Author Archives: tanyasoman

Avocado Pesto with Alphabet Macaroni

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Avocado Pesto.. its one of those things that once you have tried it, you might not want to make traditional pesto again =D

This recipe has been a hit with my little girl for as long as I can remember and the only thing that has changed in the last 4 years, is the size/ shape of the pasta that has evolved with her changing preferences.

The recipe is simple, easy and best of all, you can whip up a large batch when you find great avocados and basil and simply freeze it into portions to use later. I have frozen this pesto for up to a month and although the top layer does darken just a wee bit, it was just as creamy and delicious as the day I first made it. It really is a great way to incorporate avocados into your baby/ child’s diet.

The recipe in the featured photographs is dairy-free & nut-free. I occasionally add toasted pecans or pine nuts and some grated parmesan cheese if I have those handy.

00Nutrition note: Avocado is a hi-fiber superfood rich in Vitamin B &K, Potassium, Folate and Copper. It is a great source of mono unsaturated (good) fats and is great for good hair and skin health.


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh Italian basil leaves
  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6-7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & cracked black pepper, as per taste
  • 1/2 lemon

 

Optional additions: 1/4c. of toasted chopped pecans OR 1/4c. of toasted pine-nuts + 1/4c. grated Parmesan cheese. You will need a little more olive oil to thin out the pesto if you add the nuts and cheese.

 

To make:

  1. Wash the basil leaves gently and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the avocado in half and remove and discard the seed.
  2. Transfer the basil leaves into the jar of your food processor. Scoop out the avocado flesh into the food processor and add the peeled garlic
  3. Lock the lid in place and ‘pulse’ 4 or 5 times till the basil is chopped up into small pieces. Scrape down the sides of the food processor.
  4. Add the olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper and a nice squeeze of lemon juice and puree the mix till the pesto is creamy and smooth.

Stir a generous dollop of this pesto through your child’s favourite type of pasta and top with grated Parmesan cheese! So good!!

Tip:  Dress up this simple dish using cherry tomatoes,sauteed mushrooms or steamed corn kernels … Or …diced grilled chicken … Or …K’s favourite…bite sized chunks of poached salmon to make this into one delicious, healthy, power-packed meal for the kids and grown ups alike!

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Ragi(millet), Almond & Cranberry Biscuits

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FullSizeRender.jpgThe past week has been exhausting with the house move, K on a week-long break from school and of course endless list of errands that piles up from a combination of these two. As we finally have our wi-fi up and running and Keya is back at school, here I am dutifully posting the recipe I promised for these amaaaazing biscuits.

Packed with healthy ingredients, mildly sweet, these biscuits keep so well even in this god awful humid weather! Best paired with a glass of warm or chilled milk for the little ones for a quick after-school snack or a perfect to add to lunch-boxes. (Seriously, you will never want to dunk an oreo in a glass of milk again!)

Being equally popular with the kiddos and grown-ups (they’re so good paired with a piping hot cup of chai!) I usually end up doubling the recipe each time I make these 🙂

Nutrition note: Ragi (finger millet) is a rich source of calcium, protein and iron. It is also a good source of fiber.

Almonds are rich in fiber, Vitamin E, Protein, and Minerals (manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium), and have considerable amounts of essential fatty acids. They are also rich in beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps boost immunity.

Ingredients:

Dry mix :

  • 3/4c. Ragi (finger millet) flour
  • 1/2c. ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4c. dried cranberries (or mini-chocolate chips or chopped candied ginger)
  • a pinch of salt

Wet mix:

  • 1/2c. unsalted butter (soft)
  • 3-4 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

To decorate:

  • 1/4 cup of almond flakes

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To make:

  1. Measure and mix all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Break up any clumps of dried cranberries (they tend to stick) to ensure an even distribution throughout the dough.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over gentle heat. Add the honey and brown sugar and whisk gently until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture looks silky smooth.
  3. Pour the melted butter-honey-sugar mix into the bowl of dry ingredients. Work quickly and stir everything together till it form a soft but crumbly dough (this happens as ragi / finger millet is gluten-free).
  4. Cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 20 min. This makes it a bit easier to handle.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 180 deg C. Line your baking tray with baking paper.While the oven heats up, scoop small balls of dough using a teaspoon onto your palms and roll them till smooth, tucking away any cheeky pieces of cranberries that try to escape.
  6. Place the rolled dough balls onto the baking sheet and flatten using gentle pressure from your finger tips. Dot each biscuit with a pretty almond flake.
  7. Bake at 180 deg C for about 15-17 min. Allow the biscuits to cool for a few minutes before transferring carefully onto a wire rack. The biscuits are a bit fragile at this point (but firm up as they cool completely), so be gentle!

