For so many of us Coconut Ice is a taste of childhood. But the fact that traditionally it’s packed with sugar isn’t something many of us want in our diets now. So why not try this healthy, refined sugar free, take on Coconut Ice? It […]
As soup season and courgette’s rarely co-inside I’ve never tried courgette soup. But faced with a haul of them from a kind friend and the sudden stormy week I’ve been working on a soup which will work now and also keep in the freezer for […]
Meal prep has gained in popularity in the health and fitness community and it’s no surprise why. Having healthy meals to hand all week means we are more likely to eat well and not end up reaching for a takeaway or fast but unhealthy meal options. Cooking in bulk is also money saving as you buy bigger quantities or foods on offer. Plus making double doesn’t take twice the amount of time once you get going and you will save on fuel costs too.
Some people like to meal prep the same meal for the whole week, which can be necessary if using salad veggies which don’t freeze. But freezing meals means you will eat a greater variety of foods as you can simply grab a meal you made, for example, four weeks ago while making something completely different that week and freezing some portions of those.
I like to cook double of most meals so I have four portions one day for the family and another four for packed lunches or quick dinners later on. It means some busy weeks we can have a homemade meal every night with no need to cook. It also allows me to ‘shop my freezer’ and buy minimal food at the supermarket that week. Another time and stress saver!
The key to becoming one of those meal prep gurus who flood Instagram on a Sunday night with their neatly lined up boxes ready for the fridge or freezer is prep. Yes, meal prep prep! But it is a lot easier than you think.
Get your meal prep supplies ready
If you have the right tools you are more likely to make a success of your prep. So have the correct containers and coverings ready. Here’s some suggestions:
Enamel pie dishes in individual or larger sizes for pies so they can go straight in the oven. Cover the tops with foil before freezing.
Pyrex dishes with removable lids for lasagnas, pies, one-pot roasts or foil containers.
Tupperware style boxes for foods which can be microwaved or decanted and pan reheated.
Plastic freezer bags are great for dry items or sauces. In order to keep bags of sauces neat place the bag into a freezable cup and fill with the sauce, tie the top and freeze in the cup. When hard you can pop the bag and sauce out of the cup and in it’s neat form into the freezer – it’s easier to label this way too.
Foil is great for wrapping drier items in portions like portions of baked oats, pancakes, waffles, bread etc.
A silicon ice cube tray is brilliant for freezing small amounts of for example, chopped herbs or puree for babies. Then pop them out and into a ziplock bag for easy access. I always froze fruit and vegetables purees in ice cube trays so I could mix a different combination of foods daily with no hassle for my kids while they were weening.
Always label your food
Invest in a permanent marker or some stickers because although you are sure now that when you see that bag of red frozen liquid you will know its tomato soup – it can get confusing! I once defrosted an unmarked box of what I thought was fish pie white sauce – with my mash and fish at the ready – only to discover it was actually pancake batter which looks basically the same when it’s in a lump! Now I use a thin permanent marker on all bags and boxes as after freezing and a round in the dishwasher the marker tends to pretty much rub off anyway.
If you are using foil containers with lids then you can write the contents and even cooking instructions on in biro before freezing. It can also be helpful to add the date you froze the meal.
Freeze foods correctly
Part of the joy of meal prep is it’s easy to make a meal – that’s not true if you have to hack lumps off a frozen block of food! So when it comes to freezing make sure you’re savvy about how you do your initial freeze. If you have items which you will need to remain separate like fritters, mini tarts or filled pasta it’s best to freeze them on a baking sheet, not touching before placing them into a bag or box. Then you can just take what you need when you want it without defrosting the whole lot. This is also useful when freezing fruits and vegetables so you can create your own frozen veg/fruit bag! There’s no need to defrost the vegetables before cooking, and use frozen fruit straight from the freezer to make ‘nice-cream’ or amazingly thick smoothies.
Make your own ready meals
Where you can it makes sense to both saving space in your freezer and also making life easier, to add whole meals to a container. So if you are prepping a curry, include the rice too. If you don’t have time to add the sides at the time you are ready to freeze don’t panic! Simply freeze say the curry and do a batch of rice the next day. As long as it’s cold when you add it to the frozen curry you can pop it straight back into the freezer.
Accept you can’t freeze everything
Sadly there are some things which just don’t freeze well, unwhipped cream, custard, iced cake, cream cheese, and mayonnaise are a terrible texture when they are defrosted so there’s little point attempting to freeze them.
