Swaledale Beef

‘You do know that steak is just dead cow’, my big brother told me gleefully, looking sideways at the bistecca I was about to eat.

I paused, my mum reports, slowly lifted up my knife and fork and looked him straight in the eye.

‘I love dead cow’.

More than a quarter of a century later, including a good decade of vegetarianism – not, I hasten to add, a result of my brother’s goading – my sentiments are the same. Dead cow is delicious. And although the world is moving in a more plant-based direction for myriad reasons, many of which I fully support, we still incorporate some red meat into our family’s diet.

While the amount of meat we eat has reduced over the years, quality remains an absolute priority – both the meat itself and the way in which the animals are treated (which unsurprisingly go hand in hand). So when I was contacted by Swaledale Online Butchers to review some of their products, I was immediately impressed by their whole carcass, nose to tail philosophy, dedication to native meat and supportive partnerships with local farmers.

The evening before I was contacted by Swaledale, my Yorkshire born husband was lamenting the fact that he’d never tried a tomahawk steak after seeing someone cooking one on TV. The stars had aligned, so we asked to review this along with some lamb products (not pictured here, but every bit as delicious). 

Swaledale provides meat to numerous top end restaurants and chefs alongside their consumer offering, and it’s easy to see why. Service was efficient, the meat surviving the journey down south beautifully and the flavour was fabulous. We cooked our tomahawk on the BBQ until caramelized on the outside and blushing beautifully in the middle, resting well before serving with roast potatoes, garlic and chilli PSB and a spring salad of watercress, fennel and radish with pickled pink onions.

And the best bit? Gnawing on the giant bone (commandeered by seven year old Nino, Carnivorous husband barely got a look in).

Products featured in this post were received in return for an honest review and honestly I’m a converted new customer. Highly recommend!

To find out more about Swaledale, click here

Introducing The Veggienauts Club

‘Mummy, do you ever make anything that doesn’t have an extra vegetable inside?’

Growing up, my mum always encouraged us to eat well. Vegetables appeared at every meal, we regularly visited the health food shops and she was baking with tahini long before anyone had ever heard of Ottolenghi. I’ve mentioned it here before – the trauma is clearly real – but I’ll never forget one Halloween when she invited several trick or treaters to share a packet of Sunmaid raisins she’d found in the back of the cupboard, so low was our household on ‘treats’. 

You never know what kind of parent you’re going to be until each stage arrives, but there’s definitely some of that mum in me. Of course there’s balance – if you’ve been reading this blog since it started you’ll know my heart belongs to sugar, butter and chocolate – but all accompanied by a healthy dose of veg for snacks, in smoothies, alongside every meal and even incorporated into foods you might consider more of a ‘treat’.

Since having children I’ve become more mindful about my approach to food. I want them to eat well, but I also want them to want to, if that makes sense. Pretty early on you realize it’s hard to ‘make’ a child do anything, it has to start from within. After leaving my job in publishing a few years ago, I’ve tried on various hats. Working freelance and for myself in amongst a lot of full time mum-ing, I even launched a cooking club for grown ups which is on the back burner for a multitude of reasons. But it all took me back to one thing – a love of food, writing about it, sharing it and helping people to fall in love with it the way I do. And where does it all begin? 

When we’re kids.

Homemade Memories, my first cookbook, was all about those childhood memories that shape the way you think – and eat – as an adult. My new project – The Veggienauts Club – is all about childhood.

The Veggienauts Club is a monthly vegetable subscription box for children age 3 – 8. Our mission is to raise curious, confident eaters by encouraging children to explore, play, taste and eventually enjoy eating a rainbow by making food fun. Each month we focus on a seasonal star vegetable, inviting Veggienauts on a mission to discover how to shop for, prepare, cook and eat it. There are step by step illustrated recipes, science experiments and crafts focused around exploring that vegetable with every sense.

In March we launched with cauliflower, with recipes for cauliflower lemon loaf cake, pizzas and chocolate milkshakes plus exploding lemon volcanos and invisible ink. In April carrots were our star with savoury flapjacks, energy balls and hummus, a taste safe sensory vegetable patch, seeds to plant and Easter egg-speriments. This month is all about spinach and children will be cooking up a storm with a monster breakfast pancake pizza, mint choc chip soft serve and chia seed slime amongst other things. 

Research shows that children who are exposed to foods outside of regular mealtimes – whether shopping for, preparing or even playing with – are more likely to try and enjoy a more varied diet. Our boxes of hands on fun are intended to encourage the natural curiosity of little people, whether planting seeds, stirring up cakes or stamping out artwork with a raw beetroot!

