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French toast soldiers (sugar-free)

Breakfast. I’m never that creative with my own so I guess it’s logical that I struggle to be creative with Nicholas’. Mashed banana and yogurt has been our staple since his early days of weaning. He still eats it about three times a week, it never fails (he starts chanting ‘nana!, nana!’ as soon as I pick up a banana), and I can prepare it while still half asleep. But regardless of whether or not he gets bored of it, I get bored preparing it and also feel guilty that I should be giving him more of a variety of food to start the day.

In the early months of weaning I did grated apple, grated pear, grated apple and pear (!), and baby porridge. I don’t know why I never thought of French toast then. Slightly crispy on the outside, and lovely and soft inside, it’s certainly something a baby can tackle with their super strong gums, and a great baby-led weaning food. It’s also a nice way to introduce baby to other flavours like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Thanks to Once a Month Mom, I discovered you can freeze French toast after you make it (saves you throwing away the unused egg mixture), make it into kabobs, and, more surprisingly, you can hide vegetables in it (she adds butternut squash puree!). I haven’t tried adding vegetables, but I have tried adding some mashed banana and also applesauce to the mixture before dunking the bread and these additions both work well.

You can dunk your soldiers in applesauce or a warm berry compote, drizzle with golden syrup or maple syrup, or serve them with fruit on the side (raw or stewed). Nicholas seems to like them as I do – plain with a drizzle of honey.

FRENCH TOAST SOLDIERS (SUGAR-FREE)

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Makes 1 toddler serving
Freezable

1 slice of bread, cut into 4 or 5 ‘soldiers’
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg
1 tsp honey (optional)
a couple of drops of vanilla essence (optional)
1 tsp butter

In a bowl large enough for your ‘soldiers’ to lie down in, lightly beat the egg, milk, and cinnamon or nutmeg (and honey and vanilla, if using).

Lay your ‘soldiers’ in the eggy mixture and let them soak on both sides while you heat the butter in a small frying pan over a med-low heat.

Fry the bread for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown.

Variations:

  • add mashed banana or applesauce (or even pureed butternut squash or sweet potato!) to the mixture before dunking
  • use cute cookie cutters to make different shapes of ‘soldiers’ to surprise your little one
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Sugar-free banana muffins

I was very happy with my apple sauce efforts. Armed with the sauce, I headed back into the kitchen to use it in a recipe instead of sugar. As usual, staring me in the face were some rather ripe bananas so I thought I’d attempt to adapt one of my favourite muffin recipes.

If you don’t want to be bothered making apple sauce (but it only takes 20 minutes!), you can use caster sugar (150g) instead, although then these muffins won’t be sugar-free 😉

SUGAR-FREE BANANA MUFFINS

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30-35 mins
Makes about 16 muffins
Freezable

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
375g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125ml vegetable oil
150ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan). Line muffin trays with paper cases.

Mash the bananas and then mix in the apple sauce.

Put the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix.

In a separate smaller bowl or small jug, whisk together the oil, milk, egg and vanilla (if using). Pour into the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the banana and apple sauce and gently mix through the batter quickly.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared paper cases and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden on top and cooked when tested with a skewer.

Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.


Tip
: the ‘secret’ to muffins is mixing the batter just enough to combine the ingredients. Mix too much and you’ll have heavy stodgy muffins. I like to use a spatula. It makes me use bigger stirring movements (smaller ones would beat the mixture too much), and I can scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as I mix to avoid having unmixed flour hiding in the bottom.

So how did they turn out? The texture was exactly the same as using sugar. The taste, for me, isn’t super sweet but sweet enough, and Nicholas wolfed down one whole muffin as soon as they were cool enough to eat, so a success! Hubby’s verdict is that they’re nowhere as sweet as the ones you buy… 🙂

What would you try making using apple sauce instead of sugar?

Banana pikelets

I find it extra hard to get inspiration for breakfast. My biggest hurdle is not being a morning person. Even if I’ve been up for quite a while before Nicholas wakes up, I don’t have the same enthusiasm for making him something different for breakfast. He’s also more fussy at breakfast.

Pikelets are little thick pancakes. They’re also called drop (or dropped) scones because of how the batter is dropped from a spoon into the pan to make them. They’re a perfect size for little hands to eat on their own.

I loved making them as a child and have vivid memories of impatiently waiting for the bubbles to appear so I could flip them over. They’re easy and very satisfying for kids to make.

I replaced the sugar in my favourite pikelet recipe with some honey, and added mashed banana and cinnamon. Even with the fruit, they’re not very sweet (if you want them sweeter add some more honey or use 1/4 cup of sugar). I also added some bicarbonate of soda to give some extra fluffiness, but they’re still good without it. After they’re cooked, they’ll still be a bit soft and gooey inside from the banana.

Freeze the ones you don’t eat immediately and have them as a snack another day.

BANANA PIKELETS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes about 20
Freezable

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 bananas, mashed
1 tbsp honey
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
small piece of butter, melted, to grease the pan

Sift flour, bicarbonate and cinnamon into a medium-sized bowl. Add banana, honey and egg, and mix to combine. Add milk gradually until you have a fairly thick batter (you might not need to add all the milk).

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and brush with melted butter. Use a tablespoon to drop the mixture into the pan. Cook in batches, turning when bubbles appear on the surface (1-2 mins). Cook the other side until golden brown (about 1 min). Lift out and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm.

 

 

 

 

 


Variations
:

  • add some vanilla essence for extra sweetness
  • leave out the banana and serve with fruit
  • try adding other fruit (grated apple, mashed strawberries, whole blueberries, sultanas or raisins)

Other uses:

  • top with jam and cream (or Nutella!) for afternoon tea

Tip: Wipe your pan clean with a piece of paper towel after each batch and then brush with some more melted butter.