Superfood Chocolate Mousse

As my son nears the age of two, I am becoming more and more aware that developing a sweet tooth is a real thing. No longer can I convince him to eat the fresh strawberry or organic rice cracker placed in front of him, when anything loaded with sugar is near in sight. Although I try and keep sugary treats to a special or weekend occasion, it is a difficult thing to keep under control (especially as a full-time working mommy who relies on a number of helping hands to feed my boy while I’m at work). There has never been a better time to get creative with sweet treats that are totally delicious, healthy and loaded with nutrients.

This recipe is truly scrumptious and ideal for vegan and lactose-intolerant children. In fact, it’s ideal as a super-healthy dessert for any child of any age (unless your child has a food allergy to any of the ingredients of course). Although I chose to use almond milk  -a flavour packed alternative to dairy – you could really use any milk of your choice.

What I love most about this recipe is that it makes use of 3 superfoods for growing little people:

  • Avocado: the superfood that needs no introduction, packed with omega fatty acids for healthy brain development, amongst a multitude of vitamins, minerals and fibre for healthy functioning. Using avocado in vegan dessert recipes is a smart and wholesome way to create a creamy and silky texture to sweet treats in place of dairy.
  • Cocoa powder:one of the most flavour-filled superfoods around, cocoa is packed with flavonoids – the compound associated with lowering cholesterol and promoting optimal heart and oral health – vitamins, minerals and fibre. It adds a deliciously, bold flavour to desserts, smoothies, yoghurt, and even to oats or porridge. Opt for unsweetened and organic varieties where possible to maximise the amount of antioxidants in each serving, without the unnecessary sugar. Because of the high content of caffeine-like compounds found in cocoa (theobromine) you’ll want to limit the amount you pass on to your little one (everything in moderation!)
  • Cinnamon: this nutritious powerhouse has been proven to control blood-sugar, which means less chance of your little monkey’s sugar crashing after eating (it is therefore an ideal addition to any glucose-intolerant/diabetic diet). It’s a healthy way to add in flavour to a number of different meals and snacks from porridge and oats in the morning to yoghurt, baking and even in sweet vegetable recipes (pumpkin, carrots, butternut and sweet potato pair brilliantly).

The best part about this recipe is that you can whip this up in a matter of seconds, without any cooking or refrigerating time needed (for warmer weather you can choose to serve this chilled by popping it into the fridge for 30 minutes before serving). The banana adds a natural sweetness to this recipe, so the honey could be left out for children younger than one.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 ripe, medium-large banana, skin removed
  • 1 ripe, medium avocado, pip and skin removed
  • 1 Tbs sugar-free nut butter
  • 2 Tbs almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs honey

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process for 10-20 seconds or until silky smooth.
  • For an added boost of antioxidants, serve with fresh berries of your choice.
  • Enjoy!

*The above recipe will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the mentioned ingredients.

*Never leave your child unsupervised while eating. 

Oat Crunchies

Some recipes remind us of childhood and, for me, this is one of them. I have vidid memories of my mother serving these babies up with afternoon tea in the garden: they’re a comforting taste of sweet and oaty goodness.

Constantly on the look out for healthy snack ideas for my son (ones that won’t land up being fed to my Bull Terrier after being called ‘Kaka’), I wanted to try my hand at making my own scrumptious version of the classic oat crunchie… but with a healthy twist.

Coconut oil has a number of excellent health benefits for growing little people, and that’s why I used coconut oil in this recipe in place of butter. Having said that, if you prefer butter then that could totally work too.

I have opted for a mixture of wholewheat and coconut flour in this recipe: wholewheat flour is packed with fiber and vitamins that are not found in the white variety. Coconut flour is a fantastic source of fibre and protein, and it adds a delicious flavour to any recipe. It is also an ideal alternative to wheat-based flour for gluten intolerant children. If your child is gluten intolerant, then simply substitute the wholewheat flour with additional coconut flour or even almond flour.

For additional texture, fibre and natural sweetness, I added in some dried fruit that becomes totally delicious once it caramelizes in the oven. I used chopped dried apple and dates but you could use any dried fruit you prefer (the younger your child, the smaller these pieces should be).

Although I have specified 30 minutes for baking, each oven is different and the mixture can dry out and burn quite quickly. I would advise checking on it every five minutes after the 20 minute mark.

