sweet potato bits dusted with cinnamon & sugar

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a little sweet bite after school

Piepie comes home from school starving! It’s always so close to dinner time that I hate having her snack on too much but making her wait an hour and a half or two for dinner to be ready is just unfair and mean. I’m always trying to think of healthier fun snacks (other than quick grabs like fishies or crackers). Today’s little sweet potato bits dusted with cinnamon & sugar were a hit.

what you need:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil (I use grape seed oil)
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (I used organic cane sugar)

what to do:

  1. Wash sweet potato well. I left the skin on so I made sure to really scrub the outside!
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut into small little cubes (mine were about 1 cm x 1cm).
  4. In a large bowl, toss together cubed sweet potatoes, oil and salt.
  5. Bake in the middle rack for about 5 – 8 minutes (I used convection so it was faster) – then use a wooden spoon to move them around / flip them so that all sides get browned.
  6. Bake for another 5 – 8 minutes, until golden brown on the outsides and tender.
  7. Remove sheet from oven and brush hot sweet potato bits with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Fold up the parchment paper at all corners to lightly toss. IMG_7869.JPG
  8. Spread them back out into one layer on the sheet to cool with their new cinnamon and sugar coat. It’s important not to pile them onto a plate / bowl when warm or it will become soggy and you lose the sugar crunch.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

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    once cooled you can pile them up!

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sweet potato, spinach & chick pea hash

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Tonight’s main was this hash, inspired by two reasons:

1. My kids love sweet potatoes but were getting a little tired of sweet potato fries (usually I just cut them up into sticks and oven roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper).

2. I decided to go lighter and vegetarian for dinner because over the weekend we hosted two BBQs and definitely had our share of meaty proteins.

The girls (piepie and boss) ate this sweet potato hash right up and didn’t even flinch at the green spinach.  It also packs easily for lunch the next day, delicious at room temperature or slightly cool.  You could even spice it up by adding cumin, cayenne pepper, coriander, and/or turmeric.

prep: 10 min    cook: 10 min    yield: 2-4

what you need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed/scrubbed thoroughly
  • 1 cup chick peas (cooked)
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp mild tasting cooking oil (I used avocado oil)
  • salt & pepper
  • cooking oil

what to do:

  1. Place washed sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium low, parboil (partly cooking) for about 10 minutes. You want them to be tender but not falling apart.
  2. Once cool enough to handle,  roughly cut sweet potato into bite size chunks. (I like to leave the skin on for texture and fibre).
  3. In a large skillet (best to use cast iron) – on medium high heat, add butter and cooking oil. (If you are using a non-stick pan, use medium heat). Once the butter melts, add the cooked sweet potato chunks and mash slightly with a large fork or potato masher. Lightly brown the sweet potatoes to make them hash-like.
  4. Add in your chick peas and spinach – stirring to mix everything together – about 5 minutes – once the spinach wilts and the chick peas are warmed, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy!

 

 

baby’s first curry

baby's first curry

vibrant turmeric

I know what some of you might be thinking…”whoa, curry for a baby??” but keep in mind it is very mild and none of the spices in this recipe are actually spicy! I like introducing new flavours to my baby (the boss) because I think it’s important for her to develop her taste buds and be open to lots of different kinds of foods and cuisines. Plus, many of these spices and aromatics have lots of natural health benefits. For example, turmeric has been shown to have several positive effects on our body, ginger can sooth upset tummies, and it has long been known that garlic and onions can help boost your immune system. Giving your baby exciting new tastes instead of bland purees while boosting her health is a great way to start solids!

prep: 10 min   cook: 20 min   yield: 5 small mason jars

what you need:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 cup cooked chick peas
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 1/2 small cooking onion
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper *optional

what to do:

  1. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Wash and peel sweet potato, then cut into half inch discs.  Place them on the cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil all over them, season very lightly with salt and pepper, then move them around so that all sides get coated.  Place into oven, middle rack, and bake for about 7 minutes per side (until fork tender, and just gently golden browned).
  3. Smash garlic, dice onion, and cut ginger into thin pieces.
  4. While your sweet potatoes are roasting, heat up 1 tsp oil in a small frying pan (medium-low heat).
    saute

    sautéing

    Sauté garlic, onions and ginger until softened, and onions are almost translucent.
  5. Add the ground spices (cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric) and at this point if the pan seems to dry add a little bit more olive oil.  Once you smell all the aromas coming together, turn off the heat.  This should only take about 30 seconds or so.
  6. While the onions cool, blend chick peas until smooth. Then add onion mixture and blend until a fine purée.
  7. Sweet potatoes should be about ready now – remove from oven and allow them to cool just until they are ready to handle.  You can add them to the puree and blend – or, if you want more texture, simply mash them gently with a fork and then add them to the chick pea mixture, then store into mason jars. You can keep this in the fridge for a few days or freeze them in smaller jars to pull out for meals later.
the boss munching on a roasted sweet potato disc

