One Handed Cooks is a baby and toddler food blog that inspires people to cook beautifully simple, healthy food for their baby, toddler and primary school aged children. The recipes are all quick and easy to make, leaving you one free hand to wipe a nose, give a cuddle, or feed a hungry child.
Afternoon Tea: the trickiest meal of the day.
We started ‘big school’ this year which means 5 afternoons of pick up with tired and hungry kids. For most of first term I struggled to find a good balance of food to satisfy my kids ‘hanger’. We’ve been finding our groove in the new routine of starting school, starting preschool and waking the toddler from his afternoon nap to pick up the big boys.
So, if I set the scene - which is probably common to many of you in some way or another: the toddler (22 months) has usually just been woken up from a sleep and sat in the car for preschool and school pick up, the pre-schooler (3.5yr) is hangry, well because - preschool. And the kindy kid (6) is ‘hangry’ because, well - school.
The first thing they ask me, often before a ‘Hi Mum’ is, “Can we get an icecream?”. The answer is “no” except for Friday’s when it is “yes”. This works for me it as it creates routine – I can confidently say no (despite the regular requests), as they know Friday will come around quickly and there is no meltdown, sometimes a whinge but no longer any meltdowns. But since the anticipation of food and eagerness to eat is so great, I have been bringing a snack to pick up. Something to eat and something they like. It might be a banana, a hot cross bun (before Easter), a homemade biscuit, some cut up apple.
BUT, then they have been looking for more food when they get home. And just before dinner comes to the table they have been starting to open cupboards, drawers and the fridge and freezer looking for something they can eat. So, 3 kids with 3 different food preferences, 3 levels of understanding and patience all wanting something different, rarely the same and just before dinner. OF course!
Here’s what hasn’t worked on these occasions:
Boredom = results in constant requests for food just before dinner time.
Poor communication = not setting expectations for the afternoon and when dinner will be etc. Results in constant requests for food just before dinner time.
Not enough afternoon tea = resulting in constant requests for food just before dinner time.
Letting them graze without limit = not hungry enough to engage in dinner.
Too much afternoon tea =not hungry enough to engage in dinner.
Here’s what does work for me:
Creating an afternoon routine, to suit your family, so the kids know what to expect and gives you a healthy balance of outdoor play, screen time, food and homework.
A smoothie. This is rare for us as smoothies are often part of our breakfast routine, but I do find they are satisfying enough to hold them out and it is rich in nutrients, contains fruit and is quick and easy for them to drink.
Cheese, crackers, veggies and fruit. Simple but satisfying.
We adore pesto in this house. I make a batch at least once a week and freeze it for wonderful dips, pizza toppings or pasta 'sauce'. The kids always enjoy it and it makes the perfect dinner in a hurry! And this pea pesto packs in even more goodness to regular pesto. If you need a nut free pesto for kids you can replace the nuts with toasted mixed seeds.
Fussy Eating Tip" Pesto can be a surprising favourite of many kids and mixing up the ingredients is a great way to promote acceptance and enjoyment of a wide variety of nutritious foods. Peas is the winner is this yummy pesto.
Storage: Store in the fridge for 24 hours or freeze in small portions for up to 2 months
Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces. Ingredients
200g frozen baby peas
½ cup *toasted nuts e.g. pine nuts, macadamia, cashews – crushed
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs e.g. basil, parsley, coriander or chives
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup olive oil
*To toast the nuts simply place whole nuts in a frying pan over medium heat. Toss in the pan for a few minutes or until golden. Crush in a mortar and pestle or pulse in a food processor until fine.
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides and to taste, until smooth.
Serve pesto as a dip, as a sandwich spread, pizza topping or an appetiser spread on toasted crostini.
Sweet potato and cashew nut dip
We love boosting our dips with as much goodness as possible while still delivering a tasty snack! Baking the sweet potato gives an irresistible natural sweetness that we just love. The fun element of ‘dipping’ encourages kids to eat raw vegetable sticks as their ‘dippers’ without even realising it. Dips also make a really good sandwich base when used instead of butter.
Nutrition Note: Slow releasing carbohydrates, protein, monounsaturated fatty acids, fibre and health promoting antioxidants – this is a nutritious and satisfying dip sure to become a favourite.
Freezable, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Vegetarian
Storage: store in the fridge until serving. Freeze in individual portions for up to two months.
Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces. Ingredients
1 sweet potato, peeled, cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ cup cashew nuts
¼ cup chickpeas
½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
¼ cup fresh herbs e.g. parsley and coriander
squeeze of lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Toss the sweet potato cubes in 1 tbsp of olive oil and spread evenly over the tray. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until soft and starting to caramelise. Remove to cool.
Using a food processor, process the cashew nuts until a fine crumb forms. Remove. -
Add the sweet potato, chickpeas and herbs to the food processor and process to form a silky puree. Remove the mixture and place into a bowl. -
Stir through the cashew nuts and grated Parmesan then squeeze in some lemon to taste -
Spinach and ricotta dip
This spinach and ricotta dip is delicious on the outside and packed full of veggie goodness on the inside. Dips are a great place to blitz up and include vegetables as many little kids will enjoy the novelty of 'dipping'. Homemade dips are cheap and simple to make, not to mention delicious and contain no nasty additives or preservatives.
Nutrition Note: Making your own dips is always more simple than you think, are likely to contain more vegetables and helps to avoid unwanted artificial preservatives and added salt.
Freezable, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Vegetarian
Storage: Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces. Ingredients
1 tsp olive oil
1 zucchini, diced
1 small leek, white part only, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups chopped frozen spinach, defrosted
1 cup fresh ricotta
2 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Cook the zucchini, leek and garlic, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 5 minutes until soft and fragrant.
In the meantime squeeze the excess water from the spinach. Add spinach to the frying pan and stir to combine with the zucchini mixture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. -
Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the ricotta, mayonnaise, Parmesan and lemon juice and process until smooth. Season adult servings to taste. -
Feta and Pinenut dip
Feta and pinenuts are a flavour combination most people love and when you add the creaminess of Greek yoghurt it becomes even more irrisistable. We do love a good dip here at the One Handed Cooks headquarters. Why? Well...
Dips hide goodness and vegetables so fussy eaters are none the wiser.
Little kids love to ‘dip’ so you can introduce a range of new flavours and textures in a non-confronting way.
Homemade dips are cheap and simple to make, not to mention delicious and contain no nasty additives or preservatives.
The fun element of ‘dipping’ encourages kids to eat raw vegetable sticks as their ‘dippers’ without even realising it.
Dips make a wonderful sandwich base. Use them instead of butter, for a flavour and nutritional boost.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium, add the pine nuts and toast, stirring continuously until golden. Remove from the pan to cool.
Combine the nuts, parsley, and garlic in a food processor. Process until the mixture is a fine crumble. Add the cheese, lemon juice and yoghurt, process for a few seconds or until the mixture is even throughout.
Sesame and vanilla muesli biscuits
These dairy free sesame and vanilla muesli biscuits are just the thing you want for a nutritious pick-me-up. Perfect for the little ones (and adults too!) as they are full of goodness, and with just the right amount of sweetness. Pop some in the freezer for a snack on the go.
Nutrition Note: Muesli cookies and a satisfying snack for kids. The peanut butter, tahini and oil reduce the saturated content compared with many traditional recipes that use butter.
Note: if you wish to use your own muesli for the cookies simply replace the oats, coconut, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and sultanas with 3 cups of muesli.
