Recipes – 3 child friendly dishes from Claire Power

Nutritionist, food blogger and mother of three Claire Power discusses the benefits of a family-friendly vegan diet and shares recipes from her new cookbook, Healthy Little Tummies

Tell us a bit about your background.

I started sharing healthy recipes on Instagram in 2013. While on maternity leave with my twins three years later, I started my food blog (healthyfrenchwife.com), became a vegan and started to study Human Nutrition. I graduated as a nutritionist in early 2019 and now combine nutrition, food blogging and plant-based eating.

Please explain what a plant-based diet is and its benefits.

A plant-based diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Eating mostly plants, with no or very little animal products and very little or no processed foods, it is a diet very high in fibre and low in saturated fats. This brings lot of health benefits such as a healthy digestion and a healthy gut microbiome, balanced hormones, better sleep, better weight control, more energy and reduced risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases including high cholesterol and hypertension.

What made you decide to follow a plant-based diet?

I tried a 30-day vegan diet after having my twins to regain my health — and after watching the documentary Cowspiracy on Netflix. I had always been interested to try eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, but the documentary actually helped motivate me to try.

Has it been an easy switch?

Yes — I switched the next day. I found it very easy to make the change at home, but back in 2016 it was a little more difficult to eat vegan outside of home. Now, though, it is relatively easy in many cities to eat plant-based when eating out.

What have been the effects on your health and wellbeing through such a diet?

I felt much better health-wise immediately after the 30-day vegan diet, which is why I just kept going. I lost most of my extra pregnancy weight in that month, increased my energy levels and improved my digestion and bloating issues.

And how about your children’s?

My children are healthy, happy, thriving children. My twins Eloise and James now eat predominantly vegan, apart from when visiting friends and family if no vegan food is available. Annabelle, my third child, has been vegan from birth. They all are very good eaters and enjoy eating healthily and helping me in the kitchen. I don’t want to force them to stay vegan forever, but I want to teach them the importance of eating plant-based foods for their health.

What would be a typical daily menu for the children?

We start the day with porridge or bircher muesli, fruits and seeds for morning snack or some healthy muffins (such as the blueberry muffins from my cookbook), chickpea omelette with baby spinach and salad or vegan quesadillas (both recipes in my cookbook, too). In the afternoon, they might have a glass of soy milk, bliss balls, more fruits or a veggie and hummus grazing plate, or simply a nut butter sandwich. For dinner, we all eat together as a family and it varies between a pasta dish, a curry such as the dhal in mycookbook, healthy falafel bowls, homemade pizzas and tofu or chickpea noodle stir frys.

How did the idea for the cookbook come about?

I originally created a little ebook back in early 2017. As a mum, I knew creating healthy, plant-based family recipes for the whole family was something I wanted to do, but I couldn’t find any relevant cookbooks at the time. Healthy Little Tummies aims to show parents that eating healthy plant-based meals as a family is possible. The recipes in the cookbook are what we eat together around the table, not just recipes for kids.

Do your children enjoy cooking, too? If so, what sort of things?

Oh yes, they love it! Baking, rolling bliss balls and helping cut vegetables now that they are a bit older. They have been involved in my food blogging journey since they were little, stirring and tasting. I think it has really helped them be open to trying new foods.

What are your children’s favourite dishes?

Like any children, they enjoy pasta and rice dishes the most. They love the avocado pasta, the pumpkin mac and cheese pasta bake, my chickpea satay, and lentil dhal. Eloise also asks for my cauliflower potato bake every week!

Do you have any particular advice or tips for someone wishing to follow a plant-based diet?

Start slow. Change one meal at a time. For example, start with breakfasts, making porridge or smoothies. Use recipe books or take inspiration from the internet — there are so many great people to follow on Instagram for meal ideas. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing — do what works for you and your family. As long as you are adding more plants, more legumes and more wholegrains, you are still getting health benefits.

Healthy Little Tummies by Claire Power, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£14.99)
Photography by Clare Winfield Ryland Peters & Small

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

My son James loves blueberries and baked goods so I like making these muffins for him to have as a treat sometimes. I use coconut sugar which gives them a darker colour. You could swap the blueberries
for any other berries (fresh or frozen) and you could top them with chocolate chips, chopped nuts and/or seeds. If you wanted to make them gluten-free I would recommend swapping the self-raising wholemeal flour with the equivalent in buckwheat
flour and adding 2 teaspoons of baking powder, or using a self-raising/ rising gluten-free flour baking blend.

