A HEALTHIER KIDS PARTY….

A Health Kids Party....___(2)

Guest post and recipes from Joanna Rae of Jo’s Healthy Cupboard

At risk of sounding bah humbug, I’m going to talk about healthy-ing up kids’ parties this month.

I can’t be the ONLY parent who has a sense of fear when a multiple party weekend commences. How do you tame a sugar induced five year old who’s attended two back-to-back birthday parties with copious amounts of cake and sugary sweets?

For me there is a certain dread that looms when I’m organising the food for my son’s birthday party…

I love parties! I’m an organiser and I enjoy planning, invites, food, décor BUT I feel really stuck when it comes to food. Do I go down the healthy route and risk being seen as THAT annoying mum who always does the healthy thing and risk the kids not enjoying the food OR do I stick with what’s expected at a kid’s party.

Last year I made a standard sponge cake decorated with ‘normal’ icing and all the usual party foods with some healthier little treats on the side like popcorn, homemade smoothies and sweet potato brownies, humus and veg sticks. This year, it was just family so I made a healthy chocolate cake with chocolate avocado icing and some other sugar free treats.

What is the balance between keeping the kids happy and keeping them healthy???

I recently had great success providing healthier cake for a friend who’s son was turning 4 and this has given me the confidence to stick with more healthy, fun and appealing food for my son’s future parties. I am so grateful to my friend for being the first mum who came to me and said, “Can you healthy-up a birthday cake and treats for my four year olds birthday?” I won’t lie… I was PETRIFIED. My friend has VERY high standards and I’d avoided promoting my cakes as suitable for kids parties until this challenge.

She had the idea of a chocolate beetroot cake, which I spent some time researching and a few attempts at making and trying with family and friends. I wanted to get the taste and texture right and tried a few different flours until I was happy. The result was a gluten-free, dairy and cane sugar free chocolate beetroot cake with chocolate avocado icing and ‘free from’ chocolate buttons on top.

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I also made banana bread and sweet potato brownies cut into little cubes with the same principle (gluten, dairy, cane sugar free).  That is a total of 3 cakes with a fruit or vegetable included…. Not bad for a kids party!!

The best feedback I had from the party was that one little boy who had an egg allergy was able to enjoy birthday cake without any worries and the parents and kids scoffed down the cake in equal quantities. It was my first kid’s party hit!

I am really passionate about helping mum’s create healthier options. Reducing sugar has been the thing I’ve tried hardest with for my own family and I hope some of these ideas are helpful. My biggest piece of advice would be to make party food yourself whenever you can because you know what is in it. These ideas have all been tried and tested with my family/friends and my own son who is five.

If you try any of my ideas I’d love to see your creation. You can tag me on instagram @joshealthycupboard or hashtag #joshealthycupboard

 Chocolate Krispie Squares

A healthier twist on a traditional classic party treat

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  • 3 dessert spoons coconut oil
  • 3 dessert spoons almond butter
  • 1 dessert spoon cacao powder (depending how chocolaty you like it)
  • 2 spoons maple syrup
  • 3 cups rice krispies
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 cup chopped dates or raisins is you prefer

 

Method

  1. Melt the coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup and mix together
  2. Add cacao powder, rice krispies, oats and chopped dates
  3. Mix everything together until all krispies and oats are coated with mixture
  4. Add more krispies/oats if it seems too wet
  5. Pour mix into a baking tray and press down flat
  6. Put in the fridge for 30 -40 mins and cut into squares once hard

 

Chocolate snow balls

These are just like chocolate truffles minus the sugar

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  • 1 cup of dates (pre-soaked if using pitted dates)
  • 1 dessert spoon cacao powder
  • 2-3 dessert spoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup almonds
  • Extra desiccated coconut for rolling

Method

  1. Blitz almonds, desiccated coconut, coconut flour and cacao powder in food processor.
  2. Pour in coconut oil and dates and blitz again until it all starts coming together
  3. Add a little more coconut oil or water until it all comes together in a big blob
  4. Pull off little bits of mix and roll into balls.
  5. Pour some desiccated coconut onto a plate
  6. Roll balls in coconut
  7. Place in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

Fruit ice lollies

For a summer party these would make a great treat and contain very little sugar

  • 250g raspberries or strawberries
  • ½ a banana
  • 200mls yoghurt of choice
  • 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
  • Splash of milk of choice

Method

  1. Whizz up the fruit, yoghurt and honey in a blender
  2. Taste and add a little more honey is needed.
  3. Divide into 4/5 ice lolly moulds, then pop a stick in each
  4. Put lollies in the freezer for 4 hours until solid.

