Our very own nutritionist, PT and Mama of 3 Laura Hilton gives us her top 8 recipes for cooking for the kids this half term…
Although it only seems like the children only just went back to school after Christmas, somehow half-term is now around the corner. February half-term can be a tricky one to fill as the weather doesn’t normally lend itself to whiling away hours at the park, indoor attractions cost a lot and get super busy, and it’s just not warm enough to spend a long time at outdoor attractions. The thought of spending entire days at home can seem daunting though, and (I find!) can result in the house looking like it’s been turned over by robbers come the end of it.
If you can engage the kids in a project however, their minds and hands are kept occupied, you can have some fun together and they can learn something too. And if that project is cooking, it gets the task of cooking a meal covered as well.
Although many people tend to limit cooking with kids to baking cakes and biscuits, there is no reason why kids can’t make meals and savoury snacks too. Plus, involving them in creating healthy dishes helps them learn about good nutrition. To make this activity last even longer include a trip to the shops to choose your healthy ingredients. This gets them even more excited about eating the healthy end product.
Here are a few great recipes you and your children can have fun making this half-term. Please share pictures of your creations, and any other recipes you enjoy making with your children.
These offer a great way to get your children excited about eating veg. At the shop let them choose healthy toppings such as pineapple, mushrooms, lean meat such as chicken or ham, olives, tomatoes, sweetcorn… The possibilities are endless! Some children will want to make faces with their ingredients, some will spend ages creating an intricate pattern, whilst others will just want to heap everything on top at once and get it straight in the oven. Whichever ways your children do it they’ll be having fun and learning about food along the way.
Slow Cooker Veggie Chilli
Slow cookers can be really useful during school holidays, as well as during busy term-time weeks. Spend a little time in the morning prepping a meal, pop it in the slow cooker and after a fun day out your yummy, healthy meal will be ready and waiting for you. This veggie chilli is packed with vegetables and flavour. Don’t be scared to let children chop veg. Give them guidance on how to use a knife safely: teach them to use one hand as a bridge to hold the food whilst cutting ‘under the bridge’, and to place items flat side down so they don’t rock, and of course be there to supervise throughout. The pieces may not be all that neat but try to let your inner perfectionist go and know that they are learning a valuable life skill, whilst also being enthused about cooking for themselves.
Fajitas are a mid-week staple in our house, but we don’t go to the extent of making our own salsa and guacamole mid-week, as in this recipe. You could follow this recipe exactly or, as with the pizzas, you can go to the shops with your children and let them choose what they would like in their fajitas. When it’s time to eat place all the different components on the table and let children fill their own tortillas.
Carribbean turkey curry
If your children are anything like mine and against any foods containing even the slightest hint of a spice, this can be a great way to change their minds. Not only that but this mild and fruity recipe includes a good serving of protein via the turkey and the beans, and counts towards your children’s five-a-day thanks to the mango, ginger and onion. As an added bonus this recipe could also easily be doubled so there’s enough for the following night.
Pan gnocchi and veggies
This simple and colourful recipe can be adapted to feature the children’s favourite veggies. With guidance and supervision let them chop the veggies and mix all together with the oil and salt. This can easily be made ahead of time and doubled so that there’s enough for the next night or lunch the next day.
Bircher museli with apple and banana
This recipe helps teach children that breakfast can be so much more than toast and cereal, and can be tinkered to contain the nuts, fruits and/or seeds your children like. This could even become a recipe you turn to during term too. It doesn’t take long to prepare and can just be grabbed out of the fridge and eaten in the morning, so is perfect for busy mornings. This might be especially useful if you have older kids who have early buses to catch to school and who often emerge from bed so late that there’s little or no time for breakfast.
Courgette (zucchini) fries
If you have a meal planned this week that you would normally serve with chips, you could think about making these courgette fries instead. This is an easy swap to make and instantly increases your children’s veg intake for the day.
Fruity frozen yoghurt bites
Get children excited about fruit with these cute and simple-to-make frozen delights. This recipe provides another opportunity to allow children to pick the fruit they want to use in their creations. Just make sure the fruit you opt to use adds up to the amount in the recipe (around 220g). You could also be creative with the yoghurt flavour. Just stick to full-fat rather than low-fat/fat-free versions. Our bodies all need healthy fat such as that found in yoghurt to function properly, and this is especially important for children.
Hopefully those few recipes have inspired you to get cooking with your children this half-term. Have fun making these or whatever other culinary creations you decide to make, and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Bon appetit!
Laura Hilton is a nutritionist, personal trainer and mum of three from Timsbury, near Bath. For more healthy tips for busy parents head to HiltonHealth.co.uk, ‘Hilton Health’ on Facebook or ‘Hilton_Health’ on Instagram.