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Kid Friendly Food

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Classic Italian Bruschetta with NatureSweet Eclipses


We moved from Europe to the US a few years ago, and one of the things I miss is the food in Italy. Simple, with the best ingredients, you just can’t beat it. I miss the tomatoes from my in-laws’ kitchen garden, they are unlike anything I have tried before; and when you’re making something as simple as classic Italian bruschetta you need to use good tomatoes. Unfortunately most tomatoes sold in the grocery store taste of… pretty much nothing, and your homemade bruschetta can be disappointing. So when NatureSweet offered me some of their new Eclipses, I knew the way to put them to the ultimate test was Bruschetta. That, and my seven year old. She’s honest and a bit of a food diva, so she’ll tell you like it is.

classic italian bruschetta fb

Elsie loves to bake and was keen on making pink cupcakes this weekend… So when I told her we had some fancy tomatoes to test run, I felt like a bit of a party pooper. However, when I told her we were making bruschetta, she immediately decided it was important to bake our own bread. If you’re going to do it, do it properly, right? Because bruschetta topping is wet, you need a crusty bread base, otherwise you’re going to end up in a soggy mess. Traditionally, bruschetta would be served on a sliced tuscan loaf, an extremely basic unsalted, unsweetened bread – it’s literally made with yeast, flour and water. It is however a bread that requires a ‘sponge’, which means you have to be prepared 24hrs before. Alternatively, get yourself a baguette and slice diagonally, or something a little crustier – avoid a soft fluffy center!
 

Why Ingredients are Important for Classic Italian Bruschetta

Classic Italian bruschetta is truly simple, which means you taste every ingredient. Therefore this is one of those times you crack open the fancy extra virgin olive oil and the posh sea salt. Similarly, without good tomatoes, bruschetta is going to be rather tasteless, so consider which tomatoes are going to give deep, rich flavor. I knew bruschetta would be the ultimate test for NatureSweet Eclipses and they passed with flying colors! Elsie was a little nervous of the deep color when she first saw them, and as you’ll see in the video, she was a little reluctant to try. Despite the slow start, she asked for a second helping with her dinner, so I think we won her over…

The twins are already hooked on the NatureSweet baby tomatoes, and they were just as happy with the Eclipses, they truly were delicious. 

Big blog news…

I’m hosting a new giveaway! You can win a gift pack from NatureSweet including branded swag items as well as coupons. I’ve got to say, I have absolutely no idea what kind of swag a tomato company make… but I’m pretty excited about it. Who doesn’t like discounts and free stuff? Details under the recipe, good luck!

classic italian bruschetta ingredients

Classic Italian Bruschetta
Yields 6
Simple, using the best ingredients, you just can't beat authentic bruschetta on Tuscan bread.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
26 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
26 hr
For the Tuscan bread (sponge)
  1. 1 tbs (1 packet) active dry yeast
  2. 1/2 cup luke warm water
  3. 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Tuscan bread (loaf)
  1. 1/2 tbs (1/2 packet) active dry yeast
  2. 11/4 cups luke warm water
  3. 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the bruschetta
  1. 6 slices tuscan bread
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. 4 NatureSweet Eclipses Tomatoes
  4. 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  5. 4-6 fresh basil leaves
  6. course sea salt
  7. tsp cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Method: Tuscan bread (sponge)
  2. Add the luke warm water (110-115°F) to a medium bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave to activate for about 10mins.
  3. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and keep mixing until a dough is formed.
  4. Cover and leave in a warm place for around 20hrs.
  5. Method: Tuscan bread (loaf)
  6. Add 1/4 cup luke warm water (110-115°F) to a large bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave to activate for about 10mins.
  7. Add the remaining water, stir in the risen sponge from yesterday and mix thoroughly.
  8. Add the flour and mix with your hands (grease them with olive oil to stop the sticking). Knead until smooth, by hand or using a mixer.
  9. Leave the dough to stand in a greased bowl for 4hrs - it should double in size. Remove from the bowl and shape into a loaf. Leave to stand for another 30mins.
  10. Preheat oven to 400°F, if using a pizza stone, preheat with the stone inside. Sprinkle the pizza stone (or a baking sheet) with flour and place the loaf in the center. Bake for 30mins - it may take a little longer on a baking sheet.
  11. Method: Bruschetta
  12. Slice the bread diagonally and char on a griddle pan or charcoal grill.
  13. Crack the clove of garlic with the side of a knife and peel. Rub the garlic over the warm toast.
  14. Drizzle each piece with olive oil.
  15. De-seed and chop the tomatoes into small cubes and put a handful onto each slice.
  16. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Notes
  1. De-seeding the tomatoes is not necessary, I do it quickly but not thoroughly.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/

So… back to the GIVEAWAY!!

