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Yogurt Week: Beetroot and Yogurt Dip

This is a super easy, super quick and healthy dip, celebrating the versatility of yogurt.

My often fussy little eater kept wanting to taste this as we made it. The wonderfully vibrant colour appeals to little eyes, just be careful of beetroot stains! If serving this to a little eater, give them a variety of foods in different colours to dip in. You can also use it as a spread in sandwiches or wraps.

You still have plenty of time to celebrate Yogurt Week as well as enter the exciting Food Stylist competition (details in my last post). Did you know there is enough plain yogurt sold in the UK every year to make at least 616 million kormas?!

Yogurt Week

BEETROOT AND YOGURT DIP

Prep time: 5-10 mins
Cook time: 0 minutes!
Makes 4 servings

250g cooked beetroot, peeled and chopped into chunks
70g Greek yogurt
A pinch of cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Put everything into a mini food processor and blitz until smooth. Taste and add more seasoning and cumin if needed.

Other uses:

  • use as a pasta sauce by stirring through hot cooked pasta
  • serve over rice
  • use as a crepe filling

Yogurt Week 2014Disclosure: I was compensated by The Yogurt Council to promote Yogurt Week.

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Baked vegetable bites

These vegetable bites are really a variation of my zucchini (courgette) bites, with more veg thrown in! They’re great for using up vegetables lurking in your fridge (you can really use almost anything), and leftover bites can go into tomorrow’s lunchboxes or frozen for another day.

baked vegetable bitesSince coming up with our leftover veggie pops (or ‘cheesy lollipops’ as Nicholas calls them), I often put food on sticks. If you have a fussy eater, I would definitely try putting food they don’t particularly like on sticks.

For littler ones, especially those doing baby-led weaning, these bites are the perfect size for little fingers to pick up and feed themselves.

The bites are baked rather than fried, which not only means they’re healthier but you can throw them in the oven and forget about them for a while instead of standing in front of a frying pan turning them over. Sometimes before baking them I roll the balls into some extra breadcrumbs so they end up with a thin crunchy coating.

Don’t worry too much about exact quantities. If the mixture is too wet to shape into balls, just add some more breadcrumbs; if it’s too dry, add a little bit more beaten egg.

baked vegetable bites 2BAKED VEGETABLE BITES

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-18 mins
Makes about 16 bites
Freezable

1 medium-large zucchini/courgette, finely grated and squeezed
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 handful spinach, finely shredded
1 egg
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
Pinch of salt (optional)
Extra dry breadcrumbs for coating (optional)

Heat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and mix until combined.

Shape into small balls (adding some more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet). Roll balls in the extra breadcrumbs if using.

Place on the lined baking tray and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

 

Parsnip Soup

While my friends and family in Australia are trying to cope with heat rising above 40C, we’re snuggling together under blankets to keep warm.

We’re also trying to be healthier after the usual Christmas/New Year over-indulging, and soup continues to be an easy way to get Nicholas to eat a variety of vegetables (even if sometimes he HAS to drink it through a straw!).

Parsnip SoupPARSNIP SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 4 adult servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, parsnips and carrots cook for about 4 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.

Add the garam masala and a little salt and pepper, and cook for another minute.

Add the stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the parsnips and carrots are soft.

Take off the heat, toss in the parsley and purée until smooth (either in a food processor or using a hand blender). Check if you need to add any seasoning.

If the soup is too thick after puréeing, stir through some milk (or coconut milk).

Variations:

  • For a curried parsnip soup, replace the garam masala with curry powder
  • Add some grated ginger with the garlic for a little more zing

What dishes to you and your family eat to feel warm?

Baked porridge slice (sugar-free)

I still make Nicholas baby oat cakes now and then for breakfast to avoid always eating the same thing. I love that you can whip them up in no time and can easily vary the flavours by adding different fruit. But I also wanted to try making something ahead of time that could also work well as an afternoon snack. I came up with a baked porridge slice.

The slice is sugar-free and, like the baby oat cakes, very easy to make. Make it ahead of time and heat it up for breakfast or have a slice cold for a snack. It would be a nice next food step for babies who happily eat banana porridge and who are moving on to finger foods.

The pumpkin and sunflower seeds add a nice crunch as well as extra nutrition, but you can easily leave them out.

Baked porridge sliceBAKED PORRIDGE SLICE

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25-30 mins
Makes 8-10 slices
Keeps for a couple of days in an airtight container

1 cup porridge oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp applesauce / apple puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 banana, sliced

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the ingredients apart from the banana and mix well.

Pour the porridge mixture into the loaf tin and spread out evenly. Place the banana slices on top of the mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the slice is coming away from the edges of the tin.

