food · health · Just for fun · Seasonal

Brussels Sprouts: A Festive Safety Warning

Now, there are apparently some people in this world who actually enjoy Brussels sprouts, and they will insist on saying things like “it’s not Christmas without sprouts!” and “they’re incredibly good for you, you know!” BUT ARE THEY? I have always believed that Brussels sprouts are the work of the devil, and now it turns out I may well be justified in that belief. So I’m sharing this festive Brussels sprouts safety warning with you: these little green vegetables are dangerous…

brussels sprouts safety warning festive christmas hospital blood thinner vitamin k sickly mama blog

Brussels Sprouts: A Festive Safety Warning

Brussels Sprouts Overdose: The Facts

Back in 2011, a man was hospitalised at Christmas after overdosing on Brussels sprouts. Yes, really. You see, sprouts contain vitamin K, which the body uses to help with blood clotting. This can be a problem if you’re on medication to stop your blood clotting (a.k.a. blood thinners or ‘anticoagulants’ – like warfarin, which you may have heard of). All the vitamin K counteracts the effect of this medication.

The man in question suffered from chronic heart failure, and had been fitted with an artificial pump in his heart, while he was awaiting a heart transplant. It’s normal for patients in this situation to take blood thinners, and he was prescribed warfarin and his blood was monitored to check it wasn’t clotting too easily. All was well for four months, when the festive season approached. Suddenly, blood tests indicated that the man’s blood was clotting much too quickly. The doctors increased his warfarin, but it kept getting worse and worse. They told him not to eat too many leafy green vegetables due to the vitamin K content. But nothing seemed to help. Three days after Christmas, he was admitted to hospital.

While in hospital – eating hospital food – things started to improve. Eventually, under (presumably) intensive questioning from his doctors, he finally admitted that he’d been eating Brussels sprouts three or four times a week during the festive period. But not just that. Oh no. He’d been eating 15 – 20 Brussels sprouts at a time. That means he was munching down around 45 – 80 sprouts PER WEEK.

Now, I have some sprout fans in my immediate family, and they’ve long tried to convert me to eating this appalling vegetable. But I have never met anyone who loves them so much they’re guzzling down 20 sprouts a day (unless they’re so rightly ashamed of this sick behaviour that they’re hiding it from me, I guess). Anyway, the point is: not only are sprouts gross, they’re also potentially little green balls of death, so heed my festive Brussels sprouts safety warning and steer well clear.

Why do I hate sprouts so much?

Random side note: the the hatred of Brussels sprouts is, in fact, genetic (or at least, probably genetic). Those people who have this gene can taste the bitter and hideous taste of a chemical called phenylthiocarbamide, which is extremely similar to a chemical found in brassicas, like Brussels sprouts. And cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower… pretty much all the vegetables I and so many other sensible people hate. So if you’ve ever been sat around the Christmas dinner table, watching your family guzzling down sprouts and wondering: why do I hate Brussels sprouts so much? Now you know!

food · gluten free · recipes · reviews

Malted Chocolate Ice Cream With Sweet Cocoa Collagen Recipe

I was kindly gifted this sweet cocoa collagen by Wellness Lab Ltd. You can use their collagen powder in drinks, smoothies and baked goods, so they asked if I could come up with a new ice cream recipe using it. And after a little experimenting, I’ve created this recipe for delicious malted chocolate ice cream with sweet cocoa collagen!

It’s high in protein, and comparatively low in sugar – with about 1/3rd of the sugar content you’d usually get in an ice cream, if you leave out the Malteasers. (But why would you leave out the Malteasers? They’re delicious!)

What the hell is collagen and why would I want it in my ice cream?

Collagen is a protein that is found throughout your entire body, in connective tissue like cartilage, bone, skin, ligaments and tendons. Your body naturally produces collagen, but as you age your body produces less of it. It’s been suggested that taking collagen supplements can help improve skin elasticity, and reduce joint aim and wrinkles, by helping your body to produce this important protein. Although it’s still early days in terms of the science, there are some indications that collagen supplementation may help with joint health in osteoarthritis.

Collagen supplements are really popular right now – not only because of their possible health benefits, but also because they’re high in protein and can easily be added to other foodstuffs.

What does collagen taste like?

