Category Archives: Lunch

Baby Lentil Falafels & Garlic Yoghurt Sauce

Here is a simple recipe from Donna Hay’s latest cook book ‘Fresh & Light’. I have been looking for simple, healthy recipes that are freezer friendly and it has so many easy recipes that use fresh ingredients.

Patties, burgers, cakes, rissoles, meatballs… however you want to define food rolled up and then pan fried or baked is fine by me. All I can say is, these little round morsels of food are making a huge comeback in our household these days. It is the ultimate odds and ends recipe, using up odd vegetables and the staple mincemeat or that odd can of chickpeas from the pantry. So this is the start of the Palm series. I say palm as I make them all the size of Rafaela’s palm (the recommended portion size) for her and everyone really. So watch this space, over the coming weeks I will be focusing on all things…. Round!

Lentils are a great addition to your little bubba choo’s diet; High in protein, so great for Vegetarians. They also tend to take on the flavours that they are cooked with, Making them very versatile. You might want to start with Red lentils, they are slightly lower in fibre so they don’t produce as much gas as brown and green ones. They also cook to mushier consistency. Some suggestions for Lentil include; cook them in a homemade broth, mash them with vegetables, Use them as a thickener or throw them into a soup or casserole. They would require 20min of cooking. Always thoroughly rinse lentils as they are prone to debris.  This recipe calls for a can of brown lentils. These are readily available as all supermarkets. You can also get organic varieties, which I have used below.

These little Falafels are very tasty and are not deep fried. Like most falafels, they are best served with a sauce. So I’ve included the one from the original recipe. Rafaela gobbled these down, while smearing the yoghurt sauce all over her face. They freeze really well and are a great meal or snack option. These are perfect for the whole family. I found them a great finger food for parties.

Lentil Falafels (makes 12)

1 x 400g can brown organic lentils, drained and rinsed.

1 cup (70g) fresh breadcrumbs

100g Ricotta

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ coriander leaves

1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind

Sea salt and black pepper

Sunflower oil or macadamia nut oil for brushing

Garlic Yoghurt Sauce

1 cup thick plain yoghurt

2 garlic cloves crushed

2 tablespoons of Tahini paste

2 table spoons of lemon juice

2 table spoons of chopped chives

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (450F). To make the garlic yoghurt sauce, combine the yoghurt, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and chives. Set aside.

Place the lentils, breadcrumbs ricotta, egg, cumin, coriander, lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is just combined. Shape 2 tablespoonful’s of the mixture into small patties and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper.  Brush the patties lightly with oil and bake for 10 minutes each side or until crisp.

Serve with Garlic Sauce. For infants try serving with couscous and vegetables. For older kids & adults, try serving with salad and pita bread.Image

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Spinach & Ricotta Baby Cannelloni

Well it feels like it has been a while between drinks (err Posts). We are into the full swing of the juggling act that is working and parenting. Rafaela seems to be thriving in day care, drinking from a cup all on her own and climbing like a little monkey. The drop off is getting easier, tears are fading and is now replaced by a disappointing look. We have progress!

More and more Rafaela is enjoying different foods; she is at the age where the list of foods she can’t eat is depleting rapidly. I started making Cannelloni after my mother-in-law had a bumper crop of spinach. It was spinach and ricotta bonanza in our household for a few weeks. We tried the Greek Spanakopita pie as well as spinach and ricotta gnocchi but the most appropriate for Rafaela to enjoy and the most successful (the gnocchi was pretty tricky) was the cannelloni. It is the perfect family dinner for a house obsessed with spaghetti and in desperate need of a pasta shake up! This is a variation of a classic Donna Hay recipe. It was really about omitting and substituting certain ingredients to make an infant friendly batch. Spinach is a great source of Calcium, Iron & Vitamin A. It is recommended to start babies on Spinach after 8 months as they can contain nitrates and are an oxalate food and should be eaten in moderation. Below is a baby friendly spinach & ricotta cannelloni recipe. I would keep aside a portion of the mixture for Rafaela and the rest for the adults. It is a great dish to freeze for those now so often moments we need a quick tasty meal and lunch the next day!

Baby Basic Tomato Sauce

1 x 400g can of Organic diced tomatoes

1 small onion finely diced

1 garlic clove crushed

Sprinkle of nutmeg

Splash of olive oil

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Then sauté onion and garlic till tender. Add the diced tomato and ¼ cup of water (I usually wash the remainder of the tomato out with this water).

Add the fresh basil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until thick and lumpy.

Cannelloni

1 x Baby Basic Tomato Sauce

2 x packet of lasagne sheets (contains 8 sheets) halved lengthways

½ cup of finely grated parmesan cheese

Filling

2 bunches or 500g of English Spinach, trimmed.

