Category Archives: dinners

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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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.

Veggie Fried Rice & Sticky Salmon

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photo 2 (1)Introducing fish and prawns to Keya was a very exciting phase for us. I started her on simple poached & flaked fish (snapper or salmon) or small dices of prawn meat by adding it into her favourite pasta dishes at first as the pasta sauce would help soften up them up. Another hugely successful recipe was homemade fish fingers – yoghurt marinated white fish like snapper, crusted in crushed cornflakes and dried herbs and then shallow fried in some olive oil till golden brown and cooked … Just realised, I haven’t posted that recipe yet! Whoops!

Although we mostly cook all of our meals at home, my husband and I  occasionally crave some good ol’ fried rice and grilled fish from our neighbourhood hawker centre. Keya (18 mons old at the time) who we have kept away from restaurant and especially hawker food, insisted on trying some and looked mighty thrilled when she had her first taste of fried rice. But of course it inspired me to make a much healthier version of that dish for her!

This recipe is an adapted version of one by Anabel Karmel , and is hands down Keya’s favourite-EST meal in the whole wide world. Fresh veggies sauteed with rice and seasoning and soya-honey marinated grilled salmon… what’s not to like, right?

I generally use white Basmati rice for this recipe but please feel free to use brown rice if your prefer. This is a guaranteed hit that the whole family aged 18mons and up will enjoy! 🙂

Nutrition report:  Salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12). Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which contribute to healthy brain and heart function, healthy joints and general wellbeing. White rice is rich in carbohydrates and contains some protein. Brown rice has a better protein and fat content and is comparitively lower in carbohydrates. It contains about 4 times the amount of fiber than in white rice. The mixed vegetables ofcourse pack in more vitamins and minerals and BOOOST not just the flavour but also the confetti like appeal.

Ingredients for Fried Rice: (Makes 2 servings for a toddler)

– 1 or 2 tsp sesame or olive oil

– 1/2 tsp. ginger, very finely chopped

– 2 spring onions or 1/2 white onion, very finely chopped

– 3/4 cup diced mixed veggies (carrot, broccoli, french beans, boiled sweetcorn kernels, green peas, red capsicum)

– 1 or 2 tsp fried rice seasoning (i use SHAN’s egg fried rice seasoning)

– 1/2 cup raw white/ brown rice (pre-cooked till tender and then cooled and fluffed with a fork)

– a small handful of chopped fresh coriander (optional)

– cracked black pepper and salt optional as the seasoning contains both

Ingredients for Sticky Salmon: (Makes 2 servings for a toddler)

– 1 boneless, skinless salmon fillet (about 250-300g), cut into 2 inch cubes

– 1 tbsp olive oil

– 4-5 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

– 2-3 tbsp honey ( plus optional 1/2 tsp brown sugar)

– 1 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Method for Fried Rice:

1. Cook the white or brown rice in boiling water till almost cooked. Drain any extra cooking water and fluff the rice with a fork and allow it to fully cool ( I also chill the rice for abt 30 mins when time permits) Prep the rice in advance so you are not tempted to use freshly cooked rice else you will end up with sticky rice instead of fried rice 😉

2. Heat the sesame or olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Saute the finely chopped ginger for half a minute before adding the chopped spring onions. Saute till they’re soft.

3. Add the small dices of mixed veggies – add the carrot, broccoli and beans first. Cooked corn, red capsicum and peas a bit later. Saute all the veggies till they’re soft enough for your child to eat.

4. Add the seasoning powder to the sauteed veggies and lower the heat. Add the cooked (and cooled and fluffed) rice. Mix everything together nicely. Stir through the chopped coriander. Check for seasoning by tasting and adjust (add) seasoning powder per preference or add a small splash of soy sauce.

Turn off the heat. Keep covered till its time to eat!

photo 1 (1)Method for Sticky Salmon:

1. Place the boneless, skinless salmon cubes in a bowl. Drizzle over the olive oil, low sodium soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, garlic powder. Season with some black pepper. Taste-test the marinade and adjust the ingredients to your liking. Cover and marinate the salmon for about 30 mins.

2. Heat a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Add the salmon cubes one by one to the hot pan. (no need to add any oil)

3. Cook the salmon on all sides till nice and brown and cooked through. Drizzle a spoonful of the marinade as the salmon cooks.

Serve this yummy, salty-sweet-sticky salmon to your kids along side the fried rice and happily watch them gobble it up!

Quinoa Cutlets

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photo 2I admit it… I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with Quinoa in the past couple of weeks. I’ve always loved recipes featuring this super seed but Keya’s not quite ready to try those yet as most are salads.  As she has finally started to react positively to her Quinoa “khichdi”  (an indian preparation involving cooking lentils and rice with vegetables and mild spices like tumeric and garlic) I made it my mission to create more recipes with simple handy ingredients.

