Healthy start in life

From Mila’s Meals, the author shares some of her gluten-, sugar- and dairy-free recipes
By Catherine Barnhoorn

Main Image


Quinoa bites
Vegetarian; for adults too; great for lunchboxes
Makes 12 (using a small muffin pan)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 2 cups soaked and cooked quinoa
  • 2 organic eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup hard goat’s cheese, finely grated
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • pinch Himalayan or sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a muffin pan with some coconut oil, ghee or butter.
  3. Wilt the spinach leaves by placing them in a sieve and pouring boiling water over them. Chop it finely. Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan and push down with the back of a spoon. These will not rise so fill the muffin pan to the height you would like your quinoa bite to be.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden.
  6. Allow to cool slightly, then place all the quinoa bites on a wire rack until cool enough to eat.
  7. Leftover quinoa bites can be frozen for up to one month.
  8. To reheat, place them in a warm oven until heated through.
This is a great way to use up left over quinoa, and simple enough to cook from scratch. Quinoa is a nutrient-dense food – a complete protein and a valuable source of healthy fats, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins E and B, fibre and iron. Mila loves these and has been eating them since she was 12 months old.
Morning glory muffins
Vegetarian; for adults too, great for lunchboxes
Makes 12 baby muffins plus 6 adult ones
  • 2 egg yolks
  •  2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbs coconut sugar (or honey if your little one is older than a year)
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 cup carrots, finely grated or chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, finely grated or chopped (or 2 baby marrows)
  • ½ cup seedless raisins, finely chopped
  • ½ cup coconut flakes, finely chopped
  • 1 pear/apple cored, and finely chopped
  • ½ cup goat’s milk (or any dairy-free alternative)
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup sorghum flour
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp aluminium-free baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp guar gum
  • ½ tsp Himalayan or sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Place the eggs, coconut oil, coconut sugar and vanilla powder into a bowl and whisk.
  3. Add the carrots, zucchini, raisins, coconut flakes, apple and milk and stir well to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl sieve together the flours (quinoa, sorghum, brown rice, potato and tapioca), baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, guar gum and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir well to form a batter.
  6. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins and bake until cooked through, approximately 15–20 minutes.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool slightly in the pan before removing and eating, or leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Place in a container, seal and freeze as soon as they have cooled.
These are a great way to sneak in some veggies. The muffins freeze well for a month. Simply take one out to defrost in the morning and you will have an out-and-about snack ready by mid-morning. Alternatively reheat briefly in an oven, making sure the fruit is not too hot for your little one.
Grass green smoothie
Raw; vegetarian; vegan; egg-free; grain-free; for adults too; great for lunchboxes
Makes 2 cups
  • 1 cup shredded kale or spinach
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 apple
  • 2 dates, soaked
  • ¼ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup preservative-free coconut milk (or water)
  • ½ cup water
  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a sippy cup or straw bottle and serve.
This recipe uses fresh greens, but you can turn any smoothie into a green smoothie by adding a teaspoon of green powder. This smoothie is a good source of fibre, omega 3s, vitamins A, Bs, C, K and E, manganese, tryptophan, calcium, potassium, magnesium, protein, folate, phosphorous and phytonutrients.
Choc-nut fudge
Raw; superfood; vegetarian; vegan; egg-free; grain-free; for adults too; great for lunchboxes
Makes 30 (2cm x 2cm) fudge squares
  • 1 cup dates, soaked and pitted
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup cashew nuts, activated
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp green powder (a mixture of chlorella, spirulina, barley and wheatgrass)
  • a pinch of Himalayan or sea salt
  • ½ cup water
  1. Place all the ingredients (except the water) in the food processor and process with an S-blade for a couple of minutes.
  2. Gradually add the water while the processor is running until the mixture is smooth. You want to make sure it is not too runny as it will not set – the amount of water you need to add depends on how long you soak your dates for. The longer they have soaked (and the more water they are retaining), the less water you need to add to the mixture.
