Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Watercress Pesto

With its golden and green hues, this quick and easy plant-based risotto is just perfect for this season! The stars of this dish are butternut squash and watercress, which are not only delicious and super colourful, but they are also rich in immune-boosting phytonutrients (like betacarotene) that will leave us glowing from the inside out!

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Weekend Highlights – Spray Painting, Bike Riding & Roasted Vegetable Risotto (with Recipe!)

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend ūüôā

We managed to fit in lots of fun activities this weekend, starting off with a trip to the library on Saturday morning where¬†Lil’ L returned his¬†book¬†and came out with another seven! You can guess who ended up carrying those round Bath. Luckily he had lots of books to keep him occupied while we went for coffees in Neros ūüėČ

I’m still getting a real kick out of how much Lil’ L is enjoying reading.¬† In addition to the library books, he’s also currently reading a chapter of Lemony Snicket¬†to us every night and, on his own, he’s reading Philip Pullman’s ‘The Subtle Knife’ (both books that he picked up from the charity shop for a couple of pounds each).

In the afternoon, after a quick visit to a local village fete, Lil’ L and his friend T did some stencilling and spray art with M¬†in our garage.

T did a space-inspired picture, while Lil’ L sprayed an underwater scene with a scary looking fish!

On Sunday, it actually stopped raining for a few hours and the sun came out. We decided to grab the opportunity to go out for a bike ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal.

To make it more interesting for Lil’ L, we said we’d cycle to the Angel Fish Cafe at Limpley Stoke for lunch.¬† That sure got him moving!

Both the boys fancied baked beans on toast¬†but we were surprised to find that the Cafe only served white bread. No wholemeal, no granary, no seeded bread.¬† That’s no good!¬†Bike riders need big chunky¬†doorsteps of wholemeal granary bread to refuel them, not thin anaemic white slices ūüėČ

Lil’ L asked if he could have an ice cream for dessert. I told him he could have one at the Canal Boat Cafe in Bathampton (back where we started our journey). This was a sneaky move on my part to make sure he peddled fast rather than dawdled all the way back. It sure worked ūüėČ

We’ve had an unbelievable amount of rain lately but, on the plus side, the countryside is looking beautifully lush and green!

The muddy bike bottom really isn’t a good look is it? I’m so glad I’ve finally had mudguards fitted to my bike.

The face was pretty muddy too (and chocolatey!)

And look at those legs!

Back home, Lil’ L headed straight to the shower while I made the most of our sunshine and did a little gardening. I was amazed to find that we’ve actually managed to grow some¬†strawberries that haven’t been eaten by a slug … or snail …¬†or blackbird!

And look what else I came across… a beautiful shimmering blue damselfly taking refuge on Buddha ūüôā

He stayed there for ages!

After a great day out, I cooked us a large pan of roasted squash and red pepper risotto. It was very yummy indeed. Unfortunately, Lil’ L isn’t a huge fan of risotto (he isn’t keen on the texture of Arborio¬†rice) but I pre-empted any negative comments by serving it with some toasted wholegrain tortilla segments. He then proceeded to tuck in with enthusiasm, piling the crispy tortilla high with the risotto, and ate every last grain!

I often find that the addition of a ‘bready’ side dish, like a flat bread, tortilla, or piece of garlic bread can transform a meal for Lil L. I wonder if this is the same for all children?

At the weekend, I made the risotto¬†with an old packet of¬†Arborio¬†rice that needed using up. Next time I make the risotto, I’m going to try the Riso Gallo 3 Grains Risotto Rice which consists of Italian Rice, Spelt and Pearl Barley. As this rice contains wholegrains, it will have a lower GI than regular white risotto rice, as well as other nutrients such as Iron and B Vitamins.

With the butternut squash and red pepper pieces, our risotto did look quite pretty. I also added some peas to add more colour and lovely nutrients ūüôā

Here’s how I made it:

Have¬†a great week everyone! ūüôā xx

This time last year… Glastonbury!

Festive Holiday Catch Up & Wild Mushroom Risotto

I’ve finally made my way back into blogging world!¬† Firstly, I want to say a bit ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR!’ to you all.¬† I hope 2012 brings you everything you wish for ūüôā

Secondly, apologies for the lack of posts over the past couple of weeks.¬† I took a break away from the computer so that I could give the family my full attention.¬†¬†The school holidays were¬†spent¬†playing with new toys and games, including the awesome Harry Potter Cluedo…

and the superb¬†Labyrinth ūüôā

This is such a great game for developing kids’ (and adults’) ability to think strategically and be flexible and adaptable. You have to work out how to reach certain objects on the board but, at each turn, the labyrinth changes so you have to keep adjusting your plans. I loved it!