I had never tried collagen supplements before, so I was interested to see what the flavour was like! In the sweet cocoa collagen powder, the collagen seems to give it a slightly malty flavour, which is what inspired this recipe. If you enjoy Horlicks or other malted chocolate drinks, you’d probably really like the powder just as a hot drink (you can just add hot water and stir!). I’m personally not such a fan of malty hot drinks, I prefer the flavour in baked goods and puddings… And especially in ice cream!

Where can I get hold of powdered collagen to try?

If you’d like to try the Wellness Lab powdered collagen (which comes in sweet cocoa, vanilla, or unflavoured varieties) click here and use code SICKLYMAMA for 10% off (Full disclosure: if you do make a purchase I will receive a small commission!).

Malted Chocolate Ice Cream With Sweet Cocoa Collagen Recipe

The Ingredients:

For this recipe, first you’ll need to gather the following ingredients:

– 300ml whole milk

– 300ml double cream

– 6 egg yolks

– 100g milk chocolate

– 5tsp of sweet cocoa collagen from Wellness Labs (use code SICKLYMAMA for 10% off!)

– 1tsp vanilla essence

– 2 handfuls Malteasers (optional, but delicious)

The Equipment:

Ideally, for this malted chocolate ice cream recipe you’ll need an ice cream maker. If you don’t have one though, don’t worry – I’ll explain how to make the recipe without one as well.

Here’s the list of equipment you’ll ideally want to gather, in addition to your ingredients:

  • Ice cream maker
  • Saucepan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Heatproof bowl
  • Mug
  • Wooden spoon
  • Spatula
  • Balloon whisk
  • Teaspoon
  • Container to freeze your finished collagen ice cream in (an old ice cream tub is perfect!)

Malted Chocolate Ice Cream With Sweet Cocoa Collagen: The Method

As with all ice cream recipes, there are two stages to this: first you make your custard base, then you turn it into ice cream. You can do both stages in one day if you have the time, or split them out over two days. Each stage itself doesn’t take that long – but leaving the custard to cool and the ice cream to churn is what takes the time!

Stage 1: Make Your Custard

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk your egg yolks with the vanilla essence. In a saucepan, gently heat the cream and milk together until just boiling. Keep back three tablespoons of milk for later.

2. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Slowly pour the hot milk and cream over the egg yolks, while whisking the yolks constantly.

3. Once combined, return the mix to the saucepan and heat over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the mix is the consistency of thin custard.

4. Remove from the heat and cool. You can do this quickly by placing the custard in a bowl over a larger bowl of ice water, or leave to cool more slowly. Ideally, you want your custard chilled by the time it goes in the ice cream maker – so make sure it gets some time in the fridge. You can even leave it overnight in the fridge if you want.

Stage Two: Make Your Ice Cream

5. Set up your ice cream maker to churn, and add the custard.

6. Meanwhile, set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Add three tablespoons of milk. Wait until the milk is warm, then add the chocolate, broken into pieces. Stir until the chocolate is totally melted into the milk. Remove from the saucepan and set aside to cool.

7. Take your sweet cocoa collagen and place it in the mug. Add 2 – 4 tablespoons of hot water, stirring to mix until you have a chocolatey sauce. Set aside to cool.

8. Once the ice cream has churned for 25 – 30 minutes and has thickened to the texture of soft serve/Mr Whippy ice cream, add the cooled chocolate and the cooled cocoa collagen mix. Allow to churn for a further 5 – 10 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, crush your Malteasers and place them in your ice cream container. Add the finished ice cream into your container and stir until the Malteasers are well mixed in.

10. Freeze your malted chocolate collagen ice cream for at least 2 hours, and serve when you’re ready.

Your collagen recipes:

Have you tried cooking or making ice cream with collagen? Share your recipes in the comments!

baby · food · parenting

Weaning: Foods I Didn’t Expect My Baby To Love

So we’ve been weaning Little Man since he was six months old, and I’ve written a bit about it previously including my top tips for starting weaning. But I thought maybe it was time to write a follow-up post, expanding on one of the tips from my original article: that you shouldn’t make assumptions about what your baby will like.

As time has gone by, it’s come home to me time and time again how true this is! Little Man now basically eats whatever we have for dinner, with the occasional tweak – and it’s incredibly rare for him to not like something. He does have his favourite foods (anything Japanese, cottage pie, cherry tomatoes, banana) but the list of foods he doesn’t like is so short it’s not even a list, because there’s only one thing on it: feta cheese.

