I’m often asked how to cook for babies and young children without adding salt and sugar. We want our little ones to enjoy their food, but HOW can we make delicious meals without reaching for the salt, sugar or honey?! This blog will show you how.
During writing my books, especially my latest book ‘How to Feed Your Family’, I’ve been really experimenting with recipes and the meals I’m creating in the kitchen. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some brilliant recipe creators, especially the amazing Christina McKensie who has really helped me develop a flair for adding flavours in quick easy ways and WITHOUT the need for tonnes of sugar and salt.
If you’re interested in WHY sugar and salt aren’t recommended in young children’s diets, check out my blogs on these two topics. Of course older children and adults can have some salt and sugar, but in the UK, as a whole we tend to eat TOO much of this stuff. That’s why I focus my advice, books and recipes on LOWER sugar and salt recipes. I strongly believe there is no need for these ingredients in our food as the flavours that a variety of other ingredients can bring to our meals is so vast, deep and delicious. There are so many ways you can help to bring out the flavours in cooking, too.
In this blog I want to share with you FIVE ways I’ve been adding extra flavour to my recipes, without the need for sugar and salt.
1. Use SUPER flavourful ingredients as a base
I actually now LOVE using leeks, spring onions and even fennel as a base to many recipes as well as, or instead of, onion. Onion has it’s place for sure, but I find that spring onions, fennel and leeks are SO much more flavourful and add a real depth of flavour you don’t always get from onions alone. This is something I’ve been doing in a lot of my recipes from ‘How to Feed Your Toddler’ and ‘How to Feed Your Family’.
2. Use spices that help to BRING out flavours in a meal
I find spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and paprika really bring out sweet flavours in meals. Additionally, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, ginger and even grated garlic or garlic granules have been real go-tos for me in my cooking, as they just add such a deep and delicious taste to recipes and they also do it so easily, with just a pinch here and there. Another tip of mine is to crush garlic rather than just chop it as I find that the flavours go much further this way. Check out my blog on spices for babies.
3. Use lemon and lime and different oils to dress your recipes
You’ll be surprised at how far a big squeeze of lemon (especially combined with some parmesan) goes to flavour a dish. Lime dribbled on adds such a twang of flavour, too, and you’ll find that using these means you really don’t need to resort to salt so much in your meals. I’ve also been using different oils (sesame, rapeseed, flax) for dressing recipes with too, as they all have their own unique flavours and can help finish a meal off so well. In my book ‘How to Feed Your Family’ I also talk a lot about oils and which to use when!
4. Grate vegetables into dishes
This both saves time (especially if you have a food processor that does the hard work for you) and is also an easy way to add extra veg, texture and make cooking times shorter! It also helps to spread some of the veggie flavours a bit further throughout the meal. You can easily grate carrots, sweet potato or parsnips for extra sweetness, or cucumber and courgette for some freshness, or some onion and garlic for a bigger pang of flavours.
5. Use mashed/pureed or dried fruits to add sweetness
So often a mashed banana, some blended dates or some mashed-up apples can be a FAB alternative to sugar and sweetness in many recipes. They can add texture, sweetness, extra flavours but also come with plenty of extra nutrients that plain old sugar is lacking. Such a great hack, and more often than not your little ones won’t know the difference. I have lots of low sugar kids’ recipes you can try, too!
I hope you found this helpful. I’m so excited for you to try the recipes from my new book.
Charlotte’s Newest Book
Following on from her bestselling books How to Wean Your Baby and How to Feed Your Toddler, this book brings Charlotte’s trademark approach of practical support and nurturing step-by-step guidance to help you manage the juggle of family life.