Want to win a gift pack from NatureSweet with swag and coupons?

In the comments below (or on Facebook if you came through that route), share with me a dish/recipe that would be perfect for Eclipses, and use the hashtag #NatureSweetEclipses! Also, don’t forget to check out the Eclipses webpage

The contest runs until May 22, 2017 at 11:59 PM PST. The winner will be notified directly by email or Facebook Messenger by May 29, 2017. Entrants must be residents of the US and 18+ only. Winner will be randomly selected from comments on this blog post and Facebook.

classic italian bruschetta

I was really pleased how the classic Italian bruschetta turned out, let me know if you try it. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for some tomato swag! haha, have you ever heard of such a thing?!

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Fig Chia Oat Bars: All the Good Stuff with Just the Right Amount of Naughty

I’ve been destroying the kitchen again… I have sampled so many Fig Chia Oat Bars this week I’ve started to dream about them. But on the plus side, I’m pretty sure I’ve nailed the recipe. The whole household is loving these snack bars – well George is only 50% on board, but Arthur’s been eating his share so everyone’s a winner. We’ve got to the stage with the Twins that they are insistent on eating totally different diets. George likes peas, Arthur likes beans, so I end up cooking both. Arthur likes a banana for breakfast, George likes peanut butter. Will they eat what the other likes… no. Identical on the outside, totally unique on the inside… frankly, it’s bonkers.
 
fig chia oat bars fb
 
Anyways, back to the Fig Chia Oat Bars… I wanted to create some kind of snack bar I could keep in my bag for days out with the Twins. Shop bought bars have not gone down well overall, and when you’re buying for big sister’s lunch box too, the good ones get really expensive. I considered going super healthy and savory, but when you look at the ingredients on a yummy Clif Bar, you soon realize all that deliciousness comes with a decent amount of sweetness. I then starting thinking about the traditional English Flap Jack… Oats bundled up in a naughty amount of golden syrup. So, we’ve ended up somewhere in-between, with lots of goodness from the figs, chai seed and rolled oats, but with just the right about of butter and sweet stuff to make them delicious. Enjoy!

fig chia oat bars white side tp

fig chia oat bars white stack tp

Fig Chia Oat Bars
Yields 10
All the goodness of oats, chia and figs with a little naughtiness holding it all together. Delicious snack bars the whole family will enjoy.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. ½ cup butter
  2. ½ cup brown sugar
  3. ½ cup water
  4. 4 tbs maple syrup
  5. 1 cup dried figs
  6. 3 cups rolled oats
  7. ½ cup all purpose flour
  8. ½ tsp baking soda
  9. ½ tsp salt
  10. 2 tbs chia seeds
  11. 1 tbs lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan and mix in the sugar, water and maple syrup. Finely chop the figs and add to the pan.
  3. Simmer the mix for 3-5 minutes until it's dark in color, and slightly thickened.
  4. Add the oats, flour, baking soda and salt to a large mixing bowl. Pour over the sugar/butter mix and stop until the oats are fully coated.
  5. Add the lemon juice and chia seed and mix.
  6. Grease and line an 8" square tin and add the mixture. Press down to fill the pan, and compress a little to reduce crumbling.
  7. Bake for 20-25 mins until it starts to go golden.
  8. Cool in the pan before removing and cutting into bars.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
Although I’ve listed a square tin, if you have an 8″ rectangular loaf tin, even better. I split the mix into two and baked in a loaf tin, because the width of the tin is the perfect length for one bar (4″). That way, I easily cut into 6 bars with minimal crumbling!

fig chia oat bars white end tp

I hope all the family enjoy the Fig Chia Oat Bars. My daughter is growing fast at the moment, as is constantly hungry. Oats are perfect for her morning snack because they are slow burning, and she’s not a fan of porridge. She calls them ‘homemade granola bars’, but I think they have to have nuts in them to qualify as granola? What the heck, stick some almonds in there and see what happens…

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Related Posts:

 


12 Meals Kids Can Make Themselves

Children love to get involved in food prep and cooking, and there are plenty of meals kids can make themselves. They can help with pretty much anything, but there are certain activities they particularly enjoy, and others that encourage learning. Whatever the new skill, they will feel empowered by the independence of making their own food, so go on… let them have a go!