 

Ingredients

300g self-raising wholemeal flour

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

120g coconut sugar

250ml plant milk of choice

125ml melted coconut oil or olive oil

120g frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

blueberries and mixed seeds  (optional)

 

YOU WILL NEED: 12-hole muffin pan lined with muffin cases

MAKES: 12 MUFFINS

PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES

COOKING TIME: 25 MINUTES

Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C (350 ̊F) Gas 4.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon and coconut sugar. Add in the plant milk and stir to combine with a spoon. Pour the melted coconut or olive oil into the bowl and combine further with a spoon. Add the frozen berries and fold gently into the dough with
a spatula. Do not over stir.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cases filling each about halfway to the top, and top with additional blueberries and/or mixed seeds, if using.

Put the muffins into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

DF      Dairy-free

EF      Egg-free

SPINACH AND CASHEW “CHEESE” QUESADILLAS

When I need a quick and easy dinner midweek, I rely on these spinach and cashew “cheese” quesadillas for a yummy plant-based dinner. Adding red kidney beans or black beans also means you get a dose of plant-based protein. You could swap the homemade cashew cheese for store-bought vegan cheese and add your favourite toppings to the quesadillas, such as salsa, guacamole or different cooked vegetables.

Ingredients

Cashew cheese

150g raw cashews

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

30g tapioca/arrowroot flour

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

250ml filtered water

Quesadillas

8 corn tortillas

40g baby spinach, chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

200g canned drained red kidney beans

olive oil, for frying

optional extra vegetables: onion, red (bell) pepper, corn and/or courgette, chilli

green salad, salsa and guacamole, to serve

 

SERVES: 4

PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES PLUS SOAKING TIME

COOKING TIME: 40 MINUTES  

To make the cashew cheese, soak the cashews in cold water for 3–6 hours or for 10 minutes in boiling water.

Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and blend in a high-speed blender or food processor along with the nutritional yeast, tapioca/arrowroot flour, garlic powder and water. Blend until smooth, scraping the side of the blender or bowl if required.

Heat up the cashew cheese sauce in a pan over
a medium heat stirring often with a wooden spoon to thicken it up.

For the quesadillas, spread a layer of the cashew cheese on top of one tortilla, top with chopped spinach, paprika and red kidney beans, extra cooked vegetables, sliced chilli if using and then top with another tortilla. Or you could make half quesadillas and fold each tortilla in half to make it easier to flip.

Heat up a frying pan with a little olive oil, if using, and place your quesadilla, one at a time, to heat up
for a few minutes on each side until golden and crispy on the bottom, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent burning the tortilla. Transfer the quesadilla to a chopping board, leave to cool for a minute and then slice into three triangles. Serve with a salad and some salsa and guacamole for dipping.

 

DF      Dairy-free

EF      Egg-free

GF      Gluten-free

WF     Wheat-free

SF      Sugar-free

SYF    Soya-free

T538 RPS 93A

AVOCADO BANANA CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

AVOCADO BANANA CHOCOLATE MOUSSE 

I have been making this avocado chocolate mousse for years now.
 It satisfies any chocolate mousse cravings while being made from vegan wholefoods. Packed with good fats, fibre and antioxidants and being refined sugar-free it is really delicious and healthy. Best served cold from the fridge or the mousse can also be made as a substitute for chocolate icing/frosting on cakes!

Ingredients

3 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled

flesh from 2 medium-sized ripe avocados

30g raw cacao powder

60ml maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

berries and crushed nuts, to serve

 

SERVES: 3–4

PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES

CHILLING TIME: 1 HOUR

In a blender, combine all the ingredients together and blend until smooth and creamy.

Spoon into 3–4 small bowls and place in the fridge to chill or enjoy straight away.

Add berries and crushed nuts, to serve.

 

DF      Dairy-free

EF      Egg-free

GF      Gluten-free

WF     Wheat-free

OF     Oil-free

SYF    Soya-free

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