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ON BEING A PARENT OR THE ART OF TREADING ON EGGS



We all wish to see how children grow in full health,  at the maximum of their capacity both physically and psychologically. At the same time, we all wish to see them grow into happy, resilient and successful individuals.

Food is very much at the heart of such an harmonious upbringing. As Hippocrate famously said: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

To grow and become a true omnivore, children must learn to eat everything. It is therefore up to their parents to drive this learning process. They must decide on the best approach that would suit their own family routine and heritage. They must somewhat adapt to the needs and preferences of their children. They must anticipate and follow the many milestone that every child goes through in their development: from conception to teenage years.  That sounds daunting, isn't it? Rest assured: with a bit of knowledge, a lot of common sense and a great dose of love for good, honest, natural food, it is a lot more intuitive than it seems.

The babies of Humans have this singularity to be born without being completely finished. If left on their own in the first few months of their life, they would not be able to survive. During this initial period that covers 1 second to 24 months, their parents or carers must give them quality food to help them finish their initial growth until they become more independent.  From two years of age and all the way to teenage years, starts the long and mine-filled route to total independence. And it may sometimes very much feel like a mine-filled... I mean for us parents, who more often than not start practicing the difficult art of treading on eggs while turning into the best warfare strategist around! 

During that period, children tend to appreciate food that they know. They don't eat something because it is good for them but because they like it. And this is why they often tend to prefer sweet flavours and filling sensations. After all, when you see the energy a toddler or young child spend going from A to B via running to Y, T and U, jumping on Z, P and V, hopping on M, N and I, and scooting to X, O and L, no wonder they will not favour steamed broccoli or carrots over carb rich Mac&Cheese. In all honesty, who would after such strenuous exercise? Unless one wants to lose weight, fast.  
Their instinct will drive them towards quick energy, high sweet content, fully satiating food. Our job is to make sure that they get just that. But in the best form possible, i.e. with all the nutrients and vitamins that are needed for their optimal development. Because otherwise it would be just fat and sugar, which si not the best of start in life. We all know it for having done it many a time and it is no different for children: it is thoroughly satisfying on the moment, giving you a spike of energy like never before. But very quickly you go back to feeling sluggish and tired, needing another "quick" fix to keep going.

Every human being has the capacity to like every food but for this he/she must be taught through opening the gates of their 5 senses: taste, sight, smell, touch and sound. 
To eat must always remain a pleasure and we must invite our little ones to appreciate both simple dishes and complex flavours. This relationship with food starts in the womb and continues throughout our entire life. The very first steps of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding followed by the ever so important phase of weaning or "diversification" make up its very foundation.  We learn how to eat in the same way as we learn everything else. And like for everything we learn, we must never give up.  I bet you would not give up on your child learning how to read or write or count... so why do so in learning how to eat! It is the very foundation of their health, present and future.




Created On  8 Nov 2017 10:00  -  Permalink
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OCTOBER IS ALL ABOUT PUMPKIN

OCTOBER IS ALL ABOUT PUMPKIN

Have you ever found yourself in front of a whole pumpkin and wonder how on earth you will tackle the beast? Besides the Jack O’ Lantern cherished by Halloween adepts, its flesh is so sweet, velvety and comforting that everyone should try to get a taste of it. The question is: How?


In high spirit and using the sharpest knife you have, you may proceed with attacking the monster, in awe of the thickness of its skin. After a fair amount of ripping, sliding, gashing, hammering, and thrashing (not forgetting any potential swearing) you finally end up with a few slaughtered pieces that now need be skinned (good luck with that!) and the inside gutted!  


Well I have the perfectly neat solution for you. Almost as satisfying as peeling a boiled egg (some of my fellow control freak will totally understand what I mean! Pure bliss!).

Just stick the whole thing in the oven at 200C. Just like that. The whole thing without any other preparation than potentially washing the skin a little to remove some dirt stuck to it. And leave it in there for roughly one hour. Until you can slide a butter knife all the way through. And you read me well: a butter knife! Indeed, the skin turns into paper and you then just need to peel it off, scoop the inside out and let your imagination run wild with this very autumnal crop.


If you need a few pointers to tickle your imagination, we have come up with a few ideas below.


