I’ve recently gotten this thing for cooking when I feel overwhelmed, confused or have a bad day. Yesterday was such a day. I didn’t cook anything, but today I felt like I needed to do something to put myself back over the bar.
I’ve been looking for an easy recipe for healthy toddler muesli bars for a while, and today I found one. It’s easy, takes no time and is yummy (and healthy) for small tummies.
I’m fairly strict about what goes in to my son, but I feel these deserve to pass and get my stamp of approval. I found the original recipe here over at Healthy Happy Mama, but I couldn’t resist changing it to better suit what I was after.
If you make these for a baby under 12 months, skip the honey and use mashed banana instead*, chop the fruit well or skip that too, and make sure you’ve tried peanut butter in a small amount previously to avoid any allergy surprises.
* “Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness. These spores are usually harmless to adults and children over 1 year old, because the microorganisms normally found in the intestine keep the bacteria from growing.” (Source Babycenter.com)
My recipe is as follows:
2 cups rolled oats
1 medium grated apple
2,5 tbs peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 mashed banana (alternatively you could use 1/2 cup honey, or 1 whole banana. I went half and half to still have some sweetness, but reduce the sugar)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (I eyeballed it)
a handful of raisins
a handful of chopped, dried apricots
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees (Celsius). Mix all the ingredients. I lightly whisked the eggs before adding them. Pour into a 9×9 inch (not sure the measurements on mine to be honest) baking tin lined with baking paper. Smooth and press to compact before baking for 20 minutes until the edges go lightly brown. Leave to cool before cutting into bars. Makes about 16-20 small bars (depending on size). Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
These aren’t hard like biscuits, but a bit chewy and slightly crumbly. Anakin gives them two thumbs up. I can’t wait to try some more variations of these soon.
I love mexican food. I mean it, seriously, I LOVE it! It is by far my favourite food. I don’t mind the real hearty authentic stuff, that’s good too, but I still have a preference for some fresh baja type mexican.
Because it’s food I have a passion for I’ve been meaning to introduce Anakin to more of it. We tried a mexican style black bean, coriander and vegetable lasagna which went down a treat so I figured it was about time he got some burrito in him. Success? Absolutely!!
I went the extra mile and made him my current favourite salsa in a baby version. (Which is basically the same as my version just minus the chilli and the salt.) Recipes? Ok. (Alright, so I took a couple of photos of this, but I can’t find them anywhere. Sorry.)
I don’t really operate with measurements when I cook this stuff. It used to annoy me when I asked my mother for recipes that she couldn’t be more exact, but now that I cook for myself I totally understand what she’s on about. So just bare with me, ok?
You’ll want to make the salsa in advance. These flavours like to have a good foreplay before they get down and juicy, if you know what I mean.
Roast vegetable salsa:
Green capsicum, halved
A whole chilli
Set your oven to 180-200 degrees celsius. Get an oven tray and give it a tiny coat of olive oil. Halve your tomatoes and cut out the little green bit on top. Set on the tray cut side down. For this I used about 5 tomatoes because I made an adult version and a baby version. You’re better off making more than less because believe me, this stuff is delicious. Cut your capsicum in half and get rid of the seeds. Chuck some unpeeled garlic on the tray, I used 5 small cloves. Don’t worry, it won’t be garlicy. Put a whole chilli on as well and set it all in the oven until it all goes a bit wrinkly and soft.
Once it’s all nice and soft get it all out. If you’re making a baby salsa get a separate bowl out for that and make everything separate. Peel your garlic and smash it with a fork. I used two small garlic cloves for my baby salsa. (for the adult version this is where I add a good pinch of rock salt.) Get your tomatoes and chop them or smash them with whatever method you prefer. I’ve started just using my kitchen scissors because I like it a bit chunky, just to cut it a bit finer after giving everything a rough chop on the chopping board. Add tomatoes to the garlic and stir. Baby version 1,5-2 tomatoes deepening on size, adult rest. Chop your capsicum and add that too. baby version 1/4 of the capsicum, adult rest. Chop the onion and add a bit of that to the baby salsa and a lot to the adult salsa. The onion is the only thing that is not roasted in this and adds a nice crisp texture. Get a nice, big handful of coriander, roughly chop it and add to the mix in both bowls. (For the adult version this is when I add my chilli. Make sure you taste it first. If it’s too fiery remove the seeds, if not just chop it and add it all.) Then give it a bit of ground pepper and a good squeeze of lime. Stir and you’re done!
The most important thing with this salsa is to get a balance going between the tomatoes, chilli, lime, coriander and salt. It’s not hard, but you don’t want the chilli to dominate, too much salt, too much lime or the coriander to take over everything. It’s easy, so don’t worry.
Now onto the burrito filling. I already had some pre-cooked black beans in the freezer from last time. You can use whatever other beans you want, but I do love my black beans. If you can’t find them tinned just get some dry ones, soak them overnight and cook with a bit of salt until tender. This will usually take up to a couple of hours.
For the burritos you’ll need:
Green capsicum (or whatever colour you prefer)
corn on the cob (or tinned)
Just use vegetables in whatever quantity you need. Chop them, cut the corn off the cob and fry over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the black beans. I like to throw all my vegetables in at once simply because I prefer them to be crisp and not overcooked or soggy, so make sure you don’t prepare this too early. I seasoned this with some smoked paprika and some cumin. When I make this in adult version it’s spiced up a bit, and if we’re feeling lazy we just use pre-made spice mixes. Whatever floats your boat.
For these burritos I got some corn Mountain bread. I also love guacamole, but I figured I’d ease Anakin’s little taste buds into it so I skipped making it for him and just spread half a small avocado on the mountain bread. Then I added some vegetable and bean mix and a generous amount of salsa. Roll it up, cut it into smaller pieces and serve with some cucumber.
We ended up having to deconstruct the little rolls for him as it was too hard to pick up, but it was delicious nonetheless and went down a treat.
In my continued endeavour to make scrumptious, healthy food for my son I made him some Darth Nuggets the other day, or chicken nuggets you might call them, but that just sounds boring. Mickey D will have to wait a long time before any of that toxic garbage gets into my son. I’m not saying never ever, but definitely not yet. And what better than to make things yourself so you know exactly what goes in to that precious body.
*I should add that these were inspired by Lou over at Fridge Scrapings! I was going to post her recipe, but couldn’t open her site when I was cooking mine so I just made mine up, but they’re pretty much the same.
Without further ado, I give you Darth Nuggets (makes about 11-12 toddler sized nuggets):
1/2 chicken breast fillet (you could easily use chicken mince, but I was already cooking tandoori chicken so I had fillet.)
1/2 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves (mine were small)
A small piece of pumpkin
A small piece of cauliflower (You can use whatever vegetables you want. You don’t need to make this with vegetables, but it’s very yummy. I’m lucky, Anakin loves vegetables, but if your kid is choosy in that department, this may be a good way to get some in there. I imagine broccoli would be excellent in these too.
A bit of dill (dried, fresh, whatever)
Some italian herbs (or whatever other spices you feel like)
Milk (you can also use yoghurt or egg, it’s just to get the crumbs to stick)
Chop your pumpkin into pieces and give them a quick boil to soften. Around 3 minutes should do nicely depending on the size and thickness of your chunks. Dice your onion and put in a pan to soften for a couple of minutes. At the very end add the chopped garlic. (You can skip this, but I find that the onion is still a bit sharp in flavour for my kid unless I soften it.) Transfer to food processor. Cut your chicken into rough pieces and put in the food processor with the onions. Drain the pumpkin and add that too. Roughly chop your cauliflower and put that in as well. Then add your spices. Blend until nice and mooshy. Feel free to add salt if you wish. I tend not to use much salt, if any at all, when cooking for my 1-year-old.
Get your crumbing station ready. I made my own breadcrumbs by toasting some wholemeal bread and giving it a good whiz in the food processor, but you can use store-bought if you wish. (I made my crumbs before I started with the chicken.) Then put some flour on a plate and some milk in a small bowl.
This is when it gets dirty. Get some of your chicken mixture and shape into a small nugget. Coat in flour, give it a quick dunk in the milk (this is so that the crumbs will stay on better), then cover in breadcrumbs and reshape. Repeat until you run out of chicken mixture. Put the nuggets the fridge to set for at least 10-15 minutes. Then cook them in a pan with some good oil for about 2-3 minutes per side until golden and cooked through. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your pan, I cooked mine in batches of 4.
I served mine with some parboiled, then roasted sweet potato, corn and cucumber. (I parboiled to save some time, but it really isn’t necessary.) Freeze the leftovers.
True to my word I attempted to make baby friendly fruit bars. I say attempted, but I actually did indeed make them. In hindsight (who doesn’t love the wisdom of hindsight?) I should have done a few things differently (like read the recipe properly), but they turned out pretty good anyway. I’ll write it all down for you, but I should give credit where credit is due for this brilliant thing, so thanks to Lou over at Fridge Scrapings for the recipe! This fine lady also has a lot of other excellent recipes for things to make for little people.
Also, before I get started, please forgive me for not taking the photography very serious for this. Cooking and taking pretty pictures of it just isn’t my thing.
Alright, first thing’s first, your ingredients read like this:
3/4 cup + 1 tbs rolled oats (not sure what’s with the +1, I just did an approximate 3/4+ cup)
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs Apple puree
4-5 tbs dried fruit (chopped or pulsed in a food processor. I used apricots, apple and raisins, but you can use whatever your heart desires. Even coconut.)
milk to glaze (regular, soy, almond, whatever you want/need)
And here’s what you do:
First make your apple puree. You know the drill, peel, core and dice your apple, put it in a bit of boiling water until soft and then puree it. (Here’s where I made my first mistake. I didn’t puree my apple and measure it out, I just put the whole thing in with my oats. Don’t do that.)
While the apple is doing its thing, measure out your oats, pop them in a blender and whiz until it gets a meal texture. Add your apple puree and your cinnamon and pulse until it forms a wet ball. (This is better achieved in a food processor rather than with the stick mixer I used.) Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour. This gives it time to soak up some moisture and become a friendlier work mate. (And don’t cover it with cling wrap like I did. Water droplets formed underneath it and probably didn’t help the ‘getting rid of moisture’ bit.)
Once everyone’s had a good time out, get your dough and squeeze it. If it seems dry, don’t worry. (Mine was quite the opposite, but I now know that this was due to having far too much apple in it, plus the whole cling wrap thing. So don’t do any of those things and you’ll be fine.) You want your dough to be not too wet and not too dry. I probably should have whizzed up some more oats for my sloppy dough, but since I couldn’t be arsed I just used some corn flake crumb which worked a charm. (I know, this did add a tiny bit of sugar, but I’ll do better next time.) Divide it all into 4 balls. Roll out between baking paper. (Just use the baking paper, ok? If this dough gets wet at all, you’re in for hell on a rolling pin. Don’t go there.) Flip it between the baking paper with every roll and maybe sprinkle some oats or flour to keep it from sticking. I used my corn flake crumb. Cut it into bar shapes.
Next, get your fruit and put some in the middle of your bar. I chopped mine, but next time I will pulse them in a food processor to get a sticker fruit mash to work with. Fold over and pinch your bar shut. If it cracks, don’t worry. Mine cracked a lot, but once you glaze them with milk that will take care of that.
After you’ve glazed your bars, whack them in the oven at 200 C for about 8-10 minutes, turning half way to make sure they bake evenly. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Keep in mind that these are made for babies so they won’t rock your flavour world. Sure they taste ok, but with no sugar, butter or any of the crap we’re used to as adults they’re pure flavour seems a bit bland. But my kid loves them and now I know exactly what he’s eating!
It’s another one of those days… I find myself looking for baby friendly recipes instead of doing any research under the cover of “I have a friend coming in an hour anyway so it’s not like I have time to really get anything done.” But in all honesty it’s got more to do with the fact that Bourriaud’s The Radicant, which is what I’m currently reading, is doing my head in a bit and I’m tired of looking at other people’s work when I really just want to go out and make my own. If all goes to plan I may very well get to do that next weekend. (Why not just do it now? Because I work at night and I need remote locations that are more or less free of any light sources. In other words, I need it to be dark and far away from the big city neon glare.)
So, back to these recipes. I make pretty much all of Anakin’s food, and I have since he started eating solids. I like to know exactly what he eats and to make sure it is healthy. Sure, he’s had the occasional store-bought dinner, but for the most part he gets home cooked meals prepared with love and fresh ingredients. (Except for the fish sticks and the sausages. I have yet to make my own fish sticks, but I have every intention of going there too. I will not attempt sausage making.)
Anakin loves fruit bars and muesli bars. I’ve been buying them until now because I just haven’t had the time to figure out how make them myself. They’re just not all that healthy, are they, these store-bought bars? I read the labels and make sure I buy the ones that have least amount of sugar and the least artificial crap, but unless you make them yourself there’s just no real way of knowing what you’re feeding the most important person in your life.
So yesterday I stumbled across a seemingly easy looking recipe for baby fruit bars and I have every intention of trying to make some today. If it works out I’ll be sure to share the recipe with you. If not, well, then at least I tried. Wish me luck.
And isn’t taking the time to make sure my kid eats well just as important as doing research? I sure think so. (She says and still feels guilty for procrastinating.)