Meat-free mushroom and lentil casserole

We enjoy a meat free Monday in our home. It has so many benefits. I don’t need to think too much about dinner ideas as I know it’s a plant-based supper those nights. I find that takes the some of the stress out of the start of the week! It is good to have a bit of direction as to what I am going to whip up 😉 It is healthy and nutritious. It boosts our fibre intake. It is great for the environment.

If you haven’t adopted this Monday menu yet, why not give it a try? It is easy, quick and allows for delicious family meals. I challenge you… Monday is around the corner 😉

What you need:

  • 1 and a 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 250g button or portabellini mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 2 cups water
  • 250ml brown lentils, sort through them to check for small stones and debris
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 5ml marmite
  • 125g smooth, full cream cottage cheese
  • 60ml parmesan cheese or mature cheddar, finely grated
  •  Seasoning of choice


  • Extra parmesan cheese or mature cheddar, finely grated
  • Pea shoots, chopped 1cm long


  • Curly kale, steamed and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter

What to do:

  • Pour ½ a Tbsp olive oil into a thick based pan. Heat and add the onion and sauté until softened and golden brown. Set aside.
  • Add ½ Tbsp oil, heat and add mushrooms. Fry until golden, tender but still firm. Set aside.
  • Add the remaining oil and the ground coriander and cumin and the whole cumin. Fry for 30 seconds to enhance flavour. Be cautious to stir so that it does not burn. (You will know it is ready when you can smell the aroma of the spices)
  • Add the water, lentils, cooked onions and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on until the lentils are soft. (This should take about 30 – 35 mins.) Stir from time to time and check the consistency. If it gets too thick, add additional water ¼ cup at a time until the sauce consistency improves.
  • Add mushrooms and mix well.
  • If using kale, pan fry the cooked kale in butter.
  • Add pea shoots or kale to the lentils and stir well. (If you have chosen these optional extras)
  • Remove from the heat and add the marmite, parmesan or cheddar, cottage cheese and seasoning to taste (Remember the marmite is salty, so be cautious when adding seasoning).
  • Serve sprinkled with a few whole pea shoots and finely grated parmesan or cheddar. This is delicious served on a bed of brown rice, barley, spelt or quinoa.

Kid’s Play Workshop – Fun Games for Cognitive Development

Susan sits intensely focussed on her daily cartoon show, Gabby is playing her favourite computer game, and Kyle is so engrossed in his Xbox combat game that he’s practically non-responsive – even to the calls of pizza.

What do all three scenarios have in common?

Each child is playing with technology; blocking the child off to nature and the outdoors, active play and to listening and engaging with others – a frightening situation becoming more and more typical in the lives of our children today.

Kids’ lives have become fast-paced, highly scheduled and abnormally adult-like. This leaves them very little time to be children.

Back in the day, previous generations spent hours in the garden exploring, smelling flowers, and touching plants (with the odd snail taste test here and there). At family gatherings, children would spend time running around outside and creating fantasy games that they could immerse themselves in with other children. Children would draw and entertain themselves quietly, without being glued to screens of sorts, as they are today.

Some favourite childhood memories may entail having fun in the sun and making mud pies. Can you recall your special memories playing and exploring?

Sensory Play and Early Childhood Development

Back then, even as blissfully unaware children, senses were being developed – such as touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing.

From the day we are born, our senses play a huge role in our overall development – building nerve connections, supporting language development, enhancing our ability to memorise, and developing general sensory attributes such as hot or cold.

With kids losing interest in being outside, and instead choosing to play with technology, we’re left wondering how complete our children’s development can be.

Sugar & Spice Nanny Training Cape Town

Kid’s Play Workshop Cape Town

At Sugar & Spice Nanny Training, we’re all about your children, their development, and of course, your nannies.

We have designed a kid’s play workshop that includes a number of games and activities that incorporate each of the important sensory milestones. Each activity taught aims to help your child develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally, physically and creatively. An emphasis is given to fun outdoor activities and the need for children to spend more time in nature.

Developing children’s senses outdoors not only benefits their health by improving their immune system but it benefits the health of Mother Nature, teaching children the importance of looking after the environment.

Register for a Kid’s Play Workshop near you.

For more information, please contact us.


Two-ticks beef stir-fry

We all like a quick supper! The person who cooks it. The hungry people who are waiting to eat it. What better option than a trusty stir-fry! This is also so easy to adjust, based on what is in your fridge. Feel free to ad lib and replace certain items with those you have on hand. This is always a forgiving dish to make!

For those that would like a plant-based meal, or on the days you are preparing a meat-free meal, take a look at a great alternative ingredient to replace the beef with. We enjoy the salty soy taste and the punch of Sriracha. Give it a go!