750g of fresh ricotta (I find fresh from the deli works better than the containers. It tends to contain less moisture)

1 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon of chopped dill

½ cup of fresh breadcrumbs

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.  To make the filling, blanch the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 seconds, then drain. Squeeze out any excess moisture, and chop.

Combine the spinach, ricotta and parmesan, herbs and bread crumbs. Grease a 20cm x 30cm ovenproof dish. Spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the base of the dish. Lay a lasagne sheet on a flat surface, spoon on some ricotta filling and roll up. Place into the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining filling and sheets. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the cannelloni, sprinkle with the extra parmesan and bake for 25-30min or until soft and heated through.

Now this recipe makes a heap of Cannelloni. If you save 1/3 of the filling for your bubba choo you will make approximately 18-20 cannelloni.

Suggestions: I have also included some cooked pumpkin into the mixture. It adds a nice sweetness to the dish and it helps get Rafaela’s Veggie content up! Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

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Dad’s Spag Bol (aka Spaghetti Bolognese)

It’s back to school week. While the traffic gets worse, the trains fill up with kids and the feeling of summer holidays fade, I have to return to work. This wouldn’t normally bother me, well it hasn’t in the last year that I’ve been on maternity leave but now my real juggling act begins. So far it has been pretty stable transition, easing into work while Rafaela has been slowing engaging in day care activities and it seems like she is adapting well. It is really hard to leave her after spending so much time together. However I can already see her growing and learning so much. She still crawls commando style and is absolutely filthy when she gets home but she is almost up on to her feet and can say “bye” and “up”.

I am still in two minds about heading back to work. I am happy to be back and stimulated again, however I miss being at home and moving at our own pace. I really enjoyed having time cook and consider meals. Now that’s reserved for the weekends. Before Rafaela (circa 2011), my husband Andrew, would cook up Spag Bol as it’s his favourite meal. Everyone has their version, Spaghetti Bolognese is the quintessential family staple meal… right. This one is Dad’s and Rafaela absolutely loves it. It will be high on the weekday rotation in this house!

Ingredients (Makes – A fair bit)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion

1 glove of garlic

1 organic carrot, grated

1 organic zucchini

¼ red capsicum

1 cup organic beef or vegetable stock

250g of organic mince (beef or pork/veal) – I’ve use the Aldi Brand of Organic Beef.

1 x 400g can of organic diced tomatoes

1 small dried bay leaf

Pinch of dried herbs; oregano & thyme

Pinch of pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a saucepan (large enough to hold 5 cups of liquid). Using a food processor finely chop the onion and garlic together. Transfer to the saucepan and cook until soft. In the mean-time add the zucchini and capsicum to the food processor and chop finely. Add grated carrot to the pan and combine well. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the mince. Use a wooden spoon to break up the mince. Once the meat is no longer pink, add the dried herbs & pepper and stir. Then add the zucchini and capsicum, stock, tomatoes, stir to combine. Bring to boil and then simmer for minimum 20min to 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced.

Serve with Organic Spaghetti, Wholemeal Spaghetti or rice or couscous, anything you want. Rafaela likes to slurp up the noodles. She is so fascinated by the action. We just cut the noodles into manageable sizes. This meal is also extremely freezer friendly and obviously enjoyed by mum & dad too.

 

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Green & Gold Pesto Pasta

I am going through a reminiscing phase at the moment. It has a lot to do with Rafaela turning one, growing up and going into day care. I was looking at photos of Rafaela on Australia day sleeping in her pram, all 9 days old and she is the tiniest little bubba choo. One year on she can enjoy the day much more. A splash in the pool and some BBQ, She might just have her first taste of Lamb! We get to have a little dress up in Green & Gold on Friday at day care too. I cannot wait to dress her up in costumes. My husband and I are pretty good at them if I do say so myself! But I think we will just stick to colour blocking on Friday, ease into it.

A great little dish, light lunch or side is this Green & Gold pesto pasta, inspired by Australia day. It’s really just pesto pasta with peas and corn, very tasty and I serve it with wholemeal spiral pasta. It makes it a great finger food for Raff to get all messy with. Yep I have had to let go of my cleaning anxiety and just let her go for it.  I actually feel really good when I see her eating all her food even if her hair is now green and I’m washing pesto out of her ears.

Homemade pesto is great to have on hand in the freezer; I enjoy pesto pasta more than pasta and sauce most of the time. It’s a great way to use up leftover herbs before they go off. Freeze them in portion sizes; it will make it easier to whip up quick meals. This is also great summer pasta for adults too, hot or cold. Add Rocket, red onion, bacon or prawns, dried chilli, salt and voilà!

