Chicken and Apple Meatballs

These meatballs are a tasty alternative to the traditional.  Whilst it is great to follow the recipe, I definitely recommend adding in your own favorite flavours to change it up a little bit each time.  Use different herbs and spices, add nuts and seeds, oats instead of breadcrumbs etc.  This is the beauty of cooking from scratch, you get to make recipes your own just by tweaking a few ingredients.  My suggestions are included in the instructions.

Originally I made this for my wee boy who was just starting to discover different foods and flavours, as they make great finger food and can be kept really simple to begin with.  However, now that he is older it’s also another way to add different textures and flavours.  It’s a great family food when teamed with a homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti, and also good in the lunchbox the next day.

When putting together a food for an infant, keep in mind not to add salt to their meals if they are under 1 years of age (sodium can overload their kidneys), so leave out the stock until they are older than this.

Whilst I think cashew nuts are the perfect addition to this recipe (plus fresh coriander!), hold off on adding larger sized nuts until they are older, and stay vigilant when you introduce a new nut to their diet, to keep an eye on any adverse reactions.  After a few taste tests with no side effects cashew nuts are a perfect healthy source of protein and good oils, and soft enough for them to cope with (unlike whole peanuts which can be a too hard for a little one to bite, and are considered a choking hazard until 4-5 years).

Chicken and Apple Meatballs

Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts (cut into chunks)
  • 1 Large granny smith apple (roughly chopped)
  • 1 onion (roughly chopped)
  • 1 Small sprig of fresh parsley
  • 1 pinch dried mixed herbs
  • 1 cube chicken stock (for over 1 year olds)
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • plain flour (for rolling)

Note

A great addition to this recipe is to include cashew nuts, which can be processed to a coarse breadcrumb-like consistency prior to mincing the chicken.  Fresh or ground coriander also works really well, as does adding a vegetable by grating them in before mixing (eg. carrot or zucchini).

Goes well with a tomato sauce and spaghetti!

Directions

1. Place the chicken breasts in a food processor and blitz until they turn into mince. Remove and place in a separate bowl.
2. Process the apple, onion, parsley, dried herbs and chicken stock until they resemble a paste. Transfer to the chicken mince.
3. Add the fresh breadcrumbs and thoroughly combine.
4. Roll the mixture into large tablespoon size balls, using the flour to prevent any overt stickiness.
5. Spray a non-stick pan with oil and cook the balls until firm (around 15 minutes), moving them around the pan occasionally. Alternatively you can bake them in the oven.

Toasted Muesli

When choosing a breakfast cereal the best one to look for is one that is high in fibre and low in sugar, however this is easier said than done as many breakfast products on the market may appear healthy and yet actually have more sugar than we expect/need, either in the form of too much added dried fruit or refined sugars for that crunchy texture.  One way to get around this is to make your own, as well as giving you the opportunity to personalise your breakfast to your liking.  Our toasted muesli recipe is so moreish that you’ll want to have it as an afternoon snack as well, and being jammed packed full of healthy fats curtesy of all the nuts and seeds it would certainly be a great snack option too.

This recipe doesn’t have any quantities as we have found it is best to choose your container first and fit the quantities around that.  The hero of this recipe is of course oats, which are not only heart healthy, but full of fibre and protein.  Feel free to omit any ingredient you are not keen on, and if you like dried fruit then they can be added once cooled.

Toasted Muesli

Ingredients

  • wholegrain oats
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • walnuts
  • flaked almonds
  • shredded coconut
  • canola oil
  • honey
  • an orange

Directions

1. Choose an airtight container you wish to store your muesli in.
2. Fill the container to about a 3/4 height with the oats.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, minus the coconut, so that when mixed together they are appealing and nearly fill the container (leaving room for some coconut).
4. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and a tablespoon of honey to a large oven tray and place in a 160 degree oven to warm through.
5. Tip the muesli ingredients onto the warmed tray and mix with the oil and honey. Place back in the oven for ten minutes.
6. After ten minutes stir the mixture with a spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom, then place back in the oven. Repeat this two more times or until ingredients begin to look like they are taking on some colour.
7. Now add the shredded coconut, mix through and place back in the oven for another ten minutes.
8. Once the coconut has begun to colour pull out the tray, then add the zest of the orange and mix through.
9. Allow to cool and then place in the container for storage.

