Annabel Karmel is the leading children’s cookery author and food expert when it comes to feeding fussy kids! Today she shares her top five tips to encourage little ones to eat healthier and a recipe for some delicious, kid-friendly muffins!
Mealtimes can often be a battleground between parents and toddlers. As a parent you want your child to have a healthy, nutritious and tasty diet, but persuading them it’s a good idea is a different matter!
We try to do our best, but often hectic schedules get in the way of us being able to serve-up healthy home cooked meals for the whole family every night of the week. But busy days still deserve the best mealtimes, and that’s’ why I’ve created a special range of snap-frozen meals for babies and toddlers in Australia.
Babies will love my nutritiously balanced Peel & Pop Purees made with 100% real fruit and veggies which are snap-frozen to lock in the taste and goodness. I have also put my 25 years of expertise into developing 15 delicious meals for children aged 1-4. A tasty way towards their 5-a-day, they make for the perfect freezer filler. Plus, they are low in sodium and sugar and free from preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.
I know how frustrating it can get when your child refuses to eat something, especially if you‘ve spent so much time preparing the food for them. If your child refuses to eat vegetables, why not hide those good bits! For example, you can blend together a tomato and vegetable sauce for pasta or create mashed potato with carrot. What children can’t see, they can’t pick out!
It’s also sometimes about preparing foods in different ways. For example, most kids I know wouldn’t eat boiled cauliflower, but roasting it is a whole different ball game. Children also often like to eat with their fingers so serve vegetables like whole corn on the cob with a little melted butter, baked potato wedges or carrot and cucumber sticks. For dessert it’s easy to make fresh fruit ice lollies from fruit juice and pureed fruits or thread bite sized pieces of fruit onto a straw.
It’s often easier to give in to a child’s demands than battle a whopper of a toddler tantrum. It can be a tricky one but it’s important to introduce as many veggies as possible at an early age. I think the best thing is to be up front about fruit and vegetables, tell them where they come from and why they are so good for you. Giving them facts could make them more interested about what they are eating.
My top 5 tips to help get little ones to start eating healthier this year
- Sticker rewards just for trying new things and tasting them can be really effective. If they even attempt to try something rather than ignore it, they should be rewarded.
- Offer children a taster of something new in the form of a ‘grown-up’ starter – a little teacup or saucer of vegetables that they could try that would be in addition to their main meal.
- If you can sit down to eat together, do it.Kids are so impressionable – they’ll want what you are eating, so don’t forget to load your own plate with healthy foods!
- A good trick I found is to prepare my children’s dinner with them. They like to be involved in the process. Children like to assemble their own food, so you could lay out ingredient bowls and let your child fill and fold their own wraps or choose toppings for their home made pizzas – it’s a proven tactic to get them to try new foods that they would usually shun.
- My kid’s used to get so excited growing cress in egg cups. Growing your own doesn’t require a huge garden or equipment, get your kids growing their own herbs or sprouting seeds in little pots on window shelves. Doing this can get them really excited about food.
Carrot, Apple & Sultana Muffins
This is my favourite muffin recipe. They’re incredibly soft and are packed full of grated carrots, apples and sultanas so you can trick kids into eating their fruit and veggies. Shhh, the secret stays between us!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20-22 minutes
Makes: 12 muffins
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g light brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
150ml sunflower oil
150g carrots, peeled and grated
50g apple, peeled, cored and grated
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
- Sift the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, then add the sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, syrup and oil, then pour them into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the carrot, apple and sultanas.
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases. Bake for 20–22 minutes, until the muffins are well risen and golden brown. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
For lots more food ideas, visit www.annabelkarmel.com/au. And for quick and nutritious mealtimes, stock-up on Annabel’s delicious snap-frozen meals for babies and toddlers. Discover brand new toddler meals such as Six Veggie Ravioli and Macaroni Cheese with Broccoli, now only $4 available at Coles and Woolworths Victoria.