If you’re aiming to create healthy meals, snacks and lunchboxes for kids, using nutritious foods in a stress-free, practical way then the trick is to keep things as simple as possible and once you feel comfortable letting the processed and instant foods move to the back burner, you can start creating your own meals.
This can be a difficult task when you’re a busy parent, juggling a multitude of hats whilst trying hard to give your children the best start. But it can be possible.
I’m always suspicious of parents who say that their kids eat everything. Is it really true? And what’s their secret? Most kids go through phases – they eat whatever you put in front of them at first, then they develop a taste for things and start rejecting anything that isn’t pasta (or so it seems).
Most often than not, green veggies are the first to disappear, whilst orange ones linger a little longer, and eggplant or mushrooms never even get much of a look in!
Here are my favourite six ways to supercharge your child’s diet from my book Supercharged Food for Kids.
1. Secret spinach smoothie
Next time you make a make a blueberry smoothie, which is an excellent source of antioxidants, toss in a handful of spinach and it will likely go undetected. Mix a handful of spinach with a scoop of Greek yogurt, a scoop of ice, blueberries, half a banana and almond or rice milk. Now watch them gulp it down.
2. Marinara sauce
Most kids love pasta, so take advantage of it and make a sauce that’s full of vegetables. When cooking the sauce as you normally would, add zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, kale or any other vegetable you'd like to sneak in. Use a handheld blender to smooth the sauce before dishing it up with a bowl of pasta. They will never know the difference.
3. Chia muffins
Chia seeds are a delicious superfood, packed with omega 3s and ridiculously high in antioxidants. They’re extremely versatile and easy to use. Add them to smoothies, sprinkle on top of yogurt or muesli, or toss them in your muffin mix, they thicken muffins nicely and add bulk and texture.
4. Veggie-packed meatballs
Next time you make meatballs, use a food processor to blend mushrooms and zucchini, then add it to the meat mixture before forming the balls. When cooked, your kids won't notice the extra veggies, but you’ll know they're in there!
5. Dip it
Kids love an interactive meal and not just splattering it all over the table. Making their own anything always goes down well. The same is true for dip. Surround a nice healthy dip with carrot sticks, celery sticks, snow peas and cucumber slices and you're bound to increase the veggie quotient quickly.
6. Cauliflower mash
This white veggie is not an easy one to get kids to eat whole. Mashed, however, it's a whole new ball game. Mashed cauliflower is one of the most delicious side dishes a parent or caregiver can make. Add a sweet potato or two, if you like, to maintain texture and your kids will devour it. You can also sneak pureed cauliflower into a white creamy sauce and pour it over grilled chicken breasts.
Whether it’s school sandwiches, wraps, pizza, pasta, nuggets, muffins, energy bars and desserts they can all be supercharged with a little tweaking, to appeal to a child’s sense of fun and adventure. They’ll have no idea you are steering them away from soft drinks and sugary treats and towards healthier eating because fingers crossed they’ll be too busy enjoying the deliciousness.
How do you hide more goodness into your children’s meals?
If you’d like to know more, click here to view Lee’s Supercharged Food for Kids cookbook