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Tag Archives: dairy-free

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

Coconut and lime macaroons

While Easter is over, although the tempting chocolate eggs linger, I wanted to share one last Easter-inspired recipe. The great thing is you don’t need to wait until next Easter to make them. Shape them into circles or other shapes, colour them or not, and they’re a great dairy-free sweet morsel.

coconut and lime macaroon eggs

This recipe (apart from the food colouring) is an unchanged Jill Dupleix recipe and, following her food philosophy, they are a wonderfully light treat. The non-traditional lime zest and juice add a fresh zing, and contrast perfectly with the chewy coconut interior, making it easier to eat another one, and another one, and another one!

I wanted little bite-sized macaroons so I used a very small round cookie cutter approximately 4cm in diameter. I then shaped the circles into egg shapes by gently pinching the top. Jill uses the rim of a small liqueur glass to make slightly bigger macaroons. Because mine were smaller than the original recipe, they cooked quicker. Do watch them closely as they can colour very quickly at the end (as you can see in my photo!).

Nicholas had great fun helping me squish and squeeze the ingredients together with our hands. He also enjoyed cutting out the circles, but because of the sticky consistency of the mixture he needed help to get them on the baking tray.

making coconut and lime macaroons

Make them plain like the original recipe or add some food colouring for fun. We also made multi-coloured macaroons by pressing stripes of different coloured mixture together. With so few ingredients they’re perfect for your munchkin’s next cooking activity.

COCONUT AND LIME MACAROONS

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 8-12 mins
Makes 30 bite-sized macaroons

2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
160g desiccated coconut
1 tsp grated lime (about 1/2 a lime)
1 tbsp lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
food colouring of your choice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put the egg whites, sugar, coconut, lime zest and juice in a bowl, and use your hands to mix and squeeze until they lightly come together.

If using food colouring, divide you mixture into smaller bowls and add a drop or two of your desired colouring. Mix until evenly coloured.

On a piece of baking paper, press the mixture into a flat shape (about 1cm high) using wet hands.

Use a small round cookie cutter (approx. 4cm in diameter) to cut out small rounds, and place on your prepared baking tray.

Using wet hands, gently pinch the top of each circle to create oval shapes.

Bake for 8-12 minutes in the centre of the oven until just starting to colour.

Cool the macaroons on a wire rack (move them carefully as they’ll still be quite soft while they’re still warm), and store in an airtight jar.

Happy belated Easter from my own little Easter bunny!

Dairy-free banana bread

I didn’t realise how much I used bananas in cooking until I started writing this blog! There’s banana muffinsbanana teething biscuits, banana chips, banana icecream, banana pikelets, banana and butternut squash loaf, and they’re also my ‘secret’ sweetener in my sugar-free flapjacks. And these are just the recipes I’ve blogged!

Banana is commonly one of the first solid foods a baby experiences, and I think I probably just tried different things with them as Nicholas always loves them.  I also pretty much constantly have some very ripe ones in the freezer waiting to be turned into something yummy.

I’ve tried many banana bread recipes over the years with varying degrees of success. Most of the time I prefer mine to be light and fluffy like a sponge, rather than heavy and moist. And while I adore cream cheese frosting, for me this banana bread is much better without it distracting your taste buds. It also means I feel less guilt when eating it for breakfast.

dairy-free banana bread

Banana bread recipes are quite similar overall with a different tweak here and there. My recipe isn’t anything new, but it’s evolved from combining recipes I’ve come across and experimenting until I was happy.

One thing you might want to experiment with is the texture of the mashed banana. Some cooks puree it with a blender while others leave it quite chunky. Supposedly pureeing it gives a richer banana flavour to the finished product. I mash my bananas with a fork, but mash about half of them until they’re very smooth and the remainder I only mash a little so you find the occasional chunk in the finished bread.

There’s quite a bit of banana in this recipe, but you can easily get away with less; even two smallish bananas would work fine (you want at least 175g of it unpeeled).

DAIRY-FREE BANANA BREAD

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 40-45 mins
Freezable

175g self-raising flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
175g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 medium bananas, mashed
50g walnuts (or pecans), chopped

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together at a medium speed using a handheld beater or in an electric mixer. Whisk for a few minutes until it’s pale and fluffy.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, add the mashed banana, and mix until combined using a low speed. Gently stir through the walnuts.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Variations:

  • Make individual muffins instead of a loaf (easier to freeze if you’re not going to eat all of it)
  • Dust with icing sugar
  • Top with cream cheese frosting for a more decadent loaf

dairy-free banana breadI’m linking up this recipe to the One Ingredient Challenge hosted by Franglais Kitchen and How to Cook Good Food. Why not enter your own banana recipe and join the linky party? Read the rules here.

