Nicola Galloway is the inspiring woman behind the Nelson based blog Homegrown Kitchen. We love Nicola’s simple and nutritious recipes and her focus on fresh and organic foods. Nicola originally trained as a chef and has a diploma in natural nutrition. Outside of her blog, she has combined her expertise in these subjects in a series of recipe books, including the popular Feeding Little Tummies, a book which focuses on preparing foods for children and babies.
As the end of the holidays approach, we invited Nicola to share some thoughts on her food philosophy and her tips and tricks for getting kids to eat well, including some suggestions for healthy school lunchboxes. To read more about Nicola or try out some of the delicious Homegrown Kitchen recipes visit the blog here. Without further ado we’ll had you over to Nicola.
Q. What is your philosophy on food?
Eat real food. Eat food as close to its original state as possible. Eat and prepare food how our great grandparents did - they knew a thing or two about optimising the nutrient content with thoughtful preparation. Keep it simple, even though I like to make a lot of food from scratch such as my Gluten-free Sourdough Bread, I always look for the easiest way and enlist help from the family where I can.
Q. What does a day in your plate of your family look like?
Breakfast: 'Sunny' Toasted Muesli and a summer smoothie made from a combo of summer fruit, coconut water, nuts, dates and virgin coconut oil.
Lunch: Leftovers, scrambled eggs, a mixed platter of fruit, carrot sticks, homemade dips, slice of local cheese and salami (this is my children's favourite as they can nibble away on it over a long 'playtime' lunch.
Dinner: This could be anything really but generally consists of seasonal vegetables from the garden or farmers market and protein - organic meat, free range chicken, local fish, eggs, beans/ lentils. My husband makes the best Mexican beans so we have this once a week. Plus a wholegrain to accompany such as quinoa salad, polenta (my children love polenta), basmati rice. I love to experiment in the kitchen so most weeks are different.
Q. Could you please share your top five tips to get young children to eat nutritious meals?
1. Variety is important to get a good range of nutrients and flavours.
2. Single items 'platter style' rather than a scoop on a plate.
3. Eat together as a family at least once a day
4. Keep trying even if they have previously said they don't like something, believe me they might just surprise you and eat it.
5. Be a good role model yourself and eat wholesome food.
At dinner time we put some of everything we are eating on our children's plate (even a little bit of salad). We don't force them to eat everything, and don't make a deal if they don't eat something. However, it is amazing how often they eat/ try something they have previously disliked. This keeps all food on an even ground rather than letting our children's 'favourite' foods become the centre of their attention.
Q. Can you share with us some of your favourite healthy snacks, for afternoon tea, or adding to the lunch box?
Whatever truffle, bliss ball/ raw slice I have on the go. Four seed crackers with homemade dip. My children also love half an avocado with a spoon and will happily sit on the kitchen step eating it. And fruit of-course but that goes without saying. I always try and include some protein and healthy fats in a snack as it is all too easy to reach for the rice crackers and toast.
Most importantly food and eating needs to be enjoyable! When I was studying nutrition eight years ago I found myself obsessing a lot about how much of this I should eat and how little of that etc. etc. Now I just eat what I want, however, I know what foods make me feel better (fresh fruit and vegetables, quality protein and healthy fats) and which ones don't (gluten and sugar) so I tend to focus on the 'good feeling' foods and never beat myself up if I have splurge!
Nicola has kindly allowed us to share a recipe for healthy chocolate fudge, a perfect afternoon pick me up or healthy lunchbox treat.
RAW 'JAFFA' CHOCOLATE FUDGE
1 cup medjool or dried dates
1 cup cashews
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup cacao powder
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- If using dried dates chop roughly, place in a jug and cover with boiling water. If using medjool dates, remove the stones and chop roughly.
- Process cashews and coconut into a fine meal.
- Add cocoa, cacao nibs, salt, spices, vanilla and orange zest. Process until combined.
- Add coconut oil, orange juice and dates (draining well first if soaked). Blitz for 1 minute until the mixture comes together.
- Press into a lined tin and chill for several hours.
- Cut into squares to serve.