#MeatFreeMonday - why we've decided to cut down on eating meat

Piero cooks one hell of a steak. Most Fridays, he'll arrive home from the bakery with some really good quality sirloin or ribeye steaks. With a pinch of salt & pepper and a squeeze of lemon, he can fry up restaurant-quality steaks in less then 10 minutes. Delicious.

So, you'd think our love of good steak would have us eating it every day? Nope! We're firm believers of everything-in-moderation and eating a balanced diet. Meat free Monday was an idea from Paul & Stella McCartney in 2009 inspired, of course, by Linda McCartney. 

These days eating vegetarian or vegan meals are more common. So here's our top 3 reasons for going #meatfree once a week:

Try something new

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Even if you're not a good cook, it's a great opportunity to learn some really tasty and simple recipes.

Being a healthy eater means being an adventurous eater. Yes, sticking to the same diet all the time is convenient, but trying new foods can have so many positive benefits. Do you have a favourite food? Do you think there's anything better out there? Of course not! But hang on, how do you know? I was never a big fan of cauliflower growing up. Then I came across a recipe that I thought looked interesting, so I decided to give it a try. Now I make these Vegan Cauliflower Falafels for my lunch all the time. A unique and amazing dish I would never have discovered had I not been a little adventurous.

Save a little money

My vegetarian recipes are always made from food I already have in the kitchen. It's amazing the dishes that can be made once you have a well stocked larder. We keep staples such as veg stock, tin tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, chickpeas, pasta and pizza bases. Some days we'll just have a really simple pasta and pizza dish with a green salad or a vitamin packed soup always goes down well for lunch. Green pesto is so easy to make and you can add it to pasta or top a pizza base for a delicious, quick, meat free meal like mouth watering Panfried Mushroom & Pesto Pizza

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Health Benefits

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This Food Pyramid is designed to make healthy eating easier. Healthy eating is about getting the correct amount of nutrients – protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals - you need to maintain good health. 

Cutting down on meat could be one of the most significant things we can do for our health. If you don’t know where to start in your healthy eating journey, the best change you can make in your home is to focus on cooking more items from scratch instead of buying processed foods. Vegetarian dishes are a great way to make simple, fresh food. Taking it week by week, we'd recommend experimenting with different vegetables and gradually trying newer things.

Variety is the spice of life so next time you're doing your food shop why not pick up:

- A grain you've never tried before, like Quinoa, Couscous, Bulgar or even Sweet Corn

-Vegetables of all colours, like Peppers, Tomato, Courgette, Asparagus & Aubergines

- Pizza da Piero Pizza Bases. Our artisan pizza bases are the only bases to go through a two day fermentation process. This is the traditional Italian way that makes them so delicious and easy to digest. Topped with your favourite veggies they provide a simple solution to any meat free meal. They freeze really well so you can have them on hand any time. 

My tips for healthier eating habits for kids 👫

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Myself & my Italian husband Piero run an artisan pizza base business. We have provided Irish families with handmade award winning authentic pizza bases since 2007. As a baker, it's Piero's passion. He oversees the making of every single base and wouldn't have it any other way.

We are proud parents to 3 great girls and we are also passionate about making healthy meals for our family while teaching the kids the importance of eating well.

So, how can we make and eat so much pizza but claim to be advocates for healthy eating? In Italy, where Piero grew up, it's not at all uncommon for families to eat pasta everyday and pizza about twice a week. Up until a few years ago Italy still had one of the lowest rates of obesity in Europe. (Those figures have since changed as Italian children are eating less and less of the Italian diet, and more and more junk food)

 

I try to guide my children's choices, instead of dictating to them all the time what they can and can't eat

I try to have only fresh and healthy food and snacks in the house. Since we're always told the importance of drinking water every day why should it be any different for our kids?! I only serve water at meal times.

 

Second helpings

Ever found that sometimes kids can say one thing but mean the other?!!! If my kids say they don't like something I cook, I try not to give in and make something else. I will let them cool off (as it can get heated!). Once they've calmed down enough to try it,  quite often they discover they like it!

If they're still hungry after dinner I'll get them to wait 10 minutes and drink some water. Then if they insist on more food it will always be a much smaller serving than the first one.

 

Family meal time

Of course this doesn't happen every singe day but I really make the effort to get everyone sitting at the table for dinner most days. We chat about our day, share stories and food. 

 

Getting the kids involved

One of my daughters is a budding artist and sometimes writes up and designs a menu for our meals! The girls will set the table, yes it does take them ages, but they get there in the end!

