Cracking Chilli Con Carne

Well I can’t believe that I’ve been back in work nearly a month. I’m still finding it odd, I struggled last week being away from Reuben so much. I felt wracked with guilt and kept thinking that me being absent would impact on him. I was being a bit dramatic because he was happy as Larry all week, its true when people say it’s usually the mothers that are worse than the babies! One of my friends said to me there is no room in your life for guilt, sweep it aside and carry on doing the best you possibly can. So, that is what I’m going to do. I regularly have to tell myself that I am being the best mum I can be (Even when I’m on Instagram, again!! Oops.) I am trying to be much stricter with myself when it comes to using my phone when Reuben is around, especially now that I’m working. There is something quite refreshing about not looking at my phone every 10 minutes, when I manage it!

We had a lovely weekend celebrating two special 1st Birthday Parties, I felt like I needed some nice things to be happening in my life right now after some horrible family news, so being around wonderful family and friends really helped.

A few people have asked me how I am managing to still cook different and healthy meals now that I am back in work so I thought perhaps it would be useful to share my thinking behind why I am so committed to cooking for Reubs and the family.

Firsty, I don’t find it a chore 99% of the time. I love to cook and try different things, which is half the battle I think. If you don’t enjoy being in the kitchen then I can see why you really wouldn’t be inclined to be cooking up meals for your children. But remember, we all want our sons and daughters to be able to cook so we need to set some sort of an example!

Secondly, I feel very passionate about the health and wellbeing of my family, and I know that I need to cook good foods to achieve this. We are an extended family under one roof at the moment and I must admit I am a bit of a Hitler Auntie when it comes to kind of snacks that the kids consume (sorry Leanne). I really feel that we owe it to our little ones to give them the most nutritious and delicious food that we can so that they flourish, live healthier lives and do better in school. Don’t we all want that for our babies? I have read so many articles and books that tell us just how important it is for growing children to eat a diet very low in sugar (if any at all) lots of healthy fats, proteins and good carbohydrates. Variety is key! We all feel different about how we want to raise our children and what we want to feed them so please do not think that I am preaching or judging you, because I am not. I am fully aware that we all love a sugar and junk food binge every now and then…pass me a McDonalds Chicken select, mmmmm!! On the whole I truly believe we should be trying to get our children to eat whole foods and plenty of different flavours and textures.  I think it would be great if mums and dads read up about the effects too much sugar and processed meats has on children, and us as adults too! It’s quite mind blowing stuff and it really made me re-think everything that Jack, Reuben and I eat.

If you can make small changes gradually in your life, then it would make a big difference.  E.g. eat natural yogurt instead of flavoured and add your own fruit. Ditch jam or nutella on toast and have porridge or eggs for breakfast, eat all wholegrain products and if your kids are already addicted to the sweet stuff try and gradually cut the amount in their diet down. The easiest thing to get rid of first could be squash. Try a fruit infuser water bottle instead with some lemon and limes In it.  My sister Laura does ‘sweetie Fridays’ they get their treat for the week after finishing school, it works well for her. Giving your children the biggest breakfast you can to fill them up until lunch will help them to be alert and perform well in school, and stop constant snacking on weekends. Foods like eggs, avocado, full fat natural yogurt, shakes/smoothes, fruit, oats, meats, etc. will sustain them considerably longer than a bowl of corn flakes which is essentially just a bowl of sugar when their body breaks it down. It’s all well and good giving your child a biscuit when they ask for a snack because they are hungry, but what are they gaining from it apart from a sugar high? They are telling us they are hungry, so when I hear that I take it as my cue to give them something healthy and/or filling if there is a wait until dinner! Can you tell I feel passionately about this? Sorry…. Remember, eat a rainbow guys!!

Lastly, I batch cook and mostly plan ahead. This ensures that I have always got something healthy and delicious on hand when I walk through the door, too exhausted or time poor to cook. If I make a spag bol, curry, chilli, pasta sauce or anything similar I make double the amount and freeze it. Simple. Take it out of the freezer before you go to work and then its ready for dinner when you get in. I always have microwaveable brown/wholegrain rice in the cupboard for emergencies and pasta takes just 10 mins to boil. Make use of your slow cooker if you have one, there are tonnes of recipes you can use and you will have a delicious meal waiting for you when you get home. Try sitting down on the weekend and planning your meals for the upcoming week and buy your ingredients ready. It will save you money and stress! The key to having the time is planning and being organised, which can be difficult I know, it’s been a testing month for me but it has shown me that it is possible to eat well when you are stretched for time. Give it a try, if I can do it for 8 of us you can too!

 

Today I’m going to share another of my favourites, Chilli Con Carne. It’s been a staple in my family for as long as I can remember. Nothing super exotic but its blimmin lovely and super comforting. My mum used to always put baked beans in it because we refused to eat kidney beans, a tradition that my sister Leanne has carried on! I have been trying different things in the mix here and there for the past few years but this version has really nailed it and I think it could be ‘the one’! The cacao powder gives it delicious richness. I would recommend you make this the night before you want to eat it, the flavours have time to develop and it just tastes sooo much better. I do the same with curry and spag bol too.

 

IMG_3874

Cracking Chilli Con Carne

*Serves a family of 4 for 2 days. Suitable for freezing for 3 months, fridge safe sealed up for 3 days. Suitable for babies 7months+ *

You will need:

2 peppers, diced

2 onions, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

1 chilli – seeds removed and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 500g packs minced beef or stewing beef, best quality you can afford

2 bay leaves

3 tsp cumin

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 jar 680g passata or 2 tins chopped toms/passata

2 tsp cacaco powder

1 very low salt stock cube, into 500ml hot water

1 tin black beans

1 tin kidney beans

 

All you need to do is:

 

  1. Place the chopped veggies, along with the garlic and chilli into a heavy based pan with a tablespoon of oil (I used coconut) and cook on a medium heat to soften slightly for 10 mins.

 

  1. Turn up the heat and add in the mince beef. Use a spatula and keep breaking it up into small pieces whilst its browning. If you use stewing beef, brown it on high too. When your beef is browned add in the herbs, spices, tomato puree and passata. Give it all a good mix to combine. Put a lid on and leave it on the lowest heat to simmer for 2 hours. Check it every hour to make sure it’s not going dry and give it a stir.

 

  1. After two hours, add in beans and the cacaco powder. Stir well and leave the lid off for a final hour. You should see that the chilli is starting to thicken and smell delicious!

 

  1. When you are happy with the consistency (3 hours should be about right) take out portions for young children/ babies and then season the remainder well with salt and pepper. If you like spicy chilli you can add chilli flakes in too, remember to taste so you get it just how you like it! You can either put the lid back on and leave for the following day or serve up with wholegrain rice, some crème fraiche and coriander sprinkled on top.

 

  1. For little ones, you can mash up or blitz if they are still getting used to lumps. Reuben (1) now has it exactly as it is with the crème fraiche and coriander too.

 

I know that the ingredients list seems long, but it’s easy to cook and I promise you it’s so delicious that it’s worth it. If you and the family are veggies, or don’t like beef you can make this with pulses. Replace the beef with a tin of chick peas and butter beans. It’s up to you what beans you use really, they would all work well.

 

I hope you enjoy and have a great rest of the week. As always please tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you whip up any of my recipes, I love to see them!

 

Jules x

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