 

Sweet potato brownies

Another classic kids party treat, which include the wonderful, versatile sweet potato

1 mug dates (soaked in hot water first if not majool dates)

  • 2 cooked (cooled) sweet potatoes
  • 3-4 dessert spoons maple syrup
  • 3 dessert spoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 teacup GF oat flour
  • 1 teacup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon GF baking powder
  • 3 dessert spoons coconut oil (melted)
  • Coconut milk

Method

  1. Blitz cooked sweet potato with dates and coconut oil in a food processor. Add maple syrup, cacao powder and blitz until smooth with no lumps
  2. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and add dry ingredients: coconut flour, oat flour, and baking powder. Add a couple of spoons of coconut milk or a bit more until you get a thick batter like consistency. Mix well with a spoon
  3. Coat baking tray with melted coconut oil and pour mix into tray.
  4. Bake in oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or until cooked but still squidgy in 
the centre.
  5. Once brownies have cooled, you can make y°our own chocolate (coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup) to cover the brownies or melt dark chocolate and pour over the top.
  6. Place in the fridge to cool.

Mini cheese scones

  • 225g wholemeal self-raising flour or gluten free oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon GF baking powder
  • 55g butter or veggie alternative
  • 150 mls milk of choice
  • 30g grated cheese (I like a mix of Parmesan and cheddar)

Method

  1. Mix flour and butter together using fingers until you get a crumbly texture
  2. Pour in milk and mix with wooden spoon
  3. Add grated cheese and mix again
  4. Break off small piece of mixture and place on a baking tray with grease proof paper
  5. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 15- 20 mins.

 

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Fresh ideas for Weaning: A super simple, healthy green veg risotto

It’s the start of a new week and the sun’s out, so we thought we would share one of our favourite spring vegetable recipes: a lovely nutritious risotto that is really quick and easy to make!

This has become a staple in our house, my twins really took to it from about 8 months. It’s a super easy dish to make and it looks lovely and bright when it’s cooked making it an exciting new prospect for our little foodie adventurers. And for our baby led weaners, keep some courgette aside – courgette sticks are perfect for tiny fingers.

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Ingredients

2 Courgettes
2 Spring Onions
100g Arborio Rice
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
Fresh Parsley
85g Peas
25g Grana Padano Cheese

Method

Chop the courgette in half and then length ways into sticks.  Chop the remaining half into small, baby bite-size pieces.

Either in a steamer or in a pan with a little water, cook the courgette sticks for 5 minutes, or until soft. If cooking in a pan with water, drain well.  Set aside – these will be finger foods.

Meanwhile, finely slice the spring onions, discarding the root but using most of the green tips. Heat a little oil or butter in a pan, over a medium heat and gently fry the onion until soft. Add a little more oil or butter to the pan and add the rice.  Stir for 2 minutes until it turns opaque.

Dissolve the vegetable stock cube in 500ml of boiled water. Add a ladle of the hot stock to the rice pan and stir continuously.

Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice, repeat the process with another ladleful of stock. Keep stirring and adding stock until ⅔ of the stock has been absorbed by the rice. This should take around 10 minutes.

Finely chop the parsley including the stalks and add it to the pan, along with the chopped courgette and the peas.

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Add the final ⅓ of the stock, a ladleful at a time, and gently cook until each ladleful of the stock is absorbed and the rice cooked through.

Grate the cheese and add ¾ to the risotto and stir to melt. Remove from the heat and serve each portion of risotto with a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and the courgette fingers.

