This recipe is adapted from the new cookbook by the founder of Planet Organic, Renée Elliott – Me, You & the Kids Too. Gwyneth Paltrow says, ʻRenée Elliottʼs cookbook is a kitchen essential for new moms and for those who need a little inspiration on how to feed the entire family. The delicious recipes cover babies, toddlers, kids and adults – and each meal is simple and healthy for everyone.ʼ
This book is very dear to my heart. I worked on it with Renée when I came back to work, after my maternity leave. I was working full-time (stressed and tired!) but knew that I wanted to cook nutritious food for Zoë, Peter and I. But I found that I was focussing on lovely purées for Zoë and then too tired to rustle much up for us. Renée’s innovative idea for cooking for a family made total sense to me – and she taught me to think of recipes that I could make for us and then make a purée for Zoë from. Brilliant! And here, at last, is the book I wish I’d had in my hands back then! Cook up Herb-Crusted Fish, for example, in just 30 minutes from start to finish. While you’re preparing the main dish, you can follow the mini-variation recipes to make a Salmon with Broad Beans & Sweet Potato Purée version for your 6–9-month-old or a Herby Salmon with Broad Beans & Sweet Potato Purée for your 9–12-month-old. In this book you’ll find recipes for all situations, including quick breakfasts and lunches for everyone, indulgent, romantic dinners (yep!) to have with your partner after you’ve fed your little angels, bathed them and read them their favourite stories, and meals you can cook for friends when you actually get your social life back!
What’s more, these recipes are bursting with goodness. Renée is all about adding nutrition whenever you can. So you’ll find inspiration for those health food products you’ve never known what to do with, as well as ways to make things like chocolate brownies actually healthy. In this recipe, you use super-healthy sardines instead of the more usual salmon/cod. Sardines are hard to get little ones to eat as they taste fairly strong but made this way, you’ll be able to. (Zoë won’t eat fresh or tinned sardines but she loves making these (hence the less-than-perfectly-shaped fishcakes in the picture!) and will then gobble them up.) Sardines, like all oily fish, are full of omega-3 so they’re wonderfully good for boosting brain development. And, of course, they’re a great storecupboard ingredient so you can whip these up with minimum hassle.
I changed the breadcrumbs to gluten-free breadcrumbs (which you can make very easily by putting some bread – crusts and all – into your food processor and whizzing a little).
Serves: 2 adults, 1 kid and a baby Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 400g/14oz potatoes, diced
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 180g/6¼oz tinned sardines in oil or water, drained
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- a large pinch of cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 75g/2½oz/¾ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying if needed
- lemon wedges, to serve
- salad, to serve
- Put the potatoes in a steamer and steam, covered, for 10 minutes
or until soft. Transfer to a large bowl and mash coarsely.
- Mash the sardines with a fork in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, onion, mustard, parsley, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, salt and breadcrumbs and mix well. Add to the mashed potatoes and mix until well combined. Using your hands, divide the mixture into 10 equal pieces and shape each one into a fishcake.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium-low heat. Working in batches, carefully add the fishcakes to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side until browned and heated through. Repeat with the remaining fishcakes, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve warm with lemon wedges and salad.
- Sardine Purée variation for a 6–9 month old baby
Put 4 of the sardines and 3 tablespoons water in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth. Serve warm.
- Sardine, Onion & Parsley Mix variation for a 9–12 month old baby
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the onion and cook for 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 4 of the sardines, 1 teaspoon of the parsley and 3 tablespoons water. Pulse for 15 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture forms a lumpy purée. Serve warm.
This lovely recipe is from Christine Bailey‘s The Top 100 Baby Foods, which is one of my favourite books at the moment. Full of recipes that are truly healthy – all catering for little tummies, so either no- or low-sugar, lots of gluten-free and dairy-free, packed full of nutrition, and the recipes are truly easy to make. Cod is full of high-quality protein that’s easily digested by your baby’s immature gut. Although cod is not as rich in omega-3 essential fats as oily fish, it contains good amounts of these brain-boosting nutrients. It also contains plenty of B-vitamins, which help your baby’s body unlock the energy stored inside the food she or he eats. Make sure you check the fish carefully for any stray bones before you begin cooking. I made double the amount as I’d just bought 2 large cod fillets from the fishmongers.
gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
About 4 servings for little ones Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 20 minutes
- 4 tomatoes, halved
- 2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into chunks
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 175g/6oz skinless, boneless cod fillet
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 handful of basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Gas 4. Put the tomatoes and peppers in a small roasting tray. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and half the olive oil. Bake for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are softening.
- Remove the roasting tray from the oven. Nestle the cod fillet among the peppers and tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining oil and the lemon juice. Scatter with the basil leaves and bake for a further 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
- Serve hot or put the fish and vegetables in a food processor and process to form a purée if you’re making this for a baby.
Here’s another fantastic recipe from Christine Bailey’s The Top 100 Baby Foods, full of delicious tastes. And it features buckwheat which is a brilliantly useful gluten-free grain (it’s not related to wheat, despite its name). It’s full of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, and it’s a low-GI grain that helps keep blood sugar levels steady. With a lovely firm texture when cooked and a nutty taste, you can add it to stir-frys, stews and soups, or add some extra ingredients and use it like rice or couscous.
When you’re starting your baby on food, it’s good to introduce gluten later on in the weaning process because it is harder for little babies to digest and process. So buckwheat is great for the early stages. Once you’re past the first stage of weaning, this is a lovely recipe for babies. (Use olive oil instead of the sesame oil, though, and leave out the sesame seeds, if there’s any possibility of allergy.) Pork is an ideal protein for your baby. It’s naturally low in fat, and a great source of B vitamins that help with the development of your baby’s nervous system, as well as promoting hormonal balance and the production of brain neurotransmitters. And here you’re also adding beta-carotene-rich red pepper and antioxidant-filled spinach, too. Feeding your baby can be very daunting but this nutrient-rich recipe makes it easy. Whizz it into a puree for your baby, or eat it yourselves – you’ll all love it!
About 4 servings for little ones Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 30 minutes
- 50g/1¾oz/¼ cup buckwheat
- 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup vegetable stock (without added salt), or water
- 200g/7oz pork fillet, cut into thin strips
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice
- 1 tsp sesame oil (or olive oil if any possibility of nut allergy)
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 4 tbsp apple juice
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional if any possibility of nut allergy)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ red pepper, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp frozen sweetcorn
- 100g/3½oz baby spinach leaves
- Put the buckwheat in a saucepan with the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and keep covered. Put the pork a dish with the five spice, sesame or olive oil, garlic and juice to marinate.
- If using the sesame seeds, heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and add the sesame seeds. Toast for 1 minute until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the pork and marinade. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the meat browns. Add the pepper and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the sweetcorn and spinach. Cook for 3 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Add the sesame seeds, if using, and buckwheat and heat through.
- Serve hot or pulse in a blender or food processor to make a chunky purée.