food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Hands up who is already struggling with lunchboxes? Don’t be shy. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Oh, I see. Quite a few of you… You, in the banana-coloured shirt – oh, that is banana, sorry – sobbing silently and clutching your temples: it’s okay. You are in good company. Almost everyone fears the dreaded lunchbox… And don’t we tell our children that facing our fears makes us stronger?. ..Don’t stand too close to that open window. You’re making me nervous.

I am not going to lie and say “food to glow to the rescue” and then give a magical list of easy recipes that little Harry and Chloe will willingly scoff while simultaneously texting ‘ thank you.’ This is after all a recipe blog, not a fiction-writing blog. What I will offer is a gem of a healthy snack that kids and adults will love, and a few thoughts on feeding children. This could also apply to tricky partners.

For a fair few years my Miss R has been getting her school’s exceptionally good, nutritious lunches. So my role as the meal provider has been somewhat truncated. But, from what I can dimly remember, this five day a week, nine months of the year duty falls into two camps. Either it is seen as a welcome challenge to creativity – devising an ever-changing rota of interesting, healthy and delicious lunches that will not go all science experiment by noon, and also not attract the name-callers (‘Look at Mitt Romney with his foie gras and kumquats’). Bully for them. Or, for about 99% of parents, the filling of the lunchbox is about as dreaded as the filing of the tax form – and that only comes once a year. Hair pulling-out stuff.

The easiest route is to obviously give them exactly what they want, be it a tuna-stuffed wholemeal pitta (it could happen), or more likely a slice of American cheese between two slices of enriched white bread. And there is nothing wrong with occasionally having the latter. I am not a food snob. But we know that, at least until they move out, we are ostensibly in charge. Not only for putting a roof over their heads, moral guidance, safety and love, but also food and nutrition. And I kind of think that food and nutrition gets put on the back burner these days. Not by you, dear reader, otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading this, but by a sizeable chunk of us in the Western world, where ease, volume, ‘value’ for money and blandness is more attractive than what is good for us and actually tastes of something real.

Quite a number of people in my cancer nutrition classes have school-aged children. In among the usual questions about how to tackle treatment-related eating challenges, the issue of feeding families often comes up. And other parents often chip in with good, wise advice. Tips that come up include having the kids help with the shopping list and with some of the prep (once you’ve been seen to do something specifically for them), asking them what seasonal fruit (or whatever) they would like to try that week , or if they want to have a theme – like Caribbean or Italian.

But the biggest tip is giving them a choice. Not just a free choice, but a choice from things that you approve of and are able to easily make/assemble. For instance, you might give as options (leftover) roast chicken wrap with (bottled) salsa, pasta salad with things they like in it, cut up frittata, vegetable pizza slice (on pitta or muffin?), a cheese and tomato sandwich. And it doesn’t have to be traditional lunchbox food – leftovers of what they ate and enjoyed the night before, or even something like chicken noodle soup in a flask may all be accepted. You would know best what  might be acceptable to your child.

Bear in mind textures too as this can often be a stumbling block. Crunchy over slimy wins every time: carrot batons, crisp plums, pitta chips (just snip up wholemeal pittas and bake until dry) with refried beans mixed with ketchup, or a bright veggie dip– that kind of thing.

pea and coriander dip

And another thing I would add is to pick your battles. The quickest way – as you will know – to make a child not want something is to say they have to have it. The more we insist that they have to have wholemeal bread with ‘bits’ in the less likely they are to eat it. Far better to get necessary fibre by adding in another serving of fruit or a portion of cut up crudite vegetables, or even some baked vegetable crisps. Once they get to school it is hard to control what they eat, so make it easier on yourself by being prepared to comprise in offering reasonable choices and then actually letting them choose.

Food to glow isn’t specifically aimed at providing advice to families so I won’t carry on too much more in this vein. Especially because there are some wonderful websites and blogs out there with lots of different ideas for most any family situation you can think of. Here is a small selection of links to go to if you are one of the many for whom mornings are an Olympic-sized headache.

