Family Friendly Outings: Sticks’n’Sushi – Greenwich

Flipping heck it’s been a while since I posted anything, let alone an edition of the Family Friendly Outings…I promise we have been taking the little Madam out!

Adelyn recently learned how to say “sushi” so we figured we’d take her out to have her first taste and treat ourselves at the same time. Combined with a trot through Greenwich Park and a good old play in the playground – it was a lovely (albeit grey/windy) Sunday afternoon out.

Ambience: Big square (some communal) style tables with comfy, cushioned and wide-backed supportive chairs for the grown-ups in a corner area at the front of the restaurant – window-side views to keep little ones occupied and shouting “BUS!” every so often. People with young families were seated in this section, and it was nice and chilled. No worrying about where to put your pram or your child dropping food on the floor – because other kiddos were doing the same! (Further back in the restaurant is the “grown-up” area nearer to the kitchen, with the harder, more style-inclined chairs).

Facilities: Ladies & Gents loos down the stairs, very nicely appointed. Easily accessible and clean/spacious changing facilities located on the main restaurant floor. Standard wooden high-chair supplied. Children’s activities included in the menu and a tub of crayon-pens to keep little fingers occupied before the sticks n’ sushi-eating begins. 


Table was a little suspiciously sticky but nothing a good anti-bac wipe-down couldn’t handle – bonus of being a parent, you’ll never be caught without tissues/wet-wipes of some description.

Food: Bit of something for everyone here really, a nice variety of meat on sticks and a great variety of both traditional (salmon and avocado) and non-traditional (salmon and cream cheese?!) sushi on offer. Impressed by the Children’s menu at about £7.50. We went for the Chicken meatball skewer and salmon maki rolls (also came with choice of small drink and a little chocolate fish). 

 

Less impressed by the Hotate Kataifi (scallops served in a little crispy kataifi bowl), which at £10.80, we were expecting significantly bigger potions of scallop instead of what seemed like one scallop cut up into 6 pieces. Didn’t bother photographing it but in hindsight, wish I had to share the dismay!

Enjoyed the Table for 2 sushi platter, which consisted of Nigiri: Salmon, tuna, shrimp, salmon New York (i.e. with a bit of minced garlic on top) inari and sea bass,  Maki: Pink Alaska, spicy tuna and gypsy roll.



Overall: Nice for a family treat and the restaurant was suitably child-friendly, though truth be told, Adelyn was way more interested in popping the edamame beans than actually eating anything. Oh well, we’ll just have to try her on more sushi some other time 🙂

 

Banana Muffins Recipe (no sugar!)

Adelyn loves bananas. One of her words is “Na-Na”, complete with frantic arm waving and searching the room for her beloved yellow fruit. Sometimes I overdo it on the banana-buying and end up with some that are just begging to be muffined – and though Adelyn is now over a year old, I’m still hesitant to give her foods with added sugar in them.

With this recipe, the sultanas and bananas should give enough of a sweet hit, plus bonus points for the extra goodness you’ll get into your little one.

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125g self-raising flour

1/2tsp baking powder

1tsp ground cinnamon

75g sultanas

50g unsalted butter, melted

2tsp vanilla essence

1 medium egg, beaten

1tbsp milk

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

Optional: 1tbsp honey or agave syrup (only if little one is over a year old, honey is NOT recommended below this age)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan oven) and lightly greased a muffin tin (when it comes to baking for baby, I don’t bother with cases)
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sultanas in a bowl. Then add the melted butter, vanilla essence, egg and milk – mix well. Add a little more milk if the mix seems too thick.
  • Add the honey/agave if using.
  • Fold in the mashed bananas and mix.
  • Spoon the mix evenly into the 12 muffin holes and bake for 20-25mins, till golden on top and a skewer comes out cleanly.

 

Apricot and Apple Oaties Recipe

These crumby little bites are perfectly sized snack for little ones, full of nutrition and home-baked so you know there are no weird preservatives in there.

They’ve gone down a treat whenever I’ve offered them at play dates. Think of them as a healthy version of a flapjack, only no way near as sweet. Admittedly these are maybe not sweet enough for the adult palate but watch your kid get crumbs EVERYWHERE as they get their nibble on with these.

I’ve been using a porridge oat mix that Tescos have recently brought out which combines oatmeal, oat bran and wheat bran, but using oatmeal will also do nicely. Oat bran on its own lends an especially crumby and almost malty taste – try and see what suits your family.

Apricots are a great source of Vitamin A (for healthy cell growth and immune system), fibre (keeping things *ahem* moving) and potassium (maintains blood pressure). Their natural sweetness combined with that of the apple mean you can bake without having to add sugar.

I make a bigger batch of Apricot Purée than necessary as a teaspoon goes really nicely in porridge for the little ones. I like to think of it as jam that hasn’t been made out of refined sugar so is therefore safe.

