Getting your kids to eat the same meals over and over can be a thankless task. If lunchboxes come back untouched or dinner time is a battleground it can feel incredibly disheartening. However, sometimes it’s just a change in routine - or menu - that is needed to get over a slump. Here we have some nifty kid-approved ideas and recipes for winning the mealtime battle.
First, just a couple of pointers about feeding kids.
Remember that factors like tiredness, overwhelm and feelings of fullness all play into whether a child will eat or not. If you find your child is not eating dinner well, assess if they are too tired or if their afternoon tea is too large. Perhaps bring dinner forward half an hour and eliminate afternoon tea. One client gets her kids (5 and 7) to help with dinner prep and they’re free to eat as many prepped raw veggies as they want.
It can seem tempting to coax extra mouthfuls with the promise of dessert or something sweet after dinner. Remember kids are born knowing fairly natural hunger and fullness cues. Let them guide you on what is enough food. One day they may have seconds, on another 3 bites. Coaxing extra bites erodes this inbuilt mechanism. It also teaches them some foods are more desirable than others and those foods are given power.
Lastly, have compassion for yourself. Think back to your own childhood. There were probably foods you hated, just like your child has foods he or she hates to eat. Give yourself a break it isn't the end of the world if he or she doesn't eat broccoli as long as they enjoy eating other vegetables instead. You probably happily eat the food you refused to eat as a child now, and i'm sure your child will too. We don't know many adults who don't now enjoy vegetables.
Birds Nest fritters
This recipe is great because it uses up leftovers and you can also use half eaten veggies or scraps from the veggie drawer!
1 cup leftover pasta;
2-3 eggs depending on egg size;
1/4 cup grated cheese;
One spring onion thinly sliced;
1/2 a capsicum diced;
2 stems of kale sliced; (you can also use spinach or grated carrot)
Salt and pepper;
Olive oil for frying.
Cut the pasta into shorter strands with scissors.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Season.
Fry spoonfuls for 2-3 mins each side until golden.
“Hulk” or “Unicorn” Hummus
Dips are a great way to get kids eating veggies, flatbreads or rice crackers. For small children it’s a great sensory experience and allows them some autonomy over their eating.
Hulk hummus is hummus coloured green with spinach and herbs, while unicorn hummus is hummus coloured with roasted beetroot. Both are delicious and appeal to kids creative sides.
400 g tin of chickpeas
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons of tahini
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste.
2 springs of parsley and one large handful of fresh spinach
1 medium beetroot, roasted.
If making unicorn hummus, take one medium beetroot and chop in half. Wrap both halves in tin foil and bake in an oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cooled the skin should slip off the beetroot when removing the tin foil.
Discard skin and foil. Set the beetroot aside.
Add the hummus ingredients, except for beetroot, or spinach/parsley, into a food processor and blend until smooth. If too thick, add one more tablespoon of olive oil.
Then add your green or pink ingredients and process until smooth.
Serve with a selection of veggies, toast or crackers.
These cauliflower bites are delicious and at first glance, kids would never know they were cauliflower!
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
Add grated lemon zest, finely chopped herbs or ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese to your bread crumbs.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk eggs, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Place panko bread crumbs in another bowl.
Dip each cauliflower floret in egg mixture to coat, then dip each floret into bread crumbs to coat; place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until tender and lightly browned, turning once, about 25 minutes.
Carrot Cake muffins
2 medium carrots
¾ cup plain flour (use gf flour if gluten free)
¾ cup wholemeal flour (use buckwheat flour if gluten free)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup coconut sugar
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup sultanas or raisins
½ cup desiccated coconut
1 cup light flavoured olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Line 18 muffin tins with paper muffin cases. Turn the oven to 180°C.
Wash the carrots and cut off each end, grate and set aside. You need 2 cups full.
Sift the plain flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into a large mixing bowl.
Add the coconut sugar, wholemeal flour, sunflower seeds, sultanas, coconut and the grated carrot and mix well to combine.
Break the eggs into a separate bowl and lightly whisk. Add the oil and vanilla.
Pour the orange juice into a cup and stir in the baking soda until it dissolves. Add to the egg mixture.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients and very lightly mix together with the tablespoon until just combined. It is important not to overmix or muffins will be tough. Carrot Cake Muffins
Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cases, filling each one about ¾ full.
Bake 15-20 minutes until the tops spring back when lightly touched.
Remove tray/s from the oven.
Leave the muffins in the tray for 10 minutes, before tipping them onto a wire tray to cool.
Serve with butter, greek or coconut yoghurt.
We hope you and the kids enjoy these recipes.
Thanks from the team at Feel Fresh Nutrition!