Super Soups for lunch time warmth

Laksa soup 1001 ways

As the light begins to darken all I can think of are piping hot heart-warming soups. My kids do quite like soups as well, luckily.  And soups are simple. Naturally, the secret of good tasty food  is using the best, the freshest and if possible organically grown products. As many a chef will tell you – it’s 75 % ingredients and the rest is reading a recipe. Our family favourites are simple tomato soup with slow roasted tomatoes (and a swirl of sour cream) and a mexican soup with red lentils served with a heated tortilla, coriander, finely chopped spring onions and a smattering of cummin cheese.

Most kids can handle a small easy to open camping thermos when they are about 8 years old. So, soups can be a really useful thing to send to school. Do make sure your child can open the container and that they know it’s soup today. Also to prevent accidental leaks place in a waterproof container and add a paper serviette. Throw in some things to dip in the soup – whole-wheat sesame bread-sticks, rice crackers – we love the black rice crackers from the Eko centre.

I might use the grill pan to toast whole wheat toasts brushed with olive oil and rubbed with a fresh garlic clove or a tomato. My favourite soup at present is Laska, a wonderfully fragrant malaysian soup enriched with tofu or fish, noodles, loads of herbs and chillies. Laska apparently means 1001 ways which gives one a little leeway  in preparing it.

The photo above is from the Saf restaurant in London and that particular version was more than delicious. I do a very popular indian curry paste version which most kids like. Give it a go – it will perfume your house while it cooks and it tempts most all tastebuds. It may also get them eating their orange vegetables. Otherwise try Vardit Kohn’s (of very simple non dairy Broccoli and Cashew Nut soup from her book Koken in Kleur- see link after recipe below.

Rainbow Chickpea Soup – a sort of a yummy laska loved by both my nephews Finn and Cian

one large onion chopped very fine

a mixture of  any of the following – peeled and chopped into even sized cubes: carrots, pumpkins of any variety, aubergine, potatoes, turnips, parsley root, swede, parnsips, and sweet potatoes – make about 2 cups of chopped veggies for 4 people, more for 6!

1 – 2 tablespoons of pataks mild curry paste (from marktof, Kelly’s or Amazing Oriental shops)

half a cup of either dairy cream or lite coconut milk

large can of chickpeas, drained

1 inch of grated ginger, and or crushed garlic clove plus chopped fresh coriander,or  holy basil, mint or parsley (or a combination of all of those herbs.

2 cups of  a good veggie stock ( made up with OXO organic cubes or marigold or Steenbergs organic boullion)

Olive oil or Rice Bran for frying

In a large heavy bottomed pot fry the onion until translucent. Add veggies and 1- 2 tbsps of pataks mild curry paste depending on how spicy you want it. Fry gently for approx 5 minutes, stirring constantly so veggies don’t catch. Add in grated peeled  ginger and garlic. Or you can also squeeze out the ginger juice into the mixture, discarding the grated fibres. Add in the liquid stock, the cream or coconut milk and simmer for about 7 minutes more, until veggies are al dente. Then add in drained chickpeas, taste for seasoning adding in more stock if need be, salt etc.

Serve with fresh herbs, toasted whole-wheat of lavash bread!

Broccoli and Cashew-nut soup as shown to us by Vardit Kohn

This was made for my daughter who frankly is not fond of green things! She hasn’t been at all keen on broccoli but was converted by this soup and now makes it herself. By the way when your kids say “What’s in it?”  my comeback is to say “You tell me!” Make it a taste competition and see who can guess what is in what! We have a rule in our house – you have to try it before you deny it! Of course everyone has their particular tastes but if you don’t give it a chance, you will never know!

Large head of organically grown broccoli, the greener and fresher the better, broken into pieces

small white onion and or garlic clove

Good veggie stock – 1 oxo cube

80 grams of raw organic cashews

Break the broccoli head into small florets. Boil in a medium saucepan with onion and garlic until tender. Cool and pour water and all into blender. Add in cashew, stock cube, maybe a small teaspoon of curry paste if desired.

Blend and add more water if desired. Taste and season with black pepper and sea-salt.

By the way Vardit Kohn is an excellent public speaker so do invite her to your school to talk about natural nutrition and great food  – see

Full of Beans – Thursday’s lunch

Thursday – the end of the week beckons and we are all looking forward to our Friday night where we gather with friends to celebrate the advent of the weekend.  The larder is full as we visited the wonderful Farmer’s market outside the Houses of Parliament in The Hague yesterday. We went early and had the pick of the produce, the best portabello mushrooms, plums, conference pears, seasonal apples, corn on the cob, the freshest of farm eggs, tofu, mozzarella, beans, brown rice, lemon infused olive oil and more. Jack’s snack and lunchbox benefited from the visit.

Black bean salsa, Crunchy celery, Cranberries!

Our family love mexican style food so used our leftover black bean and tomato enchilada mix and a little cumin cheese and chive in a toasted whole-wheat tortilla. Do remember to completely cool the tortilla after heating in the grill pan otherwise it will ‘sweat’ in the lunchbox causing the dread sogginess that we all detest. We added in crunchy celery and cucumber sticks with mandarins, plums and some cranberries for dessert. I do hope it is a lunch to  be looked forward to and eaten with relish – enjoy it Jack!

