Posts tagged ‘summer’

August 13, 2013

The Perfect Picnic

by lrmetcalfe

picnic

The Great British Picnic- a wonderful accompaniment to a summer outing in the UK, but how many times do you find yourself wanting more than the usual soggy sandwich?

There are so many healthy, delicious picnic ideas out there you could try. Here is a collection of my favourites:

 

Panzanella

Ingredients

700g very ripe, tomatoes

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar

½ a loaf slightly stale s bread (300-400g), torn into chunks

About 25 black olives

1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into thick half-moons

1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced

1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed

A handful of basil leaves, torn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Tip them into a sieve and push through. Discard the skin and pips. Add the oil, vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper to the tomato juice to make a dressing.

2. Put the bread in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Add the olives, cucumber, red onion, capers and basil. Toss everything together well with your hands. Leave for 20 minutes and serve or pack up in lunchboxes for your picnic.

 

Minty Coleslaw

This quick, easy and fresh coleslaw recipe, goes well on crusty rolls with ham or cheese.

Ingredients

½ red cabbage, finely shredded

½ white cabbage, finely shredded

½ onion, skinned and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely shredded

6 tbsp natural yoghurt

3 tbsp mint jelly

Black pepper

1. Mix the yoghurt and mint jelly in a large bowl.

2. Add the vegetables and mix well, if the yoghurt doesn’t coat the vegetables, add more yoghurt and mint jelly.

3. Season with black pepper to taste.

 

Mini pitta pizzas

Great for kids, they can make their own combinations and add their favourite toppings.

Makes 8 mini pizzas

Ingredients

4 Pitta breads, chopped into halves

Tomato puree

50g cheddar cheese

Topping ideas

  • Mozarella Cheese, Parmesan Cheese
  • Tuna, prawns
  • Sweetcorn, Jalapenos, Peppers, Onion, Chilli, Olives, Capers, Cherry Tomatoes, Mushrooms
  • Chorizo, Ham, Chicken, Pepperami, Bacon, Turkey
  • Pineapple
  • Boiled egg

1. Heat oven to 200C and put a baking tray inside to heat up. Spread each pitta with 1 tsp purée, add your favourite toppings and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

2. Place the pittas on the tray and bake for 10 mins until the pittas are crisp and the cheese has melted. Leave to cool and pack in lunchboxes for your picnic.

 

Fruity Kebabs

You can get as creative as you want with these fruity kebabs, however I love this combination, it can also be drizzled with honey and grilled on a barbeque for a summer pudding.

Ingredients

Mango, nectarine,pineapple, banana, strawberries.

1. Soak skewers in cold water for an hour.

2. Cut the fruit into chunks, thread the fruits onto the skewers, alternating the different types.

August 5, 2013

Fun in the Sun

by lrmetcalfe

ImageTwo weeks in to the summer holidays- are you scratching your head as to fun things you can do with your children? I thought I would give you a few ‘holistic ideas’ of healthy ways you can have fun, which will make a difference to your health or to the environment.

Home-made ice lollies

Who needs the ice cream van? Make your own healthy summer ice lollies, easy to do and cheap to make, these refreshing lollies are great for hot summer afternoons. Just pick up a cheap lolly mould and save some old lolly sticks and get started. The possibilities are endless, but here are some of my favourites:

Bananarama Lolly- Peel a banana cut in half. Push a lolly stick into the cut end and dip the pointed ends in a little melted chocolate, roll in desiccated coconut, hundreds & thousands or chopped nuts. Leave on a plate until the chocolate has set, then put in the freezer overnight.

Strawberry Yoghurt- In a blender, whizz up some strawberries with some natural or strawberry yoghurt. Pour into lolly moulds and leave to freeze overnight.

Juicy Orange- Pour in your favourite breakfast juice to a lolly mould, my favourite is orange, but this would work with lots of different juices. Freeze overnight.

Garden camping

OK I love camping, I know I may be in the minority here, but it’s great fun for kids and nothing is better than waking up to the sounds of birds chirping. Take the expense and hassle out of the experience my camping in the garden.

You could make a night of it; have a barbeque, toast marshmallows, sing campfire songs and settle down to a night under the stars. The next morning you have the added luxury that camping away from home is sorely lacking- the comfort of your own bath and loo!

Your garden becomes a new environment at night, one many of us may not have discovered before. I found that we had a resident toad in our garden, when we slept outside during the recent heat wave.  (Don’t worry it didn’t hop in to my sleeping bag, we heard a strange noise coming from the pond and I looked it up online the next day!)

From 9th-11th August, the RSPB are holding a fundraising event, raise money for conservation by sleeping outside, in their ‘Big Wild Sleepout’. For more information visit: www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/sleepout

‘Spring’ clean

OK, so it may be a little late for ‘spring’ cleaning, but a good clear out is very therapeutic and is a great activity for those rainy summer days.

Get the kids to sort through their old toys by playing ‘trash or treasure’, creating piles of unused and loved items. Any toys that are in good working order can be sold on eBay or at car boots, given to charity, or check out ‘Freecycle’, a swapping website, where you can advertise unwanted items to other like-minded recyclers.

You could also make your own natural cleaning products:

Multi-purpose spray- Fill a spray bottle with water until it’s nearly full. Fill the remainder of the bottle with distilled white vinegar and add a small amount of detergent and lemon juice. Shake well.  Use on countertops, sinks, stoves, floors, and toilets.

Air freshener- Add lemon or tea tree essential oil to some cheap vodka and pour into a spritzer bottle, squirt for a fresh, sweet smelling home.

Get on your bike

I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of cycling, many of us take our children to the park to ride their bikes, but do we ride with them?

Look for a cheap bike, if you don’t have one already, often you can pick one up second hand, or borrow a neighbours. Pack a picnic and set off on your bike for the day.

Cycling is a great form of exercise, its low-impact, so it’s easier on your joints, and gives you the chance to get out into the great outdoors.

Check out the national trust website for organised family bike rides, through picturesque settings all over the UK. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/activities/cycling

 

Create a wildlife haven in your garden

Make a wood pile- A wood pile is a great way to attract bugs and amphibians to your garden. Leave a pile of logs, garden cuttings and dead branches in one corner, preferably in a shady area. Fungi may start to grow on your rotting wood this is great for wildlife; it makes good food for slugs and snails which in turn attracts hedgehogs and garden birds.

Feed the birds- You can do this all year round, set up a bird table or bird feeders near to trees and hedges. You don’t have to spend lots of money on bird food. Birds will enjoy many of our kitchen leftovers, including: plain cakes, potatoes, stale bread, rice, soft fruits, apple cores and grated cheese.

You could even make your own bird feeder by pouring melted lard onto a mixture of seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oats, cheese and cake. Stir well in a bowl and allow it to set in a container, an empty coconut shell for instance. Place on your bird table when set.

Leaving an area of your lawn uncut, attracts insects, which provide food for birds.

I hope I have given you some new fun ideas for those long summer days!

June 29, 2013

Fruity Fun

by lrmetcalfe

berriesWhen I was younger every summer holiday we would go fruit picking. My sister and I loved this cheap and fun day out. We would drive to a local fruit farm, pick and eat our way through a field full of strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries and blueberries, coming home to make jam in my mum’s giant jam pot.

The second ‘fruitful’ event of the summer would be picking the yellow plums from the tree in our garden. As the summer holidays wound on, the bees and wasps would start to circle the tree and mum and dad would sigh and say- ‘it’s time to pick the plums’. It was their most dreaded chore but my sister and my favourite treat; we would use the stepladder to climb on top of the roof of the shed and teeter on the edge stripping the plums from the boughs of the tree. Mum and dad were down below catching the plums in bowls and constantly shouting ‘be careful!’

That night mum would stew the plums and we would have plums drizzled with natural yoghurt and honey for pudding. Yum yum!

These two fruity summer memories remind me that soon these delightful summer berries are coming into season. Not just a delicious indulgence, berries are an excellent source of Vitamin C, Bioflavanoids, Potassium, Folic Acid, Antioxidants and Fibre, so here are some yummy summer berry recipes for you to enjoy:

Super Berry Smoothie

Banana

150g strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries

3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt

Put all the ingredients in a blender, whizz until smooth, add a little milk if the mixture isn’t blending well. Serve over ice in a tall glass, alternatively pour into ice-lolly molds and freeze.

Blueberry  Pancakes with fruit compote and yoghurt

For pancakes

100g blueberries

175g self-raising wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg

100ml milk

A little olive oil

For the compote

300g mixed summer berries

1 tbsp. caster sugar

1. Place the berries in a saucepan with a little water, simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until they soften. Sweeten to taste with the sugar. Leave to one side.

2. Now make the pancakes. Tip the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and mix well.

3. Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg, then gradually mix the egg into the flour, adding the milk gradually to make a soft batter. Then stir in the blueberries.

4. Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the batter in heaped tablespoonsful, well apart to allow them to spread. When bubbles appear on the surface, flip the pancakes over and cook until light golden.

5. Cook all the pancakes and keep them warm.

6. Serve 2-3 pancakes with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt and the compote.

 

Strawberry Salsa

100g strawberries, chopped

1 small avocado, chopped

Half a small red onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh corriander, chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

Serve with tortilla chips or at summer barbeques with pork, chicken or fish.

Raspberry Sorbet

175g granulated sugar

250ml water

juice of ½ lemon

450g raspberries

1. Place the sugar in a pan with the water. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then boil for 1 minute until the mixture is slightly syrupy. Pour into a bowl, add the lemon juice then cool.

2. Press the raspberries through a sieve, then pour the sugar syrup over the pips in the sieve to extract as much juice as possible. Pour the mixture into a shallow container and put in the freezer.

3. After 2 hours take out and break up the ice crystals with a fork, then return to the freezer for another 2 hours. Continue to break up the ice every hour until the mixture is firm. Move the container to the fridge 30 minutes before serving.