Sweet Potato Wedges

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Ingredients for Coconut Sweet Potatoes

3-4 medium sweet potatoes cut into wedges

2 tbsp of coconut oil plus a bit to grease the casserole dish

Salt & Pepper

Ingredients for Buttered Sweet Potatoes

3-4 medium sweet potatoes cut into wedges

2 tbsp of ghee plus  a bit to grease the casserole dish

Salt & Pepper

Method

Preheat oven 400F, 200C, 180 Fan, Gas 6

Warm casserole dish with a little coconut oil or ghee for 3-4 minutes

Dump wedges into dish, spread out so they aren’t touching too much

Cook for 25 minutes, flipping once after about 15 minutes

Voila!

Sweet potato was one of the first foods I weaned my girls on, around the age of 6 months. At 6 months, for both of them, I did a bit of spoon feeding mixed with Baby Led Weaning, and by 7 months, they were predominately BLW. Until they were about 12 months, sweet potato was my go-to carbohydrate. It’s an easily digestible fibre, so it won’t irritate tiny digestive tracts, and as far as plant forms of vitamin A goes, this root veggie is leader of the pack. I always combine it with a good quality fat, for optimal nutrient absorption. These lovely tubers are also a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins and is a free radical scavenger, so definitely a friend of a family keen to be healthy! Enjoy!!

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Mighty Mango Muffins

Mango Muffins

 

Ingredients

3 eggs

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp organic whole milk (you can use coconut or nut milk if you prefer)

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup diced mango (anywhere from 1/2 mango to whole mango, depending how big)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400F, 200C, Gas Mark 5
  2. Mix together eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil and milk
  3. Add baking powder to coconut flour then slowly combine with wet ingredients
  4. Mix the batter really well with a hand mixer then spoon in mango
  5. Pour batter into muffin cups or straight into tin. It should make 10 muffins. Bake for 20 minutes. The muffin should have a spongey bounce to it when it’s done
  6. Voila!

Mango muffins was the first bake I attempted when baby Number 1 came along.  Some people LOVE baking.  There are thousands of books about baking; 9 out of 10 people would probably prefer dessert to an entrée; The Great British Bake Off is possibly the most popular reality show on TV.  I, however, do not like baking!  It requires precision, and I much prefer winging it. However, the ingredients found in most store bought muffins, pastries, cookies and cakes are – let’s face it – appalling.  They’re filled with processed flours, sugar, additives, preservatives, industrial oils, E-Numbers, etc.  These ingredients aren’t good for anyone, especially tiny digestive tracts, but for some people it’s the only lifestyle they now know. Suggesting to a Baby Boomer to avoid the packaged products sitting on their supermarket shelf is like throwing sand in the wind. Gens X & Y have been pretty well scuppered by food and marketing also.  But our babies – they have hope!  People are becoming more educated about food and more aware of choices we need to make to live a healthy life. It’s my absolute passion to help people understand good food choices. Our babies – they don’t have the choice yet, so as a parent, it’s my responsibility to make the healthiest choice I can – for them! So, I made myself find the patience and precision for baking, and with that I can feel good about my girls enjoying a clean, sweet treat.

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Creamy Courgetti with Peas

Creamy Courgetti with Peas

 

Ingredients:

6 Courgette / Zucchini (medium)

1 Cup of Frozen Peas

1/4 + 1 tbsp Creme Fraiche

3 Cloves of garlic

2 tbsp butter (grass fed)

Spices: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp parsley flakes, 8-10 cracks of black pepper

Courgette

Method:

Prep all ingredients before cooking because the cooking goes so quickly, if you’re not prepared, time will get away from you

Prep:

– Spiralize courgette, squeeze water from courgette so they aren’t too wet, salt courgette, add boiling water to frozen peas to defrost, cut lemon in half, measure out creme fraiche 

  1. Melt 1.5 tbsp of butter, saving the remaining half tbsp for later, on med-low heat for 30 seconds, then add minced garlic. Cook for 30-40 seconds. You want the garlic to start to color a bit, but not to burn
  2. Take pan off the fire and add spiralized courgette and lemon juice. Mix really well then add back to the fire. Cook for 5 minutes on medium-low head, stirring occasionally
  3. Add remaining butter, creme fraiche, peas and spices
  4. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes for crunchier Courgetti and 5-7 minutes for al dente ‘noodles’. I prefer a crunchier texture, but Dad prefers more al dente. It’s 100% preference.
  5. Voila!

