Mad about Chocolate Orange Lollies!

What kid (and adult) doesn't like a lolly! My little boy James would eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the time in between! Simple fruit juices or fruit purees are great for a lolly, however I came across this unusual recipe, which is so tasty and a great way of getting some goodness into your little one.

Ingredients

  • 2 small bananas, chopped and frozen
  • Juice of one orange
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 100g sweet potato, cooked, puréed and cooled

Method

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender. Blend until well combined and smooth. Pour into your moulds & freeze over night.

You can purchase cacao powder from most supermarkets & health food stores.

 

by claire spurling

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

It can be really difficult to think of quick healthy snacks, especially that difficult time mid-late afternoon before dinner. My son gets very cranky around this time as he's starting to get hungry, but I don't want him to fill up on junk and not eat his dinner.

These roasted chickpeas are really yummy, a great crunchy texture and packed full of protein. Once out the oven you can put whatever dried herbs or spices you like on them, or simply keep them plain. I normally add some 'new' spice to them each time I make them, I find this a good way of introducing new flavours with James.

Ingredients;

One 400g tin of chickpeas

1.5 tablespoons olive oil

Spice blend of your choice

 

Method;

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

Drain the can of chickpeas in a strainer and rinse with water for a few seconds to clean. Shake and tap the strainer to rid of excess water. Lay paper towel on a baking tray, and spread the chickpeas over. Use another paper towel to gently press and absorb the water on the chickpeas. Roll the chickpeas around with the paper towel to also remove the thin skin from any of the beans. Discard the skins and the paper towels.

Drizzle olive oil over the chickpeas and use your hands or a spatula to toss around and coat. Roast for 30-40 minutes until they are a deep golden brown and crunchy. Make sure they do not burn.

Season with your spice blend. 

I love to use half a teaspoon of ground cumin & smoked paprika.

by claire spurling

Fruity Flapjacks

Whenever we have a play date with some of James’ friends, and one of the Mummies reaches into her bag for a snack for them all, all the kids will come charging over like wild animals that haven’t been fed in days! There are so many snacks out there to buy in the supermarket, some good and some bad, but for me there is something really nice and rewarding having James eating one of my snacks that is not only tasty but that's healthy as well.

These flapjacks will last up to a week in an air tight contained.

Ingredients

 125g Dates

125g Dried Apricots

150ml boiling water

100ml Olive Oil

200g Porridge Oats

Method

Chop the dates & apricots and place in a bowl, pour the boiling water over, stir and cover and leave overnight.

Blend the dates, apricots and water to a paste.

Heat the paste and olive oil in a pan until it comes together - approx 5 minutes, remove from heat.

Press into a well greased 20cm x 20cm square pan - I use a sandwich bag over my hand for this preventing the mixture to stick to my fingers.

Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Cut the flapjacks into squares and allow to cool fully in the tin before removing.

 

 

 

 

by claire spurling

Homemade Fish Fingers

They say fish is brain food – apparently my older brother lived on fish fingers when he was little. I hate to admit it - he is quite brainy! My son James loves his fish. It is such a healthy quick meal, perfect for a light lunch on their own or a filling supper with other accompaniments. I find it easier to make a large batch of these and freeze what you don’t use. They will happily sit in your freezer for a month. Its also a great lunch or dinner for Mum & Dad. Put it in a crusty ciabatta roll with some rocket & tartar sauce for a posh fish finger sandwich for lunch or load up a soft tortilla with guacamole and spicy salsa for a fish taco for dinner.

If you can use your local fishmonger, you’re more than likely to get a good deal and fresher fish. I like to use Pollock or Hake for this recipe.

 

Ingredients 

  • 3 tbsp. plain flour
  • 1 large free-range egg beaten
  • 50g golden breadcrumbs
  • 500g skinless white fish fillets cut into goujons (finger
  • sized strips)
  • 2tbsp chopped thyme
  • 4tbsp rapeseed oil

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180c

  • Put the flour in a strong freezer bag.
  • Pour the beaten egg into a shallow dish.
  • Put the breadcrumbs & thyme in a separate shallow dish.
  • Gently toss each fish piece in the flour bag until
  • Evenly coated, then dip into the beaten egg then the
  • Breadcrumbs until evenly coated. Put the prepared fish
  • Pieces on a tray lined with parchment paper.

Brush the rapeseed oil over the breaded fish fingers and cook for 15-18 minutes or until crisp & golden brown.

by claire spurling

Healthy Milkshakes

 

These milkshakes are great if you have a fussy eater with fruit and veg. I also make these for James when he’s feeling poorly as he’s usually off his food and only wants milk. It's a great way of getting a big hit of goodness into them, but are also extremely tasty.

