Creamy Spinach & Mince

We all know how good our greens are for us, and yet for little people who aren’t quite eating salads just yet (will they ever?!), it can be quite difficult to get them in (for more on ways to do this, read this blog here) .

I was having to be creative in the kitchen when we realised he might have a tomato allergy. He would come up in this awful bumpy raised rash that almost stretched up to his eyes! It was there for a good few weeks and when I took him to the doctor they gave us some anti-fungal cream (no home remedies seemed to work). We used that but then also noticed that if he had citrus or tomato-based foods it would flare up. I didn’t think it would be too difficult to avoid these, but um… hello?! Slow-cooked lamb? Tomatoes. Lasagne? Tomatoes. Spag bol’? Tomatoes. A lot of other pasta sauces or curries? Tomatoes! Now I was really challenged.

We resorted to mum’s middle eastern chicken which is a creamy based curry (delicious by the way!), baked fish dishes, chicken carbonara and any curries that were tomato-free. Then I came across creamed spinach. Oh yes please.

This is something I devised when I was trying to make a pasta sauce with mince. Grub loves this and so do we actually. It can be served over pasta or mashed potato and you know it’s good for you when you see how green it is! And it’s also full of iron, protein and calcium. I definitely feel good seeing him wolf this down.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bag of fresh spinach, washed and chopped or 100gm frozen (defrosted)
  • 15g butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 4tbsp parmesan or cheddar cheese
  • Pinch or two of nutmeg
  • 300gm mince

Method:

  • Heat a frying pan and melt butter over medium heat, then add the chopped spinach. Sauté until wilted.
  • Add in the cheeses, milk and nutmeg and stir through until the cheese is melted.
  • Transfer to a food processor (our nutri-bullet worked well too) and blend until smooth.
  • In the same pan, brown your mince in a little oil until cooked, breaking it up as you go. Once cooked, remove from the heat and stir through the spinach mixture.
  • Serve over pasta or mashed potatoes.
  • Suitable for freezing.

Lentil Coconut & Kumara Curry

This is something you can introduce to your little grub from a pretty early age; we did from about 7 months old and it was one of his favourite’s. When some of my dishes didn’t make it past two or three mouthfuls, I’d try this and it’d all be gone! Yes, we had those frustrating days too.

I particularly loved giving him this one as I knew he was getting a great source of vegetarian protein with the lentils, he was getting some good fats with the coconut cream and of course all the greens in the world with the spinach I add in.

This is a slight adaptation of a recipe from Detox Insta which is a great website for inspiration. I removed some of the spices, especially when making this for the first time, but now I’d use them all as it’s not really a hot curry.

It’s suitable for freezing and defrosts well, making it even better! If you’ve got a little grub, puree the curry, if you’ve got an older one, you could just mash it up a bit at the end before serving. I never bothered with the rice when he was little; it’s just as good on its own and is a bit like a soup really. However, if I’m making it for all of us I’ll serve over some brown rice or quinoa if we’ve got it.

Give this one a go and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1 large kumara
  • 1 large carrot
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder (omit if serving to young babies)
  • 3 ½ cups water (or vegetable stock)
  • 3 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • ½ cup coconut cream

Method:

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onion until it’s golden. Add the lentils, kumara, carrot and spices and stir to combine everything
  • Add the water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the kumara and lentils are soft.
  • At the 20-minute mark, stir through your spinach and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Once everything is soft, stir in ½ cup of coconut cream.

Hubby’s Pancakes

This is one of about five of my husband’s ‘dishes’ that he proudly says he could cook for dinner when I put him on duty! And sometimes, we do have it on a Sunday as a treat when we can’t be bothered with anything else. But mostly we have it on Saturday mornings for breakfast; when you normally would!

These are absolutely baby/toddler friendly as they have no sugar in them and are soft enough to swallow or break down if there are no teeth yet. Having said that, I wouldn’t give these to my 6-month-old, as the texture of them could be a potential hazard if the pancake got stuck to the roof of their mouth or back of their throat. You’ll know when they’re ready for these.

