Healthy sweets

It’s always a good idea to encourage your little ones to enjoy the natural sweetness of foods, but when you need a little something to make tart foods more palatable, go for honey (after 12 months), molasses, or maple syrup. Unlike refined sugar, these sweeteners are rich in nutrients that will encourage health rather than undermine it! Honey in particular contains enzymes that act as a natural antiseptic.

Did you know…

that toddlers can easily become dehydrated when feeling ill? If your child is reluctant to drink what’s offered, try offering popsicles made from fresh fruit juices such as pressed papaya, apple, or mango. If she turns her nose up at the oral rehydration solution—try freezing it as a popsicle too. Sucking on ice cubes may also help. If your child has clinical signs of dehydration (see Are there any foods I should avoid when my toddler has a tummy bug?) and is not improving, or is becoming lethargic or clammy, you must see a doctor.

Mommy’s Chicken Soup

Even if chicken soup doesn’t have any proven medical benefits, a bowlful of golden broth is enough to comfort anyone who is feeling under the weather. I like to add extra vegetables, but if your child isn’t keen, leave them out and serve this as chicken noodle soup.

10 minutes

3 hours


6–8 child portions, depending on appetite

  • 2 chicken portions, trimmed of visible fat

  • 1 onion, quartered

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 4 chunks

  • 1 parsnip, cut into 4 chunks (optional)

  • 1 large leek, halved and washed

  • 1/2 celery stalk

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled but left whole

  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme or a few parsley stems plus 1 small bay leaf (or a bouquet garni)

  • 5 black peppercorns

  • 5 cups water

  • 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube (optional)

  • 2 tbsp frozen or canned naturally-sweet corn packed in water, drained

  • 2 tbsp frozen green peas

  • 1oz fine egg noodles or vermicelli

  1. Put the chicken portions in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, parsnip (if using), leek, celery, garlic, herbs, and peppercorns. Pour in the water and add the bouillon cube (if using). Bring to a boil, skimming off any froth with a slotted spoon, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer very gently for 11/4 hours.

  2. Strain the chicken broth into a clean pan. Reserve the chicken, carrot, and parsnip (if using); discard the remaining contents of the strainer.

  3. Bring the broth back to a boil. Add the corn and peas, and crumble in the egg noodles. Cook for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, pull the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin; chop the meat. Dice the reserved carrot and parsnip, and add these to the soup. Taste and season, if necessary. Let cool slightly before serving.

  4. The soup can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 days. Or, freeze for up to 1 month (I prefer to freeze it without the peas and corn and add these when reheating); thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat until boiling. Cool slightly before serving.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oats are a good source of tryptophan, which can raise the levels of serotonin and help with sleep. Raisins are a good source of magnesium, which also aids sleep.

20 minutes

16–18 minutes


About 30

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 cups rolled oats

  • 1 cup whole wheat or white all-purpose flour, or 1/2 cup each

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • Scant 1 cup raisins

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Beat the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix together the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt, and then stir this into the butter mixture, followed by the raisins, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.

  3. Take tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough and roll into balls with dampened hands. Place the balls, spaced well apart, on two baking sheets lined with wax paper. Flatten the balls slightly with your fingers or with a fork dusted with flour.

  4. Bake the cookies until they are lightly golden, 16–18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack using a metal spatula. Let cool completely. The cookies will firm slightly as they cool but will still remain soft.

  5. Store the cookies in an airtight container. Or, freeze in freezer bags or containers; thaw at room temperature for 1–2 hours as needed.

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