With the kids in tow in can sometimes feel an impossible task to feed the whole family the same meal, especially when it comes to sugar-laden breakfasts. Food writer, cook and mother, Georgina Hayden, shares both her sugar free breakfast tips and these deliciously moreish cauliflower cheese fritters.
In my mind, there are only two types of breakfast when there are kids involved. There’s the midweek mad-rush and the weekend leisurely. What we eat for our midweek mad-rush depends on how organised I’ve been. If I have time, it will usually be overnight soaked oats or porridge. And if I’m chaotic and running late (standard), it’s toast or cereal. All of these things can be nutritious, or all of them can be sugar-laden. That’s where you have to be a bit careful when feeding kids.
Try to make informed decisions
My overnight oats are soaked in milk, water and freshly grated apple for sweetness. Porridge will be made the same; half water, half milk, and topped with fresh fruit and just a touch of honey for sweetness.
Toast. Well, unless you are a Super Parent and make your own jam with less sugar, this can be tricky. I like to top Persephone’s toast with a little cream cheese, almond butter or mashed avocado to get away from the sugar and butter aspect. But listen, we’re all human. Sometimes it has to be butter and strawberry jam. I’m not judging.
Caster versus honey? It’s all sugar!
And cereal? Potentially the hardest of all. There are cereals out there that don’t contain sugar and there are others that are so sugary I feel like I’ve consumed a bag of pic-n-mix for my first meal of the day. Just be sure to read the ‘of which sugars’ bit on the nutrition label. Even the ones that look healthy can often be packed with sugar. And let’s be honest, whether it contains honey, maple, caster, coconut blossom nectar or the sap out of a dung beetle’s upper thigh it’s still sugar, people! Don’t be fooled. If there’s anything over 20g of total sugars per 100g, then alarm bells should be ringing. According to the NHS, it should be around 5g sugar per 100g or less.
Then, there’s the weekend leisurely breakfast, or brunch. Who am I kidding? As soon as you have a kid, there’s no such thing as ‘brunch’. Brunch was for weekends with hangovers and meeting friends once you’d resurfaced at midday for a ‘morning-after-the-night-before’ debrief. Something hearty with a side of Bloody Marys. Brunch with kids is essentially lunch.
Anyway, weekend brunch in our house normally consist of something cooked. A sort of fritter, a pancake, essentially always something hot. The best thing about fritters and pancakes is that they’re fantastic vehicles for fruit and vegetables (TICK), and they don’t need added sugar to be delicious. Once cooked, they keep very well for further snacks or meals.
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• carrot, coriander + cumin fritters • For any fans of my ricotta fritters (they seem a big hit with lots of you!) today I made another baby loving variation. I swapped the courgette and peas for 2 medium carrots. Peeled and coarsely grated. 6 sprigs of coriander chopped up. And a few pinches of ground cumin in there. All the rest is exactly the same, boy they were GOOD. Perfect for our 1st birthday baby picnic today. None left for the mummies.
I’ll often make fritters for our Sunday breakfast. I’ll store any uneaten ones in the fridge and reheat them the following day for a snack or lunch. Or even breakfast again. You can even mix up the flavour combinations to keep them interesting. Try things like courgette and mint, carrot and coriander, swap the cauliflower for broccoli… the list is endless. Persephone absolutely loves them all and cannot get enough. And any foods that she can feed herself with is always a bonus. Win for baby, win for parent.
I love to serve these fritters with a little salad, because I’ll never stop trying even though it does mostly end up on the floor, and slices of avocado or a little ham. Who needs to go out for brunch anyway.
Cauliflower cheese fritters
Serves 2 adults, plus 2 to 4 children (depending on age)
– 330g cauliflower, outer leaves removed
– 125g self-raising flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– ½ teaspoon mustard powder
– 5 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
– 1 large egg
– 80g ricotta
– 75ml milk
– 50g Cheddar cheese
– olive oil
Cut the cauliflower into evenly sized florets. Cook the florets in a medium pan of boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes until tender.
Drain and leave to steam-dry in the pan, then mash with a potato masher until they break down, but still have a little texture – you don’t want a smooth purée.
Transfer the cauliflower to a mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder, mustard powder and thyme leaves.
Beat the egg, then add to the bowl with the ricotta and milk, and mix everything together until combined. Don’t worry about beating it too much. Coarsely grate and stir in the Cheddar.
Place a large frying pan on a medium-low heat. Drizzle in a couple of glugs of olive oil, and dollop in tablespoonfuls of the batter. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until golden, fluffy and cooked through. Season any fritters for adults.
Serve for breakfast, but they work equally well as a snack or as part of a main meal. Delicious with watercress and quality ham or sliced avocado. These keep well once cooked, just store in a container in the fridge and reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.