Sweet potato brownies
Sweet Treats

Sweet Potato Brownies

One of my favourite parts about coming up with recipes for little people is finding delicious ways to incorporate veggies into tasty treats. With a fussy three year old, I’ll look for new ways to incorporate nutrients wherever possible. These sweet potato brownies are the ideal healthy and sweet treat to serve up at play dates or as a tasty guilt-free dessert that the entire family would enjoy.

This recipe is not only delicious but is crammed with goodness and easy enough for children to get involved in the preparation. I find my son is all the more interested in something I’ve made for him, when he’s played a part in creating it or shopping for the ingredients.

Little ones will never guess that this recipe is made with only the healthiest ingredients, with an added  boost of vitamins and fibre from the sweet potatoes.

Although coconut flour has been used, you could opt for almond flour as another delicious gluten-free option. I recommend using coconut oil to make the icing because it naturally solidifies when cooled to ensure that you have the perfect gooey consistency and for the topping. You can use any sugar-free nut butter of your choice in the icing or tahini instea (tahini is a great alternative for children with a nut allergy).

I love using dates in my recipes for a delicious natural sweetness. If you are using the dried variety to make your sweet potato brownies, then add a little hot water to the food processor for easier mixing.

For this recipe, you can use either honey or maple syrup, depending what you have on hand. Opt for raw honey* and look out for pure maple syrups found in health stores (the less processed options are the preferred ones).

Store the brownies in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within a week. These brownies can also be made ahead of time, then frozen in a ziplock bag and thawed in the fridge before serving.

This recipe makes around 16 squares.

What you’ll need

For the brownies:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (or 6 small), peeled
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 heaped cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 100g dates, pitted
  • 1 Tbs vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt

For the icing:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free nut butter of your choice or tahini
  • 2 Tbs honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs milk of your choice

Method

For the brownies:

  • Preheat the oven to 180
  • Grease a square medium-sized oven-proof dish or cake tin and line with baking paper. Set aside
  • Cut the potatoes into pieces and then steam for around 10-13 minutes until they are soft
  • Once steamed, add the potatoes to a food processor and pulse until you have a mash-like consistency
  • Pour the potato mixture into a large mixing bowl
  • Place dates into a food processor and pulse until you have tiny pieces (add a little hot water if needed)
  • Place the dates, along with the rest of the brownie ingredients into the mixing bowl
  • Combine using a hand mixer until well mixed
  • Pour the mixture into the baking dish/cake tin and bake it in the oven for 40-50 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean once inserted in the middle)
  • Allow the brownies to cool (it needs to be cool before topping with the icing)

For the icing:

  • Combine all of the ingredients into a food processor and mix until a sooth paste forms
  • Add a little more milk if necessary (you will need to be able to spread the icing with ease)

To assemble: 

  • Spread the icing on top of the brownies and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the icing to harden
  • Cut into squares and serve

For some more inspiration on sweet treats using fruit and veggies check out Hungry Little Monkey’s pancakesbanana bread, date squares and choc mousse.

*Honey is only recommended for children over the age of one due to the risk of infant botulism

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

Sweet Treats

Date & Coconut Squares

If you’re on the look-out for a sweet and healthy snack for little ones, without the added sugar or preservatives, then try this no-bake recipe…

I’m constantly looking for healthy treats to serve up at play dates, as an energy boosting snack or something for little fingers to hold on-the-go. Most importantly, I want ideas that are easy to make and won’t have me slaving away in the kitchen for hours.

What I love about this recipe is that it includes a mix of super healthy ingredients, delicious flavour, and it packs a powerful punch of antioxidants and good fats for growing little people.

Apart from toasting the coconut, this recipe includes no other cooking – simply pop them into the refrigerator and you’re done! I have opted to toast the coconut as it adds a delicious taste to this recipe although the recipe still works without this step.

You could choose to roll this mixture into balls or you can cut them into squares like I have done in this recipe. You can opt for any sugar-free nut butter and if your child is younger than one, leave the honey out – the result will be equally delicious.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free nut butter
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
  • 1 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup water (for mixing)

Method:

  • Toast the desiccated coconut on a baking tray in the oven for five minutes at 180°C, until golden brown (keeping an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn).
  • Combine all the ingredients, expect the water, in a food processor. Turn the speed on high and process until well mixed and there is no sign of large pieces (you want to make sure that you don’t have big pieces of nuts, which could be a choking hazard for your child). While you process the mixture, add little amounts of the water at a time to assist with the mixing (and to create a gooey texture).
  • Transfer the mixture onto a medium-sized square dish/baking tin, lined with wax paper and then push it down with your hands to pack the mixture in densely.
  • Pop the dish into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the mixture into squares.
  • These treats can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or the freezer. If storing in the refrigerator, use within two weeks.

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

*Never leave your child unsupervised while eating.

healthy banana bread recipe
Sweet Treats

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

At the age of two and a half – like most toddlers – my son knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to tell me all about it. He flat out refuses to eat most things green and would rather avoid trying anything new unless it is coated in something sweet. I witness so many home-made meals being fed to the dog, and then cry a little inside when my hard work lands up in the bin.

