money on a particular program or specific diet. All of these diets are pushing costly ingredients, powders and supplements that are nutritionally similar or inferior to healthy everyday options.
Let’s look at my weekly shop for a start. I shop for my partner and myself. I do a lot of baking, cooking and can never pass up a good cheese platter. We spend between $150-$200 a week on our grocery bill. This includes everything from toilet paper to dog food and well Jackson eats a lot!!
$150-$200 might seem like a lot, but an average meal at a fast food joint for the two of us would cost $30. So that’s only 5-6 meals in total, however that grocery bill feeds us for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 6-7 days.
It is about stripping it back to what is actually healthy and keeping it simple, especially when on a tight budget! Some of the ways I do this is through batch cooking for my freezer, eating in season and stocking up when things are on sale.
Last night I made a big batch of Bolognese sauce – enough to freeze 8 meals worth and dinner last night. We had it with traditional pasta (aka white pasta) cheese and a little side salad. The ingredients for the whole thing cost me $31.50 and will cater for 9 meals between us so $3.50 a meal or in other terms 1.75 per serve.
That is nuts. $1.75 per serve for a balanced meal of good protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats that is loaded with vegetables and well absolutely delicious!
The trick to eating healthy, or starting to eat healthy when on a strict budget is to start to incorporate small changes. Try to focus on including more fresh or frozen vegetables in your meals.
Don’t stress it. Eating healthy, or following a healthy lifestyle should cause stress. If it is, check in with yourself and see where that pressure is coming from? It is from trying to fit into a certain diet program, or making sure you have the exact right about of calories and nutrients you need in the day?
There is nothing exact that you can follow, as everyone is different. Do what feels right to you, and fits within your budget. Ignoring the marketing out there that is trying to get you to spend your $$$ on supplements and that latest fad diet ingredients.
Reply to this email if you need cheap and delicious recipe suggestions or tips on navigating the grocery store to fit your budget!
Myth: You can eat as much as you want, as long as it’s healthy
Bliss balls are healthy right? Yes. But so is CHEESE, so is WATERMELON, and so is WATER. But too much of any of these can be dangerous. Yes, even too much water can be incredibly bad for you.
Fact: Too much of anything is bad for you.
An over consumption of water can lead to water intoxication or Hyponatremia. If you drink Litres of water in a very short time it can cause the level of sodium in your blood to drop way too low causing a whole host of problems.
Yes, this condition is very rare, but the point I am trying to make is that arguably the ‘healthiest’ thing for us can cause serious issues when we consume far too much.
This brings us back to the over used word (but one I will always use) …. MODERATION.
You have heard it before. But is there really validity behind it? Well yes, but let’s dig a bit deeper.
When we allow ourselves to eat all food in moderation, we take the stress out of eating. We can then enjoy the food that is around us. The problem with moderation is that it is now being taken and used from a place of restriction. But when we strip it back to the meaning of the word:
‘Moderation is about finding the balance between two extremes’ in the case of foods it is between deprivation and overindulgence.
I spoke on my Instagram stories about this last week. Achieving moderation around food can be difficult. I struggle with it myself sometimes. I often find myself saying I shouldn’t eat something or I find myself at the end of a chip packet I have just opened. BUT THAT IS OK!
No one is perfect, and no one is going to ‘get it right’ every single time.
So why do we feel the need to label foods as healthy and good/unhealthy and bad. Instead of restricting ourselves for so long that we give in and over indulge in something, ask yourself why you are restricting yourself from eating that slice of cake? Is it because society (or Instagram influencers) tell you it’s unhealthy and should opt for bliss balls instead?
Bliss balls are constantly referred to as healthy, giving people the permission to eat the whole bowl of them in one sitting. But they are often laden with dates and nuts which if you eat a lot of them are very high in calories and sugar!
No food is inherently BAD for us. We aren’t going to eat a certain food and keel over and die or clog our arteries with one bite of fried chicken. Instead it is how much we eat of it that causes the problem.
So, this week I urge you to question WHY when you find yourself labelling food a certain way or preventing yourself from eating it.
What do you struggle with the most? What foods do you always find yourself restricting or bingeing?
Let me know your thoughts below and let’s chat!