Eating healthily as a family is not that easy let’s face it and healthy family meals can get forgotten about in the battle to get your kids to just eat something. There’s a high chance that you’ve Googled ‘healthy family meals’ and ended up here (hello if that’s you!) and I’m guessing there’s a high chance you are looking to wean your kids off the beige food family headed up by Mr & Mrs Nugget if you’re wanting to read this. I know this because I’ve just described myself (other than the Googling bit because that would just be weird) or at least I think I described my old self.
A few months back, I embarked on what I like to call a full body transformation, which is more like a life transformation. It sounds dramatic and it kind of was. Yes, it involved weight loss but it really is an ongoing *wanky word alert* “journey” that has me questioning everything I am using or putting into my body and mind.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t sometimes stuffed my face with fast food or hidden behind the fridge drinking wine – Rome wasn’t built in a day people and I am raising children after all.
It does mean though that I’ve had a serious shake up of my food cupboards and routines. In doing so, I’ve re-educated myself a bit and made the decision to follow a vegan lifestyle. The reasons behind this are probably a post for a different time as they are long, complicated and quite frankly a bit boring. But suffice to say that veganism is new territory for me and as such it’s not something that I feel comfortable imposing on my family, particularly my children until I know a lot more about it. For now though, it’s meat-free Monday every day.
Getting back to the family eating thing, what became quickly apparent is how ridiculous it was to be sitting at the dinner table with my children, choosing to fill my plate with wholegrains, chickpeas, wild brown rice and vegetables (I’m SO much fun) when across the table, the rest of my family were chowing down on pie and chips. We love a good pie up norf’ by the way and it will be one of the stodgier pleasures that I will sorely miss.
Eating healthily and yet serving up all the crap seemed to me like hypocrisy at its best but there is no doubting that my kids would use their best excuses to get out of eating salad for dinner, right?! I mean, the toddler regurgitates everything for the dogs so she might have given it a go but the moody tween? No, not a chance. If you cut him in half he’d say sponsored by Birds Eye through his middle after 11 years on the beige. So basically, providing healthy family meals was one thing but getting them to eat them just felt like a massive uphill battle.
Still, I had to try and so about two months ago I decided to mix up a whole load of the family favourites for healthier alternatives, swapping out some of the serious nasties (bye-bye Nutella!) and quite literally trying to eat the exact same foods as the kids without any of my internal organs turning beige.
The results of newfound healthy family meals were mixed as you can imagine but they were not as resoundingly awful as I had feared. Clearly, being vegan is now adding a complication to healthy family meals but I am working on that. Anyhoo, food was eaten, bellies were filled and vitamins consumed. So now we have a good months worth of healthy family recipes, none of which are expensive to source or time consuming to create because that just isn’t my style. If I can’t pronounce it (baobab anyone?!) then it isn’t going in the recipe I assure you.
As most of you aren’t vegan, I thought I’d share my hard work, triumphs and occasional failures with you in the hope it might help make meal times a bit easier and a lot less breadcrumbed. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a place for fish fingers at my table but for the most part, I am trying really hard to serve up the good stuff.
It’s a mammoth task to overhaul your whole diet so let’s start at the beginning – with breakfast. The most important meal of the day apparently (although they’re all important to me) and sometimes the easiest to do on auto-pilot. Pushing a bowl of cereal at our kids is such an automatic, pre-coffee action isn’t it? We know (even before we have that coffee) that pretty much 99% of children cereals are absolutely laden with sugar. I kind of knew this about some of the obvious brands (*cough* Nestlé) but am still guilty of succumbing to the whining by the time the cereal aisle comes into view (is this why crisps and cereal are always near the end?!)
You know how it goes anyway, I’m not the only mother who has allowed dry Cheerios to pass as a food group on a dreary Monday morning.
So where on earth to start?
Well, it goes without saying that I was just a bit pleased when I was contacted by a brand called Rude Health, not least because their tongue-in-cheek brand name cheered me up but because their ethos matches mine perfectly.
“Eat right, stay brilliant”
That and “all you need is love” (that one’s on the Beatles, not Rude Health) pretty much sums up my attitude to life right now.
