A few weeks ago, I did something pretty cool. As part of the ‘Little Foodies’ campaign – which is a partnership between Ella’s Kitchen and Waitrose designed to get shoppers prepping, cooking and exploring healthy food for their little ones – I got to visit Waitrose Cookery School. Not only that, but I watched a proper chef cook some tasty, kid-friendly food, then was able to have a go at cooking the recipes myself. It was a pretty different way to spend a Friday.
So Toddler L and I travelled into London, where we met my bro who was on babysitting duties for a few hours. With 10 minutes to spare, I arrived at Finchley Central station. As I left the station and got out my phone to see where I needed to go, the realisation hit me. I’d gone to the wrong station. Waitrose Cookery School is at Finchley Road, not Finchley Central…
So, with that, I jumped back on the tube and retraced the journey I’d just made. Fast forward 45 minutes, I arrived at the correct destination just before things kicked off. I was joined by fellow blogger Georgie from Boss Mummy, a number of winners who’d entered this competition, a few people from Ella’s / their PR, a nutritionist (Claire) and a chef (Martin).
It was explained to us that we’d watch a cooking demo of three dishes, then have the opportunity to make each of these back in the Masterchef-style kitchen. Each of these recipes had been created by the team at Ella’s Kitchen and featured in their previous weaning cookbooks. As such, I expected some quick and simple recipes, which would be nutritional, appealing and tasty. Having recently had a cookery experience at Cactus Kitchens with Kalettes, I was looking forward to getting my chef-on again.
At just over two-and-a-half years old, Toddler L is well passed the initial weaning stages. It seems a lifetime ago that we were giving her her first tastes of different foods. Our aim was to always get her to eat a small portion of what we had on our plates and (fingers crossed) that’s worked well to date. Sure, we’ve hit stages where she doesn’t want to eat something she loved the day before or has decided she doesn’t like something before even trying it, but I just put that down to the chaos of toddlerdom.
That’s not to say that I’m 100% happy with how and what she eats. Generally, her snacks are healthy, we cook meals from scratch and we do our best to reduce things like additives, salt and sugar. Although she really likes fruit, we struggle to get her to eat vegetables. Even when we try to be sneaky and hide them in her food, she has some kind of sixth sense which identifies them straight away. As such, I was looking forward to trying out a few different recipes which would hopefully help solve our veg problem.
Over the next few hours, we split our time between the demonstration room – where we watched Martin cook the recipes – and the kitchen – where we tried them out for ourselves. During the day, I learnt quite a few different things from the experts. This ranged from chef-type things such as the ‘professional’ way of cutting an onion and the difference between cooking oils, through to baby / toddler-related things like portions and introducing different spices into meals.
Yesterday I went to the @Waitrose Cookery School with @ellaskitchenuk to cook a few baby and toddler friendly food recipes for their ‘Little Foodies’ campaign. Here we have Caribbean Chicken With Mango & Pineapple, Mini Tortilla Muffins and Mixed Berry Pudding Pots. All were simple to make, have no added nasties and are packed with fruit and veg. That’s Toddler L’s lunch and dinner sorted for the next few days (after I somehow managed to get it all safely home on the train with a toddler)! #ad
Once we’d finished cooking, we were treated to a really tasty chicken curry which had been cooked up by the chefs, plus a goody bag including various Ella’s Kitchen products and their new The Easy Family Cookbook: The Orange One. Below, you’ll find a bit more info and photos of the three different recipes we cooked – totally cool Caribbean chicken with mango and pineapple, pop out mini tortilla muffins and chilly cherry pudding pots.
Little Foodies Recipe 1: Totally Cool Caribbean Chicken With Mango And Pineapple
Serves: 6 Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 40 mins
Ingredients: Sunflower oil, diced chicken breast, chopped onion, diced potatoes, diced butternut squash, ground cumin, turmeric, vegetable stock, can of chopped tomatoes, chopped mango, pineapple chunks
Recipe from The Cook Book: The Red One
Although not something I’d usually cook, this dish sounded like it’d deliver a taste of the Caribbean whilst being packed with fruit and veg. To make this meal, we heated the oil in a frying pan then cooked the chicken and onion for around five minutes. We then added the potato, squash and spices until the chicken was cooked through. Next, we added the vegetable stock and tomatoes and brought to the boil. We then added the mango and pineapple, turned down to a simmer, then cooked for around 30 minutes until the liquid had thickened. This could then be kept as it is, or alternatively blended in a food processor depending on your child’s age.
Little Foodies Recipe 2: Pop Out Mini Tortilla Muffins
Serves: 8 Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 30 mins
Ingredients: Unsalted butter / olive oil for greasing, chopped potato, frozen petits pois, diced red pepper, eggs, spring onions, Parmesan cheese, black pepper
Recipe from The First Foods Book: The Purple One
These baked tortillas sounded simple to make and are packed with vegetables. To make, we greased eight muffin tins and preheated the oven. We boiled the potatoes until tender, then added the petits pois and red pepper and cooked for a further five minutes. Meanwhile, we beat the eggs, added the spring onion, Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Next, we drained the veg and stirred them into the egg mixture, prior to putting into the muffin tin. These then baked in the oven for 15 minutes until cooked through. These can then be eaten whole or cut up into smaller bits.
Little Foodies Recipe 3: Chilly Cherry Pudding Pots
Serves: 4 Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 10 mins
Ingredients: Frozen stoned dark cherries (or mixed berries), fresh apple juice, ground mixed spice, day old bread
Recipe from The First Foods Book: The Purple One
This was a really simple recipe which introduces your baby to warming spices and is packed with the goodness from berries. We put the berries, apple juice and spice into a saucepan and cooked on a medium-low heat for 5 or so minutes. Once done, we pureed the berries in a food processor. Next, we cut out four circles from the bread and placed one at the bottom of a dish. We then spooned on some of the berry mixture, layered another piece of bread on top of this, before finishing with some more of the berry puree. Voila.
And that was that. We’d cooked one main meal, one snack and one pudding, all with great ingredients, no added nasties and plenty of nutrients for your little one(s). What’s more, none of the recipes were difficult and I could totally see us replicating these at home. Despite not factoring in that we’d be taking food home, I somehow managed to transport nine tubs of food on a tube, bus and train – Toddler L obviously helped me out by willingly eating some of the food on the way home!
How do you think your little one(s) would get on with the food that we cooked as part of Little Foodies? How have you found the whole weaning process? Let me know below!
N.B. This is a commissioned post written in collaboration with Ella’s Kitchen for their Little Foodies campaign.
N.B. This post includes an affiliate link(s). For more info, read my Disclosure policy.