  3. Scoop the mixture into a shallow dish lined with baking paper.
  4. Place in the fridge and allow to set – this takes approximately 1 hour.
  5. Cut the fudge into squares and serve.
  6. If there is any left over, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks (due to the nature of coconut oil, the fudge will soften when it stands at room temperature).
The fudge is packed with nutrients and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial and general body nourishing properties. It is a great source of healthy fats, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, protein, iron, fibre, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins A, Bs, C and K, folate and choline.
Dairy-free ice cream
Raw; vegetarian; vegan; egg-free; for adults; great for lunchboxes
Makes 1 litre and serves 6 to 8 adults
  • 800ml (2 cans) preservative-free coconut milk
  • 2 Tbs arrowroot powder
  • ½ cup xylitol or honey
  • 2 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract or seeds of 1 vanilla pod
  • 4 Tbs kefir (optional)
Flavour variations
  • Pureed strawberries
  • Chocolate – 3 Tbs raw cacao powder
  • Minty green – 1 drop of food grade peppermint oil, 1 Tbs spinach or kale juice
  1. Place the coconut milk and arrowroot powder in a saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to the boil while stirring continuously. Cook for an additional 2 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken – it should be the consistency of thick syrup.
  2. Add the xylitol or honey and vanilla and stir until it has combined well.
  3. Add any additional flavours at this stage.
  4. Transfer the ice cream mixture to a mixing bowl, cover and allow to cool (this could take up to 4 hours in the fridge, so perhaps do this overnight).
  5. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker, add the kefir and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Serve immediately in bowls or transfer to a freezer-safe container and keep frozen until ready to serve.
Besides the fact that there are no synthetic ingredients or high quantities of genetically modified sugars, the main ingredient in this ice cream (coconut milk) has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial benefits. It contains high amounts of beneficial fat – including lauric acid, a type of fat rarely found in nature, which can only otherwise be found in breast milk. Other nutrients found in coconut milk include vitamins B, C and E, iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Butternut and cranberry fritters
Vegetarian; grain-free; for adults; great for lunchboxes
Makes 30 toddler-sized flapjacks
  •  1/3 cup chickpea flour
  • ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup coconut milk (or other dairy- free alternative)
  • 1 cup butternut, cooked and pureed
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4 Tbs cranberries, chopped  
  • 1/3 cup potato flour  
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp aluminium-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Himalayan or sea salt
  • coconut oil for frying
  1. Place the chickpea flour, lemon juice and milk in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Cover with a dish towel and leave to soak for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Once the soaking is complete, add the butternut puree, beaten eggs and cranberries. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a whisk (the potato flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt).
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butternut mixture and mix well to form a thick batter (while being careful not to over mix).
  5. Heat just enough coconut oil in a frying pan to coat it.
  6. Scoop tablespoons of the batter into the pan.
  7. Fry them until they are firm and golden on the underside then flip over for another couple of minutes. Test to see if the fritters are done by pressing lightly on them. If they are done, they will spring back. Transfer to some kitchen towel to drain and cool.
  8. Serve as is – or with some raw honey drizzled on top.
  9. Left over fritters can be frozen and placed in the toaster to defrost and reheat as and when you need them.
Butternut is an excellent source of vitamins A, Bs, C and K, and fibre. Mixed with the cranberries you get a meal with an astonishing array of phytonutrients, which offer antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer health benefits. The addition of chickpea flour makes this meal a source of protein too – perfect for the little ones who are not too keen on meat.
About the book
This book is a call to action for every parent to be conscious of what they are feeding their little ones, providing a guideline on how to achieve this as effectively and effortlessly as possible. If you are a new mom or know anyone who is; if your child has food allergies or intolerances; if you plan to raise your children on a “free from” diet; or if you would simply like to nutritionally educate yourself, then this is the book for you. Mila’s Meals: The Beginning & The Basics is self-published by Catherine Barnhoorn and to order the book visit

add your comments

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Customize This