When we think of “festive meals”, I’m quite sure everyone thinks of different things. For some it’s the roasts and the spread that Mom or Gran have spent days on. Some might think of a braai day with family games. Your family might have the full on turduckin with stuffing et al… One thing most of us have in common is that it’s a special time with loved ones and some kind of food!
My dear friend, who blogs at Mom of Two Little Girls, recently published a Christmas series. Across this series, she collected a fantastic storybook collection of Christmas traditions from different people. MammaChef Jozi even made it into the mix and you can read my family’s story and the rest of the collection here.
I don’t usually do the cooking over the festive season. Our special days are traditionally spent in the homes of my parents or my in-laws. Wherever we are it’s an all out Christmas feast and the most wonderful time!
This year however will be something different, the first time that we are away for Christmas and I’m still thinking about what to do for lunch… The daily meals over the holiday season, in my opinion, should be easy, summery and designed for sharing.
I was also asked by some followers on Twitter for festive recipes. So I looked around for some inspiration and came up with the fabulous festive feasts here…
If you were watching my social media, you would have noticed that I thought this particular recipe was absolutely awful. Whether it was because I had too many anchovies or the mustard dressing was too bitter when combined with the anchovies… it just wasn’t right.
However, there were some things about it that attracted me to trying it in the first place. After having tried it there were also elements of it that I loved.
So, I have kept the good stuff and changed the bad stuff for you!
It’s a very healthy, refreshing break in the indulgence of Christmas menus.
When I grow up, I want to be Jamie Oliver
His website has everything you could ever want in good, easy, healthy food! From vegan recipes to the most indulgent chocolate desserts (and these blueberry pancakes). One of the first cooking shows that I watched was his, years ago and I have always identified with his food philosophy which is essentially about good, simple, healthy food and balanced meals.
My philosophy to food and healthy eating has always been about enjoying everything in a balanced, and sane way. Food is one of life’s greatest joys yet we’ve reached this really sad point where we’re turning food into the enemy, and something to be afraid of. I believe that when you use good ingredients to make pasta dishes, salads, stews, burgers, grilled vegetables, fruit salads, and even outrageous cakes, they all have a place in our diets. We just need to rediscover our common sense: if you want to curl up and eat macaroni and cheese every once in a while – that’s alright! Just have a sensible portion next to a fresh salad, and don’t eat a big old helping of chocolate cake afterwards.
A MammaChef Jozi FAQ
One thing I am asked very frequently, especially when people see me for the first time, is how I eat the foods I cook and stay slim and healthy looking. They always use one example in particular – pasta! Everyone knows how much I love my pasta!
The simple answer is, yes I do eat everything I cook! The key here is balance, lots of variety, fresh and seasonal vegetables full of nutrients and all that wonderful stuff. I limit myself to one serving, I eat sensibly during the day and we have treats occasionally – we don’t have dessert with every meal.
Now that I have cleared that up, I will give you the wonderful, light and fluffy, super duper easy recipe for these beautiful blueberry pancakes!
The Easiest Blueberry Pancakes
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup self raising flour
- 1 extra large free range egg
- blueberries – as many as you like
Mix together the egg and milk, then combine with the flour. Whisk until you have a smooth consistency and no (or just a few little) lumps.
Add blueberries directly into the batter if you like. I added mine afterwards.
Use a small measuring cup to pour batter into a pan, over medium heat. Leave enough space in between so that your little pancakes can spread out without running into eachother.
Cook for 1-2 minutes on one side, until bubbles have formed on the top of the pancake. Flip over and cook on the other side for another 1-2 minutes, until just nicely golden.
Great for a Sunday morning breakfast!
Inspiration from everywhere
Has Summer forgotten about us? Wherever you go lately, people are discussing how strange the weather has been. Of course we won’t complain about the rain, we just wish we could send some of ours down to Cape Town to alleviate the drought… which reminds me of the campaigns I’ve seen all over Social Media, making travellers aware of the restrictions in place. If you are heading to Cape Town this December, one of the campaigns you can follow on Twitter is #waterwisetourismCT with very helpful tips and updates for conscious water usage.
