Sweet Potato, Red Lentil & Coconut Curry – Suma Bloggers Network

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For my second submission to the Suma Bloggers Network, I thought I’d share our Sweet Potato, Red Lentil and Coconut Curry. I’ve been making this dish since Lil’ L was a toddler and, to this day, it remains one of his favourite dinners. Every time I make it, his chatter stops and all you hear is ‘mm… mm’ as he woofs it down.

Lil’ L has never really liked white potato (he finds it bland), but he loves sweet potato. With its sweet taste and beautiful orange colour, I bet it’s a hit with most kids.

And another great thing about sweet potato is its nutritional profile. It’s literally packed with antioxidants. Just one medium potato contains 438% of the vitamin A RDA and 37% of the vitamin C RDA. It’s also rich in vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, and a good source of dietary fibre. [Source]

Sweet Potato, Red Lentil & Coconut Curry

For a protein and iron boost, I add red lentils to this curry which all but disappear into the sauce (perfect for picky kids). I also throw in a couple of handfuls of spinach. With its soft texture and neutral flavour, this has to be one of the most kid-friendly greens.

To keep this curry quick and simple to prepare, I use a ready-made curry paste. Pataks Korma Paste is my favourite as it’s mild enough for kids, and the spice blend is a perfect compliment to the sweet potato and coconut. Should you wish though, you could always substitute the paste with a mild curry powder (which is what I use when we’re in France).Pataks Korma Paste

For creaminess and a beautiful hint of coconut flavour, I use creamed coconut. I really like this ingredient as it’s 100% coconut, cheap to buy and lasts ages.

Creamed coconut is widely available in the UK and Asia, but I’m not so sure about other parts of the world. If you have trouble finding it, you could easily substitute with coconut butter or a swirl of coconut cream.

Biona Organic Creamed Coconut

Notes for serving to young children
For really young children, I would recommend giving their curry a quick blast with a stick (immersion) blender to make a chunky purée. For children that have an aversion to onion or spinach, whizz them in a mini food processor before adding them to the pan (the veggies, not the children!) That way, they’re so small they won’t detect them.

Sweet Potato, Red Lentil & Coconut Curry

This curry is so easy to prepare and cheap (it costs literally a few pence per portion). It’s also far healthier and less calorific than take-outs. So, next time you’re craving a curry, head into the kitchen and make your own. In less time than it takes to get a take-out, you’ll be tucking into your own delicious curry and have saved yourself a small fortune. Now that’s my idea of the perfect fast food!

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MattressOnline Monster Drawing Competition

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Lil’ L was recently invited to take part in the MattressOnline Monster Drawing Competition.  The challenge was to design a monster, name it, and explain what it is and what it does. The monsters will be judged on their originality, and the three winners will be able to select their own monster-related prizes. Lil’ L has already got his eye on some awesome Monster Lego sets, if he’s lucky enough to be selected ;)

He’s worked really hard on his monster this past week and is finally ready to reveal him. I’ll hand you over to Lil’ L so he can introduce him to you.

Hello! I’m Lil’ L and today I’m taking over my mom’s blog to tell you about my monster. His name is Curio and he is a problem- solving monster. He helps with all sorts of problems. For example, he can clean up spillages, tidy your room, find something you’ve lost or help with homework. He’s also really friendly and likes to play games and when it’s dark he glows like a little night light.

As you can see in my picture, he has lots of features which make him really useful. He has a body that glows at night, eyes that see in the dark, large ears that can hear everything, a big nose for smelling stuff and a big pocket in his tummy for storing pens, pencils other useful stuff. He even has sponges on his feet for mopping up spills!

Curio 500

What a helpful little monster eh? I definitely wouldn’t mind having him around the house, keeping everything neat and tidy!

I’d like to wish all the children taking part in this competition the best of luck

The competition closes at midnight tomorrow (Tuesday 16th September). A selection of the entries submitted so far can be viewed in the Monster Gallery. I would also like to express my thanks to MattressOnline for hosting this fab competition! x

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Our Summer Adventure in the French Alps

During the school summer break, we strapped three bikes to the roof of our car and headed across on the Eurotunnel to France. Our destination – the beautiful French Alps.

Beauregard

La Clusaz, a short drive away from our hire chalet, soon became our favourite place to hang out. It’s a great family-friendly place, with so many activities going on that I felt like I’d landed in a scene from Where’s Wally!

La Clusaz

The village was filled with activities for all ages – inflatables for the small kids, summer luge, zip wires and a big air bag for the older kids, as well as an ice rink and swimming pool.

