Festival Of Food: Tricks For Treats

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of autumn and Halloween, we’re sharing recipe ideas for healthy treats, or anything you would enjoy this time of year. Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you’re welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you’d like to share, add it to the linky below.

I sometimes worry that I may have ruined my daughter for life. See, she eats ‘ice cream’ for breakfast, has ‘pink juice’ for lunch and eats a fair amount of ‘chocolate’. Of course, none of this is strictly true, but it makes her happy, and I’m very happy about it too.

So what are the Tricks for these Treats?

Our ice cream is one of the simplest dishes I’ve ever come across – chopped, frozen bananas, blended up in the food processor. Just a few seconds and it looks like smooth and creamy ice cream. Add honey and peanut butter, or cocoa powder, berries or frozen mango or anything you like really, for a delicious treat that’s still perfect for breakfast.

Pink Juice is another favourite. To you and me it’s normally known as a green smoothie, which is loosely based around whatever we have in the fridge. It normally always includes about two cups of spinach, and apple, perhaps a plum or banana, lettuce or other greens or carrots. Blended to a smooth consistency in the smoothie maker, we add a few frozen berries, and just like that, a ‘pink juice’ that contains more vegetables or fruit than my 3 year old would possibly consume in one sitting.

Our chocolate coconut balls are probably the biggest treat there is. We normally take a batch with us on our forest outings. These are a fantastically sweet mix of dates, raisins, cocoa and oats, and then a mix of – again – whatever’s available. You can use apple juice, but I normally add a bit of the green smoothie (chocolate and spinach? Who knew!), flax seed, coconut oil, dried apricots, dried berries, and so on. Each batch differs ever so slightly in flavour, because I use whatever I can.

These are particularly because I do have a sweet tooth, and what I couldn’t necessarily satisfy with a whole slab of chocolate, I can easily do with just two or three chocolate balls. It’s amazing! And then the energy from it is released slowly, rather than a big hit and then a slump.

Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.

Stay connected! Be sure to “Like” the 
Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.

“Chocolate” Date Ball Snack

We’re huge chocolate fans around here, to the extent that I’m sometimes a little worried about it, because it’s just not that good for us.  I found some organic, vegan, good for you chocolate bars in our local health food shop, and nice as they are, I don’t think my bank balance can handle a like-for-like replacement.

These bars have the ingredients listed on the packaging, so I thought I’d have a go at doing it myself.  The good thing is, they’re yummy, Ameli loves them and thinks they’re sweets, and they’re pretty easy to make.  The bad thing is, every time I make them they’re different because I tend to use what I have available.

So, here’s a rough go at these yummy ‘chocolatey sweets’ as Ameli calls them!

The basic ingredients are:

  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup oats
  • Two tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Something wet: a 1/4 cup apple juice or 2 tablespoons peanut butter, just enough to hold the batter together.
  • You can add a variety of things – nuts, dried fruit, berries

What to do:

  1. Mix everything together in a food processor or blender. You want it well mixed, but not smooth.
  2. Either roll the batter into balls, then around a plate of coconut and place in the fridge. Alternatively spread it out on a baking sheet and refridgerate.
  3. Once set, cut into squares and enjoy.

I don’t actually know how long these last. For us they last about  a day, then I have to make more!

One thing I can say about them, for sure, is that a lot less goes a lot further – a few of these are sweet enough to ‘hit the spot’ for a lot longer than normal chocolate does. With normal chocolate I need another hit in a couple of hours. With these I’m normally satisfied.  Additionally, the energy that  comes from these lasts longer and doesn’t bring a ‘crash’.

These chocolate date balls are an amazing treat – try them!

Ice Cream For Breakfast Or Desert

My daughter, Ameli, like most toddlers, loves ice cream. I don’t want to deny her the fun things in life, but I certainly don’t think she has any lack of sugar intake. I came across this recipe for frozen banana ice cream a couple of months ago, and it’s been a regular staple in our house ever since.

From time to time, if Ameli won’t have breakfast for whatever reason, I’ll just reach into the freezer for some ice cream – she’s happy, I’m happy, and a healthy breakfast is had with no fighting or fuss.

If you regularly have over ripe bananas, this is an even faster alternative to banana bread!  Rather than popping over ripe bananas in the bin, they’re cut into chunks and popped in the freezer. While some people say you can’t taste the banana, I think that depends what you mix it with – as a plain ice cream, it definitely tastes of banana.

This recipe is dairy, gluten and sugar free. Depending on what you add it can be nut free and anything else free too.


1 Banana, Frozen

Cocoa, berries, 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1/2 cup frozen mango, to taste

Feeds one toddler

1. Place your chopped and frozen banana pieces into a food processor, and blend on high. Within a minute or so it’ll become a beautiful rich and smooth consistency. Don’t over blend or it’ll become too liquid and you’ll have to freeze it again.

