Wednesday, 29 January 2014

No added sugar banana French toast; great for babies, toddlers and adults

This one had been in the ideas bank for a while.  French toast without the sugar, but with added fruit.  It just seemed right and so great as an idea for babies or toddlers on finger foods.  The only reason I added the icing sugar on the photo was to make it look pretty.  I know, I failed.  Without bacon and syrup, French toast photography is surprisingly hard!  Especially in artificial light at 6:45am!

This is surprisingly sweet reward for my early cooking antics though.  I was expecting to serve it with drizzled honey but none was needed.

Texturally this was pretty similar to American style pancakes so a little more floppy than regular french toast but without having to open a pack of flour.  If you keep bread in the freezer; a few slices defrost easily within 15-20 minutes at room temperature meaning this is a great way to avoid waste too.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Great Quick Post Parent and Tots Food

I don't know about you but for years I was going to Parent and Tots groups which finish just before lunch.  My son has never been great at hanging on for food and for a long time also went down for a nap straight after he'd finished his plate.  I thought I'd put together a short roundup of great things to make when you're really short of time and have a hungry, tired baby or toddler who needs food quick followed by a long snooze!

Salsiccia pasta

I love pasta for quick food.  A great one for this is bolognese sauce made in a slow cooker; prep in the morning over breakfast, come back and it's done.  Pasta only takes 10 minutes to cook from dried or even less if you're using the quick cooking kind or fresh pasta so this means you're ready to eat in no time and no standing over a stove to get there.  The other great thing when they're really small is you can run the cooked pasta under a cold tap then mix with the hot sauce so that the overall dish cools down super quick.  I remember those days of jiggling a hungry baby saying "it just needs to cool down".  Pasta is also pretty popular with kids in general and the great thing about my bolognese recipe is it's a fantastic source of hidden vegetables and iron as it contains beef and chicken livers.  Alternatively if you grill the peppers in advance, this amazingly tasty and gorgeous looking sausage pasta is a about a 12 minute job.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Goats cheese frittata, great for kids

My son eats pretty well, I know what you're thinking, "My kid won't eat goats' cheese and they're certainly not fans of broccoli!".  They can and they might just surprise you.  My 3 year old is a bit of a cheese fan (as am I) and I do love quiches.  The thing is, calorie wise and salt wise the pastry adds loads and, although I'm a fan of crisp, buttery pastry, the filling is where it's at with a quiche anyway and you know what?  I can be bothered to make a quiche about once in a blue moon.  By making it as a frittata, it's mega quick, easy and tasty and the result looks like you've spent ages over something dead simple.  I'd happily serve this to adults and it would make a pretty nice starter with a spinach salad dressed with walnuts and vinaigrette.  Also, cunningly, by excluding the crust, this recipe is now also wheat free as well as being vegetarian.

As a result of this love of the frittata's taste, ease and convenience you might notice I've been messing around with frittatas made like crustless quiches (i.e. in the oven) a lot recently.  I've always been a fan of goats cheese quiches so tried making a frittata along similar lines. It was meant to be beautifully arranged circles of a small goats cheese log, but that didn't turn up on my food order (the perils of ordering food online) so the presentation isn't quite as pretty as I hoped it would be but it was really tasty.  I mean REALLY tasty.  I'm definitely making this again!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Thrifty Sunday Lunch Options

Please excuse some of the photography on this post, some of the recipes are quite old on my blog (and I'd like to think my photography has improved) but I thought I'd run through some of the things I like to make for Sunday Lunch without breaking the bank.  Tomorrow it's going to be Game Pie but I will blog about that later.  In the meantime, here are some other delicious options without spending £20 on a joint of meat.

toad in the hole
Toad in the Hole.  Ok, it's not all that healthy but there's something about putting sausages into batter which makes it more of a "sit around the table and have a long lunch and a natter" kind of food.  That, in my view is what Sundays are all about!

pot roast

Pot roast.  I love pot roast (and I love my slow cooker).  What's even better about having a pot roast though is the leftovers made into the easiest and tastiest cottage pie in the world (in my opinion!)  Brisket is also a pretty cheap cut, much cheaper than a straight roasting joint.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Roasted roots

You may have seen a slightly unusual accompaniment to my smoked mackerel fish cakes the other day.  Yes, they were roasted carrots and radishes!  Two things we don't often roast but I'd given my son boiled carrots earlier in the day and we were a little low on vegetables so didn't just want to give him the same.  I'd seen roasted radishes in gastropub type menus and thought "why not?"

I often say to parents who have children who are fussy; "try cutting or cooking things differently".  For example, when my son was a baby he went off halved grapes.  I tried slicing them one day and he liked them again!  He went off broccoli for a while so I tried it in my monster mash and he loved it again.  Get the idea?  So although my son loves carrots, I thought I'd try and mix it up a bit.  If your child is less keen on carrots, they might go for this and the radishes lose all of their 'heat' on roasting meaning they end up just tasting of lovely roastiness.  Is that a word?  Probably not.

Roasted radishes

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Smoked Mackerel Fish Cakes

I may worry (probably unduly) about my child's nutrition but it can be difficult to encourage kids to eat oily fish. Oily fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 oils.  Omega 3 are a group of oils which, although the jury is out on the specific health effects; it's generally believed they're pretty good things to have in your diet.  Sources include things like salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, fresh tuna, pollock (at lower levels) etc.  There are other sources but oily fish is the most concentrated.  This might not look like a lot of mackerel in the recipe but there's about five times more omega 3 in mackerel than there is in cod.

So how to get this goodie into your child's diet?  A challenge and I've linked some other oily fish recipes at the end if you'd like some more ideas!

Smoked mackerel fish cakes

Thursday, 2 January 2014

My Favourite Healthy Smart Swap Recipes

Well we're thinking on with it being New Year; time for change, renewal and as many people do, dieting.

I've said before, I'm not 100% sure that dieting works; especially if you are substituting 'diet' products for regular.  I know this is a controversial attitude, particularly considering official government advice reported in the media today.  That said though, some people really are out of the habit of eating healthily and I know I get like that sometimes and need to give myself a shake up, wake up and start to realise how delicious healthier food can be.  So rather than swapping sugary drink for sugar free, these are MY smart swap recipes!

Not all of them are salads either (even if this goats cheese salad is delicious) I can appreciate some people reject stuff like this as 'rabbit food' and need a little more encouragement towards their 5 a day.

So here are some recipes which often contain fruit and / or vegetables and have something else about them which I think makes them worthwhile as a 'healthy' recipe depending on your approach.  After all, remember, everything is ok in moderation but the important word is 'moderation' not 'everything'!