What you need:

  • 500g beef stroganoff cut (sometimes these strips tend to be very long. Slice smaller if you need to)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 125g button mushrooms, halved
  • 125g portabellini mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced at an angle
  • 125g thin asparagus spears, cut at an angle into 3cm pieces
  • 125g bean sprouts
  • 2 Tbsp Soy sauce (we prefer Kikkoman)
  • 2Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 60ml Cranberry juice
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Seasoning of choice – Optional:

  • 1 x box Fry’s Family thick cut chunky strips (these can replace the beef strips should you want a meat free meal)
  • Or 250 g dried Chickpeas, soaked and cooked. (Tinned chickpeas make for a very quick substitute)

What to do:

  1.  Pour ½ a Tbsp olive oil into a thick based pan or a wok. Heat and add the mushrooms. Fry till
    cooked but so that they still have a bite to them. Set aside.
  2. Allow the pan to heat up, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and then fry the beef in three batches until golden brown. (This is key so that the pan retains heat, and thus beef goes golden). Season lightly while cooking each batch. Set aside. (If using Fry’s Family thick cut strips, pan fry at this stage, instead of the beef)
  3. Add the remaining olive oil and allow to heat. Stir-fry the vegetables till they soften but stay crunchy. Add the mushrooms and beef to the vegetables.
  4. Mix the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Pour over the stir-fry mix that is in the pan, stir and heat through.
  5. Check seasoning and add more should you need it. (Should you be using chickpeas, add them here and heat through) Remove from heat.
  6. Serve with rice noodles, rice or wholegrains of your choice.
  7. Remember the leftovers make an awesome filling for a wrap or pita bread for lunch the next day!

Open up Communication Channels with our Nanny Course

At Sugar and Spice Nanny Training, we believe that empowerment and open communication channels are key ingredients to any employer/nanny relationship. For this reason, we have aimed our nanny course at cultivating both the skills and increasing the knowledge base of nannies, as well as improving communication and openness between nannies and their employers.

Nanny Training Cape Town

On a daily basis, we rely heavily on our nannies to help make sure our homes and children’s lives run smoothly.

Therefore, the ideal relationship between nanny and employer would be one where both nanny and employer feel comfortable enough to voice any complaints, preferences or cultural differences. We are aware that there are often cultural differences, however, in a manner that shows respect to both parties, we feel after a discussion takes place, solutions can be found. We highlight that nannies and employers may have different ways of doing things but always make sure our students know that they should take the lead from the employer. It is so important to adopt their approach to doing things, as they are the parent. We encourage nannies to ask questions if they do not understand and encourage both parties to be frank and caring in their conversations.

This is often tricky at first. However, it does become easier when both the nanny and employer make open communication an everyday occurrence. Transparency is best. Being proudly South African, with years of experience in the nanny training industry, we understand that there may often be a language barrier between nanny and employer. This can make communication quite challenging, sometimes causing frustration for both parties. Our nanny training course recognises these issues and offers a great solution.

Nannies in Training

Our nanny course runs over 4 weeks, at 3 hours a session. Throughout our course, we help to guide nannies through the process of communicating with employers, helping them to understand how to approach and discuss a positive or negative situation correctly and openly.

During our 1st session, nannies are shown the importance of creating routines for children, how to properly manage their time, as well as which danger signs to look out for. Once again, nannies are guided through the 1st session with the key goal of open communication and empowerment through better understanding.

First Aid Training for Nannies

Entering the 2nd session, nannies are taught about the practical management steps of a number of medical emergencies.

First-aid skills are crucial for nannies to have when handling children. Additionally, nannies are shown how to properly assess and explain an emergency. This session is aimed at improving child safety and empowering nannies through skill development and understanding.

Child Nutrition and Hygiene

This session is aimed at sharing baby and child nutritional knowledge with nannies. Nannies are shown what creates a healthy diet and how to introduce solids while weaning babies off milk.

We also aim to encourage nannies to discuss menu planning and address both personal and baby hygiene best practices. Through open communications, nannies feel comfortable with discussing and sharing their understandings and possible cultural differences.

Stimulation through massage, play and fun

During this session, we discuss the importance of early childhood development and how nannies can assist with making sure your children receive the best possible childhood development. This is a great section for the nannies, as they can then also use the early childhood development skills learnt for their own children.

Sugar & Spice Nanny Training

When nannies and employers feel comfortable and at ease with each other their relationships flourish. Empowerment through skill creation and sharing of knowledge is highly important to the success of any working relationship.

Throughout our course we make sure that nannies understand the importance of open communication and that they receive empowering knowledge and credentials. On completion of the course your nanny will receive 2 certificates and manuals – The Sugar and Spice Nanny Training manual and certificate, and the First Aid manual and certificate, which is accredited with the resuscitation council of South Africa.

If you would like to book a spot in our course for nanny, please contact us.


Trio of tomato salad

We love eating salads and often try out new combinations. Especially on a Sunday, our regular family braai day. With Heritage Day just around the corner, and Braai Day looming, why not give this a try? Perhaps give it a South African tweak with the addition of one or two local ingredients. We all know “local is lekker”!

As well as making an awesome salad, bear in mind it can be tweaked. Why not serve it as a salad platter with bright, beautiful ingredients layed out separately? Change your cutting technique, and instead of dicing, rather slice into wedges or strips and leave the smaller items whole. This works just as well! Drizzle the dressing over this or perhaps serve in a jug on the side.

What you need:

  • 2 Large, firm, ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup of marinated sun dried tomatoes (set the marinade aside for later use), chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup of peppadews, chopped
  • 100g pitted, green olives
  • 100g mature cheddar, diced
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 30ml marinade from the sundried tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Seasoning of choice


  • 2 Tbsp chutney
  • 100g sliced biltong (beef or venison)

What to do:

  • Combine the tomatoes (all three types), yellow pepper and peppadews and toss gently. Make the dressing by combing the sundried tomato marinade, red wine vinegar, olive oiland seasoning. Stir well. Pour over the salad and toss gently.
  • Garnish with green olives, cheddar, the pumpkin seeds and basil.
  • Remember, chutney makes a welcome addition to the dressing and gives it a proudly South African tang.
  • Sprinkle with biltong if you are keen
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