Courgetti in Pan

I made this light, super easy dish to accompany the sea bass I was cooking. While the sea bass was baking in the oven, I made this courgetti. If you’re organized, it takes less than 30 minutes.

So much can be done with this simple dish! It can be eaten alone, as a lovely, creamy vegetarian dish; you can have it with a light, white fish or you can chuck in some bacon for a gluten-free, ‘pasta’ Carbonara. If you’re opting for the vegetarian version, the peas add a good source of protein, but also an easily digestible, gluten-free, slow releasing starchy carbohydrate, which is great for blood sugar balancing. The Courgetti ‘pasta’ is made using a fresh, green vegetable – this adds vitamins, antioxidants, natural fibre and an all-around healthy nutrient profile to what also feels like an indulgent dish. It’s great for kids, to boost their veggie intake; great for mums looking for a lighter meal to maybe shift the pregnancy weight, and great for dads who might get home late and want to avoid a heavy pasta dish. Winner!

The magic of this dish is the garlic, butter and lemon combination. The lemon lightens up the richness of the butter and cream, adding a kiss of citrusy tang. And no good Italian dish is complete without garlic!

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family does. It’s all the pleasure of a pasta dish without the heavy, bloated feeling of a pasta dish. Bellissimo!

 

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Bolognese & Sweet Potato Noodles

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Ingredients:

500g ground red meat (grass-fed preferably)

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

4 mushrooms

4 cherry or plum tomatoes or 1 medium tomato

2 cups tomato sauce / passata

3/4 cups hot water

2 large sweet potato or 3 medium

Spices: olive oil, 2 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp basil, salt & pepper

Method

  1. Season meat with salt & pepper and start browning on a medium – low heat, covered, for about 2-3 minutes while you chop onion finely. Move the meat to one side and tip pan, letting the fat from the meat drain to one side. Add the onion to this natural fat and fry with lid on while you chop the garlic. Add the finely chopped garlic to the onions and fry for 2 minutes
  2. Quarter tomatoes and add to the onion and garlic. Fry for 2-3 minutes while you clean and chop the mushrooms. I usually slice the mushrooms 4-5 times horizontally and vertically
  3. Mix onions, garlic and tomatoes and mushrooms into the meat. Let itcook for 3-5 minutes while you prepare your sweet potato noodles using a spiralizer or julienne peeler (see below)
  4. Add the leftover core of the sweet potato (cut into cubes first) to the meat, as well as your spices: 1/4 tsp basil, 2 bay leaves, salt & pepper, tomato sauce and hot water. Cover, bring to a boil
  5. Once the sauce has boiled, reduce to a simmer, keep covered and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. In a separate frying pan, warm up 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add sweet potato noodles and cook on medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring once or twice each minute. You want the noodles to keep somewhat of a crunchy texture to them so they don’t wilt under the sauce.
  7. Add sauce to the sweet potato noodles
  8. Voila!

Sweet Potato Noodles

  1. Peel the sweet potato
  2. Using a spiralizer or julienne peeler start making your noodles. I use a julienne peeler because it works just as well as a spiralizer and I don’t have space in my kitchen for another large appliance. It’s very simple. Hold the potato and using the julienne peeler, firmly start to peel the potato. I usually do 4-5 peels before turning to start on the other side of the potato. Continue to do this until you’re left with about a 1/2″ core of the potato. (This core will be cubed and added to the sauce for natural sweetness)
  3. Salt noodles and continue with step 6 in Method

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I’ve never been a fan of boiling noodles. They take ages, and I end up obsessively watching the pasta cook for the last 5 minutes, constantly testing it to make sure it’s done. Sweet potato noodles solves that problem! Not only do these ‘noodles’ increase the nutritional value of the meal, but they take about 4 minutes to cook. Super simple!

As a mother and a nutritionist, I choose to restrict many grains and refined flours. I do this as a lifestyle choice for myself and also as a guideline for weaning and toddler nutrition, especially 0-2 years. Don’t get me wrong, I love a sandwich, and one of my best food experiences from my holiday in Italy was the large bowl of four cheese pasta that got devoured with a bottle of wine.

I consider grains such as pasta and bread a treat, like ice cream, rather than a staple. Both are a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates along with protein and fat are categorized as macronutrients. A balanced macronutrient intake is essential for optimal health. As a starchy carbohydrate replacement, I prefer root vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash. I always have sweet potatoes in the house. Sweet potatoes are a nutrient powerhouse, packed with vitamins A and C, two well known antioxidants and immune supporters, as well B vitamins which our bodies require daily to make energy. Sweet potatos are also very easily digested – perfect for the developing digestive tract of a baby or toddler, and contain good fibers that when digested help to improve the microflora in the gut, contributing to a healthy digestive tract. Sweet potatoes are in season almost the entire year, making them a versatile and accessible carbohydrate.

Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Risotto

Rissoto

 

Ingredients

1 cup white basmati rice

1 onion finely diced

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 carrot

5 mushrooms

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup vegetable stock

1-2 cups water

1.5 tbsp grated Parmasean

2 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. Mix the vegetable stock and water together and add to a saucepan and warm. In a separate saucepan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and warm on low heat. While it’s warming, finely dice your onion and mince the garlic. Once olive oil is warm, add onion and fry for 5 minutes on low heat. Then, add garlic and fry for 3 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally
  2. Add rice and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Turn heat up to medium-high and fry the rice with the onions and garlic for 1-2 minutes, stirring
  3. After 1-2 minutes, add about 1 cup of warmed vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high fire for about 3-5 minutes, while you chop the carrot and mushrooms into small cubes. After 3-5 minutes, or when the rice absorbs most of the stock and just starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and the carrots and more warm liquid, mix. You want the rice to cook slowly, gaining a sticky consistency – adding liquid as it absorbs into the rice
  4. Next, add the mushrooms – you’re the judge of when and how much liquid to add, as you the one watching the rice cook and absorb, so if you need more liquid at this time, add more. All together, you will probably use about 2-3 cups of the liquid
  5. Continue to simmer, occasionally stirring, tasting the rice to check if its nearly cooked. This will probably be another 3-5 minutes. When the rice is nearly cooked, add the peas, tiny bit more liquid and salt and pepper. Let the rice now cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the rice is cooked, turn the heat off, add the grated parmesan, mix and cover. Leave to rest for 2 minutes. This is when the rice really takes form as a risotto and becomes a lovely, sticky consistency. Mix and serve
  7. Voila!

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Risotto requires a little bit of love and attention while preparing to ensure that the rice cooks well, and the grains achieve a smooth and sticky consistency. It might be worth setting a timer, maybe on your smart phone, for each stage to remind yourself to continuously check the rice. You don’t want to overcook it, and it does require constant liquid ladling. It might sound complex, but honestly, it’s such a simple dish. Cooking risotto is like making toast – you can’t really mess it up.

White rice is as cost effective as pasta, it’s definitely toddler approved and it’s more easily digested than pasta, so it’s a good alternative to what might seem like a constant rotation of pasta dishes in your house. You can make this recipe with risotto rice, but I use white basmati rice because I always have it in the house, and it cooks faster. This recipe can be prepped and cooked in about 30 minutes, and it requires no planning – spontaneous cooking at its best! You can add whatever vegetables you have in the house: carrots, mushrooms, green beans, butternut squash, sweet potato, leeks, kale – just try to add the more dense vegetables in the early cooking process, so they have time to soften.  If you want a more hearty meal, you can use homemade chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, and add chicken or salmon to the risotto. The chicken or fish stock will add depth and flavor galore, boost the nutrient profile, and make the dish a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. Adding an oily fish like salmon will also up the essential fatty acid profile which is so important in developing infants, babies and toddlers.

Cooking risotto fills the house with a beautiful smell that is unmistakable in its aroma. I would often cook it while both girls were taking their afternoon nap, and as Number 1 approached 2.5 years old, she would wake and come downstairs and ask, “did you make rice!?!” It’s a favorite of my girls, and of mine because they can easily feed themselves the sticky rice, there’s always enough for leftovers, it can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian and it feels gluttonous, but it’s actually very healthy. Hooray for risotto!

Additional Note

This will serve 4 – two toddlers and two adults. Or, if you’re having fish or chicken to accompany it, which is what we do, this recipe will serve 4, with leftovers.

Enjoy!

 

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Buttered Popcorn

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Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil or 2 tbsp ghee
3/4 cup kernels
3.5 tbsp butter
Salt

Method

  1. Heat oil or ghee on medium-high fire. Add three kernels to the pot. Shake the pot around every now and then until all three kernels pop. This takes about 3-4 minutes.
  2.  Once the three kernels have popped, pour in the remaining kernels and cover. Give the pot a good shake. Within 60 seconds, the kernels should start popping quite rapidly
  3. While the kernels are popping, melt 3-4 tbsp of butter – I melt my butter in a small saucepan on the stove, but you can do it in the micro, if that’s your preference
  4.  Once the kernels have stopped popping, turn fire off. Pour half of the butter over the popped kernels. Salt generously. Cover and shake really well. Remove some of the popcorn and pour the remaining butter over the popcorn. Salt generously. Cover and shake
  5. Voila! Serve while hot.

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Buttered Popcorn! I rarely eat sweets – in fact I can count on one hand the amount of desserts I’ve had this year. But anything salty, savory, fried or crispy, I’m in for the win. I make popcorn once, maybe twice a week and if I’m having a bad day, I might have it for dinner. Buttered popcorn might seem overindulgent to some, which is why I’ve classified it as a treat, but if you buy your own kernels and pop it at home, using good quality grass fed butter, it’s a great snack! It’s fun; it’s not fried and a great variation on the sweet snacks.

Enjoy!

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Hidden Veggie Turkey Loaf

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Ingredients

2 lbs ground dark turkey meat (see note below)

2 eggs

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup grated carrot

1 cup peas

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 tsp thyme, salt & pepper to taste

Ghee or olive oil for frying

Parchment paper and baking dish

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, 180F, Gas Mark 4.  Saute onion in ghee with salt, pepper and a pinch of thyme until soft – about 10 minutes
  2. While onion is frying, grate carrot and zucchini
  3. When onions are soft, add vegetable stock and tomato sauce. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes
  4. While cooling, add meat, vegetables, eggs, salt, pepper and 1 tsp of thyme into a big bowl and mix well
  5. Add onion mixture to the bowl once cooled and mix well. Transfer to a baking dish lined with parchment paper
  6. Mold and smooth turkey into a loaf. Add two teaspoons of tomato sauce to the top of the loaf. Put into the oven and bake for 1.5 hours
  7. Voila!

As a child meatloaf was one of my favorite meals. My mom cooked it in a big pot with loads of tomato sauce and peas. Oh, the peas! I would have triple servings. As much as I would love to revisit that taste sensation, and make the meatloaf I grew up on, it’s not really possible. The two main reasons 1) it’s too labor intensive with an ingredient list a mile long and 2) living in the UK, I don’t have access to many of the ingredients. So I’ve modified the recipe, as I do, ensuring it ticks a) the health conscience box b) the busy mom box and c) the toddler approved box.

Now, about the ‘hidden’ veggies – I know there are two camps about how food should be presented. One camp believes present the food as it looks – if broccoli looks like a green tree, put it on the plate and talk about how lucky we are to eat a miniature green tree. Another camp believes, my child doesn’t care if it’s a tree or a pot of gold, if he can see it and it’s green, he ain’t eating it. I was watching an interview with Sandra Bullock recently and she was talking about getting a child to eat. She actually counted the hours she spends saying, ‘Can you please eat.’ It’s 720 hours a year we spend trying to persuade our tykes to eat. Her point of view, ‘If I can just blend it in a little juice, I would do it at this point.’  We all know Sandra Bullock is not a lazy woman – I imagine she works just as hard in her domestic life as she does in her professional life, and her biggest struggle seems to be getting her child to eat. I’m hoping to help parents have a little less struggle during the 720 hours we spend trying to persuade our children to eat. Let’s remember, it actually starts in the womb, something I will be blogging about soon…

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Additional Note

You can use either dark ground turkey meat or beef for this recipe. If you can’t find dark turkey mince, then I advise using beef, otherwise, your dish might turn out a bit too dry.

Enjoy!

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Oat & Raisin ‘No Bake’ Brownies

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Ingredients

1 cup nut butter or seed butter

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil

1.5 cup dry rolled oats

3 tsp raisins

50 g of 70% dark chocolate bar or 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Combine the nut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and raisins in a pot and melt on a low-medium heat, stirring as it melts. This should take 2-3 minutes
  2. Add chocolate and allow to melt for about 30 seconds. Turn the fire off and stir in the oats
  3. Pour into a baking dish lined with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, just grease the dish with coconut oil. It’ll make the brownies a little more difficult to remove from the dish, but a little patience and power, and you will do it
  4. Freeze for 1 hour. Once set, remove and cut into squares. Store in the fridge
  5. Voila!

