*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Rafferty's Garden.
Being a mum is a busy business, especially during those early years when your younger child looks to you for everything. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are all strongly dependent upon their parents in every possible way, and that precious fact is both a source of pure joy - and exhausting!
Sleepless nights, teething, nappies, washing, cleaning and the endless calls for your attention are all typical examples of life for mums in these formative years. To top it off, there are a minutiae of pressures to weigh you down from every source, both inside and outside the home. It's no wonder motherhood is widely considered the world's most difficult job!
Personally, one of the trickiest elements of being a mum for me, is keeping my kids fed and content with the food choices that are laid before them. There is so much focus these days on living a healthy lifestyle and making positive food choices. That's a fantastic thing too. In theory it all makes so much sense, however younger kids can often have their own agendas. (Don't we all know it?!)
Little ones are renown fussy eaters so it can be an outright challenge feeding this age group. The trick it seems, is to keep it all simple and relaxed for both yourself and your child. Make healthy options available at all times, and don't stress when your child refuses to eat at the established ideal of set meal times. Small kids thrive on a constant source of energy, so regular, healthy eats are often the way to go with this age group, over the three meals a day philosophy.
You're on the right track by making sure you offer your child a good variety of eats from all of the food groups every day, and include as many options as you can from these groups within every snacking opportunity.
While it's wonderful and enormously satisfying to be able to make your own healthy foods for your child, rest assured that options available from companies such as Rafferty's Garden are there to offer their support.
Rafferty's Garden have a great selection of premium baby and toddler foods available in supermarkets, which can assist you to nourish your child during the busy times. Their convenient range is free of preservatives, artificial colours, flavours, GM ingredients and other nasties.
To help busy mums, Rafferty's Garden now has a recipe hub where you can find a vast and convenient collection of mum-approved, meal and snack ideas to make for your little one.
We thought it would be a great idea to get creative with some Rafferty's Garden pouches, and have come up with two delicious offerings that are bound to go down well with toddlers (and their older siblings!). Make sure you give these simple suggestions a try.
The following recipe for little vegetable quiches is especially delicious as a lunch or dinner option, but you can offer these at any time of day. Served warm or cold, these small parcels are packed with vegetables and an added flavour hit from the addition of a pouch of Rafferty's Garden Happy Tummies Vegetable Risotto. These are an ideal lunchbox inclusion for children of any age.
Little Vegetable Quiches
Makes 24. Preparation time 15 mins. Baking time 25 mins.
Not suitable for freezing. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You will need a 24 small muffin pan baking sheet and one large round scone cutter.
Optional: small star cookie cutter.
Approximately 4 sheets of puff pastry
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium carrot,
1 medium zucchini
1/4 red capsicum
1 cup of finely grated extra tasty cheese
3 small bunches of English spinach, finely chopped
1/2 a leek finely sliced
4 small Truss tomatoes finely sliced
1 pouch of Rafferty's Garden Happy Tummies Vegetable Risotto
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter for frying
Milk for brushing the pastry.
Set aside and defrost 4 sheets of puff pastry.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Using a blender with a shredding disc, finely slice the carrot, zucchini and leek. Also, finely dice the capsicum and English spinach.
Add the tablespoon of butter to a saucepan and lightly cook the leek until it becomes transparent. Then add the shredded (or finely chopped) vegetables and seasoning and cook for a few minutes until softened.
In the meantime, add the eggs to a bowl and the contents of the Rafferty's Garden Happy Tummies Vegetable Risotto and whisk together.
Using the scone cutter, cut rounds from the pastry sheets and line each muffin hole with these to form the base of the quiches.
First place spoonfuls of the cooked vegetables into each pastry base.
Then gently spoon the egg mixture into each cup on top of the shredded vegetables, before topping each mini quiche with a sprinkling of cheese, a sliver of tomato and a pastry star (if desired).
Brush each quiche with milk and place the tray in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.
Allow the mini quiches to cool before serving to your child.
For eats on the go, nothing beats the lure of a delicious cookie. Youngsters will love these healthy fruity oat biscuits. These are a soft cookie and it won't crumble either so there's little mess left in their wake. The cookies are sweetened with the addition of a pouch of Rafferty's Garden Blueberries, Banana and Apple puree and just a hint of honey. They're high in fibre and a great snack for toting-along in your nappy bag.
Fruity Oat Biscuits
Makes approximately 34 cookies. Preparation time: 5 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes.
1 cup of oat bran
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
1 cup of self raising flour
1 120gm pouch of Rafferty's Garden Blueberries, Banana and Apple puree
100gm salt reduced butter, softened
2 tablespoons of honey, melted
1/2 a tsp of cinnamon
1/4 cup of finely chopped raisins.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Line a biscuit baking sheet with baking paper and set aside.
In a medium size mixing bowl, add the oat bran, coconut, SR flour and cinnamon and mix together.
Make a well in the centre and add the Rafferty's Garden Blueberries, Banana and Apple puree, egg, butter, raisins and honey then stir well until all ingredients combine and form a wet dough.
Roll teaspoon-sized balls of the biscuit mix into balls and place these onto the baking sheet. Gently flatten each a little with your fingers to form a rounded cookie shape.
Bake in a moderate oven for around 15 minutes. The biscuits are ready when they become a light golden colour. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
For more inspiring recipe ideas, visit the Rafferty's Garden recipe hub.