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.
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.
Honey and ginger pork
Many children love asian inspired stir fry's like this honey and ginger pork. You can serve the elements separately to fussy eaters 'tasting plate' style if they are reluctant to try it.
Nutrition Note: Remember honey is to be avoided for babies under 12 months of age due to the risk of botulism.
For more amazing recipes like this you can buy our ebooks Baby Foodie, Finger Foodie, or Family Foodie OR our bestselling Book "Raising a happy, healthy eater from baby to school age" here. Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces. Ingredients
2 tbsp honey
2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp kecap manis
500g pork filet, trimmed, sliced into strips
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 bunch broccolini, roughly chopped
500g fresh rice noodles to serve
1 tsp sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
Combine the honey, ginger, sesame oil and kepap manis in a bowl. Add the pork and stir to coat. If time permits, allow the mixture to marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes. Remove from the fridge, drain and reserve the marinade. -
Heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the pork to the frying pan or wok. Stir-fry 4 minutes or until seared. Remove form the pan and set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of peanut oil in the frying pan. Add the onion, capsicum, carrot, broccolini and reserved marinade. Stir fry for a few minutes or until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. Add the seared pork, stir fry for a further few minutes or until the pork is cooked through. -
Serve with your favourite Asian noodles such as flat rice noodles, vermicelli, or egg noodles.
Storage: Store leftovers in the fridge for 24 hours. Reheat until piping hot. -
Chocolate beetroot cake
Chocolate and beetroot is a heavenly combination that is definitely worth a try. Eating cake and having veggies at the same time sounds like a pretty good idea to me! This cake is rich and moist and you'll have no trouble getting the kids to try some.
A surprising ingredient to your chocolate cake, beetroot gives it a boost of colour, flavour and nutrients including fibre, vitamin C as well as health promoting antioxidants.
Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces. Ingredients
1 medium-large beetroot (½ cup roasted beetroot puree)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup self raising flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup hot water
Preheat the oven to 180°C. -
To roast the beetroot, trim stems then wrap the clean, unpeeled beetroot in a piece of foil with a tablespoon of water. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 60 minutes, or until tender and a skewer can easily pierce the flesh. Peel the beetroot while warm, wearing gloves to avoid staining hands. Place the still warm beetroot into a processor or use a stick blender to puree. Set aside to cool.
Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
Cream together the butter, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla using an electric mixer. Once pale and creamy, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix through the beetroot puree. -
Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl.
On a slow speed, mix through half of the flour mixture into the buttery beetroot mixture until just incorporated. -
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the hot water, mixing until combined. -
Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Place in prepared cake tin and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool before removing from tin. -
Ice or decorate as desired. We served our cake with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, sweetened with a touch of maple syrup stirred through, and then topped it with beautiful berries and a dusting of icing sugar.
Carrot and ginger muffins with cream cheese icing
These carrot ginger muffins are packed full of banana, almond meal and spices. They are light and fluffy and low on added sugar - making a gorgeous morning or afternoon tea snack.
Fussy Eating Tip: Introducing spices in a variety of ways encourages their overall enjoyment and acceptance. The ginger paired with the carrot and banana is delicious in this soon to be favourite snack.
Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces. Ingredients
½ cup almond meal
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup self raising flour
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
1 cup grated carrot
½ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
½ banana, mashed
100g cream cheese
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin.
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, carrot, oil and banana. -
Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Scoop the mixture into the muffin tin until ¾ full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven to cool. -
To make the icing, whisk together the cream cheese, maple syrup and lemon juice to taste. Spread over cooled muffins. -
Storage: Store in the fridge for 2 – 3 days or wrap and freeze muffins in freezer proof bags for up to two months. -
Roast potato, sweet potato and salmon frittata
This frittata is a family staple in this house! It is so easy to make and an absolute crowd favourite. The veggies are naturally sweet and match perfectly with the salmon. It's a great first introduction to fish for the little ones, too.
Nutrition Note: Eggs are a convenient and nutritious staple to have stocked in the fridge. They provide high quality protein and are rich in many important nutrients that support the growth and development of children including iron, zinc, folate, vitamin A and vitamin B12.
Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces. Ingredients
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1cm dice drained
½ medium sweet potato peeled and cut into 1cm dice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed
1 x 180g tin pink salmon in spring water bones removed drained
1-2 tbsp milk or water (baby portion only)
½ cup tasty cheese
8 eggs, lightly whisked
Preheat the oven to 200°C. -
Place the potato and sweet potato in a roasting tray, add the oil and toss to combine. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning half way through, or until the potato and sweet potato are golden and tender.
Preheat the grill to high.
Place a frying pan on the stove top over low heat. Place the potato and sweet potato in a single layer on the base of the frying pan. Layer the spinach leaves on top, followed by the salmon and then top with the grated cheese.
Pour the eggs over the top. Continue to cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes or until the egg has begun to set around the edges but is still runny in the centre. -
Place under the grill and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the egg has set and the frittata is golden brown on top. -
Freezable, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free
After step 2. combine ¼ cup of the roasted potato and sweet potato, 4-5 baby spinach leaves, 1 tbsp canned salmon and the milk or water and blend until you have the desired consistency. Optional, add 2tsp grated cheese when blending. -
Freezable, Gluten Free, Wheat Free
For toddlers, slice the frittata into small squares and serve with steamed vegetables. -
For adults, slice the frittata into large triangles and serve with a side salad or steamed vegetables
Storage: store any leftovers in the fridge for 1-2 days or wrap in individual portions and freeze for 1-2 months. -
3 Foods Kids Often Don't Like & Recipes to Inspire Them
All kids are different and they all have different sensory preferences to one another. This means most children will have foods they love and some (or many!) that they are 'learning to love'. There's often a common theme that categorises the foods they love or the regularly refused foods. It might be they are too dry, too crunchy, too chewy, too saucy or wet, too sweet, too white or perhaps too colourful. Usually, because of some of the reasons just mentioned, the following 3 foods - broccoli (or green veg), meat and spicy foods - are among the most commonly refused foods amongst little kids. Tuning into your child and offering the foods in new ways that stretch them sensitively by catering to their usual food preferences may be just the trick to find the refused foods on the love list.
So have a read below on why they can be challenging foods for little ones and some yummy recipes to inspire new interest and enjoyment of these nutritious foods.
It's true. Broccoli, must be one of the most challenging foods for little kids. It’s bright green in colour, it has a furry textured floret, a harder textured stalk and if it’s not cooked to perfection it can be hard to chew or taste very bitter. Serving it steamed on the plate every other night might not be the way to inspire kids to enjoy it (some kids love it like this) but cooking it in a variety of ways such in stirfrys, with sauces, chopped finely through fritters, nuggets and pastas can be better accepted. Making each exposure positive and non threatening will usually facilitate enjoyment.
With meat sometimes it’s the taste, sometimes it’s the texture and sometimes they just don't know how to eat it. But it's common for young kids to be meat avoiders. With practice kids can build up their chewing skills and strength to be able to eat and enjoy tougher textured meats but in the meantime mince meals, meatballs, nuggets, tender lamb cutlets and sausages are often well accepted.
Some kids love big bold flavours and spices but generally little kids aren’t very accepting of them. My 5 year old is very wary of spices but 3 year old is a sensation seeker so doesn’t mind a chilli hit. Introducing mild spices such as cumin, paprika and coriander early in their starting solids journey or introducing the flavours slowly and regularly kids will become more accepting of spices.