Healthier Lunch Boxes – UK government/health promotion guidance for schools on helping parents and carers provide better lunch boxes – links to recipes

Netmums – lots of tips in this link

Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters – from

Lunch Box Ideas for Fussy Eaters –  from the blog

Back to School Breakfast and Lunch Favorites – from the Spicy RD

And speaking of Olympics, I have been trying very hard not to mention this, but I know that some of you read this not (just) for the recipes but for a bit of family news. And I actually have some for once. Here goes: yesterday my Mr A was one of eight people in the whole of Scotland to be a torchbearer for the London 2012 Paralympics. He was nominated by a very kind and inspiring person who wanted to recognise the work of Maggies’ Cancer Caring Centres in transforming the lives of those living with a cancer diagnosis. In the nearly 16 years since Maggie’s first started it has grown into an internationally-recognised and respected organisation supporting those with cancer and their families. This nomination and recognition is greatly appreciated not only by Andrew but also by all of the incredibly dedicated, compassionate and hugely effective people who work and volunteer at these special places. I am sure that while being embarrassed that I have highlighted this honour, he will be pleased to let everyone know that Maggies’ Cancer Caring Centres has been recognised in such a unique way.

In the lead up to the Paralympic Games we been made aware of some of the truly inspiring stories and sacrifices behind the success of the athletes that will be competing in a few days’ time, and met some of the parents and former athletes themselves. Talk about inspiring! It has been a huge pleasure for Miss R and me to have been caught up in the slipstream of pre-Paralympic excitement. But I know we haven’t seen anything yet. We are really looking forward to what will be a fantastic few weeks of sport and endeavour. Good luck to all of the competitors and their families. And well done Mr A. Miss R and I couldn’t be prouder.

The London 2012 Paralympics – Scotland Flame Festival

And before I start crying on my keyboard here’s the recipe…

Jam and Almond Macaroon Bites

Last Year: Late Summer Salad and Triple Tomato Soup; Lemony Courgette and Fine Bean Tagliatelle in Herbed Creme Fraiche

Miss R’s Track of the Week: “Let Me Go” by Maverick Sabre – amazing, unique voice
Four ingredients are all it takes to make these deceptively delicious and satisfying morsels. Naturally gluten-free and full of protein, make up these mini tarts for a perfect lunchbox and pick-me-up treat. Perfect for those times when only something sweet will do. For a dessert version, double the ingredients, press into small tartlet cases and serve with a dollop of unsweetened freshly whipped cream and some fresh berries. 
120g (4 oz) whole almonds, ground in a food processor to a fine crumb OR ready-ground almonds/almond meal (you could use other nuts)
75g (2.5 oz)coconut palm sugar OR golden caster/fine sugar
1 room temperature egg white, whisked by hand for one minute
Tart-sweet jam, preferably homemade
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Toss together the sugar and almond meal, then vigorously fold in the beaten egg white, squishing it with your fingers if necessary to make a cohesive ‘dough’. Using lightly wet hands roll the dough into 15 gram/1 tablespoon balls, lightly flatten, and using your thumb make a little hollow. Fill the hollow with a small amount of jam and place each filled tartlet bite onto a baking paper-lined baking tray. Bake them for 8-10 minutes, or until uniformly golden. If the macaroon bites have cracked a bit you can press them back into shape with a spoon before they firm up. Cool on a wire rack. These are at their crispy yet yielding best on the day they are made, but are just as tasty for up to four days. Makes about 20 bites.

30 thoughts on “Jam and Almond Macaroon Bites

  1. Fantastic to see Mr.A with the Paralympic torch, a great picture and a truly inspiring man along with the rest of his colleagues at the fantastic Maggies Centres. Bravo!
    As for the recipe, well trust you to be so current! I was at a live recording of BBC’s Kitchen Cabinet yesterday and they were talking about Scottish Macaroons (quite a different thing actually as they are made with mashed potatoes and icing sugar as you will know) but I love the idea of making this lovely looking fusion of jam tarts & macaroons – they would certainly tick my cuppa and ‘treat’ box very well, thank you.

    1. Ooh, so jealous of you being at the BBC show, but at least I had a good excuse ;-). Once you get your jar of jam can you make these and let me know how the boys like them? Miss R loves them! PS lovely to see you and Will in all your finery on Saturday. Fun night x

  2. Ann says:

    These look so appetising and Mr A manages to look so macho in that polyester outfit! No wonder someone asked if he was ‘famous’.

