Taro Fries

 

The taro root vegetable is in season during autumn, so why not try an Asian alternative to potato fries: taro fries. You can buy this veiny vegetable in the wet markets, supermarkets and some of the organic farms, when in season.  It tastes excellent shallow fried in coconut oil and dusted with Saffron-Pink Himalayan salt.  A nuttier and sweeter alternative to potato fries.

 

What you need:

 

Half a taro (yields the plate opposite)

50ml coconut oil (buy this cheaply from iherb.com by clicking here)

Pinch of salt (Saffron-Pink Himalayan preferred, else rock salt will do.)

 

Method:

 

Shallow fry the taro chips in coconut oil for 4-5 minutes, place on kitchen roll to absorb any excess oil then dust with Saffron-Pink Himalayan salt (or rock salt).

 

Half a taro yields the plate opposite

 

 

Kiddy & Family Recipes

"Orange" Soup - gluten-free

 

This is one of my kids' favourite soups and there's not an orange in sight although this is the colour of the main ingredients: red lentils, carrots and Red Leicester cheese, all cooked in a wholesome chicken bone broth for added nutrition. It's high in protein from the lentils, beta-carotene from the carrots and flavoursome from the cheese. FYI, the colour of the cheese is from a vegetable dye called annatto... 


Freezes well too so can be batch cooked with individual portions saved for the times you are too tired/hungover to make a proper meal! 

Pictured are baby blocks storage containers from Oxotot: pvc free, airtight, watertight, stackable and can be used to heat and serve as well as store. They are available in Bumps to Babes and Rainbow Care in HK. 

 

What you need:

 

Knob of butter

Half an onion, finely chopped

1 small garlic clove finely chopped

1 cup of red lentils

2 pints of chicken, duck or vegetable stock 

100g grated cheese (Mimolette/Red Leicester if you want to stick to the orange theme, else Cheddar will do)

2 carrots

Drizzle of olive oil

Salt & pepper

Courgette & Wheatgerm Fries

 

As an alternative to potato fries for kids, and to get them to eat more veggies, not to mention the highly nutritous wheatgerm, try this courgette (zucchini) version. Wheatgerm is the embryo of the wheat kernel and exceptionally high in nutrients, in particular vitamin E and folic acid. Coconut oil has fewer damaging effects on the health once heated up relative to other oils, so best to fry in it, plus its medium chain fatty acids contain lauric acid which is beneficial to our immune system and possibly weight loss (ok sod the rest, that's me sold...) 

 

What you need:
1 courgette

1 beaten egg

50g of wheatgerm

50 ml of coconut oil (buy from iherb.com by clicking here)

 

Method: 

Slice the courgette into sticks, dip into beaten egg, roll in wheatgerm then fry in coconut oil, in batches. Dip into ketchup if they HAVE to; I guess they are healthy enough in other respects. Or make a tartar-esque sauce of with few spoonfuls of creme fraiche, teaspoon of mashed capers and squeeze of lemon juice. 

 

Serves a family of 4 as a side dish

Vegetarian (High Protein!) Gratin

 

Broccoli, cauliflower, soft boiled eggs and raw cashews in a white sauce made with wholegrain spelt flour, topped with brown breadcrumbs. All your food groups in one dish and lots of protein and calcium for growing bones. 

 

What you need:
3-4 broccoli florets

Half a cauliflower

50g butter

50g spelt flour

75g grated cheddar cheese

Handful of cashews (omit for v small children, although bear in mind they are quite soft when cooked, so maybe less likely to choke on them)

120 ml whole milk

Half teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1 slice of brown bread

4 eggs

 

Method: 

 

Steam/boil the cauliflower and broccoli, but still keeping it underdone (as it will cook more later). Place in a shallow casserole dish. 

To make the white sauce, melt the butter, add the flour, remove from the heat and form a paste. Add the milk slowly and bring to the boil when it will thicken. Do not stop stirring for an instant or you will have a LUMPY sauce. Add the cheese and mustard. and stir until melted.

