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April was supposed to be cumquat month

With all good intentions I wrote my monthly challenge list & published it here for everyone to see. My new years resolution was to pick a seasonal fruit or vegetable that I don’t usually use & make a family friendly dish with it.

January was off to a great start with fresh chives. February wasn’t too bad with eggplant. March was a bit more difficult with figs. However, April yielded nothing for cumquats!! I couldn’t find any, let alone develop a recipe I was happy to publish here.

I didn’t want to admit complete defeat so I decided to see how substituting mandarines would be into a recipe I planned on using for cumquats. I made a spice rubbed chicken dish with a mandarin & lemongrass sauce for lunch. It was very loosely based on a Martha Stewart recipe that you can find here. I think I got onto too much of a “substitution” roll & eventually my dish was nothing like Martha’s!

What my toddler did like was using a light rub of ground coriander & turmeric on the chicken thigh (let that sit in the fridge for at least an hour before pan frying it).

The mandarin lemongrass dressing was not loved by my daughter but she did eat rice and chicken that had some lightly drizzled on it. My version cut out lots of the sugar, strained out all of the mandarin and I added a teaspoon of soy sauce. It would make a healthy substitute for a greasy take-away lemon chicken. The citrus pairing with chicken was ok but I know it’s not a pairing we often have in our household.

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Pan fried chicken thigh, rice & a mandarin lemongrass dressing

On the other hand, a big hit today was my pumpkin & sultana scones. I like to make my scones a bit more moist than most & bake them in a large circular slab. This way you can’t dry them out too much of you leave them to bake too long. You also get wedges of scone which means that you can serve to the size of your appetite. Savoury & sweet scones are great to use up left-overs & then freeze for after school snacks (see my post about afternoon snacks here!)

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Play with Food : Pumpkin & Sultana Scone

I have been wanting to hone my scone recipe because I think it serves as a great base for some poached fruit & ricotta. I was hoping I could feature a poached cumquat recipe here this month to enjoy with scones. Oh well! If I see them available later on in the season, expect to see a belated post!

Happy Eating!
Simone

Easter Brownies

For Easter, I’ve come up with two recipes for brownies using Cadbury Creme Eggs.  The Cadbury creme eggs are optional because the two recipes are reasonably healthy when you don’t add the Easter eggs.  However, it is that time of year when the Easter bunny is knocking at the door!  Maybe these recipes give you a good excuse for the kids to donate their eggs for a greater purpose? These recipes are designed for you to make with the kids.

Fudgy Cadbury Crème Egg Brownies {Egg Free Base}

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The first brownie recipe gives a really rich, moist and fudgy consistency.  This recipe is also ironically egg free and lower in fat & sugar – does that make adding the crème eggs OK?   (I think so!)  It is also a great recipe for kids to participate in as I have made all the measures in ½ cup increments (making less dishes for you!).  However, if you are after a totally egg free recipe – do not add Cadbury Crème Eggs as they contain egg.  Instead try other types of mini eggs that are available & check their ingredients list.  The pumpkin is the key ingredient used to substitute in for the egg.  Pumpkin is used to bind the ingredients together.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, cooled
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 x 130g packet of Cadbury Mini Crème Eggs

Method:  (Where you see an A – it is an adult step and K – is a kids step)

Step One:
A – Steam, puree and refrigerate the pumpkin in advance. (I made mine the night before as extra with dinner.)
A – Preheat the oven to 180oC and grease an 8”x8” brownie/cake tin.
K – Measure out and add the dry ingredients (excluding the Cadbury crème eggs) to a bowl.

Step Two:
K – In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients and then add them to the dry ingredients.
A – Check the batter for sweetness (add more sugar if required remembering that the Cadbury crème eggs will add sweetness too).  BONUS: It is safe to eat this batter raw due to lack of raw egg in the mixture!

Step Three:
K – Remove the foil from the Cadbury crème eggs and break them in half.  Add the eggs to the batter.  After mixing in the chunks of crème eggs, spread the batter out in your tin evenly.
A – Place brownies into the oven to bake for 30-40min. (Test that the brownies are cooked after 30min with a skewer, if not leave to bake for an extra few minutes).

