Last week it was really warm so I got very excited and decided it was spring. I was so excited that I decided to buy a whole lot of ingredients to make salads. It turned out it was not spring. It was basically spring teasing us and then deciding to hold off until a yet to be named date. Fortunately even though it was cold and windy when I made this, it was still delicious so we didn’t feel too sad that we had to eat it wearing jumpers.
I really love a good quiche (plus they make good baby led weaning food) but making crusts is tedious, especially when you are trying to wrangle a little person. When I spotted this idea on the Tesco website of using tortillas to make a crust I was skeptical. I figured the tortillas would go soggy and the filling would go everywhere. I was pleasantly surprised that they actually went lovely and crispy. I have already made it twice and Mr O and Little O are big fans.
Growing up in South Africa, you wouldn’t think we were very good at wintery food. However in Johannesburg, where I grew up, while the winter days are sunny and warm by Northern European standards, the temperature drops dramatically at night and it can get very chilly. One of my favourite wintery things that my mum used to make was warm baked puddings, always served with lashings of cold custard, which Mr O finds bizarre.
When our friend N (who is also South Afircan), visited a couple of weekends ago I decided to make a classic baked pudding to warm our cockles and he confirmed that cold custard was definitely the way to go. It must be a South African thing.
This pudding is named after some chap called Jan Ellis. I have no idea who he is but it has a subtle spicy, slightly orangey flavour and it took me right back to my childhood.
A couple of weeks ago I bought some spinach and feta rolls from the bakery stall in the food market that pops up in the centre of town on Fridays and Saturdays. They were delicious but a little pricey so I decided to have a go at making my own. They were so tasty we’ve ended up having them as a quick meal on several occasions since. They’re particularly good for when Mr O is working in the evening as he can just pop one in the oven for 5 minutes to reheat and have a fresh, hot snack when he gets home.
Spinach and feta pies
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
200g frozen chopped spinach
200g feta cheese, crumbled
150g ricotta cheese
2 sheets pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Preheat your oven to 200 C.
Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil over a low heat for 5 minutes in a saucepan with a lid. Add the spinach and put on the lid. Cook until the spinach is completely defrosted and hot through (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the feta and ricotta and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Unroll the pastry sheets and cut each one into six (in half lengthwise and then into thirds). Place some of the spinach mixture in the centre of half the pastry rectangles. Don’t put it too close to the edges because you need room to seal. Brush all four of the edges around the spinach mixture of each rectangle with egg and then cover with another rectangle and press down the edges to close. Take a fork and press down all around the edges to make a nice pattern. Then use a sharp knife to make a few slashes across the top of each pie. Brush with more egg.
Place on a baking tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Makes 6 pies
What’s the smartest way to use up leftover ricotta cheese, you ask? I decided it was by making pancakes. Usually in this house we make more crepe style pancakes because Mr O isn’t really a fan of the American ones… and I have managed to cock them up royally each time I have tried to make them. These however were very easy and very delicious and definitely a good use of leftover ricotta. Plus if no one else will eat them and you can manage your greed, the batter keeps well.
About a week ago when I was in Tesco buying essentials (nappies, bread, milk), I also came across a packet of salted caramel pretzel tiffin squares. These, of course, also counted as essential so I brought them home for Mr O and I to enjoy and they were glorious. I decided to make a sort of attempt to recreate them and although my version doesn’t have a caramel element they’re still pretty tasty… and very easy.
Over the weekend Mr O and I invited around his best friend, Mr H, Mr H’s brother and their wives and kids to join us for a BBQ in our garden. I asked Mr O what I should make for a dessert and he said key lime pie. I have never made key lime pie and he’s never eaten it but he liked the sound of it so I took to my recipes and found one to make. It turned out to be a great success and even though we had ice lollies for the kids they all wanted to get in on the pie! If you get the chance to make this it’s packed with zesty lime flavours that are lovely and refreshing. It is worth mentioning though that there is a lot of cooling and refrigeration time so if you are going to make this you need to start relatively early the day before you want to eat it.
Crunchies are kind of like the South African equivalent of a flapjack although crunchier (hence the name) and less sweet and sticky. I grew up eating loads of these since they’re eggless and my brother was allergic to eggs as a child so baked treats he could eat were quite limited. I recently found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to make these as a snack since oats is supposed to aid breast milk production. Also they are just yummy!
Just after Little O was born my friend, Alex, her husband J and their little boy M came around to visit us. M is almost 18 months old so throughout my pregnancy (and still now) Alex is my “is this normal” go to person.
Knowing how full on the beginning weeks of parenthood are Alex kindly brought us a quiche which was not only delicious but also served as a healthy lunch for us for days! I liked it so much that I asked for the recipe. A few days ago Little O actually let Mr O hold him long enough to let me make it… with a few modifications of my own.
I decided to make this Spanish omelette because we had some leftover over new potatoes that I had boiled the night before and I didn’t want them to go to waste. Plus eggs are great for gestational diabetes and let’s face it, I love chorizo so I put it with everything. I had this for my lunch but it’s one of those meals you could have at any time of the day. It’s also delicious both hot and cold and keeps really well.