Soft boil the eggs, peel, halve and place in the casserole dish with the veggies and cashews. Pour over the sauce and top with breadcrumbs then grill 'till brown.  Put it in the blender for small babies (minus the nuts if you are worried about allergies).

 

Serves 3 toddlers and one mummy as a midweek supper. 

Cashew Pesto

 

To make a nutritional change from the pine nut version, here is the old classic using raw cashews. These nuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fibre so may suppress your appetite (fingers crossed), and if bought raw, should contains even more nutrients since they have not been roasted.  We first tasted this on a stall in London's Borough Market and since then my husband (the annoying fecker that he is) won't eat any other kind and claims pine nuts are too bitter... Add to steaming pasta, al dente french beans and some grilled chicken for a healthy, easy family meal and freeze leftover pesto in an ice cube tray for future quick suppers.

 

What you need:
120g raw cashews (Parknshop or Iherb)

120g Parmigiano

20 leaves of basil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Pinch of rock salt

Glug of olive oil


Method:

 

Blend the cashews with the parmesan, 2 cloves of garlic, pinch of rock salt and a good glug of your best olive oil. Add to steaming pasta, with some al dente french beans and grilled chicken on top if married to a carnivore. Easy family meal.

 

Serves a family of 4 (probably twice over).

Smoked Cheddar, Ham & Potato Croquettes

 

I would love to claim these contains vast amounts of clandestine kale and other secret superfoods, but the reality is they are simply ham, cheese and potato and my children demolished them, as did the fussy ungrateful husband. Good for playdates, birthday parties and apparently not bad with a beer after work.

 

What you need:


3 large potatoes

100g of chopped ham (great way to use up end of  a Christmas ham...)

100g of grated cheese, the stronger the better so we used a smoked NZ cheddar courtesy of a Kiwi houseguest.

1 egg, beaten in a bowl

100g breadcrumbs

50ml of olive oil


Method:

 

Peel your potatoes and cut them into 1 inch cubes. Boil in salted water and fully cooked. Drain and mash.

Combines the ham and cheese with the potatoes, then when cool enough to touch, form round balls, each the size of a large chocolate truffle. 

Dip each ball into the beaten egg, drip off the excess egg, then roll in breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil until it sizzles when you drop a ball. Fry the balls on a medium heat until browned.

Serve with ketchup and trust me, if you put each ball in an individual cupcase, your children will eat more of them.

 

Makes around 10 balls.

 

 

If you liked this recipe, you may also like the one for salmon footballs from Annabel Karmel's book on the right. I have cooked most things in it for my kids with a very high hit ratio! It is not the most wholesome though... (watch out for ketchup and cornflakes in a few recipes....)
Cod, Broccoli, Cheddar and Potato Fishcakes
 

These were demolished by 4 toddlers and a Daddy, and noone asked for ketchup which is always an excellent sign!

 

What you need:


200g cod (or any white fish/salmon - we used sustainable Atlantic cod from Wild C

25g butter

2 large potatoes

100ml whole milk

100g of broccoli

100g of cheddar

Pinch of salt

100g breadcrumbs or oatmeal if GF

Butter or oil in which to fry them


Method:

 

Peel your potatoes and cut them into 1 inch cubes. Boil in salted water until fully cooked.

While the potatos cook, steam your broccoli above a pan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, then add your milk and fish and heat it until it starts simmering. Then cook the fish in it for just a few minutes until it flakes easily. Remove the fish from the liquid and discard any bones.

Drain and mash the potatoes. Combine the mash with the flaked fish, chopped broccoli,  grated cheese and pinch of salt. Mould into cakes.

Roll in breadcrumbs then refrigerate until required. If you can chill them slightly there is less chance of them falling apart when cooking.

Fry in a little butter or oil and serve.

 

Makes around 10 cakes.

