Best Anzac biscuits ever!

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It was a quiet weekend at my place. The last weekend of school holidays can become rushed with back-to-school goings on, but apart from scheduling haircuts for the returning kidlets, it was great to lay low.

We took the opportunity to get into the kitchen and bake something frivolous. You know, not for lunchboxes, or to take to a playdate… just for fun. With Anzac Day approaching in less than a week, we’ve been seeing a lot of the Anzac biscuits around the supermarkets. Personally, I like my biscuits on the soft and chewy side, so the supermarket kind, being thin and crunchy, aren’t my thing.

This is my favourite recipe. If you’re wanting to bake a batch in time for Anzac Day, you could do much worse than these. Nice and simple, and apart from adding the boiling water, the kids can help with everything.

And yes, I may in fact be munching a couple while I’m writing this…

Anzac Biscuits

  • 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats and coconut
  • 115g butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup or treacle
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water (add a teeny bit more if the mixture is dry)
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda
  1. Grease and line biscuit trays and preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Combine dry ingredients.
  3. Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bi-carb soda, add to mixture.
  4. Mix butter and dry ingredients.
  5. Roll into small balls and place on tray, allowing room for spreading. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

From an original recipe provided by Mr Bob Lawson, an ANZAC present at the Gallipoli landing. Source: Australian War Memorial http://www.awm.gov.au

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Why I still feed baby food to my seven-year-old

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Last night I fed my six- and seven-year-old boys baby food.

No, I’m not sorry. In fact, I’m kinda proud.

You see, my boys are fussy eaters. They both love vegetables. Actually, they both love ‘A’ vegetable. And not the same one. My six-year-old will only eat carrots. Raw ones. My seven-year-old will only eat corn. Cooked ones.

They’re fine with lettuce, as long as it’s on a taco. Nowhere else. And they’re fine with capsicum and zucchini as long as it’s on our homemade pizzas. Nowhere else. And most nights I can’t be bothered with negotiating the minefield that is dinnertime, so I give them what I know they’ll eat. But I also don’t want them missing out on other great vegies.

So sometimes I get a bit sneaky. I pick up one of these from the supermarket (yes, I used to blend my own but that seems to happen more and more infrequently now I’m working part-time)…

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This week I’ve mixed some of this baby food into tomato sauce for their hot dogs, tomato paste on the pizza base, and tomato sauce again to dip some crumbed chicken. They have no idea of the extra vegie content of the sauce, and I can relax a little knowing that even though they only take a nibble of the vegies I’ve served with the meal, they’re getting just that little bit more.

Do you have any sneaky food secrets you don’t tell your kids?

Clean your plate! (If you want to…)

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There’s a lot of information floating around on the internet these days, much of it has to do with how to raise our kids.

At Little Bellies, we’re all about making dinnertime easier on the parents, AND the kids. So I wanted to share this article I found. I really like this advice. It says:

When it comes to feeding little kids, adults know best. But some nutritionists now argue that children could also benefit from a bit of autonomy at mealtimes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that parents let kids as young as 2 years old serve themselves at home. And in 2011, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advised that child care providers should serve meals “family-style” — present kids with a few different dishes and allow them to take what they want.

Why? Because there’s now research showing that when kids are allowed to serve themselves, they’re less likely to overeat. They also tend to be more open to trying different kinds of foods.

We do this in our house as often as we can.

If I serve a meal up onto individual plates I feel like I’m imposing my own interpretation of how much everyone ‘should’ be eating. But that’s listening to MY hunger, not theirs. I prefer to serve up say, a lasagne and salad, or tacos and a whole bunch of fillings, and let everyone serve themselves. I find my boys eat a good range of foods, and more of it, when they have control over their own meals. (Really, they don’t because I have still decided what to serve! Ha ha! Shh, don’t tell them…)

And we’re all a lot happier at the dinner table. Which is the whole point.

Do you eat your meals ‘family style’? Please leave a comment with your favourite meal to serve – we all need some more ideas!

Chicken taco image courtesy Taste.com.au. Head here for the recipe.

Why dinner sucks more than The Lego Movie*

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We’ve all been there. As soon as you announce dinner time, all hell breaks loose! WE want the kids to eat a balanced meal with lots of vegetables. THEY want chicken nuggets and chips. There must be a middle ground, right? Nobody can face that. Every. Single. Night.

A little while ago I came across this bloke, John Rosemond. Mr John certainly has some strong opinions on the best way to get our kids to eat dinner. Here’s his 3-step plan:

  1. Fix the picky eater what you want him to eat for breakfast and lunch. If he does not eat it, wrap it or toss it. Do not allow him to snack between meals, even if he’s eaten nothing all day. You have to stop wanting him to eat. He will live, I assure you. 

  2. Prepare the evening meal with no consideration of said picky eater’s food preferences. On his plate, put one level teaspoon of each food, as in one teaspoon of roast beef, one teaspoon of mashed potatoes with a few drops of gravy (“He loves mashed potatoes and gravy!”), and one teaspoon of broccoli. The rule then becomes: When the child has eaten everything on his plate, he may have seconds of anything, and the second helping of whatever in this case, mashed potatoes and gravy can be as large as his eyes are big.