There’s lots more information of The Veggienauts Club website, both about our boxes themselves and on the blog which includes recipes, books about food, tips for dealing with reluctant eating and more. There are testimonials from lots of our happy parent customers as well as some lovely reviews from food bloggers and nutritionists who have tested and enjoyed the club.

If you have small children and are invested in raising curious, confident eaters, I’d love you to check it out.

Christmas Treats – a FREE Festive Ebook

Christmas is almost here, and with it the promise of good things to eat.

School holidays and festive celebrations mean more free time to cook and more people to make things for, so there couldn’t be a better time to get into the kitchen with your kids.

Treats like mince pies, gingerbread men, iced cakes and marshmallow-topped hot chocolate are Christmas classics for a reason – and I’ll be making all of the above with Nino and Joy over the coming weeks – but it’s also nice to have a few more wholesome treats up your sleeve to meet the daily (hourly?) snack requests whilst adding a little nutrition.   

To help you along the way, I’m giving away a FREE Christmas ebook containing five tried and tested festive recipes which all pack in at least one serving of fruit or veg plus some healthy fats, filling protein and whole grains to boot.

Getting kids involved in cooking from an early age has been shown to improve their attitudes towards food and capacity to try new things. Teaching them about nutrition in a hands-on, non preachy way, is so important if we want to raise healthy, curious, confident eaters. Yes sweets and chocolate are delicious, but dates, greens, even cannellini beans can be too!

Sounds too good to be true? Try the recipes and let me know what you think 🙂

Yes it can be messy and chaotic, but involve your little eaters in the kitchen and make food fun and everyone  will get so much out of it.

So roll up your sleeves, embrace the chaos and let’s get cooking!

To download your FREE Christmas treats ebook, click here

ps. I’d love to see your Christmas creations. If you make anything from the ebook, please tag or DM me on Instagram @feedinglittleloaves.

Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Loaf

Do what you love and love what you do.

Ten years ago, I started this blog. I pressed publish on my first post sitting at the same table I’m at now, so some things remain, but also . . . change. So much. What a difference ten years make.

Ten years ago I wasn’t yet married, hadn’t published a cookbook, didn’t own the house we’re in now, hadn’t yet met or really even conceived of the three children who currently consume so much of my every waking breath.  

I started this blog because I love food. I love to cook and bake, a passion which progressed into recipe development, and I love the connection and community that sharing something to eat can bring. Food is my love language and I’m immersed in it – for both work and pleasure – every single day. But language is also my love. 

Somewhere in the chaos of nearly seven years of babies – trying to conceive, miscarriage, pregnancy, breastfeeding – I forgot how much I love to write. Sitting down, sifting through memories, putting pen to paper or text on a screen allows my brain to settle. My husband rarely prepares for things and can ad lib with ease, but I find myself generally so much more articulate on paper than in person, when I’ve had the space to collect and process my thoughts. 

For years this blog was a journal of sorts – for myself first and always, but also for friends and connections I made through the blogging world and in turn thousands of people I’d never met. With babies it began to slide and – a weird coincidence – the last proper recipe post I wrote was when Joy was almost exactly the age Cleo is now. Perhaps eight months is how long it takes my brain to surface from the fog of new motherhood? In fact I fear it may never fully, but I’m back in a place where I want to write again, and I hope some of it can be here. 

Today we’re talking pumpkin bread. Or cake. It’s baked in a loaf tin but let’s be clear, these chocolate studded slices are cake. I’d hoped to be baking with Joy at her nursery last week (parent volunteers are invited in to read and bake with the children) but Cleo’s only trusted babysitter (my mum) fell through (an urgent tooth appointment) and I was left with the several    pumpkins I had stockpiled with a batch of 60 veg-packed scones in mind.

Some scones were made, but there are only so many one family can eat. With lots of roasted flesh to spare, I decided to make this sweet spiced loaf. Banana bread – cake – is my go to loaf bake, but I’m so pleased the stars aligned to bring me excess pumpkin because this recipe is so good. Pumpkin, brown sugar, warming winter spices and great chunks of dark chocolate all bound in a moist but delicate crumb. Twenty four hours after emerging from the oven, the entire cake was gone.

Worth waiting the year and a half since my last proper recipe post? You decide. It is pretty damn delicious. 

Welcome home littlest loaf: Cleo’s birth story

And then there were five.

Over the last seven years I’ve been pregnant four times, given birth three, breastfed a total of thirty three months and lost who knows how many hundreds of hours of sleep. I’ve celebrated and argued with my husband, discovered new highs of happiness and lows of exhaustion, felt my heart expand and fallen in love again and again and again. 

Motherhood is a tough gig. It’s easy to lose some of yourself whilst focusing on the lives of little people and I’m definitely deep in that season, attached to a newborn whilst juggling a feisty two and a half year old and her five year old brother starting back at school after the twilight world that was total lockdown.

But being a mummy can also be magical. Maybe it’s the hormones, maybe I’ll feel different when the kids are driving dinosaurs over the baby’s head tomorrow morning at 5am, but these really are the days. Happiness isn’t objects or places or planning ahead but the here and now. Life is really good.

On Friday 5th March 2021 at 6.28pm, Cleo Carole Susannah appeared in our lives and made this family complete. Not wanting to be outdone by her big brother and sister, she arrived the quickest (which, given Joy’s birth story, is saying something) and the biggest – if only by 300g – weighing in at 8.1lb.

The kids and I were paying a doorstep visit to my older brother when I felt the first contraction. Like with Joy, it wasn’t anything painful, just a general tightening around my tummy. I’d secretly been hoping the baby would arrive that day – one day before her due date – because the timing couldn’t have been better, giving her a whole weekend to settle into the family before Nino started back at school. I texted Luke as a heads up but tried to play it down, not wanting to raise anyone’s (ok, mostly my) expectations in case it was a false alarm. 

Heading home I started to time the contractions and as we arrived, the first waves of something closer to pain arrived. I was still slightly in denial but, having played midwife with Joy, Luke was insistent we call my parents over and head to the hospital. We gave the kids an early bath and tea before setting off. 

In the car park I had to pause as a contraction took my breath away. Arriving at the maternity reception, we were shown to a very orderly waiting room which wasn’t quite where we’d expected to be. Then another contraction came and the receptionist quickly clocked that we might be a little further along than she’d thought . . . The midwife admitted us to the Birthing Centre at 5.50pm and less than forty minutes later, our beautiful baby girl was born

Just before Joy arrived, I couldn’t quite contemplate how my heart was going to expand to love another person as much as my two boys. This time round, I knew what was possible, but it wasn’t til Cleo emerged that I was hit by the full weight of that love, that power. Luke wrote down a quote from one of Nino’s story books we both adore which says ‘some things live in places words can’t reach’. That place is where the love I feel for Nino, Joy and now Cleo, lives, somewhere deep but ever present, incomparable, indescribable, inescapable. I feel like I’ve loved them all forever, and know I always will. 

Cleo, we’re still getting to know you. Facially you’re a lot like your brother and sister were at this age, dark and serious and stern. Your eyes are perhaps a little lighter, your hair a little darker, with long piano playing fingers and stretching toes. Personality-wise, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to be the most calm and considered of our lively lot, but we have so much still to learn both from and about you. 

Whoever and whatever you end up being, sweet girl, I’m honoured to call myself your mummy. I love you. 

Seven Ways to Start Your Day – a FREE breakfast ebook

I’ve written an ebook!

Not a full on book, but seven quick and easy breakfast recipes put together with the intention of providing a little inspiration for your mornings. And it’s free – the smallest gift in these strange and uncertain times. I have to admit I’m feeling pretty helpless about the current global situation, but we all still have to eat and if I can make that part of your daily routine just a little bit easier or more delicious, it’s the least I can do.

When I wrote this book, the world was a very different place. But now we’re spending more time (i.e. ALL the time) together with our families, I guess family food has never been more relevant. And a lot of my intentions still stand – recipes to inspire tired parents, save time and get a little more goodness into little tummies as they kick start their day.

Seven Ways to Start Your Day is a free collection of fuss-free breakfast recipes for mornings when you’re feeling anything but inspired. There are pancakes, porridge, soaked oats, eggs, a smoothie, savoury and sweet options – hopefully enough variety to cover all tastes and occasions. 

  • Quick and easy to prepare or make ahead of time 
  • Each recipe contains two portions of fruit and / or vegetables
  • Nut, gluten and dairy free options for every recipe
  • All vegetarian, with vegan options for 4 out of 7 recipes  

The recipes are also ones we make regularly on rotation, meaning they’ve been tested – and approved – multiple times by the entire family. 

Simple, nutritious and above all, delicious. I hope you love them as much as we do.  

To download your FREE breakfast ebook, click here.

p.s. I know grocery shopping can be a little weird at the moment, so if there’s an ingredient you can’t get hold of or a substitution you’d like advice on, just drop me an email.

Chocolate Praline Cheesecake

Last week I spent almost an hour reading back over old blog posts. I always intended this space to be a diary of sorts as well as a recipe archive and found myself sucked into the narrative of Nino’s early months, comparing my notes and mindset with where I sit now. Any mother of two small children will know that an hour alone is seriously precious – there are so many things I could, or should, have done with that time – but instead I sat and reminisced over silly stories and anecdotes, things my son might have eaten or done, reliving those early months.

In just a few days, Joy will turn nine months. As long on the outside as in. I’d love to have documented each movement and mouthful for this blog the way I did with Nino, but truth be told it’s three long months since I’ve posted a recipe (sorry!). There have been photos on Instagram, thousands more on my phone and a baby book of milestones to make sure my ancient self can remember the most important details, but those random little insights into daily life that come with regular blog posts are sorely missing.

If by any chance, Joy, you are looking back on this, if WordPress still exists by the time you’re old enough to be interested in reading my random ramblings – a mummy yourself perhaps? – know one thing. This absence doesn’t mean I love you any less. You are adored. It’s simply that we’re living out our lives together, caught in the daily madness of sleepless nights, early mornings, multiple meals, clothes, demands for stories and cuddles and explanations with less time for reflection than I might have had as a mummy of one.

If you do want a quick catch up on what you’re like at almost nine months, your name still pretty much sums it up, sweet girl. Smiling, happy, so kind natured and utterly unphased by anything, including the bouncing bundle of energy that is your big brother as he careers around naked singing ‘Everybody wants to be a cat’. After thinking we were due some respite after Nino, your sleep habits are as appalling as his were, but I couldn’t be cross with the impish grin that greets me each (insanely early) morning and your milky snuggles are simply the best. When it comes to food, you’re also following in your brother’s footsteps with a great appetite, but a little more keen to do it all yourself. No idea where you get that one from . . . ahem. You scooch along the floor at breakneck speed, still more of a drag than a crawl, and are starting to pull up on anything and anyone. At times I see such fierce intelligence and communication behind those gorgeous hazel eyes (a subject of much debate, they seem to change colour every day), others you snuffle in and try to chew on any object in sight (all family members included) like a feral puppy. Charming, feisty, ferociously independent and utterly uncomplicated (so far) you are simply gorgeous inside and out.

Speaking of gorgeous things, a little while back Guylian approached me to develop a recipe for their Finishing Touches ebook. Their chocolate praline shells were a staple of my childhood and although I hadn’t eaten one in years, the first bite too me straight back. Click the link below for my Chocolate Praline Cheesecake recipe, amongst some other delicious looking chocolaty creations.

Wholemeal Apple & Date Cake

Apple Date Cake - 3

I started this blog in a very different place. It was before I had a husband, babies, a book, multiple things competing for my attention let alone those competing for the attention of the people who read my posts. Instagram had only just been invented and the majority of my internet consumption was through the laptop on which I’m writing this rather than a mobile device. Eight years ago I read my favourite blogs religiously, and whether it’s increasing competition for my time and attention or simply me obediently following the market trend, I find myself scrolling those tiny tiles on Instagram instead, reading recipes posted in comments or stories and getting insights into my favourite foodies through fleeting images rather than words. It’s all about instant gratification and although the majority of Insta-recipes are unlikely to be carefully measured, triple tested, even spell-checked (a tedious pet peeve, but seriously, some big trusted names I’m looking at you) they are immediate and appealing and exactly what we – me included – all seem to want in 2019. Continue reading

Double Nut Butter Blondies

Double nut butter blondies - 1

Yesterday I shouted at our two year old. After he repeatedly banged his little sister’s cot with two wooden spoons he was pretending to be ski poles while I attempted to put her down for a nap, I told him he was old enough to know better, shut the door on him and promptly burst into tears. Granted he’ll turn three in February and part of him knew exactly what he was doing, but because he’s so much bigger than Joy I sometimes forget, he’s still so very little. ‘Be quiet’ is a command he can commit to obey for a few minutes max before an exciting distraction sets in and patience is crucial on both our parts if we’re going to survive. In my three short months of parenting two, I’ve discovered that frustration can be high on the list of emotions for all parties involved, but raised tempers rarely improve anything. Certainly not the likelihood of babies to nap. But blondies? I have scientific proof that blondies improve just about everything.  Continue reading

Chocolate Rye Brownie Cookies

Rye Chocolate Brownie Cookies - 4

Move over chocolate chip, chewy oatmeal, crispy ginger . . . these are – hands down – the best cookies I’ve ever made. Tender bellied and crispy edged with the chocolate fudginess befitting only the very best brownie and a unique profile all of their own, these brownie cookies are simply divine. In the past, I’ve toyed with recipes for brownie cookies only to be slightly disappointed, the result falling short of both camps. But these? These you need to make. Continue reading