Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Ricotta on Toast

February 19, 2017

slow roasted tomatoes
Lately, I’ve had ricotta on my mind. I’m not sure why. Aside from the fact that it is delicious, which is reason enough, I cannot recall any recipes or meals from which this craving has sprung. But it’s here, and I’m happy to play along. Yesterday, Ben, Joan and I went out for lunch and shared two pasta dishes – one, a creamy mushroom pappardelle, and the other, a pumpkin, spinach and ricotta lasagne. After lunch, I ducked to the shops and bought a tub of ricotta, and as we drove home, I informed Ben that I had grand plans for our Sunday breakfast.

This morning, as soon as we were woken by Joan and before I had even grabbed a jumper to stay cozy in this unseasonably cold weather, I walked down the hall and into the kitchen to turn on the oven. I then ran back to the bedroom and helped Joan in her endeavour to tickle Ben awake. She loves to tickle these days, though she doesn’t quite appreciate that in order to complete the act, you need to touch the person. Joan’s tickle involves her wriggling her hands near our necks and over our heads while saying, “dii dii dii dii dii!”. After getting up for good (and rugging up good), we settled in the kitchen. Ben prepped a smoothie for Joan, and I sliced a bunch of tomatoes and onions from the farm and popped them in a baking tray. After cloaking them in olive oil and a gentle seasoning of just sea salt and black pepper (we had no basil or oregano on hand), I placed them in the oven to slowly roast. Ben and I munched on walnuts while the three of us played with Joan’s toy cars. I attempted to fold laundry, but the noise kept pulling me back to my two babes. A little while later, in place of an extra cup of coffee, we pulled our beanies out of an old suitcase at the top of my wardrobe and went for a brisk walk. While outside, we planned travel adventures that may never happen but are fun to plan all the same.

“Breakfast won’t be long”, I announced as we walked through the front door. Your sense of smell informs you when the slow-cooked tomatoes are ready. You wait for the stage when the aroma is sweet and the thought of holding off any longer feels unbearable. I popped slices of my Dad’s sourdough in the toaster and warmed milk for our coffee. When the toast went “pop!”, as Joan says, I placed a generous spoonful of ricotta in the middle of each slice. I then topped the ricotta with a few slow-cooked tomatoes and onions, before finishing it all with a good drizzle of the pan juices. It’s a simple preparation, but the results are enriching. I’ll be using the remaining tomatoes in a pasta sauce tonight, that is, if there are any left when I return to the kitchen after typing this post.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Ricotta on Toast

Slow roasted tomatoes
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Quality ricotta cheese (we love this one)
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Sourdough toast or favourite dense loaf

Heidi xo

Monday 6th February: “AhhhUmp”

February 9, 2017

The past Monday morning, Joan woke hungry. More hungry than usual, that is. Usually, the first thing Joan says to me upon waking is “Up!” or “Hiiiiiii.”, but on this day it was, “AhhhUmp!”, alongside the action of pretending to bite her finger. This is Joan’s preferred way of telling us that she wants something to eat. Baby girl’s words have exploded in recent weeks, and she can indeed say “food”, but for whatever reason her instinct is to make that noise and action and Ben and I are thankful for this, because it’s really very cute.

Into the kitchen we toddled, where Joan pointed at the blender and said, “Mee Mee!”. Sure thing, babe, smoothie (mee mee) time. These days, we often have a smoothie in the morning (and at night, too, but more on that in an upcoming post on sleep). I used to be a porridge and granola-lover at breakfast, but these days I gravitate towards smoothies or savoury meals – things like eggs, leftover quinoa and veggies, or toast with nut butter and avocado. And if we don’t have a smoothie for breakfast, we have one throughout the day as a snack. It’s a great way to ensure bubba stays hydrated and I can easily pack a bundle of goodness into our cups. We tend to make berry or banana smoothies using frozen fruit, as well as organic full cream milk and organic full cream yoghurt (one with live cultures). I also add a sprinkle of hemp seeds, which are super good for us (more info here and here), and perhaps rolled oats, chia seeds, spinach or coconut flakes/cream… whatever I’m vibing. Often I’ll remove her serve before jazzing up my portion with extra hemp seeds, spinach, raw cacao powder and a Medjool date (I like my smoothies rich in date-sweetness, and I prefer to save dates for Joan to eat during the day as a snack). Anyway, while making Joan’s smoothie I had a thought that it may be fun to record a day of eats and share it on the blog. I hadn’t planned what we’d eat, we would just go with the flow and I thought it would be neat to see how that unfolded. Over the weekend I said to Ben that I was surprised I wasn’t more concerned with what Joan was eating day to day, that in fact I didn’t give it much thought at all. I guess I just trust that she knows what she needs, while we continue doing our job of exposing her to a range of whole foods that we like to eat ourselves.
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Happenings 27.1.17

January 27, 2017

banana & almond butter smoothie 1
* written over the month of January, in dribs and drabs as I catch moments here and there.

