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Sweet Treats by Gina Ford


There is no denying that sweet foods appeal to children - and often to adults, too. A baby's first foods, such as pureed carrot and sweet potato, are often chosen specifically for their natural sweetness as it is likely that a baby will enjoy them.

There are many naturally sweet foods, such as fresh fruit and some vegetables, which you can offer your child with an easy conscience, as these foods are highly nutritious. However, be aware that they do contain naturally occurring sugars and remember to clean you child's teeth twice a day.

Try to encourage a preference for savoury tastes in your child, rather than a sweet tooth. Don't use sweet treats as a reward or bribe for your child, as he will then develop an unhealthy connection with sweets and good behaviour.

Puddings are lovely treats for celebrations, parties or a family meal at the weekend. You and your child can have fun making the pudding together and it can become a ritual for all the family. Children appreciate certain foods at special times - you might like to introduce the idea of pancakes for Sunday breakfast Such happy repetition can make children quite contented.

Making fruit purées

When fruit is in season and readily available you can make delicious fruit purées, which can be frozen for later use. Simmer the fruit (chopped and stoned if necessary) until soft in a small amount of water - just enough to prevent the fruit from sticking and burning. Some fruits, such as blackcurrants, are tart and may benefit from a little sweetener - honey, maple syrup or a little sugar. However, berries are high in vitamin C, so in my opinion the benefit of the fruit's goodness outweighs the disadvantage of needing to add sugar, Once softened, the fruit can be pureed using a hand-held blender or liquidiser and packed in plastic bags or boxes.

Bear in mind that strawberries may not freeze well and are best enjoyed fresh when in season or to make healthy homemade ice cream. Raspberries are extremely delicate and require very little cooking - simmer them for a couple of minutes only until the juices are released, to retain maximum colour and intensity of flavour.

Frozen purées can be used in many ways:

  • Stir into natural yoghurt for an instantly healthy dessert
  • Mix with custard and yoghurt or cream to make fruit fool
  • Use to make homemade ice cream
  • Serve with pancakes or waffles for a tasty breakfast
  • Offer with a selection of fruit chunks or plan biscuits as a sweet dip for a party
  • Serve as a sauce alongside cakes and sponge puddings to increase nutritional value - you may wish to add a little liquid if your purée is quite thick
  • Add to fruit in crumbles - try blackcurrant or apricot purée with apples, and redcurrant purée with plum.

You can, of course, also enjoy stewed fruit unpuréed. Warm stewed apples in autumn make a delightful dessert, perhaps served with crème fraiche and a dusting of cinnamon. A dish of lightly cooked, jewel-like summer fruits - a combination of any of raspberries, cherries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, blueberries and blackberries - provides a healthy yet sumptuous end to a summer's meal and needs no accompaniment - although Greek yoghurt or good-quality vanilla ice cream would complement it perfectly.

Taken from Feeding Made Easy

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