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Helping your children to eat better

So far my posts have been all about recipes (and mostly cakes … I can’t help it, they’re so yummy!), so I have taken the opportunity to share a brilliant guest post from Heather.  She has 8 tips to help your children eat better which sound really helpful, so I think they will be of use to other mums and dads too.

Why is it once our kids hit the 2’s they never want to eat the things you offer them? Sure as they get older their habits improve and they are willing to try more, but generally why does the sight of healthy, nutritious meals or even meat send them running?

It’s a strange phenomenon, but if you’ve got a picky eater in the family then you’ll be all too familiar withwhat I’m talking about.

Yet feeding your child well doesn’t have to feel impossible. Try any of the following tips and you’ll notice an improvement in their eating habits:

1.  Make the same for everyone – don’t get into the habit of making them something different. Instead try to offer them the same foods you’re eating – family style – so they can pick and choose what they want. You’ll soon notice that your child is mimicking what you eat.
2.  Introduce new foods slowly – whilst you want to broaden their tastes, too much too soon will make them rebel. Start subtly by adding it to a recipe and once they are familiar with it, give it to them on their own. Similarly don’t try to give them too many new foods at once. Allow them to get used to a taste, and then introduce another.
3.  Use a little hero worship – you’ll be surprised what they’ll eat if you tell them their favourite star or character eats them.
4.  Hold your tongue – hard I know, but don’t pressurise them to eat their fruit or vegetables as all this will do is make them have negative associations with the food.
5.  Take advantage of dips – if they won’t eat vegetables on their own, offer them a dip to dip it in to improve the flavour.
6.  Be creative – the more creative the meal, the more excited your kids will be to eat it. Giving healthy foods silly names as well, will make meal times more interesting.
7.  Don’t be afraid to give treats – less healthy food shouldn’t be treated like a forbidden food otherwise your kids will want them more. Instead make them a treat to be looked forward to.
8.  Be a role model – most of us are on a diet these days but this doesn’t always set good habits for our kids. Instead of following the latest fad, offer you and your whole family healthy balanced meals so you’re sending your kids the right message about food. 

Whether your child is refusing to eat meat or refuses to eat anything healthy, it is possible to broaden your kid’s taste buds and help them to take a better approach to food.

Simply give the above tips a try, and remember to be patient.

Thank you for reading, My name is Heather and I write about Food and Kids and how to bring the two together. I also look to make life easier by getting my meat from an online butcher and buying just about everything else online!

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Delicious and easy to make quesadillas and guacamole

Hello fellow bloggers and readers over here on Leanne’s blog!  This is A from Taxi20, a foodie-oddity-decor-history multifaceted blog (find us here: http://taxidermy20thcentury.wordpress.com/ ), and I’ve been invited here to give to you a tasty alternative to the regular posts here. Having lived in America for some time, I’ve collected some delicious American and Mexican style dishes that are a quick and easy fix for hungry mouths. The best part? This specific dish can be made from a variety of leftovers, making it the perfect lunch or light dinner alternative.  Let’s start with the centre of the meal: Basic Quesadillas.

A very Tex-Mex American dish, don’t be too shy to try this out.  Get yourself some leftover meat and “flour tortillas.”  Although most any type will work, these seem to be the easiest to get your hands on, especially if you’re across the pond where these ingredients may be a little sparser. On a skillet or in a large pan, heat the tortilla. Cover one half in cheese, such as a preshredded Mexican Assortment or similar orange cheese. Don’t choose anything too pungent your first time.  Place slices of chicken, beef, pork, or seafood over the cheese, and garnish with hot toppings, ones that can stand the heat of the skillet.  These may include lime juice, salsa, chipotle sauce, tomatoes, green onions, etc.

Using a spatula, take the uncovered side of the tortilla and flip it to enclose the chicken and cheese.  Press firmly to “glue” the hot cheese to the other side of the tortilla, flip the entire quesadilla, and cook until slightly browning or hot all the way through.  Then, remove from the skillet, chop into 3 triangles from a central point along the flat edge, and garnish again with cold toppings, such as arugula, sour cream, pine fruits, lettuce, etc.  This makes 1 portion.  Repeat according to individual tastes.  For an alternative style, use chicken, mozzarella, basil, and lemon juice.

