500 Baby and Toddler Foods
Professor Charlotte Wright of Glasgow University has been interviewed all over the place today regarding her findings when her team took a range of pre-made baby food from brands such as Heinz, Ella's Kitchen, Boots, Cow & Gate, Hipp Organic and Organix and found that they were high in sugar and lower in nutrients than homemade.
Anyone heard about the Baby Food diet? This hit the headlines last year with Hollywood A listers losing shed loads of weight by eating baby food. After a weekend of recipe development for Plum Baby Cookery School this concept now doesn't seem as bizarre as it did last week.
On Tuesday I meet the Mummy bloggers who are runners up in the Plum Baby Cookery School competition and will be recreating this dish from scratch. I've also been playing with some of the purees to see if I can incorporate them into every day dishes, well, why should babies have all the fun?
Yesterday I made fruit muffins incorporating some of the fruit purees and reducing the amount of butter from 75g to 25g, the muffins were amazing, lovely and moist and no one in my household realised they were reduced fat. That is, until I told them and their reaction was "oooh that means I can have two then" - no it doesn't, the concept of reducing the fat is that you have one and enjoy it, if you have two that defeats the object.
This morning it's Sweet Cape Curry with Beef, I thought I'd try if before shooting off to the gym and then to the supermarket in case there are any ingredients I'm missing. So I tried it, the initial taste is 'it needs salt', but that's only because as an adult I'm used to adding salt to my food, babies don't have salt as it's very bad for them, they don't need it and if we never had salt we wouldn't miss it. By the third mouthful I didn't notice the lack of salt, it was delicious, anyway I've just eaten the lot - for breakfast, couldn't stop, it really was yummy.
I now understand why the baby food diet could catch on, Plum Baby Taste Adventures range is just as good as the tubs of ready to heat curries and noodles that are in the fridge section, lower in fat, all organic and this one's 96 calories a tub, with 5 pounds left to go before I hit the beaches in Lemnos in 2 weeks I may well try it. Possibly a new niche for Plum Baby, we'll see.
The competition has now been extended to 5.30pm on 12 June to get cracking if if you would like to take part in this amazing opportunity.
Plum Baby will be opening their cookery school doors to some very privileged parents and babies to learn all about the weaning journey, take part in cookery lessons and become the stars of Plum's new weaning videos, a guide to help parents across the country sort out their weaning worries. For details how to enter this amazing competition click on Plum Baby to take you to their website but hurry the competition closes on Tuesday 12 June at 5.30pm.
I'm thrilled to announce that I'm hosting the Plum Baby Cookery School and my co-ambassador is Celebrity Chef Rachel Allen.
Plum Baby will be opening their cookery school doors to some very privileged parents and babies to learn all about the weaning journey, take part in cookery lessons and become the stars of Plum's new weaning videos, a guide to help parents across the country sort out their weaning worries. For details how to enter this amazing competition click on Plum Baby to take you to their website but hurry the competition closes on Monday 28 May.
I'm very proud to be launching Splat Cooking's (@splatcooking) new toddler cooking club cookery classes. The Splat Cooking team have put so much work into planning these new classes they promise to be educational, enjoyable, fun and inspirational for toddlers as well as their parents or carers.
When my children were little there were a number of toddler classes that I just couldn't cope with, the ones that left me feeling like I needed to take myself out and have myself shot as I was so desperately bored. Don't get me wrong, I loved being at home with my children when they were little, my favourite age was between 6 months and 2 years, when they're discovering the world and you are honoured to experience that with them. Toddlers are amazingly good company, every new experience and discovery is unique and wonderful but some classes are just downright boring, and if I was bored stupid and dreaded having to go back, then how did my child feel?
Some classes were brilliant, I thoroughly loved them and looked forward to going every week so did my children.
Things about toddler classes i couldn't bear: puppets (omg I hate puppets, why can't the people running the class just talk to the children like normal human beings), singing daft songs when it isn't a singing or musical class - why? Oh why? I have the most awful singing voice that can clear a room in seconds, so I totally hated being told to 'sing up' - seriously? You want all the other Mums to run for the hills?
Class leaders talking down the children in silly voices - when you laugh you get told off (or evicted, been there, done that), it's just too funny when the toddlers are looking at the lady and asking if there is something wrong with her voice for her to talk like that.