Cadbury Creme Egg Brownie Cake {Dairy Free Base}

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The second brownie base recipe that I have developed to go with the Cadbury Crème Eggs is Dairy Free.  Please note, you should add dairy free chocolate chips instead of Cadbury crème eggs to ensure the whole product is dairy free.  This brownie recipe has more of a cake like consistency.  I actually ended up baking it in a smaller round pyrex 8” bowl instead of a brownie tin.

As a deviation from my usual baking recipes I used weights (instead of cup measures).  This gives kids the chance to practice some numbers & requires electronic scales that you can zero after each ingredient is added.  Or conventional scales that you can individually weigh each ingredient on before adding it to the bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 80g Castor Sugar
  • 100g Nuttelex (or other dairy free source of fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 60g water
  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 x 130g packet of Cadbury crème mini eggs

Method:  (Where you see an A – it is an adult step and K – is a kids step)

Step One:
A – Preheat the oven to 175oC and grease and line an 8” brownie/cake tin.
K – Measure out the castor sugar and nuttelex and cream them together in the bowl.

Step Two:
A/K – Break and add the two eggs
A/K – Zero the scales & add the water (it’s about ¼ cup)
K – Zero the scales and add the wholemeal flour and then zero again for the cocoa powder
K – Add the baking powder along with the pinch of salt and mix really well

Step Three:
K – Remove the foil from the Cadbury crème eggs and break them in half.  Add the eggs to the batter.  After mixing in the chunks of crème eggs, spread the batter out in your tin evenly. (Note: This mixture is very thick & is challenging to spread out evenly)
A – Place brownies into the oven to bake for 30-40min. (Test that the brownies are cooked after 30min with a skewer, if not leave to bake for an extra few minutes).

Happy Eating and Happy Easter!

Are you on team carrot?

Carrot is stupidly versatile!  I can’t think of a cuisine that doesn’t use carrots in one way or another. However, I have to admit to it being one of my least liked vegetables growing up. Now I am happy to say that I am on “team carrot”.

Last night I made a quick carrot & fennel salad (both chopped raw & topped with juice from one orange + olive oil). We had a fair bit left over. So I decided to try my hand at a roasted carrot, fennel & apple soup for lunch with my toddler.

She went back for seconds!

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Ingredients:
3 carrots (chopped)
1 fennel bulb (chopped)
Juice from half an orange
Drizzle of olive oil
1 apple (chopped – leave skin on)
500ml vegetable stock
1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)

Method:
Combine first four ingredients & spread out of a baking sheet. Bake in a 180oC oven for 20min. Add the apple to the mixture giving everything a good turn over. Roast for a further 10mins.

Bring vegetable stock to the boil and add the chopped garlic. Add the roasted medley to the stock & simmer for 15min. Puree to get a nice smooth soup with a handheld mixer.

The good thing about this soup is that you could do the roasting in the morning & then the final steps quickly for dinner.

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Roasted carrots, fennel & apple

I served ours with a slice of multigrain toast.  My daughter loves to dip her toast fingers in soup. She inhaled this soup & went back for seconds. I loved it too!

Are you on team carrot?

Carrot is stupidly versatile!  I can’t think of a cuisine that doesn’t use carrots in one way or another. However, I have to admit to it being one of my least liked vegetables growing up. Now I am happy to say that I am on “team carrot”.

Last night I made a quick carrot & fennel salad (both chopped raw & topped with juice from one orange + olive oil). We had a fair bit left over. So I decided to try my hand at a roasted carrot, fennel & apple soup for lunch with my toddler.

She went back for seconds!

image

Ingredients:
3 carrots (chopped)
1 fennel bulb (chopped)
Juice from half an orange
Drizzle of olive oil
1 apple (chopped – leave skin on)
500ml vegetable stock
1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)

Method:
Combine first four ingredients & spread out of a baking sheet. Bake in a 180oC oven for 20min. Add the apple to the mixture giving everything a good turn over. Roast for a further 10mins.

Bring vegetable stock to the boil and add the chopped garlic. Add the roasted medley to the stock & simmer for 15min. Puree to get a nice smooth soup with a handheld mixer.

The good thing about this soup is that you could do the roasting in the morning & then the final steps quickly for dinner.

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Roasted carrots, fennel & apple

I served ours with a slice of multigrain toast.  My daughter loves to dip her toast fingers in soup. She inhaled this soup & went back for seconds. I loved it too!

5 tips for “I’m hungry” complaints

The kids come home from school and wail “I’m Hungry”!