The inspiration for this particular week’s meals therefore came from everywhere but the weather! My eldest son came back from a holiday with his father on Monday and got to choose dinner… and so it became Pizza Monday! In my opinion, any week that starts with pizza can only be a great week!
The Meal Planner
Download your meal planner here and click on the recipe name below for the printable recipe card.
Tuesday’s recipe came from the lovely people at Pauli’s Food Co. I often rave about their sauces but this is the first time that I decided to try one of their recipes. There are so many delicious ideas on their blog as well and I was fortunate enough to be given quite a few of their recipe cards on my last visit to them. This Pauli’s Tomali Marinaded Chicken Pieces was one of them.
My Low Carb Cottage Pie has somewhat celebrity status in our house. It’s completely flop proof (I promise) and I have a few different variations of the same recipe. I have done a vegan cottage pie using lentils and sweet potato, of course there’s the regular potato mash version which is the perfect comfort food and when looking for some low carb inspiration I just added a little twist and topped it with sweet potato mash instead.
Thursday’s dinner popped into my mind as I was walking through the isles of the grocery shop, listening to a very chirpy rendition of Jingle Bells.
This Chicken & Red Pepper Pesto Pasta includes some spinach to add some healthy greenery to your gut. I used Ina Paarman’s Red Pepper Pesto and this is a dish you can literally serve up in 15 minutes!
There are so many options for pasta now and you can find just about anything to suit your dietary preference. Use some wholewheat pasta, gluten free pasta or even butternut spaghetti to change it up.
I shall call this one Fridge Friday, as the inspiration really came from the fridge. I had cooked some beetroot that was waiting to be roasted, had some carrots and hey presto! Kassler Chops & Roast Carrot, Beetroot and Lentil Salad
On the day, I ended up using Canellini beans instead of lentils, which were still tasty but I would have preferred lentils I think.
Over the next few weeks I will be trying out some “Festive” recipes. To help me with some inspiration for those, let me know what makes a festive recipe for you? Is it something that takes hours to cook like a turkey with all the sides? Is it summery and light (if you’re in a Summer Christmas zone like us, of course)?
Drop me a little note in the comments below or give me a shout on any of my social media! Love hearing from you as always!
Where to find inspiration?
Our quick and easy meal plan for last week was really made up by the scruff of it’s pants! It did still come out very well but I have to say that with the weather being as odd as it has been the last few weeks, I found it quite hard to come up with inspiration. When it’s hot and sunny I would think of fresh and summery ideas. When it’s cold I would go for warm comfort food. I pushed through though and went mostly on what I had around the house already.
It was also SuperDad’s birthday and the guest of honour gets to choose whatever they want for dinner. He gave his vote to Blake, who decided on chicken leg and potatoes. Mamma played with the idea and waved my little wand (spoon) to come up with the week’s most popular recipe, which was grilled chicken and smashed potato salad. It received a big thumbs up from this adorable little boy, whose mommy sent me these gorgeous pictures of him absolutely loving his meal.
I have to add that we are all raving about his awesome Lego eating set! If you want to rush out and get yourself one, head over to Makro. I couldn’t find it online, but they can be found in store. Certain items also available at TakeAlot. The range is from Placematix and comes with cutlery as well.
Easy as Pie… so to speak
I find pie quite daunting to make, actually. In any case, my recipes must always be easy and quick to make so that’s where I start when looking for ideas. It does narrow things down.
Onwards and upwards to the yummy business!
Fish, rice and veg is plain, simple, the easiest thing ever and you can add any vegetables of your choice. I have a few rice lovers around so plain rice with anything is always a winner. Gluten free of course and adding the chickpeas gives an extra protein boost.
Mamma’s MomentTime seems to be absolutely spinning past us and these past weeks have gone by in a blur. I have been so super busy between business and blog (definitely not complaining) that when I find a spare moment it’s gold, it’s so precious and I wouldn’t waste it on negativity.Yet, I see people who still manage to complain about anything and everything. Do they not see that by focusing on all the negativity, they are creating more negativity in their own lives? Try, for just one day, not to complain and instead find something positive to focus on. See how it changes your perspective and even your reality.
