Did you know that potatoes are in decline? They’re not depressed or anything, we’re literally just eating fewer potato based meals. Gone are the days of sitting down every day to meat, potatoes and two veg. Now it’s all spaghetti and lasagne, or worse still, carb free.

(Not a way to live in my opinion.)

Although potatoes might immediately make you think of your Grandad, they actually have a lot going for them.

Think about it.

They’re incredibly versatile, completely natural and unprocessed, and a valuable source of things like fibre and potassium. They’re often very locally produced, and cheap too. They’re wheat free, gluten free, fat free, saturated fat free, salt free, dairy free, low in sugar, suitable for vegetarians and vegans – they tick literally all of the boxes.

There is something so simple about a potato – when you cook with a potato, you’re cooking from scratch, and everyone knows that’s one of the most important changes we need to make to our diets.

Potatoes: More than a bit on the side‘ is a new campaign designed to get potatoes back on the menu. The website includes more potato facts, tips and recipe ideas than you can shake a masher at, so do check it out.

So this week I thought I’d get adventurous with my potato recipes and make some gnocchi. We eat quite a bit of gnocchi but I’ve never made it myself, so it was time to get creative.

easy gnocchi recipe View Post

We’re three weeks into our healthy eating challenge with the Co-op now, and we’ve made some interesting discoveries about ourselves. Nothing spiritual mind, I’ve not discovered God or anything, but we have come to the conclusion that Belle is probably lactose intolerant.

I’ve always taken a fairly laid back approach to health complaints from my children. My standard reaction to most things is to suggest either a bit of fresh air, a glass of water, or a little something to eat. To prove the point, after 18 years, when she finally managed to escape my insistence that her stomach aches were nothing a brisk walk and some fluids wouldn’t solve, my eldest daughter Bee officially got herself diagnosed as unable to stomach dairy.


(As a side note, I made sure to spell ‘oops’ properly there, as Bee emailed me this week to request that I stop spelling it opps. I told her I thought it was one of those words that you could spell however you wanted, like sshhh, but apparently not.)

I digress. View Post

Do you ever remember to use the vouchers attached to the receipt of your supermarket shopping? You know, the ones that say ‘your shop was £1.53 cheaper in another supermarket – get this off your bill next time you shop.’

No, me neither.

It’s annoying, because I know they’re just doing it to get me to go back again, and I fall for it every time, only to then forget the voucher, which was the reason I went back there in the first place.

That’s the thinking behind the new Tesco Brand Guarantee

Tesco Brand Guarantee View Post

If you don’t have time to read this whole post, please watch the video of Belle making tomato soup right at the end as it’s very sweet!

As you may have read last week, we’re currently taking part in a 21 day healthy eating challenge, supported by The Co-op. Last week we kicked off by looking at a typical day in the life of Belle, and I was slightly ashamed by the prominence of chocolate chip brioche on the menu.

Still, looking on the bright side, it gave us a nice low starting point, so surely it would be easy to make a positive difference?

Well yes actually.

As we’re just about 7 days in at the time of writing, I thought it might be nice to pick out one easy change for each day. The idea with any change is that you don’t need to do something massive to make a difference, and in fact change is often more sustainable if you start small. All of these 7 changes are things that you could do yourself, this week, now even. So what are you waiting for? View Post

bake-a-wishDo you miss the Bake Off? I do. Mid weeks are just not the same without that precious hour of sugar, butter and flour fuelled escapism.

Fear not though, baking need not have disappeared from your life altogether! To support the annual Bake-A-Wish fundraising, this October Fairy are partnering with Make-A-Wish® UK to encourage the nation to get their baking hats on and share their festive recipes, as part of a competition to find the UK’s best festive cake.

Inspiration comes from research that shows 35% of us don’t even like Christmas cake, and around two thirds of us are turning to less traditional alternatives, like chocolate cake or red velvet cake. Your recipe should be as imaginative as possible, and the competition closes on October 23rd, so get your special chef’s thinking cap on.