So I thought I’d pull together a list of some of the quite random foodstuffs that Little Man has tried and loved…

weaning foods i didn't expect my baby to love random unusual food baby enjoyed the sickly mama blog

Weaning: Foods I Didn’t Expect My Baby To Love

Kimchi

If you’re not familiar with kimchi, it’s a Korean foodstuff made of fermented cabbage and other vegetables in a tangy, sometimes spicy sauce. When my husband made kimchi fried rice for us, although I dished some up for Little Man, I also made him a separate supper as we didn’t expect him to like the strong flavours of kimchi.

Boy, were we wrong! He wolfed it down and demanded more. This baby normally enjoys fried rice, but he seemed to enjoy it more than ever with the addition of the strongly-flavoured kimchi. Who knew?

Curry

I know so many grown adults who are quite fussy about curries, so I never expected Little Man to be quite so keen on them. He’s already tried a wide range of different types of curry, from more classic Indian aubergine curry with a bit of spice, to Japanese dry curry. And he’s seemed to enjoy them all! I was surprised to discover that he really doesn’t seem bothered about a bit of chilli spiciness in his food, and he has happily eaten a number of foods with a bit of a chilli kick to them.

Weird weaning food combinations

Early on in the weaning process, I discovered that Little Man would very much enjoy eating the strangest combinations of foods. This was super useful as we started our weaning journey and he was eating a lot of mashed and softer foods, because I could put pretty much anything on a plate for him. I remember once I sent my mum a picture of Little Man enjoying his lunch, and she asked what he was eating. The answer? Sweet potato, porridge, and broccoli. Yum. Not sure why I haven’t been awarded my first Michelin star yet… Presumably they have a backlog due to Covid.

baby unusual weaning food deconstructed prawn tacos the sickly mama blog high chair
Deconstructed shrimp tacos

Dashi

Dashi is a broth or stock flavoured with seaweed and flakes of dried fish. It’s a key ingredient in many Japanese dishes.(and is the reason why some westerners complain that so much Japanese food tastes vaguely fishy!). We’ve discovered though that Little Man love love loves dashi! He has absolutely wolfed down any meal which contains it.

I think a lot of small children enjoy fish for its soft texture and yummy flavour, so if your child is one of these kids, why not try cooking them something with dashi – for instance this Japanese oyakodon recipe is easy to cook and even easier to eat!

Watermelon

Okay, I didn’t expect that Little Man wouldn’t like watermelon (who doesn’t like watermelon???) – I just didn’t expect him to like it quite as much as he does. We discovered that giving him a big piece of rind with a little melon attached was amazing at soothing his gums while he was teething in the summer. Obviously you need to be careful that he doesn’t bite bits off the rind and end up choking, but at around 6 months Little Man’s bite wasn’t strong enough to actually cut through the rind, so he just really really enjoyed chewing on it!

baby eating pasta all'amatriciana unusual weaning foods the sickly mama blog tomato sauce on face
Pasta all’amatriciana

Coffee

Okay, bear with me – NO I’m not advocating giving your tiny baby coffee! Little Man has the habit of climbing up on us and begging to try a bit whenever we are sat down with food or drink and he doesn’t have any. He was doing this once with me when I was drinking coffee, and I thought actually it’s so bitter that if he tried a bit, he wouldn’t like it and would leave me be to enjoy my coffee in peace. So I dipped my finger in my coffee and let him lick it, just to get the taste. And of course, you guessed it… He loved it. Oops.

Weaning foods: the verdict

So I guess in summary, I’ve found on so many occasions that my expectations of what Little Man will or won’t like are totally wrong. I’m sure at some point he will go through a much fussier phase, but right now we’re trying to get him eating as many different foods as possible (within the realms of NHS guidance on safe foods for weaning), and he’s loving it!

What unexpected weaning foods does your baby love?

Have you discovered any unexpected foods that your baby has loved during the weaning process? Let me know in the comments!

weaning foods I didn't expect my baby to love the sickly mama blog baby in high chair
food · gluten free · recipes

Sweet Potato Nachos – Autumnal Gluten Free Treat

I love nachos. So does my husband. But we don’t have them often, because a) they’re super unhealthy and b) a lot of tortilla chip varieties are not gluten free. I came up with this variation, which is much healthier but I think also hits a lot of the same buttons in terms of flavour. I call them ‘sweet potato nachos’ for that reason – but really you could also call them loaded sweet potato fries. This recipe is super easy and can be made quickly if you have a microwave – about 20 – 25 minutes, or 55 minutes if you’re baking the sweet potato in the oven. They’d also be great made in an air fryer.

