If you’re after a super-quick delicious muffin recipe, read on!
I just love rhubarb – it’s often forgotten in discussions about great fruit (although strictly speaking, it’s actually a vegetable, but let’s not worry about that), but it’s usually around this time every year, when my mum informs me that her rhubarb patch has gone wild and asks if I’d like some, that I remember just how much I like it. Rhubarb does require quite a lot of sugar to make it palatable, which is a downside, given my efforts to reduce the sugar intake here at OH HQ, but then the tang of rhubarb is an unbeatable flavour, and these muffins offer a delicious and easy way to bake with rhubarb.
This recipe was inspired by a recent visit to new artisan bakeshop Kitchen in Langport in Somerset, on our half-term travels, where we tasted rhubarb & raspberry muffins for the first time and they were declared ‘delicious’.
I hadn’t thought of using rhubarb in muffins before, but it’s great, particularly with raspberries. What’s brilliant is that you don’t need to cook the rhubarb beforehand – you just stir it into your mixture – which means these muffins literally take about 10 minutes to make – perfect for the time-pressed parent.
I am into coconut oil at the moment (I use Lucy Bee coconut oil, which I bought in my local health food shop) so I tried it in this recipe and it worked a treat, although you could also use melted butter.
These were a complete hit here – both children loved them. They are great for a weekend brunch, an afternoon snack or even in lunchboxes or for a picnic, now the weather’s cheered up a bit!
Rhubarb & Raspberry Muffins
Makes approx. 10 muffins
200g self-raising flour
½ tsp cinnamon
90g golden caster sugar
80g melted coconut oil (I used the microwave)
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 or 3 stalks of rhubarb, sliced into ½ cm pieces
Handful of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Flaked almonds, for sprinkling
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
What to do:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F, and line your muffin tin with muffin cases.
- Sift the flour and cinnamon into a bowl, and stir in the sugar
- Stir the wet ingredients (melted oil, milk, eggs and vanilla essence) into the dry ingredients and mix, but don’t overmix – lumps are fine.
- Lastly, stir in the chopped rhubarb and the raspberries (if they’re frozen, straight from the freezer is fine)
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, and sprinkle a little demerara sugar on top of each one for crunch.
- Finish each muffin with a good sprinkling of flaked almonds.
- Bake for about 30 mins – test with a skewer – and allow to cool on a wire rack.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by a jolly-sounding chap called Giles from Honest Foods asking if I’d like to test-drive their snack delivery service. The idea is they send out monthly ‘Snackoria’ (their word for a box of heavenly snack products) to anywhere that the postie can reach. They use exclusively British produce, trying to give the small producers that they work with a chance.
As someone who prides herself on packing snacks for every occasion – my kids are seemingly always ‘huuuungry’ – I was delighted to try the February box. And it contained a rather lovely array of treats, including some lovely popcorn, some delicious chilli & lime baked nuts from Liberation, which is the UK’s only Fairtrade nut supplier, and a 9 Bar (always a winner). I was less keen on the Clearly Scrumptious Simply Golden Berries, which I found too tart, and the shortbread, which was billed as ‘finest’ was nothing special.
I am told that March’s box included the following delicacies:
A Gingerbread man
Willie’s Cocoa Ginger & Lime Chocolate
Captain Tiptoes’ Chilli Harissa Nuts
Perry Court Farm Tangy Apple Crisps
A fruity O-Bar
Melting Pot fudge (award winning!)
I applaud the values and enthusiasm of this young vibrant company, which has a clear ethos and also a personality. I also like the focus on British produce and British companies. For £9.99 a month this would be worth a try for a serious snack-a-holic.
Also worth noting – the snacks come packed in a lovely, fun box which feels like a gift has arrived, particularly after a night of broken sleep with a cold-ridden child 😦
Disclaimer: I was sent the Snackorium box to try for free. All views are my own. The Lego gingerbread man sadly didn’t come in the box!
So, fruit. The packed-with-vitamins, portable, healthy snack of choice for parents … and, frustratingly, sometimes a tough sell, let’s face it. Compared with the unmatched appeal of a biscuit, it can be hard to convince little ones of the merits of fresh fruit sometimes. Although, I’ll be honest, having said that, some fruits take little persuasion for my two to devour by the ton. (I’m looking at you, Mr Punnet of Blueberries, and you Miss Bowl of Raspberries. You know who you are, costing me three quid a pop, or thereabouts…)
Nah, the tough sell is the humble apple.
