Butternut Squash Houmous 

I’ve been rather silent this week as we are currently in the middle of renovating the barn we are moving into. We only have 4 weeks to finish it so it’s been rather hectic! At the moment it’s seems miles off being finished but I’m assured it will be ready on time! All our spare time has been spent painting, sanding and doing general donkey work to speed the job up. I wouldn’t mind moving into a house that wasn’t finished a few years ago, but now we have Will I am much more anxious that things are finished. Busy baby who is furniture cruising and into everything plus building site- no thank you! In fact, the whole moving with a baby scenario is bonkers. Filling one box takes hours as Will likes to play boo/needs a feed/doesn’t want to pack! Every night I look at the house and wonder what I can actually pack- babies need a lot of things every day, it’s all going to have to be packed at the last minute.  I certainly haven’t stopped cooking though! If anything I’m cooking more as I find it a brilliant way to relax. 

I have made this particular recipe for years and years, but have avoided sharing it for one reason and one reason alone – the spelling of the word ‘houmous’! There are SO many versions out there and I simply wasn’t sure what to write. Then I made it the other day and Will was such a huge fan of it that I decided to bite the bullet, choose a spelling and share the recipe. 
Houmous features in our weekly meals quite often, I find it handy to keep in the fridge to add to sandwiches, salads or as an impromptu snack. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but having healthy snacks to hand really ensures I make better food decisions (most of the time – sometimes I still decide that a ginormous bar of cadburys whole nut is completely necessary)! 

While there is very little wrong with some shop bought versions, homemade really does taste better. I use my nutribullet to blitz the ingredients making it both quick and low on washing up (vital in my kitchen).  It can also be made from mostly store cupboard ingredients. 

Houmous is also an excellent food for babies and children. This version is full of protein and fibre from the chickpeas, and the butternut squash adds a lovely sweetness that children love. They can scoop it with their favourite vegis or breadsticks and it’s completely free of salt, stabilisers, preservatives or other unnecessary ingredients the shop bought offerings include. 

I have substituted the squash for carrots or sweet potato in the past, but the squash is my favourite. 

Ingredients

  • 400g butternut squash, in cubes
  • Half a can of chickpeas 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, skin on
  • 2 Tbsp tahini 
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 40ml extra virgin olive oil 
  • Sprinkle of smoked paprika

Method 

  • Peel and cube the butternut squash and roast in in a little olive oil with the garlic cloves until it is soft and browning at the edges (about 30 minutes)
  • Squeeze the garlic cloves to remove ththe sweet cooked garlic from their skins and place in the blender with the squash 
  • Drain the chickpeas and add them to blender with the lemon juice, tahini and olive oil. 
  • Blend until you have a textured paste 
  • Pop in th fridge to chill completely 
  • To serve I like to drizzle it with some more olive oil and some smoked paprika.

This is perfect with crudités or breadsticks as well as being great in wraps or as an accompaniment to a salad. It keeps in the fridge for 3 days if covered, although it’s normally eaten before this in our house! 

Well, that was my little break, now it’s time to choose bathroom tiles! 

Banana & Blueberry Cake

Weekends in my house often revolve around family visiting, pots of tea and cake. I find it so nostalgic to have the house smell of baking and I love to make something that I can offer people if they pop over. Baking at the weekend also gives us a tasty treat to enjoy for the rest of the week.

My time to bake has been rather limited recently. Looking after Will obviously takes up rather a lot of time and he isn’t always patient enough for me to spend too long in the kitchen. We are also in the middle of renovating the barn next door to ours. It’s not the first property we have renovated on the farm, we have a few holiday cottages; but this is most definitely the quickest turn around we have ever done. It has to be finished in 8 weeks (!!!!!) and we are actually moving into it temporarily! Packing to move, barn renovations and returning  to work has made baking a low priority.

As such I’ve been working on some quick, easy to throw together cake recipes that are suitable for adults and little ones. This banana and blueberry offering does just that. It’s free of refined sugar and made with wholemeal self-raising flour so it’s as healthy as a cake can ever be.  It’s also delicious, it doesn’t feel like  a ‘healthy cake’, it feels like a real treat which is precisely how I want cake to be. It’s so easy to make, all the ingredients go in one bowl to be mixed together, it really is the work of minutes. I have also learnt a couple of other tricks to make baking faster. I bake mostly loaf cakes these days and I buy disposable loaf trays; not the most environmentally friendly idea I admit, but whilst I’m short on time they are brilliant as they negate the need to grease a tin.

The sweetness in the cake comes from the ripe bananas, the blueberries as well as  some agave syrup. Agave is a little controversial when it comes to sugar ‘alternatives’ and to be honest I had never used it before weaning Will, but it works brilliantly in this recipe. If you aren’t making this for a baby then my preference would be to sweeten it with raw honey (honey shouldn’t be eaten by infants under the age of one).

This cake has a lovely texture for babies to gum on or chew. I gave Will a small slice for his pudding with some fruit and yoghurt. I know he will one day eat sugary treats, but for as long as possible I would like these to be homemade, nutritious and free of unnecessary additives and ingredients.

Ingredients

This makes enough for two 1lb loaf tins. Since I became a Mum I make two of everything to save myself time – one to eat straight away and one in the freezer.

  • Two ripe bananas
  • 100g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 15ml agave syrup
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Tsp cinnamon
  • Tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 C
  • Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl
  • Add all the other ingredients except the blueberries to the bowl and mix thoroughly
  • Spoon the mixture into a greased loaf tin
  • Drop the blueberries into the cake batter, push some in and leave some on top
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is springy and golden
  • Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out of cake tin