As well as being gluten free, this recipe can easily be made low FODMAP (mainly by keeping an eye on portion sizes) so I’ve also provided instructions for anyone following a low FODMAP diet – and I’ve given some notes on making vegan nachos at the end of this recipe as well.

lazy mamas sweet potato nachos recipe gluten free low fodmap

Sweet Potato Nachos Recipe

Ingredients list:

To make your gluten free sweet potato nachos, you will need:

  • Sweet potatoes (40g serving per person if you are following a low FODMAP diet)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Cream cheese (for low FODMAP ensure you’re not having more than 40g cheese overall when you add together the mozzarella and cream cheese)
  • Spring onion (for low FODMAP, only use the green part)
  • Vegetable oil or garlic infused oil if you have it!
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper

Method for making sweet potato nachos:

1. Peel your sweet potatoes. If you have a microwave, pop them in on a high heat for 5 minutes, turn them over, and heat for a further five minutes. You’ll know they’re done when a fork easily goes through the potato flesh. If you don’t have a microwave, ignore this and go straight to the second step!

sickly mama blog sweet potatos ready to be baked

2. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C. Cut up your sweet potatoes into chips and place on a baking tray. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil and a generous sprinkle of the salt and cayenne pepper. Toss the sweet potato chips through the oil and seasonings, then pop in the oven. If you pre-cooked your chips in the microwave, bake for about ten minutes, turning halfway through. If you didn’t pre-cook, bake the chips for about 40 minutes, turning halfway through.

3. When the sweet potato chips are ready, group them together in a pile on the baking tray. Dollop over the cream cheese and sprinkle with finely chopped spring onion. Then, top with mozzarella.

sickly mama blog sweet potato nachos oven ready mozzarella spring onion

4. Stick the tray under a hot grill until the cheese on your sweet potato chips has browned nicely. And serve!

Ideas for your sweet potato nachos

These nachos are an ideal snack, or make a larger quantity for lunch. Just like traditional nachos, they work well for parties or social events – and it’s also a really kid-friendly recipe, and a sneaky way to get your kids eating some vegetables. If you’re trying to be a healthy mummy (or daddy), don’t go overboard on the cheese (or just don’t eat them every day!).

You can play around with the toppings for your sweet potato nachos as well. Tomato salsa would be a tasty addition (but not if you’re looking for a low FODMAP treat, thanks to the onion content), as would black beans or avocado/guacamole (again not good ingredients for low FODMAP diets though!).

Vegan Sweet Potato Nachos

Obviously this recipe is already vegetarian, but if you follow a vegan diet, it’s also pretty easy to turn this dish into vegan sweet potato nachos. Plenty of stores sell vegan cheese substitutes, so you can swap out the mozzarella and cream cheese for a vegan alternative. Or, you can even make your own – check out this recipe for homemade vegan parmesan or homemade vegan feta cheese substitute, both of which would be delicious sprinkled over the top of your sweet potato fries.

gluten free low fodmap sweet potato nachos recipe sickly mama blog

More recipes…

If you’re looking for more cooking inspiration, why not head to my recipe page? Or check out this super lazy noodle soup recipe, or this great vegetable lasagne recipe!

baking · food · gluten free · recipes

Gluten Free Chocolate Cappuccino Brownies Recipe

I love making brownies, and much though I love a simple chocolate brownie, I like experimenting with different flavours! As my husband is a total coffee nut, he suggested a marbled chocolate brownie/coffee blondie combination, and I think this recipe is a total winner! Plus, you’d never know it’s gluten free. The only point of debate is whether to call them “chocolate cappuccino brownies” or “mochaccino brownies”… Thoughts?

Gluten-free Chocolate Cappuccino Brownies Recipe

The ingredients for your gluten free brownies:

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 75g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 75g gluten free plain flour
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp instant coffee
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp xantham gum (optional)
gluten free marbled brownie and coffee blondie mochaccino

How to make gluten free mochaccino brownies:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and line the base of a 20cm X 20cm tin.

2. Melt the chocolate (I microwave it for 20 second bursts until melted, or you can melt in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water).

3. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then beat in the eggs. Add the flour, xantham gum, baking powder and vanilla essence and mix until smooth.

4. Split the mix between two bowls. Mix in the melted chocolate to one bowl, and the coffee to the other.

5. Dollop the two mixtures into the tin and swirl together slightly. Don’t mix too much though, or you won’t get the contrasting flavours of the two mixes!