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ENJOY! If you try out this recipe we would love to know what your little ones think of it. Share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Homemade Toddler Snacks – Switching processed for unprocessed

It’s BLOODY HARD WORK being a mum! This week I’ve had several mummy fails including sending my husband and son to a birthday party two hours before it started…. AND making spinach scones my son refused to try!

We do our best as mums but we spend too much time worrying about the things we do wrong, the latest research that says energy light bulbs are dangerous or rice cakes aren’t good for us, or we shouldn’t leave our babies to cry….

Let’s STOP right there and think about what we are doing right for our little ones. Think about five things you’ve done today that are positive and write that STUFF down.  Remind yourself that you’re an awesome mum right here, right now!!

Now, lets think about what we can do more of, instead of berating ourselves for the things we need to do less of. My purpose on TickleBuds is to focus on the small things we can do to make life a little healthier and tastier for our families.

This month, it’s about the ‘snacking’. Lets face it, snacking is an important part of the day for most little ones… It’s part of their routine and keeps their energy levels up until their next meal. My son is 4 and he has 1-2 snacks a day (as long as he’s eaten his main meals). These usually happen mid morning and if he’s hungry early afternoon.

chopped banana and almond butter snack

I try REALLY hard with snacks to offer my son things like fruit, natural yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts, humous, homemade nut butter, and oatcakes. These are options that I know he likes but don’t contain vast amounts of ‘added sugar’.

Don’t get me wrong he also enjoys a treat from a packet such as pom bears, or a barney bear now and then!!! Why is everything a bear?? BUT there’s no substitute for homemade snacks, using whole food ingredients. I want you to know it’s actually really easy AND you know exactly what you’re putting in the snacks you make!!

When I was little I loved things like chocolate spread, pop tarts and frosties but I’ve steered clear of these with my son because I know it’s up to me to help him make better choices and not always resort to something in a packet because it’s quick and easy.

Something I wanted to recreate recently was “nutella” after my son saw it in Sainsbury’s and asked if he could have some. With a whopping 227g of sugar in a 400g jar. That’s more than half the total ingredients weight!!! Plus a massive 8.5g sugar in a 15g tablespoon I wasn’t going to start that habit!!

I set myself a challenge to make my own “nutella” sweetened naturally with dates and a small amount of maple syrup. These are the results, which both make delicious toddler snacks!

Chocolate “Hazelnutella”

Ingredients

150g whole hazelnuts

1 mug of soaked dates

3 dessert spoons coconut oil (melted)

2 dessert spoons cacao powder

1 dessert spoon of maple syrup

2 dessert spoons of water

ingredients for homemade chocolate spread

Add the nuts to the food processor with the cacao powder and blend for a few minutes until the nuts are a crumbly consistency but not quite a powder. Then add dates, coconut oil and maple syrup and blend again. Check the consistency and add water if needed. You want it to be a thick consistency but not so hard that it won’t spread. Transfer the mix into an old jar or pot with a lid and keep in the fridge. It will last 5-7 days in the fridge.

We like to spread our chocolate spread onto oatcakes, rice cakes or chopped banana.

 

Chopped banana and almond butter

 

Another favourite snack, which doesn’t even require the food processor, is chopped banana with almond butter or peanut butter. My son regularly asks for this. The bananas are sweet and the almond butter adds a little crunch and it’s a fun snack. Almonds are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and they provide energy for these busy little people.

**To check out more of Jo’s healthy living ideas and recipes visit her Facebook Page**

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Tickle Buds at Eat Chiswick Market Sun 2nd/ 9th April – with free foodie goody bags to give away!

Are you confused about weaning advice for your baby, or looking for some fresh inspiration for healthy food to feed your toddler?
Come along to the Eat Chiswick market on Sunday April 2nd and Sunday April 9th and have a chat! Plus we will have free foodie giveaways and you will have a chance to win a free recipe box for your little ones. We would love to say hello! We’ll be at the end of Chiswick High Rd, opposite Outsider Tart from 10am -4pm.
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Emma and Helen

We want to make your life easy, save you time, worry and stress, so you have more time to spend having fun with your family! All our boxes contain new  recipe ideas and fresh pre-measured ingredients and are delivered free and direct to your door, ready for you to cook healthy, nutritious meals for your little one.