  3. jackiearmstrong says:

    Well done to
    Andy for taking the torch for the Paralympic`s good pic. Hope you all well.

    1. We are indeed. The event went very well – no rain until the last wee bit. Thanks for stopping by Jackie

  4. I love your suggestion of letting kids choose what they want from healthy choices you give them. Giving them ownership of what they want to eat within those set parameters sets them up to actually enjoy their healthy choices. Love it. And the cookies look wonderful!

    1. I think it is very important for children to get experience of making decisions in a ‘safe’ way, and food decisions are a good way to start. And makes life easier for parents too 😀 It worked for us

  5. Poppy says:

    Awww…Mr. A looks great. Good luck with the games.

    1. Thanks Poppy. They start on Wednesday and I am looking forward to learning about the different sports – the wheelchair rugby looks well scary though! As well as medics on stand by they also have mechanics to sort their heavy-duty chairs. Puts American footballers and all their padding to shame 😀

  6. Brandi says:

    What a great story about being selected as a torchbearer! Cookies look delicious! I love using almond in my cookies or anything for that matter!

    1. Almonds get a lot of use in my kitchen. I am just doing some gluten free brownies with almond as the binding protein. Glad you like the story. And I hope you catch some of the Games too.

  7. Looks like DELICIOUS!
    Nice pictures too…

    1. Thanks!It was hard to keep enough for the photos as not only were my family interested, so were my hens – they were peeping through the window

  8. First off, how cool that Mr. A got to be a torchbearer for the Paralympics!! Second, I would love to have a cup of tea and a couple of these delicious cookies with you right now. Third, thanks so much for sharing my back-to-school breakfast and lunch post!! And, fourth, thank you so much for the sweet comment you left on my blog-it truly meant a lot to me! xo

    1. A gigantic thank you Miss EA. I think we have a mutual appreciation society going! We need a virtual coffee morning 😀

  9. How very cool to be involved in the torch bearing of the flame. As an Atlanta Gal, it was fun to watch another city (London) struggle / succeed / be watched / be so darn great at pulling off their turn at the Olympics. We had the pleasure of being watched by the world in 1996, and it proved to be a great start to much growth in our fair city. What a special time it must have been for you guys, being involved on that level! Congrats! (and love the cookie idea…will have to try them soon.)

    1. Yeah it is pretty cool. We have learned so much about all the hard work that goes into not only the training for athletes, but also all of behind the scenes. I hope the Paralympic Games get decent coverage in the US. Thank you for your kind comment Susan

  10. Very, very cool to be asked to carry the torch, especially given the good work it was in recognition of – that the job comes with a spiffy outfit is just a bonus. I’m sure he appreciated the macaroons after the workout. They look amazing.

    1. He’s a fraud really. He only had to walk a few hundred feet then light the next torch (known as ‘kissing’) so no snacks needed!

  11. ModernAlice says:

    These sound absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to make this as a quick and easy treat this weekend to being back to school after labor day for my roommates!

    1. Good luck with the new school year 🙂

  12. Urvashi Roe says:

    Lovely post Kelly and some nice ideas to think about as the children are going back one week one school meals and one week off. You might remember my exasperation earlier this year!

    I love these jammy macaroons too. My boss gave me some jam so I might have to make these tonight and take them into work!

  13. Natalie Ward says:

    Congratulations Mr A on the torch thing that’s amazing! I have to admit to feeling a bit left out over here with all the olympic stuff going on in my homeland. I have watched it and continue to, with complete joy, a little jealousy and immense pride! These little thumprints look delicious and so quick, could you sub in honey for the sugar and still be successful do you think?

    1. They might be a touch on the moist side, but you could try. Or use brown sugar. Thanks for your sweet comment. We are boxing between Diamond League athletics and Paralympics coverage – wall-to-wall sports!

  14. blogonvaal says:

    Some great ideas for kids’ snacks when they visit the Riviera on Vaal Hotel and Country Club with their families – thanks!

  15. you are a master in baking!! These look so good!!

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