Sandwiches, Toast Toppers and Other Lunch Ideas

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Sandwiches and toast fingers are great ways to introduce new flavour combinations with  only a little effort. You can be as creative as you like with both the contents and the styling – a few toast fingers will keep a smaller baby occupied in a high chair for a minute, something as simple as cutting out sandwiches with a cookie cutter will make lunch time fun for a toddler. Brown, wholewheat bread is better for you than white, as we all know, but seeded varieties are best avoided until children are bigger. Below you’ll find some inspiration for fillings (many of which can also double as toppings) that you and baby can both enjoy.

Apple & Cream Cheese: Grate half an apple into a bowl, mix in a few tablespoons of full fat cream cheese. You can grate in some extra cheddar if you like and season yours with black pepper.

Peanut Butter & Jam: Easy! Jam of your choice on one slice of bread, smooth peanut butter on the other. Combine. Done. {CHECK FOR NUT ALLERGY}

Hawaiian: Break up some pineapple rings from a can and smoosh them in some kitchen towel and a sieve to drain and crush. Mix this with a few tablespoons of cream cheese. Place some thinly sliced ham on a piece of bread, spread the pineapple mixture on the other piece and combine. Season yours with black pepper if you like.

Avocado: Simply mash some avocado and spread on toast. [Incidentally, Morrisons are now doing a bag of ‘wonky’ avocados for less than the price of an avocado in some places so check that out, because not a damn one of us cares what shape an avocado was before a baby smeared it it their hair.]

Bonus parent recipe!: Crack an egg into a microwave safe bowl. Pop it in the microwave on full for a minute. Ignore the horrendous noise it makes. Scoop out a small avocado (those wonky bags have some great ‘single portion’ ones in), mash it up with some chilli flakes, salt & pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and spread it on one slice of bread. When the egg is done (it won’t look pretty or be runny, but it will be quick!), remove it from the bowl, place it on top of the avocado mix and top with another slice of bread, spread with some mayo and Sriracha chilli sauce if you like that sort of thing. Super quick and easy. And tasty!

Tomato: Never under estimate a simple sandwich. Slices of room temperature, ripe tomato make an excellent (and cheap!) sandwich filler.

‘Sushi rolls’: Use a wholewheat wrap (microwave for 10 seconds to soften if your wraps are a bit brittle) and spread all over with cream cheese. Lay sticks of pepper and cucumber a little in from one edge, roll that edge over and then keep rolling into a tube. Cut into different sized ‘sushi rolls’ and serve standing on their ends so the coloured vegetables show in the middle. You can also add slices of ham under the veggies if you like.

Omelette: If your child is ok with egg, omelette sandwiches are much less messy than scrambled egg. Use whatever herbs and additions you like – dill is good in a plain egg omelette, or basil in a cheese and tomato puree ‘pizza’ style. Glue it to toast with a little spread or mayo, or sandwich between bread and cut into fingers.

Carrot & Hummus: Grate some carrot into a bowl, mix in hummus, spread on toast. Change up the hummus flavour or add a little Moroccan seasoning for variation (though be aware of the amount of chilli). When pincer grips develop and you’re happy giving raisins, these can also be added to a carrot and hummus sandwich for a pop of sweetness.

Strawberries & Cream Cheese: Yes, I know, a lot of these feature cream cheese. But you know what? It’s easy and has some good calories and fats, and most people like it. So there. Anyway, slice up some strawberries and layer on top of cream cheese. Also works well replacing the strawberry with halved grapes when baby is big enough.

Mini Pizzas: Spread tomato puree on toast, top with grate cheese and a sprinkling of basil and oregano, then grill until bubbling. Let it cool – cheese tends to super heat and stay hotter than you’d think for longer than you’d like. You can add a variety of cheeses, chopped pineapple, ham, mushrooms… whatever takes your fancy. Change out the bread for variation – pitta and those thin bagels both make a good base.

Quesadillas: Or, as my daughter calls them ‘case ideas’. These really are great for using up leftovers. Sprinkle one tortilla wrap with grated cheese, top with pretty much anything (ham, chicken, vegetables, avocado). Sprinkle a little more cheese over (it acts as glue to keep the top on) then cook in a dry pan (check your wrap fits before you start!) over a medium heat until the bottom is crisp and browning, then flip for another minute or two until the cheese is melted and the bottom is toasted. Cut into wedges to serve, with a dip if you like – lemon or garlic & herb mayo are good options.

