Spiced Apple and Pear Compote

Delicious yoghurt topping

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Coco and Lentil are big yoghurt fans and little tubs of raspberry, strawberry, apricot or peach flavoured yoghurt are a regular after supper dessert.  Generally, Lentil chooses one first and little Coco gets whichever flavour he discards.  I allow Lentil this little concession as I suspect it will quickly come to an end once Coco starts talking!

I like to add a bit of texture and additional flavour to their yoghurts and this little compote is a quick and tasty topping.  It helps with satisfying your little charges’ 5 or 3 (depending on which school of thought you subscribe to!) a day; can be pureed for babies; and is suitable for freezing. It also makes a good combo with creme fraiche, or adds a little healthiness to an ice-cream treat!

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Makes 4 portions.

The what:

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into kiddie bite-sized chunks

2 pears, peeled, cored and chopped into kiddie bite-sized chunks

a handful of raisins or other dried fruit

1/4 tsp of mixed spice

60ml water

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The how:

Put all the ingredients into a pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. The compote is ready once the apple and pear are soft but not mushy.  If the compote starts to stick to the bottom of the pan add a little more water.

Then it’s ready to serve: on its own, with yoghurt, creme fraiche or ice-cream!  It is also delicious with porridge or muesli…..endless possibilities!

Enjoy!

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Fruit and Oat Bars

These crumbly, crunchy bars are just divine!  Mix up supermarket snacks with some home-baked treats.

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Everyone needs snacks and our family is no different!  Whenever Lentil asks for a rice cake or cereal bar I think I really need to come up with some healthy, tasty alternatives to supermarket bought treats that his Papa will also like! That’s not to say that supermarket-bought snacks don’t have their place – of course they do!  Some of the big brands now make healthy, organic snacks, which are super convenient.  I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could bake all my kids snacks, but I like to try when I can.

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Cucumber and Pineapple Smoothie

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I love this flavour combination, which I happened upon accidentally while creating Riata for my chickpea and sweet potato curry (click here in case you missed it!).  I don’t know why I never thought of cucumber and pineapple before, but I’m sure glad I’ve found it now!!

Lentil loves smoothies and now regularly asks for them, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new concoctions and this one definitely seems to be a winner. Smoothies are also a great way to use up that leftover bit of cucumber in the fridge that would otherwise end up in the bin.

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The what:

a think slice of pineapple, peeled and chopped

1/3 cucumber, peeled and sliced

handful fresh mint

4 tbsp natural yoghurt

1 tsp honey

The how:

Blend the pineapple, cucumber and mint in a food processor, then add the yoghurt and honey and blend until well combined.  You can either serve as a textured smoothie, or pass through a sieve if you prefer a drinkable smoothie without any “bits”.  Personally, I prefer the former, but some kids might be put off by the “bits”.

Have a smoooooothie day!

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Strawberry, Banana and Cucumber Smoothie

 

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In good old British tradition, we started off the week with strawberries and cream as temperatures soared and the players retreated to Wimbledon’s new ice baths!

I’ve never been a big fan of the ice treatments some spas offer following a sauna or steam – I prefer my spas to be an enjoyable experience! I did however once try a home-made ice bath after a training run for a marathon a few years ago.  I wasn’t able to stay in it for very long and I’m not sure how much it helped, but Mr Coco&Lentil certainly found it amusing!

So leaving the ice baths to the players, we’re starting day 3 off with a healthy strawberry smoothie instead to keep us nice and refreshed as heatwave continues.

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This recipe makes two large and one mini smoothie (for little Coco!) but you can just increase the ingredients to make more. Smoothies are a great way to get extra fruit and veg into little tummies. Lentil asks for seconds of this one and would never guess there is cucumber in it!

The what:

1 banana, peeled and chopped

6 big / 8 small strawberries, topped and quartered

1/4 cucumber, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp natural yoghurt

The how:

Add the banana, cucumber and strawberries to the blender and blitz until smooth.  Then add the yoghurt and blend until you have a thick, but smooth smoothie.