6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. 30 minutes will get you a more cakey texture, 25 minutes a more fudgey texture. Let the mix cool in the tin.

gluten free mochaccino brownies baked in tin marbled blondie

Tips and tricks for your gluten free chocolate cappuccino brownies:

This recipe will make 12 – 16 gluten free chocolate cappuccino brownies, depending on how you cut it, and it takes about 20 minutes to prepare, plus cooking time.

If you’re not bothered about being gluten free, substitute the gluten free flour for normal flour and leave out the xantham gum.

You want your coffee brownie mix to taste strongly of coffee in order for the finished product to have a good coffee flavour, so I recommend tasting the batter. If the uncooked mix doesn’t have a good hit of coffee flavour to it, add more instant coffee powder until it does!

gluten free chocolate cappuccino mochaccino brownies recipe sickly mama blog

More gluten-free baking recipes:

If you enjoyed these gluten-free mochaccino brownies, you might be interested in trying some of my other gluten-free baking recipes – check out these deliciously chocolatey gluten-free rocky roads, or this recipe for the best gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies.

food · gluten free · reviews

Review: Awfully Posh Lomo Crisps

I was kindly gifted a box of new Lomo Crisps by Awfully Posh to try out! No idea what a lomo crisp is? I didn’t know either…

What are lomo crisps?

The word “Lomo” is Spanish for tenderloin, a cut of pork that is often served cured and air dried – think of the kind of cured meats you might expect to be served at a tapas restaurant.

These Awfully Posh lomo crisps are made from Spanish pork loin which has been cured with garlic and paprika. It’s then sliced super thin and air dried until it’s all crispy and crunchy – like a potato crisp, but made of 100% pork!

Because they’re made of pork, they’re also gluten free and high protein – we’re always on the look out for gluten free snacks in this house so I was keen to try them out, as was my gluten-intolerant husband!

box of awfully posh lomo crisps air dried spanish pork loin chips review the sickly mama blog
Om nom nom

What do they taste like?

First impression: they really are super crunchy! Even though I knew they are marketed as crisps, I think in my head I was expecting these lomo crisps to be more chewy – after all, they look like slices of pork, so I think I subconsciously expected a texture more like jerky or dried meat. But no! They have the proper crunch that you expect from a regular crisp.

The flavour is really nice, very rich and savory – it took me a while to work out what it most reminded me of, but I realised eventually that it’s the crispy bacon that you get on top of the turkey at Christmas. That’s a pretty great association! I’d say that if you’re a fan of bacon, you’ll love these crisps.

How would you serve Lomo crisps?

The crisps come in packets that are the right size for an afternoon snack for one, and the flavour makes them perfect to enjoy with a beer (kind of like pork scratchings, I suppose) or a glass of wine. If it weren’t for all the current restrictions, I can imagine they’d be a big hit in pubs! Lomo crisps would also be a great addition to a charcuterie platter or tapas selection, if you fancy introducing something a bit different into the mix.

I can also imagine using them as a cooking ingredient as well, perhaps for a crispy bacon-esque topping on a dish or even a baking ingredient.

Where can I buy Lomo crisps?

You can buy these lomo crisps online at www.britishsnackco.com and try them out for yourself!

review of awfully posh lomo crisps by the sickly mama blog made with spanish pork loin

Still hungry…?

Why not check out my review of Ai No Mochi, London’s mochi delivery service? Don’t know what a mochi is? Read on to find out…

baking · food · gluten free · recipes

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

It’s autumn! The leaves are brown, the sky is grey, and going outside is starting to feel like a chore rather than a treat. But for me, one of the ways we’re compensated for the chilly weather and the shortening days is the delicious flavours of seasonal autumn cooking. And by that, I mean pumpkin! I absolutely love pumpkin as an ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes, and I think these gluten free pumpkin muffins are a perfect autumn treat.

They’re made with tinned pumpkin puree, which isn’t always easy to find in the UK – although large supermarkets will often stock it in their international foods section. If you can’t find a tin of pumpkin puree, you can substitute it with homemade puree from a roasted pumpkin or squash – instructions here.

Okay, enough talk. On to the actual recipe!

gluten free pumpkin muffins recipe the sickly mama blog autumn

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

Ingredients for pumpkin muffins:

You will need the following ingredients for your gluten free pumpkin muffins:

  • 250g gluten free flour
  • 225g sugar (I split this between caster sugar, demerara sugar, and dark muscovado sugar – a mix with some darker sugar is ideal for a bit of extra flavour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g butter (salted)
  • 50g oats
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
ingredients for gluten free pumpkin muffins recipe from the sickly mama blog

Method for gluten free pumpkin muffins

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C and line a muffin tin with cake cases.