Cool before cutting into slices.

Roasted carrot soup for the whole family

Happy International Carrot Day! Bet you didn’t know that even though this year marks a decade of celebrating the root vegetable. I certainly didn’t!

After our Easter indulgences, I though it was time to return to my mission of getting as many vegetables into Nicholas as possible (and soup’s the least stressful way). I’m sure the exhausted Easter bunny would also happily relax with a large bowlful.

This is a super simple soup (try to say that quickly as many times as you can!) the whole family can enjoy from weaning babies (omit the seasoning) to adults. It freezes well and can also be used as a pasta sauce for a quick healthy lunch.

roasted carrot soupRoasting the carrots and onion, before adding them to the stock, creates an extra depth of flavour. Ordinary carrot soup becomes something more interesting to the palette. While roasting the vegetables means the cooking time is longer, you can always roast them earlier in the day (if you’re at home) or even the day before.

Like most soups, don’t be too worried about exact measurements; slightly less or slightly more carrots won’t make much difference to the end result. If you don’t have enough carrots, add some other root vegetables like parsnip, turnip or potato.

If you’re not serving this to a baby, you can add some warming spice like coriander (you could sprinkle some ground coriander over the vegetables before roasting).

ROASTED CARROT SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Makes 4 adult servings
Freezable

750g carrots, roughly chopped
1 large onion, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Lay the chopped carrots and onion in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle over the oil, and season with salt and pepper (if using). Roast for 3o minutes or until the vegetables start to turn golden.

Heat the stock in a medium to large pot until lightly boiling. Turn the heat down to low, add the vegetables and thyme, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Take the soup off the heat and let it cool a little if you have the time. Purée until smooth. Check if you need to add any more seasoning.

Variations:

  • use a mixture of carrots and parsnips
  • sprinkle the vegetables with ground coriander before roasting (you can also add fresh coriander later)

Other Uses:

  • Mix through some cooked pasta (or rice) for a quick lunch

Courgette (zucchini) soup

Yes, another soup recipe! Since returning to the cold weather of the UK I’ve been making soup at least once a week. It really is (for me anyway) an easy way of getting more vegetables into Nicholas’ diet. We’ve even sometimes been having a small mug of soup for an afternoon snack (often with a straw just for fun!).

Making soup is generally quick, only requiring a bit of chopping, a bit of stirring, usually followed by some blending. Then it’s ready and waiting in the fridge for the next few days. Any leftovers go in the freezer for another day.

As with all cooking, the fresher your ingredients the better the end taste will be. And with soup, although stock made from a stock cube (preferably low-salt if cooking for little ones) is absolutely fine, if you use a better quality stock (either bought or homemade) you will taste the difference.

You don’t need great knife skills when making blended soups. However, the smaller you chop the vegetables (especially the potatoes), the quicker they’ll take to cook.

courgette (zucchini) soup

COURGETTE (ZUCCHINI) SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 4 adult servings
Freezable

2 large or 3 medium-sized courgettes (zucchini), diced
1 onion, diced
1 medium-sized potato, diced
1 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
500ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over a medium heat. Add the courgettes, onion and potato, and sauté for 5 minutes without letting the vegetables brown (turn the heat down if they do start to brown).

Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then turn the heat down to low and simmer until the vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes if you’ve diced them into small pieces).

Remove from the heat and purée until smooth. Add salt and pepper if needed.

To make it more special, serve with a dollop of yoghurt or cream and a sprinkling of chives.

Sweet potato and lentil soup

Being away from home for a month meant I needed to be much more relaxed about Nicholas’ diet. Predictably he happily ate lots of meat (including kangaroo and a taste of crocodile), but very few vegetables.

Now, at home, we’re back to having a bowl of vegetable soup at the start of dinner before our meat course (I sometimes use the soup as a quick pasta sauce at lunchtime too). And a steaming bowl of thick soup is a great winter warmer for the whole family.

sweet potato and lentil soup

SWEET POTATO AND LENTIL SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes 4 servings

1 tbsp olive oil (or a knob of butter)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional)
2 medium sweet potatoes (approx. 900g), peeled and cubed
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
100g red lentils
200ml milk
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil (or butter) in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, sweet potato and a little salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5 mins.

Add the hot stock, lentils and milk. Bring almost to the boil then drop the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the lentils and sweet potato are cooked.

Puree the soup until smooth and check if you need to add more seasoning.
sweet potato and lentil soup

Variations:

  • substitute one sweet potato with a white potato
  • for some extra spicy warmth, add a teaspoon or two of curry powder when sautéing the vegetables
  • add a dollop of yoghurt to each bowl