After a selection of great kid friendly recipes? From healthy snacks to fun with baking and easy day-to-day meals, Claire Thomson's got it covered...
Feeding children food they don’t want to eat is one of life’s most frustrating, time consuming and head bangingly awful tasks. To navigate this troublesome teatime landscape, I think the best solution is to feed kids food that they will like and want to eat.
As a mother who cooks professionally I get an awful lot of parents asking me what I feed my children come the evening. They are often surprised. My kids are not precocious about food, they love the nursery stalwarts of spaghetti bolognaise, the odd sausage and a cottage pie, but they also love to eat meals that are considered a bit more adventurous. Cold spiced Sichuan noodles is a good example. Dull is the ground hog scenario of a shepherd's pie landing on the table every Thursday evening.
Truth be told my three (Grace 8 yrs, Ivy 6 yrs and Dorothy 3 yr) will wolf down the likes of pesto pasta, but they will also eat an eclectic bunch of laughably healthy suppers.
So perhaps it’s me who is the precocious one come supper time. I want my kids to eat their way around the world, albeit on a metaphorical food journey, and all the while sat nicely at the kitchen table. Nothing could excite me less than a lifetime of suppers where mince is the mainstay and a fork the only necessary tool. A few miserable weeks of blending pumpkin and making various baby mush when weaning my first daughter six years ago made concrete for me a food philosophy by which to feed my family.
Vegetables by stealth. Why should the vegetables be something on the side of the plate to endure? They should be a delicious and integral part of the supper. Cooking vegetables well and with creativity is a life skill. It will set you in good stead for very many delicious meals.
Cook a cabbage with bulghar, tomato and garlic and ‘sweeten’ it with cinnamon and allspice, soon enough that cabbage becomes an attractive proposition. Make your own cheese and serve it at teatime with a flattering salad, your children will surely then be over the moon with what’s put in front of them.
Giving children a sense of autonomy when it comes to eating their dinner is key. If you can engage your kids and get them involved with what they will be eating right from them standing there in the veg shop, the butchers, the fishmongers, to back in the kitchen and cooking, even to knowing how to lay the table nicely, these are all crucial to a lovely meal landing right there in front of you.
What’s more, having things to finish and personalise your own supper at the table with a flourish always proves popular with smaller folk. A vegetable and lentil rich soup would be nothing without the Turkish chilli flakes and pumpkin seeds to sprinkle, the yogurt to dollop, the olive oil to drizzle and the flat bread to dunk.
Food. It's terribly important stuff and we'll be eating it for the rest of our lives. So we'd best set about it making it taste the very best it can be.
5 o' clock or thereabouts comes and more often than not I'll tweet my kid's supper by way of a culinary prompt. Not wanting to preach I am instead providing some food for thought.
Elbows down, knives and forks at the ready, and we're off......
In other news, I've recently finished two books both coming out in 2017. For Pavilion I have written The National Trust Family Cookbook in conjunction with my new role as family food ambassador for The National Trust. And for Quadrille, The Art Of The Larder, a book about what ingredients you need to have at home in your cupboards in order to cook great food everyday of the year. Watch this space...