If you are planning on serving them as biscuits, then you’ll need to cut the mixture into squares as soon as it comes out of the oven, before it cools.

What I love most about this recipe is that you can either serve the biscuits ‘straight up’ or you can crush them to create the most irresistable muesli/crumble to serve with yoghurt and fruit for breakfast (allow an additional 5-10 minutes baking time for the muesli/crumble). Either way, biscuits or muesli can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the pantry for up to three months.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup diced dried fruit of your choice (chopped into small pieces).
  • 1.5 cups coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey/maple syrup

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160°C
  • Combine the flour, oats, coconut flour, bicarbonate soda, dried fruit pieces, cinnamon and vanilla essence in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • Place the honey/maple syrup and the coconut oil in a sauce pan on the stove at a medium heat.
  • The coconut oil and honey/maple syrup mixture will begin turning to liquid, stir and once it begins bubbling, remove it from the heat (the mixture should be a runny glue-like consistency).
  • Pour the coconut oil and honey/maple syrup mixture into the large mixing bowl, covering the other ingredients.
  • Using clean hands, combine until you have a crumbly mixture.
  • Place the mixture onto a medium-sized, greased oven tray and pat it down using your hands (ensuring you have about a 3cm-4cm thick, evenly spread mixture).
  • Place the oven tray into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and cut into squares using a sharp knife.
  • Allow to cool before serving.

*The above recipe will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients mentioned.

*Never leave your child unsupervised when eating.

Banana and Cinnamon Muffins

With my son nearing the age of two, play dates have become a common occurrence in my household. Us mamas are all guilty of bringing out the processed and sugary snacks to ‘keep the peace’, and to steal a quiet moment amidst the chaos. While I strongly believe in being flexible by allowing my child to indulge from time to time, I am not wild of the idea of loading his little body with colourants and msg every time he has a friend over. So, on a quest to find something that could easily be served up to little people, in between the playground shenanigans, I decided to get baking.

And with a child who simply loves banana, it had to be my hero ingredient.

I have opted for whole wheat flour and oats instead of white flour in this recipe, for an added punch of nutrients to nourish our growing little monkeys. Ripe banana and honey add in a natural sweetness that bypasses the use of refined sugar. If your child is younger than one, then leave the honey out (the muffins will still be delicious without).

If your child has an egg allergy then substitute chia seeds for egg (1 Tbs seeds soaked in 3 Tbs water for every egg used, creating a gel-like consistency to bind your mixture). If your child has a nut allergy then replace the nut butter with coconut oil or cocoa butter.

This recipe makes for a fantastic warm snack on cold wintery days or the ideal breakfast. Store any left-overs in an airtight container and the muffins will keep for up to 5 days in the pantry. What I also love about this recipe is that it’s something that both moms and kiddies would love, which simplifies your play-date catering dilemmas!

My son went nuts for these muffins: to the point that he kept running back into the kitchen to ask for more ‘kak’…IMG_1605

What you’ll need:

  • 2 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 3 small ripe bananas (2 large)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar-free peanut butter (Or any nut butter)
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1.5 cups brown whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 175°
  • Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir in the oats, set aside
  • Place the bananas in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork (a few lumps are totally fine)
  • Add the beaten eggs, peanut butter, honey, yoghurt, vanilla and milk to the mashed banana and stir until well mixed
  • Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix together using a hand mixer on a low speed, until well mixed (do not over-mix)
  • Grease a muffin tin using spray and cook
  • Fill each muffin cup (almost to the top) and place the muffin tray in the oven
  • Bake for 15 minutes
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving
  • Serve with sliced banana, and/or a spread of butter
*The above will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients mentioned
*Never leave your child unsupervised while eating

Spanish Frittata

My son loves eggs. Scrambled, fried, anything goes (and if you got the green kind from Dr Seuss, he would probably love those too). So his obsession, along with my incessant hunt for wholesome and nutritious family meals is what led me back to the classic frittata.

Not only can you cram the goodness into this meal  – secretly hiding in the veggies your little one usually won’t go near with a ten foot barge pole – but there are so many combinations to get creative with.

