Let them eat meat

One of the richest sources of iron, red meat is good for babies and toddlers. Try these recipe ideas.

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Why meat is a healthy option

‘Red meat is an excellent source of nutrients and can be an important part of a healthy varied diet for babies and toddlers,’ says nutritionist Cari Bunker.

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‘It’s high in protein and contains useful amounts of energy or calories, B vitamins and minerals. It’s one of the richest sources of easily absorbed iron and increases the absorption of iron from other foods like veg eaten at the same meal. It’s also rich in vitamin B12 and essential minerals like zinc which are important for healthy growth and body functioning.’

Try these recipes from Annabel Karmel:

Heavenly burgers

These burgers can be made with beef, lamb or chicken. The grated apple adds flavour and keeps the burgers lovely and moist.

Makes 6 burgers

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins
Suitable for freezing

Burgers

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ red pepper, cored, deseeded and chopped
450g/1lb minced beef, lamb or chicken
1tbsp vegetable oil
2tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 3tbsp boiling water
25g/1oz breadcrumbs
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
1 medium egg, beaten
Salt and black pepper

Sauce(or brush burgers with Marmite diluted with a little boiling water)

2tbsp Hoisin sauce
1tbsp water
1tsp sesame oil

To serve:

6 hamburger buns,
Little Gem lettuce, sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, ketchup

1. Sauté the onion and red pepper for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft. Combine these with all the remaining burger ingredients and, using your hands, form into about six burgers.

2. Mix together the sauce ingredients. Brush burgers with the sauce, or with diluted Marmite if preferred.

3. Pre-heat the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes on one side. Turn, brush the other side with sauce or the diluted Marmite and grill for about 8 minutes, until cooked through. Alternatively, fry them in a little vegetable oil until golden brown and cooked through.

4. Serve the burgers in a bun with salad and ketchup.

Mini turkey & potato pie

Children love to have their own individual portions so I make these pies in small ramekin dishes. I’ve used turkey here, but chicken works just as well. It’s also fun to decorate the potato topping with faces made from veg and herbs.

Makes 4 pies

Prep time: 12 mins
Cooking time: 35 mins
Suitable for freezing

600g/1¼lb potatoes
4tbsp milk
40g/1½oz butter
Salt and ground black pepper
Oil for frying
1 medium leek, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
½ stick celery, finely diced
350g/12oz minced turkey or chicken
2tbsp tomato ketchup
1tsp thyme or 1tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Few drops Worcestershire sauce (optional)
150ml/¼pt hot chicken stock
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
A selection of vegetables and herbs for decoration (optional)

1. Cook the potatoes in a pan of lightly salted water until tender then mash with the milk and butter and season to taste.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and sauté the leek, carrot and celery for 6 to 7 minutes to soften. Add the minced turkey or chicken and cook until the meat changes colour.

3. Add ketchup, herbs, Worcestershire sauce if using, and boiling stock. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Divide the chicken between four 10cm/4in ramekin dishes. Cover with the mashed potato and brush the beaten egg over the potato topping.

5. Cook in an oven preheated to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 for 20 to 25 minutes.

6. Decorate with faces using a selection of vegetables and herbs if you like.

Mini muffin pizzas

Split toasted bread muffins make an excellent pizza base. Vegetarians can exclude meat from the topping for a tasty and healthy dish.

Makes 1 or 2 portions

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Not suitable for freezing

1 bread muffin
1tbsp tomato purée
1tsp red pesto
1tbsp olive oil
25g/1oz red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 baby courgette (approx 40g/1½oz)
Salt and ground black pepper
25g/1oz sweetcorn, tinned or cooked from frozen
40g/1½oz grated Cheddar or Mozzarella cheese
3 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 pepperami, sliced (omit if vegetarian)

1. Pre-heat the grill to high. Split the muffin and toast until golden. Mix the tomato purée with the red pesto and spread over the muffin halves.

2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and then cook the onion and courgettes until soft and golden. Add seasoning, then divide the onion and courgette between the two muffin halves and scatter the sweetcorn over the top. Cover with the grated cheese. Arrange the sliced cherry tomatoes and about three-quarters of the sliced pepperami (if using) on top.

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3. Place under the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

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