Pecan and date spelt breakfast muffins

 

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I’ve been looking for healthier breakfast muffin recipes because, who doesn’t love cake for breakfast, especially children. And if it’s lower sugar then you’re good to go.

Helping with the Organic Trade Board’s  Wake up to Organic campaign has made me want to come up with some new ideas for breakfast. On 15th of June all over the UK independent retailers will dish up a free organic breakfast to their customers and passers by. The idea is to show easy it is to make the switch to organic. Follow us on twitter to keep up with the campaign

Gluten free

I haven’t tried this recipe with gluten free flour but I am sure it will work – you can also use gluten free oats. I am going to try to make them with buckwheat flour and will report on how well it works.

Dairy free

This recipe is dairy free but if you want to use butter instead of coconut oil or milk instead of dairy free alternatives to milk.

Sugar

These muffins have no refined sugar in them – though they do have maple syrup which as a syrup is classified as sugar. I will be trying this recipe without maple syrup as I think they can easily be made without – 30ml contains about 15g of sugar which is equal to about 1.3g of sugar per muffin, the dates contribute 7g of sugar, the bananas provide just under 1.8g sugar per muffin, the coconut milk provides less than a gram. So in total each muffin has about 2 teaspoons of sugar which sounds like a lot but most shop bought muffins will be bigger portion sizes and contain 4-5 teaspoons of sugar, and they also won’t be in natural fruit form – which of course include lots of micronutrients, from vitamin B6 in the dates, to potassium in bananas. Under the latest Scientific Advisory Committee guidance this is equivalent to just over 1 teaspoon of refined sugars.

We do have some sugar in our diet in our family and I want to reduce it. Have you found that children don’t notice any changes to what you feed them, if you don’t mention it and also make those changes gradually. In between work, parenting, and walking the dog I don’t have much time to experiment in the kitchen so I need tried and tested recipes that work, like this one. These make a great treat breakfast and of course can be put in lunch boxes too.

Pecan and date spelt breakfast muffins

Vegan, soy free

Makes 12 muffins
Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes

You will need…

240g white spelt flour (or a mixture of white and wholemeal)
130g dates chopped
190ml coconut milk or almond milk or other diary free milk.
2 small to medium bananas mashed (about 180g)
30ml of maple syrup
30g chia seeds
30g pumpkin seeds
50g pecans chopped
30g oats
60ml coconut oil melted
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
Medium carrot finely grated (about 80g)
pinch of salt

How to…

  • Preheat your oven to 190˚C/gas mark 5/350°F.
  • Put the mashed banana in a big bowl with the carrots, milk, maple syrup, vinegar and vanilla extract  and melted coconut oil, mix well.
  • Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, mixed spice and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
  • Gently fold in the seeds, nuts, dates and oats.
  • Don’t over mix as this helps keep the muffins fluffy.
  • Place the mixture in 12 muffin tins.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes. You can test with a skewer and if it comes out with mixture on it bake for a few more minutes.
  • Cool on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Serve with some chopped fruit and/or a cup of milk.

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Mushroom and red lentil pasta for #meatfreeMonday

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I made this last night at 11pm, when I realised my daughter needed lunch for the Childminders today. It’s easy peasy, one of those pasta sauces you throw together at the last minute, not sure whether it’s going to work and it does, as long as the little person likes mushrooms…

I’ve stopped eating meat since the beginning of January, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, and it’s great. While I am not stopping the rest of the family from eating meat, I am not cooking it! So am looking for more vegetarian recipes that include high quality protein like lentils, beans, quinoa, nuts and seeds, and eggs, that also appeal to the kids.


Mushroom and red lentil pasta
You will need…

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, top and tailed peeled and grated
50g red lentils, rinsed
about 6 mushrooms sliced (have more if you want_
Teaspoon of dried oregano (or mixed herbs)
Carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
100g water

How to…

  • Heat the oil in a pan
    Add the onions and carrots and cook until softened
    Add the dried herbs and mushrooms.
    Stir and cook for 5 more minutes.
    Add the lentils and stir well.
    Add the tinned tomatoes and about 100g water.
    Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is nice and rich and the lentils cooked through.