As well as some old favourites, like Rich Uncle ūüôā

Now he’s 8, Lil’ L’s has been able to play all these¬†board games¬†as a contestant in his own right, and he’s loved it!¬†¬†It’s been a great way to spend quality time as a family ūüôā

We’ve also been on some awesome walks, including a¬†hike up to¬†the Glastonbury Tor on New Year’s Eve.

(c) Michael Cobb

As we were climbing up to the Tor, we were greeted with a spectacular sun set!

Evenings have been spent catching up on¬†all the films¬†that we’ve missed this year.¬†¬†M and I also watched several¬†Victorian¬†films¬†including¬†The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Young Victoria¬†and¬†adaptations of Dicken’s Great Expectations and David Copperfield.¬† The Victorian times weren’t that long ago, yet life was so different then.¬† It’s easy to forget¬†just how easy we have it these days.¬† Since watching these films, I haven’t complained once about having to do the odd hour of housework ūüėČ

On New Year’s Day, we took a trip to the cinema to watch Hugo in 3D.¬†¬†This film was¬†beautiful, mesmerizing, moving.¬† If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend going to the cinema and seeing it in 3D.¬† IMO, it’s one of those films that really needs to be seen¬†on the big screen to get the full effect.

Well, no post of mine would be complete¬†without the mention of¬†food ūüėȬ† We ate really well over the¬†festive period, although we probably ate a bit too much.¬† I’m not worried though¬†as I know that¬†that any extra weight I put¬†on will come off¬†over the next few weeks, now I’m back into¬†moderate eating mode rather than over indulgence.¬† I reckon I just need¬†to wear those stretchy¬†leggings for one more week, then I’ll be back in the jeans ūüėČ

Some of¬†our favourite eats¬†in the past few weeks¬†have been the more ‘natural’ foods.¬† We’ve loved eating¬†hot¬†roasted chestnuts,¬†walnuts eaten straight from their shells, and ruby red grapefruits.¬† I don’t think I’ve eaten a grapefruit since last Christmas and I’d forgotten just how much I love them!

We’ve also¬†enjoyed plenty of Christmas pudding¬†drizzled with fresh soya milk.¬† I don’t bother to make my own Christmas pudding as I¬†love¬†Tesco’s cheap range¬†pudding (it only costs¬†about ¬£3 and is vegan).

This is where the extra calories start piling on. One portion of Christmas pudding has over 300 calories… and that’s before the cream’s been poured on top! Who cares though, it’s Christmas!

Remember the snowball Christmas cake?  Well, it looked like this inside.

It was delicious… and it’s all gone!

We did try a few shop bought ‘processed’ foods, but we didn’t like most of them (probably because we’re not used to eating them).¬† I’m really glad that I made a nut roast for Christmas dinner, as the ‘Turkey-style’ veggie roast that I bought was way too salty and chewy for me.¬† We also tried some ‘chicken style’ nuggets, but they were really bland.¬† The one ready-made food that we really did love though was Linda McCartney’s sausage rolls.¬† Very tasty indeed!¬† I’ll definitely be buying them again next Christmas.

And finally, I’ve got a¬†recipe to share…. Wild Mushroom Risotto

This is what I made on arrival at my mum’s house on Christmas Eve.¬† It was super easy to make and didn’t take too long.¬† Mum¬†had some butternut squash to use up, so we roasted it in large chunks and served it as a side dish.¬† It turned out to be a perfect accompaniment for the¬†risotto.¬† It really was delicious.¬† Pefect for special occasions or dinner parties.

Instead of going out last¬†Friday night for a meal (the¬†credit cards needs a well earned¬†rest ūüėČ ), I decided to make¬†risotto again as a treat and, this time round, I¬†actually¬†wrote down the ingredients and method.

Here’s the recipe:

This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s #Wellness Weekend

Since the beginning of 2012, I’ve been cooking with renewed enthusiasm,¬†and my favourite meals have been those that you can whip up in no time at all and, preferably, use one pan.¬† I’m looking forward to sharing them with you over the coming weeks ūüôā

Did you play any fun games or see any good movies over the holidays?