 

These keep well stored in an air-tight container for about 8-10 days – IF they last that long 🙂

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Ragi (millet) & Banana Kulfi Pops

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RAgi kulfi

Making popsicles is amazing fun for pre-schoolers. Keya loves helping me make these on the weekends! This Ragi (finger millet) and frozen banana kulfi pop is not only super healthy but also SO delicious! I like to use frozen bananas as they give the kulfi a smooth and creamy texture.

3 ingredients blitzed together and frozen. Easy peasy! This recipe makes 2-4 kulfi’s depending on the size of your molds.

Make these as kulfi-pops or freeze in a freezer-safe box to scoop and serve for younger kids who might struggle with holding the popsicle.

Ragi (finger millet) is a rich source of calcium, protein and iron. It is also a good source of fiber.

Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of manganese, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, potassium, biotin, and copper.

2RAgi kulfi

Ingredients: 

  • 2 medium bananas
  • 3/4 cup full-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp Ragi flour

To make:

  1. Peel and slice the bananas. Place in a ziplock bag and remove as much air as possible. Freeze for 3-4 hours or overnight.
  2. Measure 2 tablespoons of Ragi flour in a bowl. Set aside. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just steaming. Slowly pour some of the hot milk into the ragi flour and stir to forn a thick smooth paste.
  3. Pour the paste back into the remaining milk in the saucepan and cook the ragi till it forms a thick cake-batter-like consistency. Turn off the heat and allow the ragi-milk mixture to cool completely.
  4. Place the frozen bananas in a blender and blitz in short bursts at first. Then turn up the speed on your blender to puree them until nice and smooth . Add the cooled ragi-milk mixture and blitz till everything is well combined.
  5. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 4-5 hours.

 

If using wooden popsicle sticks, I like to stack them up in 3’s and secure with a little rubberband till the kulfi is completely frozen. I have found that little hands find these thicker sticks easier to grip.

To unmold, dip your plastic or metal popsicle mold in a pan of warm water for 10-15 seconds. Wiggle the stick around gently to loosen and the kulfi pops right out!

Enjoy!

 

Avocado & Caramel Breakfast Smoothie

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FullSizeRenderThis creamy breakfast smoothie is a regular in our household and one that you really must try out the next time you buy avocados. Not only is it super healthy and downright delicious, but I had Keya asking me for ‘some more please’ when she was done. Doesn’t it just warm your heart when your child genuinely appreciates what you cooked for them? It is such an easy recipe to whip up on a busy weekday morning and a great way to feed avocado to a child who might otherwise resist eating plain avocado. I added a small pinch of cocoa powder for a richer brown colour. Feel free to leave this out if you want 🙂

Nutrition report: Avocado is a hi-fiber superfood rich in Vitamin B &K, Potassium, Folate and Copper. It is a great source of mono unsaturated (good) fats and is great for good hair and skin health. Full fat cow’s milk is rich in calcium, protein and vitamins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1-1/2 cups of cold full fat cows milk
  • 2 tbsp Honey + 1 tbsp brown sugar / OR / 2 tbsp of store-bought caramel syrup
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder, sifted (optional)

To make:

  1. Peel, de-seed and scoop the flesh of one ripe avocado into your blender. Add a few spoons of milk and puree till super smooth.
  2. Add the remaining milk , honey and brown sugar and sifted cocoa powder (if using) and blend till nicely combined.
  3. Pour into your childs favourite glass and serve cold 🙂

Enjoy!

 

 

Keya’s favourite Butterfly French Toast

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IMG_4586Hmm. It has been a rather long time since my last post. But boring you guys with the sad story of how every blogger faces writers block (sometimes for days weeks ok fine, months!) is not going to be fun, so I am going to dive straight to this super-easy-super tasty breakfast recipe for toddlers, pre-schoolers and pretty much anyone who likes to have some fun with their breakfast 🙂

The first time I shared photos of this recipe with friends, they all asked me where I got my uber cute butterfly mold/ cutter from… A ha! There is no mold. It is a slice of regular whole wheat bread that I simply shaped with my fingers 🙂 This is hands down Keya’s latest favourite-est weekend breakfast. It is bread dunked in a delicious egg-cinnamon mixture and fried in a small knob of melted butter. I highly recommend adding the orange zest as it tastes SOOO good! Decorate your cooked french toast with some berries and Voila! you have a healthy, gorgeous looking breakfast!

Nutrition report: Whole wheat bread is an excellent source of fiber and carbohydrates. Eggs are one of the few foods considered to be a complete protein, because they contain all 9 essential amino acids. They are also rich in Iron and Vitamins A,D & E. Cinnamon is rich in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium and helps fight common colds and coughs.

