Can you believe it? Green Tea & Treacle is a year old today!
It’s been an interesting year tiptoeing around in the blogging world. And if you’re reading this then I thank you for joining me on this little jaunt.
Life took a sharp turn at about the time I launched this blog. So the anticipated hours of free time to create, compose and seek out fabulous blogging opportunities never really eventuated. In fact initially I was sure my baby blog was doomed before it had begun.
I’m so glad that it wasn’t.
My family do think I am slightly nuts. There is little time to forward plan a post in my fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants world. So if it looks good at the time everyone sits with forks poised or pan positioned as I whip out the trusty DSLR. I love to photograph food.
So as I blow out the happy first birthday candle my wish for the year ahead is that I continue to find the joy in eating, cooking and living Green Tea & Treacle, a lot of green, a little sweet, and that you keep dropping by to say hello either here or on the facebook page…
I’ve never really subscribed to the cookie cutter sandwiches or funny face dinner type of encouragement to get my children to eat. It’s not that I doubt their worth, it’s just I’d rather put my energies into other creative aspects of food preparation… Each to their own you know?
So my thing is finding the joy of grown up meals for kids. In some ways it’s selfish as I have always preferred not to cook more than one meal if I can help it but it can certainly help reap the rewards in time saved with meal preparation and the ease with which children will eat at the family table. The key is finding the twist you can add to make these meals just that little bit more interesting. Especially to the little people at your dinner table with short attention spans.
My absolute winner meal was discovered whilst at our local Chinese with a then four and two year old in tow. Rice was always a hit but on this occasion we gave the San Choy Bow a try. Boy was it a winner. And why wouldn’t it be? Lettuce cups instead of bowls, hands instead of cutlery and easy to eat tasty mince – this meal ticks lots of boxes for kids.
My children are now 11 and 9 and a mid-week San Choy Bow continues to be greeted with gleeful enthusiasm and remains the only way Master 9 will eat lettuce. I’ve streamlined the process somewhat and only attempt iceberg lettuce cups delicately shaped with the kitchen scissors on a weekend when I have time for that much attention to detail.
Trust me, this recipe is truly a quick mid-week meal that won’t suffer from the absence of a few ingredients either. Ad lib as you need just don’t leave out the water chestnuts; their crunchy texture really makes this dish and I always make sure there’s a tin somewhere in the depths of my pantry… Enjoy!
Sang Choy Bow
Cooking time around 10 minutes
- 2 baby cos lettuce, washed and leaves separated
- 1tbsp vegetable oil
- Small onion finely diced
- 3 shallots (green onions) trimmed and finely sliced
- 3cm piece ginger, grated (approx 2 tsp)
- 500g lean pork mince
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1tbsp light soy sauce
- 1tsp sesame oil
- 2tbsp water (optional for a moister mix)
- 225g tin water chestnuts, drained and diced
- 10 snow peas finely sliced (more if you prefer)
- Steamed rice, bean sprouts, canned corn and fresh coriander to serve
Select the best leaves from your lettuces keeping in mind those lovely small leaves will be perfect for small hands. Soak them in iced water for a crisper finish if you want.
Heat oil in a wok or large fry pan and stir fry onion, shallots and ginger for a 1-2 minutes before adding the pork mince. Cook five minutes until cooked through.
Add sauces, water if using, sesame oil, water chestnuts and snow peas. Continue to cook a further 2-3 minutes before transferring to a serving bowl.
Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter and place in the centre of the table along with rice and your families choice of accompaniments letting everyone serve themselves. My children love canned sweet corn (use no-added salt varieties if you can) while the grown-ups prefer bean sprouts and coriander.
It can get a little messy so make sure you’ve plenty of napkins handy and enjoy the tasty fun!
Note: Sang Choy Bow is not traditionally served with rice as it’s usually an entrée on restaurant menus. A family meal without some sort of energy giving carbohydrate isn’t going to see many through the night however, so I team this meal with rice – white, brown or red depending on what is in my pantry.
Other fun family meals to try include:
- Skewers – use thin pieces of chicken breast with mushroom and cherry tomatoes
- Fajitas – wrapping up your food in tortillas is always special
- Chili Con carne – a handful of plain corn or tortilla crisps makes this meal quickly disappear
If you’re a parent of a child under 3, chances are you worry about how they eat. In fact, according to the Better Health Channel (a fabulous source of plain English health information) eight out of 10 Australian parents worry about their kids eating habits.
From my experience as a nutritionist with an interest in early childhood health, and as a parent, I’d have to say this statistic is pretty much on the money. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Fussy eating behaviours tend to arise out of the developmental changes taking place as babies become toddlers. One of these is a growing sense of self and with this the desire for control and independence. The other is a slowing of growth. Annoyingly food and eating often bares the brunt of these changes.
US feeding expert Ellyn Satter has an elegant solution which involves applying her ‘division of responsibility in feeding’. Simply put parents are responsible for what is provided and when and where. The child is responsible for whether or not to eat, and if they do, how much. It works surprisingly well, and by removing the pressure to eat, meal times can become pleasant family occasions for everyone to enjoy.
The overriding caveat here is trust. Trust in your child to know what they need, trust in yourself to provide good healthy food.
Here’s a few more tips to help in achieving more relaxed family meal-times;
- Present food in the center of the table allowing everyone to select what they like without comment or pressure
- When serving up something new or not especially liked, try to include at least one food you know your children will eat.
- Model great eating behavior; eat your vegetables and make water your preferred drink
- Avoid letting children graze. Keep regular meal and snack times so children are hungry for a meal; hungry children generally eat well.
- Avoid using food as a bribe
- Eat as a family as often as you can
- Allow children to eat to their appetite, don’t insist on a clean plate
If you want to know more about Feeding Families: How to Win the Food War, join me on Wednesday August 6 for a webinar hosted with The Parents Jury.
Click here to register and I hope to see you there….