Healthy cooking for kids!

As you know I have a 10 year old son, he isn’t the fussiest of eaters but equally he can sometimes be challenging and difficult to encourage to try something new. I find that involving him in cooking usually helps. He enjoys mixing things up and making decisions about how much of each ingredient to add. When Ben feels like his food is made especially for him to his design he cant wait to eat it! For this post I thought I would share some recipes and ideas I have found work for Ben and are Slimming World friendly so you can make the whole families meals at the same time! Obviously given that the idea of lots of them is encouraging the children to help and chose ingredients and quantities this wont be full of recipes but I hope it can give you some ideas.

Canneloni

Ben loves helping me make cannelloni and stuff the pasta tubes with filling as he is very tactile and loves anything messy! We have made a few different mixtures and essentially I combine cooked mince with some tomato puree and herbs with finely chopped vegetables of his choice. we mix it all well with our hands and then stuff the tubes! The way we cook it is that I layer the tubes on top of some passata and then use the following mix to pour over the top and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until cooked. The topping I make uses quark, vegetable stock and eggs. The quantity you make will depend on how much cannelloni you’re making but I suggest the following for a family of 4 depending how much you make and which dish you use. Mix up 250ml of vegetable stock and allow to cool, beat in a 250g tub of quark and mix well until smooth, add two beaten eggs and mix well until thoroughly combined. This mixture can then be poured over the top of the layered cannelloni and topped with grated cheese if you wish.

Ben with his Cannelloni.
Stir Fry
 

Ben loves to make his own custom made stir fry and give it a unique name. Again with this kind of dish you can have a lot of control in how much of each ingredient is used and encourage the child to cut them how they like. Ben likes to cut all his different colour peppers differently and cut the mushrooms at strange angles, whilst it sounds very simple this alone makes him feel so excited to eat his stir fry as he really feels it is made just how he likes it! It is a fantastic way of getting more vegetables into children too I find as it is quite easy to encourage Ben that it needs to be colourful and have all the rainbow colours in it!

Omelette
 
Again this is another meal Ben loves to make as he loves cracking eggs after he has put them in a jug of water to test they are ok to eat! He loves adding a pinch of his favourite herbs and chopping up bits of mushrooms or whatever he fancies to mix them in. It is such a quick meal too I think that sometimes helps with children as less chance to snack or moan that they are hungry whilst waiting for it to cook!

 

Ben with the burgers he made himself (he chose to
have them with mashed potatoes and carrots!)
Burgers
Ben and I recently made some burgers using 5% fat pork mince, Ben isn’t vegetarian like me and unfortunately I haven’t yet found any ways of making vegetarian syn free burgers very successfully. For Ben we mixed by hand (of course to make it more fun so not necessary!) the mince and a little garlic powder, some breadcrumbs and mixed herbs. Ben enjoyed being able to carefully sprinkle in the herbs of his choice and mix them all up. I think using basil, oregano, parsley or sage for this and not using too much you really cant go wrong in allowing them to chose how much of each, I give Ben the choice of a small or big pinch of each! We then fried the burgers in frylight and the only syns would be in the breadcrumbs which would be quite minimal and you could weigh out if making them for yourself following Slimming World or just omit them completely and use an egg to help combine it.
Pasta Salad
Ben loves pasta and if your child does too I think pasta salad is a nice way of getting some salad vegetables into them as they can make it themselves and have as much or as little of each salad ingredient as they like. Ben loves peppers and cucumber but isn’t as keen on leaves and often adds one to the top as a decoration rather than eating many!

An alternative to this is fruit pasta salad. This may not be something you have tried before and you may be reading this thinking that I am crazy but don’t knock it until you have tried it! It is lovely and a real change for something different to eat. The best way I have found of making it is defrosting a pack of frozen mixed berries. If you are following Slimming World endure this isn’t a smoothie mix and they are whole berries and that no sugar or anything is added. Using dried pasta cook as normal however instead of cooking in water mix up a pan or diluted sugar free squash to cook the pasta in, orange squash works well diluted 1/4 or 1/5 so similar to how you would drink it. Cook in the squash mix and then drain and allow to cool. Mix the cooled pasta with the defrosted fruits and you have your fruit pasta salad.

Ben’s Sausage casserole

 

Sausage Casserole

This is a very quick simple meal to prepare and put in the slow cooker but equally can be cooked more quickly on the hob if required. I use the following, 6 Sausages, 3 peppers deseeded and cut into bite size chunks, 2 cartons of passata, 1 can baked beans, 500g mushrooms quartered, 2 large red onions, 4 tsp Ground Cumin, 2 tsp Paprika, 1 tsp Garlic salt. It is very much a meal you can change around to however you like. I cook it for around 4 hours on low in the slow cooker.

BBQ

A Barbeque doesn’t have to be fattening and can very easily be made Slimming World friendly using meat with all visible fat removed, homemade burgers using 5% fat or less mince, or the Slimming World brand sausages and burgers for meat eaters or for vegetarians there is Quorn fillets, Quorn Low fat sausages and Linda McCartney Rosemary and red onion sausages which are all currently syn free and there are other Quorn products such as the Gammon steaks which are currently 1 Syn each. It is easy to add mushrooms, chunks of peppers, corn on the cob or other chunky vegetables to the barbeque for some tasty vegetables and salad is easy to put together to accompany it. A healthy barbeque is just as easy really to make as any other barbeque and I think if kids have helped cook their vegetables on the barbeque they are more likely to eat it. We did a quick Barbeque the other day with disposable ones, they are quick and don’t need much space as you can see we did it on a little bit of wall outside our door rather than get everything out!

Our Slimming World BBQ

 

Vegetable Sticks with dips
 

Most children love finger food and if you make dips to go with sticks of carrots, peppers and cucumber you stand a bit of a better chance of them eating them I find. Whilst a lot of children like tomato ketchup or mayonnaise these can be high in syns, pre-packed dips again are often also high in fat and if you are following Slimming World but want a family snack such as this it makes it difficult. Making Slimming World friendly healthy dips doesn’t have to be difficult and with just a few ingredients you can make some yummy ways for all the family to enjoy some healthy snacks. I have posted some of my dip ideas on a previous blog post which can be found here.

BBQ Pulled Pork
 
I’m afraid again this isn’t a vegetarian recipe but as it is so easy to do I don’t mind making it for the meat eaters and making myself something else. Ben enjoys making this because it is quick to help me with then because it cooks in the slow cooker all day he can smell it cooking! This recipe is from the Slimming World Website. Remove all the visible fat from a 1.5-2kg pork shoulder and place in the slow cooker. in a saucepan mix together 500g passata, 2 crushed cloves of garlic (I use 2tsp lazy garlic), 3tbsp sweetener, 3tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1tsp mustard powder, and 5tbsp Worcestershire sauce and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened a little. Pour the sauce over the pork and coat the pork well then cook on low for 8-12 hours. I am told it is lovely, it certainly smells lovely while it is cooking.

 

Ben enjoying his pulled pork

 

Carbonara

Ben loves bacon and ham, like a lot of children, he also loves mushrooms so I often make him carbonara as this simple meal involves some of his favourite foods quite easily. I fry his bacon (fat removed) or ham with some sliced onions and mushrooms. Whilst these are frying I cook some dried pasta as per packet instructions. When both are cooked I mix the two together and add some grated cheese which melts as I stir it through, this could be weighed out for your healthy extra a allowance if following Slimming World, for ben I just pop a small handful in! A very quick meal in around 15 minutes or as long as the pasta takes to cook and Ben always finishes it and doesn’t seem to notice that I use lots of mushrooms and onions to increase the amount of vegetables he eats.

These are a few ideas you may find helpful when cooking for children however maybe you just want a quick meal after a busy day with them in which case I have posted a previous blog post of fridge to plate meals that take less than 20 minutes which may help and can be found here.
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