DOING: sitting on my bed, typing. I’ve got a coffee to my left and further to my left, Joan is sleeping on the single mattress next to our bed. My, times have changed since we used to babywear for practically all our naps. I suppose I should talk more on the transition. Alright, I’ll start a new post and share some thoughts on the matter. But just know that it will be a while until it’s ready. For big posts like that I tend to dump all my thoughts, then spend a long time editing. I’ll try to be succinct, but you know that’s not my strong suit. Ha.

HEARING: Regina Spektor, live, via my earphones. I adore this woman’s music. And now Joan is starting to appreciate it, which pleases me. We play “On the Radio” and sing the “O Oh” part together. She calls it the “O Oh” song, and it’s adorable.

DRINKING: Lots of water and smoothies. Summerrrrrrrr! Yesterday we made a smoothie for breakfast (see the above pic!) and it really hit the spot, so I thought I’d include the recipe for you. I made it for two, and Joan and I devoured it while Ben slept (he’s been working hard and travelling, and not sleeping a whole lot). I poured 1.5 portions into my cup and gave Joan a half serve, with some yoghurt to extend it and make her feel like she was having a big portion like mumma. I’m making sure I eat lots and keep a good amount of fat on my body to help with my lady hormones. So it’s been an extra scoop of this and an extra serve of that… Joan adores smoothies, and likes to have exactly what we have. She also insists on saying, “cheers!”, while looking directly into our eyes. It’s really sweet. This smoothie also works well as “ice-cream” simply by reducing the milk content. Use any milk you like, we favour organic full cream cow’s milk in our smoothies, though sometimes coconut milk. I plan on making want to make almond milk one of these days, too. Homemade roasted almond butter makes this smoothie even more delicious, so I do encourage you to try that (see this post for details). Next level good.

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How we eat

January 13, 2017

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There are few things my baby girl enjoys more in life than sitting at the table with her favourite people and a big plate of food in front of her (and to be honest, a second big plate of food to her left that she can steal food from). Since Ben and I introduced Joan to solids at six months of age, she has taken to it with gusto. We have ourselves a girl who will try everything that is put in front of her, mood permitting, and usually enjoy it, which makes the whole experience fun and rewarding. On reflection, I think her readiness to eat is a combination of nature and nurture. Joan definitely has food-love in her blood, from both sides of her family. In addition, while I was pregnant I ate a wide range of foods, which they say encourages babies to have an adventurous palate. And finally, perhaps most importantly, Ben and I have been strict from the beginning in how we approach food with Joan. We’ve put a lot of effort into being relaxed about it all, which seems totally contradictory, I know, and I’ll explain more below.

Over the past six months I’ve received a number of requests to talk about what Joan eats and to share a few tips on raising an adventurous eater, and at last I’ve written a bunch of thoughts down. But before we get into it, I want to note that I am completely aware that I have one child and hence only one point of reference. Yes, I am also a dietitian, and have studied ways to encourage healthy eating habits in children, but that’s not the same as having a child who is very challenging in this regard and being able to share real life experience. I am not standing on a pedestal saying that this is the only way, it is simply what works for our family. Furthermore, I know that although Ben and I try hard with this eating business, our babe has made our job easy. We will see how much of Joan’s (so far) easy eating is down to nature vs nurture when we have more kids. Therefore, as with any advice or sharing of experiences that you receive as a parent, take from this post whatever resonates with you, tune out the rest and ultimately do whatever works for your family. Always and forever.

Alright, let’s start at the beginning.