I have already made this tray bake twice because it was so easy and delicious, once for Mr O and I and then once for a pot luck Sunday lunch at N’s new house now that he has moved out of our flat. While it does take a little bit of time to make, actually throwing it together is really quick and the flavour is completely worth the wait.
I swear this is the last Lean in 15 recipe coming up for a while. I have made this a few times because Mr O loves it and although the sauce is very simple it is delicious… it will also stink out your kitchen because that’s how fish sauce rolls!
With only 4 or 5 weeks until Little O makes his appearance and I can technically eat whatever I want I have been starting to fantisise about the list of things I am going to eat immediately post labour. In the meantime I am continuing to experiment with baking things that I can eat safely. My latest successful endeavor was these peanut butter blondies that I adapted from a Peace, Love and Low Carb recipe. They are very low sugar and carb so even if you don’t have GD and are trying to stick to these principles they’d be great for a sweet snack. They are also gluten free!
This is yet another recipe from Lean in Fifteen. I think sooner or later Joe Wicks is going to sue me for copyright infringement but I I love his recipes and they have been so good for my gestational diabetes. I have to admit that before I made this I had never poached salmon before but I thought it gave the fish a lovely texture and made it easy to flake for this zingy salad.
One of the nice things about having gestational diabetes (look at me finding silver linings) is that you get to eat a LOT of cheese and I love cheese. All the cheese. All the time. Halloumi is one of my favourite cheeses and great for pairing and being the star of the show in GD friendly recipes. This was a big hit with both Mr O and N, who lives with us at the moment. It packs a real flavour wallop and is quick and easy to make.
When I started my virtually no sugar, low carb gestational diabetes diet I thought I was going to get mad sugar cravings and wake up in the night sweating and thinking of cake. That hasn’t happened. Although I sometimes dream of Ben &Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice-cream or wish I could just have a piece of fresh tiger bread, I have mostly been fine with getting to eat pretty much as much cheese as I want. What I have been missing is baking. A lot. Like a whole lot. So I decided to do a little experiment and rework one of my favourite brownie recipes to make it GD friendly… and it worked! Not only are these brownies very low in sugar and carbs but they’re also gluten free and passed the 15/30/45/60 blood sugar test advocated by the gestationaldiabetes.co.uk website. What that means is that I tested my blood sugar every fifteen minutes for an hour after eating one of these (paired with some creme fraiche) and all the readings were below my after food target. (Please note that if you have gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes and want to try these you should repeat the same test on yourself to ensure you are not missing a spike. Everyone’s tolerance is different).
So I know it might seem like I only make things from Lean in 15 now but I love the recipes and they’ve been so good for my gestational diabetes readings. Plus they’re really quick to get on the table, which helps with my goal of trying to finish my dinner by 7.30pm, which is a new one for me. I have always been quite a late eater. I have adapted this recipe a fair bit since I find Joe is a little bit more keen on loads of liquid than I am but it is super tasty and quick and when I made it for Neil and his mum everyone wanted seconds!
This recipe is another adaptation from Joe Wick’s Lean in 15. His version is made with spinach in the salad but I had rocket in the fridge so I wanted to use it up and one of the major challenges of gestational diabetes is that you need to eat carbs with every meal but limit them and stick to complex carbs so while Joe suggests serving this with a side of green veg I added some new potatoes.
Spiced lamb cutlets with salad and new potatoes
12 lamb cutlets
300g Greek yoghurt
4 tablespoons ground almonds
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 handfuls of baby rocket
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber cut into cubes
A bunch of coriander, leaves only roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
385g ready to cook new potatoes with herbs and butter (I was lazy)
Recently a South London chap called Joe Wicks has become a bit of a diet and exercise sensation in the UK. He advocates a programme of easy, highly nutritious large portion recipes that you can make quickly along with high intensity workouts that you can do in fifteen minutes (he is also more than a little bit dishy). When Mr O put me onto him I was already most of the way through my weight loss programme, which was working for me but I really like his approach and was thinking about trying it out… but then I almost immediately got pregnant and the workouts were too high intensity for me.
Joe, also known as The Body Coach, released a recipe book called Lean in 15 in December and I bought a copy for Mr O as a gift. The book has two sections, one of low carb recipes for non-workout days and a higher carb section to fuel workout days.
With the diet I have to follow to keep my gestational diabetes under control the low carb recipes are perfect so I have been experimenting with this section of the book. This was the first recipe I tried, I did modify the recipe a bit to make enough for 4 people and of course I added my own secret ingredient but it was epic. Thanks, Joe!
Humus is probably my favourite dip. I love it with everything – crudites, toasted pita breads, tortilla chips… even spread on bread as a sandwich base… so I’m not sure why I have never made it myself rather than buying it. Now that I have discovered just how easy it is I think I am going to be experimenting with lots of different flavours. This cucumber version is really fresh and light and delicious with carrots or even if you just eat it with a spoon, which I totally didn’t do.