Fish and hidden veg loaf. How to feed fussy children.

Have you noticed I like cooking? I also need to be very creative because not only my children are typical fussy toddlers but also one of them has dairy, soya,egg and sorbitol allergy. So today I’ve made salmon and vegetables loaf, because grated hidden vegetables are usually eaten without any drama in our house, and because my children like bread. I find making loaves a lot easier than pies as I don’t need to get the rolling pin out, get my hands and working surface covered in dough and flour. It saves me precious time that I can be spending on the sofa drinking tea. Just joking, chasing my kids round obviously. So here we go super easy allergy friendly recipe for you lovely to try to feed your kids.

Ingredients:
Canned salmon
Spelt flour
Chickpea water from a can to replace eggs using aquafaba method
Green beans slightly cooked (I boiled them for 3 minutes before adding them to the loaf)
Sweet corn
Half a courgette
Olive oil
Baking powder
Margarine for greasing the loaf tin
Paprika
Coriander leaves

Method
2 3/4 cups of spelt flour, half a cup of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, chopped up courgette, 6 spoons of chickpea water, paprika, coriander leaves and 3/4 cups of water go in a food processor, run till smooth. Add canned salmon, chopped up green beans, a handful of sweet corn, mix. Obviously feel free to add salt, I don’t because I can’t remember how much salt kids are allowed at different ages so I just don’t add any salt at all. Put in a greased tin and bake for 60 minutes at 180 degrees fan or 190 degrees Celsius in a standard oven.
Children, husband and I loved it.
Did you notice the flowers in my salad? Well these are chives flowers from our own garden. They taste very garlicky. Not ideal if you want to have a romantic evening once kids are in bed, but very tasty.

Hidden vegetables recipe for kids .jpg

Top tips for aeroplane travelling with young kids.

Aeroplane travelling with chil.jpegThis post is written specially for Qazaq House, a voluntary project to unite people from Kazakhstan in the UK, keep up to date with interesting events and British Kazakh cultural exchange.

Aeroports, aeroplanes, waiting times, checking in, security checks, passport control, finding the gates and so on. What do you think? I think stress. I usually like travelling, but even at the best of times it’s a bit overwhelming. Now add children, little children that can’t be “switched off” with gadgets? Did your cortisol level go up? Mine did. I have been in this situation many many times. Staying put isn’t an option for me because part of my family lives in Kazakhstan, and other part, that’s me, my husband, and two of my kids, as well as my parents in law in the UK. We also like going abroad just for holidays. Well you know families with children also like going on holidays, they don’t always just want to go see their relatives that they missed. Not that I need to justify it, but some people think that once you popped some children out your life is finished and the only reason for you to be on aeroplane is to go see your mum and dad in a different country. No, no and no. Anyway, in my humble opinion, I have learned a few things about traveling with young children, that I am going to share with you. Before I start listing some tips I just want to say that I personally found the easiest time to travel between birth and 3 months. If you can be bothered, of course, they just sleep and eat. Give them a breast or a bottle while taking off and landing, and use a sling. The hardest times to travel are between crawling stage and about 20 months old. They are constantly on the go, can’t sit down for long, can’t be reasoned with, still need milk and already need food, so you end up carrying pouches of food, snacks, milk if you’re bottle feeding, on top of nappies and change of clothes and toys, and their attention span is so short it’s a nightmare. But that’s just my experience, everyone is different and all. So here’s the list of some useful tips from me, please feel free to add your personal tips in the comments so everyone can benefit and travel better with children.