‘Who fancies an apple?’ I say brightly, looking at the fruit bowl, which is overflowing with Braeburns or Coxes. Lips get turned up, heads get shaken. ‘I don’t like the pips. Have we got any strawberries, mummy?’ I remain upbeat – ‘No, no strawberries today. I’ve got lots of lovely apples though. Mmmm, jucy apples. Who wants an apple?’ No response. ‘Come on, you can have it whole!’ Tumbleweed. ‘I know, I can cut it up for you!’ A head twitches, a nostril flares, ‘No, mummy, I DON’T LIKE THEM CUT UP’ (that’s the scary three-year-old). Silence ensues.
I pause, and then, triumphantly, I pull my final rabbit out of the hat, ‘I know, what about … apple rings?’ Two heads swivel round and four blue eyes light up. ‘Yeah!!! We love apple rings!! Can we have them in a little bowl, mummy!’
And that, dear reader, is how to pitch an apple to a child.
To make apples instantly appealing, get an apple corer, remove the core, place the apple on its side, take a sharp knife, and slice into rings. Ta-da!
Apple rings can be presented on plates, in bowls, worn on small fingers, stacked, repurposed as comedy spectacles (see photo) and, if you pop a suitably sized grape in the middle of the hole, rebranded as a flying saucer (!) I know, I’m a genius *takes a bow*.
Ah, pudding. Who doesn’t love pudding? Especially when it’s fruit. And especially when it’s fruit in the shape of a loveable animal! My children love mango hedgehogs. And while I am not really one for making such things as miniature edible sailboats with cheese sails, or fruit faces with blueberries for eyes and grapes for the nose (you get the picture), these are so easy to do, and bring such joy I cannot resist sharing with you here, lovely blog readers.
Admittedly, mango hedgehogs most definitely cannot be created one-handed, however they are quick to do and will keep your child quiet and happy for between 5 and 15 minutes. For younger babies (9m+) remove the cubes of mango, and serve in a little plastic bowl, or – even easier – straight onto the tray of the high chair.
You will need
A very sharp knife. I have this Global knife (it was a gift, I had no idea it was this expensive) which is just wonderful because it has a sharp point so you can score into the mango flesh to make your lines.
A cutting board
What to do
Take your mango and, using your sharp knife, slice off one side. Turn it flesh side up, and using your sharp-pointed knife, score 5 or 6 lines in one direction (from top to bottom), and then the equivalent number from side to side, creating a criss-cross pattern in the flesh. Now press your thumbs into the skin side and push out the little ‘cubes’ created by your artful cutting. Add two raisins for eyes, and voila, a mango hedgehog.
Here is my daughter devouring her mango hedgehog. (She ate three that day.)
In other news, I have been nominated in the Mad Blog Awards Best Food Blog category for 2013, which I am completely thrilled about. I feel very honoured to have been put forward by some of you lovely people. I started this blog in October 2012, and it is an incredible feeling to have been recognized by my peers, some of whom are writing such incredible blogs, they put me to shame (I still don’t know what a linky is, and I am not on Facebook). But I am on Twitter! It’s a start.
Or is there life beyond raisins and rice cakes?
I was going to write you a blog post with some ideas for healthy snacks – what to give babies, toddlers and bigger children in between meals that a) aren’t just raisins and plain rice cakes, b) aren’t full of rubbish and c) don’t cost a fortune – but then I discovered that my lovely Twitter friend and co-blogger, and list-maker extraordinaire, Mums Make Lists had already done it. So I decided to nick hers.*
She has created a wonderful list of 50 (yes, 50!) healthy snack ideas, divided into categories e.g. fruit & veg, dairy, cereal nuts & crisps, savoury muffins. There are some splendid ideas on her easy-to-print list, which you can find here. I love the sound of stripey fruit lollipops for hot summer’s days, malt loaf, and cheese and ham muffins! This is a great starting point, as it is packed with inspiring ideas.
One I’d like to add, for babies aged 9+ months, is to give them a little plastic bowl with frozen peas in – yup, straight from the freezer – and watch them practising their pincer grip as they pop them in their mouth, and get a cold surprise!
For other great ideas, including how to get more organised, books for children, and a weekly round-up of parenting blogs around the world, The Friday Baby Shower, I highly recommend Mums Make Lists’ brilliant blog! http://mumsmakelists.blogspot.co.uk/
Happy snacking, peeps!
* In actual fact, I asked her nicely if I could reproduce it. She very kindly said yes.
One of the things I will be offering on my blog is interviews with other busy parents, to help you feel inspired, give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at how other mums do things and to offer tips and advice across a range of issues and topics that will (I hope!) interest you.
