I did it: 365 days of blogging, 365 recipes over 365 days!
There have been times when I wondered what on earth I was doing and questioned if it was worth sticking with it but the benefits have far outweighed any negatives.
It’s been hard work but we’ve had so much more family time around the meal table and our baked-bean consumption has gone down (sorry Heinz) in favour of more home-cooked options. The kids (and I!) have come across dishes we never knew existed. We’ve trawled recipe books, food columns and the internet, tried recipes in restaurants in search of inspiration and come up with an amazing variety of new dishes to add to our repertoire.
There have been disasters along the way (aubergine pizzas, aubergine cannellini, basically anything with aubergine) but we’ve discovered Mathilde loves tofu in any form (they all devoured the scrambled tofu and are desperate for a repeat). We learnt Mathilde really doesn’t like mushrooms but she does like red pepper and a simple substitution in my regular lentil bolognese means I could’ve avoided years of arguments if I’d known this sooner and she’ll now happily clear her plate. As long as it doesn’t contain mushrooms.
We’ve eaten pretty healthily (not that we didn’t before) and I’ve always been striving for well balanced meals, containing protein and iron to support a vegetarian diet. I’ve also introduced us to many more vegan options (that can still be served with meat or adapted to a vegetarian dish for those who don’t want to go the vegan route).
Although there have been struggles along the way, I know feel confident that I have found new meals Mathilde will eat. We have a whole list of favourites to kick us off in 2018 so hopefully we’ll have a happier, healthier year – and a happier and healthier Mathilde. It’s not an approach I’d advocate for treating a fussy eater – that’s all in how you approach and deal with the situation as a parent. However, it’s worked for us to show Mathilde a broader range of healthy food available to her. Even though all the kids haven’t enjoyed every meal, there have been elements they’ve each taken from new dishes.
At times, I’ve not cooked a full meal, instead i may have cooked a starter or accompaniment to a meal such as the spinach pakoras (which were a huge hit!) or homemade naan bread as a safe back-up and way of enticing them to try a mild curry dish. This was a gentle way of introducing them all to Indian food, which they’ve always been fairly wary of in the past and what’s more it got them enjoying spinach too! Now they’ll happily tuck into spinach crisps or I can confidently sneak it into other dishes I’m cooking.
Pesto was another perfect vehicle for incorporating new flavours. Most kids are partial to a reliable pasta and pesto dish but the shop bought ones are so full of salt, so I felt almost evangelical in comparison to serve them spinach and walnut, wild garlic, pistachio, sun dried tomato and kale versions using fresh ingredients instead. They were then much more receptive to other dishes with these flavours in them such as the kale and potato cakes.
There have been downsides, such as the cost; cooking a fresh meal everyday hasn’t been the most economical way of cooking. Usually I batch cook and we’ll eat up leftovers for days but this hasn’t been the case recently and I’ve had a lot more food wastage than usual. This is something I can easily rectify now we’re back on a more normal eating regime, as this past year hadn’t been truly reflective of the way we normally eat and plan. However, I have enjoyed the structure and the planning of each week’s meals and it’s definitely something I’ll take with me from this episode. I’ve enjoyed being more organised!
Now it’s come to an end I’m sure the kids will be relieved to return to the days of simply having their food on the table rather than being photographed before they’re allowed anywhere near it. It has also been tough when the kids found a new favourite, knowing that I wouldn’t be repeating it for another year but on the whole we’ve all benefited from new recipes, including The Man and me. Most importantly, we’ve done it all as a family.