2. Add your additions. Blend again briefly (depending on what I’m blending, it may be useful to prepare them separately, i.e. frozen mango can be liquidised separately.

3. Serve


Extras: If we’re doing it for desert, I will sprinkle some nuts or colourful sprinkles on top. Also lovely with apple pie.

Pick Your Own And Eat It

Welcome to the August 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Farmer’s Markets

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about something new they’ve learned about their local farmers.


We receive fortnightly organic food deliveries, a frugal luxury that is essential to our family’s healthy eating. We don’t get the box with fruit, however, so every now and then, we like going to one of the many local Pick Your Own farms. Sadly, this, again, is a financial luxury, but as Ameli is growing and able to appreciate it more, I hope we’re able to do so more often.

Last week we went for a fruit picking session, with strawberries and raspberries on the menu.

I love how Ameli engaged with it. I love how initially she needed to check with me whether they were pink enough, or too white, but in the end she was picking all the gorgeous red berries.

I also love the fact that at almost three, my little girl knows where food comes from and that she doesn’t assume it comes from the shelves in supermarkets.

We picked courgette (zucchini) flowers, washed them, stuffed them with Mozzarella and anchovies, dipped them in ice cold tempura batter and deep fried for a deliciously scrumptious dinner.

Does this count as ‘real food’? I don’t know. But I do know we picked it, and we cooked it, and we ate it, and we made an afternoon of family fun out of it, and that’s pretty real to me.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • 10 Simple Ways to Make the Farmer’s Market More Fun for Kids — Lorie at Reading Confetti shares ideas and books to help kids get the most from the farmers market experience.
  • 10 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter About The Importance of Shopping at the Farmer’s Market — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares the ten lessons she hopes to impart to her daughter about the importance of shopping at local farmers markets.
  • Charmed by Two Small Town Markets — Shannon at GrowingSlower was charmed by two small-town farmers markets while on vacation.
  • The Olympia Farmer’s Market (and a giveaway!) — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes and family took a trip to their state capitol to experience a new market. See what they saw, and enter to win a book written about that very market.
  • — Exploring the farmers market by Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writing at Natural Parents Network — with a scavenger hunt!
  • Exploring the Market … Alphabet StyleThat Mama Gretchen is in the midst of creating a learning tool for her toddler and it’s all about the market!
  • Unschooling at the Farmers Market — Megz at Aspen Mama loves building memories as a vendor at the Market.
  • Montessori-Inspired Vegetable Unit — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares links to Montessori-inspired vegetable printables and activities to help your family get the most out of a trip to the farmer’s market.
  • Markets — How sustainable mum has fitted a monthly farmers market into a weekly food shop.
  • The Farmers Market In Under An Hour (“Carl Style”) — Andrea and family at Tales of Goodness adapt their farmers marketing approach to make everyone happy.
  • Tales Of a Troubled Gardener — Sam at Love Parenting writes about her dream of self-sufficiency and her lack of gardening skills!
  • A Few {Of The Many} Reasons Why I Love Our Farmer’s Market — Even though the experience can sometimes be less than peaceful, MomeeeZen shares why she enjoys taking her family to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
  • Experiencing the Farmer’s Market from a Different Perspective — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM had a great time letting her toddler lead the way at the farmer’s market…
  • Ask A Farmer’s Daughter — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter answers questions about her life growing up on a small family farm in New England.
  • Giving Up the Grocery Store — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her family’s summertime challenge to eliminate trips to the grocery store and rely almost exclusively on local, farm-fresh foods.
  • Urban farming and fresh food in the city — Lauren at Hobo Mama takes trips to farms, gardens, and markets within reach of a big city.
  • Market Tip: Get to Know Your Farmers — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finally gets up the guts to talk to her farmers and learns she is among ardent food lovers.
  • New Farmer’s Market Find — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is excited to make a new find at her new farmers market.
  • “The Real World” Grassroots Edition — jessica at instead of institution takes some time out to write a love note.
  • 9 Insider Tips for Farmer’s Market Newbies — Dionna at Code Name: Mama chatted with a few farmers to bring you some insider information on how to get the most out of your local farmer’s market.
  • The Place Where I Can Say “Yes!” — Erica at ChildOrganics gives you a tour of her favorite vendors at her local farmers market and discusses the benefits of creating community through the market.
  • Raw Local Milk — Jorje shares her family’s field trip to a local dairy. Learn what you can appreciate from a small town farm at Momma Jorje.com.
  • Italian Secret Vegetable Soup Recipe — Alinka at Baby Web convinces an Italian Farmer & Cook to reveal a precious minestrone recipe and shares it with her readers.
  • Where do our eggs come from? A visit to Sucellus Farms. — Carli at One Fit Mom takes her family to meet the chickens that have been providing their daily eggs.
  • Beyond the Farm — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and her family enjoy looking beyond the food at the local farmer’s market to see the wares of the over vendors.
  • Magic at the Market — Do you ever take time to really look at the food you eat? Amy at Anktangle enjoys marveling at the beauty (and the utility) of the foods and goods available at the farmers’ market.
  • Farmer’s Market Discoveries — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen reminisces about the discoveries she’s made at the Farmer’s Market throughout the years.
  • Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts”) — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience.
  • Pick Your Own And Eat It — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares their trip to a PYO farm and the journey from picking to eating her favourite food
  • Little Cooks – Amazing Apple (Or Berry) Cake