You can make this dish gluten free, using gluten free pasta and it’s vegan if you don’t have the cheese.

One pot: Organic chicken broth soup

 

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When I told my brother in law about this recipe, he laughed. He’s a good cook, and I think he was laughing because, strictly speaking it’s not really a proper recipe as it’s so simple and something that generations before us have made.

It isn’t just over Christmas that we tend to over-indulge, for many, Christmas preparations, shopping, and all the stuff that comes with having kids, means that in the run up to Christmas, healthy eating gets shunted out in favour of convenience.

However, you can have both. I work from home, and working next to the kitchen can be a temptation. One of the things I’ve found is having something in the fridge i just have to heat up helps me to eat well.

I can make a one pot and have half in the evening and the rest in the next day or even later. I’ve just remembered I’ve got some of this in my fridge left over from Friday, that’ll do me nicely for lunch. Jamie serves it with rice, but why bother, when it adds another level of admin (time) and instead of eating rice you can eat more of the veg.

The key is to make too much and freeze what you know you won’t eat in the next few days.

The temptation to reach for whatever is in your fridge can be made into a virtue if you have a one pot to hand.

And that’s not to say I am “perfect” whatever that is, lets just say I bought my first box of mince pies just before Halloween.


Organic chicken broth soup

You will need…
2 organic chicken legs or 4 thighs*
2 carrots peeled, top and tailed and sliced
1 leek peeled, top and tailed and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 sticks of celery
2 garlic cloves, sliced
thumb of ginger, peeled and sliced
Cavolo nero or curly kale*
handful of chestnut mushrooms
Broccoli flowers or swede or squash

How to…

  • Put the chicken, carrots, leek, celery, onion, garlic and ginger in a pan, cover with water.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (1.5 hours if you’re using a whole chicken).
  • If you’re using squash or swede ad 30 minutes into cooking.Add broccoli, leafy veg and mushrooms 5 minutes before the end.

It’s also a great recipe for little people – even if you’re weaning. Just make sure it’s cooled down – I use a big bowl like this to help it cool down quickly.

Keep the bones, to make chicken stock, you can keep them in the fridge or freeze them…more recipes to follow.

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*You can make this with a whole chicken just double up the broth ingredients.

**I try as much as possible to use seasonal veg grown in the UK, usually I would use tat soi, choi sum or pak choi, and purple sprouting broccoli in Spring, Summer and Autumn.

Oaty apple breakfast bake with #noaddedsugar

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This breakfast dish is very popular in my house. I have to admit that eldest daughter loves it and the youngest will eat it but its not her favourite. But I think a lot of families have that going on.

You make the apple sauce in batches and freeze that makes it easier. We have lots of windfalls at the moment so am doing this when I can, in between everything else.

You make this dish the night before, we make it weekdays and weekends. All you do is turn the oven on when you get up and bake it for 30 minutes. It’s mainly measuring and mixing, so it was easy for my 2 year old to help make it last night.

Have been using windfalls for my apple sauce, I am beginning to run out of freezer space. Maybe time for another freezer.

I’ve made this dish with no added sugar, only the sugars found naturally in fruit.

Because it has no added sugar it’s suitable for weaning. Just take out the raisins as they’re high in sugar, it’s best to wait until your little one is 1 before introducing them.

You’ll need an oven-proof dish – mine is about 25 cm x 17 cm.

Gluten free and dairy free

You can make it gluten free by using gluten free oats.

Milk can be swapped for non-dairy milk like coconut drinking milk or almond milk, and the butter for non-dairy unhydrogenated spread or coconut oil.

Oaty apple breakfast bake recipe

You will need…

100g raisins
180g apple sauce (stewed apples blended without sugar)
300ml milk
350g whole oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 apple cored but unpeeled grated
3 medium eggs, beaten
50g melted unsalted butter

How to…

Grease a shallow dish.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Put in the dish, cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
In the morning heat the oven to 160º c fan oven / 180º c / gas mark 5 for 30 minutes.
Serve with a little milk poured over and chopped fruit.

Portions and nutrition

This recipe makes enough for 1½-2 rounds of breakfast for a family of 4-5. Based on a 5 year old having a 100g portion this breakfast it contains good amounts of protein, fibre, potassium, calcium, magnesium. It makes a good contribution to iron and zinc intakes too along with key B vitamins such as B6, B12 and more. So it makes for a really healthy start to the day.

The sugar content per 100g is 9.5g (just under 2 teaspoons) but it’s all from fruit so doesn’t count towards the maximum recommended intake for this age of ‘free sugars’* of 4 teaspoons a day.

*’free sugars’ is a definition by World Health Organisation which has been adopted by the UK Governments Scientific Advisory Committee in their recent report on Carbohydrates and health. Free sugars are any processed sugar added to foods by a manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juice.

Toddler trials and tribulations and avoiding them at mealtimes

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My two year old is very wilful which I love. Why would I ever want her to be a compliant follower? I want her to be fierce and strong and kind too.

We have tantrums and frustrations regularly. Quite often over getting undressed, “I want to do it” she tells me through cries and stamping her feet. it’s tricky to try and get your elbow out of a sleeve isn’t it!

Parenting makes me want to be the best person I can. In the midst of these moments I try and draw on strength to keep the boundaries in place with kindness so I am doing so with an understanding heart. That way I hope teach my children how to be strong and kind too.

If the boundaries are allowed to be pushed we end up in a power struggle where no one wins, and I don’t want to go there.

But I’m not moaning, because most of the time, she’s just about perfect to me.

Food

This is the age (usually from around 18 months depending on the child) when fussy or picky eating can start. And this is what’s happening for me! So I am having to remind myself of the basic advice that I usually give to parents. It’s pretty simple.

Start as you mean to go on

As long as your little one has been able to play and explore food from weaning age, had a wide variety of different (unprocessed) healthy foods, not been given salty/sugary foods regularly, then fussy eating shouldn’t be a problem long term.

From what I have experienced, children who have only ever been spoon fed (no finger food) and especially readymade meals can tend to be fussy eaters. Imagine if all that you’ve eaten has always had similar taste and texture and you’re not used to touching food. You would be a fussy eater too.

Whether you wean traditionally with  a combination of finger food and purees/mashed food or go down babbled weaning route, either of these approaches will give your little one a good start.

If your child won’t eat veg at all, there is a great resource designed by Dr Lucy Cooke at UCL. The pack is called Tiny Tastes and costs £7.99 including p&p. It’s been evaluated and the results, showed this approach had positive impact on children’s eating habits. Findings were published in the peer reviewed journals including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Psychology Science. For extreme fussy eating you need to speak to your GP who can refer you to your local dietetics service.

New foods

Up until around 18 months babies are open to trying new foods. Research shows that giving a new food once in the first year can double a baby’s intake of that food when a parent offers it again at mealtime.*

When toddlers start to walk and become more mobile, some develop neophobia (a fear of new foods). Academics think that young children have evolved in this way to prevent them from eating toxic or poisonous substances that they might come across in their immediate environment. So any food that they do not recognise as ‘normal food’ is seen as a potential danger and is a means to protect them from being poisoned. It tends to peak at between 2 and 6 years old but older children can be neophobic , particularly if parents/carers limit the variety of foods they eat.**

So you have about a year from weaning to introduce as many different foods as possible. And as much as possible.

Food refusal

For some children refusing to eat food they’ve happily eaten before is a great way to get your attention. So don’t give too much, just tell them it would be great if they do eat it. And if they do give them lots of praise and if they don’t then take the plate away at the end of mealtime without saying anything. Vying for attention with a sibling can be another motivation.

Sometimes too,  it can be a way to exert their independence.

It’s all about taking the charge away from food (i.e. keep it neutral) so that it’s not something they can use to get a reaction out of you.

I do find this particularly hard, I pretty much cook from scratch all the time, so when food’s pushed away, I have to keep a poker face.

If your child refuses to eat their main meal then do offer them a pudding, as again this keeps things neutral. You just need to make it something that nutritious! So something that’s fruit based and/or dairy based. And not high in sugar, that’s right, not high in sugar!

Never withhold food as a punishment.

Also if they’re hungry just before bed and this is may be due to not eating enough at teatime, then make them something plan like bread and butter.

