The secret to easy-going cooking with a toddler clamped to your leg and a baby strapped to your chest
“Come on, Amelia! Elliot grabs his balancing sister by the hand: let’s play together, I’ve missed you!” No, this isn’t a scene from Seventh Heaven (I’m a nineties girl!) or Little house on the prairie (I was named after the main character), it really is true life at our house… most of the time… ok…sometimes. On days like these I prepare dinner and delight in watching my two little ones play together and dream of all the additions to our family we could still make: a baby boy, a little girl, if we’re lucky twins!
Stress free evenings
I picture the idyllic setting of Elliot and Amelia wearing flowers in their hair and skipping around a bassinet with cooing twins playfully kicking their legs. While I assemble the fresh, chopped vegetables, I feel like an amazing mom because – at risk of sounding very unlike the feminist I really am – I’m going to be able to serve my husband a wholesome dinner by the time he’s home from work! On these whimsical summer evenings everyone in the family finishes their plate and we have a relaxed stroll around the corner for ice-cream to then start the kids' bed time routine in perfect harmony.
Help, I can’t get dinner served!
So these afterschool moments are real but they seem very distant on days when I stand behind the kitchen island and watch the two hair-pulling tyrants we’ve created in terror: they’re covered in snot from bawling all afternoon and aimlessly tripping over each other. They’re tired from having been away from home all day and it’s quite the balancing act to keep them satisfied. A stumble, a broken cracker, a spilt drink… it doesn’t take much to set them off in a frenzy.
I count my blessings for contraception
Five minutes later, I’m struggling to chop a zucchini because a howling toddler is pulling my pants down to my knees and Amelia’s head is dangerously swinging back in the carrier toward the cutting board, while she arches her back and wails in despair. She’s all over the place: she doesn’t want to stand but won’t tolerate being held either. I take a deep breath, count my blessings for contraception, and want to bend down to Elliot to give him one more kill-with-kindness approach, when Amelia viciously head-butts me a bleeding nose. To read about what happens then – go to my blog about swearing like a sailor since I’ve become a mom.(https://mommoiselle.com/home/2018/5/10/bla) This is life with kids,… And I can’t make these moments go away entirely but, I do have some tips to keep your sanity.
Tip 1: Choose veggies that require a minimum of peeling, deseeding and chopping
Since I’ve become a mom, carrots have become fancy dinner time vegetables and so have leeks and beets. Anything that requires peeling, extensive rinsing or deseeding has been kicked off of our recipe list. Instead I always have veggies in the house like avocados, mushrooms, zucchinis, eggplants and sweet potatoes. Instead of using leeks I like using spring onions because after having rinsed them quickly, it’s only a matter of chopping and stir-frying them. I’m also a big fan of butternuts, although the cutting and deseeding they require are a downside, they do keep long and are easy to prepare. I like to cut them in big slices, sprinkle them with oil and herbs and roast them in the oven for example. Sweet potatoes are our quick veggie fix: we prick a few holes in them and pop them in the microwave for 8 mins (for big ones - flip halfway through). Quick and easy.
Tip 2: Always have veggies in the freezer
When we moved from the apartment to our house, the first thing we did was buy a big freezer for the garage. It is always stocked with fresh vegetables, homemade soup and left-overs. I often use frozen veggies for Amelia’s babyfood (they’re said to contain more vitamins than fresh vegetables so no mommy guilt here) and for soup. In other dishes I do prefer fresh veggies because of the difference in taste but our freezer is always crammed with frozen peas, cut onion and garlic (huge time saver!), carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
Tip 3: Go for recipes that don’t need your constant attention
I prefer recipes that don’t need my constant attention. I’m interrupted every few minutes and would rather play with the kids than hover over the cooker. That’s why we often make oven dishes. I’ll cut up some veggies and roast them in the oven. My go-to herbs are either paprika and garlic with olive oil or I’ll opt for the Asian touch and sprinkle them with soy sauce, oyster sauce and brown sugar. Toss and pop in the oven. Then I have 40 minutes to devote my complete attention to the kids. I also couldn’t go without my La Creuset sauce pan. It’s so easy to combine a few veggies with some tomato sauce and letting the stew simmer. After it’s just a matter of combining the veggies with a pasta, rice or quinoa of some kind. Oh sh*t! I forgot to prepare the rice! This happens to me all the time! So I was psyched when Bosto.be approached me to try out their 90 second microwave rice.
Tip 4: Bosto.be microwave rice
In me the rice brand recognized a busy mom of two struggling to get a healthy dinner served (gee thanks!) so they let me try out their microwavable rice bowls. I was immediately hooked. Their basmati, quinoa and brown rice bowls are right up my alley. Gone are the days I forgot to cook rice and had to try keeping the kids from eating for another twenty (or plus!) minutes! (Rocky Horror Show, people!) Now I just pop these in the microwave for 90 sec, done! The kids are crazy about the sweet coconut-limegrass flavor and B. and I love the ginger-cilantro bowl. I was happy to find out that they are completely additive free and natural. Next time I’m about to call B in defeat and beg him to pick up take-away I’ll think again and whip up a quick, healthy dinner with these. I’ll be sure to always keep some Bosto stocked in our pantry! I love trying out new things to make mommy life easier and am planning on reviewing more products for you so I want you to know I will only endorse brands I truly believe in!
Tip 5: Why not become a flexitarian?
You might have noticed I don’ t mention any meat in this article, that’s because I consider myself a flexitarian, which actually is just a fancy word for hypocritical vegetarian. We enjoy meat once in a while at our parents’ or when we’re eating out but don’t buy meat ourselves. A time-saver and good for the environment so maybe you could consider something like "meatless Mondays"? Obviously you could easily stir-fry some ginger-curry chicken to go with the recipes mentioned in the above.
All of us moms have their own tips and tricks to deal with endless, strenuous evenings. I would love to hear what works at your house! Let’s share tips on instagram, see you on @mommoiselle_com!