 

Untitled-1 copyIngredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 tsp brown or white sugar
  • Salt, one small pinch
  • Finely grated orange zest (optional)
  • 2-3 slices whole wheat bread
  • Small knob butter (salted or unsalted)
  • Strawberries, blueberries to decorate
  • 2-3 toothpicks, cut in half
  • Honey to drizzle over if needed

 

 

 

To make:

  1. Whisk the egg in a bowl. Add the cinnamon, sugar, salt and orange zest together in a bowl and whisk until well combined and the mix is smooth and lump-free.
  2. Place a slice of bread on your work surface and pinch the sides as shown in the photo above to create the butterfly shape.
  3. Heat a non-stick fry pan and add a small knob of butter and swirl it around to melt it. Dunk the bread into the egg mixture and press down allowing it to soak in a bit of the egg mix. Turn it over to soak the second side.
  4. Working quickly, transfer the bread into the frying pan carefully- try not to splash! Fry the first side and flip it over to cook second side. Repeat with remaining slices.
  5. While the bread cooks, prepare the strawberries by removing stems and slicing in half.
  6. Transfer the cooked bread to a plate and decorate the wings with strawberries. Use blueberries to make the body. Stick toothpick halves into 2 of the blueberries to make the antennae.

Drizzle over a little bit of honey if desired and serve immediately 🙂 Keya likes this best alongside a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice 🙂

 

Pumpkin-Coconut & Ginger Soup

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So, we’re already in 2015. Wow. I began writing this blog in July 2013 when my daughter Keya was about 9-1/2 months old. As she grew, so did the nature of the recipes I posted. Having recently realized that my blog has comparatively fewer recipes for parents who have younger children I will now consciously try to post more recipes that the 1 year old and younger can enjoy!

photo 2 (3)This vegan and gluten-free recipe for pumpkin-coconut & ginger soup is a very slightly simplified version of the one I read on a health and wellness website ( http://www.sanaqi.com/pumpkin-coconut-ginger-soup/). The original recipe is perfect, but I simply omitted a few of the ingredients – mainly, coconut oil, as i did not have any. I reduced the proportion of the chick peas that the original recipe calls for as they make the soup rather thick and although healthy, can make little ones a bit gassy. The original recipe calls for roasted pumpkin puree. But I have also tested this out using steamed pureed pumpkin and trust me, it is just as delicious. So don’t stress if you don’t own an oven or simply just don’t want to bother with the roasting. Also, I used lukewarm boiled water to thin out the soup to Keya’s liking ( instead of vegetable broth) as it was one less thing to do 😀

Pumpkin puree is a great choice for a first food for babies and can be introduced around 6-8 mos. Coconut is non-allergenic and very easily digested and in general ok to introduce to babies over 7 mons (based on my research). Chickpeas are safe to introduce to babies who are older than 8months. The ginger in this soup is mainly for its flavour. Go easy on it if you think your little one is too young for it or will not like the taste. It is great for the immune system but not recommended for very young babies. So overall the recipe rating is for 9 months and up. Leave out the ginger and you can feed this to your (older than) 8 month old if she/he is handling pureed mixed veggies nicely and is ready for some fun flavours 🙂

Nutrition report: Pumpkin makes this soup a powerhouse of beta carotene, potassium, protein, and iron . Chickpeas are a great source of fiber and protein. Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals.

Ingredients:

– 1 cup mashed roasted or steamed pumpkin (pumpkin puree)

– 1+1 tbsp olive oil

– 1 clove garlic, sliced

– 1 med. onion, sliced

– 3/4inch knob peeled ginger, sliced into thin rounds

– 3/4cup thick / OR /1-1/2 cups thin coconut milk

– 1/2 to 3/4cup pressure-cooked chickpeas (or low sodium canned ones)

– boiled & slighly cooled water, as needed

– salt & pepper, as needed

Do-ahead for pumpkin: If roasting the pumpkin, preheat oven to 180 deg C. Peel and cut half of a small pumpkin into 1″ cubes. Tumble the cubes on to a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle a little olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Toss well using hands. Bake for abt 25-30mins or till the pumpkin is soft and lightly golden. Cool slightly and mash well using a fork. Should make about 1 cup of mash/ puree. Set aside.

 – OR –

Alternatively – steam or boil the peeled pumpkin cubes in water. Drain, cool and mash well. Reserve the cooking liquid to use for thinning out the soup later.

Do-ahead for chickpeas: Soak 1/2cup of dried chickpeas in warm water for atleast 4-5 hours or overnight. Pressure cook the soaked chickpeas in 2 to 3 cups of fresh water for 6-7 whistles or till soft. Drain and set aside to cool. If using canned chickpeas, select the low sodium variety. Drain the chickpeas into a colander. Rinse well under running water to get rid of all the brine (liquid in which they’re preserved). Set aside for later use.

photo 1 (3)Method for soup:

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan or slightly deep frying pan. Add the sliced garlic, onion and ginger and saute till soft. Lower the heat.

2. Pour the coconut milk in followed by the chickpeas. Do not boil, but just let the mixture warm through nicely and then turn off the heat. Allow the pan to cool down a bit.

3. Place half the onion-coconut milk-chick peas mixture in a high speed blender with half of the pumpkin mash. Add a little boiled water (or the cooking liquid from the pumpkin). Puree till nice and smooth. Add the remaining ingredients in batches to get a nice velvety smooth soup.

4. Pour the pureed soup back into your saucepan. Heat through once while occasionally stirring. Adjust the consistency to your liking with some water and season with salt and pepper. (Can avoid the salt altogether for babies under 1)

Feel free to add a little cooked white or brown rice or some cooked couscous if your older baby will appreciate the texture.

This is undoubtedly a recipe the whole family can enjoy. You can also freeze portions of this soup for later when you are pressed for time. Although I try to avoid it, I do need to freeze soups/ pasta sauces for Keya every now and then. My personal level of comfort is to try and use up the frozen portions within 2-3 weeks. If you do freeze the soup, thaw and re-heat it till super hot, preferably on the stove top and then allow it to cool down to the right temperature before feeding your child.

Buckwheat, Coconut & Banana Pancakes

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photo 1 (2)Those who have been reading my blog might notice that once I try out a new ingredient for Keya I tend to become a teeny-tiny bit obsessed with coming up with different ways to serve it to her 🙂 First it was Quinoa, now its… (drumroll)… Buckwheat!

I’ve recently become fascinated with vegan & gluten-free recipes because they’re opening up a whole new range of ingredients for me. Not saying buckwheat is a food only vegans and / or gluten-free folks enjoy, but it definitely (based on my reading) features more often than not on their blogs, websites and cookbooks.

Having grown up in India, I am familiar with a wide variety of grains – jowar(sorghum), bajra (pearl millet), ragi (finger millet), oats, dalia (broken wheat) to name a few. Although buckwheat flour, aka kuttu ka atta is used in northern India to make delicious roti’s I somehow heard about it for the first time only after we moved to Singapore. I was surprised to know it existed in Indian cuisine, but then again it is entirely possible to spend your whole life in India and not know about certain ingredients that may be very common in one part of the country but unheard of in the other!

Nevertheless, it is a fantastically healthy, supremely tasty super seed (YES! it isn’t a grain although the name suggests it might be!) and its definitely something I was very excited to introduce to Keya (and her dad & me ofcourse!).

Cooking enthusiasts like your’s truly, have a compulsive need to keep tweaking recipes each time they make them. This morning as I pulled ingredients together for Keya’s usual buckwheat & banana pancakes, I added some coconut flour to the batter… and the result was a super moist, coconutty – banana flavour …SO delicious!! And oh, if you don’t have any coconut flour, no worries! Use coconut milk powder instead!

Nutrition Report: Buckwheat is high in fiber and contains Iron, Niacin, Folate and even Vitamin K. Bananas contain fiber and potassium and are also high in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Vitamin B2. Eggs in the recipe ofcourse are rich in protein, iron and Vit. D.

photo 2 (2)Ingredients: (makes 8-9 mini pancakes)

– 3/4 cup buckwheat flour

– 2-3 tbsp coconut flour /or/ coconut milk powder

– 1/2 tsp sugar + a pinch of salt

– 1/2 tsp baking powder

– 1 med. banana, mashed

– 1 egg, beaten

– 1 tbsp olive oil / or / melted unsalted butter

– milk, as required to make the batter (approx. 1/2 to 3/4cup)

optional additions: chopped walnuts / chopped dried coconut flakes / raisins

photo 3Method:

1. Measure out and mix together all the dry ingredients in a bowl (buckwheat flour, coconut flour or powder, sugar, salt & baking powder). If using add the finely chopped nuts / coconut flakes to the bowl and stir to distribute into the dry mix.

2. In a seperate bowl whisk the egg till pale yellow and add the mashed banana and olive oil into it.

3. Make a well in the dry mix and pour the egg-banana-oil mixture to the middle and whisk gently. This will be an extremely sticky mixture. Add the milk in slowly in batches whisking after each addition till a smooth thick batter is achieved.

4. Heat a non-stick pan or skillet. Ladle the batter onto the hot griddle. Allow it to spread our naturally into a little circle (about 3or4″ dia). Lower the heat to medium and cook till the wet top side of the pancake sets and small holes appear. Flip and cook on the second side.

5. Stack up the cooked pancakes on a plate. Drizzle with some honey and dot with a knob of butter. Garnish with some fresh strawberries if you have any and watch your kid(s) squeal (mine did!) and excitedly dig in!  🙂 Happy eating!