Category Archives: Baby Foods & Weaning

One Pot Ratatouille

Baby Foods & Weaning 7-9 Months plus, Toddlers & Small Children, Older Kids, Grown Ups

We love ratatouille at Chez Foti, and it’s a regular feature on our dinner table throughout the summer. Originally from Provence, it’s a classic Southern French veggie side dish, and made with good quality (preferably organic) tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines it’s utterly delicious and bursting with vibrant summer flavour. My kids have always loved it too, they eat it these days on a bed of pasta or couscous with a few cheesie sprinkles (they LOVE their sprinkles!). Last summer when they were considerably smaller (and fussier) I diced all the veggies to a smaller size, as large chunks seemed to put them off. And when Jacques was really tiny and weaning I whizzed up my ratatouille with a stick blender and served it to him with baby pasta stars. If you’re making for babies or little kids do not add any salt.

Us grown up folk prefer to eat our ratatouille in a large shared bowl (with a luxurious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top) with plenty of fresh bread and maybe the odd sneaky merguez sausage on the side. It’s great served as a veggie side dish to a roast or cold cuts too, or with pasta or couscous like the kids.

My ratatouille recipe is probably somewhat old school now, in that it’s made as I’ve always made it with all the veggies in one big pot. It seems that most modern recipes call for the roasting or sauteing then layering of each of the veggies separately and diss my old fashioned all-in-one stew method. I personally like it both ways, but Mr F (who’s a big ratatouille fan) and the kids prefer this one pot wonder way….which is also quicker and requires less washing up!

Like all our dinners over the summer the veggies were all freshly picked from the garden, though admittedly I had to buy some peppers as mine are very slow to fruit this year. The courgettes, tomatoes (well obviously!), aubergine, garlic, onions, thyme and bay were all Chez Foti. It really is rather special being able to walk out of the front door and pick all your dinner’s ingredients, and after a year and a half of growing my own the novelty most certainly isn’t waining. And I hope it never does.

I’m entering this blog to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

Ratatouille

Enough as a main for four big people, or several more as a side dish:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

a very large or two medium white or red onions, medium dice

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large aubergine or two small

2 peppers (preferably a red and a green one, or two reds)

2 courgettes

a small glass of white wine (optional)

700g of fresh chopped tomatoes (3 or 4 very large) (OR 600g of good quality tinned chopped tomatoes)

3 bay leaves

several sprigs of fresh thyme (be generous!)

a teaspoon of sugar

salt and pepper

Dice your veggies. If cooking for bigger kids and adults try to cut the peppers, aubergines and courgettes to a similar 3 cm ish slice size. I slice the aubergines into rounds (of about 4 to 5mm thick) then quarter the slices (or eighth if very large). The courgettes are sliced to the same thickness then cut in half (or quartered if very large). If making specially for babies (that do lumps) or toddlers cut to a much finer, more acceptable to them, dice.

Make a small bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the bay leaves and thyme sprigs with string.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and allow to cook for a further minute. Next throw in the aubergines and peppers followed by the courgettes about 5 minutes later. Stir frequently so nothing catches.

Pour in the white wine (if using) and allow to simmer for a few minutes until much reduced. Now stir in your chopped tommies, bouquet garni, sugar, a generous amount of back pepper and salt (go easy on the pepper and no salt for babies and small children). Bring everything to a simmer, stirring from time to time, and allow to cook on a fairly gentle heat for about 45 minutes partially covered with the lid. The veggies should be very tender and tomatoes much reduced.

Have a final taste check, adding more pepper, salt and sugar to taste (no added salt for babies or small children though). Fish out the bouquet garni and serve hot or cold.

Eat and enjoy as you so desire!

How about trying some of my other summery recipes? Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Paella, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or A Couple of Tomato Tarts?


Cream of Veggie Super Soup!

6 Months +, Weaning, Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Children and Adults

Okay I know it’s June and I really shouldn’t be soup making but it’s been more than a tad cold at Chez Foti lately. It’s certainly not been the gloriously sunshiny south of France I signed up for. Besides my kids’ll happily eat soup any day of the year. In truth I’ve made very few soups recently, my interest wained once the pumpkins finished. But this week the humble veggie soup has been revived and my kids just couldn’t get enough of it!.

Soups are a fab way to get your littlies to eat a copious amount of veggies, you can cunningly throw in all the ones they’re none too keen on and they’ll never know. I sneakily add a little tomato puree to disguise the green veggies. Works every time. Most kids seem particularly partial to tomatoey flavours, as they do to the addition of creamy creme fraiche. I tend to bulk out with carrots as we always have them in and particularly like a little zing of red pepper, but feel free to add absolutely any veggies you  have lurking. Everything’s substitutable.