2. Melt the butter. You can do this in the microwave in 10 second blasts, stirring in between, until fully melted.

3. Add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and mix until thoroughly combined. Don’t worry if it’s a little bit lumpy though!

tinned pumpkin puree being mixed into a cake mix the sickly mama blog

4. Spoon the mix into the cake cases.

5. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. You’ll know the muffins are fully cooked when a skewer or fork inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

6. Put the muffins on a cooling tray to cool. Or eat them straightaway – they’re delicious still warm from the oven!

freshly baked gluten free pumpkin muffins cupcakes fairy cakes straight from the oven

Tips and pointers for your spiced pumpkin muffins:

These bad boys will keep in a tin for 3 – 4 days, although they’re yummiest fresh from the oven! You can also freeze your gluten free pumpkin muffins for up to three months – here are some pointers on freezing muffins. So you can make them now and enjoy them later!

This recipe is gluten free, however if you’re not in need of gluten free muffins, you can make them with regular flour and leave out the xantham gum. They’re just as yummy when they contain gluten, but do be careful not to over-mix the batter, as it will leave you with tough, chewy little cakes. Over-mixing is not such a problem with gluten-free baking, which is one of the few benefits of cooking for the gluten intolerant!

You can also very much get creative with the spices you use in these gluten free pumpkin muffins. I love a pumpkin spice blend that’s heavy on the cinnamon and ginger and light on the clove (by which I mean has NO CLOVES in it, because they’re disgusting). But a traditional American pumpkin spice mix has a good dose of nutmeg and clove in it, so you may wish to go for maximum authenticity there!

More gluten free treats…

Looking for more gluten free recipes? Why not try this amazing gluten free Rocky Road recipe – no baking required!

recipe for gluten free pumpkin muffins cupcakes fairy cakes the sickly mama blog autumn
baby · food · parenting · top tips

My Top Weaning Tips So Far

We started weaning Little Man at six months, so we’re now about seven weeks in and having two solid meals a day as standard (I’ll be honest, we could be doing three a day, I just can’t be bothered cleaning porridge off the walls that early in the morning). That means it’s time to share my top weaning tips so far, based on what I’ve learned!

We’re following a mix of traditional weaning (where the food is puréed or mushy at first, gradually increasing in chunky textures, and you feed baby with a spoon) and baby-led weaning (or BLW – where baby is presented with solid food options from the start and has to feed him or herself). This seems to be working just fine, despite some evangelists on the BLW side saying it’s all or nothing and you must never mix the two approaches for fear of confusing baby. Maybe some babies are more easily confused than others… Mine just seems to treat all food of all textures and presentations as an opportunity to coat himself in muck from head to toe.

In general, lunch is more of a purist’s BLW approach, where Little Man gets foods he can pick up himself and the time to have fun with them. Sometimes they even go into his mouth. Then at dinner, he sits in his high chair at the table with me and my husband, and there’s more of a concerted effort to get some food in his tummy.

Anyway, I’ve been reflecting on our weaning journey so far, and I thought I’d share some weaning tips that I wish I’d known when we started!

Don’t make assumptions about what they will or won’t like

Little Man has consistently surprised me with what he enjoys eating. The other day, I was eating some very strongly flavoured salt and vinegar crisps. Little Man was on my lap, and he was reaching for them. We don’t normally let him have any kind of junk food, but I let him have a crisp, on the basis that I thought the flavour would be way too strong and acidic for him and he wouldn’t like it. I even thought it might put him off asking for crisps in the future! Predictably, I was 100% wrong and he loved it… Oops.

Other foods that he has liked despite my expectations have included raspberries, broccoli mash (come on though, broccoli is grim… I practically made myself ill from the smell when I cooked it for him!), risotto, Japanese-style pork croquettes, and more. Now, I just let him try whatever and see what he thinks. Fingers crossed it works and we avoid having a fussy eater later on in life!

Help them get started off

I often offer Little Man one or two pieces of his finger food before leaving him to try to eat himself. Giving him a piece straight to his mouth at the start of the meal helps him get enthusiastic about feeding himself the rest. I then often give him one or two pieces to hold, as he often struggles to pick things up initially and it seems to help him get the hang of it for the rest of the meal.