 

Snacks

Yes, my kids snack, A LOT!!!! So when they're in from school I'll make sure I have lot's of healthy stuff lying around the kitchen for them to grab if they want it. Homemade popcorn is a quick thing to make and super cheap. Put some berries and milk into a blender and you've got a smoothie. Or I'll leave out grapes, carrot and cucumber sticks with homemade hummus, a few sambos or boiled eggs. If it's cold I'll throw a load of veg in a pot and make a soup.  

 

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So there you have it. Yes we are a pizza making and pizza loving family but it's not the only thing we eat! Some days I'll spend time making Homemade Pesto or Hidden Veg Pizza Sauce (it's much cheaper then shop bought, fresher and easy to make, I promise!)  I always get the kids involved. I find them way more willing to eat something they have made themselves!!! It does take effort on our parts, but knowing you are teaching your family valuable lessons in healthy eating has to be worth it doesn't it?

Happy Crustmas!!! 🌲🍕🌲🍕

Just like the Hawaiian pizza with pineapple so popular in the States , Piero will never understand why us Irish would want to put our Christmas leftovers on a pizza! 
 

Though it makes perfect sense to me to come up with tasty and easy alternatives to the post Christmas sandwich with minimal cooking effort, Piero is truly baffled!
 

 

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When it comes to Stephen's Day I always find there can be a shortage of interesting savoury eats that are easy to whip together in a few minutes. 
 

It's so easy to reach for the selection box or biscuit tin which just gives me that bump of sugar rather than really satisfying the hunger.
 

So I've been coming up with a few comforting Christmas pizza recipes over the last few weeks. A great way to feed a crowd or just enjoy by yourself while using up all those delicious Christmas dinner leftovers. 
 

These are more suggestions than recipes so please feel free to experiment!
 

Post a photo of your Christmas pizza and tag us on Facebook and you could win a box of ten packs of pizza bases for 2018

 

Cliona's Christmas Leftover Pizza Suggestions...
 

Brussel Sprouts & Ham -

Rub the base with olive oil, sauté onion and  garlic & spread on base, sprinkle grated parmesan, leftover cooked ham & cooked  sprouts, sprinkle more cheese.
 

Pesto Turkey -

Cover base with basil pesto, top with leftover stuffing & turkey - some cooked mushrooms would go great on this too- , sprinkle with grated parmesan. When you take this out of the oven you could top with cranberries, fresh rocket or basil.
 

Smoked Salmon - 

Spread base with creme fraiche and smoked salmon. When it's cooked any of the following ingredients would be amazing -  finely sliced fennel, dill, avocado, prawn cocktail, rocket, parsley or finely sliced red onion. 
 

Ham & Mushroom -

Spread with tomato sauce & top with cooked ham, mushrooms, olives & mozzarella.
 

A light post Christmas pizza-

Prepare some finely chopped fresh baby tomatoes and leave to soak in a bowl with crushed garlic, olive oil & basil. Cook your base with a light spread of tomato sauce or basil pesto with a little mozzarella or cheese of your choice. When the pizza is cooked spread the tomato mixture on top and finish with some fresh rocket.
 

Dessert pizza - Nutella & Banana

Mix half & half Nutella/Mascarpone Cheese  and spread this on your base, then top with sliced banana 😋

The spirit of Christmas / Win a box of pizza bases

My Dad has been making Sloe Gin for his family and friends every Christmas for years now. From collecting the berries to giving the bottle a shake every day, my Dad really enjoys the whole process and our family and friends are only delighted to have a sip from the homemade gin every year. While enjoying his morning walks and foraging for berries in the park he's getting exercise, fresh air and experiencing the true spirit of Christmas!

Although Piero won't have time to make anything other than pizza bases this Christmas, I'm planning to bake some homemade Christmas cookies and put them together with some artisan food items for family and friends. Taking part in Blas na hEireann over the years we have met so many wonderful artisan food producers whose products would delight any food lover. These businesses work really hard and shopping local helps keep our money closer to home. Local businesses also use local services, which means our purchase, in fact, puts a smile on a lot of faces!

We really appreciate the amount of support and positive feedback we've received this year so in keeping with the true spirit of Christmas we would like to give away a box of 10 packs of pizza bases to help stock up your freezer for Christmas.

Fill out your details and we'll announce the winner next week.

Buon Natale (Happy Christmas)  Cliona & Piero

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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