You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


Diet Bake #2: Bakes with Fruit

For those of you who didn’t see my previous post I am currently compiling a list of recipes that won’t completely sabotage my diet and allow me and my daughter to carry on enjoying baking. While there are many diet bakes out there I am trying to find healthier recipes rather those that simply substitute ingredients like sugar with artificial sweeteners.

Diet Bake #2 Bakes with Fruit

This week I have been trying out recipes that use fruit for the sweetness rather than huge quantities of sugar.

My first recipe is a Baby Led Weaning one I’ve adapted. This Banana Bread basically gets all of its sweetness from the bananas and sultanas and it is actually my hubby’s favourite.

Banana Bread


  • 100 g wholemeal self-raising flour (you can use plain flour but just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 50 g butter
  • 75 g sultanas (or raisins)
  • 200g mashed bananas
  • 1 egg beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and lightly grease a 450g loaf tin.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl with the spices. Rub the butter into the flour or use a blender until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sultanas and make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl mash the bananas and add the egg.
  5. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mix and fold in.
  6. Put the mixture into mould and place the oven. Turn the oven down to 160°C and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. When it is done a skewer should come out clean when it is inserted.

For this bake I actually used 3 mini loaf tins instead and baked than for 25 minutes in a same temperature oven. This meant each loaf gave 6 slices (so 18 slices in total). I sometimes think choice of tin is everything. 2 smaller slices seem more satisfying to me than one big one and sometimes a small slice of a square bake can seem like more than one of a round cake. I guess it is like that experiment where they use highball glasses and tumblers to distort perception of quantity by Wansink, B. & van Ittersum, K. (2007). We are so easily fooled by optical illusions we might as well use it to our advantage.

With 18 slices 1 slice was 2 WeightWatchers points, while 2 slices was only 3 points (yay!) and this came to only 64 calories per slice!

N.B. These banana loaves also freeze really well.

Next I had to try out an apple recipe. You can’t do a fruit bake series without one but surprisingly trying to find a good recipe to work off was pretty tricky as they all tend to be laden with sugar and butter.

I eventually found a one but lowered some of the sugar quantities as I found them unnecessary Next time I might try lowering them further – it depends so much on the fruit you use.

Apple and Pear Cake

Apple Cake


  • 3 ½ medium apples or pears (you can actually use any fruit e.g. peaches or plums)
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 230 g caster sugar
  • 125 g plain white flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 120g butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a 20cm square tin (or 23cm round one)
  2. Peel, core and chop the apple and pears into slices and place in a bowl.
  3. Add the lemon juice, cinnamon and 30 g of sugar and leave the apple to sit.
  4. Sieve together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In another bowl or a mixer cream together the butter and 200g of the sugar and then add the eggs and vanilla.
  6. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  7. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
  8. Arrange the apple and pear slices on top and place in the oven for 45 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  9. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

This cake gives 12 slices at 6 WeightWatchers points a piece or 224 calories. Ok, it isn’t the lightest cake but its really yummy and it could be so much worse.

I love Mary Berry but her recipes are generally not very WeightWatchers friendly. She generally seems to use more fat in all of her recipes than anyone else. They are darn good though. You can understand my surprise though when reading through her book I came across one that looked like it might fit the bill. Here are Mary Berry’s Blueberry muffins.



  • 250 g white self-raising flour
  • 1 level teaspoons of baking powder
  • 50 g butter
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 175 g blueberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250ml semi-skimmed milk 


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a muffin tin or place cases in a 12 hole muffin tin (I use silicon muffin trays so I don’t use cases)
  2. Measure the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs (you can do this in a blender).
  3. Stir in the sugar, zest and blueberries (don’t do this bit in the blender though or you will destroy your blueberries).
  4. Mix the eggs and milk and add it directly to the dry mixture the mixture and blend quickly.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases (almost to the top).
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the are well risen, firm and golden,
  7. Cool in the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and serve warm.

These muffins are suspiciously healthy at only 4 WeightWatchers points a piece or 157 calories.

I’m going to finish on a very healthy sounding one Banana Bran Muffins.