the boss munching on a roasted sweet potato disc

roasted chicken for all

IMG_3356Today is Sunday – which usually means I have more time for the kitchen!  I find it so helpful to take advantage of this extra time and make something that can stretch into the next day or two.  This Sunday I decided on a whole roasted chicken with onions and sweet potatoes, and steamed kale for some green.  My plan was make this early in the day, which allowed time for homemade chicken stock and some baby food (see how below). My toddler (aka sweetie pie pie) and my 7 month old (aka the boss) absolutely love sweet potatoes and roasted chicken.  And they don’t mind kale either.  I am lucky – they are both very good eaters.  There was a rough period of time when pie pie was about 18 months…she would not eat anything except cheese, cereal, bread and milk.  Occasionally maybe a chick pea or hard boiled egg.  That was really frustrating for me, especially when we travelled to San Francisco (so much good food!!!) and I had to get her these items at the grocery store (while we ate delicious things like gelato or korean fusion at HRD coffee shop).  Fortunately, she grew out of this funk in a few months and has been a good little eater ever since; she is not afraid of green things or spices.  If she had her way though I know she would still choose carbs and cheese first:)

prep: 15 min   cook: 1 hr 30 min   yield: 4-6

what you need:

  • whole chicken (mine was 1.7 kg)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 small cooking onions
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 cup water

what to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Thoroughly wash sweet potatoes.  Peel if desired, but I like to keep my skins on, especially if I’ve purchased organic ones.  Chop potatoes and onions into large chunks, about 2″ x 2″.
  3. Place cubed vegetables into large baking dish and drizzle olive oil all over, about 1-2 tsp.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Smash garlic and roughly chop.
  5. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towel.  Rest breast side up on a cutting board, and butterfly by cutting along the breast bone.  This will help speed up roasting of the chicken.  You can roast the chicken whole but it will take longer (use a thermometer, internal temperature should be 165 F).
  6. Drizzle chicken with olive oil (about 1 tbsp), and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Find little pockets under the skin to insert the garlic cloves – be sure to push the cloves under the skin as far as you can to really flavour the meat underneath.IMG_3355
  7. Pour 1 cup of water into baking dish and put into the hot oven.  Set your timer for 15 minutes.  After the first 15 minutes, lower temperature to 370 F, and roast for another 1 hour or so.  The skin should be golden brown, internal temperature at 165 F, sweet potatoes fork tender, onions very soft and translucent.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.  Cutting it too soon will make your chicken dry – the juices within the meat will just run out onto your cutting board.  It’s too hot to handle anyways!
  9. While your chicken is resting, wash kale, remove tough stems, and roughly chop.  Steam for 6 minutes – you know it’s ready when it turns vibrant bright green.IMG_3363
  10. Remove all veggies, draining away excess liquid/fat.  Cut chicken as desired, but save your bones!

homemade chicken stock:

  1. Remove bones from roasted chicken.  For even more flavour and nutrition (claims my mom), take an extra step and smash the drumstick bones to expose the marrow.  You can use the back of a heavy knife, or a mallet.
  2. Bring 7 cups of water to a boil.  Add liquid from roasted chicken baking dish, and bones.  Once it boils again, bring it down to a simmer (low heat) for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Once it’s not piping hot, strain (to remove those bones and potential shards!), and skim off the top layer of fat using a large spoon.  The easiest way is to transfer your stock to a mason jar or some other container, store it in the fridge…the fat will solidify at the top and you can just simply scoop it out and discard.  Now you have homemade chicken stock!

baby’s roasted chicken, sweet potato & kale dinner

DSC_0533  1. Put roasted sweet potatoes, onions, and steamed kale into  a blender (I use my ninja), and add about 1/4 cup homemade chicken stock (or water).  Blend until desired consistency.  You can also add chicken to the mixture.  I give my little Joce tiny pieces of dark meat, as she is able to gum at this texture.  Baby led weaning is popular and recommended now but it really is about how comfortable you are and how your baby does with textures.  I still like giving her some purees, especially with today’s sweet potato with the skin on, and the onions.  Both would be difficult for her with no teeth to chew well and swallow safely.  I like to keep my baby food in these small mason jars – I find one jar for the boss is the perfect portion.  If you are freezing it make sure to leave some space as it will expand!  I made that mistake once and my jars cracked and the lids warped!

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Two happy munchkins.  On the right: a quick meal made by soba noodles (a quick cooking japanese buckwheat noodle) topped with chopped steamed kale, some shredded roasted chicken, and chicken broth.