2

Apple and cinnamon turnover (no refined sugar)

Apple and cinnamon turnovers

These apple and cinnamon turnovers were absolutely delicious, really easy to make and as an added bonus contain no refined sugar at all. I was particularly pleased that my fruit-phobic four-year-old tucked into these therefore getting some fruity goodness without the unfortunate addition of a load of sugar.

Ingredients (makes four large, or eight small turnovers)
Four large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
375g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cover a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Put the apples, honey and cinnamon into a saucepan, stir and gently heat through until the apples are starting to soften. Add 1 tbsp water if the mixture starts to stick.
You can use the mixture as it is, or mash it together (I did the latter).
Roll out your puff pastry into a large rectangle, or if you’re lazy buy the ready rolled variety). Cut into four or eight smaller rectangles, depending on whether you would like to make large or small turnovers.
Put a few spoonfuls of apple mixture into the centre of each rectangle, being careful not to overfill. Press the edges together and lightly brush with beaten egg.
Place on the baking tray and bake for around 15 minutes in the centre of the oven
8

Apple, maple and pecan crumble (no refined sugar)

Sugar free apple, maple and pecan crumble sneaky veg photo

We had an idyllic day trip to an apple picking farm in north Kent last week with Miss R’s nursery. Amidst all the days and days of rain that we’ve had lately, the nursery somehow picked the one sunny day in the whole week and, while wellies and waterproofs were indeed necessary due to the sheer amount of large muddy puddles, we didn’t get rained on, Miss R only needed her clothes changed once AND we managed a picnic outside.

It’s such a joy to go to these things with a child who actually eats fruit! Mr R still won’t touch any fruit at all, unless it’s served in a cake or crumble form, and to see Miss R tucking into an apple that she’d picked straight off the tree made me feel very happy.

Eating an apple straight off the tree sneaky veg photo

Of course we picked far more apples than we really needed, as well as pears and a butternut squash, but I managed to steer her towards the Bramleys so that we could use most of them in a crumble.

I decided to experiment with a sugar-free crumble topping (free of refined sugar). To my taste buds this wasn’t quite sweet enough, but for once the children didn’t seem to notice any difference at all and polished off their portions without a grumble. It also has the added benefit of the protein, vitamins and minerals that come with the pecans, as well as the goodness from the apples.

Ingredients
6-7 medium sized Bramley apples
2 tbsp maple syrup
180g plain or wholemeal flour
150g butter, at room temperature
100g pecan nuts, ground or finely chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Peel and chop the apples. Place in a saucepan with a tablespoon of water and gently heat with the lid on until soft. Mash slightly. You can skip this stage and put the whole pieces of apple in the dish you’re going to bake the crumble in if you prefer – but the larger pieces put R off so this works better for us.

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl rub together the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs, and then stir through the pecans.

Place the apples in a large ovenproof dish. Drizzle over the maple syrup and stir in. Cover with the crumble topping and bake in the centre of the oven for 35-45 minutes.

I’m entering this recipe into the following blogging challenges:
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4

Banana and strawberry bread

Banana and strawberry bread

Just as I get around to posting all my late summer recipes the weather has finally turned. I think it has rained all day so far today, the windows in our Victorian house are all steamed up when I wake up and the kids are complaining of cold feet in the mornings (although this could just be one of many excuses concocted to try to avoid school!).

Still, should you be like me and have a freezer full of frozen fruit, this is the recipe for you. Our freezer broke down last week so I had to come up with some rapid recipe ideas to use up some of the random things that were stored in it. This cake was one of them. Enjoy!

Ingredients
225g caster sugar
120ml sunflower oil
250g mashed strawberries and banana
2 large eggs, beaten
120ml greek yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and base line a 900g/2lb loaf tin.

Whisk together the oil and sugar until smooth. Add the mashed fruit, eggs, yoghurt and vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly mixed.

Fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until just mixed. Pour into the tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. It’s ready when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Leave to rest in the tin for a few minutes and then carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Eat within two or three days.

5

Simple tomato sauce

Simple tomato sauce photo

We grew two tomato plants in our garden this summer. Things my children enjoyed about this: digging, planting, getting covered in mud, watching the tomatoes grow and ripen and picking the ripe tomatoes. Eating them however was a different story. Neither of them has ever been willing to even smell a tomato, let alone eat one!

With this simple tomato sauce however they both enjoyed the fruits of our hard work in the garden without a single complaint. We used this for pasta sauce but you could also add extra water or stock and turn it into soup or blend it up and use it as a pizza topping.

Ingredients (serves two adults and two children with pasta)
1kg ripe tomatoes
The juice of one lemon
2 tbsp finely chopped basil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sugar

Put all the ingredients into a large pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes with the lid on.

Remove the lid, give everything a good stir, and cook for a further 20 minutes, leaving the lid off, until the sauce has thickened.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

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0

Five things I’ve learnt about feeding kids

Children eating tomato sauce and pasta sneaky veg photo

The two little Rs tucking into pasta with smoky tomato sauce and sausages – something that would have caused a major meltdown not so long ago

In a couple of weeks time Mr R, he who invented fussy eating and the inspiration behind this blog in the first place, will turn four and a half. FOUR AND A HALF! How has this time passed so quickly?

This fact has got me thinking about all the things we’ve been through together, the good and the bad (and indeed, sometimes the ugly) and then it hit me – things are really good right now. Especially when it comes to food. Yes, we still have bad days. Yes, I throw away more food than I’d like to. No, he won’t eat any fruit AT ALL. Yes he eats more fish fingers than he probably should. But really, honestly, I can say that he is not a terrible eater.

When we weaned him, over four years ago now, we got off to a good start. He took to food immediately and pretty much ate anything I offered him. Broccoli, smoked mackerel, spinach, chicken, strawberries, cheese – you name it, he ate it. But somehow, and I can’t really remember how now, things changed and we reached a horrible stage where he wouldn’t touch any fruit or vegetables at all, and even tomato sauce or pesto was deemed unacceptable.

Mealtimes turned into a battleground and were a far cry from the relaxed family occasions that I’d imagined. And so Sneaky Veg was born. Sneaking fruit and veg into food is much less necessary now than it used to be but I still find it helps to encourage both my kids to eat things they might not otherwise try. The main difference now is that I usually tell them what is in their food.

R’s little sister, who is almost three, is definitely fussier than him now. As many children do, she loves all fruit, but she avoids most vegetables and is highly suspicious of anything she hasn’t seen before. The main difference though is my attitude. We aim for low pressure mealtimes, where I offer up healthy meals, often containing hidden fruit or veg, and leave it up to the children to decide whether to eat it or not. The important thing is that they know they won’t get anything else later on.

Here are five things I’ve learnt about feeding my kids, which I want to share with you in the hope that it makes life a little bit easier in some way.

1. Things get better with age
Things R has actually said to me in the last few weeks: “Mummy, this broad bean pasta sauce is really yummy.” “I chose mushroom spaghetti at school today.” And to his sister: “You should try this, I think you’d really like it.” If I’d known that by the age of four we’d be in such a good place with eating, I would have relaxed a lot two years ago.

2. Snacks are your enemy, hunger is your friend (tho snacks can be very useful)
I learnt a couple of (what seem now) rather obvious lessons from a book called War & Peas. The main one being that it’s okay for your child to feel hunger. Obviously I’m not talking about serious hunger or malnutrition here. But really, do you remember having as many snacks as a child as you offer to your own children? I certainly don’t. Our local Sainsbury’s has a whole aisle dedicated to baby food, at least a third of which is snacks, not to mention the lunchbox fillers section, the crisps and biscuit aisles and so on. It’s not surprising that kids don’t want to eat their dinner when they know they’ll be given Pom Bears, YoYos, raisins or a banana a bit later on. (Don’t get me wrong, I still give my kids snacks especially en route to swimming lessons after school – often the most difficult part of our week – or on long public transport journeys. But I have cut them out as much as possible, and in particular on days when we’re trying something new for tea.)

3. Peer pressure can help (but not always)
When R started pre-school in September 2012 the teachers all looked knowingly at each other when I mentioned him not eating fruit. “Just you wait until he sees all the other children eating it, he’ll soon join in”. Two years later I had a case of déjà vu when having exactly the same conversation with his Reception teacher at primary school. The only person who’s going to convince R to eat fruit is R himself. And that might not happen until he’s an adult. And I’m cool with that now. On the other hand he’s taken to eating school dinners like a duck to water and Little Miss R loves corn on the cobs because R’s friend W loves them and they have fun spiky handles to hold them with at W’s house. So having meals with friends who are “good eaters” is worth a try.

4. Eating the same thing as your kids at the same time isn’t always possible but does help and is a good idea
It’s just not realistic for us to have family mealtimes every day. I would really, really love it if it were but it’s just not going to happen. Whatever you think about routines and early bedtimes my kids are ready for their bed at 7pm, especially on school nights. Their dad usually gets home from work around this time and so there just isn’t time for us to all eat together. We do try and have family dinners on the weekends and I’ve noticed really good results when we have done so (see above re: broad bean pasta!)

