carrot hummus recipe, healthy snack idea
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Carrot Hummus

If you’re looking for some healthy snack inspiration for kids and the rest of the family, then look no further.

My son, in typical toddler fashion, isn’t big on trying many new things in his diet these days. One thing he loves however is to dip just about anything: from pieces of meat, chicken and cheese to carrot batons (we are working on the cucumber and tomatoes but I’ll take what I can get at the moment!).

He also happens to be a big fan of hummus.

In my endless quest to sneak veggies into his diet and to find healthy snack ideas for my child and the rest of the family, I whipped together this truly delicious carrot hummus recipe together in a matter of minutes. This is the type of snack that you can prepare ahead of time and store in the fridge before use (the hummus can be stored in an airtight container in the frige for up to 1 week).

By roasting the carrots in the oven before adding them to the chickpeas, creates a delicious and naturally sweet taste. The chickpeas pack in a powerful punch of protein while the carrots provide an excellent dose of beta-carotene, making this a truly nutritious snack.

Whether you have a six month old who has recently discovered solids, a busy toddler or a fussy teenager, this is a super simple and healthy side dish that can be enjoyed by the entire family. For young babies it is best to remove the skins from the carrots (for easier digestion) but for older children, the skins can be left on (for some added nutrients).

What you’ll need:

  • 1 x tin chickpeas, drained
  •  1 heaped cup carrot batons (around 300g)
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ½ small lemon, juiced
  • ¼ tsp herb salt*
  • ¼ tsp minced garlic
  • 2-3 cracks black pepper
  • 2 Tbs olive oil plus 1 tsp for roasting

*Herb salt can be added for toddlers and older children. For babies starting solids, it is best to skip the salt.

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Place the carrots on a baking tray, sprinkle over the cumin seeds and paprika and toss with 1 tsp olive oil
  • Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes
  • Place the carrots, the chickpeas, olive oil, black pepper, herb salt and lemon juice in a food processor and process until the desired consistency (younger children are likely to tolerate a smooth texture, while older children are more likely to tolerate a chunky consistency)
  • Serve thus yummy carrot hummus with your choice whole-wheat crackers, veggie batons, cheese strips or even spread on a sandwich

*The above will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients mentioned.

*Never leave your child unsupervised while eating.

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Homemade Tomato Sauce

There is no getting away from it: kids love tomato sauce.

I never thought that I would be the parent who would turn to tomato sauce to get her child excited about a meal. I honestly thought I could keep my son away from the stuff until school-going age (OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration but you get my drift).

The reality, however, is that when my son stumbled upon some earlier this year, I witnessed a love affair that I knew – there and then – I would not easily intercept. Ever since that day, he will spot the shiny red bottle in any eating environment, with the precision of an eagle, demanding that he dips (or “dit” in his case) whatever he may be eating.

Tomato sauce actually provides a number of health benefits to growing little people, including its high lycopene content. Lycopene is an antioxidant, which means it protects the body’s cells from free radical damage, fighting off disease and cancer. Each serving also packs in a powerful punch of vitamin A for healthy skin, eyes, hair and immune functioning.

The problem with store bought tomato sauce is the sugar content (high glucose corn syrup and cane sugar): each tablespoon serving includes anywhere from 4 grams of sugar, which equates to roughly 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. According to The American Heart Association, children should be consuming no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily to avoid a weakened immune system, flu symptoms and tooth decay (amongst a host of other nasties). If your child is laying on the tomato sauce with most meals, over and above consuming sugar in other food and drinks, they are most probably exceeding this recommended daily limit.

Light tomato sauce options, whilst lower in sugar or sugar-free, are packed with artificial sweeteners: OK in moderation but not regarded as nutritionally substantial enough for the growing needs of children.

With this in mind, and knowing that some sugars are unavoidable in certain foods, I wanted to make my own sugar-free sauce that packs in the flavour, but without the unnecessary sugar. In this recipe I have used unsweetened apple sauce to add in a natural sweetness, but you could also use unsweetened pear, date or prune purèe.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup Passata sauce
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce/purèe
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1 small lemon (1/2 large lemon)
  • 1 Tbs All Spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cracks black pepper

Method:

  • Bring all of the ingredients to the boil
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 45 minutes (until the mixture has reduced by half)
  • Remove from the heat
  • Remove the bay leaves
  • Purèe until smooth
  • Store in an airtight, glass jar in the refrigerator for up to one month

*The above will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients mentioned.

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Creamy Veggie Mash

I know I’m not only the only mommy out there who gets a hard time from my child when it comes to getting veggies into his mouth. He has become a master at tossing the steamed pieces of carrot and broccoli onto the floor  – that I have lovingly placed on his plate – for none other than our Bull Terrier to lap up.

My favourite secret weapon to cram in a number of veggies into my son’s diet, is through a trusted childhood favourite….mash. In place of refined white potatoes and heaps of butter, however, I combine a number of tasty flavours and nutritious ingredients, to ensure that each mouthful is packed with goodness.

What I love about mash recipes is that; mash can be served to children of all ages (starting from when little one’s are still on their first foods); you can get creative with any veggie combinations you choose; mash freezes fantastically; and you can serve mash up with just about any protein. I keep a supply in the freezer to ensure that I always have a healthy dose of veggies on hand, to serve up with the rest of my son’s meals.

For babies younger than 12 months, it is recommended to rather peel all fruits and vegetables, given that skins and peels can lead to tummy upsets in less developed digestive systems. If your child is a little older, you can keep the skins on for an added boost of nutrients. Remember to always wash all fruit and veggies thoroughly, even if you have bought organic produce.

You can use any milk in this recipe based on your child’s dietary needs. For children younger than two, it is recommended to opt for full-fat dairy whenever possible.

Tip: Every now and then I toss a handful of spinach/kale into this recipe for an added kick of calcium and iron.

Food for thought: orange, yellow and red fruits and vegetables, as well as green leafy vegetables, are powerful sources of beta-carotene. This recipe contains an impressive kick of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A is necessary for healthy immune functioning, growth and development and for improved eyesight.

What you’ll need*:

  • 1.5 cups chopped pumpkin/butternut (skin removed)
  • 1.5 cups chopped sweet potato
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • Handful spinach/kale (optional)
  • 1 apple
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbs olive oil/coconut oil
  • 2 Tbs milk

*These amounts are simply guidelines. There is no wrong or right with this recipe. Have fun and experiment with spices and ingredients and make it as runny, smooth or lumpy as your child likes!

Method (makes around 10-12 servings):

  • Steam the pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato and apple for around ten minutes, until soft.
  • Steam the spinach/kale for two minutes.
  • Combine all the ingredients into mixing bowl and purée until the desired consistency.
  • Serve with your choice of protein. For left-overs, dish out the remaining mixture into individual servings and freeze.

*The above may need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients mentioned.

*Never leave your child unsupervised when eating.