12 meals kids can make themslevs fb

Kit-of-Parts Meals

Elsie loves to construct food. She can chop and sort items, but the best bit by far is bringing it all together to make something pretty. Give them separate bowls with everything they need and let them get creative!

Flatbread pizzas

Flatbread makes a great easy pizza base. I buy the wholemeal flatbread too, and no-one ever complains. You can buy or make fancy pizza sauce, but if your tomatoes are high quality you really don’t need to do anything with them. I only ever buy the imported italian tinned tomatoes,  I’m not just being a tomato snob, the best Italian tomatoes don’t have the acidity cheaper tomatoes have, and are good enough to stick straight on a pizza without other ingredients. Elsie’s a cheese pizza kind of girl but if there’s other ingredients available to pretty up her pizza she just might be tempted. Once constructed, place in the oven at 400°F for around 5-10 minutes. 

Tacos

We often eat tacos together… in Elsie’s words “It’s make your own taco night?!” Put the meat into the slow cooker before school (kiddos can help or just do the fun bit later).  It’ll be perfect for dinner time and your littles can enjoy constructing their tacos with all the trimmings. Elsie likes her tacos with pickled red onion (leave sliced red onion in lime juice for the 2-6hrs in the fridge), chopped cilantro (thats coriander if you’re British) and chopped baby tomatoes. Also, consider guacamole and crumbled cotija… yum. Find a recipe and method for carnitas here at Recipe Tin Eats.

source: therisingspoon.com
source: recipetineats.com
source: closet cooking.com

Kebabs

It’s warming up quick here in Arizona, which means one thing… grilling season is here! You can pretty much skewer anything and grill it, so let the kids pick their favorite ingredients and arm them with a long pokey stick. They can pick whatever they like, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, Food Network have 50 kebab ideas here.

 

Meals for Motor Skills 

We often take for granted how easy it is to carry out certain activities in the kitchen. I remember my first batch of fairy cakes with little Elsie… there was more cake mix on the worktop and tray than in the actual cake cases. Scooping sticky cake mix is tough!

PB & J

It sounds like small beans, but Elsie was super excited the first time she made her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s quite difficult to spread things onto bread using a knife, and even gauging the amount to scoop out is a challenge for those that have never done it before. Cutting the sandwich in half is surprisingly difficult too, so there is loads to learn from this easy peasy meal!

Cornish Pasty

Despite living in Arizona, I grew up in Cornwall, England. I was more than surprised when I moved to the desert, that the local folk are really into pasties! The Cornish are very particular about their pasties, so I’m sticking with a traditional recipe from The Cornish Pasty Association. These are perfect for kids because they also fill the ‘kit-of-parts’ category above, but working with pastry required considerable motor skills. They are perfect lunch box food so get stuck in straight away!

source: localfoodheroes.co.uk
source: localfoodheroes.co.uk
source: joepastry.com

Cottage Pie

Cottage, Shepard’s, Fish… any kind of pie with a mash potato topping. Smashing potatoes with a masher is lots of fun, and spreading the potatoes is quite the challenge, similar to the PB&J. If you have small pie pots I recommend using them, that way your kiddo can scoop the pie mix into the pot, top with potato and claim their own personal pie! They can of course be involved in the pie mix too, if you’re looking for a recipe try Gordon Ramsey’s at Epicurious.

 

Educational Meals

Kids will learn from any cooking, but some activities open up the perfect opportunities for a little lesson in the kitchen…

Food Hygiene: Chicken Nuggets

I am always extra careful will raw poultry, and I believe it’s good for kids to have an understanding of food hygiene early on. I’m not suggesting you hand raw chicken to a toddler, but once they’re old enough to listen and follow directions, let them make their own nuggets! I buy chicken mini fillets and cut into two or three nuggets for each fillet. Set up three bowls with flour, lightly beaten egg, and breadcrumbs (I like Panko). Add a little salt in with the flour. Elsie loves dipping the nuggets, first in the flour, then the egg and lastly the crumbs. You can then bake in the oven or shallow fry – the Panko will go a pretty golden color if you fry.

