Hedgehog rolls

We recently had some friends over to play, and as it was the day after the “bread” round of The Great British Bake Off, I thought it would be fun to make some little rolls with the kids and then eat them for lunch! 

 

To make 6 small rolls you’ll need:

  • 12oz Strong Bread Flour – we used Wholemeal
  • 1 1/2tsp Quick Yeast (about half a Allinson packet)
  • 1tsp Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 220ml of hand hot water (from the tap is fine!) 
  • Raisins for eyes

To make your little hedgehogs, start by putting the dry ingredients into a bowl, then give them a good mix to combine them. 

Next, add the oil and then the water. Start to mix together, as it becomes sticky get your hands in the bowl and start to knead the dough.

If the mixture is still sticky add some more flour and if it’s dry, sprinkle on a little more water.

Once the dough is combined turn out onto a lightly flour-dusted surface and knead the dough for 5-10 mins. The kids LOVED this part! 

Mould them into 4-6 hedgehog shapes and use scissors to snip into the dough to make spikes. We used raisins for eyes too.

Put the rolls on a floured baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour to rise. (We used the oven on lowest setting as we don’t have an airing cupboard!)

Next, heat up your oven to 200 degrees centigrade and cook the rolls for 25 minutes.  The rolls will feel firm and if you tap the bottom of them, they’ll sound hollow.

Ours lasted one mealtime! 

Enjoy x

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Cheesy flapjacks

I  know it sounds weird but bear with me. Apparently savoury flapjacks are a thing. 

As it turns out they are actually pretty delicious! I bumped into a friend in town a week ago and she was giving these amazing homemade flapjacks to her little ones and offered one to Alexander. To say he wolfed it down would be an understatement. I had to get the recipe!

Cheese and veg flapjacks

100g unsalted butter
300g porridge oats
350g grated cheese
2 beaten eggs
200g of one of any of the following (grated): carrot, courgette, red onion, sweet potato, swede, parsnip, or pumpkin. (I used butternut squash which worked well!) 

  1. Preheat oven to 180 and lightly grease a Swiss roll tin. 
  2. Melt butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  3. Take off the heat and combine all ingredients in the pan, mixing well.
  4. Press down into the tin using the back of your spoon/spatula.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown- they may need a few more minutes. 
  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then cut into small slices and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  7. Store in an airtight container. I think they should also be stored in the fridge but that’s up to you!

I didn’t manage to get a photo but they were such a hit with all four of us and a great way of sneaking in a bit more veg (albeit smothered in cheese….) without ending up in this kind of state:

 

Recipe – Chocolate and Banana muffins

A friend recently directed me to the My Lovely Little Lunchbox site – full of ideas for baby led weaning and feeding toddlers. I’ve had a good look round the site and found it so inspirational. Will be trying out the pea fritters for Alexander soon! I’d recommend it to anyone looking to vary their child’s diet (or indeed their own!)

Anyway, one day last week the boys and I had to stay in all morning to wait for a man to come and look at our fireplace, so to combat the boredom I thought we should do some baking. As well as making a couple of purées for Alexander, while the littlest one slept Elliot and I made the banana and chocolate muffins. These fit in well with my current attempts to reduce the amount of sugar in Elliot’s diet and increase the number of fruits he’ll eat. Currently bananas on their own are on the “NO” list, which is bizarre as he used to hoover them up a year or so ago! Kids eh?

Banana and Chocolate Muffins
Adapted from My Lovely Little Lunchbox (do go and check out the original too!)

We substituted rapeseed oil for the macadamia oil, and runny honey for the agave syrup.

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Makes 12

Ingredients:
3 bananas
2 eggs
3/4 cup of yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil – macadamia is suggested but we didn’t have any in, so used rapeseed. I guess olive would have been fine too.
1/2 cup agave syrup (we used honey!)
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 heaped tablespoons cocoa

Heat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Put muffin cases into a 12 hole muffin tin.

Mash bananas and mix in all wet ingredients, whisk until well combined.

Sift in all dry ingredients, mix well.

The recipe I followed suggested using the 1/4 cup measure to spoon the mix into the cases, and I have to say what a genius idea! Even with a three year old “helping” me, that made it really easy. One cupful in each case!

15-20 mins in the oven and you’ve got some lovely muffins. I think I’ll look out for some macadamia nut oil and agave syrup as it would be great to taste the original recipe also.

Perfect after lunch treat after a boring Friday morning 🙂

“I’ll eat it tomorrow”, and other lies my child tells me…

I would never label my child as a picky eater (I don’t believe in labels) but at the age of three he does have clear ideas of what he will (fish fingers, spaghetti bolognaise) and won’t (recognisable vegetables!) eat; and though I know that his diet is largely ok there are definitely areas for improvement.

I’ve been thinking about ways of changing this over the past month or so, and recently came across a few techniques I’d like to adopt going forward.

Before I go any further, I should state that I usually hesitate to consider adopting any set “method” in parenting, or at least not 100%, choosing instead to trust my (and my husband’s) instincts about what we should do and how to handle different situations that arise. I didn’t follow Baby Led Weaning with Elliot, and my copy of Gina Ford spent most of its time gathering dust under my bed rather than being useful! It’s always good to have a couple of new ideas to try though so my google searching has come up with the following ideas:

Emotionally Aware Feeding

EAF is a new approach to picky eating that challenges many conventional parenting techniques. It is based on scientific research and theory but is accessible and practical too.

I stumbled across the EAF site and downloaded Jo’s book and have read it in a couple of sittings. Much of the ideas contained within the book feel like common sense, and things we should have been doing anyway. For example, she says that the more we give in to our child’s requests for the same “safe” foods time and again, the more we are actually reasserting a likely anxiety in the child that says that any other food stuff is dangerous.

Some tips I noted from the EAF technique include:
1. No options- everyone has the same food in age appropriate portions (i.e. one meal for the whole family)
2. No praising or criticising eating, and no rewards (stickers or other foods/sweets for “trying” new food). In fact, Jo recommends becoming emotionally detached from what your child is, or is not, eating, and brushing it all off so they don’t ever feel like they are ultimately controlling the situation.
3. Child is allowed to leave whatever they like, but they should be made aware that there will be no unscheduled snacks or alternatives. This promotes an understanding of natural consequences – i.e. if you don’t eat your lunch, you’ll be hungry later.

There are a couple of things I’m not sure about here though. What happens if you have a really strong willed child who can sit in front of a plate of dinner and pick a couple of bits of chicken to eat, then we take the plate away (without criticising!) and move on to pudding where he eats the lot?!? Surely this just teaches “if I’m patient, I don’t need to eat my dinner to get my pudding”? Or maybe we just need to not have pudding at all, or at least make it fruit based rather than sugary.

Hard to do, yes, but generally most of what Jo teaches really made sense to me. If you can establish that mealtimes happen, ideally people eat food which tastes nice and is good for them, and if they don’t eat they know that there are no substitutes, then I can see how eventually this would result in a chilled out, happy, family mealtime which is what we all want really.

The Bento craze
Inspired by the bento – a box with different compartments – used throughout Japan, there is a growing trend of parents spending time and effort preparing beautifully presented packed lunches and teas for their children which quite frankly put the rest of us to shame. One glance at the beautiful creations from Capture by Lucy, or Eats Amazing, can make you feel inspired to put a bit of effort in and not just going for the age old triangles or squares when making sandwiches!
I can only dream of having time enough to make some of the more amazing creations (and a kitchen with a cupboard big enough to hold all the paraphernalia required more to the point!) but having said that, I am totally on board with making food look attractive for Elliot as he does tend to eat more if it looks nice. I therefore do tend to use cookie cutters or special dinosaur sandwich cutters to make sandwiches more fun and have recently taken to putting grapes, berries or yoghurt (with sprinkles!) in silicone cupcake cases. Invariably we get clean plates handed back, so in moderation, I think I can advocate spending just a bit of time looking at how food is presented, particularly if your child is a bit fussy.

Eats Amazing

Hidden vegetables!
A stalwart method for getting vegetables into meals that is adopted by most parents is hiding the nutritious good stuff in other foods, so you know it’s being eaten even if it’s not recognisable for the child.
We’ve taken to putting together recipes with extra veg grated in to the main component (e.g. courgettes grated into bolognaise sauce, carrots grated into meatballs) and I recently made gnocchi from butternut squash too.
While we wait for Elliot to realise he likes things, which apparently according to him will either happen “tomorrow” or “when I’m nine, mummy”, at least we know he’s getting some way towards the recommended five-a-day (or is it now seven? If so I give up!)

The Stop button in your tummy
I can’t remember where I read this (so apologies for not crediting it!) but the general principle is that children need to try something often up to 10-15 times before it becomes something they “like” or at least will tolerate. One way of encouraging them to try is to introduce the idea of a button in their tummy that sometimes says “Stop” before it realises that it’s food that is “yummy” and that they will often have to try a number of mouthfuls before they like a new food.
The idea is to get the child on board with “beating the button” – i.e. getting enough mouthfuls to know whether they like it or not – before the button says “stop!”
I’ve used this with Elliot to some degree of success. I explained that sometimes we need to try things a few times and that there’s a button in our tummy that sometimes gets confused and says Stop too early. After a few mouthfuls of a new food, we’d stop and ask him if the button is saying “Stop” or “yum yum” and more often than not it’s had a positive outcome!

We’ve been trialling a mixture of the above methods for the last week or so, and I have to report some success. We have been trying to serve meals as family meals (i.e. everyone eats the same thing, at the same time, and everyone has everything on their plate) and despite each time facing the “but I don’t like peas/salad/carrots [insert vegetable here]”, when we calmly explain that we all have the same, and if anyone doesn’t want to eat something they can leave it to one side without talking about it, we’ve had a calm meal. Ok so he’s not actually eating much of the vegetables, and generally these are still on the plate we take back into the kitchen, but we are using the EAF technique of looking at the long view and establishing good eating practices for the future rather than stressing over the number of mouthfuls of food eaten at any one meal.

I for one am a whole lot less stressed about Elliot’s eating, and know that with patience (of a saint, admittedly!) we will raise our children to be able to eat a varied diet and have a healthy attitude towards food as adults. Here’s hoping anyway!

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Ice cream is healthy, right?

No Junk Apple, cinnamon and raisin muffins

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Picnic time is here again, and in an effort to limit the amount of sugar and hidden nasties in Elliot’s diet, I came across Organix’s recent No Junk campaign (you can read more about that here)

Organix had a fab recipe for these really simple muffins, which Elliot and I made yesterday to take along to a picnic. They contain no sugar, just maple syrup and the naturally occurring sugar in the fruit. To be honest they tasted a little bland to an adult’s palate but the kids absolutely loved them (and knowing they weren’t as bad as a shop bought cake made the mummies and daddies happy too!)

You can substitute the raisins and apples for other fruit and spices if you like.

The mix made 12 muffins.

Ingredients
3 eggs
3 tbsps maple syrup
2 tsps cinnamon
120mls olive oil
2 apples
150g self-raising flour
Raisins (couple of handfuls, to taste)

Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-assisted), gas mark 6.

Next, whisk the eggs with the maple syrup, cinnamon and olive oil. Grate the apples and stir into the egg mixture. Then add the flour and mix.

I then added a couple of handfuls of raisins before dividing the mixture into greaseproof muffin tins, and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until golden and cooked in the centre.

Enjoy!