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!
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!
Women’s Day Week
This week was a short one as we had a public holiday right in the middle – Women’s Day. In case you don’t really know why we commemorate Women’s Day, here’s some background from Wikipedia:
National Women’s Day is a South African public holiday celebrated annually on 9 August. The day commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20 000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws that required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanisation, and manage migrant labour during the apartheid era. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated on 9 August 1994. In 2006, a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans.
More on this day and what it means in another post to come!
Monday – Haloumi, Lentil & Vegetable Bake
Gluten and sugar free, packed with loads of healthy stuff and really, really delicious! Diced butternut, thickly chopped red onions, sliced leeks (we got the biggest leeks I have ever seen in my life!) baked at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Add a tin of organic brown lentils, a tin of peeled and diced tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, mixed herbs and paprika. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Place thickly sliced haloumi on top of the veg and grill for around 8 minutes or until melted and golden brown.
Tuesday – Baked Hake, Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Bacon & Cabbage
Wednesday – Chicken Broccoli Pasta Bake
Chicken strips sautéed in butter and olive oil with chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Penne pasta boiled with broccoli.
Mix all together in a large, deep oven dish. Add 1 cup fresh cream, 1-2 cups of mozzarella. Mix well. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Thursday – Lamb Chops with Potato & Leek Gratin
The most succulent lamb chops with a creamy potato and leek gratin.
Sauté finely sliced leeks over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Should be soft but not brown. Slice unpeeled potatoes thinly and nuke them in the microwave on high for 5 minutes just to speed up the cooking time a bit. .
When leeks are cooked, season with salt and pepper, then pack alternating layers of the potato and leeks into an oven dish.
Pour in a cup of cream, sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Add a bit more salt and pepper to suit your tastebuds.
Bake at 180 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Lamb chops seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled on our George Foreman grill.
Friday – Toasted Cheese!
Good old toasted cheese on ciabatta bread.
Christel’s eagerly awaited feature for the week is finally here! The delay is all mine, I must confess. This week for some reason just seemed to fly by me and I didn’t get to everything I had planned…
She has also included a white sauce recipe, which could be a base for just about any sauce and a must have for any kitchen! So without any further delay…
2 medium red onions
Chop everything up, put the onions in a saucepan and fry until tender. Add the tomatoes and stir occasionally until saucy. Add salt, pepper, garlic flakes and a bit of sugar/honey (to take the acidity out of the tomatoes)
Add 1 (or 2) cans of tuna.
Stir for about a minute to combine everything. Add a packet of Woolies ready made cheese sauce. Stir for a minute until mixed. Sprinkle with oregano flakes or fresh herbs. Eat on oven toasted ciabatta or mix into pasta.
You can also add mushrooms and/or green, red & yellow peppers into the mix. Or leave the tuna out completely and eat it with only vegetables.
If you really want to impress your eating companions… here’s the recipe to make your own White sauce from scratch:
It makes 1 cup
30g plain flour
250 ml milk
Place all ingredients in a saucepan over a moderate heat and bring to the boil whisking continuously. Use a spiral or ballon whisk as this will get rid of lumps and give the sauce a more glossy appearance.
Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until thick and smooth and there is no taste of flour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For cheese sauce add 1 cup grated cheddar to the hot sauce and stir to melt the cheese. You can add 5 – 10ml curry powder to the flour to make curry sauce. For parsley sauce you can add chopped parsley to the mix. You can add mustard to the mix for a mustard sauce.
The possibilities of what this sauce can become, are endless.
As Wednesdays are usually soccer nights, I always try to plan for a dinner that is as quick and easy as possible. I had a little more time than planned though, so I did a bit of creative cutting and frying of the chips.
The fish was Country Fry from Sea Harvest, baked in the oven. Baby carrots and mixed peas and corn. Potato sliced with the skin on, shallow fried in a little canola oil until just golden and crispy.
Fresh Hake in a bright sauce, full of flavour
This dinner idea was inspired by a recipe found on Pinterest, which I played with a bit as usual and ended up with the below. I must add that the smells while cooking were amazing and just added to the anticipation of the dining.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Depending on children and/or taste, add a small sprinkle (up to half a tsp) of red chilli flakes and 1tsp crushed garlic. Sauté for a minute.
Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a few halved cherry tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Add in a quarter cup of dry white wine and let the mixture simmer.
Add half a cup of finely chopped fresh basil, 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, a quarter tsp lemon zest, ground salt and black pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Then transfer into a bowl and set aside.
Season portions of fresh skinless hake on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a large oven proof non stick pan over medium high heat. Place the hake in the oil until golden brown, approximately 6 minutes. Carefully turn the hake over, pour over the wine and tomato sauce and place in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes or until cooked through.
While the fish is cooking in the oven, mix 1,5 cups couscous and 1,5 cups of boiling water in a bowl. Add 1 Knorr vegetable stock pot and a dash of olive oil. Mix well and cover with cling wrap or a plate. Wait 3-4 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
Serve (with some of that crisp white wine) and enjoy!
This week we are lucky to have Ouma visiting and cooking for us! With a week of birthdays and night time soccer matches she has been an absolute lifesaver as there really is no time for cooking!
I also get a chance to share some of my cooking inspiration with you!
Jamie Oliver is all about the fresh ingredients and herbs, big flavours and colours as well as being nice and easy. I am a huge fan of his 30 minute recipes and shows.
Get the recipe here…
While Mamma was on action cricket duty with the little guys, Super Dad had his turn in the kitchen for this week. He doesn’t cook for us often, but when he does it’s always amazing!
These fish parcels are super easy and super delicious. They started off with each fillet being baked in it’s own foil “parcel” but Mamma decided that we don’t have time for all that! They kept the name though, just because it works.
Place 4-6 frozen hake fillets into a glass oven dish. Drizzle with a good glug of olive oil, ground coarse salt and black pepper. Squeeze over juice of half a lemon, then cut slices of lemon and randomly arrange them into the dish as well.
Cover the fish with 4 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, crumble 3/4 cup of feta cheese on top and add 1/2 packet (or as many as you like) pitted green olives.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 35-40 minutes until the fish flakes easily using a fork.
Serve with white rice. I like to use the juices from the fish dish to dress my rice.
Everyone who has had this at Casa MammaChef in Jozi has loved it and I’m sure you will too! Send us your photos, comments or ideas, we love to hear from you!
Happy Youth Day! Wishing you all a beautiful and peaceful long weekend!
Fishy fishy Fursday! We have a vegan in the house so today’s dinner is all out partly vegan, gluten free, dairy free and sugar free… how fun does that sound? But it’s still yummy and you can always add cheese.