Refusing old favourites

Sometimes children will suddenly hate or dislike something they’ve happily eaten for ages. It’s possible their tastes have changed, but sometimes it can be a way to get attention/exert independence. So the best thing to do is still offer the food, a little on their plate (not touching other foods if need be!) and praise them if they eat it or take it away at the end of the meal without comment if they don’t.

Try it

If they tell you they don’t like something or they won’t eat it. Just suggest they try it and that they don’t have to eat it, just trying is enough.

Peers

Research shows that when children eat with their peers their more likely to try previously refused foods. Lots of parents will find children happily eat foods at nursery that they refuse at home, part of the reason for this can be because their being influenced by other children. So if you know any children who eat really well get them round for tea!

Childcare

A good barometer is what your child eats with other people. If your childminder or nursery tells you that they eat well, then there may be a power play going on at home. So look for ways to address it.

Boundaries

So try not to change the foods you’re giving them,  don’t offer more appealing (salty/sugary) foods because you know they’ll eat them happily. This way they’ll just learn that if they refuse the healthy stuff they’ll be offered the treat stuff.

It can be so tricky – last week the toddler had molars coming through too which added another reason not to eat.

Writing this has helped remind me of what I need to do, if you’ve got any other ideas of things that help you please comment – its always good to hear about other people’s experiences and ideas!!

*Reference quoted in a section I contributed to Soil Association’s Nursery Food Report : Birch et al (1998). Development of eating behaviours among children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 101, 539-549. Quoted in Dovey TM et al. Food neophobia and ‘picky/fussy eating in children: A review. Appetite (2007) doi:10.1016/j.appet,2007,09.009.

**Reference again quoted in Soil Association’s Nursery Food Report : Rozin P, (1979) Preference and affect in food selection in JHA Kroeze (Ed). Preference, behaviour and chemoreception (pp 289-297) .

Date and banana flapjacks with #noaddedsugar

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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!

Cheap eats #7: Spanish tortilla

IMG_0096I first learnt how to make Spanish tortilla from the lovely, Chris Adnitt, 20 years ago when he was sharing a flat in Maida Vale  with my (now) husband.  Chris went on Spanish exchanges when he was at school, and has always loved all things Spanish. So it’s hardly surprising that he now owns a gorgeous neighbourhood tapas restaurant, Number 22, in Herne Hill. He’s from Maltby.

We went recently on a fleeting visit to London just after new year. The food is delicious – service is great too (well I have to say that as Chris served us). The restaurant’s been refurbished after Herne Hill suffered 6ft floods the previous year. Then when I was at uni with another equally lovely friend, Alicia, who happens to be Spanish, the recipe got further updated. So, you could say my tortilla has a pretty good pedigree, though there’s always new ways of doing and improving recipes.

Tortilla, or Spanish omelette is a great way to use left over veg – so it’s a good meal for a Monday. And you can add 100g of bacon for a treat.* I’ve made it recently with sweet potato, carrot, beetroot and peas.

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You will need…

500g potatoes (about 4) diced
60ml olive oil Medium onion chopped
100g peas
5 medium eggs
Teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika (optional)

How to…

Heat 15ml olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
Fry the onion until translucent. Add the rest of the olive oil.
Heat through and add the potatoes.
Stir well and then reduce the heat to low Cover with a plate, so the vegetables steam cook.
Stir every few minutes until the potatoes are cooked through (should take about 10 minutes).
Add the smoked paprika and mix well.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large bowl.
Add the peas to the potato mixture right at the end.
Put the vegetable mixture into a sieve over a bowl to drain out any excess oil.
Then stir into the beaten eggs.
Add a little oil to the frying pan again, just to coat it.
Pour the mixture into the pan and cook on a low heat. Finish the top under the grill.
Make sure it’s cook through in the middle.
Grate some cheese on top. Serve with cooked vegetables, salad or baked beans (for the kids)

Cost

I worked out the cost of this recipe and if you use organic eggs it costs £3.35, using free range, it costs £2.67.

Nutrition

There was once a time when eggs were thought to raise cholesterol, because of their high levels of cholesterol. But this is history now (something I learnt about at uni 15 years ago). It’s really just a good illustration of how science isn’t an absolute, there are always new findings which outdate the old.