What I love about it is that it’s an easy dish that can be eaten any time of the day and you get to put the leftover’s from last night’s supper to good use. Beyond a delicious family breakfast, it makes a fantastic lazy Sunday supper or the ideal lunch for cold Wintery days at home. It is equally delicious the next day, and can be chopped into thin slices to make a scrumptious finger food for tiny fingers to hold.

Although this recipe is vegetarian (lacto-ovo that is) you can add in just about any protein of your choosing: pre-cooked chicken/meat/fish would all be delicious. I haven’t added any salt because the parmesan adds a salty flavour but you could add a touch of salt should you wish (a pinch in this entire dish won’t harm your child).

Chop the ingredients as finely as your child needs (smaller pieces work better for younger children).

What you’ll need:

  • 5 free-range eggs
  • 1 cup full-cream milk
  • 1 small-medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small-medium red pepper, diced finely
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, steamed and diced
  • 1 cup shredded/grated mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp xylitol
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2-3 cracks black pepper
  • 1 Tbs Italian parsley, finely chopped

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180°
  • Whisk together the eggs, milk, pepper and paprika and set aside
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat
  • Add the onions, balsamic vinegar and xylitol and fry until the onions begin caramelising (around 3-5 minutes, stirring to ensure that they don’t burn)
  • Add the chopped sweet potato, red pepper, tomatoes and oregano and fry for a further 2-3 minutes
  • Add the egg mixture, mozzarella and parsley to the pan and stir gently to combine
  • Allow the mixture to begin cooking for around 2-3 minutes
  • Once the edges of the mixture have cooked, place the pan in the oven
  • Allow the mixture to cook through for 15 minutes. Half way through the cooking process (around the 7 minute mark) remove  the frittata from the heat and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top. Place it back into the oven to continue cooking
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool before serving (ensure it is cooked through)
  • Cut into slices and serve with wholegrain toast fingers or toasted English muffins with a spread of butter

*The above recipe  will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to the ingredients mentioned.

*Never leave your child unsupervised while eating.

Lebanese Salad

My son has, no doubt about it, inherited his daddy’s penchant for red meat, bread and anything sweet. So when I find something that he loves that is more ‘green’ than what he normally goes for, I know I have a discovered a good thing!

What I love about this salad is that it goes perfectly with any protein, is super easy to make and it can keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. The creamy hummus dressing is absolutely delicious (you can even make it in advance and keep it in the fridge before you combine it with the rest of the salad ingredients).

Pomegranate seeds are high in fibre, vitamins (particularly vitamin C and vitamin K) and antioxidants. It is a powerful immune booster, and has been linked to healthy heart functioning and cancer prevention. This super food is one that you most definitely want to get into your little one’s diet whenever you have the opportunity!

Some protein ideas to pair this dish with include; grilled chicken breasts, tuna, minced meat, minced chicken, smoked salmon, flaked fish, hamburger patties, meal balls, boiled egg.

What you’ll need:

For the salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa/tabbouleh/cous-cous
  • 1/3 cucumber, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tomato, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  •  1/4 cup lentils, cooked and drained (rinsed if from a tin)
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 3 Tbs pomegranate seeds
  • 1 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs mint, finely chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbs plain full-cream yoghurt
  • 3 Tbs hummus
  • 3 Tbs tahini paste
  • 2 Tbs water

Method:

  • If you are cooking lentils from scratch, then you may want to start with this step. Cook them according to the package instructions, rinse and set aside. If you are using tinned lentils then just give them a good rinse to get rid of any excess salt.
  • Cook the quinoa/tabbouleh/cous-cous according to the package instructions and then fluff up using a fork.
  • Combine the rest of the salad ingredients with the quinoa/tabbouleh/cous-cous.
  •  Blend all of the ingredients for the dressing together, ensuring you have a silky consistency that will easily mix in with the salad ingredients (add more water should you need it slightly runnier).
  • Pour the salad dressing over the salad and serve with your choice of protein.

*The above recipe will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients mentioned.

*Never leave your child unsupervised whilst eating.

Pumpkin & Coconut Pancakes

After eating at some incredible places in Cape Town on our most recent family holiday, we were faced with so many nutritious and creative breakfast choices along our travels that inspired me to get creative in the kitchen back at home. A healthy pancake recipe is something I knew would go down well in my house, provided I could get them tasting as good as ‘regular’ pancakes.