Marie, my helper, miscalculated the quantity and accidentally cooked an enormous batch of Quinoa for a salad I wanted to make a few weeks ago.  This recipe was a result of wanting to use up leftover plain- cooked quinoa, but has turned out to be such a big hit with Keya, that its becoming a regular item on our weekly meal plan 🙂

Nutrition report:  Quinoa is packed with fiber, calcium, iron and folate and is a fantastic source of vegetarian protein.  Shredded veggies pack in loads of flavor and vitamins.

 

photo 1 (1)Ingredients:

– 1 cup cooked Quinoa

– 1 small onion, very finely chopped

– 1/4 cup finely grated carrot + finely grated broccoli

– 1 small handful, coriander, finely chopped

– 1 clove garlic, grated

– Salt & Pepper, to taste

– 3-4 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (optional)

 


Method: 

1. In a large mixing bowl, place cooked, drained quinoa along with remaining ingredients. Mix well while mashing everything together using lightly oiled hands.

2. Heat a tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil in a non-stick pan. Scoop a small handful of the mixture into your hands and shape into a ball and flatten into a cutlet.

3. Gently place the cutlets into the pan and cook till golden brown. Flip and cook on the second side.

4. Place the cooked cutlets on a paper towel/ napkin to remove any extra oil. Cool the cutlets and cut up into age appropriate bite sized portions and serve with or without some ketchup on the side 🙂

 

These cutlets are rather delicate and very soft. The crust formed on the outside is easily chewable even for a toddler with fewer teeth.  Happy eating!

Beetroot Cutlets

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IMG_4573Coming up with interesting and fun ways to incorporate vegetables into children’s food is a stumbling block every young parent I know has encountered. Every family has a list of vegetables that is on their regular grocery list – cauliflower, beans, broccoli, carrots, okra, cabbage, eggplants and leafy greens are on ours. Then there are the occasional buys – like mushroom, pumpkins and bell peppers. I have a third list that consists of vegetables that I LOVE but know only so many ways to cook – like bitter gourds and beets. Growing up the only way I remember eating beets was boiled. More recently I started to enjoy Beetroot+ Apple juice when I have the chance. But boiled and juiced beets are not usually on a kids favorite foods list. Its more often than not the vegetable most kids show little to no enthusiasm for. Yet  beets are of exceptional nutritional value; and I was therefore keen to weave them into Keya’s diet. These cutlets are a complete hit with little Keya as well as her beet-hating (now beet-loving) dad! 🙂

Nutrition report: Rich in iron,vitamin C, folic acid ,manganese, potassium & fiber.

photoIngredients:  (makes 6-8 cutlets)

– 1 med. raw beetroot, peeled & finely grated

– 1/2 cup raw oats, coarsely powdered

– 1/4 cup crumbled paneer (optional)

– 2 cloves garlic, peeled & grated

– 1 small onion, very finely chopped

– 1 egg, beaten (optional)

– 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs

– 1-1/2 tbsp dried basil or mint

– salt & pepper, to taste

To make:

1.  Place grated raw beets, oats, paneer, onion, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Add the dried basil or mint leaves and season with salt and pepper.

2. Crack one egg in a seperate bowl. Whisk lightly. Pour the whisked egg into the beet mixture followed by the breadcrumbs. (For vegetarian kids, leave out the egg and add only breadcrumbs. I’ve tried this recipe with and without the egg. Both are just as good.) For recipe with egg, you might need a little more breadcrumbs to help soak up the excess moisture.

3. Once the mixture is well combined, divide it into lemon sized balls. Roll around between your palms to make the ball and pat down gently to flatten into a cutlet.

This recipe freezes very well. I prefer to make up a batch of 6-8 cutlets and freeze these to be used over the next few of weeks. Once you make all the cutlets, you can place them on a non-stick paper and freezer till hard, then transfer the frozen cutlets into a ziplock freezer bag to store in the freezer. Please thaw frozen cutlets to room temperature before cooking. 

4. Heat a little olive or vegetable oil in a non-stick pan. Lightly fry the cutlets on both sides till a nice crusts forms on the outside. Place cooked cutlets on a paper napkin till they’re cool enough to feed your child. Cut up into age-appropriate sizes before offering to your child.

These are outstandingly delicious when sandwiched with toasted bread or burger buns and some tomato ketchup 🙂 Great for meal times, snacks and also lunch boxes for older kids (and parents!)

I came up with this recipe when Keya was about 13 months old. But am positive this recipe can be used for babies as young as 11 mos – specially those who have 6-8 teeth and enjoy chewing on their food.