I use full fat milk and always use a ‘thickener’ in them – either avocado or bananas. This will give the milkshake a thick silky texture. Whatever else you put in it is completely up to you!

Below are some of James’ favourties…

 

Berry & Banana Milkshake

Half a pint of full fat milk

1 small banana

5 strawberries

5 raspberries

15 blueberries

Blitz until ultra smooth. If you child is fussy with the texture of pips you can pass this milkshake through a fine sieve. Using frozen berries are great too, no need to defrost!

 

Chocolate Milkshake

Half a pint of full fat milk

½ avacado

Handful of washed baby spinach

1tsp honey

1tsp peanut butter

1tsp cacao powder

Blitz until ultra smooth. You can find cacao powder in the health food section of supermarkets.

 

Spiced Pumpkin Milkshake

Half pint of full fat milk

100g of cooked butternut squash

1tsp of maple syrup

Pinch of cinnamon

Cut the butternut squash in half length ways, place on a tray, cover with tin foil and bake in the oven at 180c for 45 minutes or until tender. Leave to cool. Scoop the flesh out. This can be kept in the fridge for a further two days. Add all the ingredients to the milk and blitz until smooth.

by claire spurling

Bite Size Pork & Fennel Meatballs

These are so yummy; make a great meal for adults too. My son loves these with pasta, sweet potato wedges or just simply on their own as a light lunch with some vegetable sticks. Make a large batch and freeze what you don't use. Make sure you freeze in a clean air tight container – keep no longer than a month. If you’re like me though, I will always cook a few more than I need to for James as a little Mummy treat for me!

 

Makes 40-50 mini meatballs 

Ingredients

225g pork sausage meat

225g pork mince

1 onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves finely slice

6 tbsp breadcrumbs

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1 orange

3 sprigs of thyme

1.5 tsp fennel seeds

 

Method

Preheat oven to 180c.

Heat a little olive oil over a medium heat and add the onions. Sweat without browning for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Set aside to cool a little.

In a large mixing bowl combine the sausage meat and pork mince, breadcrumbs, tomato puree, parmesan cheese and fennel seeds. Grate the zest of the orange and add this to the bowl. Remove the thyme leaves from the sprigs and add these too, and season with pepper. Mix well with your hands until everything is well combined. Add in the cooled onion and garlic mixture and mix some more. Make small sized balls from the pork mixture – roughly about the size of a cherry tomato.

In a heavy ovenproof pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil over a medium heat and carefully add the meatballs in a single layer making sure not to over crowd the pan. After a couple of minutes turn the meatballs careful not to break them apart - and continue cooking and turning until browned on all sides but not cooked through.

Pop into your preheated oven for 10 minutes. Check that the meatballs are fully cooked through. If freezing ensure that the meatballs are cooled down quickly. These will also last in the fridge for three days (the day you make them and then two after).

by claire spurling

Tortilla Foldies

This is a really quick meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is always perfect when you don't have a lot of food at home. I always have a pack or tortilla wraps in the cupboard & cheese in the fridge. My son James loves his packed with chicken, roasted pepper, mushrooms & cheese. The recipe below is just an idea of what you can load your tortilla up with, but you can literally put anything in them! Just make sure all the ingredients you pack your tortilla up with are already pre cooked.

 

Ingredients

2 flour tortilla wraps

100g cooked slice chicken breast

100g sliced mushrooms (sauté in a pan)

1/2 red pepper roasted, deskinned and sliced

50g grated cheese

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180c, place your pepper on a roasting tray and roast for 30mins or until soft with a crinkly skin. Remove the pepper from the oven, place in a bowl and cling film. Leave to cool. Once cooled, peal the skin off, remove the seeds and slice.

Slice your mushrooms; add to frying pan on medium heat with a teaspoon of rapeseed oil and sauté for 5 minutes.

Place a large frying pan on a low to medium heat (there is no need for oil), add your tortilla and load all of your ingredients evenly on top of the tortilla. Place the second tortilla on top. Cook on one side for 2 minutes, flip over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Slice and serve.

This is a great meal for Mum & Dad too. Fill with whatever ingredients you like - top with guacamole and fresh salsa.

by claire spurling

Honey Sesame Chicken Goujons

 

This recipe is always a winner with James. They are crunchy and moreish and go great with noodles, sweet potato wedges or rice.