After three attempts, I finally found a recipe that worked and was accepted with open arms by my two, very own food critics: my son (who even got our dogs to sample his breakfast!) and my husband (who has a sweet tooth unrivalled by many and cannot be fooled by ‘imposters’ claiming to taste as good as the ‘real thing’).

By the time I got onto my third batch of batter, I had worked out 5 key ‘tricks of the trade’ to master the perfect pancake:

  1. Do not over-beat your mixture. Your pancakes will be anything but fluffy!
  2. Do not over-heat your pan. Work on a low-medium heat.
  3. Have patience. Rush through this and you’ll just have a sticky mess and broken bits of pancake to serve up.
  4. The smaller, the easier to handle. The larger you go, the greater the chance of them breaking.
  5. Keep your pan greased at all times. If not, you’ll have burnt bits of pancake batter lining the bottom of your pan.

The pumpkin in a smart way to sneak in additional nutrients and it adds a natural sweetness to the batter. I recommend pureeing the pumpkin to avoid a granular consistency to your mixture, but if you don’t mind the little bits in every bite then mashing the pumpkin works too.

If you would like to keep this recipe strictly vegan, then replace each egg with 1 Tbs chia seeds soaked in 3 parts water. The coconut milk adds a delicious flavour to this recipe but you really could use any milk of your choosing. By using wholewheat/bran flour, you are adding in a number of beneficial vitamins and minerals that are missing from the white ‘nutritionally empty’ variety. If your child has a gluten intolerance, then simply substitute the flour for another flour of your choice (remember, however, that almond and coconut flour can sometimes be a little tricky to work with).

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup pumpkin, steamed and pureed/finely mashed
  • 3 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup bran/wholewheat flour
  • 1 Tbs baking soda
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Coconut oil for frying

Method:

  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl, set aside
  • In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients using a mixing spoon, followed by a whisk to mix through thoroughly
  • Once combined, add in your eggs and gently mix together
  • Heat a small amount of coconut oil on a skillet on a low-medium heat
  • Once the pan is hot, pour in small amount of mixture at a time
  • Once the pancake begins bubbling all over, use a spatula to turn and cook on the other side
  • Continue the process until all the mixture has been used up, adding a small amount of coconut oil to the pan each time
  • Serve with your choice of toppings: crushed nuts, sliced strawberries, blueberries, sliced banana or a drizzle of honey
*The above will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients mentioned
* Never leave your child unsupervised while eating

Mexican Sliders

I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate delicious flavours and textures into meals for my son (that I hope will be welcomed with open arms by my husband too). This is one of those recipes.

What I love about this dish is that there are so many different ways to get creative depending on what your little one likes to eat. What’s even better is that you can make these ahead of time and either freeze them raw (provided the meat wasn’t frozen before) and then cook them, or you can freeze them in an airtight container once cooked. Either way, you’ll have a hearty meal on-hand that can be dished up with a variety of toppings.

When it comes to the cheese, you can really go for any variety you like best but remember that babies should be receiving full fat dairy until the age of two to meet all of their growing and developmental demands (read more on the topic of full fat vs low fat dairy here).

If your child has an egg allergy then simply susbstitute with 1Tbs chia seeds soaked in 3 Tbs water for a few minutes (forms a gel like consistency). Although I used almond flour, you could use any flour you choose to bind the mixture.

What you’ll need:

  • 500g free-range beef mince
  • 1/4 cup grated/shredded cheese
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn (cooked)
  • 1 Tbs coriander, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 cracks black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 Tbs almond flour
  • 2 Tbs olive oil

Method:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients using clean hands (to really get in there!)
  • Heat half the amount of the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat
  • Take half a handful of the mixture at a time, roll it into little balls and flatten slightly using the palm of your hand
  • Fry each meat patty for around 3 minutes a side. Ensure that each one is cooked through thoroughly, turning to cook further on each side  if need be (the ‘fatter’ they are, the longer they will need to cook!)
  • Serve on mini brown rolls or simply top with a variety of toppings: guacamole, squeeze of fresh lime, shredded lettuce, some extra grated cheese, salsa or a side of mashed red kidney beans.

*The above will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients mentioned

*Never leave your child unsupervised when eating