La Clusaz Collage

Lil’ L loved the big air bag! The slope is actually designed for ski jump practice but, in the summer, you can slide down it in an inflatable tyre. It was really popular with kids and adults alike. Literally everyone I watched jump had a big smile on their face :o)

Lil' L Air Bag Jumps Collage

From La Clusaz, you can take cable cars up into the mountains for hikes, cross country biking and downhilling.

Beauregard cable cars

Our hiking adventures took us through alpine meadows…

Beauregard hike

Alpine flowers

through forests and streams…

Hiking - Beauregard to La Clusaz

Hiking - La Clusaz woods

and up and down rugged hills…

Col de la Croix Fer Hike

where we came across these beautiful creatures

Cow in the Alps

The weather wasn’t the best, but we made sure to make the most of the sun when it came out.

Hiking from La Clusaz

We did get caught out one day whilst hiking on the top of a mountain. The sky suddenly went dark, and then the most almighty storm set in. We ran as fast as we could down the mountain, slipping and sliding in the torrential rain, with deafening claps of thunder and forked lightening overhead. It was exhilarating (and just a little bit scary too!)

Beauregard view

For the first time ever, it was me that was left trailing behind on the bike rides!

Cycling adventures

It’s incredible how much Lil’ L has improved at hill climbing in the past year. Last year, I was the one waiting at the top of hills as M patiently coached him up the hill. Now, he flies up the hills and stands waiting for me!

Lil L Biking Collage

I’m seriously going to have to up my game as I don’t want to be ‘slow mum’. That’s just not cool!

As well as hiking and biking, I loved running in the stunning countryside surrounding our chalet. After climbing up and down hills for three weeks, my body’s definitely stronger and more toned. I’d love to keep it that way!

Cycling from Thones

Other activities that Lil’ L loved this holiday included swimming, reading, playing chess and Diablo. He’d been patiently waiting for a new Diablo for weeks so, when we finally gave it to him at the Eurotunnel terminal, he couldn’t wait to get started. He even managed to spin it in the car!

Lil L France Activities 2014

We were really pleased with our hire chalet, which was spacious, modern and came with a fully-equipped kitchen. When in France (with the exception of Paris), we always prepare our own meals. Not only does it save us a small fortune, but it can be difficult to find vegan-friendly eateries, especially in this area of the Alps (aka ‘Cheeseland’!).

In fact, I didn’t see a single vegan option on the menus I looked at. No matter though, as I was more than happy to cook, especially as M was around to help out. Back home, I’m usually in the kitchen on my own, so it was lovely to have some company!

Thones Chalet Collage

Since we were travelling by car, I took a few supplies from home that would either be hard to come by (like nooch and nettle tea) or a lot more expensive in France (like big packs of almonds and cashews). I also took some herbs and spices to save having to buy more.

Fortunately, non dairy milks and yogurts are readily available in the French supermarkets. The Bjorg brand has lots of vegan-friendly products, including delicious mushroom and aubergine pates. We found them on the ‘Bio’ (organic) aisle, along with the milks and tofu. Bjorg tofu is different to the tofu you find in the UK, as it’s UHT and doesn’t need pressing. It’s chewier than our regular tofu, but I find it works well when diced into small cubes and cooked in sauces.

Vegan Food in France Collage

The one thing that always catches me out in France though is the hummus – for some unknown reason, most of the brands contain cheese!

Mixed Salad

All the meals we made were simple and quick to prepare. For lunch, we loved big colourful salad plates, beans on toast (we found Heinz baked beans on the world food aisle!), or baguettes filled with stir-fried veg. For our main meals, we enjoyed pasta, curries, fajitas, French bread pizzas, stir-fries and couscous dishes.

Creamy Red Lentil Curry

The three weeks flew by and, before we knew it, it was time to head home. We’re now back into the routine of work, school and evening clubs and activities, so week days are pretty full on. I’m looking forward to lots of weekend biking adventures though, crunching our way through piles of Autumn leaves. I just need to sneakily get some extra hill practice so I can keep up with those boys ;)

I hope you had a wonderful summer too
Did you manage to get away on vacation or for day trips?
What was the highlight of the summer for you? 

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Filed under Biking, Vacations, Walking & Hiking

Pina Colada ‘Cheesecake’ (Dairy-free / Gluten-free / Vegan)

We’ve had a glorious summer here in the UK

This week, there’s been a change in the air. It’s cooling off, the rain’s returned and the evenings are drawing in.