Next is Classic Guacamole.  This side dish is a particular favourite of American West-Coasters, and in-season avocados are becoming much easier to locate and identify. When in the store, select several (2 avocados feeds 3 people) dark green, slightly soft avocados.  If they are all hard, take some and feel them every few days.  Once they feel ripe, cut them in half with a knife and spoon out the pit. Using the same spoon, scoop out all tasty green fruit from the vegetable, omitting any dark bruises.  Smash the avocado into a rough paste using the spoon.  Some people prefer creamier guacamole, while others prefer less ripe, chunkier guacamole.  The guacamole shown here is very creamy.

Next, dice a tomato and some cilantro or green onions and throw them in.  You may want to mince garlic and add it too, if your avocados are not very flavourful. Sprinkle salt and pepper, or, if you can get your hands on it,  Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.  Squeeze a lime over the top and mix with that same spoon.  Serve in a small bowl with tortilla chips.

And finally, something for just the adults.  Having taken up so much of your time, I’m going to redirect you to Martha Stewart for this one: http://www.marthastewart.com/334097/wat … margaritas

Whether you’re entertaining for friends or in need of a light, tasty lunch, try out this exotic combo next time you’re lost for some new ideas!  If you like what you’ve tried, check out my own blog and have a great time hunting for new recipes!  Cheers!

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No cows allowed

My husband has just drawn my attention to something I’ve forgotten to mention so far in my recipe posts … none of them contain ‘actual’ milk.  So I thought that might be worth writing about.

I suffer from various food intolerance and my husband’s stomach can’t seem to tolerate any dairy products so we use alternatives in our every day lives: soya milk and vitalite are the main ones.

Most people turn their noses up at soya milk, but it’s usually because they’ve had the sweetened type rather than the non-sweetened.  We like any supermarket branded value/smart price ‘Unsweetened Soya’ at 59p a litre.  You can stock pile it in your cupboards and never run out!  And it has plenty of calcium and vitamin D so your bones will be happy too 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, I do love my Dolce Gusto coffee machine which uses cow’s milk, and a hot piece of toast with real butter on top is delicious (even if it gives me a rash!), but for cooking purposes – whether it’s for cakes or white sauce for lasagne – vitalite or dairy free sunflower spread works just as well.  I use it to grease the cake tins and for the ingredients themselves.  I guess butter icing should be called ‘vitalite icing’ in our house!

So if you look back at my 5 recipes so far, whenever I’ve listed milk or butter, I’ve always substituted them for the soya or sunflower alternative and the results are just as delicious.

When I’ve made birthday cakes for friends and I know we are going to be eating some of the cake with them, I don’t tell them it’s dairy free until they’ve eaten a slice – they always say they never would have known as there’s no difference at all in the flavour or texture of the cake.

When we first started using soya milk I was frightened that I’d never be able to have my favourite yorkshire puddings any more as I didn’t think soya milk would work the same magic as cow’s milk – making them rise and go crispy on the top yet be nice and stodgy at the bottom.  How wrong I was: just look at this picture of when I made us a roast dinner last Sunday:

A trick I learned from a friend of mine is to use a deep muffin tray.  This seems to keep them stodgy.  And they rose really well – always have a very hot oven and use very hot oil my husband’s always telling me.  I’d better not put the rest of my husband’s Yorkshire pudding tips or he’ll tell me off for giving away his family secrets!  I don’t think generations in the past would ever have used soya milk but it really works if you can’t tolerate milk.

I hope this post is useful both to those who struggle with dairy products like us; and for those who are lucky enough to eat everything with no problems, this may be helpful if you have any ‘dairy intolerant’ friends or family if you never know what to make for them when they come over for dinner.  The answer is to make exactly the same as you, just with a couple of alternative ingredients, safe in the knowledge they’ll work the same way as the real thing.

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Let him eat cake!