So the Splat Cooking toddler cookery classes have none of this. The focus is on food and cooking, each session is linked to a story book, such as The Magic Porridge Pot (Oaty lollies), The Gruffalo (mice bread rolls), Pizza Kittens (pizza) and each session begins with a story, then the children put aprons on, wash hands and make the recipe of the week with the help from their parents/carers. Once the goodies are cooking there are related activities and colouring sheets to do as well as tasting ingredients and talking about the texture and flavour, it may be mango - dried, fresh, tinned, juice or bread - identifying different breads and trying different breads made with different grains.
They have this amazing lady who is qualified in sign language and is starting the classes off with a few words of signing to help the children who's speech isn't that great, I think this is such a great idea.
The classes launch on Thursday 3 May at Ballinger War Memorial Hall in Ballinger Common near Great Missenden, the classes last from 9.30-11am - as these are new they're hoping for lots of feedback from the initial parents as it's early days and they want to make sure that the classes are brilliant so initially 90 mins but they may reduce the time depending on how the first few run, better to finish early than over run. The classes are bookable termly in advance - they need to know how many children at each week to buy ingredients and food to taste and budget for aprons and recipe folders and utensils.
I'll be there for the first couple to launch them then the amazing ladies at Splat Cooking will take over with their wealth of experience. So if you have a toddler and want to have a go at cooking, book now, before the spaces fill up.
The lovely Ashley Fryer interviewed me last week for Peach Trees and Bumblebees, Ashley's fantastic recipe and foodie website blog. It was one of those "should I give a proper grown up answer?" or "should I give a smart alec answer?", so figured I'd do 'honest' answers.
Click on the link above for the interview
I've been awaiting a review from Rhoda and Liz nervously. Rhoda was the winner of a KitchenAid competition to win a KitchenAid Liquidiser and a copy of my book 500 Baby and Toddler Foods so she was totally unbiased, check out her amazing review blog to see for yourself.
The books was more suitable for Liz so Liz took it away to play with it and you read her review here, it's fabulous, so thank you lovely ladies, I'm very proud and ever so thrilled that you like it and have found it useful.
I'm working on putting some more recipes up on the site so check back in a day or so and you'll be able to try some out to tempt you to buy the book.
Pumpkin roasting in the oven to make soup for lunch, shedloads of gingerbread made in the fridge.
I'm doing book signings at Waterstones, the Eden Centre, High Wycombe for my new book 500 Baby and Toddler Foods from 2pm tomorrow, Saturday 5 November. Just about to start making lots of gingerbread biscuits for little ones to decorate while their parents are buying the book (I hope) and about to roll out lots of gingerbread to make the biscuits.
Only problem is that now the kitchen will start to smell heavenly and I'll be in Christmas mode wanting to put the tree up and the fairy lights on and I'll have a very grumpy husband as he doesn't think Christmas should even be mentioned until 24 December. Once the smell of gingerbread permeates the kitchen I'll find myself emptying the cupboards digging out cloves and resisting the urge to stick them in oranges.
So if you're around in High Wycombe tomorrow please do come and see me, I'll be in Waterstones with lots of books and gingerbread from 2pm, if not I'll be in Oxford next Saturday 12 November from 12 noon-2pm doing the same. It would be great to meet you so come along have a chat, buy the book and eat delicious gingerbread.
I've been testing out the Philips Airfryer, this fabulous kitchen applicance produces my healthy, amazing muffins in super quick time. My Small Boy was off on a school trip and as usual I hadn't got my act together to sort him out a packed lunch. He hates sandwiches so it's always a challenge, anyway, cheese and sun-dried tomato muffins it was. It was 7.10am, he was leaving at 7.30am - stress city.
It took 3 minutes to heat up during which time I made the muffins, I admit that most people would probably take longer to mix up the muffins but I know the recipe off by heart as I wrote it and it's in my new book 500 Baby and Toddler Foods. By the time the Airfryer was ready the muffins were in their cases and took only 8 minutes to cook, you can only cook 4 at a time but that meant total cooking time of 24 minutes plus 3 minutes to warm up so much quicker than heating up your oven. Small boy left the house munching on one savoury muffin as second breakfast (it's 7.30am) with two in his lunchbox for his school trip - day saved, massive points scored on the Perfect Mum scale.
I was quoted in the Daily Mail on Saturday talking about this great piece of kit, check it out.