 

 

 
Healthy Mac Cheese
 

This is fractionally healthier version of macaroni cheese using wholewheat flour to make a white sauce and sneaking in some cauliflower. If you cut it to the same size of the pasta, they may not notice it, mwah ha ha ha ha.... The key to using wholewheat rather than plain flour in a white sauce (roux) is to increase the amount of fat (butter) you use.

 

What you need:


2 cups of cooked wholegrain pasta - choose one of these from iherb

100g uncooked cauliflower

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons of wholewheat flour

1/2 pint whole milk

100g hard cheese e.g. Cheddar, Edam, Red Leicester or Monterey Jack

Pinch of salt

 

Method:

 

Put your pasta onto boil in salted water. Half way

through the cooking time, break your cauliflower into small florets and add to the water. The pasta and cauliflower should now be ready at the same time.

 

While the pasta and cauliflower cook, melt your butter in a separate pan, but not too quickly. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour. While the pan is off the heat, add a little milk to the mixture and stir it in. Keep adding the milk and stirring until there are no lumps. Then return it to the heat and turn it up to the max, while stirring all the time. It should thicken after a few minutes. Once it has thickened and/or come to the boil, turn down the heat to low and add your grated cheese. Stir through until it has melted.

 

Once your pasta and cauliflower are cooked, drain them well and chop the cauliflower so it is less easily recognised in the sauce if you think it will put your kids off! Combine the pasta with the sauce and cauliflower, add a pinch of salt and serve.

 

Serves 3-4 children.

 

 

 

 
Blackbean Rotini with Feta & Sweetcorn in a Honey Dressing
 
Blackbean rotini are pasta shapes (similar to fusili) made entirely of organic non-GM blackbeans. They are therefore gluten free and high in protein so ideal for vegan and GF diets as well as athletes. More importantly for me(!) this satisfied both the kids and I for lunch. The children thought the black bean pasta were chocolate flavoured, and is it wrong that I didn't correct them? The sweetness of the honey dressing also appealed to them. I added a little greenery and spice to mine with some freshly chopped parsley and black pepper. The pasta are on sale at Spicebox Organics, online or in the store in Sai Ying Pun, where you can buy two boxes for $150 through August.
 
What you need:
 
1 cup of uncooked black bean rotini
1 cup of sweetcorn
1/2 cup of cubed feta
Tablespoon of chopped parsley
 
Dressing:
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar1
1 teaspoon of runny honey
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Black pepper
 
Method:
 
Boil the pasta for around 7 minutes. 
While the pasta cooks, mix your salad dressing. 
Drain the pasta and combine with the sweetcorn,
feta and dressing.
Scatter parsley and grind black pepper on top (optional) 
 
Serves 1 adult and 1 child
 
 
Blackbean Rotini from Spicebox Organics with Sweetcorn and Feta in a Honey dressing. Gluten-free GF
Kids' dinners -tomato, carrot and apricot "hidden" pasta sauce with red lentil penne from Spicebox

Tomato, Carrot & Apricot "Hidden" Pasta Sauce

 

This is a type of "hidden" sauce, hiding a carrot and some dried apricots in a classic tomato & onion pasta sauce. You can't taste the dried apricots but they sweeten the sauce (and far better to use these than white sugar like I used to...) plus they are high in iron. To boost the protein content of the meal, we used a penne pasta made entirely from organic red lentils, produced by Tolerant Foods and sold at SpiceBox Organics in HK. There is an offer on through August where you can buy two boxes for $150. This pasta also suitable for those following a gluten-free or vegan diet.

 

What you need:

 

2 cups of red lentil penne

1 onion

450g tin of  chopped tomatos or around 6 medium sized fresh ones

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

25ml olive oil

1 carrot, grated

4 dried apricots, roughly chopped

1 cup of stock (chicken/veg stock or just hot water will do)

Salt & pepper

100g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1 chilli/pinch of cayenne (optional for adults)

 

Method:


Finely chop your onion and garlic. 

 

Heat up the oil and once hot, add the onion and garlic and soften them on a medium heat for around 5 minutes.