Banana Bran Muffins


  • 115g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 115ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g wholemeal flour
  • 100g wheat bran
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease a muffin tin or line with muffin cases.
    2. In a large mixing bowl or blender, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
    3. Add the bananas, milk, vanilla and eggs and mix well.
    4. Combine the flour, bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt and blend into the banana mixture.
    5. Pour the mixture into the muffin tray or cases.
    6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean. Cool in the tray for five minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.


This mixture makes about 14 muffins. They are also only 4 WeightWatchers points a muffin or 212 calories but you could add a handful of chopped walnuts to the mix which would bring them up to 5 points or 276 calories a muffin.

With all of the banana recipes I find that if you can keep them a couple of days they just get stickier and yummier! So try to hold off a bit.

Wow, thats a lot of cake. Don’t worry we aren’t going to eat all the cakes ourselves we have the whole family including our 93 year old Granny coming to tea so hopefully they will all get eaten.

Happy baking!



Calling it quits

My little boy turns one tomorrow and I’m still breastfeeding.


He has been a struggle to breastfeed from day one: he slept the first 24 hours, waking to feed only briefly 3 times. However, he gained weight after the third day and fulfilled the minimum feeding requirements. I was told not to worry, your body is on automatic second time round, and that there is very little you can do wrong; “all will be fine”.

My daughter just fed and fed from the word go. She would latch on and stay put. E woke every two hours for a feed till she was 4 months. It was a miracle when at 6 months she slept 6 hours straight! M was already basically sleeping a full night by then. He never woke to feed and while my initial milk supply was great it soon started to dwindle.

When we weaned at 6 months we did baby led weaning (BLW). This meant we went at his rhythm giving him the same as us minus any salt. M didn’t start slow like his sister but tried to eat full meals immediately. He has always had great hand eye coordination and so it wasn’t much of an issue apart from the fact M decided he didn’t really want the milk anymore.

I felt like I was forcing the milk on him and then he decided to make things even more difficult: he would only eat in a lying down position in a darkened room. Ok, I know I shouldn’t have put up with it but I was so worried about him not feeding I didn’t want to push my luck.

The paediatrician seemed happy with him at his 9 month check and just told me to make sure he was getting his calcium through other sources. Up to then I had been pumping like crazy to maintain supply and also to give him some milk for his time at crèche.

Both my kids do some time in daycare despite me being a stay at home mum. We have a few good reasons for this:

  1. This is how we fought the jealousy aspect with my daughter. Giving her a day with mummy suddenly stopped the tantrums and nasty behaviour towards her brother. I also love having the one on one time with both kids.
  2. It gives our children the opportunity to play with their peers. There aren’t really that many activities you can do with your children where they can play with other kids here. Being a stay at home mum is pretty rare (most mums work at least part time) meaning most kids are in crèche so there isn’t a big enough demand for lots of play groups.
  3. Crèche is where our children speak French. We have a strict English only house as is often the case with those trying to keep their mother tongue pure in a foreign speaking country. Establishing these zones will hopefully mean that our children will muddle their languages less and get a real foot in anglophone culture before they start full time school and get froggied.

So, to up his calcium, I started introducing baby yoghurts and then some formula.

Tomorrow as he turns one M is in theory fully weaned and can have cows’ milk. I should be proud of getting to a year but actually I feel sad and disappointed. I fed E up to 16 months and it felt natural to stop. With M I feel like I’ve been probably forcing it for a while but I haven’t done the same for him that I did for his sister (like with so many other things). Its like I’ve let him down and thus let myself down.

Doubts enter my head: maybe it’s because he took a bottle straight away (E only took one at 10 months); maybe it’s because we offered a bottle too early; maybe I didn’t feed him enough in the first few days… On the other hand my logical side is telling me that I’ve done great. I don’t frown on anyone who has stopped after two weeks deciding its not for them so why am I giving myself a tough time?

I’m totally ready to stop and yet not. I’d love to see out the winter but then I’m really not producing enough anymore for my growing boy. I put him down tonight with yet another struggle to give him any breast milk with the intention that that was my last feed.