I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon for veggie soups which is a particularly flavoursome base. If you’re making soup for babies either use plain water or get hold of some baby stock cubes (available in bigger Boots stores in the UK) which have no added salt.

If you want to make the soup a wee bit more substantial add a handful of cooked pasta shapes and/or top with grated cheese. I serve mine with wholemeal toast ‘dippers’. This recipe makes a pretty thick soup which is easier for little ones to eat, but older kids and grown ups might like to thin it down a little with more stock, water or milk.

Messy pics I know, but this was Jacques’ third bowl and he’d kind of done with eating by the time the camera came out!.

Enough for 8 to 10 little servings or 4 grown up ones:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

an onion, diced

4 carrots, thoroughly washed and sliced (no need to peel)

a medium potato, washed and diced (no need to peel)

½ a head or broccoli (stem inc), or a handful of green beans or any other green or other veg you have lurking, diced

a red pepper, diced

a litre of vegetable stock

1.5 tablespoons of tomato puree

2 tablespoons of creme fraiche

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion and stir. Add the other veggies as you wash and dice them. There’s not too many timing rules here! Stir from time to time so nothing catches.

Once all the veggies have been added to the pan pour over the hot veggie stock and stir in the tomato puree.

Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat to low. Cover and allow to bubble away for 15 to 20 minutes until the veggies are all tender.

Take off the heat and blitz until very smooth in a blender or food processor or with a stick blender. Stir in the creme fraiche.

Here’s some other Chez Foti soupy recipes: Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, Butternut Squash & Chorizo with Chorizo Croutons, Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup), Creamy Roasted Pumpkin


A Trio of Dips for Babies, Toddlers & Big People!

6-8 month +, Toddlers and Young Children, Finger Foods, Grown Ups too!

Dips are a great way to encourage babies and toddlers to feed themselves and are a fab early ‘finger food’. Even from a very young age babies can co-ordinate themselves to do a dip, even if it’s just dipping their fingers in. And they nearly all love the intensely satisfying experience, albeit a sometimes very messy one for mums and dads!

Dips also encourage wee ones to eat a greater variety of veggies. My kids will rarely eat a stick of raw carrot or pepper on it’s own but will gladly gnaw away if it’s got something yummy on the end. Try offering dips with a selection of finely sliced sticks of raw carrots, cucumbers, peppers, firm avocados or celery as well as breadsticks and slices of wholemeal pitta bread. For babies and littlies offer sticks or pieces of cooked veggies like carrots, courgettes, broccoli florets or even chunks of roasted squash or sweet potato. You might be surprised how much of the good stuff they consume when left to their own devices!

Homemade Hummus

Don’t be daunted by making your own hummus,  it’s remarkably easy and quick and so much better than anything shop bought. From my experience most babies and small children love it, and obviously big children and grown ups too! Rarely a week goes by without me making a batch of hummus. As well as being a great dip it can be tasty snack spread on wholemeal toast or pitta bread, or combined with a little grated carrot or cheese (or both) in a sandwich.

This makes enough for several children but stores well in the fridge for 5 days. I normally make at least double quantity and use exactly the same recipe for the whole family to enjoy.

½ a 400g/14oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ a clove of garlic, finely chopped

juice of ½ a lemon

a desertspoon of Tahini

1.5 tbsps of olive oil

a tiny pinch of salt (no salt if you’re making for babies)

a pinch of black pepper

Throw all the ingredients in a food processor and blend for a few moments, or place in a high sided bowl and whiz with a stick blender. The latter being my preference as it’s less washing up!. Once whizzed check the flavour and add more lemon juice, pepper or salt to taste.

Guacamole

My kids also go crazy for homemade guacamole which again is ridiculously quick and easy to make and beats anything shop bought  hands down.  I use a little fresh coriander in my guacamole as I believe it’s important to get kids into eating strong and interesting flavours from a young age. I also sometimes add a touch of chilli, particularly if I’m making for grown ups too, and the kids like it equally. In fact the first time Francesca ever ate guacamole it was some I’d made for friends that had quite a substantial chilli kick and she loved it! And she was only about 8 months old.

a very ripe avocado

2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice

½ a tomato

a dessertspoon of chopped fresh coriander (optional)

the merest pinch of crushed dried chilli flakes or very finely chopped fresh chilli (optional)

tiny pinches of salt & pepper (no salt if you’re making for babies)

Remove the stone and skin from the avocado, roughly chop and place in a bowl. Mash finely with the back of the fork.

Very finely chop the tomato and stir into the avocado along with the lime  juice, coriander (if using), chilli (if using) and a little salt & pepper.

Tuna & Cream Cheese

The last of my trio happens to be yet another of my kids favourites and is even easier to make than the others. It’s simply tuna mashed up with a little cream cheese. As well as a dip this makes a fab mayo-free sandwich or jacket potato filling. For a very tasty ‘grown up’ version, that kids will also equally enjoy, simply add a little lemon zest, a few finely chopped capers and a grinding of black pepper.

a heaped tablespoon of drained tinned tuna (preferably tuna tinned in spring water)

a heaped tablespoon of full fat cream cheese

Simply mash the two together. Done!.

Here’s Francesca & Jacques enjoying their favourite dippy trio outside in the sunshine:

You might also like: Hummus Hedgehogs, A Trio of Banana Purees, Two Baby Pasta & Puree Recipes, Sweet Potato Daal for Babies.


Super-Fruity Homemade Rice Pudding

8 months +, toddlers & young children, grown ups too!

Homemade rice pudding is so super douper easy everyone should give it a go. Most recipes bake it slowly in the oven but I’ve successfully experimented with simmering the milk and rice in a pan on the hob and considerably shortened the cooking time. The addition of lots of dried fruit gives this pud an extra healthy punch, and even kids adverse to dried fruit will probably enjoy it this way being so meltingly soft. If your making the pud for really little ones or kids that truely do not do dried fruit then omit and add a touch more sugar.

I used to make lots of milky puddings when my wee boy was weaning as once he had his first taste of solids he barely drank another drop of milk and I had to make sure he still got plenty of the white stuff down one way or another. Together with a few milky puds, I was always lucky that the little fella loved his yoghurts, cheese, porridge and milky cereals so it was never too much of a problem. He’s just turned two now and still refuses to drink milk on it’s own!.

Milk is the most important source of calcium to little people, as well as containing protein and a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals. Raisins, sultanas and dried apricots not only count towards your child’s five a day but are a wonderful natural sugar and sweetener. I always add a handful to my kids’ porridge and regularly use in puddings and cakes to replace large, and often unnecessary, quantities of sugar.

for a family of four:

90g of pudding rice (½ cup)

30g of golden caster sugar (1⁄8 cup)

675ml of full fat milk (3 cups)

80g of raisins or sultanas (⅓ to ½ cup)

60g of finely chopped dried apricots (just over ⅓ of a cup)

Simply place all the ingredients in a saucepan, stir to combine, and place on as gentle a heat as your hob will allow.

Slowly bring to a simmer and allow to bubble away for 30 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. If the rice looks like it’s drying out add a touch more milk.

The rice should be gloopy and very very soft.  Serve whilst warm or hot.

Here’s some of my other puddings: Sticky Apple Pudding and Bread & Butter Leftovers Pudding


Go Bananas! A Trio of Banana Baby Purees

First foods 6 months +

Here’s some super-fruity super-healthy and super-yummy first purees all using my personal super food, the humble banana. Bananas contain three types of natural sugars which when combined with their fibre content give an instant and sustained energy boost. They are also high in iron and potassium, the latter being thought to boost brain power. Bananas are wonderful for babies and one of the very few natural convenience foods that can be eaten by babies without blending or cooking, and can be eaten from day one of weaning. They’re also a great natural sweetener and perfect to combine with less sweet fruits instead of adding sugar.

Bananas can be simply mashed raw with a fork and fed to your baby like this or with the addition of a spoon of creamy yogurt or made up baby rice you have something a little more substantial. Most babies adore anything with bananas and these three recipes were my own two little babies’ favourite purees.

With the exception of the Banana & Avocado puree which can be simply mashed, my recipes today do actually require some blending due to the additional ingredients. If you don’t already have one invest in a stick blender, baby blender or a Baby Bullet, they’re totally wonderful for quickly and easily whizzing up baby food.

All three purees produce one serving. Unfortunately banana based purees do not keep well and are not suitable to be made in advance.

‘Banado’ Banana & Avocado Baby Puree

What a combination for little tums? Super powering banana and super nutritious avocado together creating a super calorific double dosing of brain boosting potassium! Now isn’t that what all babies need?. And this is ooooohhhh so simple, and great if you happen to be out and about without a blender.

½ of a medium banana, or a ⅓ of a larger one

⅓ of a very ripe avocado

Place the two together and mash very thoroughly with a fork OR whiz up with a stick blender, baby blender or baby bullet for an ultra smooth and creamy puree. Serve immediately.

Banana & Strawberry Pink Purée

Strawberries are a wonderful source of Vitamin C, the B Vitamins and K and are high in ‘phenols’ that protect the body from diseases like cancer. Advise used to be to not feed babies strawberries for the first 12 months because of the potential of allergic reaction. However guidelines in the UK and US have dropped this to 6 months although parents or babies with any pre-existing allergies or history of allergies, or babies with asthma or eczema should be extremely cautious in the first year and seek medical advice before offering strawberries or other potentially allergenic fruit like kiwis, raspberries or citrus fruits.

½ a medium banana

2 strawberries

Place the banana and strawberries together and whiz up with a stick blender, baby blender or baby bullet. Serve immediately.

Creamy Banana & Mango Purée

Mango’s are another great first baby food, and are very unlikely to be snubbed by little mouths. They contain oodles of vitamins A & C, E & K as well as Vitamin B6 and potassium. And you can’t beat adding a little rich and luxuriously creamy greek yogurt to a purée.

½ a medium banana

1/6 of a ripe mango, cut into chunks

a tablespoon of greek yogurt

Place the banana, mango and yogurt together and whiz up with a stick blender, baby blender or baby bullet. Serve immediately.

Have you seen my other weaning recipe’s….. Sweet Potato Daal for Babies, Two First Pasta Sauces, Bejewelled Eggs or my 5-a-Day Pasta Sauce?


Homemade Fish Fingers

P1070950

Virtually all kids (and grown ups!) adore fish fingers so why not make your own?   You can honestly put them together in little more than the time to cook frozen shop bought ones. And if time’s a problem, why not make a big batch and store them in the freezer for a later convenience dinner? The difference in quality between a homemade fish finger made with real fish fillet and a processed shop bought one made with minced/ground fish is enormous and it’s truly worth the little added effort.

I believe that getting your kids to eat and love fish from a very early age is really important. It’s been proven over recent years that the nutrients and minerals in fish, and particularly oily fish, are particularly good for the heart and can make improvements in brain development.

Homemade Fish Fingers

Homemade Fish Fingers

Great for 9-12 month babies, fingers foods, toddlers and pre-schoolers, big kids, big people, freezing, making ahead

makes 6-8 fish fingers:

200g of sustainable white fish fillet (cod, haddock or pollack are all perfect)

a tablespoon of plain flour

a medium free range egg, beaten

40g of panko, white breadcrumbs or polenta (or a combination of any of these)

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

Take the time to carefully examine your fish fillet for any bones, removing any that you find with tweezers. Cut the fish into 6 – 8 even fingers.

Now assemble three shallow flat bottomed dishes. Put the flour in one, the beaten egg in the next and the panko/breadcrumbs/polenta in the final one.

Simply dip each fish finger first into the flour, then into the egg and finally roll it around in the crumbs. Place on a plate until you’re ready to use. They can be frozen for later use at this stage.

Heat the oil in frying pan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped in. Carefully place the fish fingers in the pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning on all sides until golden brown and crisp all over. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve with mash or chips and plenty of veggies.

Homemade Fishfingers

How about trying some of my other toddler-tastic recipes? Kids Fish Pie, Sunday Dinner Leftovers Cakes, Chicken, Egg & Veggie Fried Rice or Lasagne ?


Bejeweled Eggs!

8 months +, toddlers & young children

As part of my series of baby and toddler foods, in conjunction with Oogaa silicone feeding products, here’s a perfect recipe for introducing your baby to soft lumps in his or her food. Plain scrambled eggs were one of the first foods my two really loved and devoured, and as they grew accustomed to little lumps I started scrambling the eggs with an assortment of finely diced veggies and a little cheese and they probably loved my ‘bejeweled’ eggs even more than the plain scrambled. And it’s still a firm favourite today as a quick and easy no brainer supper served with little slices of wholemeal toast and butter on the side.

For very little ones dice the veggies as finely as you can, increasing the size as they get older and more accustomed to lumps and bumps. Stick to veggies that will soften well on cooking for the very wee ones, like mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, courgette (or diced pre-cooked veggies like broccoli and carrots) etc. Slightly older babies and toddlers love it with sweetcorn and peas, as indeed I made mine with today, but these are slightly harder to break down and digest in tiny tums.

Eggs are a wonderful food for babies and young children, providing an important protein source and packed full of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, various Bs, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Cheese is also an important source of calcium and protein.

Enough for one large portion, double if Mum wants to eat too!

5g of butter

a slice of onion, very finely diced (about a 1⁄16th of a small onion)

a fine slice of red pepper, very finely diced (about a 1⁄16th of a whole pepper)

10g of sweetcorn, fresh, canned or frozen (replace with finely diced courgette, mushroom, or pre-cooked carrot or broccoli if your baby is very little)

10g of fresh or frozen peas (replace with finely diced courgette, mushroom, or pre-cooked carrot or broccoli if your baby is very little)

a slice of tomato, very finely diced (about an 1/8th of a whole tomato)

a free range egg, beaten

a teeny weeny ultra fine grinding of black pepper

10g of a mild hard cheese (like cheddar), grated

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the onion and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes until soft, stirring regularly. Stir in the peas, sweetcorn and tomato and cook for a further 2 minutes. If the pan becomes dry add a splash of water.

Stir in the beaten egg, very finely ground black pepper and grated cheese. Continue to stir until the egg is cooked through. Allow to cool for a few moments then serve.

Have you tried my other baby recipes? How about the ever so tasty Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers, Baby Pasta & Purees, Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice or Kid’s Bolognese?


Two Baby Pasta & Puree Recipes!

7-9 months +

Here’s a couple of colourful first pasta sauce/purée recipes which are perfect for babies moving on from puréed food to the world of soft lumps. The sauces are puréed and mixed with the smallest pasta you can find, teeny weeny pasta stars are ideal and easily available at most larger supermarkets or pharmacies selling baby products. They’re a brilliant introduction to pasta and most babies love their very soft texture.

My first recipe is for a super-nutritious super-green Avocado, Spinach & Cream Cheese Sauce which my kids simply adored! Avocado’s are a wonderful source of potassium and vitamins B, E and K, and spinach is a popeye-tastic source of iron, antioxidants and vitamins A, C, E and K.

It actually makes a fab purée in it’s own right without the pasta for the really little littlies, or a great sandwich filling, toast topping or finger food dip for the bigger babs. I’m also pretty partial to it myself! Unlike most baby foods this isn’t a recipe you can make in larger quantities and store as the avocado blackens pretty quickly over time.

Makes enough for 2 portions:
30g of frozen spinach, defrosted (or a handful of fresh spinach leaves washed, shredded and steamed in a little water in a microwave for a couple of minutes)
½ a small avocado, skin and stone removed, cut into a large dice
25g of full fat cream cheese
a tiny pinch of very finely ground black pepper
30g of baby pasta (stars are perfect if you can source)

Cook the pasta in boiling unsalted water to packet instructions, pasta stars take about 6 minutes. I tend to ever so slightly over cook the pasta when first weaning babies on to lumps.

Put all the other ingredients together and blend to a super smooth purée (using a stick blender, Baby Bullet or processor).
Stir the hot pasta into the purée and serve!

My second recipe is for a gorgeously Creamy Tomato Sauce. Tomatoes are a great antioxidant and supplier of vitamins A and C. Being a bit of a garlic fiend I like to add a little to a babies diet very early on. Babies love lots of flavour, not that you would guess this from the multitude of disgustingly bland jarred baby foods that are sadly for sale. You can make this sauce in larger quantities and happily refrigerate or freeze.

makes enough for 5-6 portions:
2 tomatoes
a desert spoon of olive oil
½ a clove of garlic
1⁄6th of a small onion
a tiny pinch of very finely ground black pepper
80g of baby pasta
40g of full fat cream cheese

Start by removing the skin from the tomatoes (which may be hard to digest for little tums). You can do this by emerging the tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for a couple of minutes, this softens the skins and makes them easily peelable. Once peeled finely dice.

Finely chop the garlic and onion. Heat the oil in a small saucepan on a very low heat and add the garlic and onion. Stirring regularly cook for 3 minutes until softened.

Stir in the tomatoes and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook on a very gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling unsalted water to packet instructions, pasta stars take about 6 minutes. I tend to ever so slightly over cook the pasta when first weaning babies on to lumps.

After the tomatoes have cooked for 10 minutes remove from the heat, stir in the cream cheese and blend to a super smooth purée (using a stick blender, Baby Bullet or processor).

Combine the pasta with the sauce and serve!

Here’s my baby (he’s nearly two!) still enjoying my creamy tomato sauce:


Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers!

6-8 months +, older babies, toddlers & young children

In launching my series of baby and toddler food blogs in conjunction with Oogaa feeding products, I thought it only right to kick off with my own two little monster’s favourite baby purée, a simple gently spiced and fragrant sweet potato and lentil daal. As wee babies they both adored their lentils and just couldn’t get enough of them, though admittedly the nappies were sometimes a little on the interesting side! I’m a firm believer in introducing flavour and spice into a babies diet from a very young age to prepare them for the big world out there, though obviously going extremely easy on any chilli with the very little littlies.

Once you’ve got your baby onto eating simple pureed fruits and veggies this is a very good second stage purée introducing them to the world of proteins. The sweet potato gives your wee one a bombardment of vitamins and fibre and lentils are a great source of protein and more fibre.
For the very little ones serve just on it’s own, but be careful not to give too much at first as lentils could cause wind to little tums unused to legumes. Serve with rice to older babies and toddlers.

I tend to make all baby foods in fairly large batches so that any leftovers can be frozen in individual portions for later use.

To make a large batch (around 10 to 12 servings):

a tablespoon of olive oil

a small onion, finely diced

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

½ a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

a carrot, finely diced

a sweet potato (about 250g), finely diced

a teaspoon of ground cumin

a teaspoon of ground coriander

a pinch of finely ground black pepper

400ml of water

65g of red split lentils

Heat the oil in a saucepan on a low heat, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for 5 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

Add the carrots and sweet potato to the pan and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Now stir in the cumin, coriander and pepper and allow to cook for a minute before pouring in the water and lentils.

Bring to a simmer, and cook on a gentle heat for about 20 minutes until the lentils are mushy and vegetables very soft.

Purée with a Baby Bullet, stick blender or processor and serve.

Here’s Jacques chowing down on his rice and daal, he still loves his lentils now!


Kid’s Bolognese

I make a bolognese pasta sauce especially for my children throwing in a whole heap of veggies to bulk out the meat. Not only does this make your bolognese a good deal healthier for little tums, but also a good deal cheaper, making a little meat go a long way. It seems that however much other goodness you add the sauce still retains the lovely meaty bolognesy flavour which kids adore. And obviously it doesn’t have to be just for the wee ones, it really is very yummy for big people too!.

You really can throw in a huge variety of veggies to this. In addition to the onions and carrots I added about 300g of finely diced pumpkin, 75g of carrots, and 125g of french beans from my freezer. You could use mushrooms, parsnips, squash, swede, sweet potato, peas, spinach, sweetcorn, celery, peppers, aubergine…the list goes on!. I’ve even added potatoes and chick peas in the past, and both work extremely well. Be brave, chuck it in!.

Try to only use good quality mince, that’s preferably been minced by the butcher in front of you. I tend to add lots of fresh thyme to my bolognese as it grows in abundance here, but if you don’t have any to hand I wouldn’t go to the trouble and expense of buying it especially.

I tend to make the sauce in pretty large batches so I can freeze the leftovers in tupperware portions to bring out for a quick no brainer dinner when I’m short on time.

Enough for 10 to 12 little kids portions:

2 tbsps of olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

500g mixed veggies, cut into a small dice

400g good quality minced beef

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

1 dessertspoon of tomato puree

a few sprigs of thyme (optional)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp of worcester sauce

black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until softened, stirring regularly.

Now add the veggies that you’ve selected. If you’re using peas, spinach, sweetcorn or any other easily cooked veggie leave out until nearer the end of the cooking process. Cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring regularly.

Add the minced beef and cook until browned.

Throw in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaves, thyme (if using), worcester sauce and a little freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour. If your using veggies that take less time to cook don’t forget to add them a few minutes before the end of the cooking time.

And it’s easy as that!. One large vat of healthy and delicious bolognese sauce to fill those little tums done!

Serve on the pasta of your children’s choice with a generous sprinkling of cheese….my kids love to do the ‘sprinkles’ themselves!

Like my bowls and spoons, they’re lovely aren’t they? They’re from Oogaa who design and sell fabulous and safe feeding products for babies and young children, in gorgeous and fun designs and colours. For more information check out the Oogaa website, www.oogaa.com.

Have you tried any of my other kids dinners? How about my Simple Chicken Stew, Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese, Fish & Chips, Cottage Pie , Kids Fish Pie , Kid’s 5-a-day pasta sauce or Salmon Fishcakes recipes?


%d bloggers like this: