Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rigatoni and Meatballs

This is a classic comfort food and a firm favourite with kids. Spaghetti and meatballs is another serving option, but in my experience, rigatoni is easier and less frustrating for hungry little mouths to eat.

My version is a good source of iron, omega-3's and it also provides a sneaky serve of vegetables.

The meatballs cooked without the sauce are suitable for babies as finger foods from 7-9mths+.

1tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red onion, finely diced
4 anchovy fillets
400g can peeled whole Italian tomatoes
1 cup pureed steamed carrot
8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
Cracked pepper (and salt to taste)
Fresh basil

500g lean pork mince (you can buy Heart Smart pork mince at Woolworths)
500g lean beef mince
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 red delicious apple, finely grated
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated light mozzarella cheese

  1. Begin the sauce first. Heat oil in a large pan, then saute onion and garlic.

  2. Add remaining sauce ingredients, simmering gently while you prepare the meatballs.

  3. For the meatballs, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with clean hands.

  4. Form small meatballs (roughly the size of plums) and place each gently in the simmering sauce. They will shrink slightly when cooked.

  5. Turn meatballs once and simmer gently until cooked through. If sauce looks too dry at any stage, add a little of the pasta water.

  6. Stir through fresh basil leaves before serving.

  7. Serve on top of fresh pasta with a side of green salad.

Monday, September 27, 2010


This Italian bread salad is best described as a type of freestyle bruschetta. It is a wonderful way to use up stale bread. And it also tastes even better the next day.

Best made with good quality organic sourdough, thickly sliced, torn apart, and then left overnight to get even more stale.

Cubes of stale bread
2-3 ripe tomatoes, sliced into eighths
Fresh basil bunch, leaves only, gently torn
1 red onion, finely diced

4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp iodised salt
1 garlic clove, crushed

  1. Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl

  2. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until sugar and salt dissolved

  3. Pour dressing over salad and stir gently until it coats all salad ingredients

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Strawberry Jam

There is nothing quite like the sweet fairy floss smell of jam simmering on the stove top. And the added knowledge that the jam you are making is pure fruit with no added nasties.

This is a slightly lower sugar version than the other recipes I have seen. However, you may wish to add more or less depending on the quality of fruit you use. I have also been known to add a couple of apples to my jam (pureed fresh with skin first and then cooked with the strawberries). This adds extra fibre and texture and is a great way to use up old withered apples.

Strawberry Jam
1kg strawberries
2 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Full-of-Fruit Bread

I am really proud of the way this recipe turned out. It is a delicious, moist alternative to traditional banana bread that is sweet enough to eat alone and nutritious enough to happily pack for school lunches.

The fruit content makes this bread high in fibre and minerals with added protein from the almond meal. And when I give it to my children, I also know that it contains no added sugar, fat, OR salt.

Full-of-Fruit Bread
2 very ripe packham pears, peeled and grated
3 overripe bananas, roughly mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup full cream milk
1 cup wholemeal SR flour
1 cup SR flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup dates, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line silicon loaf tin with baking paper

  2. Combine grated pears (incl. juice), bananas, eggs, vanilla, and milk in a bowl

  3. Mix together flours, almond meal, cinnamon, and dried fruit in another large bowl

  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and fold together gently until just combined

  5. Pour mix into loaf tin.

  6. Sprinkle cinnamon and course sugar (optional) on top

  7. Bake at 180 degrees for about 50min or until skewer tests clean

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chicken and Pumpkin Patties

Fresh rosemary makes these patties tasty even without the addition of any salt. They also contain chia seeds for an omega-3 boost as well as pumpkin for fibre, flavour, and that extra sneaky vegetable serve. 

Suitable for babies 7-9mths+

Chicken and Pumpkin Patties
I garlic clove, crushed
1 onion, finel diced
1 cup steamed mashed pumpkin
1 egg, lightly beaten
500g lean chicken breast mince
3 tbsp white chia seeds
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl

  2. Mix well with a wooden spoon

  3. Use a dessert spoon to drop rounded patties into hot lightly oiled pan. Press down to flatten.

  4. Cook well, turning once.

  5. Serve hot with a salad and fresh rolls. Suitable for freezing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake

All I need to say here is YUM! A slightly healthier version than the norm, but remember, food is to enjoy. Moderation and quality not quantity.

