Following the success of Sample Vegetarian Menus for Mum and Toddler (tweeted by MumsNet!) I’ve decided to write more about the food we eat since we turned veggie. These are not recipes but ideas born from lack of time. I’ve put them together to give you a framework and basis for a meal, but the actual ingredients depend on what you fancy and what you have in your cupboards. Most of the dishes take 15 minutes to prepare.
We follow BLW and so Little F has always eaten what we eat. All the below dishes can be enjoyed by the whole family so there’s no need to cook two different meals.
Number one on the list for the sheer versatility. You can put anything into an omelette: potatoes, feta cheese, beetroot, squash, carrots, coriander, peas, tuna, onion… There’s always something in your fridge or cupboard to flavour an omelette. My favourite is cheese, tomato and spinach. It’s tasty and healthy.
Another easy family favourite. You can add any steamed, cooked or baked vegetables, so it’s great to use up leftovers. With some tinned chickpeas, beans or tuna it makes a balanced meal with minimal preparation. You can also sprinkle whole or ground nuts (avoiding chocking hazard) to add interesting texture or flavour. One of my favourite 15 minute meals is pasta with grated cheddar, tuna and cherry tomatoes.
It saved my life many times when I ran in from an outing with Little F getting hungry. I grate some vegetables into the dry cous-cous and pour in boiling water – as you would when preparing plain cous-cous. I leave it covered for a few minutes and it’s ready! No actual cooking is required. I like to add cheese to help it stick together otherwise it can go all over the place when Little F tries to eat it with his hands or a spoon.
It’s one of big flavours in Polish cooking and something I love about UK is ready cooked vacuum packed beets. They require no cooking and don’t turn your hands red for days, as you don’t have to peel or prep them. Beets have a wonderful sweet flavour and I like to use them in sandwiches and quick salads. One evening with an empty fridge I managed to create a 15 minute soup. I’ve put beetroot, stock (could use stock cube and water), creamed horseradish, lemon juice and cumin seeds into a smoothie blender (you could equally use food processor). After blitzing I’ve heated it up, without letting it boil. Great served with bread and maybe pieces of feta to cut through the sweetness.
These are so easy to prepare and we usually have some lurking about in the fridge. They are great as toddler food as they are cut into manageable chunks and roasting makes them nice and soft. Once I am tired of eating roast veg with a salad I put them together in the food processor add a little water and wheatgerm and make a ‘pate’. To make the texture more interesting I add tinned beans or chickpeas, or some nuts (ground for Little F). The ‘pate’ can be enjoyed on it’s own or on toast.
This is just a few things to add nutrition and/or flavour to many dishes:
- Wheatgerm – full of folic acid and other vitamins and minerals. I add a spoonful with porridge, over fruit salad, into mash potato, soup… It doesn’t really have flavour, but adds lots of goodness.
- Ground nuts – I quickly blitz a handful with a hand-blender and sprinkle over fruit salad, savoury salad or add to breakfast cereal. Depending on what nuts you are using this will add both flavour and nutritional value.
- Toasted sesame seeds – It is amazing how much flavour there is in such a tiny grain and quickly toasting it brings it all out. Sprinkle over sandwiches or salads.
- Dash of oil (ground nut oil, olive oil, sesame oil) – a good quality olive oil has a great peppery flavour and there is no reason a toddler should not enjoy it. A dash over pasta adds flavour and extra calories for the toddler.