Simple Puree: that can be sweet or savoury and flavoured according to your little one taste. Start "au naturel” with nothing but the flesh. Add butter or olive oil and swap around as each adds different depths of flavour. Spice it up with some ginger, some nutmeg or even cumin. Sweeten it up with maple syrup or honey and then spread it on pieces of bagel, this might make everyone forget about cream cheese.

Stir a few spoon full into a warm bowl of oatmeal, and they’ll get their seasonal pumpkin fix first thing in the morning.

Make a milkshake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon…what a treat!

Turn it into a pasta sauce by mixing equal quantity of ricotta with salt and pepper.

Smoothie It up with spices, flaxseed and chia seeds to max out in Omega 3, beta-carotene and potassium.

Top your shepherd’s pie. Health up your Mac & Cheese. Colour your hummus.


Now for the most creative of you, why don’t you try yourself at making beautiful necklaces out of the seeds. Grab a needle and get creative with colours, patterns and lengths. This is one necklace that’s sure to grab attention. (via My Little Fabric)

Otherwise you can just roast them without burning the crap out of them (which I have done many times so see how best to do it here Ohsheglows)



Pumpkin will make a puree (with chestnut and sage), a dessert (with maple syrup and apples) as well as a supporting role in our Salmon Mac & Cheese. Our new Autumn Menu is about to be unveiled.

Created On  18 Oct 2017 22:04  -  Permalink
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BECAUSE WE EAT WITH ALL OUR SENSES: THIS MONTH IS ABOUT “SIGHT”



The smell of chocolate cookies coming out of the oven. The bright red of a ripe tomato. The weird shape of a walnut in our hand. The crunchiness of a raw carrot between our teeth.

Because all our senses join in the ballet, the simple act of eating is always the most extraordinary sensory experience. We just need to be aware of it and teach our little ones about it so they can join the dance, instead of sulking on the side.

In this little series, we will go through each sense with a few tips about how to engage your little ones in the exploration.
Today we talk about the first one: SIGHT

Seeing plays a major part in our appreciation of food. If it did not, chefs would not spend hours figuring out how to assemble a plate that excites this very sense. As soon as you put the plate on the table, your little ones’ sight is mobilised: the shape, colour, size and presentation automatically excite their curiosity. In your kitchen or around the table, you should invite them to open their eyes wide and start by making the most of the colours: the red of tomatoes and berries, the purple of aubergines and grapes, the yellow of lemon and corn, the green of peas and kiwis, the orange of mango or carrot, the white of cauliflower and coconut. Put them all in order on a plate and your little one will delight in seeing the rainbow… and may want to eat it!

From the very start, you should get your little ones used to see many colours on their plate. You could engage them by inviting them to name them, and talk about their favourite ones. They may want to touch them and reassemble them in the plate in the order they like. One day you might want to serve them all separated on the plate but the next day all mixed up like a firework. I would encourage this last one as it may make your life easier in the future: serving stews with lots of different ingredients thrown in is a magical time saver for family dinners!

It is recommended to eat fruits and vegetables of each of the 6 groups daily: red, orange, yellow, green, purple and white. We might as well start early and get the rainbow do the talking! I promise you, in the future they might look at you in disbelief if one day you assemble a very beige dinner. My daughter, aged 3 then, certainly did and looked at me as if I had gone nuts or ill or something! She even refused to eat my rice with chicken and mushrooms meal. I had to beg her to do so by promising that the next day I would make her favourite meal with lots of colours.

Never forget that 80% of our memory is made up of what we see... so if they see colours, they will remember colours! It will become their norm and what they feel safe with.

Do you struggle to get your little ones to enjoy colours on their plates? Do you need tips about how to engage them and talk about what they see?

Created On  24 Jul 2017 1:06  -  Permalink
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I am Helene, RATATOUïE's founder

I am Helene, RATATOUïE’ founder, a nutritional chef and a mother with a passion for quality nourishing food, a desire to pass it on to all children and a dedication to make the life of other parents easier…certainly when it comes to food, my passion!

Formerly a banker, I gave it all up after I had my daughter to fill the painfully experienced gap in the baby and young children food market: to reconcile the convenience of shop bought products with the quality of fresh and homemade. This is why with RATATOUïE, I prepare it in small batches and then deliver it, fresh, to my clients’ doors.

