Family Meal Ideas

Life for me got lots easier when I began cooking meals that Nik, Virràe and I could all eat. I’ll be honest, I’m not the perfect all organic, all salt free, all free range mummy! I do however cook quick, easy and fresh meals that introduce Virràe Yuvraj to lots of different flavours, and saves me time so that I can spend more of it having fun and being with my boy. (Or getting on with the never ending housework!)

Some meals are fab for when you’ve got guests coming for lunch / dinner but are still toddler / baby friendly, and others are great for when there’s not much left in the cupboards but you still want to make something fresh.IMG_20160115_141213

I always have plenty of potato, pasta, lentils, rice, tinned tomatos, stock cubes and cheese in my kitchen cupboards, so come rain or shine I’ll always be able to rustle something up using these staple ingredients!

Here’s my top family meal ideas for everyone to enjoy. Some of these recipes I’ve shared, and others I will be posting over the coming weeks, however if there’s any on here you’re dying to try please comment and I will post sooner!

  1. Chicken Korma and Corriander Rice – I made this recently when one of my girlfriends came round for lunch. The korma sauce is mild and creamy, so perfect for your little ones too. The sauce also took a grand total of 15 minutes to make, which meant that I didn’t need to waste time in the kitchen and could spend more time catching up with my girlfriend. The corriander rice has always been a winner for me, and you have the option of adding chilli’s to this to accompany the mild korma with a nice spicy kick!
  2. Short Cut Macaroni with a Home Made Tomato Sauce – I made this tonight for a simple Monday night dinner.  For the sauce I used a garlic and herb tinned tomato pack and simply added onions, some freshly grated garlic, and a dollop of ricotta pesto. If like me you enjoy spicy food, just separate the sauce into 2 pans and add a fresh green chilli or 2 into the adult version. The short cut macaroni is small enough for little ones to chew and swallow so you won’t need to waste even a minute chopping pasta up!20160125_165312
  3. Cauliflower and Potato Bake– just boil the cauliflower and potato till its cooked, whip up a batch of white sauce, pour over the veg, sprinkle on some cheese and breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes. I’ve managed to perfect my white sauce over the last few attempts and can’t wait to share the recipe with you guys!IMG-20160120-WA0002
  4. JP with Cheese and Beans– Virràe Yuvraj and I had this for lunch today, the fluffiness of an oven baked jacket potato is unbeatable! For some added flavour you could always melt in some cream cheese. An easy way to get carbs and protein in one meal.20160125_122104
  5. Daal and Rice – this is my go to meal if I’ve had a busy day but still want a home cooked dish, the Daal literally takes minutes to make, is full of flavour and one of Virràe’s faves! I’ve shared this one on my blog so make sure you check it out!
  6. Eggy Bread– Virràe doesn’t like egg and this is the only way I can get him to eat it. I usually team it other finger food like steamed veg, crisps and fruit so he gets enough to eat. Prepare for a lot of mess, but it’s very fun to watch them explore! An easy lunch time meal for everyone.2016-01-21_14.23.32
  7. Baked Salmon with Easy Peasy Creamy Mash – I try to give Virràe fish at least once a week. Sometimes I make my own marinade of blended vine tomatos, ginger and garlic, (chilli’s, salt and lemon juice for Nik and I), otherwise I spread the fillet with a nice layer of cream cheese and herbs. Either way I just wrap it in foil and bake for 18 mins in a pre heated oven. This usually cooks the fish to that beautiful flakey consistency. I team it with some fresh mash potato mixed with lots of butter, a pinch of salt and a sprinkling of cheese. One of our absolute favourites!IMG_20160122_173440
  8. A Hipp Organic Jar – Virràe loves them and he gets one on a Friday night as his weekend take away! Jars / pouches are also fab for when you’re on the go, or running to get home just in time for dinner and have nothing prepared. Hungry babes are no fun so I always keep a couple of jars in my cupboard.

Providing your child with healthy and nutritious meals shouldn’t mean you slaving away in the kitchen for hours. I hope this gives you some ‘foodspiration’, and that you enjoy making these quick and easy meals, leaving you more time with your lovely families.

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Blonde Mummy. X

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Letter One.