Ingredients

Makes 4 Serves

1 tablespoon of LSA meal

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely grated parmesan

Splash of lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup cooked peas & corn (I use the frozen variety)

2 cups cooked wholegrain pasta or brown rice.

Method

1. Pulse the garlic, basil and olive oil in a blender or food processor until minced.
2. Add the lemon juice and pepper and pulse again.
3. Remove to a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.
4. Mix as much of the pesto as you like with the peas and pasta and freeze the rest.

Pesto Pasta and Rafaela enjoying spiral pasta

Pesto Pasta and Rafaela enjoying spiral pasta, getting messy!

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Homemade Finger Licking Nuggets

Happy Holidays! Had I mentioned I love Turkey, did you almost devour  a whole bird like I did? Raffy too had her fill of Turkey, amongst other things. I can say we will definitely need a bigger house after the loot she made off with. We managed to sustain her enthusiasm for ripping paper and eating it over three days of events and also managed to manoeuvre her from porter cot to car seat without too much drama. I did feel bad that she was missing out on the amazing feast of seafood and cold meats and of course the desserts. In between her meals of paper, she loved to munch down on her Turkey nuggets. I cut them into strips so she could eat them with her hands. The leftovers would be stirred through some sweet potato mash.

I found this recipe on the Wholesome Baby food site. I’ve adjusted it slightly for Australian kitchens and produce. They are extremely simple, not at all dry, freeze extremely well and make a great finger food.  They are Suitable for babies aged 9 months and older, you can mash the nuggets apart into bits and pieces that can be easily chewed and picked up. You can also chop or lightly puree if needed. You can also substitute the Turkey for chicken mince which is relatively easy to find in the supermarket. Woolworths has a great organic range.

Homemade Finger Licking Nuggets (makes 25-30)Turkey Nuggets

Ingredients:

500g Turkey or Chicken Mince

1/2 cup wholegrain raw oats

1/2 cup wholegrain breadcrumbs

1 egg (you can substitute the egg for 1 tablespoon of natural apple sauce or water)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Spice mix (1/4 teaspoon each or shake) – sage, thyme, pepper

 

Method:

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

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until nicely combined

With moist hands, shape mixture into nuggets or logs or anything you please.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and done.

Store in an air tight container and freeze.

 

 

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‘Tis the season for Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf, gobble gobble!

Tis the season indeed! This year will be our first Christmas with Rafaela and the excitement is slowly growing. The tree is up and the ham is en-route! She has no idea what is going on, she was given her first gift the other day and just ripped and ate the paper.  On the bright side she was eating with her hands…

What I do love about Christmas is the copious amounts of food. My family have a pot luck type soiree, while it’s more of a traditional affair on my husband’s side. Turkey tends to be a quintessential meat at both events. I thought to myself what a great meal for babies at Christmas, all that excitement and energy. Remember that Seinfeld episode when Jerry feeds his girlfriend Turkey so she would fall asleep and he and George could play with her antique toy collection, Priceless! While it does contain certain amino acids that bring on sleep it’s a combination of things that make you sleepy after turkey, usually all the other food and alcohol that goes with the feast.

Regardless, Turkey is a great lean protein; it was one of the first meats I tried. Most supermarkets have a select range of turkey products and its pretty affordable.

Below is a super healthy and protein packed meal for the whole family. While meatloaf is not normally a glamorous meal, you can dress it up by wrapping it in thin rashers of bacon for the Christmas table. Adding Quinoa gives the loaf a great nutty flavour and actually keeps it quite moist. I’ve provided a healthy glaze that is suitable for babies. For older kids you can use the standard tomato sauce type glaze.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf 

Ingredients

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, chopped

500g ground turkey

1 tablespoon organic tomato paste

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (optional)

2 egg yolks

1x zucchini & carrot, grated

Handful of Cheddar cheese

Glaze (Combine these two ingredients in a small bowl):
• 1 Can organic tomato paste
• 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or more if you’d like your glaze to be a little thinner consistency)
optional: add 1/8 cup of honey to sweeten glaze

Method

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C and line a loaf tin with Baking paper.

Heat the olive oil in a fry-pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.

Combine the turkey mince, cooked quinoa, onions, zucchini, carrot, tomato paste, cheese, Worcestershire sauce and egg, in a large bowl until well combined. Shape the mixture into the loaf tin. Either brush on your chosen glaze  or add rashers of bacon, ensure you tuck in the ends to avoid curling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes  The loaf is ready when your meat thermometer reaches 70 degrees C . Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Add your seasoning to your portions and cut a slice into fingers for the baby.