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Salmon Fishcakes

January 6, 2017

For the past six and a half years, since I started Apples Under My Bed, I have always written a Christmas post. I’ve shared pictures from our day of feasting with family and reflected on how grateful I feel for my people. My family are always keen to get together and celebrate, and while we are not religious, Christmas is an important time for us, even more so since losing my brother on the 22nd December 2007. It’s a hard time of year and a wonderful time of year. We focus on the food and being together, and although there’s a sombre undercurrent to it all, Christmas is always lovely. This year was no different, however, for whatever reason, I don’t feel the desire to share the pictures I took on the day. The food was the same, which is not to say that it wasn’t outstanding, we are just sticklers for tradition (and my brother would possibly refuse to sit at the table if we didn’t serve the usual pork), and we were gifted some beautiful presents. After spending the day with family, we came home to watch Love Actually on the computer in bed, snuggled next to our sleeping babe. We are blessed and our hearts are full.

Joan was not delighted by Christmas lunch, which was a surprise. I assumed she would attempt to bathe in the gravy while grabbing fistfuls of pork from the serving platter, but no, she preferred to sit with a bowl of peas, outside on the grass where no one would look at her or try to get her to open a present (introverts, unite!). Despite Joan’s underlying desire to simply be home with Ben and I, she did have moments of joy (like discovering and falling in love with shortbread) and Ben and I got that special, Christmas morning moment you dream about when you have kids. When bubba woke, I said that we should say “Good Morning!” to the Christmas tree, just as we had each day since bringing home “the smallest possible tree” from the local Scouts. I told Joan that I thought there was a special present for her under the tree, and we should go and see what it was. Curious, she ran out to the lounge room and when she laid eyes on a toy lawn mower (which is identical to one she has played with/bogarted at playgroup), her eyes grew even bigger than they normally are, and her face lit up! Her mouth dropped before turning into the sweetest grin, a mixed expression of “Oh my goodness!”, “What is happening?!” and “Is it mine?!” on her face, as she looked back and forth between us for confirmation. And then she let out a squeal. It was magical.

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Date + Coconut Freezer Fudge

December 24, 2016

coconut-date-freezer-fudge
Joan adores dates. I can totally appreciate why she does, as to me, they are nature’s ultimate candy. They’re sweet, rich and energising, and completely satisfying if I’m low on energy or craving something sweet. It tickles me to see that Joan feels the same way. Sultanas? Nope, she’s very dubious. Dried figs, yeah, she enjoys them…but dates…dates, she loves.

When making smoothies together I give her a little portion of date to nibble, and I always throw a few in my bag for emergencies, like if she’s grizzling in the car or if she hurts herself and is inconsolable. In our attempts to gradually and gently wean bubba, I am finding dates are a wonderful breastmilk replacement, offering comfort and distraction from whatever has made my babe upset.

One hot afternoon last week, I had an urge to make a sweet and refreshing snack that required very little preparation and no time in the oven. Dates are delicious on their own, even more so with a spoonful of tahini, but on this day I wanted to do something a little different. The week prior I had been gifted some festive cookie cutters that I was keen on trying out, and I imagined a fast, freezer fudge made with dates + nuts + coconut oil would satisfy both my appetite and my desire for gingerbread people-shaped treats. As it turns out the date fudge was insanely easy to make and tasty to eat, but it fell short in appearance, as the gingerbread-people didn’t resemble people at all, rather brown blobs. Delicious blobs, indeed, but blobs nonetheless. So I set the cookie cutters aside, fashioned the fudge into squares and took our plate of snacks into the garden, where Joan and I sat with our feet on the grass and stuffed our faces with our happy food.
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Happenings 19.12.16

December 19, 2016

christmas-trail-mix

DOING: typing on my computer while Joan naps. NEXT to me, this time. Not in the carrier. Big changes. See this post for details.

HEARING: The cicadas outside – boy are those things loud! It negates the need for a white noise app.

DRINKING: right now, a coffee. It’s 11:52am and until this dreamy cup of coffee I hadn’t had any caffeine. That’s weird for me, usually I need a cup of green tea to revive me. My smoothie must have done the job! We’ve been having smoothies practically every morning, mostly green or cacao+oat.

EATING + COOKING: it finally feels like SUMMERRRRRRRR. So we’ve been having a lot of salad bowls, as well as mangoes and cherries. Joan remains obsessed with sardines, so we’ve continued to eat a lot of those. We made fish tacos with friends, which included this corn and a fresh cabbage/carrot/ coriander slaw – perfect Summer entertaining food. Oh, and our Transition Farm seasonal box has started again (woop woop!), which is why we’ve been loving on salads so much. Their greens are divine, nothing else compares and I’m reminded of this every year when the weather warms up. Their spinach is fantastic in those green smoothies – I add spinach, frozen banana, oats, chia or hemp seeds, yoghurt and milk, and then blitz it up. I pour out a portion for Joan then jazz mine up a bit, adding a bit more spinach and milk to the blender, along with a Medjool date, a bigger portion of hemp powder or hemp seeds, coconut oil and then sometimes other things based on cravings and what I have on hand.