Chemical Reactions: Pancakes

It’s fun to watch things cook and change, and what kid doesn’t love pancakes! Take the opportunity to have a science lesson in your kitchen, this PBS Parents video shows you how…

Growing Food: Salad

Elsie and I try and grow food every year. So far we have had little success, despite our efforts, but who knows… maybe this year! There is something magic about planting a seed, watching it grow, picking it and eating it, and it throws up questions about food sources, health and the environment. I love the ideas for fun kid salads at Super Healthy Kids, my favorite is the salad skewers… see kebabs above!

 

Encouraging Decision Making

Many meals can be made in a number of different ways. I find Elsie is less fussy about food she has chosen herself, rather than something new and green being placed in front of her. One of the advantages of meals kids can make themselves, is they feel more invested in eating it! Let those kiddos browse the veg in the grocery store, and pick something new to chuck in with their homemade meal…

Quesadilla

Quesadilla’s are fun and easy to make, and because they are parceled up with cheese they are easy to use to lightly introduce new flavors. You can’t go wrong with a classic chicken and cheese quesadilla, but get them to decide on one or two bonus ingredients! If you want some slightly wacky ideas for quesadilla’s check out this slideshow at Delish.

Omelette

You can stick anything in an omelette. Let them pick something fun, and create a new flavor sensation. In case you want to know how to create the perfect omelette, Bon Appetite have got you covered. And I love Jamie Oliver’s omelette monsters… so much fun!

omelette monster

Pasta

Elsie does a weekly cooking club after school. Last week they made greek pasta salad which she was weirdly excited about. Pasta dishes can incorporate whatever your kid enjoys to eat, so let them decide! Tomato base? Creamy? Choose your veg, maybe some meat? Herbs? Cheese? There are so many alternatives, let them come up with the perfect dish and they’re much more likely to be excited to sit down and clear the plate.

 

Lastly… Snacks

Call me lazy, call me savvy, but I believe the more they do, the less you have to do! Granted the mess may be worse, but put your feet up and let them get their own snacks:

  • Cheese & Crackers – Portion sized cheese helps (Babybel or cheese sticks)
  • Berries & Yogurt
  • Toast – Teach them how to do this safely
  • Hummus & Pita
  • Keep the fruit bowl where they can get to it!

 

I hope you enjoyed these meals kids can make themselves… do let me know if you have any favorites to add to the list!

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Coconut Carrot Muffins: Dairy Free Deliciousness

I love to bake but, when I do… I eat all the cake to myself. So, I’ve decided to come up with some slightly healthier baking options to help with my cake eating guilt. These dairy free coconut carrot muffins are likely no lower in calories than your ordinary cake; by there is no butter, milk, white sugar, white-flour or vegetable oil. Instead we’re using whole-wheat flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, coconut milk, and carrots. Carrot cake doesn’t even count as cake, does it? The benefits of coconut oil are abundant, from anti-inflammation, aiding digestion, and even reducing the risk of cancer. Find out more about coconut oil here at Dr.Axe.

This recipe was also inspired by my ongoing quest to get vegetables into my children. I appreciate cake is probably not the answer, but it’s a good excuse to get baking; and they may even get a little carrot goodness out of it too.

coconut carrot muffins

Something has happened to my children in since the clocks turned 2017. They don’t want to eat vegetables. My eldest (6) has always been a good vegetable eater and I’ve been able to proudly watch her tuck into all sorts of greens for years. The Twins used to eat a selection of homemade veggie purees, full of goodness. But one day, around 14months of age, the boys decided they like meat, cheese and mashed potato… and the dog can eat the vegetables. This seems to have now induced a vegetable phobia in my daughter, so I’ve spent the past week coming up with genius ways to sneak in the veg. So far I’m having little success, hence the last resort… muffins.

The carrot muffins were a hit with all, although I am aware my children can’t live off cake… even if I do.

Extra Coconut-y Coconut Carrot Muffins

I have named these muffins ‘coconut and carrot’ because of the use of coconut oil, coconut sugar and coconut cream. However, there is not a strong coconut flavor, because I rather like the savory spiced flavor of carrot cake. If you are looking for more coconut flavor, I recommend adding coconut extract and coconut flakes. I did make a batch with the sweetened coconut flakes, but personally I prefer the texture without, and the idea behind this recipe was for a more savory, less sugar packed muffin…

Coconut Carrot Muffins: Dairy Free Deliciousness

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes

Yield: 22 muffins

Coconut Carrot Muffins: Dairy Free Deliciousness

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups finely grated carrot
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup coconut cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Add the grated carrot and mix again.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted oil and coconut sugar. Add the eggs and coconut cream and beat until smooth.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix for 2 minutes to create your muffin batter.
  5. Pour mix into a greased muffin tray and bake for 12-13mins.
http://twinpickle.com/2017/02/27/coconut-carrot-muffins/

If you try the coconut carrot muffins for yourself I’d love to hear what you think of the recipe. And if have any magic ideas for getting vegetables into my children… please let me know!