Storage: keep biscuits in airtight container for 5-7 days or in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Uncooked cookie dough can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces. Ingredients
2 cups oats
½ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp pepitas
¼ cup sultanas
¾ cup light flavoured oil e.g. sunflower, light olive
¼ cup honey*
¼ cup 100% peanut butter
1 tbsp tahini
1½ tsp vanilla extract
*use maple syrup for children under 12 months of age
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Place the oats, coconut, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and sultanas in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Place the oil and honey in a small saucepan over low-medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and tahini.
Add the peanut butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until well combined.
Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on the baking tray. Flatten slightly and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. -
Packing a healthy lunchbox: a simple recipe
Well, it's all systems go with lunch boxes for the start of the 2018 school year. How is everyone doing? Are you a seasoned professional, first-timer or perhaps you've upgraded from 'part-time' to 'full-time' like me?
I've been packing lunch boxes for George (5) for a couple of years now, only 'part-time' (2-3 days per week) while he was at preschool, however now we've entered the 'real deal' of big school. So it's 3 containers/lunchboxes a day - crunch and sip, recess and lunch - 5 days a week. Plus, add in Hamish's (3) preschool lunch boxes now too. To add in to the complexity they each have different food preferences (and appetites!) so it is requiring some concentration to make sure I've put the right fruit or veg in the right lunch box! And the right quantity! It can be quite overwhelming for some kids to open a lunchbox with unfamiliar foods OR either too little or too much food. We'll get there.
But back to the nitty gritty. We know kids need a nutritious and varied diet with key nutrients such as quality carbohydrates, protein, calcium, iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids to help them learn and play, but how does that translate to what to include in your child's lunchbox day in and day out? Having a simple checklist (either in your head or on the fridge) gives you an easy strategy to provide the majority of these nutrients each day. And offering variety through the week will help to maximise their overall nutrition. Leaving room, of course, for these delicious chocolate zucchini cake balls!
The simple recipe
Choose quality carbohydrates: Wholegrain breads, wraps, pasta, crispbreads and cereals, brown rice, quinoa and legumes are higher in fibre, B vitamins and folate and provide longer lasting energy than white and refined varieties, helping to keep children satisfied and be able to concentrate in the classroom.
Include protein: It’s important for satisfying hungry little appetites and helping kids to feel full, allowing them to concentrate on learning and remembering. Lean red meat slices or meatballs, leftover roast chicken, lean ham, canned fish, eggs, hummus or cheese fillings are great on sandwiches. Cheese slices or sticks, yoghurt tubs, regular or flavoured milk, nuts (depending on age and school rules) or wholegrain muesli or nut bars are also sources of protein and great for snacks.
Pack vegetables: They provide a variety of important nutrients, and add fibre and bulk to their diet. Depending on the age of your child, pack cherry tomatoes, carrot, capsicum or celery sticks and even snow peas as snack options and include salad fillings on sandwiches such as lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber. Some kids love homemade dips and these can help enjoyment and acceptance of veggie sticks.
Provide fresh fruit: It’s a more nutritious, nutrient rich, higher fibre and satisfying option compared with juice or processed fruit snacks, and lower in sugar and energy compared with dried fruit. Fruit which is local and in season is most likely to be the cheapest, tastiest, nutritious and most enjoyed.
Include water as a drink: It’s essential for keeping hydrated. Pack frozen water bottles or add ice cubes to their drink bottle if your child prefers colder water - especially on hot days. Try to avoid juices, cordials and soft drinks. Kids smply don't need them.
An important note on balance and enjoyment: being consistent with healthy eating at home and a healthy balanced packed lunchbox means there is room for sometimes foods. This is an important part of normal eating. It also helps to prevent your children from ‘swapping’ their lunch for the colourful pre-packaged foods that other children may have included in their lunchbox. If this is totally up your alley, this post on our favourite freezer friendly lunchbox sweet snacks is a must read.
Like anything practice brings knowledge and understanding. So if this is new to you, or your child prefers the same food in the same way everyday, give yourself and your child a little time to find your new groove and the balance of what they love, what they're learning to love and what you'd like them to love! Please join us on Instagram for some more behind-the-scenes lunchbox inspo and tips and tricks.
