Saturday 9 March 2013

Embracing the Joy of Food with your Little Ones

So today I’m very excited because we have our very first “Guest” post on Sophia’s Choice from the very lovely Victoria Leith of Caramelia Cakery. Victoria has a wealth of knowledge and experience with making delicious, nutritious, raw (unbaked) cakes and treats. You really need to check out her wonderful creations on her website; they truly are a feast for the eyes. I hope you enjoy reading her pearls of wisdom and have fun making some yummy treats with your little ones.


From the earliest age, we can give children the signals and ideas that food is nurturing, healing, flavoursome, soothing and fuel for the body. Often, however, our own hang-ups about food can unwittingly pass on to our little loved ones so if your child is now a 'fussy eater', don't always assume it's because of their own doing! Have a look at your own practices, what you say around food, how you prepare it - do you eat on the go with barely a moment to chew your food properly? Do you often skip meals or grab the nearest chocolate bar when hunger hits? Are you feeling stressed when you eat or are there arguments around the table? Do you stand over your child encouraging them to 'hurry up' or to finish every last bit on their plate? Take a good look at what it is you do when food is in the picture. Do you save the sweet treats until all the savoury is finished? Sometimes, when we differentiate to children that savoury is 'good' and sweet is 'bad' (or at least something that can only be consumed if behaviour is good) then it sends a really clear signal to the child that sweet can comfort them in a way that nothing else can. That feeling can then translate into adult life where we find sweet things to comfort us and to fill a gap where there is an emotional hole.

Photo Credit: Victoria Leith, Caramelia Cakery

Since my daughter was born, I have been experimenting in the kitchen, creating flavoursome and wholesome food, which my child has been able to eat on a daily basis… but I am not talking smoothies, soups and stews here. I am talking… cake! But 'cake' really takes on a new meaning here as what I make is full of superfoods, nutritious elements and marvellous colours and flavourings. When my daughter eats a slice of what is essentially nuts, spices (such as turmeric), vegetables (beetroot) and raw honey, I can't help but feel happy that she deems this to be enjoyable. I don't necessarily class my cakes as treats (which are all un-baked, or 'raw’) - sometimes, my daughter will have a good slice of cake for breakfast. Containing dates, apple, cashew, brown rice syrup and spirulina however, makes it all the more acceptable in my eyes! We certainly eat very differently in our house now as to when I was younger. There are still some of the same elements, but this is down to me learning about nutrition and how the body works in relation to eating certain things.

Photo Credit: Victoria Leith, Caramelia Cakery

The main idea in our home is to enjoy food. And that food will nurture us and heal us. Hold the food, experience it. Try things a few times before you decide you don't like it. What does it feel like in your mouth? Smell it and enjoy it before you actually even taste it. My daughter, from very young, has been helping me in the kitchen - chopping (with a butter knife), mixing, stirring, pouring, measuring and also being my 'Sous Chef' and 'Chief Taste Tester'. She loves that feeling of responsibility and I am actually interested in her opinion on what our creations taste like, especially in times like now when I am fasting and not eating or drinking between the hours of sunrise and sunset - I actually depend on her taste-buds - and it's amazing how she is so perceptive and how keen her palette is.

Photo Credit: Victoria Leith, Caramelia Cakery

Experiment with your child and perhaps try out a few of the following ideas:

 1.     Let your child experience natural colours. Grate some beetroot and get your child to swish it through a tablespoon of water… let her marvel at the colours that diffuse. Let her taste it. Even if she wrinkles up her nose, exposing your children to tastes and encouraging them not to be afraid of how it feels and tastes in the mouth will enable them to have a broader palette when they are older.

 2.     Make caramel! This is a fabulous raw caramel recipe that my daughter will eat, encased in a lovely carob/chocolate coating! Chop a cup of medjool dates and whizz in the food processor with 1 tbsp raw almond nut butter, 1 tbsp melted cacao butter or coconut oil, 1 tbsp raw honey and a tiny pinch of sea salt. Keep processing until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Shape into balls and pop in the freezer. When hardened, let your child slightly squash each one (not only to feel the food but to make them the perfect shape to fit into what this can turn into….Rawlos!) To make the chocolate for the Rawlos, melt 100g cacao butter and 1 tbsp coconut butter gently. Blend with 2 tbsp shelled hemp seeds (or nut butter of your choice), 2 tbsp carob powder, 1 tsp cacao powder, 1 tbsp lucuma and 2 tbsp raw honey. Keep blending until you get a lovely smooth chocolate cream. Pour a little into chocolate moulds, pop the caramel in each one and continue pouring chocolate over the top. Pop in the freezer, and voila! Chewy chocolate caramels! (aka the aforementioned Rawlos!)

Delicious Rawlos
Photo Credit: Victoria Leith, Caramelia Cakery

3.     When it's your child's birthday, why not make a raw cake! I have a special offer on my new recipe book, which features many delicious and decadent cakes that are suitable for children (who do not have nut allergies!) - and I make my daughter one of these cakes every year on her birthday. Make the unusual feel a bit more normal by bringing it to the table of life on frequent occasions! Make the most of my offer by visiting:

4.     Set out a few little bowls and in them put separate ingredients  - cacao butter, honey, beetroot powder, baobab powder, lucuma, raw cacao powder and carob (and even carob pods). Let your child explore these ingredients. You might be tempted to say 'No!! Don't try the cacao butter on its own - you won't like it!' Just let your child take the lead here. Unless it's a poison, she will be able to make up her own mind about how it feels on the tongue, what it tastes like and also, not to be afraid of trying new things. Get your child to also smell everything!

5.     When you're making and un-baking in the kitchen, stop and cuddle your child every now and then. Speak in soft, sweet tones. Play lovely music. If something spills, don't worry about it - it's all part of the fun. Teach your child to enjoy the process as well as the finished recipe and to laugh, have fun and get messy!

Photo Credit: Victoria Leith, Caramelia Cakery

Victoria Leith is a mother, qualified teacher, musician and writer. She runs Caramelia Cakery… an online raw un-bakery where she makes the most decadently delicious and nourishing cakes! She also runs cakery classes and is working on her second recipe book, A Mother of a Feast.

Connect with Victoria on Facebook at Caramelia Cakery or Motherof a Feast

Twitter: @CarameliaCakery

Or email her at to find out about her marvellous cakery classes! The next one is in London on Saturday 30th March 2013.


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