Ingredients:

150g oatmeal, oatbran and wheat bran mix

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid form for ease of mixing

3 tbsp water

1 apple, peeled and grated

For the apricot purée 

100g dried apricots*

200ml boiling water

  • Start by making the apricot purée – pop the apricots into a small saucepan, add the boiled water and bring back to the boil. Lower to a simmer for about 7 mins and then take off the heat. Leave to cool a little before pureeing in a blender (you can make the oaty mix whilst it cools down)
  • Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly oil a brownie tin or something of a similar size.
  • Combine the oaty mix with the bicarbonate of soda and give it a little stir. Add the coconut oil and the grated apple and stir.
  • Purée the apricots (if you haven’t already) and add approx 120g of the purée to the mix (pot up the rest of it and keep it in the fridge). Add the water a tablespoon at a time till you have a nicely formed mixture that holds together. Just leave it to rest for a minute or two.
  • Pop the mixture into the prepared brownie tin and gently coax outwards to cover the tin. You’ll have a thin layer that should nicely spread out.
  • Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden on top and coming away from the edge of the pan.
  • Leave to cool before cutting into little squares – my brownie tin is square so I go for 5×5.
  • Keep in an airtight container for up to one week.

* For my own peace of mind I use organic and naturally dried apricots; these are darker in colour as a result of not being treated with sulphur dioxide.

 

Autumnal Apple & Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

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A few weeks into Adelyn’s weaning, I got bored of making Baby Rice + fruit puree, Baby Porridge + fruit puree, or sometimes just – wait for it – fruit puree.

Breakfast has become far less of a chore now that she’s happily into textures and can pretty much eat what we’re eating and vice versa. This happens to be a recipe that is actually intended for babies but also makes for a delicious and virtuous addition to one’s porridge (I’ll share my Power Porridge recipe another time).

Here you have the tangy sweetness of the apple, the soft nuttiness of the quinoa, and don’t you just love the vividly purple colour that the blueberries lend it? Babies are almost always captivated by strong colours, so if your little one is anything like mine and needs to something to keep their attention to sit still and eat – you could be on to a winner with this one.

You can rest assured that Quinoa is good for baby (and you!) as it’s low-allergenic, high in protein (so all very vegan friendly too), and is a great source of fibre and those good carbohydrates that your little one needs to fuel their growth and relentless energy.

The addition of chia seeds also helps to up the protein and fibre content, as well as good ol’ Omega-3s – SO important for healthy brain development amongst other things.

Looks pretty, tastes good, and the whole family can enjoy – what are you waiting for?!

Portions:  this should yield about 4 baby portions

Ingredients:

50g white quinoa, rinsed and drained (just as a precaution to rinse off any bitterness)

250ml water

Generous handful of blueberries, washed

2-3 eating apples (I favour Royal Gala), peeled and diced

1 tbsp chia seeds

  • Pop the rinsed quinoa into a small saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer uncovered over a low-to-medium heat for 10 minutes. By this time it should be well on it’s way to absorbing the liquid.
  • Add the apples, give it a good stir and cook away for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the blueberries and the chia seeds, mix well and cook for a final 5 minutes. I add the berries and chia seeds at the end as I don’t want to cook the goodness out of them!
  • By this time, the liquid should be absorbed and the berries will have begun to release their colour. If you’re serving this for a weaning baby, a good blitz to puree it all together will do nicely. If your baby is old enough to handle lumps, a little mushing with a fork or a masher will give you the consistency as in the photo above.

Storage Note: this freezes really well, just allow to defrost before reheating.

Tips: also goes nicely with a dollop of Greek yogurt. It’s also lovely to eat slightly chilled, say in the summertime or if your baby is that hungry and can’t wait for it to be heated up (this has totally happened several times). I’ve also been known to substitute the apples for pears.

Family Friendly Outings: Greenwich Park & Market

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Having celebrated Thanksgiving with my office last Thursday and with the logistical nightmare of Going Back To Work looming ahead – I’ve spent the weekend contemplating just how precious time has become and easy it is to take things for granted.

Going out for some fresh air with our little family, being astonished by just how stunning the tree colours are and the pure joy of a frolicking pug on the loose really helped me to remember to take joy in the little things.

I’m thankful for my beautiful family (both the one that we created and the one that created me), being able to put (delectable) food on the table and having a quirky, creaky home to fill with said family and food.

Anyway! About the day out in Greenwich:

The Park

Greenwich Park was one of our favourite places to take our dog for a walk when we lived nearby. Plenty of space to roam around, a great view of the Shard and Canary Wharf on the horizon, the Observatory, tennis courts if you’re that way inclined and a playground – something for everyone.

There’s plenty of car parking spaces through the gates; it’s not the cheapest parking around but it sure is convenient. If you’re caught without coins, the machines take card also.

You might also be glad to know that there are clean facilities on site, near to the park gates at the top. They can be quite nippy inside though!

The Food

But after all of that walking comes the eating; there are a few places to eat within Greenwich Park itself but our go-to place is Greenwich Market’s food stalls.

They’ve recently redone the roof for the covered market, and it’s looking particularly festive and bright for this time of year.

For once, we agreed to share food so as to maximise our tastes of the meals!

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(Clockwise from top left) Roast Pork Banh Mi, Churros, Cuban Sandwich.

I’m a big fan of Vietnamese food, mostly because it’s the only Asian cuisine that I’ve not tried my hand at before so I enjoy the novelty of having it. So we had to have a Banh Mi to start with – no mean feat with a hungry baby in the pram and an incredibly excitable pug in tow.

Our solution when we’re out as a family is to stand on Coco’s leash, whilst one of us feeds Adelyn and the other scarpers down their portion!

Next was the Cuban Sandwich – I have been curious about this since watching Chef  – where I got to enjoy a bit of showmanship as the fella took a blowtorch to the cheese and it LIT UP. I did not know that cheese could catch on fire. Anyway – the bread was nice and crisp after a turn in the panini toaster and filling gloriously juicy inside- finger-lickingly messy to eat but hey I’m a mum so wet wipes and tissues are never far away.

KS then wandered off, tantalised by the Pizza Pocket (not the US snack, eww), so I went for Churros. But not just a Churros – a churros filled with dulce de leche or chocolate. OR BOTH. It’s not cheap though at £2.50 a stick but eh it’s vegan and you’re helping out an independent food purveyor so why not!

Yeah, we really needed the walk back through the park afterwards.

Family Friendly Outings: Afternoon Tea at Sketch, London

The women in our family love a good Afternoon Tea. The whole aesthetic of being in a beautiful environment, dressed elegantly and nibbling at dainty food – it’s become something of a celebratory tradition and one that I fully intend to carry forward with my own daughter.

The first time I felt Adelyn kick, whilst I was 5 months pregnant, was during Afternoon Tea with my aunts, Grandma and Mum – and after our experience at Sketch, I’m pretty sure she’ll happily join me in future.

(Also just want to clarify that this isn’t a sponsored post!)

The Gallery

Environment – stunning from the moment we walked in to the building. I don’t want to spoil anything, should you be about to head there, but yes it was suitably festive given the seasonal theme of “The Night Before Christmas”.

We loved sitting in the Gallery; muted pinks and copper/rose gold metallics – like something straight out of a Wes Anderson film.

There are a number of stairs to go down into the area where the Glade and the Gallery are situated. I had Adelyn in the carrier though so this wasn’t an issue, but I believe there is a lift somewhere (please reach out if you know)

Facilities – fold-down changing table available in the disabled loo, kept immaculately clean. Should you need to change your little one you may need to let one of the team know as it’s a little hidden away.

High Chair – A sturdy wooden number, with a table attached and a harness belt. We let them know in advance that we were bringing a baby, so they had the high chair set up for us already.

The Food – definitely on the pricier end of the London Afternoon Tea spectrum at £50 a head, £66 if you’re pushing the boat out to have the Rosé Champers with your Tea.

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Top to Bottom: Cheesecake & Marshmallows; Walnut Tart, Gateau and Praline Choux; Finger Sandwiches

The Christmas theme wasn’t overtly apparent in the spread, no turkey or mince pies here, but there are quirky glimmers of festiveness in your surroundings. Perhaps a nod to it in the light and zingy Mandarin & Cinnamon Cheesecake and the Christmas Chai.

The Tea selection is modest but has enough range from Jing to keep things interesting.

We really enjoyed the finger sandwiches, generously filled and not just slapped between boring bread. I gave Adelyn her first taste of Croque Monsieur (wanted seconds) and Coronation Chicken (spat out).

The fruit scones were springy and not too dry. Perhaps a little shy on the clotted cream – loved the fig jam.

The Petits Gateaux (of which there are five) were sumptuous but proportioned so as to not be overwhelmingly rich, thankfully.

You get a choice between a cheeky slice of fruit or chocolate Battenberg cake to round off your Tea too – you definitely won’t leave hungry.

Overall

I went in expecting Sketch to be a place to be seen in and therefore perhaps pretentious – but my mum and I were delighted as we found that it was a very welcoming and family-friendly place. Adelyn was the youngest, but we saw other children sitting down for Tea too so we didn’t feel out of place.

The team were so accommodating and cooed over Adelyn. To top it off, she received a lovely surprise and was given her very own Sketch teddy bear – a lovely souvenir from her first Afternoon Tea.

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Right before she face-planted (kissed) her new teddy

The only let down for the afternoon was the staff member who was on the cloakroom – I asked her if she could help us take a nice photo by the display there and she just said “No I don’t do that” and turned away – which was astonishingly rude given that there were no other patrons around. A shame that we ended our visit on that note!

Otherwise we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and hope to return again someday, perhaps with a selfie stick in tow…