Cooking one meal for a family is hard enough for a working mom. It gets worse when you also have to make something separate for younger kids who are either too little or too picky to have what everybody else is eating. But it doesn't have to be this way! There are plenty of easy and tasty recipes that can be enjoyed by toddlers and the rest of the family.
The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook: Your Baby Learns to Eat Solid Foods, You Enjoy the Convenience of One Meal for Everyone by Gill Rapley, Ph.D., and Tracey Murkett contains 99 dishes that will please even the fussiest kids. The recipes are a great way to introduce children to solid foods while eliminating all of the extra cooking.
Here are some quick and easy finger foods that your whole family will love:
These soft, sticky discs of sweet potato are excellent served warm as a side or cold as a salad. They go very well with roasted meats and casseroles and take just minutes to prepare before roasting.
Serves a family of four to six.
• 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled
• Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed orange
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F (180 ̊C). Slice the sweet potatoes crosswise into chunky rounds, about 1⁄2 inch (1.5cm) thick. Lay the rounds on a large baking sheet.
Mix together the orange zest and juice, the oil and thyme leaves and pour over the potato rounds. Turn them over so that they are coated on all sides.
Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 5 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potato is very tender and the sauce has reduced and become sticky. Serve warm or cold.
One of the easiest breakfasts ever, this recipe includes a couple of simple textures for your baby to explore. Don’t be surprised if she squishes the banana out to play with before eating it!
Serves one adult and one baby
• 1 large pita
• 1 large ripe banana, mashed
Warm the pita under the broiler (it will puff up slightly), then tear or slice it open around the edge.
Spread the mashed banana over the inside, then fold the pita back together and cut it into fingers. Serve while still warm.
These delicious, lightly spiced muffins are naturally sweet, with all the sweetness coming from the pineapple, carrots and apple. They can also be made as mini muffins, which are perfect to take out and about as a snack. They freeze well, too, defrosting in four to six hours at room temperature.
Makes 12 standard-sized muffins or 20 mini muffins
• A little oil or unsalted butter, for greasing
• ½ cup (100ml) sunflower or canola oil
• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups (250g) self-rising flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 ¼ cups (150g) peeled and grated carrots
• ¾ packed cup (135g) drained crushed pineapple
• ½ cup (75g) golden raisins
• 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (100g) sugar-free applesauce (preferably homemade)
• Finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed orange
Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F (180 ̊C) and grease 12 large or 20 small holes of a silicone muffin pan (or line the holes with paper liners).
Put the oil, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and whisk.
Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, pineapple, raisins, applesauce and orange zest and stir. Pour in the oil, egg and vanilla mixture and stir gently (or fold) until the flour is just combined (avoid overmixing, which will make the muffins tough).
Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (14 to 18 minutes for mini muffins), until the muffins are risen and a rich golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
These crustless individual quiches, made in a muffin tin, make an excellent breakfast, lunch or snack and are very quick to prepare. They keep well in the fridge for three to five days and freeze well, too.
Makes 12 quiches
• A little oil or unsalted butter, for greasing
• 4 large eggs, beaten
• 2 tablespoons whole milk
• 2/3 cup (75g) grated cheddar cheese
• 1 ½ tablespoons (25g) unsalted butter, melted
• 1 2/3 cups (50g) shredded fresh spinach leaves
• 1/3 cup (50g) sweet corn kernels (no added salt)
• 1/3 cup (50g) cherry tomatoes, chopped
• 1/3 cup (50g) frozen peas
• 1/3 cup (50g) chopped red, yellow or orange bell pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 ̊F (200 ̊C) and grease a 12-hole silicone muffin pan (or line a metal muffin pan with paper liners).
Put the eggs, milk, cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Stir in your chosen filling (if any), then pour the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole to around two-thirds full.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the quiches are a rich golden brown and are nicely risen.
Leave the quiches in the pan for at least 20 minutes (they will sink a little) before turning them out to finish cooling.
Silicone muffin pans are generally easier to use and clean than metal ones, especially for this recipe. If you don’t have a silicone pan, line your metal pan with paper liners. The quiches will be easier to turn out.
These fritters make a quick savory breakfast. They’re delicious on their own, but when served with sour cream or guacamole they’re a great way to give your baby some practice at dipping.
Makes eight fritters–enough for one adult, one child and one baby
• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (50g) self-rising flour
• 1 large egg, beaten
• Half a 15.25-ounce (432g) can sweet corn (no added salt or sugar), drained and rinsed
• Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
• 1 to 2 tablespoons oil, for frying
Put the flour in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and whisk well to form a thick batter. Stir in the drained sweet corn kernels and black pepper (if using). Mix well.
If you want a smoother texture, pour the batter into a food processor and whizz for a minute or two to crush the kernels.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium to high heat. When the pan is hot, pour 1 tablespoon of batter into the pan for each fritter. It should be possible to cook around four fritters at a time. Let them cook for around 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown, then remove them from the pan. Add a little more oil and cook the remaining batter in two or three batches.
Serve warm or cold, perhaps with some sour cream or simple guacamole with the fritters cut into halves or quarters for your baby.