Hello! I'm Camilla. I'm a trained chef, lawyer and mum of three, living as a British expat in Qatar.
I'm passionate about good food and nutrition and I blog to share the recipes I create that are both vegan and gluten-free but also super tasty and healthy too!
I trained at London's prestigious Leiths School of Food and Wine and I've been gluten-free for over ten years and, more recently, vegan too. My recipes are tried and tested by my fiercest critics - my three children!
Gluten-Free and Vegan
I was a dab-hand at converting recipes to be gluten-free (after a decade of practice), but the move to veganism really threw me! Despite endless searching on the internet, often the good recipes I found were either gluten free or vegan, but not both. So, with a steep learning curve, I decided to experiment and create my own recipes instead, just like I did when I first went gluten-free. This blog is my way of recording the best recipes I've created so that I can easily refer back to them and hopefully others will enjoy using this resource too!
Healthy Family Food
Passionate about good food being a route to good health, I try to provide meals for my family that maximize nutrition while also being interesting and tasty enough to be accepted by even the pickiest members of the family! Balancing the need for vegetables with the different likes and dislikes of each child is a tricky business at the best of times but especially when you are a working mum with a busy schedule! In my first ten years of parenting, I have read so many books about food and children and I've come up with a few "tricks of the trade"!
- Hide the least-liked vegetables wherever possible (see hidden veg veggie bolognese recipe) and sometimes in unexpected places! (see my recipe for chocolate beetroot brownies that are an absolute favourite with my children even though they know that they contain their most hated vegetable, beetroot!).
- If you hide vegetables, be sure to tell your children that they have eaten those vegetables so that they know it wasn't so bad after all. Don't tell them in a way that they feel tricked but explain that they can either eat those vegetables (that they don't like) as a separate portion on their own or in the meal that you served where they hardly taste them and hardly know they're there. This really works especially if you do sometimes serve the vegetable as its own side portion (my children feel this way about green beans for some reason but they love the Chinese Green Beans with Tempeh because it's in a yummy sauce!)
- Don't try to make them be healthy all the time! I work on the 80:20 rule - try to make sure they eat as healthily as possible most of the time at home and then let them eat whatever others are eating while they're out. That way they don't feel like they're missing out or resent the healthy eating.
- Talk to your children about why healthy eating is good and lead by example. I think it's very important to eat with your kids as often as possible and try to eat the same food - maybe with a bit of adapting. We often adapt by adding a salad for the parents or doing a separate portion that's cooked with chilli for the adults (or just add chilli sauce to our portions for the easier option!).
- Serve something they love alongside the thing you want them to try that you think there might be some resistance to. For us, this means always serving poppadoms and mango chutney with curry. The kids used to hate curry but now they associate curry nights with their beloved poppadoms and mango chutney so now they love curry too! Favourites in our house are the Family-Friendly Mung Bean Curry or the Indonesian Jackfruit Curry, both of which are not spicy but are super tasty!
I hope that's helpful to anyone who might be struggling with getting their kids to eat healthy foods. I am by no means an expert, but with three children and a lot of reading and trial and error on my part, these are the tricks that I have learnt and that I thought I'd share!
My Chef Training
I trained as a chef in 2006-7 at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London, UK. It was before I'd had children and after I'd been working all hours as a lawyer for a few years. It was a complete life-changer and one of the best years of my life!
After graduating from Leiths, I started an eco-friendly food business with a fellow Leiths graduate. Day and night, we recipe tested and cooked huge batches of chutneys, jams and biscuits. A world away from my previous life as a lawyer, I was in my little version of heaven.
When I moved abroad, I ended up returning to being a lawyer but I've never lost my passion for food and now, a few children later, and thousands of meals and recipe testing hours later, I've decided to share my passion with you in this blog.
With a busy schedule, most of my cooking is done against the clock arriving home from after-school clubs with cranky children impatiently asking what’s for supper. Time is most definitely "of the essence"! (a little in-joke for any lawyers reading this) In contrast to my life as a young lawyer, nowadays, it’s less about fancy cooking to impress, and more about providing healthy meals for my family and relaxed convivial food to feed friends and their kids when they come to visit.
My Nutrition Beliefs
Having always been interested in nutrition and followed all the fads and trends, over the years I have developed my way of eating according to the following principles:
- Wholefoods – I firmly believe in cutting out heavily processed foods and use mainly wholefoods in my cooking.
- Gluten free – After years of digestive issues, I went gluten-free ten years ago and never looked back. The rest of the family have no problem with gluten so I occasionally cook gluten for them but, for ease and convenience, my cooking is mainly gluten-free so that we can all eat the same meal.
- Maximize vegetables – I try to squeeze in as many vegetables as possible into each meal, often resorting to hiding the “difficult” vegetables so that they are not rejected.
- Limit meat and dairy – In an effort to help the environment and avoid animal suffering, I only eat vegan food. The rest of my family haven’t quite followed suit so I do provide a little bit of meat, fish and dairy for them but with the aim to slowly transition them to a whole food plant based diet eventually...
- Limit refined sugar - I try to limit sugar full stop but kids love treats so when I do make sweet treats for them, I try to use a less refined type of sugar like dark muscovado sugar, blackstrap molasses, rapadura or maple syrup or, when using in sauces or savoury food, I tend to use a little brown rice syrup.
- Avoid processed foods and unhealthy fats - we rarely eat processed foods at home as I love cooking and so I find it quite easy to cook from scratch. I totally understand that's not the same for everyone though! I am also a bit of a kitchen gadget collector so I do have a lot of equipment that makes this much easier for me (Thermomix is my godsend!).