5. Reward charts don’t work for under-fours and have limited results even then
R has a reward chart for trying new food. It’s been on the go for over a month now and in that time he’s earned eight stickers. When he gets ten he’ll get to go to the toy shop and choose a small, new toy as a reward. He’d already be up to ten if he hadn’t lost a couple for hitting his sister (and believe me I’d tried everything else that I could think of on that front – this is the only one that’s worked!). He’s eaten red peppers, a whole portion of sweetcorn and one mouthful of broccoli amongst other things to earn his stickers – but of course no fruit. Little R also has a reward chart. She is not even remotely motivated by getting a sticker for trying something new. She does have a couple but that’s more through luck than anything else. So it’s been worth doing for R, in that he has tried some new things, but most of the time when I’ve served them up again he hasn’t been interested – as he only gets a sticker the first time. So I’m not sure whether there are any long terms benefits here – I’ll let you know.

So in short, if you’re having a difficult time with feeding your toddler or pre-schooler, try to remember that things will improved with time and some fights just aren’t worth having. Good luck!

6

Flatbreads with golden beetroot

When I saw this recipe for beetroot flatbreads on the Shivaay Delights blog I knew I had to try it. I was worried that the purple colour would put my two (albeit increasingly less) picky eaters off of trying these and by happy coincidence two lovely golden beetroots arrived in my Local Greens veg bag.

The recipe was really quick and easy, and doesn’t need any rising time as it doesn’t include yeast. I dry fried them and they didn’t stick at all so healthier than frying in oil as well.

Unfortunately Little Miss R, two, used her sixth sense to spot the hidden veg in here and was too suspicious to try them. Mr R, four, however, who is getting less fussy by the day at the moment, *keeping everything crossed it continues*  tucked in though and the natural sweetness of the beetroot won him over.

Golden beetroot flatbread sneaky veg recipe

Golden beetroot flatbread

Ingredients (makes about 12)
2 raw golden beetroots peeled & grated (the advantage of using golden beetroots here is that your hands don’t turn purple!)
300g plain or wholemeal flour (I used plain)
1/2 tsp ginger puree
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 level tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 cup boiling water
Oil for shallow frying
Flour for rolling

First place the grated beetroot in a large mixing bowl. Add the spices and seasoning, followed by the flour and the 2 tbsp of sunflower oil.

Bring all the ingredients together with a fork. Add the boiling water a little at a time until a soft dough forms. You might not need to use it all.

Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat

Roll a small ball of the dough (about golf ball sized), dust with some flour and roll it out to a circle of around 6cm diameter.

Put into your hot frying pan, fry on one side for a couple of minutes until bubbles start to appear, then turn over until both sides are slightly brown. If necessary you can brush a little oil on the bread to help it cook/stop it sticking.

Recipe adapted from the original by Shivaay Delights as mentioned above.

0

My top ten at ten recipes with hidden veg

Back in the summer I wrote a guest post for the Foodies 100 site, featuring ten of my favourite blogs featuring hidden veg recipes, which as you’ll know if you’ve visited my site before is a cause dear to my heart.

Here’s the post as it appeared on the site. I hope it gives you some inspiration!

This week’s Ten at Ten comes from Mandy who blogs at Sneaky Veg. “I started the blog to share some of my ideas of different ways to sneak vegetables and fruit into food for toddlers,” she says. “I can’t guarantee they’ll all work but hopefully they’ll taste good enough that if the kids won’t eat them you’ll want to.” Mandy, who is vegetarian, posts a mix of veggie and non-veggie recipes, but all are packed with hidden nutrients for her kids – now four and two.

OVER TO MANDY…

Well now I’m really hungry. I’ve just passed a wonderful afternoon looking through Foodies100 blogs for recipes that include hidden vegetables to include here (and to try out for my own blog.) Some of these blogs were brand new to me, but I’ll definitely be visiting them again!

  • This recipe for zucchini, peppadew and feta bread from Cook Sister sounds absolutely delicious and just the kind of thing I like to make to get some goodness into my kids. I wasn’t sure what peppadew was, but I now know that they’re a type of small pepper from South Africa – you learn something new every day.
  • It’s easy to sneak veg into baked goods, but I’m always on the look out for main course ideas too and I absolutely love the look of these delicious Cajun spiced black bean and sweet potato veggie burgers on Tinned Tomatoes. I’m not sure whether I’d get my kids to eat them but I think if I whizzed the mixture up really well it would be worth giving them a go. And if they don’t? Then all the more for me!
  • These veggie meatballs look delicious! The recipe by Miss Messy from Mess Makes Food doesn’t strictly contain a vegetable, but I usually count lentils towards my kids’ veggie intake so I’m definitely planning on giving these a go soon.
  • I’ve been planning to make sundried tomato scones ever since I started my blog but just hadn’t got around to it yet – seeing this recipe on Cooking, Cakes and Children has made me inspired to do so all over again.
  • I hadn’t come across Veggie Desserts until I started looking for recipes to include here but veggie desserts – this is a blog after my own heart! And the very first recipe I saw was spinach and coconut yogurt cake – now that’s worth trying just because it sounds so unusual.
  • These courgette, ricotta and feta filled giant pasta shells look absolutely Delicieux (pardon the pun) and I can’t wait to try them.
  • I love the sound of this one pot pasta dish, I’m all for less washing up and the addition of sausages would please my two kids no end. Nice one, Fish Fingers For Tea.
  • Now that summer’s here I’ve been thinking a lot about picnics and these pumpkin, walnut and poppy seed muffins fromLavender and Lovage sound perfect. In my opinion, you can’t go far wrong with a savoury muffin and I like the addition of walnuts for some extra nutrients.
  • Bangers and Mash’s recipe for chana dal cottage pie sounds amazing – and it includes carrots, chickpeas and courgettes so perfect for a sneaky veg supper.
  • Carrot cake has got to be the classic hidden veg recipe and this recipe by Little Loaf is a honey soaked version. Mmm!

These recipes have helped my mission to sneak more fruit and veg into my kids! Hope they have help you too.

Big thanks to Mandy! We have no excuse not to have super healthy kids (or nieces and nephews) now. You can catch Mandy over on Twitter and Instagram.

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5

Smoky aubergine, tomato and black olive sauce

I’ve mentioned before that four-year-old R has developed a bit of an obsession with black olives. This is showing no signs of waning and seeing as his fruit and vegetable intake is still pretty low I’m going to make the most of it. We had this sauce with pasta and it was really tasty. I was a bit worried that I’d put too much paprika in for the children but they both loved it.

In fact, as an aside, I am being constantly amazed at the moment by how much R’s eating has improved now he has hit the grand old age of four years and five months. He still won’t touch fruit for anything but he’s increasingly trying new things and not moaning about what is served up to him.  I can’t tell you what a relief it is!

aubergineolivetomatopasta

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 aubergine, diced
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
150g black olives

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Put the onion, garlic and aubergine into a large oven proof dish, cover with oil and roast for around 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the aubergine is soft. Towards the end of the cooking add the chopped tomatoes and smoked paprika and mix well.

Blend the sauce until smooth and stir in the black olives.

14

Wholemeal blackberry and banana muffins

These healthy, dairy-free blackberry and banana muffins were so good they didn’t hang around for long at our place. I wasn’t quite sure whether the kids would go for them or not – the blackberries turned the muffins a bit pink and the wholemeal flour and oatmeal gave it a bit of a, well, healthy taste! But they, and we, absolutely loved them and they’re perfect for a late summer picnic, lunchbox filler or perhaps an after-school snack (something that is new for us but seemingly essential). They’d also be good for breakfast.

blackberryandbananamuffins

Ingredients
200g wholemeal plain flour
80g oatmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large, or 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
120g caster sugar
75ml sunflower oil
140g blackberries

Pre-heat an oven to 200°C, 180°C fan, gas mark 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon together into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the oatmeal.

In a separate bowl beat together the egg, sugar, bananas and oil. Mix well. Fold in the flour mixture. Finally stir in the blackberries. Spoon equal amounts into the muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes until firm on top.

I’m entering this post into the following blog challenges:

Firstly, the autumn four seasons food challenge hosted by Delicieux & Eat Your Veg, the theme this season is fruit.

fsf-autumn

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4

Fruity chicken curry

fruitychickencurry

We eat lots of Indian food. And when I say lots, I mean it. The kids are less keen although they’ll scoff plenty of chapatis, rice and popadoms given half the chance. We’ve taken them to an all you can eat Indian buffet before where the two year old only ate popadoms and grapes (which as far as I know aren’t a typical Indian fruit). On a separate occasion we did a bit better with a kids dosa, which arrived in the shape of a witch’s hat with a cocktail umbrella sticking out of the top.

They both loved dahl when they were babies though, and since the awful “no sauce on anything” days have passed we’ve introduced it again, often spread inside a pitta bread.

This is a new addition to our family curry repertoire, although one I won’t be eating myself (as a vegetarian with non veggie kids). The sweetness of the dried fruit and honey meant that this went down well with both kids and is a really kid friendly curry recipe. You could add a bit of chilli for yourself if you wanted.

Ingredients (serves two children and a small portion for a hungry daddy to polish off)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp honey
1/2 tsp turmeric
1tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp tomato purée
200ml water
1 chicken breast, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
A handful of raisins and chopped apricots

Put the onion, garlic, ginger, honey, turmeric and curry powder into a blender or food processor and blitz into a paste.

Heat the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan, add the paste and cook over a medium heat for around five minutes.

Stir in the tomato purée and 200ml water. Mix well then add the chicken and the raisins and apricots. Cook through for around 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Serve with rice or bread and yoghurt on the side.

I’ve added this recipe to the following blogging link:

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