Chia Seed Crackers

These crackers are a great healthy alternative to the store bought variety.  Most brands have an over abundance of salt in them, as well as saturated fat, so making the decision about which ones to buy pretty tricky.  These are low in both of those, but with the added bonus of being really tasty.  Chia seeds are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, protein and calcium, as well as other vital minerals.  For those who are sensitive to gluten the binding properties of chia seeds works really well here, and if you also can’t tolerate oats then just omit those from the recipe and replace with another favourite seed.  These are great for snacking, and go well with a slice of cheese, avocado or hummus. Enjoy!

Chia Seed Crackers

Serves 36 crackers
Prep time 40 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 40 minutes
Meal type Snack

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Ground Chia Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Whole Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Flax Seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Sesame Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon Iodised Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 tablespoons Oil

Directions

1. Place all the seeds and dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the water and oil.
2. Combine well and leave for 30-40 minutes to let the chia seeds swell and the mixture to thicken up.
3. Tip the mixture onto a tray with baking paper and spread out thinly over the entire tray. The thinner you spread it the less time is needed to bake it.
4. Score through the mixture, using a knife or pizza cutter, to make your desired cracker shape.
5. Place the tray in an oven heated to 150C. Bake for 30 minutes then take out and flip the crackers over.
6. Return the tray to the oven and bake on this side for another 30 minutes. Keep an eye on how quickly they are drying out, as it will depend on the efficiency of your oven (fan baked vs non-fan) and how thin you spread the mixture (which can be spread really thinly). You could use two trays.
7. The crackers should be crisp after cooling out of the oven for a minute or so. Let them cool completely on the tray before transferring to an air tight container.

Coconut Oat Slice

It seems nowadays coconut oil is either ‘in’ or ‘out’.  Whilst it is not the next Superfood that is going to fix everything, and we certainly wouldn’t recommend you add it to your coffee or cook with it every day, it can be a lovely addition to baking, and with a little less saturated fat than butter it can be a very flavorsome replacement.  This slice uses coconut oil and shredded coconut, and with some heart healthy oils from the nuts and seeds, minimal sugar, and lots of fibre, this is a great slice to have instead of a bought muesli bar, or as a shared snack.

Coconut Oat Slice

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (or replace the seeds and water with another egg)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup dates (packed tightly)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cups desiccated or shredded coconut
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 weetbix (crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

1. If using chia seeds, soak them in the water for 10 minutes. Also, in a separate bowl, soak the dates in some boiled water until soft.
2. Whilst the seeds and dates are soaking, melt the coconut oil, add the golden syrup and whisk in the egg(s).
3. Process the almonds and sunflower seeds until they look like bread crumbs. Mix them in with the coconut, oats and crumbled weetbix in a large mixing bowl. Add in the flour and baking powder.
4. Drain the dates, roughly chop them up and then add to the dry ingredients.
5. Add the chia seeds to the wet ingredients and then finally combine both mixtures together.
6. Press the mixture into a lined 20cm x 20cm tray and bake in a 180C degree oven for 20 minutes until slightly golden on top.
7. Allow to cool in the tray and then slice.

‘Creamy’ Cashew Nut Pasta

Nut butters are a great source of protein and healthy oils, and are really great to use as part of a dish.  This recipe starts from scratch, with the whole cashew nuts, which are great for turning into a really creamy sauce for pasta dishes.  You have to persevere with the blender to get the nuts to release the oils, but it’s well worth it.  This is also a very quick recipe to make, with minimal ingredients.

