Date and banana flapjacks with #noaddedsugar

IMG_3112_2

I have got into the habit of making flapjacks on a Sunday night for the week – though they don’t always last that long. I have taken to storing them in the car so I am not tempted – there is evidence that unsurprisingly shows that if you can see food you eat it!

This is the first time I’ve made them with no honey, just relying on natural sugars from dates and bananas. There is a lot in the media and books to buy, and recipes online for no sugar foods. Which is great. We are still waiting to hear following on from the draft guidance on sugar intakes published by the Government’s SACN. In the meantime World Health Organization has published their latest recommendations to reduce intakes to 10% with an ideal target of 5% or less.

It’s worth remembering that honey, maple syrup, dried fruit and smoothies still contain sugar but because the sugar is in it’s natural form it also provides nutrients. So recipes that contain these natural forms of sugar are not “sugar free” but have no “refined sugar” or “processed sugar” or, I suppose “added sugar”. Refined sugar is has no vitamins or minerals, so really only provides empty calories. The sugar in honey, maple syrup etc, is in its natural form, so it has a lower GI (a slower release of sugars into the blood) and also contains some minerals. Maple syrup is high in manganese, and contains good amounts of zinc and potassium. Honey contains very low levels of iron, copper and manganese.

These flapjacks are perfect for picnics and after main meals. Not recommended for between meals as the sticky sugars can get stuck on teeth. Regularly eating dried fruit, juices or smoothies between meals increases risk of dental decay. See my previous post, Sweet Tooth for more information.

This recipe is vegan if you use coconut oil, if you use butter best to use organic. Organic Standards legally set mean that organic cattle have to be pasture fed for the most of the year.

Flapjacks are really easy and quick to make, your children can help with the mashing and mixing (my 2 year old happily helps out – it gets messy and keeps her busy).

You will need…

  • 180g Oats
  • 2 medium bananas (about 190-200g)
  • 60g desiccated coconut (optional)
  • 160g chopped dates (if you don’t have enough dates substitute chopped raisins)
  • 100g melted coconut oil (or butter)

How to…

  • Mash the bananas on a plate.
  • Put the bananas in a bowl
  • Add the coconut oil and dates and mix well.
  • Now add the oats and desiccated coconut and again mix.
  • Turn into a lined baking tay
  • Bake in an oven at 170 °C or 150 °C in a fan oven or gas mark 3 for 25 minutes.
  • Cut into slices whilst still warm.

If you have older children do not mention these flapjacks have no refined sugar in them as they will immediately hate them. My 8 year old had these happily last night because I said nothing!

Advertisements

What’s for lunch: Sardine fishcakes

DSCN4866
Sardine fishcakes

Preamble

I am going to try and post some ideas for quick, easy and cheap meals to share with your baby and/or toddler at lunchtime in a series (if I manage to come up with enough ideas) called “What’s for lunch”.

Evidence shows us that children are influenced by what their parents eat and drink, this makes sense (science often tells us what we already know). So it follows that parents can have a positive or negative effect on what they’re children eat depending on their own diet. Eating  together also helps babies to learn that mealtimes are social times.

This recipe uses  breadcrumbs – don’t to throw unused loaves away, instead cut off the crusts and put them into the food processor to make breadcrumbs which you can freeze for ages.

I think fishcakes are easier for babies to handle and eat about 10 months (depending on baby’s food handling skills it may be slightly earlier than this).

Nutrition bits

This recipe uses leftover mashed potato and includes tinned sardines which are a great source of omega 3’s, protein, iron, zinc calcium and vitamin D . Also, as they are lower down the food chain, compared to tuna and marlin, they have lower levels of mercury compared to those bigger fish.

An interesting thing happens to mashed potato when it’s left to cool. Its starch structure changes in a way that lowers its GI so that energy is released more slowly into the bloodstream. Potatoes usually have a high GI (as much as 88) and research shows that it can be lowered a GI of 56 if it is allowed to cool.

DSCN4865

You will need…

160g Mashed potato (see portion sizes below to work out what you need)
120g Tin of sardines in olive oil drained*
Chopped parsley (if you have some in – otherwise don’t worry)
1 egg beaten (use milk if your baby has an egg allergy)
Plain flour
Breadcrumbs

Vegetables to serve

How to…

Drain the sardines and mash them well with a fork – no need to remove the bones as they are small and soft.
Mix the sardines with the potatoes and chopped parsley if you are using it.
Form  into 4 small cakes for babies (I made two – see photo – which were a little too big).
Put the frying pan on a medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil.**

Once you’ve got the shape and size you want dip the cakes in flour, then egg and then breadcrumbs.
Fry the cakes for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Portion sizes

The portion sizes I use are from the  CHEW! guidance which is based on recommended intakes for energy and nutrients. They are meant as a guide so don’t worry if you’re baby doesn’t eat all their food that they won’t get enough nutrients.