There are a few tips and tricks here that the other half says are ‘must do’s.’ These are:

  • Use a smaller frying pan
  • Use a dot of butter (has to be butter) in between cooking each pancake, less than a teaspoon! And swirl it around the pan until melted, then pour your batter in
  • For each pancake, use enough batter to cover the base of the pan, then swirl the pan around so that the mixture spreads out and covers it – you don’t want these too thick
  • And remember; the first one is always the trial run!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 25gm melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup water

Method:

  • Add all ingredients to a nutri-bullet (or something similar) and whizz around for 20 – 30 seconds until all well blended
  • If you don’t have a nutri-bullet, sift the flour and add it to a bowl and make a well. Add the wet ingredients and whisk until you’ve got a smooth batter and there are no lumps
  • Melt a little butter in a frying pan and add however much batter you’ll need to thinly cover the base of it (as above, this depends on the size of your pan)
  • Serve with puréed apple and cinnamon, maple syrup or lemon and sugar

Baby Chicken Burgers

These are a great finger food for lunch or dinner or even a protein packed snack. The Cajun seasoning actually isn’t too hot; I just bought the Gregg’s one from the supermarket, and it adds a nice flavour to the patties. They’d be a bit boring otherwise

The courgette and carrot are barely noticeable in here, and you can’t really taste them. You’ll be happy knowing you’re sneaking in some extra veggies without your little one even realising! These can be made in too little baby patties, or you can cook these for the whole family and serve as burgers; another meal that can be enjoyed by everyone.

I serve mine on a ciabatta bun (sooo much tastier than regular supermarket burger buns!) with a sauce made of equal parts Best Foods mayonnaise and sour cream and then 1/2 – 1tsp of paprika. Delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 500gm chicken mince
  • 1 medium zucchini (grated finely)
  • 1 medium carrot (grated finely)
  • 1 egg or 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 tsp paprika

Method:

  • Using your hands, combine chicken, zucchini, carrot, egg and seasoning in a large bowl.
  • Shape mixture in to about 10 small patties and place in fridge for 10 minutes to set.
  • Cook patties in a large heated oiled frying pan until browned both sides and cooked through
  • Mix the paprika in to the sour cream and spread over your bun if eating burgers or use as a dip for the cooked patties
  • Serve as finger food with perhaps some sliced fresh capsicum, cucumber or tomatoes.

Uncooked patties can be stored, covered in the fridge overnight. Freeze uncooked patties for 2 months.

Easy Chicken Parmigiana

This is one of my favourite comfort foods and it’s super easy to throw together, making it even more appealing. Traditionally this can be quite unhealthy with a lot of battered, cheesy chicken, but this is a healthier take on it. Although it’s still got to have the cheese!

Arrabiata sauce is easily found at your local supermarket and I highly recommend it for this dish, especially the chilli version. It’s not super spicy at all (little grub eats this dish with no problem and actually really likes it) but adds that extra bit of kick and flavour without the effort.

IMG_2097

This is what you’re looking for!

I served this over a kumara, courgette and pea mash (just steam or boil everything together, starting with the kumara, then add the courgette and peas towards the end) and a few dinner rolls for hubby and I was asked to “definitely make this again.” Grub got this for dinner the next day and literally shovelled it down. That was all the confirmation I needed to put this in the mix of dinner dishes on rotation.

I hope you guys enjoy this!

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1kg chicken thighs
  • 400gm crushed and sieved tomatoes
  • 400gm bottle of Barilla Pasta Sauce Arrabiata Chilli
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • ½ cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 25gm softened butter

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180c
  • Heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat and brown the chicken thighs for a few minutes on both sides
  • Place the arrabiata sauce on the bottom of a deep baking dish and nestle the chicken thighs in the sauce.
  • Rip the basil leaves and sprinkle over the chicken and then cover with the can of crushed and sieved tomatoes
  • Mix the grated cheese and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and chop the butter in to little pieces. Mix the butter in to the breadcrumb and cheese.
  • Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumb mix over the tomato sauce
  • Bake in the oven for around 25 – 30mins or until the chicken is cooked
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All ready to go in the oven – delish!