Thursday’s Snack Box

And a really fruity snack box filled with both fresh and dried fruit from the market. Dried Mango, pomegranate leather from the Persian shop on the Boekhorststraat, chopped apple rinsed with lemon juice to stop browning and a little slice of homemade gingerbread from the McMillian Cancer Charity Fair put on by BSN parents yesterday.


Fruit snack box with home-made gingerbread


Top Tips for Yummy snacks, lunches and living the good life…

Every day in every way we parents want to do the best we can for our kids, keeping them healthy, helping them make sense of the world, assisting them to learn about daily routines and the whys and the wherefores of life. To that end I went to a fabulous talk on communicating with kids given by Katherine Fortier and hosted by  www.passionateparenting. nl. Naturally, the topic of kids eating veggies raised its testy head and I saw a number of nodding heads and reminded me of the very many kids who appear to believe that meals should be green, orange and cabbage free. There are things we parents can do to help kids (and adults) develop their taste buds further and simply delight in a lovely tasty rainbow of fruit and vegetables. Our top tips for packed lunches are:

Taste it – nobody likes soggy food!

Taste it yourself after half a day – maybe the sandwiches/salad/snacks aren’t quite so tasty after 4 hours of sitting in a squashed school bag in a warm hall. Consider searching on for some gel lunch containers which you can freeze overnight and keep the food lovely and cold. Or check out the thermos selection at camping shops for your child’s soup, rice or pasta dishes.

Use the best of ingredients – organic where possible, fresh, firm and crunchy. Freeze less than prefect fruit for smoothies.

Make small portions and place in separate containers – four different chopped veggies so your child can make a salad themselves.

Variety  is the spice of lunch – try different things every week and do eat a rainbow!

There is no such thing as Kids Food – chicken nuggets with chips is not a balanced meal

Involve your kids in making their lunch, in going to the market and in cooking

Make it look good and pack it well with ice packs etc.

Good Food looks great, tastes great and smells good.

Super Snacks – keep them going until lunch!


A bit of everything


Passion for Good Food

A  shiny new food blog

My name is Kathy Voyles and I am the founder of The Food Forum. Together with  Lisa O Sullivan I have spent the last few years or so collating recipes and trying them out on our family and friends and teaching people to cook.

This is our new blog on the very wonderful wordpress – new shiny look, new recipes and hopefully loads of good food fun. Our mission remains the same, new address or not – getting kids to eat good wholesome, delicious food – preferably organic, honestly sourced and  even home-grown. No, we don’t like our kids to eat too many crisps, sweets or over-processed foods like chicken nuggets- we think of those sorts of  foods as ‘sometimes’ foods.

We know that lots of western kids reject vegetables and real foods these days and we also know that being a parent aint easy at times. The good news is that there are things we can do and food we can make which will tempt any palate. Oh, there may be clamped mouths at first but just continue to serve lots of leafy salads, grains, lentils and whole-wheat pasta with delicious fresh sauces and they will get it in the end! Shop around the edge of the supermarket and see if you can avoid over-processed foods.

Encourage your kids to shop with you at the local farmer’s market, involve them in planning menus and even better allow them to cook. Involvement is the key and you never know you may even produce a future Jamie Oliver or Delia Smith. Or make it a junior Masterchef game and add that element of competition that the young really like.

Yes, we do partake of the odd strawberry scone and luscious emon tart but we recognize that diabetes and obesity are the diseases of an affluent society and that we and our kids are at risk. My parents were both diabetic and I can tell you, it is a nasty, nasty disease.We believe in a balanced view of food serving plenty of fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, pulses, grains, some dairy and occassionally sustainably caught fish and organic meat. Our food heros are Michael Pollan, David Kessler and Chef Ann Cooper amongst others. We adore Saf Rawfoods and the Ottolenghi  cafe  in London and can be found frequenting the Farmers Market on Wednesday mornings in The Hague – we adore the Mushroom women! And we subscribe to, kitchenbutterfly and Zucchini & Chocolate amongst a few others.

We hope you will join us at the Food Forum in our quest to make kids fresh healthy lunch boxes, in helping them learn about food, in tasting new ingredients, and preparing real food. We don’t believe in “kids food” either – it is everyone’s food! And we read labels even in health food stores  and try not to buy anything with 3 sugars added.

Our richly diverse Food Forum group brings together passionate foodies who seek to inspire kids and adults to think about where their food comes from; to consider its impact on our health and well-being and to cook delicious wonderful food from scratch in order to enjoy it with family and/or friends.  Some of us are health professionals, some of us cook for a living, some of us hardly ever cook, some of us are kids and some of us are rather more than middle-aged – we are from many cultures and countries but what brings us together is food. If you live in the Netherlands and you want us to talk to your school about food or give a “Love your lunchbox” workshop, do contact us. We are keen to help.

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