So anyway, they hooked me in with their cute one liner and bright packaging and then I found out that there’s no artificial anything in their products, not even any refined nasties and they make a range of cereals where they have gone above and beyond to reduce the sugar content. Not to mention they’ve introduced me to a whole range of nut milks (stop your judgement, nut milk is the best) that I had no idea about. Cashew nut milk and I? Well lets just say, it’s the start of something beautiful.
Basically they’ve done all the hard work for me by sending me a box of healthy treats and I am going to share a few of the best Rude Health breakfasts that I concocted (and by that I mean warmed up). Healthy family recipes are meant to be easy so don’t be looking for Hollandaise sauce in this post.
Porridge but not as you know it
Rude Health make a range of porridgey type cereals but our absolute favourite was a bit of a surprise if I’m being honest. 5 Grain 5 Seed is not exactly the type of name that has you reaching for your spoon but give it a go because this porridge was without a doubt, the creamiest, most delicious porridge we have ever eaten. Zak, my self-proclaimed “hater of everything” said as much. He loved it, Sophie and the dogs loved it and so did I.
Made with a blend of barley, rye and quinoa as well as linseeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds – this breakfast ticks ALL of the nutritional boxes. Incidentally, it also stuffed us up full until lunch. No “bic-bics” were requested until nearly 12:00. That is actually the definition of a mum-win right there.
1 cup of oats
2 1/2 cups of almond milk (or any milk you choose)
a pinch of cinnamon
top with your favourite fruit
Granola – This is the ultimate one
Granola is a funny thing – it sounds as though it ought to be healthy but more often than not, it is packed full of sugar in a horrifying kind of way.
Not so with Rude Health’s granola. Chow on down my dears because this one is the best granola’s I’ve tried and the sweetness is coming from a blend of date syrup and honey, which means it’s virtually guilt-free. No refined nasties and all the yum.
As with all cereals though, a little goes a long way and a 30g portion will see you right. Top with some fruit and give that cashew nut milk a try. You know you want to!
These are a weekend staple in my house. I haven’t figured out a vegan version yet (but I will!) but these are super duper healthy and happy little pancakes to make your morning sing.
All you will need is (yes you do have to cook them):
1 cup of spelt flour (you can use any flour but hey, let’s go wild)
1 cup of Rude Health Almond Milk
1 cup of berries if you like that kind of thing
Mix the ingredients all together in a jug. Heat up a small amount of organic coconut oil in a pancake pan (a frying pan will do if necessary). All you need to do is to pour a small amount of the batter into the pan and flip the pancake when you start to see little bubbles popping on the side with the wet batter.
I find that I can make about six good pancakes or maybe 8 little ones with this so vary the ingredients as necessary depending on the number of hungry mouths to feed.
Mango, coconut & chia bircher museli pot
Ok this one I did steal from the Rude Health website. They have a brilliant recipe section that gets updated regularly and so when my box of goodies arrived, I took a sneaky peek for some inspiration. This one in particular is SO good and it actually feels a bit decadent which would be lovely if the toddler weren’t throwing raisins around the room.
Head over to the Rude Health website for more breakfast yumminess like this one. I love their recipe section because although it is full of healthy family recipes, it also looks like they have been made for normal everyday people like you and I. Yay to that.
So there they are, my healthy family meals – breakfast style. I have to say at this juncture that smoothies feature highly in my favourite breakfast recipes and they are something I feel passionate about eating as part of a healthy lifestyle but they really do deserve their own post. So if you prefer to eat rather than drink your breakfast, I hope that you may have found a little inspiration to ditch the Rice Krispies and try out these healthy family meals.
I joke about it a lot but healthy eating and using healthy family meals is actually really important to me. I seriously believe that the whole foundations of family life can actually be improved with good food choices and a healthy relationship with eating but I also know what a challenge it can be when you are leading a busy life and dealing with fussy little people. All the recipes here are simple and effective, tried and tested by fussy eaters and a mum with little time and less sanity.
So good luck and let me know if you get to try any of my healthy family meals.
Until next time