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake
250g gingernut biscuits
80g canola margarine
500g light Philly cream cheese
250g light ricotta
3/4 cup light sour cream
3 eggs
220g (1 cup) castor sugar
60mL lemon juice

  1. Remove ingredients from refrigerator and allow to warm naturally to almost room temperature before beginning.

  2. Preheat oven to 160 degrees

  3. Line 22cm springfrom tin with foil

  4. Process gingernut biscuits until finely crushed. Rub in margarine with clean hands until combined.

  5. Press biscuit mixture into the base of springform tin. Set aside in refrigerator whilst preparing the filling.

  6. Beat remaining ingredients together in a large bowl with electric beater.

  7. Pour cheese mixture into tin over biscuit base.

  8. Bake at 160 degrees for about 1hr or until centre of cheesecake has just set. Turn oven off and leave cheesecake to cool in oven with door ajar.

  9. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quick and Easy Vege Fritters

There are some nights when I just know that there is no way I am going to get Coco to eat her dinner. She's too tired, she's not feeling well, or perhaps she's just eaten too much party food.

These fritters are perfect for tired little people after a busy day. They are quick to cook and contain enough vegetables to make for a nutritious and balanced meal. I use reduced fat mozarella because it is a lower salt cheese than most. Suitable for toddlers and babies from 9mths.

Quick and Easy Vege Fritters
1 potato
1 zucchini
1 carrot, peeled
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup reduced fat mozzarella
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

  1. Finely grate the potato, zucchini and carrot. Squeeze out the juice and discard. (I keep the juice for use as stock in cooking)

  2. Combine grated veges and remaining ingredients

  3. Spoon onto hot, lightly oiled pan and cook on one side until bubbles form. Turn once.

  4. Make small ones for little hands or big fritters for big tummies.

  5. Serve with a side salad for the adults or a cob of corn for the toddlers 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grilled Whiting served with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and Kumara

Spring is the season for King George Whiting. This delicate Australian fish with a sweet, intense flavour is at its best right now and will be loved by the whole family.

For a quick, tasty, and healthy fish meal, forget about crumbing. Just season lightly with salt and white pepper, dip in plain flour and fry in a light spray of canola or olive oil. Serve with a medley of rosemary roasted sweet potatoes and potatoes, a green salad, and lemon wedges.

If cooking for babies under 12mths or toddlers, skip the salt in your cooking. Otherwise, the Whiting fillets and roast vegetable cubes make great finger foods. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sesame Snack Sticks

Try making these for a deliciously wholesome and all natural snack for kids. 

Cheese and sesame seeds are good sources of calcium and the wholemeal flour adds fibre.  

Suitable for 12mths+.

Sesame Snack Sticks
1 cup wholemeal SR flour
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
30g canola margarine
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1/4 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees

  2. Heat sesame seeds in hot pan until lightly toasted

  3. In a large bowl, combine SR flour and toasted sesame seeds.

  4. Rub in margarine until mix resembles crumbs

  5. Add in grated cheese and pour in milk, mixing with a fork until just combined and sticks together to form a ball

  6. Place ball between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to form a very thin sheet

  7. Cut into sticks, numbers, or any other shapes you wish

  8. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 200 degrees. Keep a close eye on them while cooking as thin biscuits cook and begin to brown very quickly.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Stale Bread

There are so many things you can do with stale bread.

Sourdough, pane de casa, and baguettes can all be sliced roughly and made into a lovely panzanella salad. Raisin and fruit breads make delicious bread and butter puddings.

But what do you do with those half eaten loaves of super healthy, grainy, seeded breads? I turn them into fresh breadcrumbs and freeze them in single cup portions. This way, I always have breadcrumbs for use in savoury dishes, and always in useful sized portions to reduce the possibility of wastage.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grilled Salmon and Puy Lentils

Grilled salmon is a delicious way to increase your omega-3 intake. It is a naturally oily fish which means no extra oil is needed when cooking. Serve with puy lentils (see Salads recipes).