‘Creamy’ Cashew Nut Pasta

Serves 2
Prep time 15 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups unsalted cashew nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic (skins on)
  • 1 cup trim milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • seasoning
  • 3 cups cooked pasta

Directions

1. In a frying pan dry toast the cashew nuts and whole garlic cloves (still in their skins), by tossing them in the heat. Allow them to get slightly golden, but not too dark, around 5 minutes.
2. Remove the skins from the garlic cloves and add along with the still warm nuts to a food processor. (Keeping the nuts warm will help release their oils).
3. This next part can take anywhere between 5-15 minutes, depending on the efficiency and sharpness of your blender. Process the nuts and garlic until they form a paste. To start with they will resemble fine breadcrumbs, and depending on your blade it may take a while for them to reach the next stage. You will also need to stop the blender to scrape down the sides. Keep persevering, it does happen! Don't be tempted to add a little oil or water; this is not needed and may turn the mixture gluggy. Eventually the nuts will start to form an oily paste on the sides of your blender and move around the bowl; keep going until smooth. You have now successfully made garlic cashew nut butter!
4. Add the milk to the processor and blitz one more time to make a 'creamy' sauce.
5. Transfer the cashew sauce to a pan, add the parsley and spinach and warm through until the spinach has wilted. Season to taste and then add the cooked pasta and stir through to completely cover with the sauce.
6. Serve warm with any other vegetables you desire!

Strawberry Santas

This post was a lot of fun to put together – the strawberry Santa’s looked so cute we had to think twice about eating them!  However, taste them we did, and we really enjoyed the combination of strawberries and the thick greek yoghurt we chose to make them with.  This is a classic example of trying an alternative to the traditional, we could have used the usual whipped cream, but when thick yoghurt works just as well (and already thick and tasty with no need to prep or add sugar) we didn’t feel we were compromising on taste.

Enjoy your food this Christmas, enjoy the coming together to prepare it, and take care all you good food and nutrition lovers!

Strawberry Santas

Ingredients

  • Strawberries
  • Thick yoghurt, Cream cheese, Whipped cream
  • 1 Date

Directions

1. Wipe your strawberries dry and remove the green stem.
2. Slice the strawberries two thirds up from it's base.
3. Either use a piping bag for accuracy, or spoon about a table spoon of thick yoghurt (or cream cheese/cream if using) onto the cut end of the largest strawberry piece. Place the other strawberry piece on top as Santa's hat.
4. Dab some yoghurt on top of Santa's hat, and along his belly to act as buttons.
5. Roll two tiny balls of date between your fingers and add to Santa's face to make his eyes.
6. Place on your serving platter, and enjoy!

Labneh

Labneh is traditionally a Middle-Eastern style spread made from a small number of simple preparation steps.  It is made from unsweetened greek yoghurt, so it’s already hitting that ‘healthy’ button, and then marinated in oil and whatever herbs and spices you fancy.  We marinated ours in garlic as well as olive oil, which means we have some lovely garlic oil to cook with once the labneh is gone!

Labneh, as we have found, can have many uses.  You can use it in place of ricotta or cream cheese for most of their uses, and is lovely on toast in the morning (especially if you have added lemon juice to the marinade), smeared onto crackers, and even stirred through pasta for a simple, creamy style, pasta dish.  It is well worth hunting down that muslin to make this dish!

Labneh

Ingredients

  • 1 Litre unsweetened plain yoghurt
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley

Directions

1. Place a metal sieve over a large mixing bowl. Lay 2-3 layers of muslin over the sieve. Have an elastic band or piece of string handy.
2. Keeping the yoghurt in it's container, add the salt and mix thoroughly.
3. Pour the yoghurt mixture onto the muslin, gather the muslin ends around the yoghurt and tie tightly with the elastic band or string.
4. Cover the yoghurt and bowl completely before placing in the fridge. This prevents anything dropping into the whey (if you want to use it later), or the yoghurt taking on any flavours from the fridge.
5. If you want a soft spreadable cream cheese allow it to sit and drain out it's whey for 36-48hrs. If you want a much firmer dip leave it for 72hrs. Basically, the longer you leave it the firmer it will become. You can check firmness at any time.
6. Once ready, crush the garlic, chop the parsley and have the olive oil and a glass container for storage on hand.
7. Remove the labneh from the muslin wrap. Pour some olive oil over your hands and separate off a golf ball size amount and then shape into a ball. Place in the jar with a little extra oil.
8. Repeat this process until you have a layer of balls in the bottom of your container. Sprinkle over some garlic and some parsley, and a little more oil for good measure, and then keep adding labneh balls until finished.
9. Make sure the labneh is coated in oil, seal tight and then store in the fridge. If the balls are quite soft they will probably keep for a week or two. Harder labneh can be stored for a month.
10. Enjoy on a cracker, or stir through pasta, then use any remaining garlic oil to cook with!