Dessert Quesadillas: Yes, this is a thing. Spread a little chocolate spread all over one wrap (pro tip – back of a spoon!), top with sliced banana and strawberry, cook as above. For older children (or yourself!) you can cover the other side in marshmallow fluff or scatter mini marshmallows over before you cook. Delicious served with a side of greek yogurt for dipping.

Apple wedges: While we’re dipping, cut an apple into wedges and serve with a peanut butter yogurt dip – just mix a tablespoon of peanut butter into two tablespoons of greek yogurt.

Sweet Potato: Cook yourself a baked sweet potato (stab all over with a fork, 12 minutes in the microwave on high, 15 minutes in the oven at 200’C or until a knife goes in with no resistance) and fill it with tuna or spicy chickpeas, and while you’re at it, cook another for baby then scoop out the flesh and spread it over toast. Tasty and good for you.

 

I’m pretty sure there are more of these kicking about in my head so as soon as I’ve amassed enough I’ll put them up here. Please do share your own ideas and favourites below!

 

 

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Food foodie food…

Aside

I’m going to crack on with getting some recipes up. I’ll try and label them as to target audience and I’m hoping to get some pictures up to help you work out what I’m talking about but this may take me (quite) a while as I am a) not a food photographer, b) not in possession of a fancy camera and c) not going to make everything I post here just to take a picture of it so you’ll have to wait. I’m sure you’ll manage.

Do or Do Not…

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[This post was originally written in 2012, finally posted 2017]

 

 

The owner of a Maltese and I are chatting in the dog park.  The dogs are getting along famously and I envy the ease with which they go from perfect strangers to wrestling teammates.  There’s no standing on ceremony, no small talk and no need for one to pretend they didn’t hear the alarmingly narrow-minded or interfering thing the other just said. A sniff, a play bow and they’re off, leaving the two-legged contingent to make awkward comments about the weather.  It’s been a few weeks since we met the Maltese, so the conversation has progressed from the standard Dog Park 20 Questions (What breed it he? Oh, she, sorry! How old? Did you get her from a shelter?) to the more human-centric “Have you lived here long?” and “How about them Giants?”.  I can hear his next question before he asks and I’m dreading it.  His lips are forming the words.  I brace myself. “So,” he says, nonchalantly throwing a ball for an enthusiastic Bulldog, “What do you do?”

I’m trying to be a writer. The words bounce across my brain but my mouth is quicker. “Not a lot.  I spend a lot of time training the puppy…” My brain slaps its hand to it’s forehead. I spend a lot of time with the puppy. Seriously? He looks at me in what I can only interpret as a pitying manner, and I understand entirely.  I live in one of the most amazing cities in the world. I don’t have to work because I’m lucky enough that my husband is not only brilliant enough to support us financially but wonderful enough that he does it with no expectations of me. We have a deal – I do home stuff, he goes to work. Part of that deal is that I bite the bullet and crack on with my novel writing.  He’s one of those people who actually believes I have talent (fool!), that it all might eventually amount to something (more fool!) and that he’s happy when I’m happy, and I’m happy when I don’t have a job to go to. There’s an element of truth to that last part. But I can’t bring myself to explain this, because it can’t end “…and so I sit at home all day and don’t do anything. Well, sometimes I crochet. But mostly I do nothing.” And if I tell the truth, I have to say “I’m trying to be a writer.”

Why isn’t it ok to be trying? At what point did the pursuit of a dream become something I couldn’t talk about? To me, to be trying at something suggests I haven’t succeeded; and if I haven’t succeeded I must have failed. If I’m only trying I’m not actually an anything. I’m not a writer, I’m one of those ridiculed people who sits in Starbucks with a laptop and a screenplay open in font large enough for the barista to read (because they’re trying to be an actor, so I guess we’re all in this together).  If I say I’m trying to be a writer it opens the door to the follow up questions

“What do you write?”

“Young adult fiction”

“What’s it about?”

“I’d rather not talk about it, it fills me with an overwhelming sense of worthlessness because I’m such a fraud that, as even I can’t take my writing seriously, I doubt anyone else will ever believe me that it’s worth reading.”

“Oh. Any success with that?”

“Absolutely none, both in the sense that I haven’t sent anything to anyone to publish because I can’t deal with the rejection (and because I haven’t finished anything because I took a year off to get married and emigrate and then got a terrier puppy) and that it’s such a waste of computerised ink that anyone involved should probably start charging me for their time.”

