I am writing this at 5 am in the morning. Sadly, it’s not because I am a relentlessly efficient writer, but my toddler has a heavy cold. I have finally got her back to sleep, but my brain is now stuck in overdrive. I know I am going to pay for it, later on, today (probably about 10 am – but that’s why Paw Patrol was invented). I will be relying on the foods below to get through the day and I thought they would help you too.
Oats are slow-release, so they warm and fill you up, without that annoying sugar spike you would get from commercial cereal. After a really awful night, I treat myself to luxury porridge, with a few other super-boosting ingredients.
Makes two small bowls or one large. Total time: 5 minutes.
You will need:
- a cup of porridge oats
- a cup of milk (or your preferred substitute)
- a drop of vanilla flavouring
- a small handful of nuts – preferably flaked almonds
- three squares of dark chocolate (grated, chopped or bashed with a rolling pin by a child).
- A dollop of plain yoghurt or creme freche.
- Fruit (optional, but strawberries and bananas both work well)
Simply pour the oats and milk into a saucepan on high heat. Add the vanilla. Stir continuously to avoid the milk sticking to the bottom and burning. I like my porridge quite thick, so I wait until it’s bubbling before taking it off the stove. Add the nuts, chocolate, fruit and yoghurt on the side. It takes less than five minutes in total and you have enough for two small bowls or one large one.
The best bit? This breakfast is perfect for weight loss as you won’t feel the urge to snack again until lunch. Just keep your liquid intake up
Baked, scrambled or boiled, these are another slow-release winner. I make eggy toast on cold days when the kids refuse to leave their beds as the ultimate comfort food. I also hard-boil a few extra as snacks for the bad days, as they keep for up to a week in the fridge (just write the date on them to keep track)
Reach for the fruit bowl instead of the biscuit barrel. Oranges give you a quick boost, just by themselves with the vitamin C goodness. Dip them in dark chocolate for an extra hit. The same applies to bananas if you are planning to run around soft play or do the school-run dash in the rain.
Almost any type of fish works, but if you are knackered and on a budget (which pretty much sums up maternity leave), tinned tuna is your friend. It has fatty acid, B vitamins and protein. Mix it with sweetcorn, salad and a baked potato for a low-faff lunch. You can actually feel it working within half-an-hour of eating.
5. Beans, Beans, Beans!
You have made it to the end of the day and you can practically taste bedtime. But first, you need to get tea out of the way, at a time when everyone is cranky. It’s time to grab the beans and throw together a bean and sausage traybake, offering you some energy-boosting calcium, potassium and iron.
Sausage and Bean Bake
Feeds four. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 25 minutes.
You will need:
- A pack of 8 sausages
- 2 tins of low-sugar baked beans
- 1 onion (or one large handful of frozen, chopped onion)
- 1 sliced pepper (or one large frozen, chopped handful).
- 1 small pack of new potatoes, quartered or sliced.
- 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce.
Note: this is a forgiving recipe and you can easily substitute ingredients. I have swapped the pepper for mushrooms, new potatoes for sweet potatoes and baked beans for lentils or butter beans with a tin of chopped tomatoes.
I also use a lot of pre-chopped, frozen food. I prefer to avoid sharp knives when tired, especially when you have a screaming child hanging off your leg.
- Preheat the oven to 220 oc or Gas mark 7.
- Brown the sausages. Chop up the onion and pepper if you need to. Quarter the new potatoes.
- Set aside the sausages. Gently fry the onion, pepper and potatoes together, briefly. Open the baked beans.
- Mix everything together into the baking pan. Shake the Worcester sauce over the top.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Good luck and get an early night.