Beyond the products themselves, I also nourish the secret dream of making teatime work in every household and help parents teach healthful eating habits to their little ones. Through my food, upcoming tips, recipes, blogs and workshops, I aim to make that journey as it should be: fun and practical.

Because mealtime does not have to be a battle. Because eating is colourful, flavourful and beautiful. Because eating is the very foundation of our little ones’ health.

Created On  24 Jun 2017 1:17  -  Permalink
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IN LOVE WITH HONEST, SIMPLE, VARIED FOOD




Do you feel that you may be failing your family if their day does not start with a mango-cauliflower smoothie with a spoonful of chia seeds and ladles of coconut water? And what about if they did not get their necessary portions of quinoa, black beans, baobab or goji berries in their lunchbox? Feeling lost about what you are supposed to do with all that information when feeding your little ones and family, read on for peace of mind.

Up to recently a very ordinary daily task, eating seems to have become a very complex matter indeed. We are constantly fed (pun intended!) a succession of very complicated diets, intricate superfoods, unpronounceable ingredients unbeknown to us just yesterday, scary warnings and contradictory advice together with waves after waves of never ending concepts. Following the ever changing trends would fill a full time job and dig a serious hole in our wallet as none of them tend to come cheap.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying they are all fads without substance or truth. As a food lover dotted with a very curious mind, I will try everything that is thrown at me with enthusiasm and happily add them to my daily recipes.

But this is that same love of food that keeps me grounded in my cooking for my family. I am in love with a cuisine that is very honest, simple, balanced and varied. Its success does not call for rare and pricy ingredients, assembled in complex combinations. It calls for local, seasonal, quality ingredients judiciously mixed, adequately measured, seasoned with care, cooked appropriately with the adequate equipment. Food must be flavoursome and joyful. Its various colours must compose a very happy song. Its different textures, flavours and aromas must dance harmoniously in the most delightful ballet. It should raise the appetite, excite the taste buds and satisfy the tummy, responding naturally to the demand of our bodies and minds.

Simple, varied and balanced food will automatically bring pleasure. There is no pleasure in boredom…and children know that well! Teaching them about such a pleasure will set them up towards a healthful future where they will naturally receive from their food the necessary nourishment to excel and succeed.

Created On  24 May 2017 0:50  -  Permalink
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FOOD FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S BODY, MIND AND SOUL


  
Nestled in your hand, a small tomato. Red, yellow and orange depending on where the sun hit it with its rays…. Beautiful apple of love… one of the last of the season. Close your eyes, and now let your hand caress its skin. Feel the soft and tiny little hair that make up its only protection against nasty insects. Bring it close to your nose and smell it: the closer you get to its stalk, the stronger its scent becomes. 

Bite into it and let its velvety and sweet flesh explode on your tongue. Feel the freshness and acidity of its pips tickle your taste buds. With your eyes still closed, you find yourself imagining the rugged hand that carefully picked it, its owner walking slowly amongst the plants under the scorching sun. Go back further in time and see the tomato swing on its stem, rocked by the wind. Follow the ladybirds that fly around, protecting it from aphids. From the field into the kitchen. Now you see your grand-mother peeling it (because like most children, you didn’t like the skin back then), slicing it, and displaying it in the white oval dish next to the green salad bowl. You see her add a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of flower of salt, a sprinkle of pepper: it’s ready! You proudly bring the dish to the table where all your family has gathered, underneath the mulberry tree that so generously shares its shade.

From the above description, it is easy to see that food brings all our senses together in exploration mode. Beyond our senses, it brings back memories of our childhood as efficiently as faded photos in a forgotten album. You may like or dislike the ingredient itself but here is not the subject. Beyond taste itself, food belongs to each and every one of us very own family culture and heritage. It makes up one of the most wholesome experiences of our daily lives.

From the above description, it is easy to see that food is certainly not just about calorie intake. Whoever thinks so must lead a very monotonous and sad existence indeed!

Let’s not impose the white, beige and bland treatment to our children. It is not good for their body. It is not good for their brain. it is not good for their soul. From the very start, let’s engage our children’s senses in teaching them how to eat right. Around the table, let's fill them up with childhood memories!


Created On  12 Apr 2017 12:00  -  Permalink
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