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The 4 recipes that keep me sane, and my kids entertained.

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Bon appetit.

A while ago I surrendered to the fact that my kids super healthy diets had fallen victim to the allure of sweet stuff – all the sweet stuff. These days we try and stick to the 80:20 rule – 80% of the time it’s meat, hidden vegetables and Greek yoghurt and 20% of the time they’ll be sucking on a milkshake to wash down a muffin (preferably on a Sunday when my husband can deal with the sugar-induced meltdowns while I read the paper and pretend to be deaf).

Some days I love cooking and baking, other days I just want to prepare something super quick and easy that will keep the kids away from the TV remote and make me feel like Nigella…well a droopy-boobed, make-up free, yoga-pants loving version of Nigella.

1. Progeny Pizza.

If your kids are being particularly fussy about what they will or will not eat, get them involved in making lunch or dinner. At our place that often means pizza – and lots of it. Because vegetables on a pizza are not vegetables, they’re body parts and long glorious locks of hair to be consumed with gusto…stay with me.

What you need:

Pack of pizza bases – yes, you can make your own but seriously, why bother when your local bakery sells a four-pack of mini pizza bases for under six bucks?

Tomato paste

Mushrooms

Pumpkin

Mozzarella cheese

Ham

Capsicum

Olives

Whatever else you fancy

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Smear the tomato paste onto the pizza base and top with oodles of cheese. Cut all the toppings up and pop them in different bowls. Get your kids to unleash their Etcher-Sketcher honed art skills onto that unsuspecting base.

My little one loves making faces with each pizza representing a member of the family. “Mummy pizza” normally has olives for eyes, a string of ham for a mouth, capsicum ears and an upside-down mushroom for a nose (no offence taken). Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until base starts to brown and cheese is golden.

recipes kids can make
“Mummy pizza” – the resemblance is uncanny. Image: Supplied.
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2. There’s nothing wrong with packet cake, packet cake.

Pardon me while I go all Masterchef emotional montage on you but one of my fondest childhood memories is of making butterfly cupcakes with my grandmother. She was a phenomenal baker and her life’s mission was to ensure that my BMI stayed well over 25.

While Granny Eva would turn in her grave if she read this, I would like to proudly proclaim that you should never underestimate the power of packet mix. If we are heading to a party or dropping in to see a non-diabetic relative, I’m a big fan of grabbing one of those trusted cardboard boxes out of the pantry and getting my faux bake on. My kids love decorating my “homemade” cake or cupcakes and their wild artistic abandon ensures a unique (and very pink) end product.

What you need:

1 x cake mix (cupcakes or a single cake if you prefer) and whatever the box says you need to add (get one that includes premade icing, saves you washing the electric mixer twice)

Large Ziploc sandwich bag

Smarties

Mini marshmallows

Whatever cake decorating stuff you can find on special at the supermarket (little flowers, those silver ball things if you fancy losing a few teeth, decorating pens).

Method:

Do whatever it says on the packet. If I can get a perfectly moist cake while bouncing a teething toddler on my hip after three hours sleep, it’s idiot proof.  Fill the Ziploc bag with icing and cut the corner. Get the fruit of your womb to pipe the icing onto the cupcakes/cake. Then encourage them to decorate it with the smorgasbord of toppings.

They can make hearts out of Smarties to take to Nanna’s place (that’ll buy you at least three more babysitting sessions) or they can just create a delicious mess by chucking a random selection of toppings at the icing in the hope that they’ll stick. It’s all about artistic expression and buying Mum 15 minutes to look over their shoulders and watch the end of The Bachelorette you missed on Wednesday night because your youngest had gastro (#Sashaforthewin).

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Who WOULDN’T want to go crazy decorating a cake like this?! Image: Supplied.

3. Easy fruit skewers.

If your kids are fond of rifling through your wardrobe for the perfect dress-up get-up like mine, divert their attention from clomping and stomping around in your high heels by getting them to cut and layer some fruit.

What you need:

Various shaped small cookie cutters – stars, butterflies, hearts, birds – eBay has an abundance of Made in China beauties

Fruit – I normally use rockmelon, honeydew melon, pineapple, watermelon and throw in a few non-cookie-cutter-friendly strawberries and grapes

Wooden skewers (soaked in water to avoid splinters)

Method:

Cut the fruit into slabs and get your offspring to cut out shapes using the cookie cutters. Then get them to skewer the fruit onto the wooden sticks, alternating colours and shapes.

Then put on the kettle, make a cup of tea and check Facebook while they giggle and cover the countertop (and themselves) in sticky juice.

“Then put on the kettle, make a cup of tea and check Facebook while they giggle and cover the countertop (and themselves) in sticky juice.” Image via Instagram @breeze_weddings_australia

4. Banana balls.

My kids love bananas so thank Yasi we haven’t had a repeat of the 2011 price blowout. A friend of mine got me onto these balls and they are YUM.

Perfect to pop in a mason jar with a little thank you tag for long-suffering childcare workers or to drop off at a new mum’s place while she wrangles with sleep deprivation and well, vomit. They are also good to freeze for snacks and can be used for toilet-training bribery when all attempts to get your nearly three-year-old’s poo in the toilet have failed.

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What you need:

2 ripe bananas

16 digestive biscuits

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp caster sugar

Large Ziploc sandwich bag

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Fill the Ziploc bag with the biscuits and get your little one to crush them till them look like crumbs. Very carefully they can use a rolling pin to blitz and roll over the biscuits while you relive your carefree youth singing Jennifer Paige’s ‘It’s Just a Little Crush’. Add the cinnamon and sugar to the biscuit mix, zip the bag up again and shake. Mash the bananas then stir in most of the biscuit mix (leaving about ¼ behind).

Get your kids to form little balls with the mixture then roll them in the remaining biscuit mix to coat the outside with crumbs. Ask your kids to count how many they’ve made. My nearly 3-year-old can count up to 11 and this recipe makes about 18-20 so we’ve got some work to do. Pop the balls on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for about 10-12 minutes.

recipes kids can make
The balls pre-baking. Image: Supplied.

So there you have it, the lazy Mum’s guide to preparing food that keeps the kids stimulated and away from the dreaded screen for a bit.

Pop your creations in a container, head over to a friend’s place or to the local park and enjoy a gloriously delicious and fun-filled spring.

What do you make with your kids?

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