Jo Wheatley impressed the nation with her amazing baking skills on BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off and after winning the competition in 2011 went on to write A Passion for Baking (Constable, 2012), which is an absolutely lovely book – the photographs are gorgeous, the recipes make you want to get baking immediately plus there really is something for every occasion – I really recommend it (currently loving the Lemon Drizzle Traybake). She also writes a blog, Jo’s Blue Aga – www.josblueaga.com which features some show-stopping cakes.
I particularly love the introduction to Jo’s book, where she talks about what baking means for her. In it she says, ‘Baking is about memories, old ones and ones yet to be made: a favourite auntie’s bread pudding; a nan’s apple pie; eating the most amazing croissant with a loved one […] a birthday cake shaped like a fort for a four-year-old … I could go on forever!’
This is how I feel about food and cooking for my family, too, which is why we try to sit down to eat together as a family at weekends in particular. Simple rituals like dipping soldiers into soft-boiled eggs or tucking in to homemade scones and jam are the things family memories are made of, and I cherish the (relative) peace at weekends (however, let’s keep things in perspective here; things are never *actually* quiet with two kids!).
Now over to Jo:
Q: As a busy mum, how have you adapted the way you cook since having your children?
To be totally honest it’s been such a long time since I wasn’t a mum I can’t actually remember! Billy, my eldest, is now 25.
Q: Can you share some of the snacks you give your children?
I think snacks with oats and fruit are always a packed lunch favourite and help keep children going throughout the day. But to be fair, I’m more of everything in moderation, to totally deny children any treat will only make them want it more.
Q: Breakfast is often cited as the most important meal of the day, particularly for growing children – what sorts of things do you and your family like to eat for breakfast?
At the weekends it was always pancakes for my lot, in the week it’s Weetabix or porridge, or fruit depending on the season.
Q: What kitchen gadget could you not live without?
My KitchenAid. I love how it frees me up to do something else and can whip up meringues in moments!
Q: Who are your favourite cookery writers?
I love all types of writers and books – cookery books are my guilty pleasure – I have a tower of them next to my bed and a whole length of kitchen worktop full of them…
Q: I am all about embracing shortcuts in the kitchen – what shortcuts do you do to make life run that little bit smoother? Any tips you’d like to share?
I have a Wednesday Top Tip on my Facebook page Jo’s Blue AGA where every week I share tips. This week’s was melting small amounts of chocolate in a microwaveable bag, then snipping of a corner – perfect for drizzling without any mess of washing up! I also have bits and bobs in my book, A Passion for Baking where I give other helpful little tips.
I hope you all enjoyed reading my interview with Jo. Look out for more interviews with other interesting mums coming soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog, so you don’t miss out.
The One-Handed Cook
So, this is my first ever giveaway, and I wanted to give away something that I really love and that I actually use myself with my kids. This Flip-Top Snack Cup is made by Oxo Tot, the makers of Oxo Good Grips. They make innovative tools and gadgets for the home, and as someone who’s a fan of tools and gadgets for the kitchen, and helping to make life easier for busy mums and dads, this is a brand that’s right up my street. Whoop!
I am giving away 5 Flip-Top Snack Cups – see photo. I love the bright and funky colours, and my daughter loves the cup’s wide opening, which ensures she can reach her snacks easily. She likes her Snack Cup filled with blueberries and grapes, mini rice cakes and satsuma segments and she loves being able to open and close the lid herself. With its non-slip grips and a lid that stays attached, this is the perfect little container for toddler snacks!
Please comment on this post, telling me what your little one’s favourite on-the-go snacks are. To be in with a chance of winning a Snack Cup, you have to a) follow @onehandedcook on Twitter AND b) RT my tweet about the giveaway!
27.11.12 THE ENTRY DEADLINE HAS PASSED – THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES AND THE WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED SHORTLY!
The small print:
1. Entry in to the prize draw will be deemed as acceptance of these rules.
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident, aged 18 or over, who follows the @onehandedcook Twitter account AND retweets the tweet about the prize draw referencing the prize of an Oxo Tots Flip-Top Snack Cup.
3. The competition starts at 10pm UK time on Wednesday 21st November 2012 and ends at 09:00am on the 27th November 2012.
4. One winner will be drawn at random from all valid entries.
5. One entry per person.
6. The prize is one Oxo Tots Flip-Top Snack Cup.
7. The prize is non-negotiable, non-transferable, and there is no cash alternative.
8. The draw will be made by random selection within seven days of the competition ending and the prize posted to the winner’s home address within 30 days.
9. The winner will be notified by direct message on Twitter if they have won.
10. If a response is not received by the winner within 30 days they will forfeit their right to the prize.
11. No purchase necessary.
12. This prize draw is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter and Twitter shall not be liable in any way whatsoever to the Users.