More lunchbox posts: The Allergy Friendly LunchboxThe Travelling Lunchbox: food safety4 lunchbox snacks in 1 hourJoin us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces.
So my Mum took the big kids to the movies today, the last day of holidays. It was then that I realised I was completely unprepared for back to school this year. We only got back from holiday’s a few days ago and it’s taken up until now to emerge from the washing. So I have made 4 freezer friendly back to school snacks that I am certain all the kids will enjoy. Three of these back to school snacks aren’t even on the blog yet as they haven’t been photographed. So this post will probably self destruct in a few weeks time when I get around to writing them up properly. In the meantime I am happy to share these freezer ready back to school snacks with you, they make a nice little sweet treat and a great alternative to store bought baked goods.
If these don’t appeal to you there are also these four recipes they’re also freezer friendly and I made in under an hour.
1. Anzac biscuits.
A classic biscuit that takes no time to make and you probably have everything you need in the house. Total winner every time. Ingredients
¾ cup plain flour
¾ cup desiccated coconut
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup sugar
100g butter (or 1/3 cup canola oil)
2 tablespoons golden syrup
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoons boiling water
Method Preheat the oven to 150°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Add the flour, coconut, oats and sugar in a large bowl and stir to combine. In a small saucepan melt butter (or oil) and syrup together in over medium-low heat. Mix bicarbonate of soda and boiling water and then add to the melted butter and syrup. Gently mix wet ingredients with the dry. Place tablespoonfuls of mixture on a lined baking tray and bake for 15minutes or until golden brown.
2. Apricot coconut balls.
These nutritious bliss balls are the result of throwing together a bunch of ingredients and crossing my fingers. Thankfully they worked out really well and I love that they aren’t too sweet. They freeze and defrost perfectly. Ingredients
1/2 cup rolled oats, lightly toasted
200g, dried apricots
3 tablespoons apple juice or water
1 cup desiccated coconut + extra to roll
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal or mixed seed meal or cereal like Rice Bubbles or Weetbix
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Method Use a food processor to blitz the oats. Add the apricots and process on a high speed until finely chopped. Add all other ingredients and blitz for around 20 seconds or until well combined and the mixture starts to stick together. Roll into small balls and then roll in the extra coconut.
3. Lunchbox squares.
As you can see there’s a bit of an apricot theme going on here. I had a packet of no-preservative apricots so I have used those. You could use any dried fruit, I think dates would also work well. Ingredients
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots or other dried fruit
1/2 cup mixed seeds e.g. sunflower seeds, peptias or shredded coconut
130g butter, cubed
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
Method Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a lamington tin with baking paper. In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, flour, apricots, sultanas and seeds until well combined. In a small saucepan melt the butter, honey and sugar over a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the butter mixture over the dry mixture and stir until well combined. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly and then put in the fridge to set. Slice into squares.
4. Zucchini chocolate cake balls.
As I was scrolling through a million recipes with Harry looking for inspiration it kept coming back to chocolate cake. Chocolate muffins. Chocolate cupcakes. Chocolate bliss balls. OK buddy, I get it. So I attempted to make a cake pop – without the pop because – ain’t nobody got time for dat, and these are FAB. They’re quite rich, so you can keep the portion size small.
1 large (200g) zucchini finely grated, juice squeezed out
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil or melted coconut oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup cacao powder or cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup chopped quality cooking chocolate
Desiccated coconut or sprinkles to top
Method Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a square 20cm baking tin with baking paper. In a large bowl combine the zucchini, milk, maple syrup, oil, eggs an mix until well combined. Sift over the flour, cacao and baking powder and mix until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes or until the top springs back when you push it. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a microwave proof bowl melt together the coconut oil and chocolate in the microwave – I do 10 second intervals, stirring in between.