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If you’re looking for something more naughty, I highly recommend Elsie’s Decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake… it’s deliciously filthy in all the right ways!

Baby Finger Food: Trump Pork and Apple Burgers

I woke up this morning and Donald Trump is President… Didn’t see that one coming. I thought about writing what I think about this turn of events, but instead I’m going to sum up how I’m feeling with this gif:

drinking-gif

So… turn up the music, pour yourself a cocktail and get on with life. Once you’ve sobered up, you may need to feed yourself and your children, so to help you out I am continuing with my Baby Finger Food series, enjoy:

At some point I will have to face teaching my boys to use a spoon, but if they’re anything like my daughter they will be determined to pick up whatever I serve them for some time. So for now I’m keeping things tidy and continue to come up with recipes they will enjoy that introduce new flavours, just like these juicy pork and apple burgers.

pork and apple burgers

Although the twins are getting the hang of chewing (they have eight teeth now!), many meats are still hard work. Minced meat is not only easy to chew but is easy to mix in with other ingredients to make a  moist patty. And my new herb to tickle their taste buds is tarragon… one of my personal favourites.

Pork & Apple Burgers with Tarragon
Yields 16
Juicy finger food for Baby, or garnish in a bun for the rest of the family, delicious!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb minced pork
  2. 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  3. 1 sweet apple, grated
  4. ½ onion, grated
  5. 1 egg, beaten
  6. ½ tsp dried tarragon
  7. pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with your hands.
  3. Shape the mix into patties and place on a lined baking tray.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, turning at half time.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
And what did the boys think?

twins-highchairs-food

twins-eating-food

If you like the look of the burgers you may like to try one of my other recipes from the Baby Finger Food Series:

Spicy Vegetable Croquettes
Baked Baby Falafel
Minty Pea Risotto Cakes

 


Baby Finger Food: Minty Pea Risotto Cakes

A message for risotto lovers everywhere… do not throw away your leftovers! This recipe may seem labour intensive, because it takes you from the beginning, but you can make risotto cakes out of any variety of risotto. I would highly recommend having yourself a lovely minty pea risotto dinner and using what’s left to make some cakes the following day. Perfect appetizers, snacks or baby finger food.

risotto-cake

My boys have been eating a lot of spices recently so I thought it was time to introduce them to a new herb flavour… mint. And peas are my official favourite vegetable, so I need the twins on board from an early age, or we’re going to have a lot of grumpy faces later on.

Minty Pea Risotto Cakes
Yields 18
Use this recipe to make risotto, risotto cakes or both... delicious!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
For the risotto
  1. 4 tbs olive oil
  2. 1 onion
  3. 4 cloves of garlic
  4. 1 cup Arborio rice
  5. 2 cups warm chicken (or veg) stock
  6. 1 1/2 cups warm water
  7. 1 cup frozen baby peas
  8. 6 mint leaves
  9. 2 tbs grated parmesan
For the cakes
  1. 1tbs olive oil
  2. 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
To make the risotto
  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat 4 tbs of olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Sauté the onion over medium heat for 4 minutes until they soften. Add the garlic and cook for another 4 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and sauté for 2 minutes. Add a little stock and stir until absorbed, continuing to add stock and then water, stirring until the rice is al dente, around 20 minutes.
  4. Add the peas and chopped mint, and cook for 2 minutes or until peas are tender. Stir in the grated parmesan.
To make the cakes (with chilled risotto)
  1. Toast the breadcrumbs in olive oil to brown.
  2. Roll balls of risotto in your hand and flatten to make patties.
  3. Lightly coat in breadcrumbs - the risotto should be sticky enough to not require an additional egg layer.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
Lucky for me, things on the pea front are looking good, and the boys weren’t phased by the new minty flavour either…

risotto-babies-happy

 
 

