Sunday 1 August 2010

Nutty fries and other people’s plates

Last week was not a good one for cooking. Perhaps that is why when I went to the supermarket yesterday Sylvia decided she had to walk around by herself and make some choices. So today I will tell you a bit about what we have been eating and give you a couple of recipes I made earlier.

I tried a Peruvian baked quinoa and cheese from Vegetarian Times last week. The recipe suggested it was a gluten free alternative to mac and cheese, but I didn't see much similarity. We were not that keen on it – too milky and not enough texture. Sylvia wouldn’t touch it but when we ate it with potato scones and Brussels sprouts, she was interested in these side dishes.

We’ve all been to a restaurant, made our choice and seen someone else has chosen what looks much better. Sylvia is often that person in the restaurant. She refused potato scones when I gave them to her but loved eating them from my plate.

I didn’t even offer her Brussels sprouts because they suffer so much bad press. But a good example is a powerful thing. We eat lots of sprouts in winter and Sylvia has chosen to start eating sprouts by helping herself to the ones on my plate. She loves them so much she even has tried to offer them to Zinc. I shouldn’t have been so surprised. As a lover of broccoli and peas, she does not have any problems with green vegetables.

I was even pleased on Friday that she chose a green bowl for her breakfast cereal. She loves to help with breakfast by getting her box of mini wheats, the carton of milk and her bowl.

Sylvia grows more and more alert to the extent that she is now starting to choose bowls, coats and shoes. She loves her shoes and would give up all the fancy toys for a pair of socks to pull on and off her feet. She notices each plane flying over the house, delights in jigsaws, cries if I make her get off a swing, and can point to her nose when asked.

Watching Sylvia is a reminder of how wonderful simple things can be. Her excitement at a piece of fruit is so intense as she reaches out with impatience. Lately her favourite fruit is banana but she loves apples and pears and watermelon and pineapple and mandarins. Though I suspect she might eat gingerbread men instead if given the choice. She loves to dip her chubby hand into the biscuit barrel for a gingerbread, which is why I have found the smallest gingerbread cutter possible.

Sauces and stews don’t interest her. Sylvia likes food plain. When I made tofu omelettes the other day, she kept begging for raw tofu before it went in the food processor. Most nights she has a selection of vegetables (such as broccoli, corn, tomato, mushrooms) and either chickpeas, vegie sausages or tofu. She will have rice, scrambled eggs or pasta so I keep trying other food but it is slow work. She wont eat mashed pumpkin but enjoyed pumpkin scones. She wont eat mashed potato off her plate but is curious about it when it is on mine.

However potato is popular in roast potato and chips - like most other carbs such as taco shells, crisps, rice crackers and toast. That seems quite normal with kids. But when I recently made some nutty fries, they were well seasoned so I didn’t think they would appeal to Sylvia. To my surprise, she was eating them off my plate.

The recipe was an amalgam of one given to me by my sister, Fran, and Ricki’s almond crusted fries. I first made it last October. It wasn’t quite right because the fries didn’t crisp up enough but we were impressed. I tried more oil but that didn’t help. When I tried it again recently, they still weren’t crisping as much as I hoped. The only possible solution I can see seems to be frying them longer because my oven isn’t that powerful. It also depends on what vegies or otherwise are used.

I have tried a variety of root vegetables, potatoes and tofu. Potatoes take ages but tofu cooks quickly. Sylvia was not so keen on the tofu fries but even the potato fries had added protein so I was happier for her to eat these than usual.

The fries are best with a good salad but also good with some sprouts, tomato and a pesto yoghurt dressing. I was given a pinenut and parsley salad recipe for serving with the fries so I have also included it below. It is like a low carb gf tabouli and is delicious. When I made the salad, on the second night I had it with soft polenta and tomato sauce which was excellent too. Unfortunately I don’t have a source because Fran’s recipes seemed to come from a collection of cookbooks.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Apple and date cake
This time two years ago: Do I dare to cook with one less pear?
This time three years ago: Baking cake for climate change

Nutty fries
adapted from unnoted source and Diet Dessert and Dogs
serves about 4

  • 3-5 tbsp almond butter (I did 5 the first time but I think 3 was better. I think Fran's original recipe was for parmesan cheese if you want a nut-free version))
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp seeded mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried garlic
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
Vegetables of choice, cut into chips:
  • First time: 320g firm tofu, 2 medium beetroots, 2 parsnips
  • Last time: 300g smoked tofu, 2 medium carrots, 1 medium Scottish turnip, 1 large parsnip, 4 medium potatoes
Mix all the flavouring ingredients together. Toss with vegetables and/or tofu of choice in two large baking dishes. More room will help the fries crisp up. Bake at 220 – 230 C til they are golden brown and (if possible) crispy. I baked them for 50 minutes at 230 C on the top shelf without checking and then lowered the heat slightly and baked another 30-40 minutes but a better oven should do it in a shorter time.

Parsley and Pinenut Salad
adapted from an unnoted source
serves 4
  • 100g parsley, chopped
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ Lebanese cucumber (80g), chopped
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • ½ apple, peeled and diced
  • 85g pinenuts toasted and chopped
  • ½ lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • handful of mint – I forgot
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • ¼ tsp salt
Mix everything together and serve at room temperature.

On the stereo:
Closer: Joy Division


  1. I love the photos of Sylvia enjoying her beautiful veggies! :-) SO cute that she likes food from your plate better! :-) How wonderful that you've set a good example and shown her how delicious sprouts are... I loved Brussels sprouts as a small child too!

  2. I must admit, I would have leaned toward the potato scones more than the main dish, too. ;) And your fries look wonderful--what a brilliant idea to coat tofu strips in the mixture and cook them up that way! I know what I'm having for dinner, now. :)

    And Sylvia's chubby little arm and full-out smile are the cutest thing ever!