Weaning is tough

Don’t start sweet (unless you mean to go on…)

The other day, I gave Little Man some raspberries to start him off while I made veggie omelette for his main. Oops. He loves veggie omelette, but after the raspberries he was in no way interested. Every time he put a piece in his mouth, he just made a sad face. Now we don’t do sweet things until the savoury is out the way first…

Let him have his own damn spoon

Little Man ALWAYS wants to hold the spoon. He struggles a lot with his teething and loves chomping on our wooden spoons. He’ll take a bite from a spoon, then if his teeth are bothering him, he’ll get very angry if you try to take the spoon back to give him a second bite. So now I have a back-up spoon on hand, and I just let him keep the spoon he wants. It’s much easier all around.

Brace yourself for those first weaning nappies

Little Man has always had trouble with his stomach, but as his tummy had improved by the time we came to start weaning, I have to say I wasn’t fully prepared for the violent and explosive nature of the poops he produced after starting weaning. We went through a couple of weeks where he was routinely experiencing such forceful poops that they completely escaped his nappy and went right up his back. He’s also been quite windy, but fortunately doesn’t seem to have tummy pain like he used to when he was smaller. Luckily for us (and our washing machine), Little Man’s digestive system does seem to have begun to acclimatise to solid foods, and poops are now normally being contained within the safety of his nappy. But I really wish someone had warned me about those first few weeks!

What are your top weaning tips? Share them in the comments!

Blog post image for top weaning tips using a mix of baby led weaning and traditional weaning
food · reviews

Review: Ai No Mochi

So recently I ordered us a set of mochi from the London-based Ai No Mochi, who supply freshly-made Japanese mochi across the UK. My husband and I love eating fresh mochi when we’re visiting family in Japan, and their flavours looked so exciting, I just had to order! So I’ve written a review of Ai No Mochi and their UK mochi delivery service.

What are mochi?

Mochi are traditional Japanese treats. They consist of a soft and chewy outer layer of rice flour, around a sweet filling (savoury options are also available). They’re typically formed into little ball shapes – although in Kyoto, they go for the frankly lazy option of just folding them into triangles instead.

Mochi are a super common and popular snack in Japan that you can find in any convenience store, although they’re particularly associated with New Year festivities. In fact, they actually come with a health warning, because the glutinous rice flour used can be difficult to chew for elderly people or the very young. Every year people are taken to hospital after choking on mochi. One woman saved her elderly father’s life when he choked on mochi, by literally hoovering it out of his throat. So… You have been warned!

Ai no mochi review of Japanese mochi rice cake delivery in London
Some of our mochi

Ai No Mochi Flavours

Ai No Mochi are based in London, and they offer an extensive list of flavours, from the more traditional Japanese (adzuki bean, toasted sesame) to the more modern and, indeed, Western (cookies and cream cheesecake, Nutella and Biscoff biscuit). You can select four flavours for your box, so I went for a mix of traditional and new:

  • Raspberry and Coconut – both my husband and I agreed this was the best flavour. Tastes like summer in a mochi.
  • Matcha (Green Tea) and White Chocolate – the matcha used tastes like it’s good quality, and the white chocolate lifts it nicely, as traditional matcha mochi can be rather heavy and cloying.
  • Toasted Sesame – I love sesame flavour so the texture of the sesame seed coating, along with the sweet adzuki bean filling, is very pleasing.
  • Salted Caramel – a yummy chocolatey and caramel-y flavour, but could have done with more salt (perhaps in the rice flour wrapper) to enhance the flavour.

The filling of the mochi is mostly very light and creamy, compared to the heavier fillings you tend to get in Japan. If you like Japanese mochi, you’ll like these – and if you’ve never tried them, they’re probably a good introduction to mochi for a more Western palette.

Ai no mochi box of Japanese mochi for delivery in the UK
Our mochi when they arrived

Ordering from Ai No Mochi

Ordering was super easy, I ordered on the website and was emailed with a projected delivery date, which was then confirmed by the courier. The mochi were delivered overnight from London, so they were super fresh and still cool when they arrived. We also got two free mochi on top of what we ordered, as a taster of their new summer flavours (yuzu cheesecake, and mango) which was a lovely bonus. I’m not a cheesecake fan personally, but my husband said the yuzu cheesecake really did taste just like cheesecake!