At Eat Chiswick Sunday market, we will be giving away free food goodie bags and you will also have the chance to win a completely free recipe box for you and your little one to try.


Recently launched by two local Mums, Emma and Helen, Tickle Buds is the UK’s first recipe box service exclusively for babies and toddlers. With the help of a nutritionist, the age appropriate recipes are all designed to offer little ones a great start into the world of solid food.  And with no more worry, no shopping to do, no wastage and no more boring food, Tickle Bud’s recipe boxes are here to make your life easier too. Come see how Tickle Buds can help you out, win a free recipe box and sample some recipes on the first two Sunday’s in April.

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A Healthy Start to the Day! By Jo’s Healthy Cupboard

Improving your overall wellbeing does not require a GIANT leap from where you are …

It’s the small, smart choices you make on a daily basis (and continue to make) that help you feel good in the key areas of your life; health, relationships, finances or anything else for that matter.

There is no such thing as overnight success or a quick fix when it comes to your health, weight, relationships, happiness or finances. Those who feel good and have positive relationships work consistently to make that happen.

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I’m passionate about the power of small choices and encouraging others to take tiny steps in the direction they wish to travel. This is why I’ve teamed up with Tickle Buds and will share some of the small choices I’ve made since becoming a mum that have a positive impact on my life.

Does this sound familiar?

You’re woken by the sound of tiny feet entering your bedroom at some ungodly hour, you heave a sigh, pull back the covers and let small person clamber into bed. You get about three hours of battered, broken sleep and wake up with a sleep deprivation hangover (no alcohol involved) …

You get up, rush downstairs, unload the dishwasher, which you left on last night, get a healthy breakfast ready for small people, iron clothes, dress small people and dash out realising they forgot to brush their teeth and you didn’t eat A THING.

You feel irritable, harassed and HANGRY as you bundle everyone into the car…

You arrive at nursery or pre-school, say goodbye to small people and rush to the nearest coffee shop to grab a large, extra shot latte and a blueberry muffin to keep you going for the rest of the morning…

This is a habit I found myself in more often than not and I’m sure I’m not alone.

NEWSFLASH….. you need to take care of yourself first!! If you’re not functioning properly, your family won’t either and if you’re not eating breakfast your children will inevitably end up not doing the same!

Make one small choice….

Get up earlier to eat breakfast OR just eat breakfast…

Okay, you may be thinking NO WAY get up earlier I need my sleep!!!

I promise if you try this your day is going to start calmly and you’re going to feel in control and have a tiny moment to yourself to process thought before the little people arise. In this time you can make YOURSELF a super quick, nutritious breakfast (suggestions below).

When I’m rushed and HANGRY it affects my ability to concentrate and deal with the smallest challenges – a seat belt that won’t fasten, finding a tiny playmobil man who HAS to come in the car etc. This is when I may just loose my S***T if I haven’t eaten.

I initially started getting up ten minutes before my son to make breakfast and I’ve extended this to an hour, so I can have quiet time, read a few pages of a positive book, listen to an audio and think about my day.

Don’t panic if your kids are too young to predict their wake up, stick with ten minutes or simply ensure you EAT breakfast. This small choice is going to make you feel much better.

BREAKFAST SHAKE

 

This is my go-to breakfast and I love to pack it full of nutritious fresh fruit and vegetables. My favourite is a spinach and berries protein shake, which takes about 3 minutes to prepare using a Nutri-Bullet or other blender.

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Two handfuls of pre-washed spinach

1 scoop of vanilla pea protein (optional)

2 handfuls of frozen blueberries

2 teaspoons of almond butter

Half fill with almond milk (or milk of choice)

Top up with water

2 teaspoons of chai seeds

Handful of ice

 

CINNAMON AND APPLE OVERNIGHT OATS

This is a simple and filling breakfast, which you can prepare the night before.

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1 mug of oats

1 scoop of flavourless pea protein (optional)

1 small apple grated

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of maple syrup or date syrup

1 mug of almond milk (or milk of choice)

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl, add grated apple, maple syrup and milk and mix with a spoon. Place in an airtight container or cover bowl with cling film and place in the fridge. Add anything you like. Ingredients I like to add are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, gojji berries or coconut shavings.

