A couple of weeks ago I was offered a copy of Hungry?, a book by the people who make Innocent Smoothies, to try out and review and, not being a girl to turn down the offer of a free cookbook, I accepted.
The premise of the book is simple - a cookbook providing recipes for healthy, tasty, no-fuss food that all the family will enjoy. It contains over 100 different recipes, from family favourites to posher dinners, together with lots of quick ideas and suggestions.
This book appealed to me right from the start. The presentation is bright and colourful but without that "perfect family" vibe you can find in some other books. The emphasis is very heavily on getting your five-a-day with most of the recipes containing at least one portion of fruit or veg and, helpfully, the number of portions are also included in each recipe.
I also really liked the different hints and tips hidden among the pages. One page, for example, provides information on which fish come from sustainable sources, and which you should eat less often. Another is devoted to pesto and the different combinations you can use. Other subjects include when different fruit and vegetables are in season, types of pasta and recycling.
The book is divided into 10 chapters - breakfast, lunch, snacks, veggie, fish, meat, sides, pudding, makes and bakes and drinks - and each contains a number of recipes plus, as I mentioned above, lots of quick suggestions and alternatives. There are lots of family favourites included, such as macaroni cheese, cottage pie, fish pie etc, but in each case they have been adapted slightly to be make them just that little bit healthier or to sneak in an extra portion of veg. So, for example, the cottage pie is topped with a mix of carrots, potato and sweet potato and the macaroni cheese has added butternut squash and tomatoes, and is topped with a crunchy topping of broccoli and breadcrumbs.
We've already tried several recipes and I'm happy to report that they've all gone down very well with the whole family. These included...
Fruit Mess (recipe below) - A lovely take on a fruit salad that makes great use of the autumnal fruit around at the moment.
Chocolate Bran Flake Cakes - everyone's favourite chocolate crispy cakes but with a healthy twist. They also used more cocoa powder than my usual recipe which resulted in a darker chocolatey taste that I really liked.
Surfers' Pancakes - These are a great way to start the day. Light fluffy pancakes with sliced bananas and added oats. Guaranteed to keep you going until lunchtime!
We also tried the Veggie Burgers, Spaghetti Bolognese, Chicken & Bacon Pie and Banana Ice Cream but these all disappeared before I could take any photographs!
So, as promised, here's the recipe for the Fruit Mess. You'll also find three videos (which unfortunately don't quite fit on the page!) at the bottom of the post showing how easy this and two other recipes are to make and how they're a great way to get your children involved in kitchen.
4 ripe pears, cored and cut into chunks
8 victoria plums, stoned and cut into chunks
runny honey, for drizzling
a couple of handfuls of blackberries
8 tablespoons of plain yoghurt or creme fraiche
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract, or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 good-quality shop-bought one-person meringue
1) Put the pears and plums into a pan with a squeeze of honey and a splash of water and simmer for a couple of minutes until slightly softened. Allow to cool, then stir in the blackberries.
2) Before serving, taste the fruit and cook for a couple more minutes with a little more honey if it still tastes a bit sharp.
3) Mix the yoghurt or creme fraiche with another drizzle of honey and the vanilla.
4) Divide the fruit between 4 bowls, top with the yoghurt and crumble over the meringue.