Banana, cardamon & chocolate muffins…

I swear when I was concocting this recipe with my trusty side kick last week the sun was shining & spring was in the air. Fast forward a week the sun has gone into hiding and I have had the mother of all colds, blocked sinuses and my head feels like a pressure cooker about to explode.

Anyway if you’re after a light and yummy treat to stir up this week, then this recipe for banana, cardamon and chocolate muffins is a must. I’m hoping someone bakes me a batch and brings it to me while I satisfy the needs of pudding number two, otherwise known as the sleep thief and milk monster. I’ll be nestled on the sofa until further notice.

1. Begin by preheating the oven to 180c and grease 12 cupcake holders or use silicon cases as I’ve done.

2. Mash two bananas using a fork in a bowl. Add in one cup of Greek yoghurt, one cup of olive oil and 1/2 a cup of maple syrup. Mix all the ingredients together and mix in two eggs.

3. Next sift in two cups of plain flour and two tsp. of baking powder and the seeds of 10 cardamon pods crushed using a pestle and mortar. Fold in 60g of dark chocolate broken into small chunks.

4. Divide the mixture into 12 cases and add slices of banana on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Apple & pear flapjacks…

The quest to get the toddling fusspot back to loving food continues. And we may have turned a corner. While messing around in the kitchen in an attempt to conjour up something that would be suitable for breakfast as well as a snack I created a flapjack version of Bircher muesli, my favourite breakfast although not loved by Otto who would rather scoff bowlfuls of rice pudding made with double cream. I wonder why?!

This recipe for apple and pear flapjacks is super tasty, super easy and they are great to stash in your lunchbox if you’re on the go. Flapjacks are also a go to idea for baking with children and encouraging them into the kitchen. Give them a whirl this week.

1. Begin by preheating the oven to 180c.

2. On a gentle heat melt together. 1/2 cup of maple syrup, 1/2 cup of honey and two generous tbsp. of coconut oil in a pot.

3. Turn off the heat and add four cups of oats, 1 and 1/2 cups of sultanas and dried cranberries, one grated apple and one grated pear peeled. Finally add two tsp. of cinnamon.

4. Fold all the ingredients together and press into a baking tray. Bake at 180c for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool before eating.

Mighty morning muffins…

Mornings in our household are currently a mighty headache when it comes to food. Otto is a bit of a fusspot and his meal preference changes more than the weather in London does in a day!

For inspiration I’ve turned to my go to source, My Little Lunchbox, and these mighty morning muffins have proved triumphant. Packed full of veg and fruit, they are a winning solution for a quick and tasty breakfast and are also a pretty good snack option too.

1. In a bowl mash two bananas together using a fork. Add one grated carrot, three eggs, 1 cup of olive oil, 1 cup of Greek yoghurt and 1/2 a cup of maple syrup and mix everything together.

2. Next add in 2 cups of plain flour, 3tsp. of baking powder, 1tsp. of cinnamon, 1tsp. of vanilla essence, 1 cup of raisins and 1 cup of oats. Fold all the ingredients together.

3. Using an ice cream scoop add two generous scoops to a cup cake case. Sprinkle some oats on top and bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 180c. Once golden brown they are ready!

Cranberry & Goats Cheese Toast…

My first recipe for 2017, ideal for children to create for a lazy Sunday brunch, is this delicious and colourful cranberry and goats cheese bruchetta style toast, with a subtle hint of orange. It’s also a great way to use up the lingering cheese you have in your fridge leftover from Christmas and the cranberries I had hidden away in the freezer. Perfect if you’re missing your favourite festive flavours.

1. Begin by making the cranberry jelly. Slice four small red onions into small chunks and fry in butter for 5 to 6 minutes. Add in 300g of fresh or frozen cranberries until they become squishy and soft. This will take a further 5 minutes. Next add the zest of one large orange and 2 heaped tbsp. of soft brown sugar. Set aside.

2. Next cut slices of a nice loaf of fresh bread and grill one side until golden brown. 

3. Spoon a couple of tbsp. of cranberries on to each slice of bread, top with two slices of goats cheese and place each piece of toast back under the grill until the cheese starts to bubble, keeping a watchful eye on the toast, so it doesn’t burn.

4. Add rocket on top to serve.

Review: East London Baby Co

Since the birth of Otto in 2015 most of my jewellery has laid dormant in a box. Apart from my wedding band and engagement ring, earrings, necklaces and bangles are today rarely worn, as the consequences would result in ears, necks and arms pulled and tugged.

