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The most important meals of their lives

For children in Africa, breakfast isn’t just the most important meal of their day, but it could also be the most important meal of their lives. Starting the day with a full tummy gives them the energy to go to school and the energy to concentrate on learning. Education has the power to break the cycle of poverty; it can turn despair into hope.

The UK charity, Send A Cow, have published an e-book celebrating the importance of the first meal of the day as part of their Break…Fast appeal to help children in the poorest parts of Africa start each day with hope, potentially changing their lives. The Most Important Meal of their Lives features women and men who have made remarkable achievements. These women and men, who changed the lives of others dramatically, all had the choice to eat breakfast. If they hadn’t started every day with a full tummy, would they have changed the world? Maybe not.

Send a Cow researched what these great people liked to eat for breakfast, writing down the recipes for the food that helped them reach their potential. Now you can also start the day just like some of history’s greatest women and men, including Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Mother Theresa and the Apollo 11 astronauts.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my versions of some of the Most Important Meals over the last few weeks. Here are some of them. I also breakfasted like Amelia Earhart and Jane Austin.

Mahatma Gandhi secured independence for India and inspired freedom movements all over the world. When he was in London, he liked to eat porridge and cocoa.

Send A Cow Most Important Meals of their Lives

My peaceful breakfast:

Send A Cow Most Important Meals of their Lives

Albert Einstein believed in the benefits of a vegetarian diet. When he lived in Germany he liked eating fried eggs for breakfast with something drizzled over them (download the book to find out what!).

Send A Cow Most Important Meals of their Lives

My brainy breakfast (I was initially sceptical of what Einstein poured over the top, but it actually works very well):

Send A Cow Most Important Meals of their Lives

Rosa Parks became an icon in the battle against racial segregation when she bravely yet quietly refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger. Her featherlite pancakes have an extra (very American) ingredient which make them very yummy (download the book to find out what it is!).

Send A Cow Most Important Meals of their Lives

My quietly strong breakfast:

Send A Cow Most Important Meal of their Lives

While the book is free to download, any donation you make, big or small, before the end of June 2014 will be doubled by the UK Government. Your donation will help Send A Cow provide seeds, tools and livestock so African families can grow enough food to feed themselves.

Tomorrow morning when you eat your breakfast, don’t take it for granted. Take a moment to think about the importance of food and take a moment to think about the power of food. Food has the power to change lives. Food has the power to change the world.

Read more about Send A Cow’s work.
Download The Most Important Meals of their Lives.
Make a donation to change the world.

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Dairy-free strawberry bread

One of the foods that shouts ‘SUMMER!’ to me is strawberries and when I recently bought too many punnets of them at the supermarket (who can resist a ‘buy one get one free’ offer?), I thought I’d use some of them to bake a lovely sweet treat.

strawberry loaf

This recipe is an adaptation of my dairy-free banana bread although I’ve reduced the sugar content a little (you could reduce it even more if your strawberries are wonderfully sweet). Regular readers will know how much I love to decrease the sugar in recipes before my taste testers can tell the difference ;).

Perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea or dessert, enjoy a little taste of summer to make your day better (I guarantee it!).

DAIRY-FREE STRAWBERRY BREAD

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 40-45 mins
Makes 1 loaf
Freezable

175g self-raising flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
150g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Approx. 300g strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces
50g walnuts (or pecans), chopped

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Take a couple of spoonfuls of flour from your 175g of self-raising flour and put into a small bowl. Lightly stir your strawberries through the small amount of flour (this will stop them sinking to the bottom of your bread while it cooks).

Whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together at a medium speed using a handheld beater or in an electric mixer. Whisk for a few minutes until it’s pale and fluffy.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, and mix until combined using a low speed. Gently stir through the strawberries and walnuts.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Variations:

  • Make individual muffins instead of a loaf (easier to freeze if you’re not going to eat all of it)
  • Dust with icing sugar

Sugar-free goji berry pancakes

nu3, the European nutrition experts, have just launched in the UK. Their online store has a huge range of products, including products that are exclusive to them, all to help us lead healthier lives. You can also get advice from their team of health specialists.

The company started only 5 years ago in Germany and have very quickly grown. Now we can also enjoy their huge range of health products.

As part of their UK launch, nu3 challenged me to come up with a recipe using their goji berries. Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, grow in China and are used in traditional Chinese medicine. They’re considered a superfood by many because they’re high in nutrients and antioxidents.

nu3 not only sell the dried berries, but also goji juice, goji capsules and chocolate covered goji berries. You can eat the dried goji berries simply as they are or easily pop them into smoothies or muesli and also even scatter them over salad. I experimented with adding them to cooking and I came up with some yummy pancakes.

nu3My regular readers will know I’m a big fan of fluffy pancakes so I used self-raising flour to make these pancakes lovely and light. To complement the healthy goji berries I used mainly wholemeal self-raising flour, and sweetened them with honey and very ripe banana rather than sugar (the riper the banana the better as it will be sweeter).

I felt very healthy eating them and figured I was allowed an extra drizzle of golden syrup over the top because of all the healthy ingredients inside! And Nicholas loved them too.

SUGAR-FREE GOJI BERRY PANCAKES

Prep time: 5-10 mins (plus overnight soaking time for the goji berries)
Cook time: 10-15 mins
Makes about 10 pancakes
Freezable

50g goji berries, covered in water and soaked overnight
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour (I used 1 cup of wholemeal and 1/2 cup of white self-raising flour)
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1 egg, beaten
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 cup milk
Small piece of butter, melted, to grease the pan

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a medium- sized bowl.

