Apple Crumble Bites 

Will was born last summer and this meant I started weaning him in January- the 25th of January to be exact. Someone bought us a baby record book and I have thanked them so many times as I have written so much down that I would otherwise have forgotten in my sleep-deprived new Mum fog! I loved the process of introducing him to food, both as purees and finger foods, but I really struggled with fruit. Winter fruit in Britain is awful, or I should say winter fruit in Britain that babies can eat is awful! I tried, on a number of occasions to buy melons or strawberries but buying these fruits out of season is a futile exercise – they tasted of swede! It seemed that the only fruits on his menu for the first month or two were apples, pears and dried fruits such as figs, prunes and apricots.

The other problem with winter fruit is that its not that suitable to eat as finger food. On numerous occasions I bought pears that actually went off before they became soft enough for my little one to gum, and raw apples were definitely not going to be suitable. Inspiration finally struck when I was making a crumble for a family lunch. It occurred to me that aside from at the sugar that most crumbles are filled with, it was a pretty baby-friendly pudding. I decided to deconstruct it and these apple crumble bites were the outcome.

The apple is baked and therefore soft enough for young babies to gum or chew, whilst the crumble coating is sugar free yet delicious and turns the humble apple chunk into a really tasty pudding or snack. These have now become a staple make in my kitchen. I offer them to Will on their own, or as an edible spoon with a yoghurt or fruit puree dip. My husband and I enjoy them with yoghurt and maple syrup, on top of rice pudding (amazing) or even with a bowl of warm custard! They are lovely warm or cold and keep well in the fridge for 48 hours.

The ingredients you need are limited, they are fast to make and healthy. They also increase the nutrient and calorie content of fruit for your little one- always good as they need plenty to keep them growing!

 

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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsps rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste, you could also use ginger)
  • 2 apples

 

Method

  • Peel and core 2 apples and chop each apple into 6 chunks
  • Place in an oven tray and pop in a preheated oven at 180c
  • In a small bowl combine the oats, ground almonds and cinnamon
  • After 5 minutes pull the apple out of the oven- it should be warmed through and ever so slightly damp, this will ensure the dry ingredients stick to it.
  • Ensuring the apple isn’t too hot to touch, coat each slice in the dry ingredients and place on a lined baking tray or a cupcake tray.
  • Bake at 180c for 15 minutes until the apple feels soft and the crumble coating is golden.img_6236

 Now that summer fruit is available I have been making these less. But I made them again the other day as the weather has turned really damp and grey here and we were all in need of something cozy for brunch. I fell in love with them all over again and had to share them with you.

What are your favourite ways to use apples? I’d love to hear!

 

Very Vegetable Chilli Con Carne

I think lots of people assume that because we live on a beef farm, we eat roast dinners every day. This couldn’t be further from the truth in our case; my husband and I often eat vegetarian meals, or meals that contain very little meat. In most of my cooking I aim for quality of meat over quantity. I try to by local, organic meat wherever possible. We are lucky to have an excellent butcher in the next village to us who supplies meat from local farms. I like to know where my food has come from and I do find the flavour to be superior, especially with minced meat. Minced beef that you get in a supermarket is okay, but I do find it lacking in any meaningful flavour. I would much rather buy beef and have it minced by the butcher in front of me. It can be more expensive but that is precisely why I choose to use less of it.

This recipe is a perfect example of just that. It won’t win any prizes for Mexican authenticity but its a delicious nutrient-dense powerhouse. It is also a brilliant way of sneaking extra vegetables into fussy eaters –  there are no less than 8 vegetables in this chilli!

It also makes a wonderful meal for babies or children. It can be blended or pulsed for those who are eating purees. If you can handle the mess utter carnage, you can feed it as finger food alongside flatbreads to dunk/scoop, or you can load spoons of it and hand them to your little one. However you choose to feed it, this chilli is packed with iron, protein and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals needed for their growth and development. I tend to pulse this for Will and add a spoon of full fat yoghurt to it, adding a little calcium hit and making it creamier.

I tend to make this with flatbreads (the most versatile bread dough) or simply with brown rice. Its also rather delicious on its own, in a bowl in front of the TV after a busy day!

Ingredients 

This quantity serves 6 people easily. I tend to cook in larger batches and freeze portions  for busy days. 

  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled & chopped
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 1 tin of pinto/kidney beans
  • 2 courgettes, grated
  • 1 large handful of chopped spinach
  • 1 1/2 peppers, deseeded & chopped
  • 6 tablespoons of lentils, red, green or puy – or a mixture of all three
  • A little oil for softening the onion and garlic

Spices- this is just a guide, its what I like to add. I remove Will’s and then add the chilli to just the adult portions, but it really is up to you.

  • 2 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1Tsp paprika
  • 1Tsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tsp chilli powder

 

Method

  • Brown your minced beef in a wide base frying pan
  • Finely chop the onion and garlic and sweat in a large saucepan using a little oil (I use olive oil) on a low heat. You don’t want them to colour, just soften.
  • Grate the courgette using a coarse grater
  • Chop the peppers finely
  • Once the onion and garlic have softened add the spices (except the chilli if making this for little ones) and stir on the heat until the aromas are released
  • Add the beef to the saucepan, as well as the peppers, grated courgette and lentils
  • Add two tins of tomatoes and one tin of drained beans
  • Add roughly a pint of water
  • Simmer on a low heat for around 45 minutes with a lid on. After this time the  lentils should be cooked and the sauce reduced slightly.
  • Before serving add the chilli if you haven’t already and the handful of spinach.

 

 

 

 

Spiced Nut Buckwheat Cookies

Does anyone else have days when they could just eat a whole packet of chocolate digestives? I certainly do, when I’m tired, William is cranky and I feel deserving of a treat I often feel like reaching for the biscuit tin. There are two major problems with this though. firstly, my biscuit tin actually doesn’t exist, I try not to buy food like biscuits or crisps as having them in the house means I would eat them! Secondly, a whole packet of chocolate digestives, great though it sounds, really never feels like a treat afterwards. I don’t ever deny myself food, and I hate reading terms such as ‘guilt-free’ or worse, the dreaded slimming world term ‘syn’. Food isn’t something to feel guilty about, and it certainly isn’t a sin. I think its really upsetting that people feel this way about food; for me, all food, healthy and not-so healthy, is something to be savoured and enjoyed, not labelled.

Having said this, I do enjoy eating healthily and love nothing more than being able to create delicious treats that provide some nutritional benefit as well as calories. The packet of digestives really doesn’t provide any nutritional value and for me this is what makes them not such a great choice. I also get far more pleasure eating something if I have made it myself, it feels more deserving.

This week has been incredibly busy with renovations in the barn. We are supposed to be moving into it by September and at the moment its a building site! Progress is being made, but as with all building projects, delays creep in. This is also the first renovation project we have undertaken whilst having William. It is making it much harder for me to help out as at the moment its not safe enough to let Will crawl around in. I have been trying to get some jobs done in the evening, once my husband is in to babysit. By 9 o’clock I’m ready to drop and love nothing more than a biscuit and a big ol’ cuppa!

These biscuits certainly fit the bill! They are crunchy around the edge with a slight cookie chew in the middle, and are so tasty. To make them suitable for babies I have modified a recipe that was given to me years ago. They are free of refined sugar, gluten and dairy, but none of this impacts the flavour, they taste just lovely and due to the nuts and buckwheat they are healthier than a standard biscuit. Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and is a complete protein, while nuts are a great source of vitamin E and healthy fats, brilliant for growing little ones. They are fast to make and cook in 10 minutes so they are easy to whip up when the need for a biscuity treat strikes. I’m still not suggesting you eat the lot in one go though!

Ingredients

This makes 12 medium sized biscuits or lots of smaller ones

  • 150g nut butter, I prefer to use cashew but almond works well too
  • 60g buckwheat flour
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 1 medium egg
  • 30ml agave syrup or maple syrup
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 tsp ground nutmeg

Method 

  • Weigh the nut butter and place in a bowl, stir it until it becomes a smooth even texture
  • Add the egg and syrup, stir to combine
  • Add all the dry ingredients
  • The mixture should come together like a slightly shiny playdough
  • Grab the dough and place on a large square of cling film
  • Roll into a sausage using the cling film to seal together (shown below)

 

  • Place this in the fridge to firm up for 30 mins or so, you don’t have to do this but it does make the biscuits easier to cut
  • Since rounds off the biscuit roll and peel off the cling. Each biscuit should be around 0.3-0.5cm thick
  • Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes at 180 C. The biscuits should be golden and firming up with a little softness in the middle.
  • Leave to cool on their baking tray.