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Home-baking a summer hit with little ones

A short note from me this week as I'm reporting from the trenches of Natural Kids camp. Twenty-seven hilarious children, five amazing staff, toys and books galore ... it is so much fun and the most exhausting thing I do all year.

Once upon a time a group of scientists had a legendary multisport athlete (Jim Thorpe) mimic the activity of a toddler. He couldn't keep up. Now I know why. I am not sure how all the teachers out there do it. There are a lot of green smoothies and chocolate-related treats in my world at the moment!

There's a lot of teaching, playing and reading involved but being “in charge” adds an extra dimension, too. I once lost my good friend's son for 15 minutes in a crowded place. It was heart failure all round and one of the worst experiences of my life (let alone for mum). On the upside, I am now more watchful than ever — if you want to pick a person who won't lose your child, pick someone who has lost one before!

Our baking situation is also a little challenging. Although our main play spaces are air-conditioned, the kitchen is not.

We do two sessions back to back, cycling the children through a craft activity, too. So, while half the children cook, the others do a craft, and then they swap.

By the time we have baked twice, I feel as if I have been in a Swedish sauna for 90 minutes — with 27 little people asking questions and covering themselves in flour.

It has been tempting to go raw, so that we don't have to turn on the oven, but there's nothing quite like the smell of home-baking. By the time the children come in from outdoor play, the whole place smells amazing. Their little faces as they taste their snacks are priceless.

I did cheat a little with one recipe, however. While I was reacquainting myself with the oven (which has a split personality and burns everything on the right-hand side) we did a stove-top chocolate sauce. Bonus: you get the same amazing chocolate smell without the heat of an oven. We drizzled it over fresh fruit kebabs and it was a total hit with the kids.

Simple, quick and a great intro to cooking with children. Anyone can do this, even if you think your skills are zero. It's also delicious over ice cream or plain yoghurt and chopped nuts. However you use it, you'll never turn to store-bought again! Just easy on the portion size OK? It's still very sweet so a little goes a long way.

Here is the recipe for my home-made rich chocolate sauce (dairy-free).

Ingredients (makes approximately 3 cups):

• 2/3 cup cocoa powder

• 1.5 cups maple syrup

• 1 cup organic soy milk (dairy or almond milk should also work)

• 1 tsp real vanilla essence

Method:

1. Hand whisk the cocoa powder and maple syrup together in a pan until smooth.

2. Whisk in the milk and then place over a medium to high heat.

3. Bring to the boil and boil for approximately two minutes, stirring halfway through to make sure it doesn't catch.

4. Remove from the heat and cool a little.

5. Stir in the vanilla and cool completely.

6. Can be used straight away but best left for 24 hours to allow the cocoa to soften. Just stir through again before serving as the bottom is slightly thicker.

• The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the managing director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda

Drizzle home-made chocolate sauce over fruit kebabs for a tasty treat children will love

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Published August 14, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm)

Home-baking a summer hit with little ones

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