The Democratic Meal Planner – One kid, one vote!
In light of all the political goings on around us recently, I decided to give democracy a chance to rule the meal planner. I feel like I’m making myself sound very much like a food dictator… She who holds the wooden spoon, rules the plates! It’s for their own good though, trust me!
The boys are very modern in their political views and combined their votes to effect community rule over the first two days. This worked out very well for them as they got to have both their favourites. SuperDad is always happy with pasta and basil pesto is also a favourite. Of course they go so well together as a combo! Somebody had to be the carb police and that happened to be me (can’t quite get rid of the dictatorship). My favourite treat as a meal must be salmon. It has become so expensive, even in frozen steaks, that we really only have it on the odd occasion.
Fish shopping tip!
I did discover something quite interesting though… Our local Food Lover’s Market has a fantastic fish section and if you can hold your breath long enough, you might just find a very good deal!
As an example, the prepared, fresh salmon portions on the day were R299.00 per kilogram. In comparison, Woolworths’ fresh Norwegian salmon portions are R500.00 per kilogram, but that’s not the point. If you select a whole salmon, they will fillet it for you, package the quantity that you want and the price on the day was R179.99 per kilogram. That is a major difference!
As usual, just going that little bit further to be aware of where our food comes from, I looked into the sourcing of the salmon and found this on Food Lover’s Market website:
Although Food Lovers market currently procures farmed Norwegian Salmon which is on the WWF-SASSI orange-list we are implementing a procurement strategy that aligns with SASSI procurement guideline for Salmon. This means that all Norwegian on Food Lover’s shelves will come from farms that are affiliated to the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI – http://globalsalmoninitiative.org/) by January 2019. These farms have committed to work towards meeting the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard for responsible aquaculture by 2020. Food Lover’s has full traceability back to all source farms and is annually tracking progress of these farms towards their 2020 ASC target.
Sustainable is good and I like the accountability and action plan.
This post really is becoming quite political! I have a soapbox and everything! I think it’s about time for the good stuff!
The Recipe Cards
Remember you can sign up to the newsletter to get your meal planner and recipe cards all together in advance, in your inbox! Alternatively you are two weeks behind… and have to come all the way here to MammaChef Jozi to download them… Then again, I love your visits and the more the better! So I tell you what, do both!
Needless to say, we all thoroughly enjoyed this week’s dinners. Blake, who is four, has recently taken to proclaiming every meal as the best food he has ever eaten! The people have spoken!
Alright, I think that is more than enough of my political commentary. I will leave you with this thought. Whatever your mood, whatever is going on in life, try to get yourself just one level up on the emotional scale! If you’re feeling dejected, try to find something that makes you feel content. Anxiety looks for something that brings peace and so on. The point is to raise your vibration! I’ll expand on this a little more later on. If you can (and it’s always possible)… Smile!
A Special Occasion Calling for Cake
We always like to bake something for Super Dad’s birthday. The decision making is a difficult process… he has had Barney cupcakes, he has had chocolate cake sprinkled with really everything Wade could get his hands on. This year, Blake got to choose the Birthday Dinner. He also requested party packs with popcorn for all his friends at school. This didn’t materialise, needless to say.
Since he was choosing dinner, I chose the baking based on what was at hand. I had plenty of carrots and as I went through recipes hunting for a good one, I found that I already had just about everything I needed for these delicious carrot cake muffins (are they actually cupcakes though?). Carrot cake with buttery cream cheese icing is probably one of my favourite things. It has to be super moist, must have the little crunch of nuts and must have loads of icing! These definitely didn’t disappoint and I will be keeping this recipe close!
Just before I start, I have to say that one of the most annoying things when I’m working from a recipe is scrolling up and down to see the amount of ingredients. My recipes may not look quite like the standard recipe format, but it just works much easier for me.