Maybe something like this?

Bake-a-wish fairy competition View Post

I came across an image this week which made me think “Yes! This is Belle! This is my life summed up in a postcard!”

This was it:

healthy eating tips
Does this sound familiar?

I had thought that by the age of 13, Belle would have grown out of her fussy eating. I imagined a gradual acceptance of onions in cooking, a growing fondness for courgettes, and friendly banter around the dining table where we looked back and laughed at her fussier days.

“How silly of me,” she would say, chomping her way through a kale salad, “to have been so fussy for all those years!”

Alas, that day has yet to come. Still, as a teenager, her list of acceptable vegetables is limited pretty much to:

  • Sweetcorn
  • Carrots
  • Spinach (raw, not cooked)

It’s not cool is it? The tricky bit for me lies in how far to push it. I appreciate that 50 years ago she would have just been made to sit at the table until she had finished, but we don’t live 50 years ago do we? We live in an era where ‘food issues’ are constantly on the horizon, especially with girls, and I worry that forcing her to eat something she doesn’t like will mean I’m responsible, later in life, for her crippling obesity/bulimia/inability to visit a supermarket without having a panic attack. (Delete as appropriate.)

Perhaps I just think about it too much.

I’ve decided though that the time has come to be a little more proactive about things. Being busy is no excuse for not making changes to our diet. I need to man up and remind Belle who’s boss. (I hope she doesn’t read this bit and shout at me.) The Co-op agreed to help me out with some ideas for recipes, snacks and easy switches, and so our 21 day food challenge begins. 

If your family diet could do with a kick up the bum, or that daily moan of ‘what’s for dinner?’ sends shivers down your spine, why not join me?

I’ve always been a fan of The Co-op. We’ve often had one just around the corner from us, which is very handy for me at 5pm when I still haven’t thought about what to have for tea, and I like their ethics, food wise. In theory it’s not hard to make changes; a handful of grapes here, a wedge of cucumber there – it shouldn’t take much to make a difference. The Co-op also have lots of recipe ideas, and plenty of Pinspiration.

healthy eating Pinterest

To kick start proceedings, I suggest keeping a diary of what your family eats for a few days. This was a horrible reality check for me, as I like to think I eat reasonably well. Oh how wrong I was. It’s shocking how easy it is to go a whole day and not eat any fruit…

This is a day from Belle’s diary, so you can see what I mean. (Please don’t report me to anyone):

  • Breakfast – a bowl of chocolate cereal, toast with butter, pineapple juice.
  • Packed lunch – cheese and ham sandwich, crisps, Babybel, yoghurt, satsuma, water. (I often find the fruit and three quarters of a bottle of water at the bottom of her school bag.)
  • After school snack – chocolate chip brioche.
  • Dinner – pasta (not wholemeal), sweetcorn, tinned tuna and pesto. Three chocolate truffles.

Now overall, it doesn’t feel hideous, fairly typical I would imagine, but let’s break it down…

I use the word chocolate three times. Not cool. Even counting the juice, she’s barely scraping two portions of fruit and vegetables on this day.

*takes a minute to reflect on parenting skills*

I then thought it might be a good idea, rather than just spying on what she ate, to ask Belle how she felt about her diet:

Over the next three weeks then we’ll be making an effort to eat better. This might be something as simple as switching from white to brown bread, or it might mean thinking more broadly about how we can encourage Belle to eat a wider variety of fruit and vegetables.

We’d love for you to join us, and share your tips and troubles as you progress, and to get you in the mood, we’re holding a Twitter chat this Tuesday at 1pm. Please RT the invitation and come along with your questions. Experts from The Co-operative will be on hand and I’ll be bringing 20 years of parenting wisdom/sympathy to the virtual table.

 In the meantime, please do leave a comment and tell me about the food issues in your family!



Project in partnership with The Co-operative Food.