Pour into a glass and sit back and enjoy as there is more sun and Wimbledon excitement in store today: Djokovic meets Jarkko Nieminen of Finland; GB’s Heather Watson takes on Daniela Hantuchova; and Serena Williams finishes the order of play on Centre Court.  Can’t wait?  Neither can we!

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Blueberry and Oat Muffins

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I’ve become quite a fan of the blueberry over the last 18 months, mainly because we have a permanent stash in the fridge: they are one of Lentil’s favourite fruits along with grapes (fresh or dried). I can’t recall how the blueberry craving started. I suspect they appealed as they are small, soft, don’t have any pips or stones, don’t require peeling and are therefore convenient and an unlikely choking hazard!

As one of the original superfoods, blueberries have many additional benefits.  They are a good source of vitamin K, manganese, dietary fibre and vitamin C.  These perennial plants are also recommended for their anti-inflammatory properties and, (believe it or not!), are apparently one of the richest sources of proanthocyanidins, which can decrease free radicals linked to wrinkles!!  So not just good for the kiddies!

If, like me, you were horrified to realise your memory isn’t as good as it used to be post-kids you’ll be delighted to hear that, according to the World’s Healthiest Foods, studies indicate regular blueberry consumption is also great for your memory!

Here is a healthy mini muffin recipe packed full of these little blue berries, or if you prefer to drink your fruit check out our blueberry smoothie recipe here.  xx

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Makes 12 mini muffins

The what:

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100g blueberries

170g wholemeal flour

1 vanilla pod (or you can use 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence)

30g oats (plus a few extra for sprinkling on top)

1 egg

75ml buttermilk

60ml milk

55g unsalted butter

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

mini cupcake cases

The how:

Preheat oven to 200 (180 fan) and place the cupcake cases in a mini cupcake baking tray

Melt the unsalted butter in a small saute pan and set aside to cool.

Mix the wholemeal flour, bicarbonate of soda, oats and vanilla in a large bowl. Next make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the buttermilk, milk, egg and butter to the well and stir quickly with a fork to combine.  Add the blueberries and fold in the flour mixture, mixing until well combined.

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Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.  Insert a cocktail stick into the centre to ensure they are cooked.  The cocktail stick should come out clean.

Place on a rack to cool and then let the kids tuck in!

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Couscous muffins and quinoa “cakes”

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Whilst browsing my Twitter feed this week, I came across an interesting little recipe for quinoa bites from Organix and thought I’d give it a go. You’ll find the recipe at https://www.organix.com/food-planner-recipes/recipes/quinoa-bites.  Despite the growing popularity for this pseudocereal (particularly as a low gulten, wheat-free alternative), it isn’t something I’ve ever used before myself, although I have eaten it.  This made me even more curious to try out these little bites.

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They were quite easy to make and have passed the Lentil test, although we’ve renamed them “quinoa cakes”.  We’ve had a few birthdays recently, which Lentil now “gets” and as a result anything with “cake” in the name seems to go down a treat! A collective of birthdays has also meant listening to Lentil sing “happy birthday” at least four times a day such that I can’t get the tune out of my head…..

I’ve also been meaning to create a healthy little snack with couscous for a while.  I thought a cheesy couscous ball would pass the Lentil taste test.  But my couscous balls have become mini muffins as despite going into the oven as perfect almost equally sized spheres they came out anything but perfectly rounded!

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Makes 30 mini muffins, so good for parties or you can freeze some.

The what:

160g couscous

4 medium eggs, lightly beaten

1 large onion, finely chopped

70g Parmesan, grated

30g mozzarella, grated

2 tsp sage, finely chopped

large handful (approx 1tbsp) parsley, finely chopped

The how:

Pre-heat oven to 200 (180 fan).

For the couscous follow instructions on the pack.  Generally, this involves putting the couscous into a large bowl, adding about 200ml boiling water, mixing and covering for 5 minutes).  Then leave it to cool.

Add all the other ingredients to the cooled couscous and mix well.  Cover a baking tray with parchment/baking paper, mold your couscous balls / muffins and place on the paper.  Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until golden.

Enjoy!