Carrot Cake Muffins Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 3/4 cups grated carrot (I used about 6 medium sized carrots)
1/2 cup pecan nuts, chopped.
Halved pecan nuts for topping
For the Icing
- 100 g cream cheese, softened
75 g butter, softened
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
- 1 1/4 cups icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
Add 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tbsp caster sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 3/4 cup carrots and 1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts together in a mixing bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Pour 3/4 cup milk, 1 beaten egg, 1/2 cup sunflower oil into the hole and fold all together until just combined.
Spoon into the cups in the muffin pan. The cups will be just about full, this is not a problem as they don’t rise a whole lot.
Bake for about 22 minutes until beautifully golden and with a slightly crispy texture. Remove from oven and let them cool completely.
To make the icing, add 100 g cream cheese, 75 g butter and 2 tsp lemon rind. Stir in 1 1/4 cup icing sugar, then beat all together until fluffy and light.
Spread the cream cheese icing onto the carrot cake muffins when cooled, top with pecan nuts and enjoy!
The easiest meals I could possibly come up with (challenge to self accepted!)
Still in the beginning phases of my business and looking at how this week would be going, my meal planning on Sunday last week was all about what I already had in the kitchen (saving some precious cents) and what would take the least amount of time or be so easy that I could just stick it in the oven and carry on with other things until the timer goes off. The very easiest meals for my life at that moment! Obviously they still had to uphold the MammaChef Jozi standards, being healthy and not boring!
I’m actually quite proud of achieving exactly what I set out to do… although I really must start printing out my recipe cards myself! That will save me a good few minutes of searching too!
The Big D
I have alluded to it in last week’s post but I will just come right out and say it… I’m officially on a Diet. Those of you who know me, know that I’m not the biggest of people and I’m normally quite comfortable in my own skin. I have never been prone to on and off diets (and I will add that I am highly allergic to gyms) but as the years and the wrinkles add up, it seems that the metabolism isn’t quite what it used to be.
With December and beach time glimmering on the horizon – it’s time to get back into a shape that I’m comfortable with. I do have a plan that works for me, is focused on healthy weight loss, fits into my days and lifestyle easily (therefore more easy meals), doesn’t cost buckets of money and doesn’t inconvenience my family! It’s pretty much perfect!
The main ingredients of my Big D Plan are:
- Intermittent Fasting – read more information here. I eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours each day. I feel less hungry, less bloated and full of energy, in a nutshell.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – in a cup of water with a teaspoon of honey first thing every morning. Loads of health benefits, good for skin, supposed to break down fat. My gran firmly believed in it too and the smell always reminds me of her… which also makes it more pleasant to consume!
- Water! 2-3 litres per day. The bladder does get used to it!
- Smart Lunch – My lunch is at around 12pm and because it’s the easiest thing in the world, wherever I am at that point during the day, I have my bowl of FutureLife. I either have the Smart Fibre – it does contain gluten but packs a lot of fibre and comes with probiotics – or I have Zero Smart Food – gluten free, no added cane sugar, lots of goodness in a little box.
- Healthy snacks – fruit and nuts, seeds, only raw and in their natural form. Helps for the occasional sugar craving.
- Off limits – sugar, dairy limited to plain yoghurt and cheese, avoid gluten.
- Dinner – whatever is on my meal plan! I do make a variety of vegetables and meats or fish, so it’s easy to cut out the carb portion for myself (eg. bread or potato) and when I do pasta I generally have gluten free. I still have my glass or two of red wine! Red only as it has less sugar than white and does have health benefits.
It’s very much based on the Mediterranean diet and also follows anti-inflammatory guidelines. Works for me, losing weight, feeling awesome and I only have another maybe 4 kgs to lose so I should be good to go in time for the Christmas Feast! Yippee!
Get to the Meal Plan already!
Let me not keep you in suspense any longer… Below is the downloadable Meal Planner for the easiest cooking week ever, as well as the recipe cards for each day’s easy meal.