In true toddler style, my son loves two things probably more than anything on earth: bananas and cake. He lived off brand muffins while we were away over the holidays under the guise that he was eating ‘brown cake’, and I was not surprised in the least when we arrived back home and he demanded cake for breakfast.

Determined to get him back into getting some real nutrients into his little body, I wanted to bake something truly delicious that would excite him as much as cake (sans the butter icing and sprinkles of course). I am also constantly on a quest to find delicious and healthy gluten-free and wheat-free recipes for all the little ones out there who aren’t able to tolerate regular wheat flour.

This gluten-free banana bread recipe is honestly one of the easiest things you’ll make and it tastes delicious (my husband gave it the thumbs up – someone else in my house who also isn’t afraid to tell me how he really feels about my recipes!).

I have opted to use coconut flour in this recipe, which is a high-fibre and gluten-free alternative to regular flour. It adds the most delicious flavour to baking and packs in a host of health benefits; lowering glycemic index (preventing those nasty sugar spikes), contains a powerful punch of protein and contains medium-chain triglycerides (the type of saturated fats that provide little bodies with instant energy).

If you would prefer to use regular flour, then use 1 cup of regular flour with 2 eggs and half the amount of oil (coconut flour requires more moisture as it soaks everything up!).

You’ll want to use very ripe bananas – the riper, the better. If you are using dried dates, then soak them in some boiling water for 15 minutes to soften and then drain them well before adding them into your mixture.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1 cup pitted, chopped dates
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup finely diced nuts (pecan or walnut recommended)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl using a fork
  • Sift the flour and baking soda into the mixing bowl
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients
  • Using a hand mixer, mix the ingredients together until well mixed (do not over-mix)
  • Pour the batter into a loaf tin lined with baking paper
  • Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean, on the middle rack
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before removing from the tin
  • Allow the bread to remain on the wire rack to cool slightly before serving
  • Serve plain or with a spread of butter or sugar-free nut butter

If you have any leftover bread, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be stored there for up to 1 week. You can also choose to freeze the bread in individual portions and then defrost before using.

*This recipe will need to be adapted should your child have an allergy to any of the ingredients listed above.
*Never leave your child unsupervised while eating.
Recipes, Sweet Treats

Superfood Chocolate Mousse

As my son nears the age of two, I am becoming more and more aware that developing a sweet tooth is a real thing. No longer can I convince him to eat the fresh strawberry or organic rice cracker placed in front of him, when anything loaded with sugar is near in sight. Although I try and keep sugary treats to a special or weekend occasion, it is a difficult thing to keep under control (especially as a full-time working mommy who relies on a number of helping hands to feed my boy while I’m at work). There has never been a better time to get creative with sweet treats that are totally delicious, healthy and loaded with nutrients.

This recipe is truly scrumptious and ideal for vegan and lactose-intolerant children. In fact, it’s ideal as a super-healthy dessert for any child of any age (unless your child has a food allergy to any of the ingredients of course). Although I chose to use almond milk  -a flavour packed alternative to dairy – you could really use any milk of your choice.

What I love most about this recipe is that it makes use of 3 superfoods for growing little people:

  • Avocado: the superfood that needs no introduction, packed with omega fatty acids for healthy brain development, amongst a multitude of vitamins, minerals and fibre for healthy functioning. Using avocado in vegan dessert recipes is a smart and wholesome way to create a creamy and silky texture to sweet treats in place of dairy.
  • Cocoa powder:one of the most flavour-filled superfoods around, cocoa is packed with flavonoids – the compound associated with lowering cholesterol and promoting optimal heart and oral health – vitamins, minerals and fibre. It adds a deliciously, bold flavour to desserts, smoothies, yoghurt, and even to oats or porridge. Opt for unsweetened and organic varieties where possible to maximise the amount of antioxidants in each serving, without the unnecessary sugar. Because of the high content of caffeine-like compounds found in cocoa (theobromine) you’ll want to limit the amount you pass on to your little one (everything in moderation!)
  • Cinnamon: this nutritious powerhouse has been proven to control blood-sugar, which means less chance of your little monkey’s sugar crashing after eating (it is therefore an ideal addition to any glucose-intolerant/diabetic diet). It’s a healthy way to add in flavour to a number of different meals and snacks from porridge and oats in the morning to yoghurt, baking and even in sweet vegetable recipes (pumpkin, carrots, butternut and sweet potato pair brilliantly).

The best part about this recipe is that you can whip this up in a matter of seconds, without any cooking or refrigerating time needed (for warmer weather you can choose to serve this chilled by popping it into the fridge for 30 minutes before serving). The banana adds a natural sweetness to this recipe, so the honey could be left out for children younger than one.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 ripe, medium-large banana, skin removed
  • 1 ripe, medium avocado, pip and skin removed
  • 1 Tbs sugar-free nut butter
  • 2 Tbs almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs honey

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process for 10-20 seconds or until silky smooth.
  • For an added boost of antioxidants, serve with fresh berries of your choice.
  • Enjoy!

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

*Never leave your child unsupervised while eating.