Roast vegetable sauce for Pizza & Pastas

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Just 4 recipes old, this blog seems to have gotten a lot of my friends, and their friends, who are parents to young toddlers and pre-schoolers excited. Motivated by their response, I am now working on some recipes that can be adapted and made suitable for babies and toddlers. My first attempt in this direction was to create something that was nutrient rich and packed with flavours to excite young taste buds. As pasta and pizza are perennial favorites with all children I adapted a recipe of roast tomato soup that I make by adding loads of veggies to create a super yum sauce that can be used with pasta or pizza, or even grilled vegetable sandwiches if you please!

All mom needs to do is chop veggies into largish chunks, toss them in a little olive oil, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and roast. Once all the vegetables are roasted all you need to do is puree everything till smooth. Roasting or baking brings out the yummy flavours of the vegetables and retains nutrients. Besides, I find that oven roasting, just saves so much f my time – as I can get a LOT of chores done while the veggies cook and I don’t have to stand at the stove.This recipe is excellent for freezing. You can scoop spoonfuls of the sauce into a clean ice cube tray and transfer all the frozen cubes into a zip lock bag once hard. Freezing as cubes is also super convenient as you can thaw and use exactly how much you need the next time you want to use them.

I know, I know, when there are ready-made pasta sauces out there, why would I want to bother making one? Only because you know exactly what has gone into it, it is preservative free and so wonderfully customizable that mommy can be sneaky and add some not-so-favourite vegetables into it 😉

You can thin out the sauce with some water and serve it with pasta topped with grated cheese or even use it as a base for grilled vegetable or chicken sandwiches.

I used the sauce along with some whole grain bread to create mini-pizzas. All I had to do was cut out circles of bread, slather on the sauce, top with vegetables of my choice along with some grated cheese and bake for a few mins till the cheese melted. No junk, packed with nutrients and delicious…. perfect for a toddler play date, after school snack, birthday party and of course midnight treats during slumber parties for the older kids 🙂

6 (1)Ingredients: (makes about 1 cup)

– 3 medium tomatoes

– 1 small green capsicum (bell pepper)

– 1 medium carrot

– 1 large onion

– 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (with peel)

– 2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

– salt & pepper , as per preference

Optional vegetables: 1/2 a zucchini, 1 small stalk of celery

To make:

1.  Preheat your oven to 200deg C and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil

2. Peel and halve the  onion and cut into thickish slices. Place in a mixing bowl along with the unpeeled garlic cloves. Peel the carrot and cut into 1/2″thick rounds. De-seed the bell pepper and cut into 1″ squares. Add the carrots and bell pepper to the mixing bowl. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and season the veggies with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3.  Tumble the vegetables onto the baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 25-30 mins. The vegetables will soften and be slightly golden. Transfer into a clean bowl and allow them to cool.

4.  While the first batch of vegetables roast, cut the tomatoes into largish chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and pepper. Roast the tomatoes seperately for about 45 mins after the other vegetables are done. Once roasted allow them to cool.

Tomatoes carry much more moisture than the other veggies and therefore need a longer roasting time which is why these are roasted seperately.

5. Once all the roasted veggies have cooled, place in a blender and whizz till nice and smooth. Use immediately or then store in a clean jar in the refrigerator, for upto 2 days or freeze for upto  a month.

To make mini pizzas, cut out circles of whole wheat bread using the edges of a metal bowl.  Spread a tablespoon or more of the sauce over the bread. Top with vegetables of your choice ( I used sweet corn, mushrooms and broccoli). Sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese and bake @ 200 deg C for 7-8 mins or till the cheese melts. YUMMY!!

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Egg &Herb Rice

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Eggs are an important part of a baby’s diet providing essential nutrients like Vitamins A & D and Proteins and are also a rich source of Iron. Although egg whites are known allergens and not recommended for babies below the age of 1, well cooked egg yolks are safe to introduce between 6 to 8 months.

I got Keya started on boiled mashed egg yolks at about 7 months. As I din’t know to many ways to use a boiled egg yolk, I just mashed it into her dal-rice khichdi (Khichdi is the Indian term for rice and lentils cooked together till extra soft and flavoured lightly with turmeric, garlic and turmeric). Although she loves her khichdii, I was keen to introduce her to some newer flavours. I whipped this super simple dish up for her the other day and she just lapped it up! Dinner time was 7-1/2 minutes from start to finish!

photoIngredients:

– 1 or 2 egg yolks, whisked well

– 3 to 4 tbsp brown rice, ground to the texture your baby likes

– a small knob of butter

– a small pinch of dried oregano, basil and black pepper

– a couple of tablespoons of warm whole milk

To make:

1.  Cook the brown rice in water till soft. Whisk the egg yolks together with a tablespoon of milk.

2.  Melt the butter over a slow heat in a non-stick saucepan. Add the eggs and allow them to set just a little bit. Whisk to scramble. When the eggs are scrambled, add the cooked brown rice.

3.  Sprinkle the dried herbs and pepper and mix well. Add a spoon of milk or two if the mix becomes too sticky.

Serve immediately.