As a big family growing up, healthy food was an important focus of daily life. Food was always made from scratch and from a young age we all got involved. As a result my siblings are all great experimental cooks and my parents are still tirelessly growing, pickling, stewing, baking and fermenting their own food.
Creativity in the kitchen is a big part of my family life and the kids (Ralph 6 and Kitty 4) get stuck in with helping on a daily bases. They're adept with a pasta machine, chopping, grating and juicing, can crack eggs, judge and make pancake batter and are great at recognising flavours from spices and herbs in their food. For me, its important to pass down the enjoyment, fun and good health that food can bring.
We generally eat supper as a family and are all good eaters with a zest for hot and flavoursome food. That said, the food we make is child friendly and mostly vegan. Ralph has gone off dairy in the last couple of years and with Kitty being a 'dairy queen' she is able to add yogurt or grate cheese onto some meals. I think they probably eat well because I'm always saying things like 'eat the courgettes; you chopped those ones...' it gives them a better connection with what's on their plate.
Spring Noodle Salad- Feeds 4
I love Vietnamese spring rolls, this is like a deconstructed salad version, the noodles, Tofu, herbs, and dressing make a great base. From there you can play with the raw ingredients. Add avocado, seeds, sprouted pulses and some chilli to spice it up. It's filling and nutritious; perfect to stand alone as a lunch or for supper. There's always a fight for the lumps of peanut butter, to avoid, make sure you mix well!
300g Firm Tofu
1 tbs Honey (can omit for a vegan version)
2 tbs Tamari
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 Lemon
4 Spring onion
1 Red Pepper
1 Large Carrot
Small bag baby Spinach
Small bunch Fresh Coriander, Mint and Basil
50g peanuts (salted or not)
Rice Noodles 200-300g (depending on packet size) Flat preferable
3 tbs Tamari
3 tbs Olive Oil
3 tbs Tahini
2 tbs Peanut Butter
1 tbs Vinegar Cider or Apple
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1tbs Honey (omit for a vegan version)
Juice of 2 Limes
2 inch Ginger
Cut the tofu into 1'' cubes and marinade in soy sauce, honey, grated garlic, lemon juice and black pepper, leave till later.
Finely slice the red pepper, cue and spring onions in 3'' sticks. Using a potato peeler, peel the whole carrot into ribbons.
Wash the spinach and fresh herbs, and roughly cut up the fresh herbs.
Toast the peanuts in a frying pan (no oil) for a few mins and then lightly bash with a rolling pin in a tea cloth
Prep the rice noodles as per packet instructions
Fry Tofu in non-stick pan with no oil for 5-10 mins. Until juice has evaporated and some edges crisp up.
Mix all ingredients in a large open salad bowl once noodles and Tofu have cooled.
Dressing; Grate the ginger, add all other ingredients to a large glass jar and shake well (with lid on). Or blitz it in a small blender, nutribullet or similar. Add a little water if its getting to thick for pouring. Pour over salad and carefully mix in.
Serve at room temperature in open bowls.
Ella lives in Sussex with her husband and two young kids. After 10 years as a fashion designer she changed her lifestyle to bring up the children. She has a small start-up company with a friend selling children’s Teepees. Currently they’re building a house from scratch, grand designs style. Being a creative person; producing healthy family meals is simply an extension of this. There are, of course some creative culinary disasters along the way...