meatball pittas
Family friendly

Awesome meatball pittas with zesty tzatziki

We all know afternoons can be hectic when you have kids – so take a load off with these simply delicious meatball  pittas. The meatballs can be made ahead, or double the recipe and use the extra for a traditional meatball and spaghetti meal.  To mix it up a bit try using pork or lamb mince instead of beef.

Makes 16

Ingredients

  • 450g good-quality minced beef
  • few sprigs of fresh chives, finely snipped
  • 2tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 large egg, free-range or organic
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp olive oil

Tzatziki

  • 200g greek yoghurt
  • ½ medium cucumber, peeled and grated
  • squeeze of lemon
  • ½ clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large pitta breads

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 6. Add the minced beef, chives, mustard, tomato ketchup and smoked paprika to a large bowl. Crack in the egg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. With clean hands, scrunch and mix everything up well.

2. Using wet hands roll the mixture into about 16 meatballs. Place them in an oven-proof baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and place in the preheated oven, for about 20 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Check by cutting one in half to make sure there are no signs of any pink meat.

3. To make the tzatziki, combine the greek yoghurt, cucumber, lemon juice, garlic and mint in a bowl and season. To assemble, slit open the lightly toasted pittas. Slather a good sized spoonful of the tzatziki inside. Add a handful of salad leaves and stuff in four meatballs to each pitta.

4. Serve your meatball pittas immediately to your hungry mob.

Recipe and images by Nessa Robins

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.