Carrot Cake Bliss Balls

These bliss balls are a great way to get another vegetable into your day!

Carrot Cake Bliss Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1 orange
  • 2 Medium carrots (peeled)
  • 1/3 cup canned pineapple pieces
  • 1/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

1. Place the dates in boiling water and allow them to soak whilst putting the rest of the ingredients together.
2. Place the oats in a food processor and grind into a coarse flour.
3. Zest the orange, and add along with 1 tablespoon of orange juice to the oats.
4. Grate the carrots and add to the oats. Then add the rest of the ingredients (including the drained dates). Process until mixture has come together.
5. Using wet hands, roll into balls and then roll in desiccated coconut to finish. Makes around 40 balls depending on their size.
6. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Quinoa and Almond Cake

This recipe is a great option if you are avoiding dairy and wish to increase your plant based protein, and why not do this through baking!  It has a lovely light and nutty texture and you can play around with the fruit decoration (tinned pears also look particularly pleasing in a fan on the top!).  This is yet another recipe that works with minimal sugar.

Quinoa and Almond Cake

Serves 16
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flaked quinoa
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 orange (zested)
  • 1/2 tin of pear slices (or other fruit eg. frozen berries)

Directions

1. Place the quinoa flakes in a bowl and add the boiling water, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together, then add the oil in a stream whilst continuing to whisk. Keep whisking whilst adding the sugar.
3. Combine the almond meal, vanilla essence and orange zest with the quinoa.
4. Add the egg mix to the quinoa mix and combine to form a batter.
5. Pour the batter into a well-lined 23 cm cake tin (line it so that the paper prevents the batter from seeping through if you are using a spring-form tin).
6. Slice the pear pieces in half and arrange them in a fan on top of the batter, or simply scatter frozen berries over the top. Sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the top of the cake.
7. Bake at 180 degrees C for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

 

Salmon and Asparagus Fettucine

This dish is a lovely ‘rich’ pasta without the heavy cream sauce.  The salmon, garlic, lemon and parmesan gives it its distinct flavours, and using fresh seasonal asparagus is a real treat. Get all the ingredients for this delicious meal in store at Raeward Fresh!

 

Salmon and Asparagus Fettucine

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500g salmon fillet
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 drizzle oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 400g fresh fettucine pasta
  • 2 lemons (zest and juice)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Season the salmon fillets and cover with tinfoil and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish. Set aside.
3. Place a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
4. Chop up the onion, crush the garlic and cut the asparagus in two, trimming the ends. Cook the onion in a frying pan with a drizzle of oil, until translucent. Then add the garlic and asparagus, heat through for a further two minutes to soften slightly.
5. Add milk to the pan and bring it to a light simmer, then add the frozen peas.
6. Put the fresh pasta on to cook for 3-4 minutes.
7. Add the lemon zest and 3-4 tablespoons of the pasta water to the sauce to help thicken it. Then drain the pasta and add to the sauce.
8. Reduce to a low heat and add in all the egg yolks, taking care to immediately stir through the sauce (if you do this too slowly, or the heat is too high you may risk curdling the dish). Continue to allow the dish to warm through for a few more minutes.
9. Add the lemon juice, and again stir this through relatively quickly.
10. Flake the salmon into good bite-sized pieces and carefully fold through the pasta and season.
11. Garnish with grated parmesan.