When it comes to feeding my children, I sometimes feel like I spend much of my time stuck between a rock and a hard place. The rock is the wealth of nutrition knowledge I have at my finger tips and the hard place is the children and that kitchen table EVERY SINGLE DAY.
So I cast the net wide and quizzed my dietitian friends on the other side of the world – this can’t just be an issue in London, England. Hell no, there must be rocks and hard places in kitchens everywhere and I want to cheer myself up! I wondered what is there go to meal when pushed for time and what nutrition gem will they continue to plug no matter what resistance they come against? Let’s find out.
Quick meals that work
With a quick and easy cheese sauce you can really go places. Mix with tuna and veg or any fish that you want to try. Vary the pasta shapes and types of veg used and use it as an opportunity to throw some pulses in too. Fry some onion and garlic (which you could blitz first) or use frozen garlic. Cook the pasta and steam veg above it, make the sauce, throw together with veg and fish (cook first or take from a tin already cooked) and a tin of mixed pulses. A teaspoon of oregano works well too. Scatter with cheese and bake for around 20 mins.
Or the sauce can be more tomato based – using a tin of chopped tomatoes and little puree instead of making a cheese sauce.
The bake works for Catherine and her lively son in Australia
Use roast leftovers or pan fry some chicken pieces.
Toss carrot sticks, pepper sticks, sugar snap peas, peas, sweetcorn (frozen) broccoli – any veg you fancy with a little nut oil for flavour. Keep veg raw if preferred.
Serve with drizzle of reduced salt soya sauce and honey (allow them to self- pour from an egg cup if this aids compliance) Add wholewheat noodles (mine can’t taste the difference) or rice.
Could also put some chicken pieces on a skewer – marinade in the honey and soya sauce and then grill turning until done. If it’s on a skewer it is somehow more ‘fun’ – whatever.
The stir fry works well for Claire and Laura and their clans in South Africa
Taco self- serve
Choose you meat – chicken leftovers, turkey mince, beef mince. Pick your pulse: red kidney beans, black beans, decide on your crunch: red peppers, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, spinach, shredded beetroot, tomato, avocado, top with low fat sour cream, crème fraiche or natural/ greek yoghurt or tzatziki and grated cheese.
Other variations: swap the taco for a wholewheat wrap or pitta.
This one was a top choice and took on various forms for Jenny in America, Catherine in Australia and Jess in Dubai. A global hit!
The simple chicken curry
Definitely a chicken theme forming here! Fry an onion (likely mine would pull it out but worth it for flavour!) Add a tsp turmeric and a couple tsps of mild curry powder, reduced salt stock and a little cornflour to thicken to chicken leftovers or pan fried pieces. Allow the sauce to bubble and thicken before adding around 100mls low fat cream. This mild flavoursome sauce helps plenty of steamed veg on the side slide down alongside some rice.
This works for all 4 children in Lindy’s crazy household, Australia.
Frittata – don’t underestimate the nutritional value of an egg!
Great for Monday after a roast dinner. Use leftover potatoes and veg (make extra to guarantee useful leftovers for the pain of a Monday night). Stir fry them up in a little oil and add about 6 eggs – allow to set, sprinkle with grated cheese and put under the grill until bubbling and cooked on top. Also scrambled egg with frozen spinach mixed in with a slice of toast is probably one of the most nutritious meals I manage to get into Sam.
Prawn pasta (my masterpiece)!
Cook some wholewheat or white with added fibre pasta. Take frozen prawns which are quick to defrost under a tap. Heat them through by stir frying with some garlic and ginger paste or just butter/ oil if preferred. Defrost 1-2 cubes frozen spinach and mix together with a little crème fraiche and a squeeze of lemon juice if feeling fancy.
Variations: Could use any fish it doesn’t have to be prawns.
So as I say this one is mine, the day they first tried prawns and liked them I wept tears of joy I think.
What we continue to make our mission
Oily fish – Definitely get them on a supplement if they’re not keen on fish. Interestingly not many of our quick go to meals were fish based so need to work on that for next time!
Pulses – feeding them, feeding their bacteria, providing protein, fibre and iron. Keep throwing them in. They may pick them out and try flicking them in their sister’s eye but keep on giving them.
Water – keep normalising it because drinks don’t have to taste sweet, liquid calories do not turn on appetite regulation and because there’s not much juice that can be consumed before it doesn’t count towards fruit and veg targets.
Normalise – this is what healthy looks like, it’s important to feed our bodies the stuff it needs to make it grow and glow and give context to the treat foods. This is what we’re all doing little Jonny, join in if you fancy because the world (no matter which corner of it) doesn’t revolve around you (theoretically).
Hopefully this post has shown that even for dietitians, meals aren’t particularly ground breaking or fancy but that key health eating messages can still come through under time pressure. Thanks for the inspiration and reassurance ladies! For more advice to keep you sane you could always check out my 7 habits of highly nutritious parenting!