But before we officially say goodbye to summer, I’m going to enjoy one last weekend of summer dishes, rounded off with a slice or two of this sunshine-filled Pina Colada ‘Cheesecake’. Cheesecake was my favourite childhood dessert, but I love this dairy-free version even more!

Pina Colada Dairy Free Cheese Cake #Vegan #Glutenfree

In this version, the dairy’s been replaced with delicious pineapple and coconut-flavoured cashew cream, gently sweetened with maple syrup. Instead of a biscuit base, we use crushed almonds and pecans for crunch, and dates for sweetness. The cake is then dressed with a layer of crushed pineapple and finished with a sprinkling of coconut flakes.

Pina Colada 'Cheese' Cake #Dairyfree #Glutenfree #Vegan

While cheesecakes aren’t usually considered to be a healthy option, this version is packed with goodness, including lots of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and heart-healthy fats. Like regular cheesecake, it is pretty calorie-intensive, but you’ll find that even the thinnest of slices will leave you feel satiated. Once the cake has firmed up, I slice it then pop it back in the freezer. That way, we can pull out a slice whenever we fancy one.

Pina Colada 'Cheese' Cake #Dairyfree #Glutenfree #Vegan

This recipe first appeared in Issue 3 of the fab e-magazine Fresh Vegan. One of my lovely readers has already made the cheesecake and I was thrilled to hear how much her family enjoyed it. It’s one of my family’s all-time favourite desserts and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do

Products used in this recipe
Aasani cashews and almonds, found on the world food aisle in Tesco (best value nuts I’ve found so far – £6.50 for 750g)
Clarks Original Maple Syrup
Optima Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil
Magimix 3200 Food Processor

Pina Colada 'Cheese' cake #Dairyfree #Glutenfree #Vegan

Do you have anything special planned for this last weekend of August? I’ve got lots of jobs to tackle this weekend… like my jungle of a garden & school uniform buying (as usual I’ve left the latter to the last minute!) Once the jobs are out the way, I’m looking forward to heading out on my bike in the beautiful English countryside.

Whatever you’re up to, have a great weekend everyone! xx

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Rocky Road (Vegan Style!)

Sorry I haven’t been around much these past few weeks, but I’ve been hanging out with Lil’ L. He’s growing up fast, and since this could be the last summer that he actually wants to hang out with me, I’ve been savouring every moment. We’ve had so much fun! This week’s highlights (so far) have been hiking, biking, playing tennis, picnicking in the park, a trip to the cinema (How To Train Your Dragon 2) and playing in the kitchen :)

Last weekend we got back from our vacation and there was a postal delivery card waiting for us. First thing Monday morning, we hopped on our bikes and pedalled down to the post office. I jumped with glee when I saw that the mystery parcel was the latest The Vegan Kind Subscription Box. I couldn’t wait to do the big ‘reveal’!

The Vegan Kind #TVK10

As usual, the box was filled with interesting brands and products that I’m excited to try out. Lil’ L’s eyes especially lit up when he saw these….

Freedom Mallows

While regular marshmallows are made with gelatine (a slaughterhouse byproduct), Freedom Mallows are gelatine free, dairy free, egg free, gluten free and nut free, and thus suitable for vegetarians and vegans, as well as people with gluten, dairy and nut allergies/intolerances.

And it’s incredible how similar they are to regular marshmallows, both in taste and texture. My mum loves marshmallows and even she can’t tell the difference.

Over the winter, Lil’ L enjoyed slicing and sprinkling vanilla mallows onto his hot chocolates. This time round, we thought it would be fun to make some Rocky Road. While I stood by, Lil’ L set to work melting chocolate and coconut oil…

Rocky Road Making

…bashing biscuits

Rocky Road Making

…then adding mallows and mixing it altogether. Since our mallows were strawberry flavoured, we thought it would be nice to finish off our Rocky Road with a sprinkling of freeze-dried strawberries (which we had left over from these Chocolate Crunch Hearts).

After a couple of hours in the freezer, the Rocky Road was ready to slice and sample. It got a huge thumbs up from Lil’ L!

Rocky Road (Vegan Style)

So far this week, he’s enjoyed it as a treat snack at the cinema and the tennis courts. While it’s a little too sweet for me, Lil’ L reckons it’ll be a hit with kids or anyone with a sweet tooth. It would be great for sharing at children’s tea parties or selling at charity or school fundraisers. It would also make a lovely home-made gift for sweet-loving veggie friends, wrapped in a special box or tin

In the UK, Freedom Mallows are available from Holland & Barrett, independent health food shops (including Harvest in Bath) and online.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xx

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Filed under Reviews, Treats & Sweets