In the UK right now, especially after an above average amount of sunshine (yay!) courgettes (zucchinis) and red peppers are plentiful. I have been lucky enough to be gifted some from a friend whose veggie patch is beyond luscious and can’t wait to grow my […]
If you love apple pie then these Apple and Cinnamon Energy Balls are for you. They take minutes to prepare and are perfect to keep in the fridge or wrap up and pop in your gym bag. These bite size wonders are a nutrition powerhouse […]
I’m excited to have been working with yourzooki.com the past couple of months on some recipes using their incredible fish oil. They approached me after seeing what I was doing with it anyway – it’s a staple in our house because my kids think it’s like sweets! It’s actually sugar free but so delish, like a smoothie and no fishy burps. Bonus. I’ve developed some recipes using all their flavours and will be posting them here (and a version for anyone who doesn’t wish to consume fish). I had never considered mixing the flavours of mango and peach together until I tried the Zooki Fish Oil – but boy does it work as these Mango and Peach Mousse Stacks prove!
This dessert is dinner party worthy but quick and simple enough for everyday. It also contains no sugar, two of your five-a-day and a full adult portion of Zooki if you are using it – which is pretty good going for a yummy treat. And unlike many mousses this doesn’t contain raw eggs or gelatine, which means you can serve them immediately without chilling and it’s suitable for anyone with intolerances.
Tumblers, or martini glasses make great serving dishes for these beautiful mousses as you can see the gorgeous layers. You can always make half size versions for the kids, which would give them their full portion of Zooki for the day too.
Mango and Peach Mousse Stack
- 1 mango, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tin of peaches, drained
- 300ml double cream
- 8 teaspoons Zooki Mango and Peach Omega-3 oil or 8 teaspoons of pureed mango
- Step 1 Blitz the peaches in a blender until you have a smooth liquid.
- Step 2 Chop the mango and place 4 teaspoons of the chopped mango to one side.
- Step 3 Whip the cream with 4 teaspoons of Zooki or mango puree until it’s stiff. When it’s finished stir the remaining 4 teaspoons lightly through the cream so it has a ripple effect, don’t over mix it as you want to see the stripe.
- Step 4 Place 2 tablespoons of the peach puree in the bottom of your glass. Top with 1 tablespoon of chopped mango then an eighth of the cream mix.
- Step 5 Repeat to use up all the puree, mango (not the reserved mango though!) and cream.
- Step 6 Use the reserved mango to garnish the top of the pudding.
- Step 7 You can eat the pudding immediately or chill for later.
**This is not an advert** because the cider in this bottle was made from the apples on that tree in my garden behind it! Well some of them at least are in the mix because last year we took the Bramley apples we couldn’t eat […]
Pepper season is almost upon us and soon gardeners and markets will be awash with these veggies which are certainly a staple in my home. There’s a special place in my heart for the long pointed variety which have a thinner skin and flesh, making […]
Homemade ice pops were pretty much the only way you were going to get an ice pop when I was a kid. There was a choc-ice and maybe a Mini Milk if you were lucky. But certainly not the crazy array on offer at supermarkets now. But making your own is fun and has so many advantages.
Firstly you know what’s in them. You can pack them with goodness and dump the sugar and artificial colourings and flavourings. This makes them actually good for you so you can legitimately have them for breakfast. Living the dream! Secondly they are still cheaper for the quality you get. And finally, perhaps most importantly, they don’t drip as much as the ones from the supermarket. This has been scientifically proven by me in extensive monitoring.
There are so many flavours you can make up and the kids have loved coming up with their own ideas. It’s fun to mix flavours too. Just freeze up to the point the lolly sick will go in and then when that’s hard top up with the next flavour and freeze with the stick in.
Another plus is of course that you will reduce your plastic waste by making your own. There are lots of companies selling ice lolly molds. Personally I like those which snap together to make an upright solid structure which holds up well in the freezer. I also find any with individual covers handy as they can then be taken in these to school pick up or the park. Usually you will need to get the lollies out of the freezer for around 10mins before removing them from the mould. Or you can run some hot water over the mold/place them in some warm water for a minute or so.
All these make four to six pops depending on the size of your mould or if you are making them into ‘half’ measures. You will notice this batch of recipes have some reoccurring ingredients – this is to avoid waste by making lots with the same ingredients. I will be posting more soon though so watch this space! These are all vegan, gluten and sugar free recipes.
Pina Colada Popsicles
Combine 200ml pineapple juice with 200ml light tinned coconut milk. Freeze in molds and serve.
Peach and Pineapple Ice Pops
Dice a skinned fresh peach into small cubes or use the equivalent tinned peaches. Place the chopped peach bits equally in the mold and top up with pineapple juice. Freeze in molds and serve.
Creamy Peach Ice Pops
Blitz 200ml tinned coconut milk with 200g drained tinned peaches. Freeze in molds and serve.
Beans are such a gift to anyone looking to eat healthily but save cash. Whether you buy them ready-cooked in a tin or dried and boiled (which I do in bulk and freeze in portions) they are ones of the cheapest ways of getting protein […]