The packaging was very nicely presented, and each mochi was individually wrapped in cling film to keep it fresh. They survived the delivery from London completely unscathed! Although it looked beautiful, like an expensive box of chocolates, it did feel like a lot of single-use plastic was involved (in fairness, this is pretty consistent with what you tend to see in Japan). It would be nice to see some more eco-friendly packaging being used, even if the overall effect isn’t quite as attractive.

In Summary… My Review Of Ai No Mochi

We really enjoyed our mochi, and it was fun to have a taste of Japan in the UK. I would definitely recommend Ai No Mochi to any other UK mochi lovers out there, or as a fun gift to surprise a friend with something new. I can confidently say that they’re the best mochi I’ve had in London, and it’s exciting to finally have fresh mochi delivery in the UK!

baking · food · gluten free · recipes

Gluten Free Rocky Road Recipe – No Baking Required!

Gluten free rocky road is one of my absolute favourite recipes! I don’t make it that often – because (as my husband says) it’s about as addictive as crack, but much more fattening. In fact, I made a batch of gluten free rocky road specifically so I could take pictures for this blog post, and we had already eaten three quarters of it before I had a chance to take photos of the finished product. That speaks for itself!

Gluten Free Rocky Roads – Overview

It’s a super easy recipe. This is a gluten free tray bake, but there’s no baking required! Instead of cooking the traybake, you just need refrigeration – so it’s a great one to make with kids.

It only takes about 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish, and will make about 12 – 16 rocky road bars, depending on how big you cut them!

Gluten Free Rocky Road Ingredients

You will need…

  • 200g butter
  • 6 tbsps golden syrup
  • 200g dark chocolate (you can use milk, but the end product will be VERY sweet)

Then for the filling, you can be super flexible, based on what’s in your store cupboard! You basically want about 350g of dried filling, which needs to be chopped or crushed into small pieces. For the bake in these pictures, I used:

  • 125g Crunchie bars (other chocolate-coated honeycomb is available)
  • 125g gluten-free Viennese biscuits
  • Handful of gluten-free pretzels
  • 3 handfuls of mini marshmallows
  • 2 handfuls of gluten-free cornflakes
the ingredients for delicious gluten free rocky road recipe

Gluten-free Rocky Road – The Recipe

1. First, line a 22cm square baking tin with tinfoil.

2. Take your Crunchie bars or other honeycomb, biscuits and pretzels, put them in a resealable freezer bag, and bash them with a rolling pin until they’re in smallish chunks. Keep back a few pretzels and marshmallows for decoration! Then add the crushed fillings to a mixing bowl along with your marshmallows and cornflakes.

delicious gluten free rocky road recipe with pretzels, marshmallows, chocolate and honeycomb

3. Next, put the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan on a low heat. Heat them together until the butter is melted into the syrup. Mix them regularly and don’t let the mix come to a boil!

recipe melting butter and golden syrup in a saucepan

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. It should be warm but not boiling hot! Add the chocolate and stir it in, until it’s melted into a smooth syrupy sauce.

5. Pour the chocolate mixture over your dry ingredients and stir gently until the dry ingredients are all totally coated.

6. Pour the mixture into the baking tray and pat down until the surface is roughly level. Press marshmallows and pretzels into the surface for decoration.

delicious gluten free rocky road recipe setting in the tin

7. Leave the tin out until it’s no longer warm to the touch, then pop into the fridge to finish setting your rocky road mix.

8. Refrigerate for a couple of hours at least. Then you can turn the rocky road out onto a plate, peel off the foil, and slice! Voila, your gluten-free rocky road is ready to serve!

Tips and Hints

The key thing about this is that you’ll want to store it in the fridge. This gluten free rocky road melts in your mouth… But also it melts in your hands, and all over your kitchen! It can be kept out at room temperature for a bit e.g. a party buffet, but I wouldn’t be taking it to a summer picnic.

If you do need it to last longer out of the fridge – or if you want to cut neat non-crumbly slices – the best way to do this is with a pure chocolate coating. Melt some more dark chocolate down and pour half over the bottom of the tin and leave it to set for five minutes before adding the main mix. Then once you’ve smoothed over the main mix in the tin, pour the rest of the chocolate over the top. It just makes it easier to handle.

delicious gluten free rocky road recipe with pretzels, marshmallows, chocolate and honeycomb

More gluten free baking recipes

If you enjoyed this recipe and you’re looking for more gluten free cake or cookies recipes, why not check out my gluten free brownies recipe, or this gluten free cookies recipe?