  • Plan. Did you know that every mother does a third shift called “strategic planning and management”? This is why we are so mentally exhausted all the time. Well bad news you have to plan this too. On top of normal finding the best deal, shortest connection, how to get to the airport etc you have to plan your children’s day so they are in a reasonably good mood. I found that children who have been fed before boarding were in a better mood and were not screaming “food, food” when the air plane is taking off. I have also found that children who had their nap before arriving at the airport were in a better mood. Translate: feed your children so they are not hungry when you are boarding and taking off, give them a nap before you arrive at the airport, or obviously if it’s in the morning try to make sure they woke up not too early. Prepare for the idea of having a nap on an aeroplane. I started putting Askar to sleep in random places on my knees by gently rocking him from side to side a few weeks before our flight so he got used to falling asleep that way and wasn’t too hooked up on the idea of a cot or a bed. Also if they are little you can get them used to falling asleep in a sling and staying asleep in it. Obviously you might have to take them out of the sling for taking off/landing to strap them in, so practice at home: gently lower the straps of your sling/baby carrier, then lower the baby/child and take off the sling or just lower it and leave it dangling between your legs. That’s me! I’m the mum with a sling dangling between my legs! Say hello if you see me. Research a soft play area and children’s facilities at the airport. Most airports in the west have these. The ones in Kazakhstan? Unfortunately not. If you have a connection research what you can do while you’re waiting to occupy them. They might not like the idea of shopping in duty free.
  • Sling/baby carrier/hipseat. Has it become clear you need a sling? Well please don’t take this advice lightly, it’s a very very useful advice. It’s so much easier to have your hands free at the airport while holding your child at the same time. Children get overwhelmed, they get frightened and stressed at the airports, they will hold on to you for dear life. I don’t blame them, you’re the only familiar thing, you’re their safety blanket. Yes, even big children can go in a sling. They come in baby/toddler/preschooler sizes. You can get a hipseat if you’re not feeling like spending 100 odd quid on a sling. Ask friends, perhaps you can borrow one for a holiday. If you’re in the UK lots of cities have sling libraries where you can borrow a sling for a small fee. Obviously remember to bring it back. Practice wearing your child in a sling, putting in on and taking it off. If they are tiny tiny they can just sleep there and not be aware of the surroundings. Alma slept most of the time in her sling when I took her and Askar to Astana by myself. They were 2.5 months and 2 years 8 months. Askar went on his first transcontinental flight in a sling at 4 months old.
  • Food/snacks/milk/drink. I remember on a long flight to Astana I spend the last 40 minutes on the plane just giving Askar snacks one by one while he was watching a film on a tablet. Don’t underestimate the amount of food that your kids might need while being trapped on an aeroplane. Take their favourite snacks and drinks, even if they eat biscuits for the duration of the entire journey it’s better than screaming. Don’t worry about being judged, they will judge you even more if your child makes a noise.
  • Tablet with favourite films, cartoons, colouring games. It’s not an ordered list of things. Just a list of tips, so don’t  get the tablet out first thing because then they won’t be interested in new toys, or exploring or even snacking. I usually hide the tablet so they don’t know it’s there, and only get it out as a last type of entertainment/keeping them quiet device. Everything else gets tired and used first.
  • New toys. I don’t mean big expensive toys, I mean lots of little cheap things that they haven’t seen before. I usually get them from a charity shop and make sure they don’t see them before the journey. Then I wrap every little toy individually and get one thing at a time when they get bored with a previous one. Unwrapping takes time, makes it exciting and keeps their interest fractionally longer. Every 5 minutes of piece on an aeroplane is precious.
  • Little books/magazine/activity pack. I invest in Cbeebies magazine, if you live in the UK you will know what I’m talking about. If not it’s a magazine with most popular kids cartoons characters with a story to read, colouring pages, stickers, little pop out things and lots more.
  • Let them play and explore. That’s mainly relevant to airports, don’t make them sit down at the airport, remember, all the sitting is happening on the aeroplane; and even on the air plane you can let them walk up and down the aisle for a bit. It’s unfair and unreasonable to expect children to sit down for hours at a time. You might get odd looks when your kid walks around, but you will get even more if they are freaking out and crying, or bashing someone else’s seat because they want to move about.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be shy, heroic or stuck up. I used to be heroic: “Look, I can do this! I am amazing. I don’t need help”. Well that’s pride and as we know pride is a sin. Not that I’m religious at all, but pride doesn’t do any good in this situation. People are reasonably happy to help out. Say something along the lines “poor tired child who will scream the place down and give you a headache” or “might be a good idea for you to move because he’s such a lovely active child he won’t give you a minute of piece, I just don’t want him to disturb your nice journey”. I know it sounds like a manipulation but people don’t want to be dealing with children and you need help or space, or to jump the queue, so phrase it so it’s in person’s best interest to help you out. Also ask the officials for help, last time I went straight to the passport control officer in Astana and asked to let me jump the queue because “kids are tired, I’m by myself and this one needs a breastfeed”. Alma started crying quite appropriately and the word “breastfeed” worked the magic. I’m all for promoting breastfeeding in public places but lots of men don’t want to see it so use it to your advantage. Ask fellow travellers and stewards to lift your bags, help with jackets, slings, hold the baby while you nip to the toilet, show older kids how things work etc. Obviously everyone likes feeling like a hero and everyone likes cute children.
  • Get your partner or family member to travel with you. Obviously this is the best travel hack going.
  • Buy jump the queue passes or VIP lounge passes. I don’t need to explain this one, do I?
  • Buy extra leg room spaces and book a bassinet if you can and your baby is small enough. Even if they don’t sleep in a bassinet they can stay there for a bit to give you a chance to eat, or go to toilet or to attend to another child if you travelling with more than one, or just because you don’t want to hold your baby 24/7.
  • Get a little empty bag in your hand luggage to put the most needed things in once you have boarded, for example, wet wipes, some toys, dummies, and put it under the seat in front. Put the rest of your hand luggage away in the upper compartment so you have some space for your legs and your child’s legs. This way you won’t need to get up every five minutes to get things out of the bag at the top and will have the most necessary things within an easy reach.
  • Take a travel potty if your kids are small. There are queues in toilets sometimes and if children are small they usually say they need a wee 1 minute before it’s about to come out. You might not have the time to wait in the queue. Obviously you can ask people to let the child go first. But have one just in case.
  • Take some calming down pills. I’m only joking.
  • Have all of your paperwork available in your hand luggage and have a pen. You don’t want to be looking round for a pen after a tiring flight with children in a tow. There is usually some kind of immigration card to fill out most countries that you go to.