For 10-12month baby : 40g sardines (about 1 fillet) to 60g potato plus 30g vegetables

1-4 year olds : 50g sardines to 80g potatoes plus 40g vegetables

And for you – there should be about 60g of sardines so mix with about 100g of potatoes and serve with two 80g portions of vegetables.

For babies 7-9 months

For younger babies (7-8 months) I would recommend using the ingredients (without making the fishcakes for baby), pureeing, mixing with baby’s usual milk and serving with the vegetables as finger food.  If your baby is able to eat their meal as whole food well – for my baby this is around 10 months – but your’s may be able to do this younger, then make the fish cakes rather than puree. Based on my experience, younger babies are not able to feed themselves well enough in this way, so are not able to get enough protein, iron, to meet their dietary needs. Portion sizes for this age group are 30g sardines to 50g potato and 20g vegetables.

Allergies

If your baby has an egg allergy then dip in milk rather than egg to bind the breadcrumbs
If your baby has a gluten intolerance or allergy, dust in gluten free flour and use breadcrumbs from gluten free bread. You can try just dusting in flour too however the fishcakes don’t hold together so well and can be a bit too squidgy.

Postscript added 21 November 2013

Make extra of these and you can take them with you for days out – in a lunchbox – remember to keep them chilled though. I have tried freezing fishcakes before, but have found it doesn’t work well.

*Someone asked me whether they could use sardines in tomato sauce. And I dont see why not for adults but, having looked at the ingredients list, the sardines I have seen in tomato sauce have salt added, so aren’t a good option for babies, or really children, ideally.

**Ideally the fishcakes can be baked at 200°c/ 400°f/gas mark 6 on an oiled baking try for 10 minutes (turning once) – baking is healthier than frying but I didn’t have time to wait for the oven to heat up.

Blueberry flapjack recipe

Look what we picked at Trehane nursery near Wimborne, today. I am sitting munching on blueberry’s as I type. They’re the healthy alternative to sweets and and cost £7 a kilo. Online I can see that one supermarket can match this price – I don’t think they are from the UK, let alone local or consumed the same day that they are picked!

I am trying to come up with blueberry recipes as feel sure that there are only so many we can eat au naturel, and while I am going to freeze some, I want to think of some creative ways to use them in recipes.
Which cereal bar report?

Which published a report on Monday rating supermarket bought cereal bars. They found that most were high in sugar, fat and/or salt. Nothing has really changed over the years with cereal bars – they are high in sugar usually – as the focus of many company’s health claims is that a product is low in fat then it’s healthy – so instead they will tend to add extra sugar (more than is needed) and sometimes will include additives.

What to look for in a cereal bar

If you buy cereal bars, forget the healthy halo – see them as biscuits:

  • Avoid bars with unrecognisable ingredients that you wouldn’t find in your kitchen cupboards.
  • Look for bars with at least some fibre – this will slow down their release of energy (bars high in fibre contain 6g or more per 100g).
  • Organic does not automatically mean it’s healthy in terms of nutrient profile – it can still be high in sugar, fat and salt. Organic products however will not contain artificial additives or hydrogenated fats.

Even better, make your own, it doesn’t take long, it’s cheaper, you know what’s in it. Just have them for pudding or a sweet – they’re great for picnics. Don’t ever have them for breakfast – you wouldn’t have a biscuit for breakfast now would you?

So here’s the first of hopefully many blueberry recipes: organic blueberry flapjack

 

Makes 12-16 small Flapjacks

Will keep for 4 days in an air tight container – though they probably won’t last that long.

You will need…

110g butter*
100g of blueberries
5 tbsp runny honey
50g almonds chopped**
190g whole oats
35g wholemeal or white flour (I used spelt wholegrain flour which has a nutty flavour)

How to…

  • Grease a 7 inch square shallow tin and pre-heat the oven to 180°C/gass mark 5.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan and put in a bowl.
  • Add the honey or golden syrup and stir until it has dissolved and then mix in the oats, flour, blueberries and almonds.
  • Press into the baking tray evenly.
  • Bake for between 22-25 minutes until golden brown and firm.
  • Cut into squares while still warm but leave until cool.
  • Put a big plate over the tray and flip the flapjack onto it and peel off the paper.
  • Then flip again onto another plate so its the right side up.

*This is the lowest amount of butter that would work for this recipe.

**Try other nuts and/or seeds.