From Jo’s Healthy Cupboard

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Our monthly Health Fix from Jo at Jo’s Healthy Cupboard

Do you often feel too exhausted to think about anything, let alone looking after you? Too tired to care about what you eat or feel like you have no more mental space left to make healthy choices for yourself? As a parent you need some caring for too! We are excited to introduce our new monthly blog spot, ‘Healthy Habits’ written by Jo Rae Macdonald from Jo’s Healthy Cupboard.

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I know for me, the journey into parenthood was also a slippery slope into unhealthy habits and quick fixes to get me through the day. Before I had my little people, I was working in a busy job which involved a lot of travel and I naively thought I was used to tiredness. I thought I would cope since my body was often not sure what timezone it was in!

But I found new mum tiredness was a whole different ball game, I was not prepared at all. With two little people both feeding on their own three hours cycles it felt relentless. I distinctly remember thinking that 24hr cycles were not important anymore,  our world was on three hour cycles and it really didn’t matter if it was night or day.

With the lack of sleep came the unhealthy habits. I don’t think we should beat ourselves up about this though. The first few months of parenthood are tough and exhausting. It’s hard to be healthy when you have a much more important job of looking after your little one, and besides everyone who comes to visit brings cake which was always very welcome!

My days became filled with caffeine and sugary snacks. I had no time or energy left to care for me properly. All my energy went into the making sure our two little ones were fine. And this felt totally right, but at some point as you come out the other side of new parenthood,  you begin to believe you can do this new job and maybe even do it well. A few moments in your day start to open up and it’s time to start making a little bit of time for you. Just making small, gradual changes and making healthy choices can make all the difference to how you feel. And when you wake up and your body is ready to go, it’s so much easier to be the parent you want to be.

So to make it a bit easier to think about making these small changes, we are very excited that Jo’s Healthy Cupboard will be writing a monthly blog for us, helping us all make healthy choices as we navigate the first few years of parenthood.

Weaning Diaries: Weaning Multiples with first time mum, Ruth and her twins

This weeks’ weaning diaries come from Twin mum Ruth, who followed baby led weaning in order to wean her little boy and girl. Being a twin mum, feeding two little mouths at the same time, was not without its difficulties but seeing how different each child’s weaning journey can be more apparent when you are feeding multiple babies simultaneously as Ruth found out!

About Mum:

I’m Ruth, when I’m not toddler wrangling, I work part time running a debt counselling service for local people. I love food but am not a fan of cooking at all as it stresses me out trying to get everything ready and cooked well/tasting good!

 

About the little ones:

I have twin toddlers who turned 2 in October. 1 girl and 1 boy.

What is the one piece of knowledge you wish you’d known before you started weaning your baby?

That it seems much harder to introduce new tastes/textures after about 1 year old. I probably would have been more adventurous more often in the earlier months.

What helped you the most during your weaning journey?

Having twins made me see that every child is unique in what, when and how much they will eat. My two have different dislikes/likes and it helps to know it’s nothing I’ve done/not done that has made them that way as I’ve treated them both the same!

What did you find hardest during weaning?

It’s soul crushing to prepare amazing food for them that gets rejected and ends up in the bin.

What was the best piece of equipment you found which helped make life easier for you or your little one when you were weaning them?

I love my fill and squeeze pouches. http://fillnsqueeze.co.uk/ Though we didn’t do purees, I love them for minimal mess yoghurt and smoothies that I can make and then decant. Brilliant for taking out and about too.

Can you recommend or share a favourite recipe?

http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/sweetcorn-fritters/ These fritters are easy to make (even for me), freezable, contain VEGETABLES (and can be tweaked for a variety of veg) and my kids eat them every time.

Beginning the weaning adventure and the birth of Tickle Buds weaning recipe boxes!

Setting off on our weaning journey with my twins felt like an adventure in lots of ways. As it became more and more obvious the time had come to start introducing them to real food, I began to make grand plans about what I would cook and started writing lists and more lists of lovely tastes and new things for them to try. I was ambitious and excited and I wanted to help them develop healthy eating habits from the start. So my cooking endeavours began….

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But the reality was very different from how I had envisaged this weaning adventure in my head. My meals didn’t look like the lovely, tempting recipes in the books and my children certainly didn’t resemble the smiley babies in the photos, happy to try any of mummy’s concoctions. I was instead surrounded by mess, rejected food and cooking fails.

This is when I got talking with Emma, fellow co-founder of Tickle Buds, new mummy and epic home cook. By sharing our experiences we got through the days when we or our little ones were struggling with the adventure. We shared recipes, ideas and unloaded our woes to each other. Knowing you are not alone on the journey is really important. I really wanted to keep my enthusiasm for home cooking for weaning my two, and with a bit of support this became a whole lot easier.

That’s why we have created the Tickle Buds First Foods community. Our weaning boxes take the stress out of home cooking, but our community is there to support you. Come join us on facebook, twitter or instagram! Tell us what works for you, share tips and advice and ask questions.

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And if you would like to get involved in our “Weaning Diaries” series on the blog just drop me  a line on helen.quinn@ticklebuds.co.uk -we would really love to share your stories!

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Weaning Diaries from Mum and owner of Jo’s Healthy Cupboard

This week our “Weaning Diaries” series is from Jo Rae in Scotland who runs Jo’s Healthy Cupboard. Jo makes gorgeous healthy and raw versions of our favourite sweet treats- but Jo’s versions use all natural ingredients, contain no refined sugar and most importantly are good for you!

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We are very excited that Jo will be returning to our First Foods Blog with a monthly post about small healthy changes you can make in your life. We know how hard it is to make time for you, we spend so long worrying about our little ones that there is often no time for anything else.  But looking after you is also super important. Jo’s ideas are all brilliant small changes that are really easy to implement especially on busy days or when you’ve had no sleep and aren’t quite firing on all cylinders! And after trying a few myself they have definitely given me the boost of energy I have needed!

Anyway over to Jo and her Weaning Diaries….

About Mum:  image4

I’m Jo and I’m a mummy, wife, runner, Research Manager and owner of Jo’s Healthy Cupboard, which combines my various interests in health and wellness. I live in the North East of Scotland in a little town called Aberdeen. I’m passionate about inspiring and helping other mums to feel confident and healthy. I started creating healthier versions of classic meals and desserts when I was weaning my son, who is now nearly 5!!! I loved the creative process of thinking about ways to make food healthier for the whole family. My interest in health and wellness expanded from there.

 About Little One:

I have a little boy who is nearly five years old and he is starting school this August. I currently spend most of my time in between nursery and work answering tricky questions like who looked after the dinosaurs and where did human beings come from? When I’m not doing that you’ll find me hunting for tiny playmobil swords!

What is the one piece of knowledge you wish you’d known before you started weaning your baby?

 Keep it simple and don’t worry so much. You’re on a learning journey as much as your baby is.

image2What helped you the most during your weaning journey?

 My friends who were experienced in the weaning process and my NCT chums who were going through it at the same time. Plus, lets not forget Annabel Karmel’s recipe books.

What did you find hardest during weaning?

 It was quite a while ago now but I think it was the freezing and defrosting part.  I like to make things fresh and not plan food too much in advance, so it was something new to me. I learned to embrace cooking in batches and planning meals in advance so that I wouldn’t end up using quick fixes.

 What was the best piece of equipment you found which helped make life easier for you or your little one when you were weaning them?

I had a little thermal flask, which I bought from Boots that I’d use to store homemade soup or porridge if we were going out. This meant that I could always feed the baby without having to wait for someone else to heat up his food.

Can you recommend or share a favourite recipe?

Everything with sweet potato! They are so nutritious and quick to boil or bake. They have a subtle sweet taste and mix well with lots of other things. I used to make a really simple sweet potato and lentil soup for my son when he was around 6-7 months old. It consisted of onion, red lentils, sweet potato and an organic vegetable stock cube suitable for babies. The great thing about this recipe was that everyone could eat it. I would process some of the soup for my son and leave the rest for us.

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If you want to see more of Jo’s healthy recipes see her Instagram and Facebook pages.