Quick dinners for when life gets nutty
This week has been a little chaotic. We’re on the cusp of Season 13 for Beat the Couch and I feel as if I’ve been sending e-mails at 1,000mph. I think every mum (working or not) has moments where they feel totally torn, but this week I had Belle off sick for the day at the worst possible time. How do they manage that?!
Poor little thing had a stomachache which, in hindsight, may or may not have been fictional. But either way, I found myself on the sofa with my laptop and an eight-year-old wrapped around my legs.
She napped on and off for a while, but would wake up with one billion questions on her lips. At one point, I found myself trying to explain the expression “down to earth”, which is bizarrely hard to do without involving other complicated words or making the character trait sound negative. I said that it meant that a person was a realist (complicated), and then had to explain “realist” as “not living in fantasyland”. At which point she said “But why wouldn’t you want to live in Fantasyland? Where is Fantasyland?” Help!
Anyway, it was an oddly philosophical conversation. I did have a moment where I wondered at the complexity of her amazing mind and gave myself a pat on the back for raising someone so intellectual.
However, 20 minutes later she was drawing herself a comic book, which she titled Terry the Toilet and the Invasion of the Underpants. So now I’m not sure what to think.
These threads of contradiction seem to run through almost every aspect of a kid’s life. One minute Chloe seems so grown up that I feel like she’s ready for college, the next moment I’ll overhear her playing imaginary games with a wooden barn and herd of horses.
Likewise, one moment we’re eating quinoa risotto with quail eggs for dinner and the next it’s bacon and baked beans. The latter was my culinary masterpiece on Wednesday evening. I followed it with a spoonful of spray cream straight out of a can (true story).
To be fair, we don’t usually have things like that in our house, but we’d been playing Pie Face. If you don’t know what Pie Face is, then count your blessings. (OK, fine, it’s genuinely hilarious, but it’s also the messiest game on planet Earth. Good luck!)
Now there’s nothing really wrong with bacon and baked beans for dinner, especially if the bacon is English-cut (more lean) and organic (happy pigs! At least, happy right up until the point that, well you know…), but I did miss out the vegetable.
I was just totally and completely beyond it — didn’t have anything easy, hadn’t shopped properly, had also run out of wine (horror!!!). So, bacon and baked beans it was and the kids were delighted. It’s back to quinoa tomorrow, though.
Usually, I’m pretty good at quick, easy and healthy too. I just didn’t have any of my go-tos handy. That’s the trick isn’t it? Make sure you actually have the healthy stuff in the fridge and then you can throw it together in a hot second. Next week, once Beat the Couch has settled into its rhythm and life returns to normal, I’ll be rolling out several of these. If you’d like a few ideas for ridiculously quick and easy, then see below. (Just make sure you do the shopping!)
Scrambled eggs on toast with broccoli and peas
I referred a client recently to YouTube to learn how to scramble eggs. The next time I saw him he said: “It’s changed my life, I had no idea how easy it was!” This is one that’s almost impossible to mess up. Just don’t overcook them (they should be a little creamy versus made of styrofoam).
Also, if you’re adding salt, do it right at the end instead of at the beginning. The eggs have a better consistency this way. Or so says Jamie Oliver! Also, buy local or organic eggs please. The world is a better place with happy hens in it (and hens that peck insects and eat grass produce eggs with a higher omega 3 content than hens who get genetically modified corn and live in an airless bar). When it comes to green veg, broccoli and peas are easy — straight out of the freezer. Just steam them rather than boiling them because you get much better nutrient retention that way.
Smoked salmon, avocado and salad, with fruit
Ideally, buy the Ducktrap wild smoked salmon, but any will do. Pop open a box of Wadson’s lettuce and add some BermyFresh sprouts. Add some avocado, lemon juice and a splash of black pepper and you’re all set. Try having fruit for your carbs. Much more antioxidant rich than pasta, rice or potatoes!
Waitrose fresh soup
The best antidote to takeout there ever was! The fresh soups are in the fridges at Supermart, just past the fresh veg, close to the fresh pasta and sauce. Try the Comforting Chicken or Moroccan Chicken options as they are. You can have the whole thing and it’s large enough to make you feel properly full without being over the top. I sometimes add extra — green veg, leftover pasta or a splash of coconut milk (especially to the Moroccan one). You can easily wilt in a handful of spinach too. If you have the plain Tomato and Basil one then you will need an extra dose of protein. Try Nairn’s oatcakes and spinach on the side.
Grilled shrimp and zoodles
Supermart have great marinated shrimp on skewers. I just slide them off the stick and sauté them in a pan with some zucchini noodles (they also have those — check the fresh veg section). The marinade is enough to flavour the noodles so you don’t need to add anything else. If you want some extra colour, throw on a handful of baby tomatoes. Have berries for your carbs for a dose of health-healthy, anti-ageing antioxidants. The whole thing takes ten minutes max, start to finish.
• Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, on Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda