Top recipes for babies and beyond!

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Autumn, Blog, Recipes, Spring, Summer, Winter

Coming up with interesting and healthy meals for babies/ toddlers/ young children every day can be a real challenge. My approach to feeding my son (currently 16 months), is to predominantly feed him the same thing my husband and I have. This saves the hassle of cooking multiple different meals and ensures he gets a wide variety of foods and flavours. For the days when we are eating something that is not appropriate for him, I ensure I have some spare portions of his favourites in the freezer.

I thought I’d share here my top three breakfasts, quick/ light meals, and freezer/ prep ahead friendly mains. All of them are delicious and nutritious options for babies as soon as a variety of foods have been introduced; generally around 7 months (you can mash/ blend for younger babies as required), as well as children of all ages, and adults – food truly suitable for the whole family. They all also have dairy and gluten free options for those with allergies.

Breakfast
I know that time is of the essence at breakfast, so these recipes are very quick to make (or can be prepared the night before). It is important to ensure breakfast is nutritious and filling, so each of these contain a source of protein and at least one fruit or vegetable.

Overnight oats
The joy of overnight oats is that you make them the night before and leave in the fridge so they are ready to go in the morning. Perfect if you have to get out of the door quickly!

This makes an adult portion, increase as required for baby/ child

50g rolled oats (use gluten free if required)
75ml milk (full fat dairy or a calcium fortified plant based alternative)
Sprinkle of cinnamon and/or freeze dried berry powder
60g raspberries (or other berries/ chopped fruit)
Mixed seeds (eg pumpkin and sunflower) 1tbsp whole for adult, 1 tsp ground seeds for baby

Put the oats and cinnamon and/or freeze dried berry powder in a dish and pour over enough milk to cover. Top with berries and the seeds (whole for the adult, ground for babies/ young children). Leave in the fridge overnight.

Banana Pancakes

A great alternative to traditional pancakes, these are guaranteed to go down a storm with little ones! They are very runny and it takes some practice to flip them neatly, but don’t stress if they look a mess, babies/ young children won’t care, and older ones can get involved in the action!

Makes around 4 small pancakes, so plenty for an adult and a baby/ young child

1 banana
2 eggs
Pinch of baking powder
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Serve with natural/ coconut/ soya yogurt and fresh fruit

Blend or mash banana to a puree (you need it to be smooth) and beat in the eggs, baking powder and cinnamon. Wipe a pan with a tiny bit of oil (preferably coconut as this is best at high temperatures) and get it nice and hot. Put a small ladle of the mixture into the middle. It will be runny and spread out, and you want to keep it small or it is impossible to flip over. Cook for about 2 minutes (it should start to brown but not burn). Slide a fish slice underneath and quickly but carefully flip over. It’s messy and takes a little practice! Cook for another couple of minutes. You can reflip if need be to cook a little more on the top (it is much easier the second time!)

Porridge

Lovely and warming on a cold day, porridge is a great option for the whole family for breakfast. It only takes a few minutes to make on the hob but you can soak the oats overnight too if you prefer and to make them more digestible.

This makes an adult portion, increase as required for baby/ child

50g rolled oats (use gluten free if required)
75ml milk (full fat dairy or a calcium fortified plant based alternative)
1/4 tsp of spice e.g. cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, vanilla, cardamom, nutmeg
Fruit to top: stewed fruits, slices of banana or kiwi, or berries are all good options.
Optional extra: nuts or seeds to top the adult dish with

Put the oats, milk and spice in a small pan over a medium heat on the hob. Stir gently until the milk is hot and the mixtures has thickened. Remove from the heat, transfer to dishes (use a cold bowl for baby so it cools down quickly), and top with the fruit and any extras.

Tip: if it gets too thick, just add a bit more milk when you remove from the heat

Quick/ Light Meals

Because I know time is never at a premium with a baby/young child around, these recipes are extremely quick and easy to make and only require a minimal number of ingredients. Again, they all contain some protein and at least one vegetable to ensure they are filling and nutritious.

Avocado and Courgette Pasta
I recommend using chickpea or lentil pasta as these provide a source of protein, but you could use regular pasta. Remember whole wheat is more nutritious and slower energy releasing than white.

Makes enough for an adult and a baby.

60g chickpea/ lentil pasta
1/2 a courgette
1/2 an avocado
Juice of c.1/4 a lemon
1 tsp tahini (sesame paste)
Optional toppings: cherry tomatoes, herbs, pumpkin seeds (leave off or grind for baby)

Cook your pasta on the hob. Whilst it is cooking, spiralise the courgette and set aside. Mash the avocado with the lemon juice and the tahini. Add the courgette to the saucepan for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta and courgette and mix in the avocado sauce. Add any toppings and enjoy hot or cold.

Quick Veggie Omelette
Omelettes make great finger food for babies once cut into strips. You can get as creative as you want adding extra ingredients, but the below is a very simple and healthy option.

Makes enough for an adult and a baby

3 medium eggs
Handful of chopped fresh herbs or grated vegetable(s) of your choice (courgette, carrot, beetroot, mushrooms, finely chopped spinach)

Briefly beat the eggs and mix in the herbs/ vegetables. Heat a small frying pan and pour in the mixture (you  don’t need oil if you have a non stick pan, but may need a tiny bit if not). Fry over a medium heat for around 3-4 minutes, fold in half or flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Fishy Loaded Potato Wedges

Sardines are a wonderful source of omega 3 essential fatty acids, which most of us need more of in our diet. Whilst they can have quite a strong flavour, mashing them into potatoes with the lemon and crème fraiche makes them very palatable and the texture is easy for little ones. Whilst baking potatoes takes time, you can do this in advance/ whilst you are doing other things, then wrap in foil until you are ready to eat.

1 large baking potato
80g tinned sardines
1 tbsp crème fraiche (for dairy free, leave out or swap for dairy free plain yogurt)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Spoonful of fresh chopped parsley or dill
Serve with salad or vegetables

Cut the potato into quarters longways and bake in the oven (180C for around 30-40 minutes).  Scoop out most of the potato centre and mash with the sardines, crème fraiche, lemon juice and herbs, then refill the skins. You can pop them back in the oven for another 10 minutes to make them slightly crunchy on the outside if you wish. Serve with salad or steamed vegetables (green peas go well).

Main Meals

Many of you, like me, will feed your little one their dinner before you are ready to eat yours. There is no need to cook two separate meals though! All of these dishes are suitable to cook for you, then pop a portion in the fridge for little one the next day (or cook in time for their dinner, then reheat the rest for you later).

These recipes make about three adult portions. Don’t worry if this is more than you need, as you can freeze any extra. I recommend getting some BPA free plastic containers and pots for baby portions. You don’t need loads, as you can pop the food out once frozen solid, and put in freezer bags. Just remember to label everything with content and date. I keep a list on the front of the freezer so I remember what I have in there too!

Mild Dahl

Lentils are an excellent source of protein and have a nice soft texture for babies. This is a good way to start introducing new flavours and spices. You can increase the spice amounts for older children/ to your taste. If you don’t have the individual spices, use 1 tsp of garam masala instead.

You can serve this with flatbreads, naans or brown rice and a spoon of natural yogurt or coconut cream swirled in for adults/ older children. Or use it as a side dish for a curry.

100g red lentils
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp paprika
Small grind of black pepper
1 medium carrot

Grate the carrot. Rinse the lentils and put in a saucepan just covered with cold water. Add the spices and carrot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid has soaked up. Then its ready to serve!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi makes brilliant soft finger food and the sweet potatoes make it more nutritious than using plain ones. You can mix it with any sauce you like. Below is a simple homemade tomato sauce which is well worth having a batch of in the freezer anyway as is brilliant on pasta, in lasagne, Bolognese etc. Add a protein of your choice e.g grilled chicken, fish, tofu or halloumi, for a well balanced meal.

Don’t be put off by this being a slightly messy process! Once the dough is mixed, it is incredibly quick and easy to cook, and it is great for making in advance and storing in the fridge/freezer (dust in some flour, and separate layers of gnocchi with baking paper so it doesn’t stick together).

400g sweet potatoes
200g plain flour (or 0gluten free flour)
For the sauce:
200g (half a standard can) of chopped tomatoes
1 garlic cloves
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
¼ red onion
1 medium carrot
Splash of apple or orange juice
Small handful of fresh chopped herbs of your choice (eg parsley, basil, oregano or marjoram)
Coconut oil to cook

To make the sauce, chop the onion and fry over the low heat in a little coconut oil for about 10 minutes until soft. Grate the carrots and crush the garlic and add these and the rest of the ingredients to the pan. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool then blend. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat.

Either bake the potatoes then scrape out of the skins (this gives the best, driest consistency, but does take longer), or peel them and boil or steam until really soft. You don’t want them too wet, so drain, pat well with paper towel to remove excess water and leave until no more than slightly warm (cold is fine, so you can cook the potatoes well in advance if you want). Mash until smooth.

Start to stir in the flour. Use a fork to start with, then work with your hands once the dough is less sticky. Add the flour bit by bit and stop when you have a smooth dough that doesn’t stick easily to you. You can add more than 200g if it still seems sticky, but you don’t want to add too much as the gnocchi will end up tasting floury! Roll into sausage shapes about 2cm thick then cut into pieces. You can leave the gnocchi in the fridge (or freeze) until you are ready to cook it. Its best laid out on pieces of baking paper (you can stack layers of these) so they don’t all stick together.

To cook, bring a pan of water to the boil and drop in a handful of gnocchi – don’t overcrowd the pan. They will sink then rise to the top when ready. It usually takes 2-3 minutes but will depend how large your pieces are. Remove from the water and place in a warm bowl, covered with a damp tea towel/ paper towel while you cook the rest.

Easy bean chilli

A great one to keep extra portions of in the freezer, you can eat this is many ways. From the poshest beans on toast you’ve ever had, to more traditional chilli style with rice, or served over a jacket potato with a little cheese grated on top. Remove the cayenne pepper if you don’t want any spice.

1 pepper (any colour)
½ medium onion (red or white)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
400g can mixed beans
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper

Dice the pepper and finely chop the onion. Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan and add the onion, pepper and minced garlic. Fry over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Drain the liquid off the beans and add them, along with the tomatoes, paprika and cayenne pepper (you could also use chilli powder if you prefer, and adjust the quantity to how hot you like it. ½ tsp gives a mild heat).

Simmer gently for about 20 minutes so the mixture thickens slightly. Season with black pepper and serve with rice, a jacket potato, or as posh beans on toast!

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