  3. Just reading about Sylvia is a joy. I'm sure she has her moments but these are beautiful days and moments to cherish.
    That polenta is really calling my name ... I'm thinking winter - ha fat chance here it's 106°F - and lovely roast veggies topping it ... guess I'll wait a few months.

  4. oooh I love nutty fries. Must make another batch sometime soon!

  5. I am impressed that Sylvia will eat all of those vegetables, including brussel sprouts. I don't think you have anything to worry about! (My mother gave up on my brother and me - until I left home for Uni, where it was eat yor college veges or starve, I'd only eat potato and tomato.)

  6. I love reading abut what Sylivia eats! The food on your plates is always so colourful, how could she resist?

    Great fries recipe, I will try it! Yum.

  7. Sylvia's a girl after my own heart - I adore burssels sprouts! (Even though my PhD supervisor told me I was crazy when I stated this with pride.)

    I'm really, really intrigued by the nutty fries, too, particularly considering my current obsession with any and all nut butters. I think I'll give the tofu chips a go!

  8. Aww I do love a post with Sylvia in it! That picture of her clapping and smiling is just adorable. I have a quinoa pumpkin risotto recipe if you would like it? It was fantastic when we made it in the Peruvian cooking class :)

  9. So impressed with Sylvia eating all those vegetables - even brussel sprouts (I still have guilty memories of feeding them to our dog who gratefully earned me many brownie points for eating all my vegetables. The nutty fries look pretty darn good.

  10. What a cute picture of Sylvia! It sounds like she's quite a foodie in her tastes, even if it it hard work getting her to try new things. I don't think I've ever heard of a child liking tofu before!

  11. Thanks everyone for your kind words about sylvia - am glad you enjoy hearing how she is going (or growing!)

    Thanks Astra - I hate brussels sprouts as a kid - I remember my mum trying to disguise the taste with honey and they still tasted horrid - but I was converted when a friend followed rose elliots instructions for cooking them so they are only just cooked and still bright green

    Thanks Ricki - I preferred the potato scones to the quinoa too!

    Thanks Tanna - polenta is very hearty winter food - I should make some more soon! And yes sylvia is gorgeous but there are moments that make me grit my teeth - though at the moment she is trying to tell me things and we are both frustrated at me not understanding her!

    Thanks Lisa - me too!

    Thanks Cakelaw - kids I know have eaten well at Sylvia's age and got worse as they got older - hope she doesn't get to the point where she just eats potatoes and tomatoes - though I guess I was much fussier about vegies as a kid

    Thanks Lisa - I agree that colourful food is hard to resist - am glad sylvia loves her green food - enjoy the fries

    Thanks Hannah - a dislike of brussels sprouts is almost cause for finding a new supervisor (yes I am joking) I think these fries are great if you are into nut butters

    Thanks Lorraine - I am so impressed you did a peruvian cooking class - that recipe sounds much more my sort of thing - yes please!

    Thanks Anna - am sure the brussels sprouts were very good for the dog :-)

    Thanks Lysy - I don't think I have heard of other kids loving tofu either but I don't know enough vego babies

  12. It's great that Sylvia is into her greens - sounds like she's getting a good diet. Nutty fries sound good.

  13. You are making me hungry with all that lovely food Johanna. I always love hearing about Sylvia's food likes and dislike, because I know she is always a step ahead of Cooper. He had a puree of potato, broccoli and peas. He really did enjoy it :)

  14. I really need to make those potato scones of yours! They look so good. As do the nutty fries mmm. Perhaps I'll make one of those tonight as part of dinner. Sylvia sounds like quite a good eater!

  15. I made the nutty fries last night! Though I didn't use mayo or mustard and used a bit different spices than you. I used garlic powder and dried ginger, and also 1/8 tsp of smoked paprika because I was scared it would be too strong but didn't end up tasting it! I ended up cooking mine too long and actually burned a lot of them, though the parts that weren't burnt were crisp. It was strange because I can't even remember the last time I burned something! Anyway it was something fun and different to try. :)

  16. Oh Johanna, I've been in Aberdeen pretty much all week, eating not so good hotel grub and your food is just making me drool, esp the nutty fries.

    Is that Sylvia's bib or dress. I love it, so pretty. I am also extremely impressed with Sylvia eating her veg, inc Brussels sprouts (yes I know everyone above has said this, but I would like to add my delight too). What a good little girl. My nephews and neices are just so, so fussy in relation to every veg. Talking about the rugrats, I am soon to visit them all soon. Looking forward to it actually.

  17. My children have always loved raw tofu (hiyayakko-dofu), they'll eat it plain or with fish flakes, sesame seeds and/or soy sauce.

    I'm loving your blog, I'm experimenting with vegetarianism and trying to figure out how to feed my skinny kids food they'll like that will fatten them up a bit. My daughter started it off because she wanted to be vegetarian like her friend (they are four years old.) A friend recommended your blog on facebook, I'm so glad she did!

  18. Thanks Choclette - I get a lot of satisfaction when sylvia loves her greens - esp as it is not every night!

    Thanks Jacqueline - cooper's green puree sounds lovely

    Thanks Ashley - glad you enjoyed the fries - sorry to hear they burnt - though I burnt some roast veg last week but they still tasted excellent - hope you get to try the potato scones too

    Thanks Mangocheeks - yes it is a floral bib that Sylvia has on in the highchair - it is a particularly pretty one that I bought at a posh kids shop!

    Thanks Dora - welcome to the GGG blog - funny and a little disturbing to hear how early the peer pressure starts with kids (I remember admiring my friends at 3 or 4 years old so probably not a new thing) - hope you are finding some good vego ideas for your kids - I still am feeling my way with how to do it with sylvia but I think she is healthy enough


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