Middle Eastern Lentil Soup

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup - from your store cupboard!

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup - from your store cupboard!

Soup is my go-to comfort food in the cooler months. I can’t live without it. Normally I make ‘leftover’ soup, which is whatever vegetables are leftover in the bottom of the fridge at the end of the week. But sometimes I actually follow a recipe, or at least try to recreate one.

Way back in my early twenties, I backpacked through the Middle East. I remember eating heaps of lovely lentils and beans – they were cheap and super delicious. Back then I wasn’t much of a cook, so the thought of making some of these dishes at home never occurred to me.

Then one day late last year, I was stuck in Abu Dhabi airport waiting for an onward flight, and I wanted to eat something that was healthy and real and wholesome. So when I spotted lentil soup on the breakfast menu (yes, really!) I couldn’t wait to try it again.

I wasn’t disappointed. It’s tasty, it’s wholesome and filling, and yet it’s fresh, too. And the best thing about it is that it’s so easy to make, and you’ve probably got all the ingredients in your pantry.

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You can easily adjust this for baby or toddler, too. Make sure that you’re only using a homemade stock that’s low in salt, and leave out the tumeric and cumin until after about 9 months. Introduce spices one at a time, just like you would with any other food.

Another thing I love about this recipe is that it keeps really well in the freezer. So make up a big batch, divide it into portions, and freeze.

What’s your go to winter soup?

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Easy Homemade Crackers

Oh So Simple Homemade Crackers

Oh So Simple Homemade Crackers

My youngest loves crackers. LOVES them. He’ll eat half a box of Vitawheats in a sitting. No dip, no cheese, no topping – just crackers. You could say he’s ‘crackers’ about them.

In fact, it was one of the things he was worried about when we decided to go supermarket free for three months. Today was the day he ran out of crackers, so I’ve been on a baking marathon this afternoon.

I must admit that I wondered if homemade crackers would be more trouble than they’re worth. But it turns out crackers are pretty easy, and they’re so much yummier than shop bought ones. Cracker dough is basically flour and water, and you can add a bit of fat for flavour and to bind them together. I wanted to add some seeds for fibre and nutrients, and also to make them a bit more interesting. You can mix them up with different seeds like sesame and poppy, and you can add spices like cumin, rosemary, or parmesan and oregano. Simple!

Needless to say, after making a few different batches of crackers this afternoon, I am the ‘best mum ever’ according to the young bloke.

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These yummy homemade crackers would be great for toddlers, too. Leave out the salt, and choose seeds and spices that your little one likes. Your toddler could even help you cut out crackers shapes using a biscuit cutter. Serve with a healthy homemade dip for a great snack.

Have you ever tried making homemade crackers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Super Foods for Baby’s First Foods

Superfoods for Baby's First Foods

Superfoods for Baby's First Foods

Baby’s first foods don’t have to consist of baby rice and stewed fruits. There are lots of delicious ‘super’ foods that you can introduce to your baby early on, that are packed full of nutrients. The nutrients that are often left behind when weaning are protein, zinc, iron and B-vitamins. Supplementing breast milk with a variety of nutrient-rich superfoods while baby is weaning will give your baby the very best start to life.

Go with organic, fresh foods that you prepare at home and introduce new foods one at a time to make sure that your baby doesn’t have any issues. If you have any doubts, speak to your doctor or child health nurse.

Avocado

So easy to prepare, you can just take a whole avocado when you’re going out for the day and mash and feed baby on the go! Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats for healthy brain development and can be sweetened with a little mashed banana if your little one needs encouragement. Don’t be afraid of fats as your baby’s first food – after all, mother’s milk is largely fats, most of which is saturated fat. Fats give energy; help to build muscle and bone.

Meat

Speaking of fats, animal fats provide vitamins A and D necessary for protein and mineral assimilation, normal growth and hormone production. Including meat in your baby’s diet will help them to get valuable iron and zinc, which aren’t available through breast milk alone.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables available, high in vitamins A and C, able to be pureed into a creamy texture with a sweet flavour that appeals to babies.

Eggs

Don’t be afraid of eggs from 6 months onwards, unless you have a family history of allergies. Eggs are packed with protein, zinc, vitamins A, D, E, B12 and choline, crucial for brain health and development.

Carrots

Carrots cooked well and mashed are high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, converting to vitamin A and supporting healthy vision.

Fish

Fish such as salmon and fish oils like cod liver oil is a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids for brain development.

Blueberries

Blueberries are extremely high in antioxidants, more than any other fruit, making them a true superfood. They’re full of fibre, and vitamins A and C. And they taste delicious!

Peas

Peas have lots of Vitamin K, which helps to build strong bones. They’re also chock full of vitamins A and C, folic acid and B vitamins. They’re high in fibre, too. But the best thing about peas is that they make everything a gorgeous shade of green!

Beans and lentils

Packed with protein, fibre and B vitamins, they’re a cheap, nutritious and filling addition to soups and stews. Use dried beans and cook them yourself to ensure they’re not too high in salt for baby.

Broccoli

Broccoli is a great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate and fibre. No wonder your parents told you to eat your broccoli! Steaming, rather than boiling, broccoli helps retain more of it’s nutritional benefits.

Spinach

Rich in iron and folate, spinach and other leafy greens are great for babies, especially as their iron levels start to diminish around 4-6 months. Spinach can have high levels of nitrites, so this is an important one to buy organic.

Foods with stronger flavours, like broccoli and spinach, can be cooked and pureed or mashed with other foods such as carrots or sweet potato to get baby used to the flavours.

Further reading:

Better Health

WA Health

Image credit: Carrie Stephens via Flickr