A quarter of this tortilla is about 385 kcal’s, and provides some calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate and vitamin B12 and vitamin C. *Bacon is a treat because there’s strong evidence to suggest regularly consuming processed meat such as bacon increases your risk of cancer. It’s thought that the nitrites in bacon and other cured meats could be the reason for this. It is possible to buy nitrite free bacon though whether this removes the risk factor is not known!

What’s for lunch: mackerel with puy lentils and beetroot

Mackerel, puy lentils and beetroot

“What’s for lunch” is a series of recipes and ideas for lunches that you can share with your baby or toddler (though you don’t have to have a baby or toddler to make these dishes).

This makes a nice, easy and very nutritious lunch. The puy lentils and beetroot salad works well with feta cheese or goats cheese sprinkled on top (though those flavours are probably too strong for a little one) it makes a good packed lunch, or picnic salad.

Mackerel has just come back into season (its out of season February to May) so it’s something we have quite often now. The girls love it. I get them filleted, and then carefully check for bones before cooking (usually with tweezers) and also when I flake it for my youngest daughter after cooking.

You will need…

2-4 fillets of mackerel (if you buy 4 you will have enough left overs to make fishcakes)
100g puy lentils
4-6 bulbs of beetroot
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
A handful of salad leaves

How to…

Preheat your oven to about 200°c, gas mark 5.
Scrub about 4-5 beetroot bulbs and top and tail them and put on roasting tray.
Drizzle with olive oil and roast for between 45 minutes to an hour depending on size, until they are soft (if you haven’t got so much time then half them before roasting).
Allow to cool and then peel, cut into chucks and put to one side.

Baked the mackerel on a tray in the oven with the beetroot for about 15 minutes (or grill it).
Rinse puy lentils then cook in boiling water for about 20-30 minutes, until just soft.
Then rinse through with cold water.
Put the lentils in a bowl with the beetroot scattered on top.
I had some leftover rocket too so added that – usually I would add more, baby spinach, parsley or basil could work just as well.
Make a dressing with about 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice) to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Put in a jar and shake to mix well and then drizzle some over the lentil salad on your plate (it might be a strong flavour for your little one though you could try putting a little on their plate to mix in with the lentils, keep the rest of the dressing in the fridge.

I had a leftover roast potatoes from Sunday lunch so warmed them through for my daughter. You could give a slice of bread, some pasta shapes or other root to give a mixture of high fibre and low fibre carbs.


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Nutrition bits

So you probably already know that mackerel is a fatty fish so is a good source of omega 3 fats. Overall this meal provides high amounts of protein, fibre, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12 and iodine. It provides lots of other nutrients too numerous to list.

Eat the seasons

Something I have done since  my eldest daughter was a baby is eat by season. My time working at Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming is probably where I first started. All the recipes on this blog use fruit and/or veg that’s in season.

There are lots of reasons for eating seasonal fruit and veg: reducing your carbon emissions, it’s cheaper, it tastes better, we need to support British farmers and it’s likely to have higher levels of vitamins, like Vitamin C compared to produce shipped/flown in from overseas. Have a look at the www.eatseasonably.co.uk for more info.

It’s not about abstinence but enjoying fruit and veg at its best.  It’s about connecting you with the seasons and where your food comes from. This time of year is a bit hard – I miss my salads and tomatoes, my eldest daughter misses strawberries and blueberries.* I know though as soon as those seasons come in we’ll be making the most of the produce they bring. 

With fruit this time of year, you don’t have to stick to apples and rhubarb. Buying fruit from Southern Europe, gives you more choice and buying kiwi fruit from Italy rather than Australia or South America is better for the environment. Bananas are a must have all year round too – always go for fairtrade.

I promise you, if you haven’t already tried eating seasonally,  I’m sure you and your family will grow to love it – give it a year and see. For information on what’s in season right now go to eattheseasons.co.uk  and like their Facebook page for recipe ideas and inspiration.

Navel oranges are in season at the moment …I cut some easy-to-handle slices for the babster but she went for the whole half an orange and tucked in, getting very messy.