 

Add your grated carrot, tinned tomatos, chopped apricots and bring to the boil with a cup of water or stock, then allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

 

During this time, put your pasta onto cook. This one takes 8-10 minutes, so allow your sauce to simmer for around 10 minutes first.

 

When the pasta is nearly ready, blend your pasta sauce to "hide" the various ingredients fully then pour onto the hot pasta and add grated cheese on top if desired.

 

At this point you could add a finely chopped, deseeded chilli to the adult portion to liven it up or a pinch of cayenne, but this is not compulsary.

 

Serves 3-4 children.

 

To liven up dinners and encourage a little DIY, check out the "Rice Cube" with which you can make simple shapes of rice for your kids, and if they are old enough, they can manufacture their own dinner. Above I used some jasmine rice with precooked salmon (baked a fillet in tamari & sesame oil for 15 mins at 190C) and peas, but you could use any meat, fish, protein and veg you like. The stickier the rice, the better it holds together, which makes brown and wild rice less successful, but should still be ok if it's wet enough. You can find Rice Cube stockists in this link (none in HK sadly) or you can purchase via this Amazon link on the right.

 

 

Maple Sesame Ribs

 

We used Spanish Duroc baby back ribs from Jett Foods to create this sticky ribs dish for children which they can eat with their fingers and make a terrible mess! Serve with sugar snap peas blistered in coconut oil and brown rice.

 

What you need:

 

1-2 lbs baby back ribs (1 rack from Jett)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

pinch of salt
Rice and vegetables to serve

 

Method:

 

Preheat the oven to 350C. Place the ribs in an oven dish and bake for 40 minutes. 


Drain the fat off once cooked. 

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil then set aside. 

 

Cut ribs into pieces with one bone in each and pour the sauce over them.

 

​Bake the ribs in the oven again, uncovered for 1 hour or until they are tender.


Serve with plain rice and steamed or lightly sauteed green vegetables

 

Serves 4 children

Veggie Beany Balls

 

I weaned my kids with the help of  Annabel Karmel and often made her tofu and cashew nut veggie balls. These are inspired by that recipe but using whatever I had lying around. They are good hot or cold so ideal for packed lunches. We made them as burgers for the family one evening with the kids taking the balls for lunch at school the following day. Find the recipe here

 

Wild snapper, broccoli and wild rice cubes

 

In case you're feeling insecure about having made another batch of cheese sandwiches for today's school lunch, do NOT read on... 


Last night we steamed some wild snapper from MM Fresh Food in miso, serving it with wild rice and broccoli. I took the leftovers this morning and stir fried it in a little coconut oil and tamari before asking the kids to manufacture their own lunches with the trusty rice-cube! 


I strongly believe their participation gets their buy-in meaning there's more chance of their finishing lunch! Don't worry, it's not like this every morning... Back to tantrums and tinned tuna tomorrow I imagine....


Rice cube available here.

 

Method:

 

Place your lentils in a saucepan and cook them according to the instructions on the packet. Once cooked, drain and leave on the side.

 

Melt your knob of butter in a medium sized saucepan and cook your onion and garlic until soft. Then add your lentils and grated carrot along with the stock. Bring to the boil and allow the carrot to cook which should take a couple of minutes. Then turn down the heat and add the grated cheese.  

 

Remove from the heat and blend until smooth. Taste and if necessary add more stock, cheese and seasoning for flavour.

 

Serves a family of 4.

Raw Cashew Pesto

 

Here's a healthy twist on the classic pesto recipe, using raw, activated cashews in place of pine nuts. Activating nuts and seeds involving soaking them overnight in salty water which begins the germination process. This increases their nutrient value and also breaks down the problematic compounds such as phytic acid, which then enhances their digestibility. In other words, after activation, they are more nutritious and easier to digest! They should then be dried out in the oven (130-150 degrees) or the dehydrator (at 120-135) in order to store them. Left wet, they will go mouldy. Find the recipe here.