My daughter is only 2 years old and she is already getting in practice for her post-school “I’m Hungry” wails.  Is it built into kids to do this?

If you look at mealtimes across your day, you will see that going from lunch to dinner is a very expansive amount of time. Untimely grazing is the norm for many kids in the afternoon.  Grazing on inappropriate foods decreases a child’s appetite for dinner.  Also, if opting for quick and easy foods, it will unnecessarily increase sodium, fat and sugar intake.

Here are my 5 tips for nipping this afternoon ritual in the bud!  These tips when put in practice, have side benefits of: A) Decreased nagging B) Helping you keep your sanity C) A peaceful family dinner.

5 Tips for Handling the Afternoon "I'm Hungry" Wails by Play with Food (www.playwithfood.com.au)

 

#1: The Two Hour Rule

Afternoon tea has to be completed no less than 2 hours before your scheduled dinner.  So, if you eat at 6:30pm – do not allow the afternoon snack to go past 4:30.

#2: Be Prepared

This is essentially another meal opportunity that you are actively providing.  Don’t think of this as an inconvenience that the kids can just sort out & grab from the cupboard as they please.  Either prepare something ahead of time so it’s ready to go on time or get them to prepare it themselves with you when you get home.  In the picture , I have yoghurt, toasted oats and stewed fruit layered in a glass.   It’s super easy for the kids to make and covers off 3 food groups in one meal.

#3: Fix What’s Missing

This is your opportunity to fill in the nutritional gap in your child’s day.   If they are down on the recommended vegetable intake, use this as a vegie eating snack.  Likewise with dairy, fruit, protein or cereals.

For Australian readers, the Eat for Health website has easy to understand guidelines on what a child should be eating.  Use this website to help you work out nutritional gaps  in your childs typical diet and what an appropriate “serving size” is.

#4: Eat With Your Kids

Who says they are the only ones struggling to get from lunch to dinner time?  Its a great way for you to enjoy a nutritious snack and have some time to chat to the kids.  Role modelling the consumption of healthy foods is really important.   Don’t underestimate how much you can connect with your kids over a 5 minute snack shared together.

 #5: If all else fails….

Dinner is about 30 mins away but the wails continue – avoid sweet foods (yep, even fruit).  Sweetness suppresses the appetite and will leave you stranded with your lovingly prepared dinner & either a battle ensues or you just feel helpless.  Try giving a glass of water to make sure it isn’t thirst disguised as hunger and then assign some creative tasks to get them to help get dinner on the table – “Can you design us a centerpiece for the table tonight?”  Or (maybe less creative) “Can you please set the table?” Or “Can you taste test this sauce and tell me what it might need?”  Or “Try this carrot that I put into tonight’s curry.”

** BONUS**

A Plan Ahead Tip by Food Group:

Fruit:  Poach left over fruits & store them in an airtight container for during the week.  I stew all sorts of fruit with some cinnamon & a dash of vanilla extract – it doesn’t have to have lots of added sugar!  Remember that the cooking water holds nutrients too – so chill that and add it to a smoothie.

Protein: Make a chick pea hummus & store in an airtig.ht container in the fridge.

Vegetables: Vegies that cam be cut up and eaten raw include carrot, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli, capsicum, snow peas, sugar snap peas, zucchini (peeled into ribbons), celery, tomatoes, fennel, cabbage, lettuces and green beans. Team these with a legume or nut based dip and you also get some beneficial fats and proteins into the day.

Dairy: Smoothies are a great way to blend fruit, vegies, cereals, nuts & seeds and dairy into one easy meal.   See this post of mine on green smoothies.  My daughter has been having rockmelon, spinach & chia  seed smoothies lately – what a powerful combination of food groups!  You can put all the ingredients for your smoothie into your blender, wack it in the fridge, do the school run and then blitz when you get home.

Cereals:  Cereals are a great base for adding other food groups.  Prepare ahead ideas include muffins that can be stored in the freezer & quickly defrosted.

HAPPY EATING!

Simone

Email Address

Hi Food Adventurers,

I am currently having difficulties with the email address Simone@playwithfood.com.au – so in the meantime, please contact me on sim.e.morris@gmail.com or PM me on Facebook or send me a tweet.    If you have submitted a form to register your interest in our programs over the past week, I probably haven’t received it – please shoot me an email if you are concerned.

Cheers!

Play with Food run fun, interactive healthy eating programs for children.

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