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Stir-fried Brussels sprouts with paprika and almonds

Recently I have been feeling overburdened with childcare. It’s been building for a while, making me feel a bit down, bored, frustrated. For those who don’t know, I am what you might call a ‘full-time’ mum (I actually hate that term, like any mums are part-timers), insomuch as my ‘work’ involves looking after my kids every day and not getting paid! My son is 3 1/2 and, since we have moved out to the country, he is only in pre-school 4 mornings which means I have him much of the time until he starts big school in September. My daughter is 18 months so I have her all the time. I’ve done it like this – had them mainly myself – since my son was born, pretty much, with Nanas helping intermittently and part-time stints at playgroups and so on to get him used to socialising without me. 
Looking after my children myself brings about contradictory feelings in me. It’s both joyous and maddening; rewarding and thankless; draining and energising; it brings out the very best and very worst in me. Most of all though, it’s truly relentless. People use that term a lot when describing being a ‘full-time’ mum – because it does an excellent job of summarising the experience in one word! Trust me, going to work (and I know some people have tough jobs) is a break. I didn’t used to believe people when they said this, but now I know it to be true. I know it’s hard for working mums, and many would love to stay at home with their kids as I have, but until you do it yourself for several years, you’ll never know how hard looking after them yourself really is, especially with more than one child. You lose yourself a bit by giving so much to them. 
So, I have finally sorted some proper childcare on a regular basis from now on, 2 days a week, as I am ready to get back into the world – as Rachel, not just Mummy. I feel a bit emotional writing this, as these ‘guilty’ feelings of wanting more have been bubbling away at the back of my mind for a while – and it’s been hard to make sense of them and then know what to do. I just know that I felt unhappy and I worked out that it was about my life not having balance: it was all about me being a mum and not having any time for anything else that I wanted to do – ever! As a result of this epiphany, I am going to focus on my little blog (my third child!) more, so hopefully you should notice some improvements as I dedicate more time to it… I think if my blog could smile right now, it would!
It wasn’t my intention to blog this recipe, like so many of them on WWW, but I was so happy with it I took a quick snap and et voila, here it is. It’s just a really quick (the only faffy bit is slicing the sprouts as they are small so it can be tricky) and very healthy way of serving up sprouts. I love sprouts! (I think I might get a mug with that written on). They make me trump a lot, but even this cannot impact on my love for them. They are very cheap and so nutritious – and believe it or not, my kids will eat them. Do you love or hate these baby brassicas? Let me know what you think!
The smokey paprika and crunchy almond gives a Spanish feel, so this would be nice served with some spicy sausages, or maybe pork / lamb chops sprinkled with cumin. 
To make enough for 4 as a side dish: 
1 x 500g bag of sprouts, sliced
1 heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika
3 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly 
Handful of flaked almonds
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil 
Salt and pepper
  • In a large frying pan or wok, heat some olive oil till sizzling. 
  • Add the chopped garlic and stir. As soon as it starts to colour, which will be a matter of seconds, add the paprika and nuts. Toss, and tip in your sprouts. 
  • Stir fry for about 10-15 minutes – or until they are cooked but still have a little crunch left to them. Season very generously (sprouts need salt I think) and serve straight away. 


  1. February 21, 2014 / 10:04 am

    I completely empathise…being a full time Mum is tough. Of course it is rewarding also but you certainly do loose yourself somewhere… I have just gone back to work (my daughter is 5 and my son 3) and I also have feelings of guilt and most certainly I miss them dreadfully. But it is so important to keep your mind active and dedicate some of you life to yourself. Good luck to you I say!! (And I must say your sprouts look delicious even though I completely despise them!)

  2. February 21, 2014 / 10:07 am

    Only another mum (or dad) could understand. It's the defining problem of our generation of women. Our parents (or perhaps grandparents) had it much harder of course in most senses, but in this respect (of expectations and so on) they possibly had it easier as they expected less and roles were clearly defined. Gosh this is a serious subject isn't it?!

  3. February 24, 2014 / 9:39 am

    Oh bless you. It's so hard to make the decision, either way. My son is almost 2 and I went back to work 3 days a week when he was 17 months after struggling for a while. Best decision for us all, thank goodness. I hope you enjoy your "Rachel" time – you deserve it! Happier mummy makes for happier children, I'm sure. xoxo

  4. February 24, 2014 / 9:40 am

    Hi! I think 17 months is a great time to make the leap back into work. Now I just have to find that work! ; ) XX

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