Have any of you had such different children leading to similar parenting dilemmas?

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An Alternative Valentine’s Day Card

Today I decided to treat my family with a special Valentine’s Day breakfast. Instead of the usual cereal we had boiled eggs with a difference.

This is such a simple activity I can not believe I haven’t tried it before! All you need are some permanent markers and some eggs.

I recommend drawing on your eggs at least 10 minutes before you put them in the water to boil as the pen has more of a chance to dry and be absorbed into the shell. You might even be best doing them the night before. However, if you are in a rush like I was, it doesn’t matter and they still turn out great.


I hope I have given them a gift in more ways than one as eggs provide complete proteins. Complete proteins are a protein source that provides all of the essential amino acids (also called high quality proteins). They keep our stomachs full and our bodies going all day long.

I will certainly be surprising the kids more often with designer eggs for breakfast.


Happy Valentine’s Day! (Again)

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Its oh so easy to just buy a pizza ready-made and pop it in the oven (or even easier to pick up the phone) but actually they are pretty simple to make from scratch. Here is my lazy guide to pizza making that even the kids can do.

Ok, so there is a little bit of work involved: You have to buy the ingredients at the shop and make the recipes at some point. This does involves some kneading by hand (if you don’t have a kneading attachment on your mixer). Kneading is a great workout though and can help release a lot of built up tension.

Here is my pizza dough recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver:pizza dough

  • 1 kg white bread flour or Tipo ’00’ flour, or 800g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 x 7 g dried yeast sachet
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tsbp extra virgin olive oil
  • 650 ml lukewarm water
  • semolina flour for dusting (you can use normal flour but I prefer semolina)


Sieve the flour and salt on to a clean work surface (or into your mixer with kneading attachment if you have one) and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about eight pizzas but I roll thinly.

I tend to make this and freeze 2 thirds as 1 third is enough for us as a family. If you freeze it into pizza size portions it is easier later.

When I know I want to make pizzas I just pop a couple of portions in the fridge the night before and it is perfect the next day and ready to roll. (That’s the lazy bit as I don’t actually have to make the dough when I want to make pizza).

I roll them out just before we are going to eat on to semolina flour as it gives it that nice slightly grainy base. I don’t really throw my pizza about much as I tend to lose it to the floor but feel free.

The next stage is the tomato sauce. Here is the perfect pizza sauce recipe and so easy to do. This is also a staple I have in the freezer pre-portioned and I take it out to defrost with the pizza dough the night before:

Pizza prep

Even Teddy helped


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1kg tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper


Cook down onions until they are soft and then add the garlic. After one minute add the other ingredients (except the salt and pepper which you add right at the end to taste) and simmer for an hour. The sauce will be nice and thick and relatively chunky at the end but you can purée it if you are less lazy than me.

So this is why I said it was easy. For me it is a meal that doesn’t generally involve any cooking on the actual night: E loves to cook and the assembly is a task she can pretty much do alone. I supervise the rolling if we don’t want too many holes in our pizza bases but the rest is up to her. I like to promote independence in our children and even had her chopping button mushrooms from about 18 months (with her baby knife). I believe that there is no better way of learning than letting your toddler take part in everyday tasks. Of course there is a limit to how much you can bake (and actually consume) or what you can allow your child to clean without it becoming dangerous hence we do crafts too.

The great thing about pizzas is that you can put anything on them. Yesterday was fairly basic though as I had made a mushroom salad at lunch so that went on with some lardons left over from a quiche we made.  As for cheese we went classical again with Mozzarella and Parmesan.
The kids picking out which pizzas were theirs.

The kids picking out which pizzas were theirs.

They took about 20 minutes in a 220°C oven. If you can heat it from the bottom element only and preheat the baking trays this helps you to get the lift and air in the dough like in pizza-oven baked ones.
We made two medium pizzas and one giant calzone. Please do give it a go as it really isn’t as daunting as it looks. Happy pizza making.

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Paint by breakfast

Among other things it’s our 10 year anniversary today. Seems crazy that we have actually been together that long. We are celebrating tonight so I decided to make it special for the kids too.