    Issue 4 of the Little Cooks Dora the Explorer magazines brings us the Amazing Apple Cake. Unfortunately, by the time I got to actually making the cake, the black spot on my apple had turned into a gaping big hole inside. I didn’t stick around to find that worm. Instead, I found a half a cup of frozen berries in the freezer, and topped them up to a full cup with boiling water. The result was a delicious, moist berry cake that didn’t last the day – we gobbled it up in one sitting!Read more: Little Cooks – Amazing Apple (Or Berry) Cake

    Little Cooks – Fruit Smoothie Recipe

    I really like the Little Cooks recipes, because they’re generally pretty simple, and not too unhealthy either. I was quite excited by the Strawberry Sundae recipe as I thought it would be nice and healthy and fun to make. Unfortunately it really wasn’t and I can’t say we’ll be in a hurry to make it quite like this again. It was so, so sweet, even my sweet tooth and I couldn’t finish it.Read more: Little Cooks – Fruit Smoothie Recipe

    Little Cooks Collection – Butterfly Cheese Biscuits Recipe

    We’ve taken a bit of a break from baking, since our labour cake and having a baby and all that, but we’re back, and we’ve got plenty of catching up to do as our Dora The Explorer Little Cooks Collection mags are up to issue 7 already!  None the less, here’s the recipe as we did it for issue 2’s very tasty Butterfly Biscuits. 

    I love savoury biscuits, and I love cheese so this recipe really appeals to me – but it does use a lot of cheese.

    Read more: Little Cooks Collection – Butterfly Cheese Biscuits Recipe

    Little Cooks – Dora The Explorer Review And Competition

    Yesterday I shared a Banana muffin recipe from the Little Cooks Collection and today I have the opportunity to share more about it with  my readers, and offer one of you the opportunity to win a subscription of your own!

    The Little Cooks Collection is based on Dora the Explorer. While Ameli has never seen an episode of the TV Show, she has thoroughly enjoyed the magazine.

    You can see for yourself what each magazine holds, but I’ll walk you through it anyway.

    Each copy comes with a freebie, and in the end you’ll have this whole collection of usable kitchen goodies – I say usable as they’re not just toys, they can actually be used in real cooking. dora1

    The mag starts with fun activities around what you’re cooking with, so in the first issue you bake Banana muffins and have a page of ‘circle the banana’, colour this and get your goodies ready activities.

    Next up you have the recipe pages. Nicely illustrated, and easy to follow, the recipe – at least in the first issue – is really simple and quick to do, with minimal clean-up. (Often children’s recipes seem to require masses of bowls and mixing and preparation – this didn’t at all!)


    While your muffins are baking in the oven, there are plenty activity pages for you and your child to do together. There are fun facts, more snack ideas – banana ice cream, simple smoothie, banana breakfast and a banana lolly-  drawing activities, cutting and sticking activities and once you’ve had enough of all that, you can eat your muffins and read the story together.

    Overall there’s a good few hours of activity in each book and you can add to and take away from it as you wish.

    I didn’t really expect much from the goodies that come along with the magazine, but have been really impressed. The plate is dishwasher safe (I think, since it survived the dishwasher!) and the silicone cups are totally fabulous. They fit in our muffin pans, although that’s not essential – the hold themselves up, as compared to the paper cups that tend to flop about a bit. Once out the oven they cool pretty quickly, and they they peel off the muffins without taking chunks of muffin with it. The result is a beautifully smooth finish on your banana muffins, without fishing bits of paper out your mouth either! The silicone cases have really impressed me so much, I’m on the lookout for these in the shops so we can buy another set (the first book only costs 99p).

    For subscription information, check out the website. (Issue 1 is 99p, Issue 2 is £2.99 and thereafter they’re £4.99 every two weeks.) You can pick these up at your local supermarkets and so on, but if you subscribe you also get a whole bunch of free goodies.

    Little Cooks – Banana Muffins

    I absolutely love baking and cooking with Ameli. It’s something we do regularly enough, and it’s fun for both of us, most of the time. While I don’t tend to use ‘dumbed down’ recipes specifically on her behalf, it is sometimes easier if I’m just looking for an afternoon activity for us to use a child friendly recipe that has few ingredients and little effort.