Oh, and we’ve also been nibbling on dried fruit (organic and preservative-free – always! I’m picky with my dried fruit). I decided to make fancy trail mix for gifts this year, which explains the picture at the top of this post. I wanted something that people could munch on that was a lighter alterntive to all the baked goods on offer during this time. It could be a car/plane trip snack, or sit in handbags for those pekish moments. Or obviously it can be used as hiking fuel too! Anyway, here’s the recipe mix, in case you feel like doing it too.
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Meal Prep

December 12, 2016

lentils-boiled-eggs

 

I’ve always known that vegetables make me feel good. Even as a kid I recall viewing my mum’s lentils as “power food”, and to this day my brother and I regularly request a serve when we’re run down or busy or just need a dose of home. As I grew, I continued to recognise that food was powerful stuff, and that what you eat acutely influences the way you feel and function. This became really apparent to me as I moved out of home and began preparing all my meals (well, except for those deliveries of lentils and bolognese), while at the same time diving into my University studies and all the funky projects we were required to do in order to become nutrition experts (like collecting our urine for an entire weekend and then analysing it in a lab. True story. People gagged). Being on a major student budget meant I had to get crafty about my vegetable consumption. Dinners looked like frozen peas + rice + chickpeas + soy sauce and and lunches were big salads with cans of tuna I “borrowed” from my parents’ pantry (and giant cheese cubes, too. Man, I love a good cheese cube) with bread. Sometimes I’d splurge on a turkey+ cranberry+spinach focaccia at the University cafe (remember the days of big, toasted focaccias?) and cheap sushi rolls (though let it be known, the words “cheap” and “sushi” should never follow each other), but mostly I saved my pennies and put them towards groceries (and overseas travel, but that’s another story). Only occasionally would I curse my inclination to buy vegetables and rice and “borrow” my roommate’s food (Pippa, I’m sorry for all the Pocky I took). I’ve just always been a vegetable girl.

In my early twenties I developed a mouth infection following my wisdom teeth removal (this isn’t a complete departure from the topic of vegetables, stay with me). Oh, that was a charming period! The pain killers I took messed up my bowels something shocking, which lead me to become committed to vegetables with more emergency (well, vegetables AND psyllium husks in water. Gag). I’m sorry, is this too much toilet talk? Come to think of it, is there ever an acceptable amount of poo talk? Dietitians are used to talking about this stuff so I find myself lacking social graces in that department. My point is that vegetables are my number one category of feel good foods for a well functioning mind and body, and my love for them only increases as the years go by. This isn’t news, I have spoken many times on this topic, but today I wanted to share a little on how I make sure I eat them. It’s easy to grab a carrot, and many days I do just that, but I mostly fancy meals that are slightly more interesting than straight up raw veg. This requires time. And so, to make sure I’m eating in my feel good way, I meal prep.

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Everything Bars

December 2, 2016

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Ok, folks, this will be a quick one. Joan is to my left, napping peacefully after 50 minutes in the bed. See my instagram posts here and here for some details as to why this is such a big deal for us. Actually, you know what? I am going to copy what I wrote and post it below and then throw a few more thoughts at you. I guess this won’t be a quick one anymore (surprise, surprise, the lady loves to talk).

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Happenings 18.11.16

November 18, 2016

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DOING: typing on my computer while Joan naps.

HEARING: rain. Isn’t that the best sound, when you’re all snug and cozy indoors and it’s positively pelting outside?

EATING + COOKING: Other than smoothies I’ve been slow-roasting tomatoes and red onions with oregano, then eating them with salads, alongside meat and in quinoa bowls. Joan adores tomatoes and a big batch lasts us a while. We’ve also been eating a bit of rice with greens, fried eggs and chickpeas, and a few frittatas. Oh and I’ve been making sweet potato toast a bit. Lastly, I’ve recently come across Fish4Ever brand filleted sardines, and they are AMAZING. They’re a fabulous way to get in omega-3 fats if you are kinda squeamish about opening other sardine tins to find a head staring at you. My whole family loves them (Joan most of all) and on the weekend we have been sharing a tin in various preparations. I’ll share some recipes soon.

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