I like to buy chicken fillet strips and keep the strips whole so he can gnaw at them, but are also great to cut the chicken up into toddler bite-size pieces which are great for a kids party.

 

This recipe calls for breadcrumbs. If you’re like me I’ve always got a loaf of bread that is slightly going stale. This is perfect for breadcrumbs! If you’re making them by hand, use a coarse box grater and grate the bread loaf directly on it. If using a food processor, cut the bread loaf into small cubes first as this will produce the most even result. Spread the fresh crumbs to a 0.5cm thickness onto a baking tray and place into a low oven 150c for about 20-30 minutes, stirring the crumbs gently halfway through cooking, until lightly golden-brown and dry. Alternatively, breadcrumbs are readily available in any supermarket.

 

 Ingredients

10 chicken fillet strips (or two chicken breasts)

1 egg

50g plain flour

50g sesame seeds

100g fresh dried or packet breadcrumbs

1 tsp. runny honey gently warmed

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Freshly ground black pepper

 

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180c

If you have whole chicken breasts, cut each breast into strips each about the size of a big finger to give a goujon shapes.

Beat the egg in a small bowl.

Mix the flour and black pepper in another bowl.

In the third and final bowl mix your breadcrumbs and sesame seeds together.

Working in batches to ensure they don't stick together, dip the chicken pieces in the flour (shake off any excess), egg and then breadcrumb mixture to coat. You can double coat your chicken by returning it back to the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs again.

Place your breaded chicken pieces on a non stick baking tray, spray or lightly brush with vegetable oil and bake at 180c for 20 minutes or until crisp and golden. I would recommend half way through cooking to turn your chicken pieces over so they are evenly golden brown.

Once cooked, drizzle the runny honey over the chicken pieces and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds.

by claire spurling

Ants on a Log

For part of my childhood I grew up in America. I loved it there as a kid, we used to get proper seasons - really hot summers and lots of snow in the winter. I always remember this one snack was served at a lot of my friends’ birthday parties and I used to regularly have this for a snack at home.

 

Ingredients

1 bunch of celery

Smooth or crunchy peanut butter

Raisins

 

Method

Wash and cut the celery into 10cms sticks. Spread the peanut butter into the ‘boat’ part of the celery. Stick your raisins on top of the peanut butter.

It really couldn't be easier!

 

I have never been a great lover of raw celery, it still now wouldn't be my raw vegetable of choice, however there is something about the peanut butter and the raisins that just works so well with the celery and makes this a very yummy and healthy snack. I try and think of any excuse to give this to James so I as well can have one or two Ants on a Log!

 

by claire spurling

Seasonal Fruit Compote

This recipe is so versatile, and can be enjoyed by the whole family. It is cheap to make – look for fruits that are in season and fruits that may be slightly ‘past it’ as they will be naturally sweeter and you don't have to add as much sugar.

My son James loves any kind of fruit, and really enjoys this on Greek yoghurt or with porridge or Weetabix.

 

Below is a list of fruits that are in season month by month.

January – apples, pears, rhubarb

February – apples, rhubarb

March – rhubarb

April – rhubarb

May – apricots, nectarine, rhubarb

June – apricots, blackcurrants, gooseberries, nectarine, rhubarb, strawberries

July – apricots, blackcurrants, gooseberries, nectarine, raspberries, strawberries

August – apricots, blackberries, figs, gooseberries, nectarine, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries

September – apples, apricots, blackberries, figs, gooseberries, nectarine, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries

October – apples, blackberries, cranberries, figs, pears, plums

November – apples, cranberries, pears

December – apples, cranberries, pears

 

There is nothing wrong with using frozen fruit; I’ve always got a bag of mixed berries in my freezer. However, some frozen fruit may be a bit tart and may require some extra sweetness.

 

Ingredients

200g of fresh or frozen fruit of your choice

100ml of water

2 tbsp. of fresh juice of your choice

1 tbsp. of natural sugar

1 tbsp. of chia seeds

 

Method…

To a small saucepan add fruit, water, juice and sugar.  Bring to a rapid boil and reduce heat to medium-low, let it gently simmer.  Let this cook until the liquid reduces by about half, approximately 10-15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and add the chia seeds.  After it is completely cool, pour into sterile glass containers and refrigerate. 

 

When it comes to adding sugar to a recipe for your child I like to use natural sugars. Therefore instead of adding caster sugar to this recipe, why not use maple syrup, palm sugar or even honey (for babies over 12 months).

I love using chia seeds in recipes; they are a natural thickener, loaded with antioxidants and full of fiber & protein. You can buy these in health food stores or online.

 

by claire spurling