I like this recipe because it’s a sweet treat made with natural sugars, no flours, no baking (which I tend to avoid because it’s so precise) and it reminds me of my favorite cookie – oatmeal and raisin. The ingredients make up a great toddler snack loaded with essential fats, protein and slow releasing carbohydrates. The dark chocolate, as we all know and justify daily, is not only an antioxidant, but also contains nutrients that are essential to our energy cycle as well as our body’s natural relaxation ability – it even contains a decent amount of fibre. It’s one of the healthiest and tastiest treats I’ve tasted in a long time – nutrient dense and no blood sugar spike. Great for the whole family, and definitely toddler approved!

Enjoy!

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Broccoli & Mushroom Casserole

Casserole

 

Ingredients

4-5 cups broccoli

1.5 cup mushrooms

1 chopped onion

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 cup double cream

1.5 cup cooked quinoa (1/4 cup dry)

Spices: 1/4 tsp salt, cracked black pepper, garlic granules

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, 180C, Gas 4
  2. Wash and cook quinoa. For 1/4 cup quinoa, add 3/4 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes
  3. Wash and prepare broccoli, mushroom and onions. Broccoli into small toddler pieces and  mushroom and onion roughly chopped
  4. Chuck vegetables in a steamer for 10 minutes to take the edge off the rawness
  5. While veg are steaming, grate cheese
  6. Tip the steamed veg into a 9×12 rectangular pyrex dish, or something similar
  7. Add cheese, cream and mix in quinoa and spices
  8. Put into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. You want the cheese to turn a nice golden color and crisp around the edges
  9. Voila!

Broc Cass 1

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When I’m craving a pizza, on a Tuesday night, but don’t want the bloated and guilty feeling that comes with eating a pizza, on a Tuesday night, I make my grandmother’s casserole dish. My grandmother was an amazing cook. She lived around the corner from us, and I spent a lot of time at her house, eating her food. One year, during the Thanksgiving holiday, I packed a bag and moved in with her and my grandfather for an entire week. This is a long time for a seven year old. But we were tight. I loved being at her house.

We always ate real food in our family. This recipe, although it might sound indulgent, is all real food ingredients. Nothing processed – nothing refined, much healthier than a pizza. I modified the original because I’m a nutritionist, and that’s what I do, but the flavor is identical. It’s healthy and it makes my family happy. Dad devoured half of the casserole, standing over the stove. That is food joy!

Diary – should we eat it or shouldn’t we?  Choosing a diary-free diet is almost as common as a gluten-free diet, and for good reason – many people are allergic or intolerant. However, if you don’t react badly to dairy, and if you consume it moderately from farms that respect their cows and produce organic, grass-fed products, in its full fat form, then I think dairy can be a wonderful and fun addition to cuisine. Real cream, real butter and whole milk not only taste better than the alternatives, but they are actually better for you. To be boring, consuming full fat dairy over low-fat alternatives will reduce insulin spikes, keep blood sugar balanced and it has a better fatty acid profile. So, ditch the low-fat, skimmed, soy alternatives and indulge in the option that is more of a real, whole food.

Enjoy!

 

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Strawberries & Cream Forever

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cup strawberries

1/2 cup full fat Creme Fraiche

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 orange wedges

Method

  1. Add all ingredients into your blender of choice and blend for15-20 seconds
  2. Pour into popsicle molds and ice tray
  3. Add 3″ straws to the ice tray
  4. Freeze
  5. Voila!

Gorgeous Creme Fraiche, I love you, and I love the French for creating you! The French are a culture full of wonderful, lush indulgences – wine, cheese, butter, cream, meat, frites.  They aren’t overweight; they don’t diet. Out of the 196 countries in the world today, the French are often ranked in the top 10-15 healthiest cultures in the world. They enjoy natural, home cooked meals. They linger over their food – delight in each bite. They are getting it right. Homage.

Creme Fraiche literally means ‘fresh cream’. It’s created by a fermentation process, much like yogurt and sour cream; however, it taste very different. It’s denser, and it has a lovely, nutty tang to its flavor. It’s a wonderful addition to sweet and savory dishes like fruit, vegetable sauces and smoked salmon. The fermentation process promotes the growth of healthy bacteria, known as probiotics. Probiotics, in my opinion, are one of the keys to optimal health because they keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy. Typically, with a healthy GI tract, you will have an immune system primed and ready to go to battle for you. Creme Fraiche is just one of the many healthy probiotic foods we can include in our diet.

I will be posting a recipe for homemade Creme Fraiche soon, so watch this space. Until then, delight in this lovely, refreshing frozen treat!

Enjoy!

Number 1 loving her Strawberry Cream cube

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