“Right…. I own a consulting firm and my wife is a financial advisor. We’re going to our house in Napa for the weekend.”

“Excuse me while I curl up under a duvet and die.”

The word trying holds several meanings.  On the one hand it means attempting something, making an effort at it. On the other it means an irritating and difficult time.  In the case of trying to be a writer, I think it’s safe to say both meanings hold. It is irritating and difficult (and so am I), but that’s ok, because not everything worth doing is going to be easy.  Attempting to be a writer is where I have the mental block.

Maybe using the word trying grates with me because it sounds like an elaborate way of saying “I’m pretending to be something that sounds cool, but basically I’m unemployed”. Maybe it’s simply that I don’t want to admit what I’m doing even to myself, let alone anyone else – there’s no pressure that way. But some pressure is a good thing.  Without the pressure, there’s no external force driving forward.  Internal drive will only get you so far – it’s much easier to justify laziness, bad days and quitting to yourself than it is to explain it to others. Which, I suppose, is the crux of the issue. Admitting and accepting – both for others and for yourself.

I’d love to follow Yoda’s sage advice but, at least right now, I still feel like it’s not justifiable to say “I’m a writer”.  It would be like saying “I’m an astronaut” two days into the training – you have to earn the right to claim the title.  So, this week I am challenging myself that, should someone ask what I do, I shall answer that I’m trying to be a writer.  I shall be honest with them and most importantly with myself. In the end it comes down to this: If I try, I can fail. If I don’t try, I can’t succeed.

Talking to myself

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I’ve opened my blog for the first time in years. I’ve done this for a few reasons: firstly, I want to create a little side-blog about Baby Led Weaning with some thoughts I had on the topic and maybe a few recipe ideas (as we’ve just surfaced from the first 10 weeks of baby number 2 and I’m beginning to feel like a human again) and, secondly, because I’ve started to feel writing bubbling up again. It’s been a while; I guess a toddler and a pregnancy will do that to your life. But the words have started to pop into my brain here and there and I’ve found the best thing to do in that situation is find an outlet (preferably small and non-threatening) so you don’t start either mentally punching yourself when you can’t remember what you wanted to write, or talking to yourself.

When I opened the blog dashboard I found a draft post from 2012 staring at me. I don’t remember writing it, but obviously I did (or else I’ve been hacked by someone who sounds an awful lot like me…) and I never pressed publish. Which, once you read the post is rather ironic. I’m posting it here because Past Me clearly thought it was worth saying and, surprisingly, it still seems pretty relevant. It’s up next, if you fancy a read.

Beyond that, hopefully I’m going to get my act together and sort some BLW/Feeding Kids posts out. If you have any brilliant hints, tips or stories you’d like to share you’re very welcome to share them here or send them to me. I might try and write a story, too. I’ve got several on the go and they need attention. They keep telling me this, and if I don’t pay attention they’ll leave and go somewhere else. It wouldn’t be the first time.

 

[You should note that between starting this around lunch time and posting it now, at 8:30pm,  have wavered approximately 100 times. Just sayin’.]

Here we go…

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I’m Q.  Not the all-powerful Star Trek favourite; the 29 year old living in Kent.  In six months, I’ll be married, living in San Francisco and turning 30.  I’m not sure which one freaks me out more.

This is the story of how I get there.

I guess I should start with the story of how I got here…

I was born on a winters day in…. nah, I’m kidding.  Most of that is irrelevant.  Needless to say I grew up in a very loving home with a wonderful family who managed not to mess me up too badly, which is all we can really hope for in a childhood.  I went to a school I actually liked and made some fantastic friends worthy of keeping forever.  I did a degree in the cold, rainy north of England where I developed a tolerance for bad weather and a love of good beer.  While I was there I met a boy, affectionately known as The Boy by the friends, who turned out to be a keeper.  We got engaged within the first few months of being together and then successfully managed to stave off the mental and financial nightmare that is getting married for 8 years.  Until now.

Two months ago The Boy was given the opportunity to relocate to the San Francisco office of his company.  It would have been insane to turn it down, even though this was one week before we were due to exchange contracts on a house and would have to get married if we both wanted to go (we did).  Still, an unmissable opportunity is an unmissable opportunity so we said yes.  Yes to pulling out of the house purchase, yes to getting married within six months and yes to uprooting our lives and moving 6,000 miles away.

Here’s hoping that sometimes the maddest ideas are the best ones!