These are the tips that I found very useful when travelling with my little people. If you have any other tips please feel free to comment and make traveling better for everyone.

 

World Environment Day mum style. How to reduce our impact on the environment.

I haven’t realised it’s World Environment Day untill late in the day today. I’d like to think that I care for the planet and try to do my bit. We as a family try our best to reduce our negative impact, make better choices every day and become more aware. But also as a mother I don’t always have time to investigate more environmentally friendly options, money to buy all organic food or clothes, common let’s be honest Frugi or Maxomorra cost a lot more than George or Primark, grass fed not mass production beef that used to roam freely in the beautiful fields of Yorkshire costs a lot more than soya fed raised in a barn to be slaughtered one, and I don’t always have the energy to go wash children’s hands under the tap rather than wipe them with a wet wipe or drive to a local family run eco-friendly shop when I’d rather sit my kids in front of the TV and drink that cup of tea I’ve made 3 hours ago. I want to do things for the planet that are also easy for me. Yes, I’m lazy, and perhaps a bit selfish but at least I’m honest. So in this post I’m going to write a list of things we do as a household to reduce our negative impact on the environment that we find doable without changing our lifestyle dramatically, that I think any mother out there can try. Every little helps and all.

1. Use reusable feminine hygiene products. People don’t like talking about this. Apparently it’s gross and embarrassing. Talking about menstruation is still a big taboo. I don’t know why, but I suppose I am a bit more open about penises, vaginas, vulvas, anuses and monthly bleedings. My son calls penis a penis and anus an anus, it’s part of his sex education. Anyway, a few years ago someone shared an article about the negative environmental impact of disposable feminine hygiene products, York flood was an example. The amount of tampons and pads floating round in the dirty sewage water was huge, apparently. Luckily we live in an area that doesn’t flood, but I was very upset for people whose houses were flooded. And I thought I don’t want my tampons to be trashing people’s houses if York floods again. I am happy to say that nowadays I have 100% environmentally friendly periods. I use menstrual cup and I am a proud owner of menstrual underwear. I won’t tell you the brands, most of menstrual cups are much of the muchness, if you can’t get hold of menstrual underwear look into reusable pads. There are many companies out there, and honestly, it’s not too much work. You rinse them a bit and wash in the washing machine, I add vinegar to all of my washing instead of Dettol to kill bacteria. No, your clothes don’t come out covered in blood, and no menstrual cups aren’t difficult to use. Also additional benefits: unlike tampons they don’t cause TTS and you know exactly how much you lose, which helped me to identify a problem and seek medical help when I was bleeding excessively.

2. Vinegar. We use white wine vinegar instead of shop bought cleaning products and as clothes disinfectant. It’s more environmentally friendly, cheaper and not full of nasty chemicals for children to inhale or come in contact with. Honestly, it cleans just as well if not better. We also add white vinegar to our dishwasher so the plates come out sparkly squeaky clean. Ben buys white vinegar in bulk to save money, and also to reduce the amount of plastic packaging.

3. Soda. Like vinegar, cheap environmentally more friendly long forgotten cleaning product. Do you remember the time when your mum or grandma used soda to scrub the bath clean? Well a. It works better than bleach, b. It’s cheaper, c. It’s more child friendly. Use it. If you have time to pop into Polish shop they sell them in 500gr packs, or buy online in bulk.

4. Use muslins for wiping children’s hands and faces. Then wash them with your clothes. Cheap, eco-friendly solution.

5. Reduce the amount of meat you consume. Here I would have liked to say that we are incorporating more vegan cuisine in our lives because we love how it tastes and we are so spiritually developed that we don’t want animals to suffer to feed our greed. Erm.. we like meat, like really like meat. At any given point I’ll happily demolish huge amounts of meat. I should be ashamed. But we are making a conscious decision to eat less meat because meat industry is the largest producer of CO2, destroyer of the forests and a killer of the planet. And meat costs a lot of money, meat is more expensive than beans or chickpeas. Organic grass fed free range beef or corn fed chicken is very expensive. I know, because my daughter used to react to soya in beef and chicken, so I had to buy her organic free range meat to feed her. So we are not going down that route, we are reducing the amount of meat we eat. Baked beans, hummus, bean burgers etc cheap eco-friendly vegan proteins you can incorporate in your diet.

6. Reduce the amount of dairy you consume or buy from smaller dairy farms. Well I think you probably know that industrial dairy farming similar to industrial meat production isn’t very eco-friendly. That’s putting it mildly. I haven’t got any cheap fixes here I’m afraid. Buying dairy free products for Alma is expensive, if I find a wallet friendly solution I will let you know. You can also get milk in glass containers from smaller dairy farms.

7. Buy pre-loved. The amount of clothes and consumer products ending up in the landfill each year is shocking. Go check that charity shop, you will be surprised how cheaply you can buy nice almost new or compeletely new clothes. Check out mums pages for pre-loved kids clothes sometimes being given away for free. Save money, save planet. Don’t think that buying pre-loved for your kids devalues your love for them, better take them for a day out on that money you saved. Create special memories with them, they grow up so quickly they don’t need expensive new clothes.

8. Reusable shopping bags. Well everyone knows this one.

9. Bar soap. Use old fashioned boring bar soap for washing your hands. It’s more eco-friendly and cheaper too. I have also used bar shampoo and bar shower gel (basically a soap) but they require a trip into a special shop so just start with the bar soap next time you shop for your food.

10. Recycle. Obviously.

That’s my list done. I think these 10 little steps are doable for busy stressed mums and doesn’t turn being eco-friendly into another job on the endless list of tasks we have everyday.

Courgette and parsnip vegan loaf. Feeding fussy children

I would like to share this vegetables filled easy vegan recipe to feed your fussy, and as in my case allergy, children.  It tastes surprisingly light despite not having any eggs in. As you may have noticed I try to hide as many vegetables as possible in various dishes because of my fussy children. Askar is getting better but Alma is definitely at the peak of fussiness, anything that looks remotely healthy or home made gets thrown on the floor in frustration. Hours of cooking are wasted. At least me and Ben are eating a healthy varied diet because it this.

Ingredients:

Half a courgette

One peeled parsnip

250 gr of spelt flour (you can use ordinary flour too, I run out so had to use spelt)

9 tablespoons of chickpea or bean water from a can (3 tablespoons of chickpea or bean water = 1 egg, so for 3 eggs you use 9 tablespoons)

100 ml of olive oil

100 ml of water

2 teaspoons of baking powder

Milled flaxseed (optional) for decorating

Some margarine to grease the loaf tin

Method:

Grate a parsnip and a cougette, I used a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients in, mix in a bowl. Grease your loaf tin, spoon the mixture in, cook at 180 degrees for about 35-40 minutes or until the knife comes out clean. Sprinkle milled flaxseed on top. Tastes nice both cold and warm and cold. Even fussy toddlers ate it today.

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Easy dairy soya free “pizza” activity for kids

A lovely lady from mummy’s telephone off allergy support group in York says there’s an interesting looking reasonably priced dairy free mozarella in Sainsbury’s. Mummy gets ready, mummy doesn’t want her beloved daughter to be deprived of pizza and feel like she’s missing out, at 16 months, so clearly mummy is a bit crazy and neurotic. Mummy goes to Sainsbury’s and buys the said dairy free “cheese” along with million other things and spends unnecessary amount of money because she’s saving money by buying half price clothing for her kids. Then mummy makes an activity from making pizza because she wants her son to be involved, have positive experiences in life, and not feel like mummy doesn’t spend enough quality time with him, and also we are hiding away from the crowds during half term. Then we cook it, then obviously the allergy child doesn’t like her special pizza, looks disgusted and throws it on the floor in a strop. Because… Because toddlers, obviously.

So fellow allergy mummies, in case your children are less fussy here’s the recipe and list of ingredients for each item, so you know in advance if it’s ok for your allergy child:

Ingredients:
Flat breads (I bought them from Aldi, but any supermarket brands will do, check the ingredients for yourself please)
Tomato puree (passata)
Sheese mozarella (£2.50 at Sainsbury’s in chilled section. Other shops might have it too, but I haven’t checked)
Ham

Method:
Spread some tomato paste on flat breads, sprinkle some sheese on top, add bits of ham. Stick in the over for 3-4 minutes at 180 degrees so dairy free mozarella melts (as much as it can, it won’t melt as well as dairy mozarella unfortunately).

Enjoy!

This particular brand of dairy free “cheese” tastes surprisingly nice. I’m not a big fan of them as they just taste like rubber most of the time, so I was very pleased with how this turned out. Askar and I enjoyed eating it.

Allergy friendly Giraffe

I’m living a life of glamour today. I went out for a lunch as part of my “keep my sanity” campaign when I try to go out without kids or husband every few weeks, and then spontaneously we went out for dinner too. Dinner and tea I mean, excuse me my Yorkshire friends, I’m foreign. Ben found 50% off voucher for this place that needed using today and tomorrow. Literally, on the ground. Let’s face it he needed to get out of the house too, doing his share of parenting and all, not babysitting excuse me. It’s not babysitting if it’s your own children, stop this sexism thing. Anyway I digress.
We’ve been at Giraffe restaurant before but today Alma had her own meal there. I feel like we are getting somewhere, we had to take a photo of her with her own proper restaurant meal and I was so excited I wanted to do a little dance.
So that you understand its virtually impossible to find suitable food for a child with dairy allergy, soya allergy, egg allergy and sorbitol allergy in restaurants and cafes. Usually you get a massive allergy folder with printed off spreadsheet that you have to investigate for 30 minutes and feel like pain in the ass because you clearly can’t comprehend such a complicated system and long lists of allergens, so I end up just feeding her something from home that I carry in a container every time we go out. In giraffe the waitress fetched a tablet, we ticked all the things she couldn’t have on the list and it brought up a list of dishes that were safe for her. No fuss. 30 seconds. I didn’t get funny looks, I haven’t spend ages trying to explain that dairy comes from cow and includes things like cheese, butter, whey powder and no it’s not gluten free that I’m after. She made sure the chef was aware and there was no cross contamination, meaning they didn’t use a knife for cutting cheese to cut her cucumber, and fetched it out with a special sticker. Bliss. I think we will be going back.
This post hasn’t been sponsored by giraffe restaurant.

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Fish soup

Yest

erday Ben had a bit of a tummy ache, I was feeling absolutely shattered after chasing kids around all day, and kids needed something reasonably healthy. This is my super easy quick go to recipe of all the time. It takes maximum 20 minutes depending on how big you cut your potatoes and carrots.

Fish soup.

Ingredients:
Canned salmon in oil
Potatoes
Carrots
Little pasta shapes (I used little gluten free start shaped pasta which takes about the same time to cook as potatoes and carrots)
Salt
Bay leaves (optional)
Parsley (optional)

Method:
Peel and chop carrots and potatoes, bring water in a pan to boil, throw potatoes, carrots and pasta shapes in, add salt, bay leaves, cook, when nearly cooked add canned fish with oil. Break your salmon into chunks inside the soup. Obviously if your pasta doesn’t need as much cooking add it a bit later, not at the same time as potatoes and carrots.

Serve. Sprinkle some parsley if you want to.