Dear Dad,

In the last 7 weeks your grandson has changed so much, I wish you were here to witness this incredible journey from baby to toddler that he is embarking upon. I wanted to write and let you know about some of his latest antics and a few of the things that we’ve been up to.

In the immediate few days after you passed away, I caught Virràe staring at corners of the kitchen and living room as if somebody was there. He would smile as his eyes slowly moved across the room, it was as if he were following someone, but of course, no one was there. In the last couple of weeks he has begun looking up to the ceiling laughing and smiling, he reaches his arms above his head as if he is trying to pull something down. I look up and there’s no shadow, or light, and no sign of anything that would have caught his attention. Each time it happens, I hope with every bone in my body that you are there watching over my son.

I still take him to his Hartbeeps class every Tuesday and you won’t believe how confident he has become. When we first started, he would never leave my side, and now he crawls around the room like he owns the place. He will even go and sit next to the teacher and put his hand on her lap!

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Dad, don’t worry, I didn’t forget to get him dressed, he was in his pjamas for Children in Need!

Two weeks ago, I turned my back for less than a minute and he had raced over to the other side of the room and casually took a dummy from one of the little girls. Having never used one before, he looked at it with such fascination before putting it in his own mouth to copy her. This poor little girl just looked at him completely bemused! I took it out and gave it back, but he snatched it from her again without an ounce of hesitation, looking at me with such annoyance for taking it! As you can imagine, this went on for quite a while till I managed to distract him with something else. He knows what he wants, and nothing will stop him from getting it. Something tells me I’m in for an interesting few years…

At the end of the class each child is given a light to hold, and of course, being as particular as you and his daddy, Virràe Yuvraj already has a favourite light – the heart. If he isn’t given this shape, I see him looking round the room to see who has, and as soon as he spots it, off he goes on a quest to get the heart light. He doesn’t cry or moan, he just tries to take it, because in his mind it’s his favourite one, therefore it belongs to him. Whilst I’ll always teach him never to snatch, I absolutely adore the fact that he’s beginning to have ‘favourites’, and to see how intrigued he is by something new. These sorts of antics are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle for me to put together and reveal his personality. It’s such an exciting time and everyday seems to brings something new.

Christmas was tough as we really missed you, but we tried to made it fun and special for Virràe Yuvraj. I dressed him up as an elf and Nik and I took him to see Santa.

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All of the other children posed nicely and had a lovely photo with Santa. Not Virràe Yuvraj , oh no, that would just be too easy! Your grandson hated Santa, screamed in his face and tried to wriggle out of my hands during the photograph. I tried to remain dignified but the results weren’t great, the below picture is honestly the best of a bad bunch!

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On the plus side, we did also feed a reindeer which was much more successful!

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On the 30th of December 2015, Virràe Yuvraj hit a milestone. We were visiting Amy and Seva at their house, and after taking a shining to one of their nieces, Virràe just wanted to be near her all the time! At one stage, she moved away from him to see how he would react, and low and behold, he got up and took his first 3 steps to follow her. We were all amazed and felt so proud of his achievement. Can you believe that this once tiny baby has now taken his first proper steps? I can only pray that you were watching from above, but in case you missed it, we managed to capture this incredible action shot.

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Virràe’s chitter chatter is non stop, he’s got so may new sounds and can even say a couple of words. His latest word is ‘uh-oh’! He says it after everything and its truly adorable. Since Thursday I have been singing him a new song about bubbles, by Saturday he was attempting to say the word. Of course every time I want show someone his progress, he goes totally mute and just smiles as though I’ve gone mad! His new favourite place is the kitchen, in particular swinging from door handle to door handle like a little monkey, or playing peekaboo with his reflection in the oven door. He would still rather destroy his toys than play with them, remember how you would call him demolishon derby!? Well, nothing has changed there! He loves his rocking horse and still adores his teddy bears. He will use his walker to go up and down the hall for ages, you should see the pride in his face Dad, its an absolute pictute. Like you, he loves to chill out and siesta on his Thomas the Tank Engine bean bag in front of baby TV. He is so much like you in so many ways.

