My boys love ice cream and with the warmer weather well on it’s way we will probably be eating it pretty frequently. While I have absolutely no objections to buying some every so often, I do try to avoid sugar and additive stuffed varieties being the boys staple summer food. Especially with eczema being an issue for both of them. So here’s a gorgeous, simple homemade treat that has no additives or extra sugar and on top of that is packed full of real fruit.
Ingredients: Should fill a 6-part ice lolly mould but may vary a bit depending on the size of mould you are using.
1 large banana
1 handful of strawberries and/or blueberries
Other fruit of your choice – seedless berries are great because they tend to be soft and sweet, but others will work too depending on your taste.
You can also use frozen fruit if you prefer.
Put all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
I love homemade snacks (when I have time/energy to make them) because I know exactly what’s in them. Sweet potato chips are currently a particular favourite for me because of being on a pretty restrictive migraine elimination diet.
All you need are: sweet potatoes.
Give them a scrub (or peel them). My kids like helping with this bit.
Slice them thin.
Lay them individually on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Make sure they aren’t overlapping. Mine always need a bit of rearranging after my helpers have finished.
You can add any other optional ingredients now: a spray of olive oil, a bit of salt and black pepper, herbs like thyme or rosemary are all good options.
Put them in a preheated oven at around 190 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes. Turn once during baking and keep in mind that the time might vary depending on your oven and how thin you sliced the potatoes. They should come out lightly browned.
Leave out to cool and harden.
We’ve also tried this with Irish potatoes which worked well; carrots, which came out too crisped without olive oil and not at all crispy but very yummy with oil – I think maybe I’m just missing the balance so far; and bananas which have failed miserably no matter what I do!
Living in South Korea we eat a lot of rice. In fact, my kids have phases where just about all they seem to want to eat is rice and 김 (gim – Korean dried seaweed, very similar to nori) – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
They also both love to help preparing it for cooking. Elly will often find the rice cooker and ask to ‘cooh-cooh’ (cook cook), even when he has just eaten, or there is rice waiting for him on the table.
First they help to measure cups of rice into the rice pan. I normally scoop it out of the sack and let them tip and count it in as letting them try to scoop normally results in a) rice everywhere and b) an completely unknown quantity of rice in the rice pan.
Then they help me wash the rice. Zeph likes to turn the tap on and off to cover the rice. But the favourite bit for both of them is definitely getting to put their hands in the water and play with it. Or eat it, if your name is Elly. We often use this opportunity to talk about ‘transparent/see through’ and ‘opaque/cloudy’ as we watch the starch wash out and change the water. Next it’s back to counting cups – as we add water this time.
Last but not least one of them takes a turn to flick on the switch on the rice cooker. Or we turn it on and off a few times so they both get to do it.
Both my boys love chopping food up (…and generally being destructive…) What they, or Zèph at least, produces is always filled with love and pride at contributing to the family. But hard foods are difficult to chop and can be dangerous for little fingers which might slip. And little fingers also produce highly irregular chopped goods – which is sometimes fine and sometimes makes cooking awkward. So my kids both get to do chopping practice.
This is a food prep activity which they find lots of fun, can contribute towards family meals or snacks and gets them working in their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
For Elly, at 20 months I choose very soft foods such as banana and boiled eggs – this can make a mess. I recommend removing he yolk and just giving the white part to avoid the worst of this – and he loves getting stuck in with his knife. And eating bits on the way.
At 4 Zeph still has fun with this and I can challenge him to try to cut regular sized circles, semi-circles or chunks. He also gets opportunities to do slightly harder chopping tasks: courgette, grape tomatoes, cucumber etc. as well as pre-sliced hard vegetables such as carrot and potato.
Zeph also gets to peel vegetables, though Elly does not. The first time, a few months ago now, he tried a carrot and got very upset that he couldn’t do it. But he has since, at his own request, tried again. And again. And again. And now he does a fairly good job minus the bits closest to the ends. Potatoes are harder – his first try he scrapped off one little patch of peel before getting frustrated and wandering off, but more recent attempts he’s managed more.
I love making bread with my kids: it’s simple; aside from ingredients and a way to measure them all you need is a big bowl to put everything in; you can do all kinds of fun stuff with flavours and shapes; it’s scientific (the yeasts eat the salt and give off carbon dioxide to make the dough rise); and it’s hard to go wrong, no matter what they do.
Here’s our basic ingredients:
500g plain flour (I’d love to use brown/wholewheat/other interesting flour, but here in South Korea I have trouble finding anything other than white wheat for bread)
7g instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil (could be something else, we use canola if we haven’t any olive)
300ml warm water
Optional fillings (a few of our favourites):
a packet of malteasers
a couple of handfuls of cranberries and/or raisins
a tablespoon of sage and a couple of handfuls of grated cheese (we use mozzarella pizza cheese as it’s easy to come by over here but you could try anything)
Now, we don’t actually have scales or measuring cups in our house… it’s not something that was here when we arrived and it’s not something I’ve bothered to buy. I thought about it, but I have no storage space for half the things we do have, and as 1 heaped tablespoon roughly equals 25g we find that guesswork normally gets us there. So in the pictures you’ll see the kids measuring by counting (good practice!) spoonfuls into the bowl (ok, it’s a saucepan – again, why buy extra stuff for a house in a foreign country where we only intend to live around 3 years when we can make do?)
Mix the flour salt and yeast together. (Try to make sure at least some of it is mixed IN A BOWL rather than on the floor).
Add the oil and water. (Try to prevent toddler from adding ALL the water in one go as you might need slightly less, or add a bit more flour if your dough ends up sticky. Also, your preschooler wants to do some too, and he made a special hole to pour it into).
Squish everything into a dough and play with it for a while! (Try not to let the kids eat all of it yet, and make sure that you do knead for 5 or 10 minutes until the dough is nice and smooth and stretchy).
Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a towel and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
Go check out how big your dough got! And then poke it until it gets flat again, get it out of the bowl and play with it some more. Also add any fillings – flatten out the dough a bit, make a kind of hollow or dent in the middle to put the extras in and then fold the dough up around and knead it thoroughly through the whole dough.
Shape your loaf or rolls (good practice for dividing things into even-sized pieces), or put the dough in a tin. (Try not to let toddler destroy all of preschooler’s creations).
Leave to rise until doubled in size again (about 1 hour again).
Bake in a preheated oven at around 200 degrees Celsius until golden brown. It will also sound hollow if you tap it on the underneath. A loaf should take 25-30 minutes, rolls more like 20 minutes, but it might vary a bit depending on your oven.