food

How to make a healthier version of your children’s favourite "sometimes" foods.

“Please Mum, can I have more salad?” Said no kid ever.

However, getting our kids to eat healthy food more often is achievable, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or overly fraught. All it takes is a little creativity, and a fresh approach to some all-time kids’ favourites. Here are four healthy takes on junk food treats that kids will love.

1. Nachos with a difference.

You can’t go wrong announcing “Nachos!” for dinner. But to add some nutrition, instead of using a pack of regular corn chips, you can easily create a healthier alternative by slicing a pack of wholegrain tortillas into triangles, and baking in the oven for about 10 minutes with just a little olive oil.

Serve with homemade guacamole made from fresh avocados, salsa, a light grated cheese, Greek yoghurt instead of sour cream, a squeeze of lemon and voila! You have a healthy meal the kids will be too busy tucking into to even realise is good for them.

Try serving Greek yoghurt instead of sour cream. Image via Instagram @mamtagovind

2. Better-than-takeaway fish ‘n’ chips.

Fish ‘n’ chips are loved by all, especially when they finish a day at the beach. But you can recreate that relaxed summer feel at home whilst considerably reducing the fattiness and salt of the takeaway option.

Grill your own fresh fish with salt and pepper, lemon juice and oil, or if your kids prefer battered, lightly coat the fish in flour, egg wash and try a new spin by using Japanese ‘panko’, a crunchy breadcrumb used for tempura, before frying in a pan rather than a deep fryer.

Sweet potato wedges are a great alternative to chips, as wedges have less surface area than smaller fries, so absorb less oil. Sweet potatoes are also packed full of potassium, calcium and vitamins A and C. Vitamin C is particularly important for kids’ growing bodies as it’s essential for repairing tissue, healing wounds and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.

To really recreate that relaxed takeaway experience, you can serve your dish on folded newspaper sheets with a slice of lemon and a sauce made of Greek yoghurt mixed with a little something you already have in the fridge – try a pesto, or even a curry paste for a surprising touch of flavour.

Sweet potatoes are also packed full of potassium, calcium and vitamins A and C. Image: iStock.
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3. Burger night at home.

Burgers are another go-to food option for hungry kids, but rather than collecting a greasy bag at the drive-thru window, homemade burgers can be well worth the effort. By selecting your own ingredients, and particularly the buns, you can turn a troublesome takeaway into a healthy home alternative.

Another great thing about burgers is that you can spread all the ingredients out on the table and let the kids build their own burgers they way they like them. Offer them fresh cos lettuce, avocado, delicious beetroot and patties made from quality lean meat mixed with onion, garlic, mushroom and other hidden veggies like grated zucchini or carrot.

Add to that hommus, light cheese slices, and fresh tomato, and there’s something for everyone at the table. Bung it all on a wholemeal or multigrain bun which is low GI and higher in dietary fibre, keeping the kids fuller for longer and providing them with more nutritional value.

4. Easy peasy frozen fruit yogurt.

Ice-cream is undoubtedly appealing to kids (and adults!) of all ages, but there is a super simple and much healthier option that can easily be created out of three ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. 1. Greek yoghurt. Check. 2. Fruit – berries, stone fruit and tropical fruits work best. 3. Honey.

All you need to do is blend the fruits and honey together until they form a puree, and then mix it into the yogurt, serve into individual cups and freeze. It’s a perfect after-school snack for a hot summer day that delivers one of their two daily serves of fruit and all of the extra vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

"Ice-cream is undoubtedly appealing to kids (and adults!) of all ages, but there is a super simple and much healthier option." Image via Instagram @yollibox

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