Lower sugar toddler banana loaf

Now that we have entered the world of regular snack times, I’ve been experimenting with recipes that both taste good but aren’t ridiculously high in sugar or anything else nasty. The first time I made this banana loaf it was simply to use up a stash of bananas that were well past their best and was made with probably a little too much sugar.

The second time I made it, I did a bit of research and found that I could replace half of the sugar with apple purée and it was unlikely to affect the flavour. X devours it on most occasions, shoving whole chunks into her mouth, so she clearly approves!

We’re now at the stage where X can eat cooked dairy products -we’re getting closer to being allergy-free – but I still like to make the odd dairy-free snack just in case.

Low(er) sugar toddler banana loaf

Makes approx 12 thick slices

Ingredients
125g butter (or dairy-free spread)
75g sugar
4 medium bananas
100g apple purée
2 medium eggs
250g wholemeal flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml whole milk (or milk alternative, I used coconut milk)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 190C and grease a loaf tin. I used a 1lb loaf tin but you could easily use a 2lb tin and it just wouldn’t be as tall as mine.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, usually around 3-4 minutes.
3. In a separate bowl mash the bananas and mix with the apple purée.
4. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar, whisking well between each addition. Add the banana and apple and mix to combine.
5. Fold in the flour, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda before adding the milk and mixing.
6. Pour the batter into the greased loaf tin and bake for 45 – 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

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This loaf freezes well but does tend to come out slightly moister when defrosted so don’t worry if it looks a little dry before freezing.

Snack time

With X turning 1, we’ve suddenly come up against an almost insatiable hunger which can no longer be satisfied by milk. To many parents this will not come as a surprise but for us, it seemed to happen overnight. One day she was happy with her three meals and milk in between and the next she was demanding food pretty much constantly.

So the week before I went back to work (eek!) I quickly had to whip up a couple of batches of snacks which could be put in X’s lunchbox and taken to the childminder’s. A quick browse on Pinterest and some of my favourite websites and I found a few recipes that X seems to approve of.

The date and coconut slice from One Handed Cooks is quick and easy to make and ranked higher than raisins in X’s pecking order of snacks which I never thought would happen! She can’t get enough of it! It freezes really well too.

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I have no idea what recipe I followed for this banana loaf. I probably made it up as I was going along but X devoured it, shoving whole slices into her mouth at once! It was lovely and moist and also froze really well. Unfortunately we have exhausted our supply – probably because I was also partial to a slice or two – so I’ll have to try and remember exactly how I made it so I can make another batch.

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A break from the kitchen

It has once again been a busy few weeks and months for our wee family as we finally bought our first house and moved in. X also recently turned one and although I would like to say that I have been busy making her a spectacular first birthday cake, time (or the distinct lack of it) unfortunately didn’t allow me that luxury.
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I have nevertheless turned my attention to a few craft projects out with the kitchen, both for our new house and for X and her friends’ first birthday presents.

My first endeavour was to upcycle a TV unit for our new house that I bought on Gumtree. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the most practical piece of furniture given that X now pulls everything out of the drawers but there’s no getting rid of it now!

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Next, I turned my attentions towards my sewing machine to whip up a few wee presents for X and her friends’ 1st birthdays. The material for the letters was specifically chosen for each child. I can’t wait until X’s one actually fits her.

The first was sewn lovingly by hand…

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The rest were sewn on the machine!

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My most recent project has included a bit of DIY, or as close to DIY as I get! When X was at her trial week with the childminder, I took the opportunity to finally decorate her room. Prior to this house, we’ve always been in rented accommodation so we’ve never really been able to out our stamp on the decor. I have however been collecting things for X’s room since she was born so it was just a matter of putting everything where it should be.

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Low-dairy macaroni cheese

I am once again writing this from underneath a sleeping baby. Illness has been sweeping through our household over the last few weeks and has now  culminated in a very poorly X who’s having trouble keeping anything down. Prior to the invasion of the germs however we made a lot of progress with introducing dairy into X’s diet.

After years of despising the hideous macaroni cheese that was served for school dinners, homemade macaroni cheese is now one of my favourite and most comforting meals and it’s one that I have missed so much since giving up dairy last year. However with a recipe that includes butter, milk and cheese, it’s not exactly dairy-free and I found it very hard to make dairy-free without considerably affecting the taste (have you ever tried vegan cheese?!).

Now that X is able to tolerate a small amount of cheese, I was able to make a slightly lower dairy version of my favourite dish. I replaced the butter with a dairy-free free spread, such as Vitalite, the milk was replaced with coconut milk and I used a good mature cheddar to inject as much flavour as possible into the dish from a minimal amount of cheese.

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At this stage I should expalin that the coconut milk I use in cooking and on my cereal nowadays is not the coconut milk that you would put in a curry. It is instead similar to soy milk or almond milk and genrally doesn’t affect the taste of dishes at all.

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I was unsure whether the adapted recipe would work or whether it would actually taste any good but my taste panel approved (X and her dad). However after a long time without it, I’m not sure who devoured theirs fastest: me or X!

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One step closer to a “normal” birthday cake…

Having turned a big 10 months last week, we can now start trying to reintroduce both dairy and eggs into X’s diet as most babies will grow out of their allergies by 10-12 months. So last week was mostly about…

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Yogurt! This is what I was recommended to start with and so far we’re not doing too badly. We started off with just a teaspoon of yogurt in the morning and have moved up to 2 teaspoons with breakfast. X has a slight reaction to it but nowhere near the crying fits we used to have.

On the plus side, it does mean that I can eat CHEESE again in small quantities.  Bliss!

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Our progress with eggs seems to be even better. X had some of my scrambled egg yesterday and an omelette for lunch today and there was no sign of the hives that used to consume her face when she ate egg previously. 

Hopefully at this rate X will be able to have a “normal” birthday cake in a few months time. Fingers crossed.

Popcorn cauliflower

This is another recipe that I came across on Pinterest and it’s gone down a treat with X. Anything with popcorn in the title will get my attention as I love the stuff but alas cauliflower and spices is all you need for this recipe.

You can use any combination of herbs and spices that you might have in the cupboard. I just choose to use smoked paprika because I’m a big fan of it and it means we can share the cauliflower. (One bit for X, one bit for mum…)

Popcorn cauliflower

Ingredients
Half a head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch cinnamon (to add a bit of sweetness)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 175C.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil and spices and add in the cauliflower. Mix until the cauliflower is coated in oil.
3. Place the cauliflower on an oven tray and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the cauliflower and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes or until the cauliflower starts to brown.
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Duffins!

This week’s playdate bake was duffins: a wonderful cross between doughnuts and muffins. They are coated with sugar, filled with jam…what’s there not to like!! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The recipe that I used is on the Channel 5 website. I of course had to make mine dairy-free so I substituted soy yogurt for the buttermilk and it worked fine. Thanks Michelle for recommending the recipe!

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