Break apart the cake and place in a large food processor. Pulse until you have an even breadcrumb looking mixture. Pour over most of the melted chocolate – reserving about 1 tablespoon. Continue to process for a further 10 seconds until the mixture holds together. Scoop 1 tablespoon amounts of mixture and squeeze into balls. Once you have all the mixture shaped you can also dip them into the remaining chocolate and top with some desiccated coconut or natural coloured sprinkles.
Firstly, we would love to thank you for all of your support in 2017. It's been a very happy one for us with the continued success of our bestselling self-titled cookbook, One Handed Cooks, the launch of our latest ebook, Family Foodie, and new projects in the works (stay connected in 2018 for more exciting things to come).
To celebrate we are once again offering our little Christmas eBook to you for FREE. With ALL NEW recipes such as Christmas pizza wreaths, Banana Snowmen and Watermelon Christmas Trees, it brings festive fun to meal and snack times. Plus we're offering 50% off our 'Foodie' & Thermomix ebooks.
If you like it you'll love all our eBooks - Baby Foodie, Finger Foodie, Family Foodie and Thermomix Sweet and Savoury. Or if you fancy something you can touch and feel you must grab a copy of our latest book. Enjoy.
For more great Christmas ideas and for all of your baby, toddler and family food nutrition info and recipes visit the One Handed Cooks Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Many of us have some amazing memories when it comes to the lead up to Christmas, and some of those memories involve all the fun Christmas themed food we used to eat. While there are plenty of sugary treats to go around, its nice to have a balance. We have come up with some healthy ‘every day’ festive ideas to put into the mix. While it’s good to try some healthy alternatives this Christmas it’s important to remember that eating, enjoying and sharing party food with friends during the holiday season is all part of normal eating, even for children. The key is balance, variety and moderation.
Merry Christmas to all of our fans. Thank you for your support and inspiration. We wish you and your families a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.
Allie, Jess and Sarah x
Dinner ideas for fussy eaters.
There are lots of things that my children will eat. But as they grow up, there are lots of things that they won't eat. Or at least that ALL of them will eat at any one time. My kids are 6, 3 and 12months and in general they are pretty good eaters. They all have their fussy moments (particularly the 3 year old), and I tackle those as they come usually using the tasting plate method and trusting their hunger and fullness cues. Most importantly I just keep calm and try to make mealtimes as varied and enjoyable as possible. But there is so much more info on all of this and amazing new recipes in our bestselling book - currently available as a hard copy and ebook. Or you can buy our Foodie ebooks for recipe inspo.
This post is simply about what they will all eat, (at the moment, anyway). These are my top 3 dinners that seem to satisfy everyone in some way. And my husband and I will eat, too. What will everyone eat at your place?
Fish 'n' chips
It doesn't matter whether I crumb it like the below recipe or just pan fry in some butter and lemon, simply prepared fresh fish is a winner. And that suits me perfectly because it is so easy and nutritious! I will pair the fish with some homemade 'chips' and I make these super crispy and irresistible: buy russet potatoes, peel and chop into small 1-2cm cubes, toss in olive oil (and a smidge of butter if you like) and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 20, shake the pan, bake a further 20 or until golden and crunchy. And I serve with a little green salad or steamed broccoli.
My kids all like bolognese but they don't all like it as spaghetti. So I like to load up on veggies in a simple bolognese sauce or add some lentils to boost it even more. Then I adapt to suit each child, one will eat it as a traditional spaghetti, the other prefers spaghetti bolognese muffins which freeze really well and the baby just has whatever. You can also put the bolognese in some pastry triangles or bread pies and these are always a hit!
Fajitas or tacos
Any meal that is essentially deconstructed and put in the middle of the table 'serve yourself' is a hit. The kids feel like it's Christmas and love the freedom of serving themselves. This style of eating means everyone will eat something, and they can plate up as they wish. I like making chickpea fajitas or veggie and chicken fajitas otherwise a simple beef taco also goes down pretty well.