Recipe: Choc Beetroot Muffins

If you live in Dubai you will know all too well that it was bucketing down in the UAE yesterday, schools sent the children back home half way through the morning, we all endured the driving through flooded roads and chaotic traffic, as if a couple of drops did not make it bad enough normally, and we all did the Dubai thing when it rains and kept ourselves busy posting comments and pictures about the weather.

Once that was out of the way, we decided it was wise to hibernate, keep a close eye on the water leaks coming through the garage roof and ... do some baking with the kids! So I decided to share this recipe that is easy, our kids love and is the only way they will eat beetroot (unknowingly) other than in 'pink' pancakes. Yes, it has chocolate in it - a 'no-no' for my kids generally but they know it is a special treat reserved for when they have friends over for a play date, and that I also used for my daughter's second birthday party, so they get it. I found a couple of recipes online that I vaguely followed and have been modifying to reduce the amount of butter, chocolate and sugar to a level to a level of compromise between what the kids they should be eating and what I think they should be eating. Needless to say, you can use the organic version of as many of these ingredients as you like - I just use organic flour, eggs and milk because they are the easiest to find.

If you want to make a large batch and freeze, you can. Very handy for 'emergencies' as they will defrost nicely within an hour or so.

Makes 18-20 mini muffins.

Time: 30 minutes without the kids helping; anything between 45 minutes and 1 hour (or more) with the kids helping

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-small beetroots
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup full fat milk
  • 50 gr butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Method:

  • Preheat the oven at 180C.
  • With latex gloves on (unless you fancy pink fingers afterwards) peel and grate the beetroot.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk.
  • In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with the sugar and then add the oil. If you have an electric beater, just work all 3 together until creamy.
  • Add into the butter mix bowl 1/3 of the flour mixture and gently fold in without mixing it too much or too long. Then add 1/3 of the egg mixture and fold in. Repeat until all the mixtures have been used up.
  • Fold in the beetroot and stir until well combined, but again not too long as this will harden the muffin.
  • Pour the mixture onto muffin cases and bake for 17-18 minutes.
  • Put the muffins to cool on a cooling rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Image used is from Give Recipe because I had forgotten to take a picture of mine straight away and they were pretty much devoured shortly after coming out of the oven!

Why we will celebrating Thanksgiving (although we are not American)

We are regularly invited to friends' of ours that are from the US and every year play hosts on Thanksgiving. As their children are one year younger than our eldest, it has been more of a playdate for him and another occasion to eat and be merry. 

But this year has been filled with global events that have touched everyone's hearts and have served as a reminder of how fortunate we are, and this year we have decided to introduce Thanksgiving to our growing list of family traditions. I want to make it a point to at least once a year, as a family, stop to breathe and realise how very privileged we are and reflect on how much we take for granted in our busy lives. The uber-amazing nursery our son attended last year, the HomeGrown Eco Nursery, already covered the subject of being grateful, which was a brilliant introduction for him. But now that he is four and able to understand more of the world around him, it just seems appropriate to do something that although is not customary in either of our two home countries, we feel will help him appreciate everything including the small things.

This week during our drive to school in the mornings I have been talking to him about how fortunate he is, what other children like him do not have, and why he should be thankful for what he has. I have asked him to think of 3 things that he is grateful for and this is his list:

  1. Our new house (he loves our new home, to which he refers as 'the big house', versus 'the little house' aka our much beloved beachfront apartment in Dubai Marina)
  2. TOYS
  3. Mummy, Papa and his Little Sister (OK, we come last but at least made it into the list!)

As for me, I have by now made it into a habit to be thankful for one thing every evening before bedtime ... when I do not pass out on the couch with our post-dinner TV entertainment. With this, my list is ever so long but these are my top 3 of the moment:

  1. My gorgeous children. They are my absolute sunshine, well ... most of the time, and they will always be at the tip of my list. None of my two pregnancies were easy but every long minute of the bedrest, the frustration, the nervousness, the lack of normalcy were well worth it. Despite the circumstances, I did manage to feel the magic that I knew I would only be able to experience at that point in my life. And now that I have met them and am privileged enough to enjoy them every day, despite all the madness that parenthood implies, I would not change my life for a second.
  2. A place to call home. Not just a physical roof over our heads, but a home country/countries whose leaders (whether I/we agree with their policies or not) respect human rights and freedom. A place where we could go home to one day if we had to leave our privileged expat lives in Dubai.
  3. Weekends!!! They are all-in-one: small sleep-ins, morning cuddles with the entire family in our bed, long big breakfasts where we all eat from everyone else's plates, all-day PJ days a lot of the times, movie and lounging time, family lunches where mummy does not have to cook (hooray!), family pool time, sometimes entire days out of the house just running endless errands as I have hubby to help, special outings. Whatever they may turn out to be, but time to 'play' and recharge, and somehow maintain partial sanity.

So looking at my son's list and mine, I realise that there really are quite a few similarities between the two. So does this prove Maslow's theory (well, somewhat modified), or does it prove that we never really grow up?

Oh and for those of you who have decided to have a lastminute.com Thanksgiving, here is a easy-going yet delicious looking menu: mlovesm

Happy Thanksgiving!

Image source: Anthony Peoples

Back to School series - MORE Lunchbox Recipes by Sophie Grace Jones

Back by popular demand: MORE of Sophie Grace Jones' lunchbox ideas. All on my list to try over the next few days :)

Image source: www.lisastorms.typepad.com

Couscous and halloumi salad

Cook 1 cup of couscous, add 1 tbsp of butter and use a fork to fluff up. Leave to cool. In a separate bowl add half a tin of washed and drained chickpeas and 1 grated carrot. Mix well and add to the couscous. Meanwhile dry fry half a pack of halloumi cut into small chunks until browned and add to the couscous. My daughter loves a spoon of mayonnaise on top or pesto (pesto not for lunchbox though, as it contains nuts).

Sausage and cheese breakfast bagel

Slice a bagel in half and toast under the grill. Place slices of Cheddar cheese over the top for a minute until melted. Meanwhile cook your child favourite sausage (we like the Quorn vegetarian ones!) once cool slice into long strips and place inside the bagel. Cut into easy child size pieces. You could also use mashed avocado and cream cheese.

Egg fried rice

Boil 100gr brown rice, drain and set aside. Meanwhile in a saucepan heat a little olive oil and add 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped courgette, 5 chopped mushrooms and stir-fry until soft for a few minutes. Add in the rice and 1 egg and cook, always stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the egg has browned.

Tuna and black olive pockets

Drain a tin of tuna and put into a bowl with 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, 6 chopped black olives, 1 small cucumber diced finely, a squeeze of lemon juice and mix well. Use Arabic bread or pitta breads and fill.

Banana and blueberry smoothie

In a blender add 1 banana, 1 cup of milk, half a cup of frozen blueberries, 2 tbsp of natural yoghurt and blend well. When my daughter is not taking this to school I would use almond milk or add in a large spoon of peanut butter for protein. 

 

Thanks again, Sophie! xx

If you would like to see more of the 'Back to school' recipes, click HERE.

Sophie Grace Jones

Sophie enjoyed working as a professional nanny in London and Dubai working with high profile clients. After having a daughter of her own, she decided to reach out to parents offering support, advice and to share her experiences through her online community Facebook page: Right Routine. Sophie has studied nutrition and has a huge passion for healthy eating and exercise, incorporating her learning into the recipes and ideas that she shares.

Back to School series - Lunchbox Recipes by Sophie Grace Jones

I am super excited! Sophie Grace Jones, a nutrition specialist mum, will be contributing to the blog with her tons of ideas on recipes for children, especially the type where you can 'hide' the unpopular vegetables (at our house, that is anything that resembles any shade of orange - one exception though: mandarins & family). At every mums gathering over the past two weeks, the lunchbox topic has come up again and again, and everyone including me seems to be in need of inspiration, so here are a few suggestions from Sophie:

Images source: Pinterest

Oat, banana, cranberry and apricot bars

In a large bowl mash 3 ripe bananas, and add in 150g oats, 4 tbsp flax seed, 8 finely chopped apricots, 80g dried cranberries, 3 tbsp agave syrup and 5 tbsp of apple purée. Mix well and pour into a lined baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 180C. Leave to cool and cut into bars.

Mini broccoli and cheese quiche

Chop 2 small courgettes into cubes and boil in a saucepan along with 6-8 florets of broccoli for 6 minutes. Drain and set aside. Butter a muffin/cupcake tin and divide the chopped vegetables into the tin. Now to make the egg mixture use a large jug and add in 100g grated cheddar cheese, 5 whisked eggs, 180ml whole milk and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix well and pour over the vegetables. Add a little more grated cheese on the top and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 180C or until they look browned and not wobbly in the middle. Other popular fillings are ham and cheese, spinach and mushroom and ricotta and spinach. Makes around 10-12.

Spinach and cream cheese pasta

Finely chop half a red onion and fry for a few minutes in olive oil until softened. Add in 8 frozen spinach balls or 1 packet of fresh chopped spinach, and cook for a few minutes. Take off the heat and add in 100g cream cheese and mix well. Add to your child's favourite cooked pasta and sprinkle a little extra cheddar cheese on top. If you make this the night before just add a little olive oil in the morning and mix before putting the in the lunch box so it isn't dry.

Homemade humous and roasted vegetables wraps

To make the humous put the following ingredients into a food processor and mix well; 1 tin of drained and washed chickpeas (or dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and boiled until soft), the juice of 1 lemon, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 tsp cumin powder, 3 tbsp tahini, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. If the mix is a little thick add a little more oil or water when mixing.

Now for the roasted vegetables, choose your child's favourite veg (red pepper, onion, squash, beetroot, fennel, courgette, cauliflower) and roast on a tray with olive oil for 20 minutes at 180C. Once cool, chop into bite-size pieces. Make your wraps by using any flat bread and spread a generous layer of humous followed by a layer of the vegetables and wrap up. Cut into small, easy to hold pieces for the lunch box.

Mini pizzas

My daughter loves pizza and these are easy to make, great to freeze and cook quickly! Using either frozen pizza bases or Arabic bread, spread a layer of tomato purée to cover. Add your favourite topping, here are a few tasty ones: ham and pineapple, sun-dried tomato and feta, black olive and spinach, broccoli and pea. Sprinkle over a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melting. If you are going to freeze them, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer before baking.

 

Sophie xx

 

If you would like to see more of the 'Back to school series' recipes, click HERE.

 

Sophie Grace Jones

Sophie enjoyed working as a professional nanny in London and Dubai, working with high profile clients. After having a daughter of her own, she decided to reach out to parents offering support, advice and to share her experiences through her online community Facebook page: Right Routine. Sophie has studied nutrition and has a huge passion for healthy eating and exercise, incorporating her learning into the recipes and ideas that she shares.