As I follow my 2012 mission to bake for all my family and friends (within reason) for every occasion, I couldn’t miss out on making a treat for my lovely husband to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

To make a change from the round sponge cakes I’ve made so far (1 coffee and 2 chocolate so far), I bought some heart shaped silicone moulds to create these beauties:

I forgot to add baking powder (that’ll teach me to read the recipe rather than think I can remember it by heart – sorry about the pun!), but I was pleased I did forget as the cakes rose so much I had to flatten the top one down with the tin lid over night to make it practical to be iced!  The cakes were a little more dense than usual with the lack of baking powder but still a delicious texture and flavour (according to my husband).

I iced it with butter icing in the middle and on top – then added some ferrero rocher as they’re his favourites!

Here is the finished article:

and here is the recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible:

Cake ingredients

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 tablespoons boiling water

225g softened butter

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs

225g self-raising flour

(2 level teaspoons baking powder)

Filling and topping

50g softened butter

175g icing sugar

1 tablespoon milk

(ferrero rocher x 4!)

1) Pre-heat oven to 180°, grease 2 x 20cm (8in) sandwich tins / heart shaped tins, line the base with greaseproof paper (if you use silicone moulds you don’t need greaseproof paper).

2) Blend cocoa and water together in a cup.  Leave to cool slightly.  Measure all remaining ingredients into a separate bowl, then add blended cocoa/water mixture and beat until thoroughly blended (I use an electric hand-held whisk to make it more light and fluffy).  Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level out.

3) Bake in pre-heated oven for about 25 mins or until well risen and the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed.  Leave to cool in the tins a while, then place onto wire rack to finish cooling.

4) To make butter cream filling and topping, blend together the butter, icing sugar and milk until smooth.  When cakes are completely cold, use half the butter cream to sandwich the cakes together, then spread the remaining butter cream on top and decorate as you wish.

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A few words about me …

Hello, I’m Leanne.  I’m married with a beautiful 20 month old daughter.  I work 2 days a week and during the rest of the week I enjoy cooking, baking, stewing, steaming … any kind of ‘food-ing’ to be honest!

I wanted to create a space where I could make a note of the best recipes I’ve used, put photos of any particularly aesthetically pleasing creations and inspire other mums or anyone needing ideas for good, healthy, fresh meals or cakes (the cakes may not be so healthy mind you!).

When my husband and I both worked full time we just prepared whatever food we could be bothered to make when we got home from work and only made fresh, made-from-scratch meals when we had friends or family over or at weekends.  This has all changed since having a little daughter to feed – making sure she has all the nutrients she needs to grow up strong and healthy is very important to me and my husband.

As well as nourishing my daughter, there are other reasons I have started enjoying preparing food more and more at this stage of my life …

Being at home 3 days a week I am sure I am not alone in feeling I want to show my husband how much I appreciate him going to work all week so I can be at home with A, so I love preparing fresh, tasty dishes I know he’ll love to tuck into when he gets home from work.  I get a real sense of satisfaction when he raves about what I’ve cooked for him!  This makes me want to make more and more different dishes for him.

I also love baking cakes for friends’ and relatives’ birthdays.  Last year I made several cakes for people’s birthdays – the main one being a fairy toadstool cake for my daughter’s first birthday.  My mum used to make brilliant birthday cakes for me as a child and I really appreciated the effort she went to, so I want to do the same for my daughter.  I’m not too good at decorating yet but hope to get better as time goes on!  This year I have decided to make a cake for all my close family and friends (well, those we’ll see around their birthdays anyway – don’t think Royal Mail can be trusted with posting a cake!).

The food I cook is not usually of my own creation I have to admit.  I use recipes from the various celebrity chef books we’ve collected over the years or from online recipe websites or television programmes.  So whenever I’ve used other people’s recipes I’ll be sure to quote the book/website/tv show used.

I hope people find this blog useful and please let me know if you try any of the recipes – and post photos too! :o)

I would also really like to get any new recipes, so please let me know any great ideas of recipes you have tried and have worked well (bearing in mind I’m allergic to cheese and chocolate – yes I know, awful things to be allergic to!).

Right, I’m off to make some veggie burgers and potato wedges for dinner, one of my husband and daughter’s favourite meals!

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