Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review : Little Dish

I usually cook food from scratch. I like the sense of achievement and to see the look on people's faces whenever they taste my food. Noelie eats the same food we do. And you better put the plate in front of her before you cut anything otherwise she thinks that she is not eating the same thing and would rather eat what's on your plate than what's on hers.

I have never seen a baby love vegetables and fruit so much. Actually, I have never seen a toddler (because she's hardly a baby now that she turns 2 at the end of the month) eat like that. A sure way to know if she is not well is to look at her plate. If she refuses to eat, then there is something wrong. Anytime we cook, she wants to sit on the counter and look at what we are doing. And if we taste anything, she wants to taste it too. She loves looking at whatever is in the oven and just generally loves food. She is not a fussy eater.

I am not going to lie, there are days when I or Mr Foodie are not in the mood for cooking and we usually resort to ready made lasagna (there's a dish I have never managed to get right) and salad. I sometimes give Noelie baby food at lunchtime, especially if there are no leftovers from dinner the day before. And we do have a few stored in the cupboard just in case. However, I am not a big fan of them as they all look the same, orange gloop with bits.

Then Little Dish got in contact with me (a while ago, sorry!) to try their ready made fresh dinners, I was immediately won over by their philosophy: making fresh, healthy food using only 100% natural ingredients without adding salt or sugar. Just like I would cook at home myself. So off we went in search of their products. We selected 3 of their wide range: the Mild Chicken Korma, the Salmon and Broccoli pasta bake and the Cottage Pie.

The first thing that struck me was that you can actually recognize what's in the dish, unlike so many baby foods around, rice looks like rice, salmon looks like salmon. It looks and smells like you've made it yourself. Noelie wasn't too keen on the chicken Korma but she wasn't feeling great that day and I am pretty sure that this is what it came down too. I have to admit that I finished her plate and it was really tasty, not too strong, not too bland. The Cottage Pie and Salmon and Broccoli Pasta Bake went down a treat and there was next to nothing left for me to taste (you are supposed to taste yourself too, aren't you?).

I was really glad to find out that these Little Dishes can be frozen too. As I don't rely much on ready made food for Noelie, they could have sat in the fridge for a quite a while and they could have gone off without me noticing. But the fact that they can be frozen means that I didn't have to worry about it. I just popped them in the freezer and took them out whenever I needed them. It was also great knowing that there were no nasty preservatives or other unknown ingredients in them, that there was no added sugar or salt, just like I would cook myself! And that they definitely passed the Noelie taste test!

If your children are past the toddler stage, Little Dish also has a beautifully illustrated cookbook out entitled 'Little Dish Favourites Cookbook', full of more than 60 favourite recipes for the whole family, from Macaroni and Cheese to Chili and Rice Bake to Pink Ice Cream, all tried and tasted by children and adults alike, and with no added salt. The recipes are divided in various sections: First tastes for that all important weaning period, Family Dishes (itself divided into sections such as poultry, vegetarian, meat and fish) and finally the Treats and Puddings. Each section has its own introduction with tips and guidelines from when to start weaning to dealing with fussy eaters to choosing the right treats. The degree of complexity of each recipe is clearly indicated along with the prep time and the cooking time which makes it easy for busy parents to identify and select the recipe that will suit their needs. They don't require an infinite list of ingredients and all of them are readily available. I particularly liked the fact that all the weights were both in grs and oz since I don't do imperial (sorry I'm from the continent, give me grs and kgs anyday!) The recipe planner at the end of the book lists all the recipes by degree of complexity but also points out the ones that can be made ahead, freeze well and the ones in which children can easily get involved. It also matches various recipes together to provide meal ideas. We decided to try out the Meat Loaf recipe as I had never cooked one before. The result was very tasty despite its appearance (but that definitely would be my fault and not the books!!).

I would definitely recommend the fresh dinners to any parent who wants to give their children nutritious food even if they might not have the time to make it all from scratch themselves.The Little Dish range of fresh dinners is available in the UK from the following retailers: Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Boots and on and can be found in the Republic of Ireland in Tesco and Superquinn stores.

And I would also recommend the cookbook for those who are past the toddler stage and are looking for easy and tasty recipes that the whole family will like. It is available from WH Smith, Waterstones, Tesco, Ocado, and Sainsbury’s, or online at

Go on, give it a try!

In order to review, we received coupons and a free cookbook.

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