Baby Finger Food: Baked Baby Falafel

Following on from ‘Spiced Vegetable Croquettes’, I continue my quest to come up with healthy, adventurous foods my boys can feed themselves. They are 11 months old now and really aren’t interested in being fed by Mom, yet I’m trying to continue all the goodness they used to get from their homemade purees. Beans are the perfect source of protein, especially because as a household we are trying to cut down on meat consumption. I am also keen on introducing them to herbs and spices, and what better to do it than this Middle-Eastern classic – Falafel.

falafel

I may be upsetting many an Israeli falafel lover here with my recipe because traditionally they should be made with dried chickpeas. They should also be fried in oil to give that crispy on the inside, fluffy in the middle texture. I apologize in advance because I’ve gone rogue… You can’t necessarily find dried chickpeas in your local grocery store, and they also have to be soaked overnight before you can use them. So if you’re prepared and organized, go with dried, but if you have three children and a time management problem, buy canned.

In regard to cooking, I tried frying them but because they are smaller than traditional falafel they soaked up a lot of oil and were too greasy. I tasted both the fried and the oven baked and I genuinely favor the baked, hence that’s what I’m posting below. I’m happier offering baked goods over fried to the babies anyway (sorry Israel).

Baked Baby Falafel
Yields 30
A Middle-Eastern classic made a little easier and healthier for moms and babies alike.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 (15oz) cans of chickpeas
  2. 1/2 an onion
  3. 6 cloves of garlic
  4. 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  5. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  6. 1 tsp ground coriander
  7. 1 tsp ground cumin
  8. 4 tbs flour
  9. 1 tsp baking powder
  10. 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  11. 1 tbs olive oil (optional)
  12. Plain Greek yogurt & cucumber to serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Finely chop the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place into a food processor with the chopped veg, flour, baking powder, herbs and spices. Add a little salt if you wish.
  3. Pulse the ingredients in the food processor. You're aiming to break the chickpeas up, without turning them into a paste.
  4. Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls of around 1-1.5 inches in diameter.
  5. To give just a little crisp to the outside and stop them drying out, roll the falafel in a tbs of olive oil on a plate. Alternatively you could lightly spray with oil or just leave them bare - they will still be delicious!
  6. Place the falafel onto a lined tray and bake for 40mins, turning at half time.
  7. Serve on top of Greek yogurt with a side of cucumber.
Notes
  1. Instead of plain yogurt and sliced cucumber, you could go all out and make Tzatziki, yum. What can I say... I'm a busy woman and it just didn't happen this time! Enjoy snacking on your baby's food 😉
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/

Of course what matters most of all is the twin tasting panel… they went down a treat!
twins-eating

 


This post is linked up here: 

Juggling Food
Mummy in a Tutu

Baby Finger Food: Spiced Vegetable Croquettes

My babies are growing up fast and prefer getting their hands messy than their puree these days. It’s time for new homemade delights on the menu… I wanted to make something that’s easy to pick up but still packed with the goodness they’ve been getting from their favorite veg purees. I wanted to offer them something more exciting than a plate of boiled vegetables, and keep introducing them to interesting flavors through spices. So I came up these Indian inspired spiced vegetable croquettes. Totally delish for adults too, although if I was making just for grown ups I’d add a bit of salt in the mix… but for now babies, we’ll keep your lunch salt free.