However, what if there was a piece of jewellery that not only looked like something you would normally wear but also served another purpose, to distract babies while you breastfed, could be chewed and was durable? Step forward Katie Barker, founder of East London Baby Co and the first small business, which I’ll be shining the spotlight on in 2017, giving qudos to women who are combining both motherhood and entrepeneurialship, no mean feat! 

Following the birth of her daughter Beatrix in 2016, Katie couldn’t find a necklace, which she would want to wear and would also distract baby Bea while she fed. As someone who loves craft she has lovingly created East London Baby Co. Her two collections, the Flora collection and the Elements collection boast a range of beautiful and stylish necklaces made from food-grade silicone, the same materials used in silicone baking moulds and most bottle teats. And there is a colour for every taste.

Designed and made from her home in East London, Katie also does bespoke creations and the beautiful packaging also means the necklaces make for a great gift for any mum or mum to be. 

I’ve put them to the test, choosing the Earth necklace, and from an aesthetic perspective you would never know what the purpose of the necklace was. In fact friends without children have been very complimentary and have asked where my necklace is from. 

However they also really do serve the purpose they were designed for. Baby Reuben is a bit of a nipple grabber while he’s feeding. So the necklace is a great distraction and prevents his hands from wandering where they shouldn’t be wandering to. I only wish I had worn one when Otto was feeding. Here’s hoping it also serves as an alternative to my arm or leg when Reuben’s teeth come in. If he’s like his big brother he’ll be a biter!

Seven more sleeps…

With Christmas fast approaching, the festive season in full swing and channel Reuben and Otto occupying my every second currently, the blog is switching off and taking a well earned break. I will however be back in the new year, so until then have a wonderful Christmas and try not to indulge in one too many mince pies and G&T’s!

Helen x

The fourth trimester: what I’d forgotten (& what I’d erased from my memory…)

The newest addition to our squad, Reuben Marcello, is past the two week mark. Two weeks of little sleep, cold coffee and managing two under two. Our eldest who appears to have grown up over the course of a night and has the temperament of a teenager, isn’t quite sure what to make of his little brother. His attempts of affectionate hugging and touching have been a little on the rough side and I’ve had to restrain him from gouging out eyes! Absolute chaos and not even the ordered variety of chaos.

In an attempt to remember what those early hazy days were like with Otto I’ve had to really dig deep to unravel my earliest memories of the fourth trimester. Some I had temporarily forgotten about and others I think I had permanately tried to erase from my memory forever. I have however recalled my fondness of gin…

1. The emotional rollercoaster…Within the space of half an hour you’ll be on a high, embracing the joys of parenthood and then suddenly you’ll feel drained, tired and want to burst into tears.

2. The milk monster…Breastfeeding is messy and frustrating at the beginning and if you’re fortunate they take to breastfeeding they’ll be constantly guzzling, draining every ounce of energy from you.

3. The night owl… Your new prodigy will appear to be content and easy going during the day, enjoying long naps, waking only to be fed. But the night time chapter can be a completely different story, as they scream, demand to be fed and would rather stay awake, fuelling your exhaustion.

4. The elusive 2.30am feed…While your partner enjoys a deep peaceful sleep beside you, you’ll probably be doing  the graveyard feeding shift. This is when online shopping becomes very dangerous! You’re working very hard so you definitely deserve those new shoes. Or alternatively you’ll make long lists that you’ll never complete (or you’ll write this blog post).

5. Health visitors are a unique breed…They come to your door and are immediately on the defensive, scanning for danger in every corner. They evidently missed the seminar on communication skills as they work through their tick box crib sheet in a robotic fashion. There is little warmth. Just suspicion.

6. Horay for gin…You realise just how much you missed your favourite tipple. It may be called Mother’s Ruin but in my humble opinion it’s a saving  grace after a long day. And while we’re on the subject if you haven’t yet discovered Hortus gin, developed by the Michelin Star chef Kevin Love for Lidl, you really are missing out. It really does trump all other gins of choice and is half the price. Bonus.

7. It’s the little things….Warm coffees, a shower longer than two minutes on your own,an opportunity to wash your hair and flick through a newspaper are all distant memories. In fact they’ve been a thing of the past for the last 19 months.

8. Domestic bliss…Washing piles stacked higher than the Shard, constant nappy changing, irregular meal times, failed attempts to create any sort of routine, and conversation at the dinner table relating to poo and vomit. 

9. Mummy tummy…Embrace those maternity jeans post pregnancy. Rome wasn’t built in a day so there is no rush to regain your pre baby body in the first 6 weeks.

10. Time flies…as cliche as it sounds they are only tiny little bundles for a small length of time. Enjoy it. They’ll soon be rampaging toddlers on a mission to dictate, terrorise and generally cause mischief and mayhem.