    We came across the Little Cooks Collection, featuring Dora the Explorer and decided we’d try out the recipes.  You subscribe and receive two magazines a month, complete with recipes, activities, and a child’s kitchen set to collect.

    The first recipe was for Banana Muffins, so here they are with our take on it:

    This recipe is supposed to be for four muffins. Four seemed a low number to turn the oven on for, so we immediately doubled it and somehow ended up with 11 muffins – no one was complaining!


    • 2 bananas
    • 80g soft brown sugar (although we used white as that’s what we had)
    • 4tbsp rapeseed oil (that’s 60ml)
    • 2 small eggs or 1 large one
    • 130 ml (1/2 cup) milk
    • 200g self-raising flour

    (I think next time I’ll add a pinch of salt too, to deepen the banana flavour.)


    1. Peel and mash the banana in a bowl
    2. Mix in the sugar and oil
    3. Add the egg
    4. Pour the milk and stir together
    5. Add the flour and stir
    6. Spoon the mixture into your Dora muffin cases (we only had four so used paper for the rest – but the silicone muffin cases are excellent and I’m going to look out for another copy of the first book so we can have another set of the silicone muffin cases which come with the 99p book.)
    7. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 190C/365F/gas mark 5

    The book also recommends adding either 50g of chopped nuts, blueberries or apple pieces. I think that can only add to the flavour so we’ll try that next time. Something else that works well with banana is coconut, so we could try that too.

    Flavour-wise this is a really basic recipe and I do think salt could bring out more of the banana flavour, but it’s perfectly suitable for  children and packed in an air-tight container makes a lovely breakfast for the next day too.

    Simplicity-wise, however, there couldn’t be an easier recipe for a two-year old to follow with Mama’s help – older kids will need even less help.

    Find out more from the Little Cooks website, where you’ll find information on subscribing, all the freebies you’ll receive and you can see what the inside of the magazine looks like too. We are loving the Little Cooks series, and highly recommend them!



    Fun Mother’s Day Recipes

    It’s Mother’s Day in the UK soon, and there’s little nicer than waking up to breakfast in bed. So, my advice, Mamas, is tell dads or older children to glance over here for some healthy, simple, child-friendly recipes brought to you by the HGCA. These recipes are so simple, children could make them (with supervision please!) and even not too kitchen savvy dads should manage!

    Before I lose you completely in the gooey yumminess of pancakes and brownies, here are some interesting facts about something we all know, but know little about: Rapeseed Oil.

    • Rapeseed oil is produced from the oilseed rape plant and comes from the same Brassica family as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
    • Rapeseed, along with linseed, are the only oils grown and bottled in the UK making them the best oils for those trying to lower their carbon footprint and eat local.
    • Sometimes labelled as ‘vegetable oil’, rapeseed oil is lower in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like omega 3 and 6 that can help to lower cholesterol when consumed as part of an overall healthy diet.

    Add a flower and a Mother’s Day Card and it’ll be a treat indeed.


    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 25-30 minutes

    Makes 12

    • 3 medium eggs
    • 200g soft brown sugar
    • 150g self-raising flour
    • 50g cocoa
    • 100ml rapeseed oil
    • 50g dried cranberries
    • 25g milk chocolate chips (optional)

    Preheat the oven to 180oC, gas mark 4. Base line a 22cm square tin.

    Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and creamy. Sieve the flour and cocoa together and gently whisk into the eggs, then whisk in the oil.

    Pour into the prepared tin, scatter over the cranberries and chocolate chips if using. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly before turning out of the tin. Cut into 12 pieces.

    Cook’s tip

    Replace the cranberries with any other dried fruit such as apple or chopped dates. For an extra healthy option, replace the flour with self-raising wholemeal flour.

    Estimated total cost: £2.44

    Estimated cost per brownie: 20p


    Prep time: 5 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Serves 4

    • 150g self-raising flour
    • 2 medium eggs
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 150ml buttermilk
    • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil + extra for frying
    • 100g fresh blueberries or raspberries

    Place the flour in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs and honey then gradually whisk in the buttermilk and 1 tbsp oil to form a thick batter. Stir in the fruit.

    Heat a little extra oil in a frying pan and using a tablespoon, spoon some mixture into the pan to make 4 pancakes. Cook gently for 1-2 minutes each side until golden and cooked through. Repeat to make 12 pancakes.

    Cook’s tip

    For an extra healthy option, use self-raising wholemeal flour. Ideal drizzled with honey or maple syrup and scattered with fresh fruit.

    Total cost: £1.76

    Cost per serving: 44p

    And Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas!

    ** This post was originally posted on April 2nd 2011. This is a repost.