croquette-stack

Spiced Vegetable Croquettes
Yields 20
Healthy finger food for baby and grown-ups alike, packed with vegetables with an Indian inspired spiced flavor.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 large potatoes
  2. ¼ cup milk (ish)
  3. 3 tbs butter
  4. 1-2 cloves garlic
  5. 2 carrots
  6. ½ a shallot
  7. 3 mushrooms
  8. 3-5 broccoli florets
  9. ½ tsp tumeric
  10. ¼ tsp corriander
  11. ¼ tsp cumin
  12. 2 tbs olive oil (optional for the golden crispy look)
  13. 1-2 eggs (I just about made do with one large)
  14. 1¼ cups panko bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into large pieces and boil for around 15mins until soft enough to mash. Mash the potatoes together with a little milk and butter (1tbs).
  2. Finely chop all the vegetables. You may want to grate harder veg such as the carrot or broccoli stalks if you want the croquettes to be super mushy. My boys are ready for a little texture so I chopped to no bigger than a pea. Saute the chopped veg in the remaining butter (2tbs) for 5-8mins until it softens.
  3. Mash the veg in with the potato and add the spices.
  4. Once cool enough to handle, take heaped tbs sized balls and roll into cylinders the size of a fat thumb. You should be able to make around 20 croquettes that size but you can make them any size or shape you like. I found rinsing my hands every 4-5 croquettes made the sticky mix easier to handle.
  5. Put the croquettes in the freezer for 20mins to firm up a little and make the breading process easier.
  6. Toast the panko breadcrumbs in a pan with a little olive oil. This step is optional but does give the breadcrumbs that lovely golden color. Otherwise, you can fry the croquettes instead of oven baking, or use whole wheat panko which are darker in color. Baby will also unlikely care if you bake the white breadcrumbs just as they are, it's only us adults that expect breadcrumbs to be golden!
  7. Remove your 'fat thumbs' from the freezer, dip in a egg and roll in the breadcrumbs to complete each croquette.
  8. Bake for 20mins on a tray lined with parchment paper, turning at half time.
  9. Wait for them to cool before serving to those hungry babies! I fed them cold to my boys straight from the fridge the following day and froze the rest for another time.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
And it’s only right to show you what the boys thought of them… Spiced Vegetable Croquettes for the win!

croquettes-twins

 

Baby food super-ingredients: 5 ways to jazz up your recipes

You have a few homemade baby food recipes you know Baby enjoys, but maybe its time to start tweaking and adding some of these baby super-ingredients:

coconut-baby-food

Coconut Milk
Baby loves sweet potato? Try adding some coconut milk to boost calories while enhancing flavor and nutrition. Coconuts are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and the ‘milk’ contained in them is perfect for blending in with babyfood. Coconut milk also contains fatty acids which are easily absorbed by the body and used for energy. It is not only high in the right kind of fats, it also contains electrolytes that are great for digestion and preventing constipation.

turmeric-baby-food

Tumeric
Making some baby lentil curry? Tumeric is said to have all kinds of super powers from helping with Alzeimher’s to supporting treatment of cancer and osteoarthritis. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and its an antioxidant. It’s also good for the liver and digestion… another pooptastic ingredient for baby!

Because of its magic powers turmeric can interfere with some anti-coagulants and anti-inflammatory medications so do check with your pediatrician if your little one has a medical condition.

 

kale-baby-food

Kale
And you thought spinach was a superfood? We all want our little ones to eat their greens, but vegetables like spinach and broccoli are high in naturally occurring nitrates and oxalates and therefore some cautious parenting ‘experts’ recommend waiting a little later to introduce these greens. Broccoli is also guilty of causing gas… we’ve all been there, right? Kale on the other hand is bursting with all those green veg vitamins with only a trace of oxalates and much lower nitrate levels than spinach. It’s also packed with calcium – it really is a baby food super-ingredient!

 

flax-baby-food

Flax seed
Want to jazz up your veg puree? Flax seed is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron, needed for healthy bone growth and blood cell production. Grind them up or just sprinkle on top, although soaking them first will make them easier to digest, allowing baby maximum health benefits. To top it off, flax seed is high in dietary fibre, so that tummy’s going to be in great working order.

 

quinoa-baby-food

Quinoa
Looking for a protein boost in your baby food? There’s a reason they call it ‘the mother of all grains’, despite being gluten free. Quinoa is a good source of protein, containing essential amino acids,  great for baby vegetarians or those with kids that just don’t like meat. It not only contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, it’s also an anti-oxidant, particularly useful for babies due to their high metabolism and production of free-radicals. It is a little tricky to digest, and therefore most ‘experts’ advise waiting until 8 months to introduce quinoa into Baby’s diet, but once you do, bowel movements a plenty… yup, its very high in fibre too!

 

Information Sources:
momjuntion.com
draxe.com
homemade-baby-food-recipes.com
wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com
parentinghealthybabies.com

Image Credits:
luvo.tetherinc.netdna-cdn.com
youthfulninja.com
oceanmist.com
eatingwell.com
self.com


Top tips for making baby food at home possible

Let’s be honest, it’s easier to buy baby food than make it, and the temptation of those ready made pouches could turn any mom off cooking. That’s why it needs to be easy, it needs to be delicious enough that baby wants to eat it, and it needs to store easily. Here are some tips for those starting out or battling to keep it up:

top tips for making baby food at home possible

Know your limits and pick your battles.

If you’re a working mom or have three other kids at home, making everything your baby eats from scratch may be taking on too much (at least to start with). So pick your battles – I make all my boys’ main meals but I don’t make homemade finger food recipes such as yogurt drops, and oatmeal biscuits. The twins are like bottomless pits at the moment and they do snack on branded rice cakes, teething wafers and puffs. Do I wish I made my own delicious snacks… yes. But are they being well fed… yes. Babies eat a lot of food which means a lot of cooking/prepping. If you want to start with just making dinner for them, just do dinner – once you get used to it you might be ready to take on more. Its a bit like the New Year body blitz… don’t try and do it all at once!

Be willing to chuck the odd batch.

There is nothing worse than slaving over a tasty batch only to find you messed up the recipe or worse – your baby just hates it. Scooping that love-in-a-jar into the trash hurts more than watching Goose die in Top Gun, and its enough to push you over the edge and crack open the Happy Baby Organic – I mean it says its for happy babies so its got to be good. This is what turned me off making my own food for my first born. She grew up on Ella’s Kitchen pouches, but this time round I felt more confident about food and cooking in general so I was ready to give it another go. The rejection is rare and even though it might also feel like a waste of money, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the savings you make overall. Its also worth remembering, your babe may be having an off day so keep the goods in the freezer and try another day – it hurts less throwing it from the freezer a week later too, time is a great healer.

Use recipe websites.

There are loads of great cook books too, but here are my favourite sites:

1. babyfoode.com I love this site and as the slogan says, the recipes are a little more adventurous than most. Twin favourite: ‘Quinoa, Apple, Pear with Raison Puree’.

2. wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com This is a huge site that is extremely popular. Great for first foods and understanding different ways to cook basic ingredients.

3. mummycooks.ie I’ve only found this one recently and it looks great! Can’t wait to try: ‘Babies first Salmon Chowder’

4. kidspot.com.au This site has loads of recipes for all ages as well as all sorts of parenting advice. Twin favourite: ‘Easy chicken casserole’.

Don’t reinvent the wheel (unless you want to).

My daughter loved Ella’s kitchen, and Happy Baby makes happy babies, right? So read the ingredients and make your own! I quite often go straight to the baby isle when I get to the grocery store and browse the shelves for ideas. I take a photo of the back of the packet with my phone and head back to the veg to buy my ingredients.  Having tried the some ready-made pouches again recently, I guarantee your home-made version will be better and end up including a much higher proportion of the important ingredients… how anyone can manage to make any puree with kale in it which isn’t green is beyond me.

Find an easy way to store and serve.

Its one thing finding the time to make baby food but its another making dinner time easy. The ready made food is good to go, no defrosting or scooping into a bowl required, you don’t even need to warm it up because its stored at room temperature. That convenience is difficult to compete with so make your life as simple as possible and find a storage solution that works for you. Here are your options:

  1. The classic storage method is to freeze in a cube tray and transfer to store in a ziplock bag. Great for right at the start when they only eat a 1oz portion (about one cube) but I personally am not a fan. If you’re making multiple batches you can’t find enough flat freezer space and you never have enough trays, leading to freezing in shifts. So if you want to be housebound all day, inspecting small lumps of vege slush-puppy, go for it. Its cheap, it works, and I only need to defrost a mere 12 cubes every time I feed my twins.
  2. Do it yourself pouches. I used these for everything when the boys were eating small portions, but now I just use for fruit puree I add to oatmeal and yogurt. They are light and convenient for taking out, you can squeeze straight onto the spoon and older kids can suck straight from the pouch. However, filling them is a bit of a faff and I suspect cleaning the reusable ones is a bit of a pain (I use disposable… terrible I know but I am all about easy)
  3. Mason jars. When the boys started eating three pouches per meal between them I moved to jars. They come in all sorts of sizes, wash easily and I have the wide neck ones so I can spoon straight out of them. They do take longer to defrost than multiple pouches or cubes which catches me out every now and again, and are heavier to carry around in your bag. However glass is good for those worried about plastic contamination and there’s no land fill issue 🙂
  4. Purpose made baby food containers. For singleton babies these are great for those first smaller portions, come with lids and tend to stack or clip together in some way so you can fit them in the freezer efficiently. For me they were never really big enough for two hungry boys and I think you may have to spend a lot of money on multiple tubs to store big batches.

So good luck, keep with it and feel like a super-mom… #keepitsimplestupid

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