Baby oat cakes

My regular readers will know by now that I always need inspiration for breakfast. So when I came across Laura’s microwave raspberry oat cakes, I woke up the next morning with a spring in my step, eager to try them.

I’m a big fan of porridge for little ones as there are so many variations you can do, and this is a brilliant different way to use porridge oats. It’s also super quick and open to variations.

These mini oat cakes would be perfect for baby-led weaning, ideal finger food for a toddler snack, and I even made another for my afternoon tea!

Laura makes hers with frozen raspberries. I first tried frozen strawberries and then some raisins I’d soaked in warm water (if giving to a baby, it’s important to first soak any dry fruit to avoid any possible choking hazard). Try to use a banana that’s as ripe as possible as it will be sweeter (actually this is another great recipe for using up overripe bananas).

They were a great success with Nicholas who called them biscuits and dunked them in milk. He said ‘yum’ in English and Italian as well as signing it, interspersed with requests for ‘more!’. I couldn’t have been happier 🙂

Check out more of Laura’s budget-friendly family recipes on her blog Small Wallet Big Appetite.

BABY OAT CAKES

Prep time: 3 mins
Cook time: 4 mins
Makes 1 oat cake

1/2 medium banana
1/4 cup (20g) raw porridge oats
A pinch of cinnamon
4-5 pieces of chopped frozen strawberry

Mash the banana in a small microwave-safe bowl (I used one that was about 10cm across at the bottom).

Add the cinnamon and oats, mixing well so all the oats are covered in banana.

Gently mix through the frozen pieces of strawberry.

Press the mixture down firmly into the bottom of the bowl and cook in the microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until it turns into a firm little cake.

Tip the mini cake out. Once cooled, cut it into wedges.

Variations:

  • use other frozen berries instead of strawberries
  • use dried fruit (raisins, chopped apricots, etc) instead of strawberry, but soak them beforehand if giving to a baby

Vegetable Korma

I’ve talked before about not being very adventurous with spice in Nicholas’ food, but I’ve been trying to extend his tastebuds by adding different spicy flavours. Last week we went to our local pub for dinner and chose a mild chicken curry off their good children’s menu. When I tasted it I was surprised by the level of spiciness (closer to medium than mild), so was very curious to see Nicholas’ reaction. He loved it! Here’s to more spice then.

You can find some interesting and easy Indian-inspired baby and toddler recipes on the Homemade Baby Food Recipes site. My vegetable korma is a very slight adaptation of one they say you can give babies from 7 or 8 months (please use your discretion and your expert knowledge of your baby to decide when to introduce some aromatic spices to their food, and it’s always best to only introduce one new spice or food at a time).

This has a mild level of spiciness, more warming than hot, so perfect for even young tastebuds. Next time I’ll double the quantities of spice (so 1/4 tsp of each) and add some chopped or crushed garlic at the start for some more oomph.

You can really use any vegetables you have on hand for this korma. Sweet potato, green beans, bell peppers (capsicum), mushrooms and broccoli would all work well. Don’t worry too much about measuring exact quantities; trust your instinct to add more or less of each vegetable. It takes a bit more time, but cutting the vegetables into quite small pieces means they cook quicker and keep more of their nutrients.

Toddlers can eat the korma as is with some rice. For babies, blend the vegetables after it’s cooked or, if your munchkin is fine with some lumps, roughly mash it with a fork or potato masher.

VEGETABLE KORMA

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Makes 3-4 toddler portions
Freezable

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 cup cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup peas
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 tbsp unsweetened dessicated coconut
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup water
1/8 tsp (or a large pinch) ground ginger
1/8 tsp (or a large pinch) cumin
1/8 tsp (or a large pinch) turmeric
1/8 tsp (or a large pinch) ground coriander
Salt to taste (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the carrot is starting to become softer.

Add the tomato puree and spices. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the remaining vegetables, coconut and water (and salt, if using). Stir, turn up the heat to medium-high and bring it to the boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked.

If serving to a baby, either blend the mixture until a smooth puree, or roughly mash with a fork or potato masher for a lumpier puree.

For a toddler, serve with cooked rice.

Variations:

  • Use different vegetables such as sweet potato, broccoli, bell peppers (capsicum), green beans or mushrooms.
  • Add chopped or crushed garlic to the onion and carrot.
  • Add grated fresh ginger to the onion and carrot.
  • Add a spoonful of coconut cream at the end.