  3. It will take a week or so and much complaining and maybe even pitiful wailing in the interim, but he will eventually begin eating the green, weird-tasting thing. At that point, begin slowly increasing the portion size of the green thing, but do not increase the portion of the thing(s) he loves.

I’m not quite as hard-core as Mr John, though I have at some points been quite prepared to chuck all the food out and let everybody fend for themselves. But then again, the thought of my kids eating nothing else all day really freaks me out. Sure, logically I know they won’t starve to death in just 24 hours. To be honest, it’s the incessant whining that would come along with that decision which totally puts me off.

I prefer a simpler solution: to understand that kids, in general, are fussy. Ours are not the only ones, I promise! I put something on their plate that they like and then ask them to choose something from the salad bowl. The fact they eat SOMETHING from the salad bowl is my choice. WHAT they choose is theirs. One son always chooses carrot. The other, a lettuce leaf. I don’t care, everybody wins.

And occasionally they can have chicken nuggets and chips. And I will, too.

What do you think of Mr John’s theory? Good advice, or too harsh?

*Actually, I haven’t seen The Lego Movie, but it holds absolutely zero appeal for me, even in the teeny tiny preview I have seen. My seven-year-old son, however, loved it. But then, he’s also pretty good at dinner… 🙂

Why your mum was wrong about dinner time

 

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It’s after 10pm. On a school night. You’re sitting at the dinner table, staring at a large pile of cold tuna casserole.* Which is exactly the same thing you’ve been staring at for the past two and a half hours.

Remember that?

When my friends and I were kids, we were all told to eat everything on our plates before we could leave the table/have dessert/watch telly. Now that I’m a mum myself, it’s a situation I don’t ever want to find myself in. It’s not fun for my kids. It’s not fun for me.

Have you noticed that some days your kids will eat like a bird, and other days you can’t seem to fill them up? Children moderate their own food intake really well, and it ebbs and flows as they grow. When their bodies are growing, they will eat. They stop for a while when they don’t need it.

It’s a much better idea to offer a range of healthy foods to your child and let them stop when they feel they’ve had enough. Forcing them to finish everything you’ve served up only encourages over-eating now and in the future.

Were you made to ‘clean your plate’ as a child?

 

*Okay, so tuna casserole ain’t my thing. Insert your most hated dinner here. 

My best “no idea” parmesan chicken balls!

Last night my boys ate carrots, creamed corn and zucchini… and they didn’t have a clue!

I’m a firm believer in keeping a calm dinner time, and I really hate fighting with my boys to eat their vegetables. So now and then I like to serve up something I know they will love, that also helps me get the vegies in without the arguments. Win-win!

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A couple of notes from a silly cook: this recipe is supposed make around 35 balls, but I must have made mine too big as I ended up with 25. And I also forgot to put the parmesan in with the Cornflakes! D’oh! So maybe not such an accurate title! They still worked just fine.

Jack preferred his chicken balls plain, but Liam loved dipping his into some tomato sauce – which also had hidden carrots and spinach! *insert evil laughter here*

Want to sneak some into your kids? As long as you include enough moisture to hold the mince together, feel free to substitute any veg you like…

  • 500g chicken mince
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 210g creamed corn (half a can)

COATING:

  • 4 cups crushed cornflakes
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

Put the carrot, zucchini, onion and garlic in a food processor and whizz it until finely chopped. Mix with chicken mince, egg, creamed corn, parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Form the mixture into balls or nuggets and coat with the parmesan and cornflakes mix.

Shallow fry the balls in oil and finish them off in the oven for about 10 mins on 180 degrees.

Handy Tips for Fussy Eaters #5

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I love hearing stories from other mums about dinnertime issues. For one, it makes me feel a lot better about my own picky eaters; for another, they often have some really creative ways of dealing with their kids and food.

My own boys love to have “strong competitions” with their dad when they’ve eaten a vegetable. Obviously, the more vegetables they’ve consumed, the more likely Dad is to be defeated. 😉

But I particularly love the approach of one mother I’ve come across. (Sorry, I haven’t had nearly as much sleep over the past six years as I would need in order to remember this mum’s name!) She urged me to take the dinnertime pressure off myself and my sons. She knew that kids need to be very familiar with a food before they will eat it. So she presented a new food to her child with varying degrees of expectation…

The first few times she served a new food to her child she told him not to eat it. (Huh?) Instead, she asked him simply to touch it. They would talk about how it felt, whether it was hard or squishy, the colour, the size of it. The next few times she would ask him to give the new food a kiss. (Nawwwwww…) Next time, to put it in his mouth, without chewing, just to feel it in there. I guess you can guess how this story ends…

I’m not sure I quite have the patience for this. I was raised in a “stay at the table until your finish your plate” household. But I am trying to find a balance, and I think taking the pressure off is a nice place to start.

Do you have the patience to try this method with your kids?

Photo credit: Bob.Fornal / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA