> The Beesley Buzz: 2019

Eastern spiced - but not spicy - savoury mince recipe: #MeatMatters Challenge #AD


Gosh that title is a bit of a mouthful for this recipe isn't it - "Eastern spiced - but not spicy - savoury mince"! But I guarantee you that when it comes to the eating, this recipe makes the perfect sized mouthfuls for all the family to enjoy.

And it's so quick and easy to make that it has become a family favourite. After a busy day at work I can get home and get this on the table in well under 30 minutes!

The inspiration for this recipe lies in fusion cooking. It has been inspired by Grandad's savoury mince which Richard grew up with in his household, and some of the flavours and spices that my late mum would use in her Persian cooking.

The wonderful thing about her cooking was that it was full of aromatic herbs and spices but without actually being spicy so my kids have enjoyed these kinds of flavours from a young age. Having never met their gran (my mum) I have wanted my children to know a little about their heritage so I make sure we set up the traditional 'haft-seen' for Persian New Year each year in March, and making food that reflects their cultural heritage but in a fuss-free and easy way is another way for them to learn about their heritage.
'haft-seen' (meaning Seven S's) for Persian New Year.
When I say this recipe is easy, I mean it. It is packed with goodness as beef is naturally rich in protein and is a source of iron which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue. You could easily use lamb in place of the beef mince which is also packed full of goodness. For example did you know that:
  • Lamb provides seven vitamins and minerals that support good health and well-being (niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and pantothenic acid). 
  • Beef provides eight essential vitamins and minerals that support good health and well-being (niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, zinc, riboflavin, iron, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus). 
It's also one of those recipes that you won't need to get the scales out for. After all, after a busy day at work the last thing I need is a complicated recipe with weights and measures. So everything is measured in spoons and cups with no weighing scales in sight. 


Ingredients for the savoury mince:
2 tsp rapeseed oil
1 pack of lean mince beef (I used a 400g pack of mince beef but you can use a 500g pack if that's what you find in store or you can choose minced lamb instead - this recipe works brilliantly with either!)
1 apple
1 mug diced frozen onion
1 mug frozen sweetcorn
1 mug frozen peas
3 tablespoons of raisins
1.5 tsp turmeric
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground cumin

Ingredients to serve:
Pitta bread or wraps
Fresh coriander (optional)
Yogurt
Dried mint

Method:
1. Pour the rapeseed oil into a saucepan and add the frozen onion. Fry until golden. You don't need much oil at all just enough to stop the onions from burning.
2. Add the mince meat and using a wooden spoon mix it with the onion. After a few minutes it should start to brown.
3. Next add the spices - turmeric, ground cumin and cinnamon - and mix into the meat.
4. Add in the sweetcorn, peas and 1 chopped apple followed by the raisins.
5. After a few more minutes turn off the heat and it is ready as soon as the meat is cooked thoroughly.
6. To make the mint yogurt to serve with this, it is simply a case of adding a sprinkle of dried mint to plain yogurt.
7. Served with toasted pitta bread cut into pockets and wraps cut into quarters and garnished with coriander if desired.

I love that this dish is packed with flavour from the tasty meat, the flavourful spices and the naturally sweet kick that the apple and sultanas give it that it needs no added salt or sugar at all. The peas and sweetcorn add a really vibrant splash of colour to the dish too making it look fun for the family to enjoy.

My kids absolutely love meals that involve the 'putting together' aspect - so they were thrilled that they got to stuff the pitta pockets themselves with the meat and yogurt dip and likewise for the wraps.



Here's a quick video to show just how much they enjoy this #MeatMatters meal:


And of course I'm a happy mummy because it is being able to make quick and nutritious recipes like this that reduce the "mum guilt" that so many working mums feel - It can be tempting to resort to ready meals and takeaways due to lack of time when we get home from work and need to get a meal on the table quickly. With a recipe like this I know that my kids are getting a balanced tasty meal packed with the nutrients their growing bodies need and it's on the table in under half an hour.


This recipe is an entry for the #MeatMatters Challenge, sponsored by Simply Beef and Lamb. Learn more about the benefits of cooking and eating beef and lamb along with recipe ideas and inspiration here: https://www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk/

I was sent a £10 voucher towards ingredients for this challenge.

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WORD day 2019 - World yOung Rheumatic Diseases day

Today is the first ever WORD day - a day of awareness for children and young people living with rheumatic diseases (including Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis which Miss T has suffered from since the age of 2).

One of the things that I've found myself feeling somewhat angry and upset about is that when I was diagnosed with JIA back in 1987 (or Juvenile Chronic Arthritis as it was called back then), the main thing people would say to me when I told them why I was on crutches was "Arthritis? but I thought only old people got arthritis".

It made it a lonely place to be as a 10 year old with such a lack of understanding and awareness in the world around me.

Fast forward to 2015 and Miss T's diagnosis of JIA. I had truly hoped things would be different in the 3 decades that had elapsed since my own diagnosis. But the main statement we heard time and time again in response to hearing of Miss T's JIA...you guessed it..."But I thought only old people got arthritis!"

That is why the introduction of WORD day is so important. It is not only to help all those suffering day in day out with their condition feel a little less lonely and a little more understood but crucially with greater awareness comes quicker diagnosis and treatment, and receiving prompt treatment can make a huge difference in the longer term outcomes for these children.

In my own case, it was over a year until diagnosis and by then the damage was done resulting in me needing a hip replacement operation. We know Miss T was one of the lucky ones with prompt diagnosis and treatment enabling her to live a much fuller childhood than I had. But JIA still throws its curve balls at us, whether it is the sickness and side-effects that her medication causes, the threat of regular childhood illnesses like chicken pox landing her in hospital, or the ongoing mystery foot issue that no-one seems to be able to explain.


So today we celebrate the bravery of these children, we stand with them to show we care, we shout out to the world that children and young people get rheumatic diseases too!

If you want to show your support, join the #WordDay2019 tweet chat between 6pm and 7pm (GMT) TODAY (18th March 2019) @wordday2019 on twitter.

If you want to find out more about Word day have a read of this brilliant blogpost by Simon Stones.

Juvenile Arthritis Research will also be sharing case studies and stories of children with JIA on twitter throughout the day.

This is the age Miss T was when she got arthritis. 2 years old. Children of all ages can get arthritis and rheumatic diseases. Help spread the WORD.




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Chewy oaty banana bars

After making my healthier flapjack recipe, this recipe was supposed to be another variation on healthy flapjacks.

They turned out far more soft and chewy than planned so I don't think I can call them flapjacks really.

 With no refined sugar, they are sweetened with banana and raisins.
 Ingredients:

250g oats
3 bananas (300g when peeled and mashed)
50g coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Half a tsp bicarbonate of soda
30g cocoa powder
100g dried fruit soaked in 80ml boiling water

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line a baking tin (I used 23cm x 27cm).
2. Mix together the bicarb, cocoa powder and oats.
3. In a separate bowl mash the bananas, add the vanilla extract, coconut oil and the dried fruit which has been soaked for a few minutes in 80ml boiling water (pour it all in including the water).
4. Then mix together the wet and dry ingredients. Press it into the prepared baking tin.
5. Bake in the oven for 25 mins.




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Healthier flapjacks

I love to attempt making healthier versions of my favourite foods. Just over a week ago I got a phonecall at midday from Miss T's school...she'd had a bad fall and injured her ankle quite badly.

When I went to collect her from school during her lunch break she was worried about missing out on dessert...which was flapjacks that day.

We took her piece of flapjack home for her to eat at grandads house that afternoon but it made me realise that I never knew how much she loved flapjack.

I decided to make my own but with a few healthy twists...taking out the refined sugars and replacing butter with coconut oil and rapeseed oil.

Ingredients:

100g coconut oil
400g oats
95g rapeseed oil
80g dessicated coconut
150g raisins, sultanas or dried mixed fruit
100g honey
86g Apple puree

Method:

1) grease and line a baking tray (I used size 27cm x 23cm) and preheat the oven to 180c.
2) In a pan melt together the coconut oil, rapeseed oil, honey and Apple puree. Then add in the oats, dried fruit and dessicated coconut.
3) Mix really well and then press into the baking tray.
4) Bake for 25 minutes at 180c.

When I made this I forgot to add the honey and Apple puree into the oil mixture so I had to add it in after but it still worked out ok.

It made quite a crumbly flapjack so next time I think I'd experiment with more Apple puree, or coconut oil and perhaps without the dessicated coconut because not everyone likes coconut as much as I do.




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Christmas 2018

How are we already in February!!! I was determined to get Christmas 2018 written up before January was out but somehow that didn't happen. Better late than never I suppose! 

As someone who usually hugely dislikes Christmas, I actually enjoyed it this year. Probably because we kept things very low key. Having missed booking a Christmas online grocery slot, I didn't even have to do any Christmas food shopping in advance of Christmas. We just made do with the regular food we had and I'd bought a small turkey crown ages ago to pop in the freezer. My own nutloaf was already cooked and sliced and frozen too all ready for Christmas day.
In the run up to Christmas, Miss T had loved opening the gorgeous little fabric bags on her Evie Michelle advent calendar with a pretty bow in each pocket.


These beautiful bows really were the highlight of our advent in the run up to Christmas! Thank you so much Evie Michelle!!!

D read us the story of "Santa Goes on Strike" - you can read our review here and I can see this becoming an annual tradition to read this book each year.
One of the things I do enjoy about Christmas is making our own family traditions. For example, the kids know that no-one is allowed downstairs on Christmas morning until we've opened stockings upstairs first. So they all pile into our bedroom and open their stockings on Christmas morning. It gives me a few minutes longer in bed too so that's a bonus.

Most years we try to remember to take a family photo of us all. It is quite possibly the only day of the year that we manage to get a photo with us all in it!


We do a bit of present opening in the morning and then more after lunch to spread it out throughout the day.

Daddy cooked amazing yorkshire puds this year...



I like to attempt a homemade dessert when there are no guests to worry about. (Things always go wrong when I try to cook for guests!)

This year Real Handful provided us with the ingredients and recipe for the perfect Christmas dessert. We love what these guys do, their snacking philosophy and you can sense the passion of the family behind these fab snacks. And kindness too - I remember them sending me some get well snacks whilst I was recovering from my hip replacement surgery - How kind is that! 
We actually decided to make two of these desserts - one to share and a mini version too. They are Chocolate dessert bombs made with pannetone, icecream, real handful blood orange burst and chocolate drizzled over them.
Miss T was overwhelmed with some of her Christmas presents - this made us all cry when we saw her cry with happiness.



And then it was all over for another year.
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Guestposting at Britmums

I'm thrilled to have been asked to write another guestpost for Britmums, this time about our decision to home education two of our children.

You can read the guest post here


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Banana and blueberry breakfast muffins (gluten-free, no added sugar)

It seems I've REALLY been into banana muffins lately. We've made some with and without sugar recently but I wanted to go one step further and see how they would turn out with gluten-free flour and using coconut oil in place of butter. 

I'm so pleased with how they turned out - they're quick enough to make for breakfast and healthy enough to eat for brekkie too!
 Ingredients:

1 mashed banana
2 tbsp almond milk
1 egg
40g melted coconut oil
140g free from fairy plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
80g sultanas
55g fresh blueberries (optional)


Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180c. Line a 6 hole muffin tin with muffin cases.

2. In a large bowl mash the banana with a fork, mix in the almond milk and add the egg.

3. Add the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the same bowl along with the melted coconut oil.

4. Finally mix in the sultanas and blueberries.  The blueberries are optional - I had a few that needed using up.

5. Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for around 25 minutes at 180c (or until a skewer comes out clean).



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Banana muffins recipe (No added sugar)

When D came home from school with banana muffins he had made in food tech that tasted amazing, I knew I wanted to make some more but wondered if they would work as well without any added sugar.
So I added an extra banana to the recipe, increased the amount of sultanas and took out the sugar and I think they've turned out well.

Ingredients: (to make 12)

280g self-raising flour
150g raisins
4-6 tbsp milk or water
80g butter (melted)
2 eggs
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 ripe bananas

I mashed the bananas in my Kenwood chef mixer using the K-beater attachment, then added the egg, and milk. I actually forgot to melt the butter first but just beat it well but I think melted butter should work better ideally.

Next I weighed out the dry ingredients and then added them to the wet ingredients and gave it a short mix to get them all mixed together.

Divide into muffin cases and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for around 15 - 18 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

The original recipe including the sugar is as follows:
280g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
4-6 tbsp milk or water
80g melted butter
2 eggs
80g sultanas
2 ripe bananas

Follow the same method of combining wet ingredients together, then dry ingredients together, then mixing the two together.
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Day 5 - Summer Holidays 2018 - National Space Centre - Leicester

Day 5 was the last day of our summer break and it was the day we were heading home. We had noticed that en-route home there was a space centre in Leicester. Little did I realise that we'd spend the whole day there and love it SO much.
It was a little further off the motorway than we thought but it was well worth the detour. The tickets can be upgraded (for no extra charge) to become annual tickets and I would love to have the chance to visit again before our year is out.

I've always had a bit of a fascination with space but hadn't realised just how much I was into it until this visit. Richard had bought me a telescope a few years ago but apart from the odd bit of stargazing I hadn't really done anything else particularly 'space' related in my life. 

I found this place to be totally awesome. In every place I looked I came across the most fascinating facts about space - I was mesmerised.

The tickets include a 3D show in the planetarium and that was incredible too - we did find it a mixture of annoying and funny to have a toddler behind us asking "what's that?" with every new thing that came on screen - but I reminded my kids that they too were that age once and that they too can still be pretty annoying at times.    

J has had a fascination with the book and film, The Martian, recently and so it was fabulous to see the space suit that Matt Damon wore in the film.
There was just so much to see and do that even after spending the entire day there I still felt I had more to see that I hadn't had time to fully enjoy.

The gas show was really educational and fun for the kids to watch.





I would thoroughly recommend this place to all! It certainly was my highlight of our few days away.

Then it was home through buckets of rain on the motorway with my head filled with wonderful space facts.

Previous blogposts:
Day 4 - Alton Towers
Day 2 - Blue John Cavern
Day 1 - Arriving in Staffordshire
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