When E and I went to the stationary shop to buy our craft supplies the other day we had a total explore. It always works out more expensive than planned but I love going in there as it is such a source for inspiration. This trip I found these paint palates for 2 Swiss Francs a piece so I reckoned absolute bargain!

They make great pick and mix style plates and it is fab to really be able to contrast so many different colours on one plate. We have yoghurts, fresh fruit, compote, dried fruit and cereal. I tend to buy fairly seasonally or local produce (bananas being the exception) so I can’t wait to do this again this summer with all the berries!

Breakfast Painting

What’s more it has been proven that kids prefer children are tempted by plates with more elements and colours thus encouraging them to eat more nutritionally diverse diets (Cornell, 2012) How fab is that?

I am going to be having more fun with meal times over the next few months so stay posted.

Have a lovely day.

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Baby-led Weaning Spanish Apple Cake

I have talked before about how I love cooking. One of my biggest fears when I had my babies was that they would grow up to be fussy eaters. I come from a family that loves their food and I want to be able to share our favourite foods and restaurants with my own children.

After a bit of research I stumbled across Baby-led Weaning (BLW): an alternate technique for weaning your child. With BLW you start directly on to solid foods at around 6 months (or when your baby shows the signs of readiness) rather than giving purées when you think your child needs more sustenance than milk alone.

Now the theory goes that general modern guidelines state that babies should be weaned at 6 months (unless there is a medical reason otherwise) and you should start to introduce finger foods from 6 months so why waste time with the purées?

“Starting solids this way is easy, enjoyable and stress-free for the whole family. It is part of your baby’s natural development, giving him the chance to learn new skills and grow in confidence. Sharing your own meals with your baby is quicker than preparing separate purées and cheaper than buying them ready-made. And it is much more fun.” – Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett, The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook

Now I am not sure how stress-free a method it is compared with spoon-feeding. I have never yet met a mother that does not worry if their children are eating well enough at some point no matter how much reassurance they have, but it is certainly nice not having to cook special kiddie meals and eating together as a family from day one. I chose the method because of a couple of key benefits it is known for: it teaches children to eat everything and prevents fussiness, and it has been linked with a healthier weight (lower cases of adult obesity).

As with everything, the benefits I have just listed are not a rule and every child is different and as the technique has only been mainstream for ten or so years the latter has not had significant research conducted as yet to be proven. Also just because you follow a certain technique doesn’t mean your child will follow the rules. E was a dream eater and followed the top percentile lines without ever being spoonfed or made to eat. M however is trickier and will scream till he can eat something in particular (a work in process). I have therefore adopted more of a traditional technique with him whereby if he is too tired to feed himself I will help him to load a spoon and guide it into his mouth but we are going to get stricter #mummyresolution!

If you are interested I suggest you check out the official website and order the book (if you intend to do BLW it is important you have all the facts) if only to be capable to answer all the questions of concerned family members. It is only normal that they worry when they see such a change from the norm.

One of the books we have is The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook. This book is fabulous (even if you don’t do BLW) for meal ideas once you introduce finger foods or for toddler meal ideas. There are lots of baking ideas which are very fruit based and low in sugar. As we had a couple of young friends round for tea we decided to make a Spanish Apple Cake.



250g self-raising flour
½ tsp cinnamon or nutmeg
50g caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 eggs, beaten
160ml olive oil (use normal olive oil and not extra virgin as it has too strong a flavour)
450g crisp desert apples or pears (peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes)

baking cake


Preheat oven to 180°C
Grease a 17cm round cake tin.
Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl and add the sugar and lemon zest.
Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, olive oil and juice.
Stir to make a smooth mixture and then add the chopped apple.
Place into the tin and bake for 45mins to 60 mins until golden brown and firm. (The actual recipe says 40-45 mins but I never find that long enough.)

oven cake

Its a lovely moist cake that you can eat warm or cold. This the second time I have made it and the kids love it: only a couple of slices are left. Sorry it got eaten too quickly to take a photo of it whole. Its a good thing that the cake is extra heathy 🙂

Have a lovely day and happy baking.

2 slices