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We played with home made play dough for the first time last week, all was going seemingly well until as I suspected, it ended up in his mouth! Needless to say we will probably wait a good while before trying again. Speaking of his mouth, at 15 months Virràe still has no teeth! I can finally see two in his top gum, but they are showing no sign of making an appearance any time soon. His latest favourite foods are oranges, satsumas, cauliflower cheese and fish with mash potato.

His hair has grown so much, I can even tie it in a pony like Nik. I wish you could see the pair of them with their matching hairstyles.

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Since he’s mastered climbing the stairs which you saw, he’s now learnt to climb down. He very cautiously turns around and gently makes his way back one cautious foot step at a time. I love how carefully he does this, as if he knows the dangers involved. He’s also really enjoying reading at the moment, he’ll cosy up in my lap whilst I read him a book and he listens as though he understands every word.

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He’s also started copying me when I’m on the phone, he tilts his head to one side, puts his hand to his ear and starts babbling. It melts my heart, and I know it would yours too.

I think that’s about it for now Dad. Just know that I think of you everyday, and I wish I could share Virràe’s moments with you instead of the memories. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next in Virràe Yuvraj’s world, and I promise to keep you updated.

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All my love,

Kajal. X

 

 

Tradition and the modern mum

Being a modern Brit-Asian mum, culture and tradition is always a very interesting area of life for me. I respect culture and traditions, I respect other people’s belief’s, but I don’t respect the fact that these beliefs are still being forced onto others. Since becoming a mother, I look a lot closer at traditions bestowed upon us as a modern generation, questions in my mind about the impact they will have on my child and his thinking. If I forego my own principles to take on traditions that I feel strongly against, what kind of role model does that make me for my son? Whilst I was brought up to respect others and my religion, my parents also gave me the encouragement to form my own opinions, challenge things I didn’t understand, and make decisions that made me happy. My happiness and comfort was everything to them, and nothing, especially not tradition or what other people thought would come before that. As a result, I don’t believe in doing anything that compromises happiness. Whilst it’s easier said than done, as a mother, I remind myself that sacrificing this emotion will also have an affect on my son and this is what keeps me smiling, even during the darkest days.

In the last year I have had the privilege of getting to know some amazing women, all of whom are mothers that have really suffered at the hands of culture and tradition. They have shared with me their experiences and how over the years some of them have become shadows of their former selves, yet remain stuck in a life that is mostly miserable. Some of these courageous women have broken free of the reigns that tradition, and those controlling the reigns, has had on them, in the process losing people that they love. However, they have gained themselves back and tell me that it has been worth it to feel happiness instead of living in the confinements of judgement. In the 21st century it is unthinkable that tradition and culture can still hold so much expectation of a single person, yet sadly it does. For these women that I have come to know, their position as a daughter in law within a traditional family has been so demanding that it has compromised the relationships they have with their partners and even worse, their children. Behind the cloud of culture sits an elder generation of men and women who want the generations below them to live in the exact same way as they were made to. They were trapped by dogma, and now it seems the younger generation should keep quiet and become trapped too. During a very open discussion, these women all had one question, why should they live by another generations thinking and beliefs?

Hindu tradition states that when a girl falls pregnant, she cannot travel to, or step foot in her parents home until after she is 7 months pregnant. Ask anyone why and you’ll usually hear, “I don’t know that’s just the way it is.” Surely if this type of tradition was more substantial than a mere superstition, there would be hard scientific evidence to support it?  Many moons ago when our ancestors lived in India and a girl got married, she usually moved far from her parents. Travelling was not safe as the roads were in bad condition and the transport methods weren’t exactly comfortable. (We’re talking horse and cart Vs. freak weather and major pot holes here!) THIS is why it was advised that pregnant women should not travel, however, there must have been pregnant women that did travel to their parents and tragically miscarried after. Rather than accepting that the above points, or natural causes could have been the issue, it was ‘logically’ blamed on the girls parents ‘nazar’ (bad luck) towards their daughter, and thus this (ridiculous!!) tradition was born. Hard to imagine that people haven’t moved with the times and that there are still families forcing this rule upon their daughter in laws, using the classic punch line that they too had to go through the same thing. I have no doubt it’s made every woman who has had to experience this nothing but miserable, so why is it still happening?