Keeps in the fridge for 2 days and freezes well.

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Simple Beef Casserole

I thought I would follow-up with something I actually thought to take a photo of, yummy beef casserole. I will start taking more photos as we cook, would you believe in 10 months I’ve taken 1,238 pictures of just Rafaela!

We started introducing red meat into the diet at the 10 month mark, and we celebrated with this hearty stew! Red meat is a great source of Iron, which is an important dietary mineral. It is essential in providing energy for daily life and is also vital for brain development.

I don’t really cook many casseroles; I came from a household that cooked curries instead. But the smell of this was just divine. It took me back to the day I ate goulash for breakfast, lunch and dinner en-route to Switzerland. It’s the perfect dish for the colder months and I’ve found it a great dish for a teething baby. I’m not sure if it is because it has just the right amount of gravy to go down the hatch without irritating the gums or enough bite to massage the gums. Who knows what goes on in there?

I would have loved to use organic beef for this recipe; however I can only ever find organic beef mince (Woolworths, Aldi & Costco). It’s not a necessity to go organic, but if you can then go for it. It’s more affordable than you think.

Below is the baby friendly recipe. Just add appropriate seasoning for an adult version.

Baby Beef Casserole (This recipe will make around 6 cups)

This can be made in a slow cooker, just read your instructions.

Ingredients:

400g of chunk/stewing meat. Trim away any fat.
I onion, diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 organic carrots, slice
1 cup of frozen peas
500ml of organic beef or vegetable stock
200ml of organic diced tomatoes or passata
2 tsp. of organic tomato paste
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. of rice flour (You can use any flour, rice flour is gluten-free)
4-5 sprigs of Fresh thyme
4-6 prunes chopped
Splash of Olive Oil, enough to brown the meat.

Method:

Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan and brown the meat. Remove and set aside.
Add onion and carrots to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add crushed garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Add the flour to the vegetables and stir to combine. Add the stock, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
Add beef, prunes and thyme, cover with the lid and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and leave simmering  for 1-1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally, scraping down the sides. In the last 5 minutes remove the lid and add the frozen peas.

For smaller babies puree. For older babies break up the meat with a fork, it should pull apart nicely.

The perfect accompaniments are; sweet potato mash, rice, quinoa, pasta or bread.

This is very freezer friendly.

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Beef Casserole

Shopping tip: Coles and Woolworths both sell organic stock cubes. You can also buy ‘Celebrate Health Organic Stock’ 500ml for $10 at Coles.

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Easy Couscous

Like Millet, couscous is amongst the healthiest grain-based products around. When compared to pasta and rice; couscous is low GI, high in protein, B6 and folate. The below recipe is not only for bubba’s. Just season appropriately for adult tastes and it’s a fantastic accompaniment to salads, stews, curries or as a side dish to grilled meats.

Raffy loves it! We give her some to play with so she can work on her pincer grasp (developmental milestone where they learn to pick up small objects between her thumb and forefinger). This helps develop her coordination, which should eventually see her feeding herself with a spoon, the holy grail!

For a balanced meal, serve with meats and vegetables. It can be a difficult food to eat on its own for a baby. I used this dish to introduce fresh herbs to Rafaela. When she was 8 months old we used pureed vegetables. Now at 10 months we serve it with casseroles. You can keep this in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze.

I’ve briefly mentioned ‘Fast Food’ for babies and the commercial baby food pouches. When we are out and about I will grab an organic pouch and a small container of couscous or quiona and mix the two together. While most are a full meal (Beef, Vegetables and Rice) already and they say ‘contains lumps’. They are still very much a puree. I add the additional grains to make it lumpier.

Easy couscous (This makes enough for babies lunch and dinner and enough for me and my husband)

Ingredients:

1 cup of couscous
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Splash of olive oil.
Shake of spices or fresh chopped herbs

Method:

If you want something with a more bitey texture, then place the couscous and water together in a bowl and sit for 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. I personally like this method.
Or you can boil the water and add to the couscous, cover and allow the couscous to sit and absorb the water.
After each method, fluff with a fork. Add lemon juice & a splash of olive oil, spices or herbs. Mix and serve with Steamed veggies, stews, casseroles, avocado, anything!

Shopping tip – Woolworths has a fantastic range with the Macro Wholefoods Market. The most extensive and affordable I’ve seen. I’m obsessed! They have two organic varieties, Whole wheat semolina ($6.35, 750g) and wheat semolina ($5.35, 750g). Great value!

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Whole wheat couscous variety

You can make a sweet version, great for breakfast. Coming soon!

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