And there you have it! It’s just starting to rain outside and I am looking forward to a lovely, chilled evening at home. It is, as per usual, Pizza Friday and I have absolutely no idea what we’re having. Day off!
If you would be at all interested in my runaround on the hunt for Wade’s new Epipen this week and the service that won the “little guy” a new loyal customer, head on over to my LinkedIn article here.
To get next week’s meal planner and recipe cards in your inbox on Monday, just enter your email address in the little purple box somewhere along the top of your screen… it’s for you, for free! Otherwise you will have to wait for the posted one all the way on next Friday, doesn’t sound like a good idea to me!
Wishing you a beautiful weekend, be safe and be light!
Start counting sleeps
Nevermind cooking for this week… it’s just about time to start looking forward to Christmas! I’m not really ready to start looking back on the year just yet, save to say that it has been a rollercoaster, eventful, surprising, stressful but wonderful one!
We have just come back from a lovely, week long family holiday in Mpumalanga. I had time to relax, catch a few rays of sun on my nearly translucent winter skin and think up lots of ideas for the blog (and of course for business). The mind never actually stops working on something or other!
See what’s cooking this week
Those early birds who have subscribed over the past few weeks would have received the brand spanking new and gorgeously colourful Meal Planner in a new email format today! Yay for you!
In case you haven’t signed up just yet, you can do so *right now* on the home page in the “sign up” bar… and of course, you can get this week’s planner right here!
It’s all free because I want to help everyone eat better, cook better and feel better! The only thing I ask is for you to keep giving me all your feedback, photos and ideas to make this little idea be the best that it possibly can!
Last week’s meal planner was introduced with fanfare as we were featured on one of my absolute favourite blogs, Mom of Two Little Girls! It’s such an honour to be featured in this brilliant series by someone I completely admire and adore! Link to her post here.
You can also download last week’s printable meal planner on my post here!
The fun thing is that this week, we will be cooking together (if you choose to start on Monday) and you will see my photos pop up as we go along! Hopefully I can stick to my own recipes! Please don’t be shy to post your photos in the comments on Facebook and also share any tasty changes or additions you have made. I love, love, love all your yummy ideas too.
Our recipe cards are all ready to go too! Subscribers can download and print them now, stick up on your fridge or whatever works!
If you are not subscribed I am sad to say you will have to wait until the week’s roundup to get the recipe cards. On the menu this week is:
Seafood Rice & Chorizo (the easy version)
Speaking of imminent holidays, I have decided that my little layer of winter blubber also needs to disappear before beach time. Yes, my guys love me just the way I am but I like to be comfortable in my own skin. I don’t have a whole lot to lose, but I don’t have much time either! First step is lots of water.
More on that later though, for now I need to go shopping! Wishing you a beautiful week!
Mamma’s on Holiday!
As we speak, my boys and I are in the car listening to Guns n Roses “November Rain” with SuperDad’s trusty driving skills taking us all the way to Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge.
This is a much needed break and one that we have been looking forward to with so much excitement! The boys had no idea we were going until we were on the road leaving Joburg this morning! We haven’t had any kind of decent time off and it has been a highly eventful, super busy year for us.
Hopefully you are following all my little adventures and musings on Facebook and Instagram as well and you can expect to see all our holiday food and fun!
I am not leaving you with nothing to cook though!
Over the course of last week I emailed to some of my earlybird followers, the brand new MammaChef Jozi Meal Planner and AND super cool recipe cards! I am uploading all of them here for you as well but if you want to be one of the lucky ones to receive it in advance so that you can get your shopping done, you can comment here with your email address and I will add you to the list. It’s still free!
I am so proud of these, beautifully designed by my nearly life long friend, Karen, The Mistress of Brand – Organic Identity.
Without further ado then (because I am also navigating and the we might end up in Mozambique)…
The Very First Meal Planner and Recipe Cards
Click the heading to download the recipe card.
Download the week’s meal planner (which includes a handy shopping list) MammaChefJozi Meal Plan 16Oct2017.
Have an amazing week and remember to comment with your email address to join us!