Add the honey, egg and mashed banana then gradually pour in the milk mixing until you have a fairly thick batter (you might not need to use all the milk).

Drain the goji berries and gently mix them through the batter.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and brush with melted butter. Use a tablespoon to drop spoonfuls of mixture into the pan. Cook in batches, turning when bubbles appear on the surface (1-2 mins). Cook the other side until golden brown (about 1 min). Lift out and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm.

Variations:

  • Use nutmeg or ginger instead of cinnamon
  • Add vanilla essence for more sweetness

Tip: Wipe your pan clean with a piece of paper towel after each batch and then brush with some more melted butter.

Pink (Beetroot) Pancakes

Like pretty much every other toddler, Nicholas is a creature of habit. For more than a year, his breakfast had to be puffed rice cereal with milk in a yellow bowl with a particular blue spoon, together with a banana milkshake he’d often help me make, even throwing in a small handful of spinach leaves himself. Oh, and the milkshake had to be in his robot mug with two straws (usually one green and one orange). If you’re nodding your head as you read this, rather than chuckling, then I’m sure you have your own creature of habit.

But the routines that little ones so need can suddenly change to another. Now breakfast must be pancakes with a mug of cold milk. I pushed a lot for him to still have his milkshake as I loved being able to get a serving of fruit and a serving of veg so easily into him first thing every day. In hindsight my pushing was never going to work! So that has made me experiment with adding different ingredients to the pancake batter. We’ve had green pancakes (spinach) and now pink pancakes. And I’m a happier mummy knowing he’s getting a little extra dose of ‘healthy’ every morning.

beet pancakes

PINK (BEETROOT) PANCAKES

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20-25 mins
Makes about 12 medium pancakes

375ml (1 1/2 cups) full cream milk
2 tsp (10ml) lemon juice
35g (2 tbsp) sugar
225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp allspice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a pinch of cloves)
1 large egg
30g (1 1/2 tbsp) butter, melted
1 medium-sized beetroot (about 150g), peeled and finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
Extra butter, for greasing pan

Mix the milk, lemon juice and sugar in a medium bowl, then set aside for five minutes. (It might develop a slightly curdled look during this time.)

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl. Mix through the allspice.

Break the egg into the milk mixture and add the melted butter and grated beetroot. Whisk until the egg has combined with the milk (don’t worry it the butter just floats on the surface).

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk quickly until almost smooth (the batter should still have a few small lumps). Don’t overmix the batter as this can make the pancakes tough. Leave the batter to rest while the pan is preheating (at least two minutes).

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Melt a little butter in the pan to lightly grease it.

Give your mixture a quick stir to get a more even pink colour. Use a spoon to pour heart shapes into the pan (start with a dollop at the top then let the batter fall into the heart’s point at the bottom; repeat for the other side). Cook only two or three at a time, otherwise turning the pancakes will be difficult.

Cook the first side until small bubbles appear and burst on the surface (about 1-2 minutes).

Turn over with a spatula and cook until the second side is lightly browned and the pancakes are cooked through (another 1-2 minutes).

Cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm while you finish making the others. Add a little more butter to grease the pan each time and keep checking the temperature of the pan as it will probably need to be reduced as the pan heats up with use.

Tips:

  • Little ones love pancakes in fun shapes. You can simply use a spoon to pour the batter into a shape as you cook the pancakes, or you can put the batter into a piping bag or squeeze bottle (the squeeze bottle won’t work for these pink pancakes as the grated beetroot will get stuck in the nozzle!). An even easier way is to make normal-shaped pancakes and use a cookie cutter after they’re cooked.
  • To avoid getting beetroot juice everywhere, use disposable gloves to keep your hands stain-free and place the grater in a bowl to catch as much as the beetroot as possible.

Back to school

It’s ‘back to school’ time for many families and after the summer holidays it can be difficult getting back into a routine. To make sending your munchkins out the door with some good food in their bellies a little easier, I wanted to remind you of some ideas I came up with for Mindful Mum last year.

My favourite is still the sunny bread. Click on the photo to see my other ideas.

Back to school breakfasts

What’s your favourite school day breakfast for you and your family?

Baked porridge slice (sugar-free)

I still make Nicholas baby oat cakes now and then for breakfast to avoid always eating the same thing. I love that you can whip them up in no time and can easily vary the flavours by adding different fruit. But I also wanted to try making something ahead of time that could also work well as an afternoon snack. I came up with a baked porridge slice.

The slice is sugar-free and, like the baby oat cakes, very easy to make. Make it ahead of time and heat it up for breakfast or have a slice cold for a snack. It would be a nice next food step for babies who happily eat banana porridge and who are moving on to finger foods.

The pumpkin and sunflower seeds add a nice crunch as well as extra nutrition, but you can easily leave them out.

Baked porridge sliceBAKED PORRIDGE SLICE

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25-30 mins
Makes 8-10 slices
Keeps for a couple of days in an airtight container

1 cup porridge oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp applesauce / apple puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 banana, sliced

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the ingredients apart from the banana and mix well.

Pour the porridge mixture into the loaf tin and spread out evenly. Place the banana slices on top of the mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the slice is coming away from the edges of the tin.

Cool before cutting into slices.

Rainbow pancakes – St Patrick’s Day

rainbow pancakes

Who said everything has to be green for St Paddy’s Day? We did some rainbow chasing over breakfast looking for the leprechaun’s pot of gold. It was a wonderfully colourful way to start the day!

I used my fluffiest pancakes recipe, dividing the mixture between 6 small bowls before adding food colouring gel to create red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple batter. I cooked them on a slightly lower heat to avoid too much browning and to keep the colours as bright as possible.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!