Have you introduced spice to your little one’s food? Do they like it?

Spinach muffins

Yes, you read correctly, spinach muffins. And they’re sweet. I’ll let you have a minute to get your head around that.

Still can’t imagine what they’d taste like? Don’t worry, neither could I when I came across the recipe by Weelicious. I’m still on my mission to get more vegetables into Nicholas, so I thought I’d continue my attack from a sweet angle too.

I’ve made two batches of these now, modifying the original recipe both times. Honestly, they’re a strange taste sensation and I certainly won’t be waking up any time soon thinking ‘Mmmm, I fancy a spinach muffin.’ But I made them for Nicholas not me.

Reading the numerous comments for the original recipe, many people who’ve made them say you can’t taste the spinach and that they taste like plain vanilla muffins. For me the spinach taste is strong, and its metallic flavour in combination with the vanilla is probably what confuses my taste buds. But I made them for Nicholas not me.

The original recipe has applesauce and sugar. I replaced the sugar with honey to be healthier (I honestly can’t see the point in packing a muffin with spinach goodness if you then add sugar, sorry). I also left out the salt, as just reading that in the ingredient list made my taste buds apprehensive, and again why add it to your munchkin’s food if you probably don’t need to (after tasting them I think adding the salt would make the clash between sweet and savoury too much).

For my second batch I also left out the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) as I really don’t like the taste of it in muffins. It didn’t affect the texture and the taste was better. Yes, for me, but I made them for Nicholas not me!

Nicholas has eaten them but without gusto, however he hasn’t been completely well this week. We’re going to the joint first birthday party of Nicholas’ best friend at the weekend. It’s a party with all the babies from his antenatal group, so I will go armed with my spinach muffins and see how they go down with a pack of one-year-olds.

SPINACH MUFFINS

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes 12 small muffins
Freezable

1 cup fresh spinach, packed tightly
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (apple puree)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Extra vegetable oil, for greasing muffin tin

Preheat oven to 175C and grease your muffin tin with a little vegetable oil.

Put the spinach, applesauce, egg, vanilla, honey and vegetable oil in a food processor, and puree until the spinach has broken up into small pieces and the mixture has combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium-sized bowl.

Pour the spinach mixture into a large bowl and carefully fold in the flour mixture, mixing just enough to combine the ingredients (mixing too much will make your muffins heavy).

Divide your mixture evenly between the 12 muffin holes.

Bake for 12-15 mins until a skewer comes out clean.

Banana and butternut squash loaf

One of the last things I did before running out the door before our holidays (amazingly the first time I wasn’t running like a lunatic due to being so late) was to throw the remaining (very ripe) bananas in the freezer. It gave me a (silly) sense of pride to know we weren’t wasting them. It’s the little things after all!

While we were away I came across an unusual recipe for banana bread from Simon Rimmer with the added ingredient of butternut squash. I’m always looking for different ways to use up bananas and this recipe definitely piqued my interest.

I made some changes to the original recipe. I reduced the sugar and used chopped walnuts instead of pecans. I also reduced the amount of nuts as hubby isn’t a huge fan and it seemed an excessive amount also for me too. The original recipe is topped with a cream cheese icing which would work wonderfully, but I wanted to keep my loaf dairy-free and simple so just drizzled the cooked loaf with honey. It also means I feel no guilt eating it for breakfast 😉

The end result is a lovely dense and very moist cake with a subtle taste of banana. If anyone guessed this cake has a vegetable ingredient, I’m certain they’d never guess butternut squash. Another way to sneak some veg into your children’s diets perhaps? And if you have any pureed butternut squash in the freezer leftover from your munchkin’s earlier weaning days, I can’t think of a better way to use it.

BANANA AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH LOAF

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 50-60 mins
Makes 1 loaf
Freezable

120g sugar
1 egg
150ml vegetable oil
2 bananas, mashed
225g butternut squash, cooked and mashed
275g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g walnut pieces
drizzle of honey to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg and vegetable oil. Fold in the mashed banana and butternut squash.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Fold this dry flour mixture into the wet banana mixture. Stir through the walnuts.

Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool.

Drizzle honey over the top of the loaf before serving.

Variations:

  • add sultanas or raisins for added sweetness
  • omit the walnuts if putting into a child’s lunchbox

Tip: If you have the time, it’s much better to peel your bananas before freezing them, as peeling a frozen or defrosted banana takes some skill. Just peel, throw in a ziploc bag and freeze.