One of the ladies opened up and told us about the time her brother got engaged, just a small intimate affair at her parents home, a time for family to be together and enjoy this happy occasion. Being 5 months pregnant she was happy, glowing and excited to be at the forefront of her brothers celebrations. Her bubble was soon burst when her mother in law told her she would under no circumstances be going. As a grown adult, carrying her own baby, she was being told as if she were a child herself that she was not to go, and without a meaningful reason as to why. What is it about Indian culture that allows the ‘boys side’ to have power and control, in fact, why should anyone but YOU get to decide how to live YOUR life? How can a woman have her life being dictated by her husbands family and this being regarding as acceptable and ‘the norm.’ Her husband said he would take her to the engagement but would lie to his parents about where they were going to keep them happy. She refused to lie about something she felt so strongly against. She simply asked her husband, what was more harmful to the baby, happily spending time with her family, or being put under stress and pressure not to go. As parents, we teach our children right from wrong, we urge them to think logically about how to work things out, even as young babies, learning to put shapes in the correct holes or putting a jigsaw together. So why with these traditions does all logic go out the window?

Similarly, they say a girl must not wash her hair for the first 7 months because it harms the baby. Now this one makes my blood boil at the sheer stupidity of people still believing this is fact. Whilst centuries ago there was logical reasoning behind it, it no longer applies. Years ago in India when there were no showers, and women had to bathe in filthy rivers bending over their bumps to wash their hair, it caused discomfort, there was risk of infection and consequently it was just safer for pregnant women not to wash their hair. However, we now live in a time where we have the facility to bath and shower in the comfort of our own homes. We no longer have to bend over bumps to wash our hair, and there is absolutely no risk whatsoever to the baby.  This is simply another rule being disguised as tradition, when if you look at it logically, it’s just another superstition forced upon Indian women every single day.

With culture and tradition comes a great deal of expectation, especially for women. For modern mums with a practical and logical mind set, that can be very difficult to deal with, especially when it comes to our children. Another one of the ladies said she was forced to give up eating meat, and has been forbidden from giving her child meat, all because her husbands family are vegetarian. Of course she still eats meat and so does her child, but she has to pretend otherwise so as not to displease her in laws. There was no room for discussion, let alone compromise. By keeping their life choice so under wraps and appearing to just go with whatever his family have asked, how will they ever openly live a life that suits them? Whatever happened to compromise, why is it that the girl must change everything, including her eating habits and those of HER child? Could they not just accept that she eats meat, that its HER choice to feed HER child meat, that it doesn’t make her a monster, but that she doesn’t eat it under their roof. Does her upbringing, lifestyle choices and wishes for her own child count for nothing? Must she just bow down and accept whatever her husbands family request?

One of the women was a trained councilor and health visitor and explained that the term for being forced against your will in this way was called ’emotional abuse’. This was the first I’d heard of such behaviour being categorised, and it seemed I wasn’t the only one. Immediately I thought of women who are a huge part of my life, and it dawned upon me that they fitted into this group. It saddens me deeply to know that the female gender are still being pigeonholed and made to conform to a way of life that has simply been passed down from generation to generation without much thought as to why. Since when did culture become more important than a persons happiness? She explained that she sees many marriages amongst the Indian community fall apart, and that there is a higher rate of PND amongst Indian mothers, all because they are under pressure to conform and continue pleasing others, and that sadly the support from their husbands is minimal. This in mind, it is interesting to know that to have your feelings ignored causes the same chemical reaction in the brain as being physically hurt.

Hearing these ladies talk, you would never know that they were once strong and carefree, because there was barely a hint of these traits left in them. This made me think of my son, fast forward 20 years and he will be grown man living his own life. I would love for him to be married, and this would make me a mother in law.  To his future wife, wherever you may be, I promise that I will never expect anything more from you than to love my son. I promise to love you like my own. I promise I will protect you from anyone that dares to treat you badly. I promise to encourage you to be free. I promise to support your marriage in any way that keeps it happy, and of course I promise NEVER to put traditions before your happiness.

Emotional abuse may not leave bruises, but it does leave scars. We only have one life, lets help each other live and not just exist.

Blonde Mummy. X