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She’s just over a year now, and one of the ways I help her to feel independent and in control is by giving her choices, so I’ll put two types of fruit in front of her and ask which she wants to eat. Toddlers from around 18 months are learning to be in control and independent and they often do this by refusing food. One of the ways I get round this (hopefully – it worked with the eldest) is by giving choice.

I’m also buying organic kiwi fruit from Italy at the moment, I peel most of it and leave the bottom with the skin on to make it easy for my daughter to hold.

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Pomegranates are next on the list… highly nutritious and fiddly as anything – they should keep her busy for a bit …

*When blueberries, and other berries are in season, freeze some for Winter months as a treat, or you can buy frozen blueberries – they’re softer so easier for little ones to eat whole. For younger babies it’s a good idea to squish them rather than give them whole. If you live near Wimborne in Dorset (or are on holiday down that way) you can always go to Trehane Nursery and buy frozen blueberries or pick your own in July/August and freeze some. Or even better buy some blueberry plants from there, like I did.

What’s for lunch*: “Best ever spag bol” with chicken livers

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I dithered  over posting this recipe, as I know people have a bit of an “ewww” reaction to liver. But logically, if you’re happy to eat a chicken’s legs why not it’s liver?

I made it last week for lunch, it’s really tasty and nutritious and the babster loved it, I gave a little taster bowl to my eldest daughter (who’s 7) and she didn’t like it, I can’t really expect her to as I’ve never gave her chicken liver, so it’s not a flavour she’s used to (the dish isn’t overly liver tasting anyway – if that makes sense). Forcing children to eat food is a very bad idea,  getting them to try a little bit of everything is the ideal.

Anyway, please keep an open mind and try it, it’s Jack Monroe’s  spaghetti bolognese recipe posted her blog last week,  – it’s adapted from a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s  latest cookbook. I didn’t include was the chilli (for obvious reasons) or the spinach because it’s not in season at the moment so is flown in from Spain. I used organic chicken livers and I slightly adapted it by not using chilli for obvious reasons or frozen spinach – because I didn’t have any.

 

Ingredients

1 carrot peeled top and tailed and sliced
1 onion sliced
2 fat cloves of garlic crushed
1tbsp olive oil
200g chicken livers

1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
1 tsp fennel seeds
390g carton of chopped tomatoes,
1 tbsp vinegar – red wine or white wine
100g red lentils
100g spaghetti

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and add the  onion, carrot and garlic.
Add the vinegar, herbs and fennel. Rinse the livers and toss them in too.
Fry everything together on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes until the veg softens and the livers are sealed.
Carefully put the veg and livers into a blender with the chopped tomatoes, and blend until fairly smooth.
Pour the contents of the blender back in the pan on a medium heat, and add 200ml water, and stir well.
Rinse the lentils well and add to the pan.
Add a little more water if the sauce starts to dry out

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti to cook.

The bolognese mixture should take about 15-20 minutes to cook – the lentils should be soft.
Drain the pasta, toss the sauce through,and top with cheese to serve.

Portion sizes

These portion sizes are based on Caroline Walker Trusts Chew guidance for the first year of life and 1-4 year olds.

7-9 months : 60g bolognese to 50g pasta plus about 20g of vegetables as finger food (for this age range you can blend the bolognese and pasta together with a little of baby’s usual milk)
10-12 months : 80g bolognese to 50g pasta plus 30g vegetables as finger food (for this age range you can blend/chop the pasta to make it easier to eat)
1-4 years : 90g bolognese to 80g pasta plus 40g vegetables

Nutrition bits

Based on the above portion sizes for a 10 month old ,this dish would provide about a quarter of their daily recommended intake for iron and magnesium, 3 times their recommended Vitamin A , nearly half their recommended Vitamin B1 intake, three quarters of their Vitamin b2 intake, just under a third of their recommend B3, half their recommended B6, all their recommended folate and vitamin B12 intakes.

Dairy, egg and gluten free

If you can easily exclude these allergens if you use pasta made from rice and/or quinoa – these pastas are usually egg free too, but check the label just in case.
*What’s for lunch is a series of posts with lunch ideas and recipes for you to share with your baby and/or toddler.  Sharing the same food is all part of the social aspect of mealtimes and you’re children learn about food and eating from eating you…