This is the first in a series of posts on things your toddler can make for lunch or tea. I'm a big fan of making main dishes with children for two reasons: firstly to encourage healthy eating and secondly because I am a lazy parent...
I don't usually get parents saying to me "I can't get X to touch cake." But I hear "X just won't eat vegetables" all the time. Cooking allows children to touch, smell, taste and generally familiarise themselves with foods in a non-confrontational, fun way. As they make something, they are exploring the ingredients on their own terms; tasting and eating feels like their idea. It probably isn't going to make them clamour for things like vegetables. But it can make trying new things a more interesting, and less scary, prospect.
At the end of prepping, cooking and cleaning up after a fun cooking session, the last thing I want to do is have to keep my now hungry and tired child distracted while I cook their meal. I'd rather, instead of baking a biscuit or fairy cake, just make their meal together in the first place. This doesn't have to be right before lunch or tea. In fact I'd recommend not. Cooking with a hungry child doesn't usually go well. We cook together mid-morning and then I cover and chill it until it's time to put it in the oven.
It's not easy finding recipes for everyday dishes that young children cook - it is the main reason Tickle Fingers started in the first place. One of my go-to dishes are pies. Assuming you're using ready-made puff pastry, the most difficult part of a pie is making the sauce for the filling. The secret to an easy, toddler-chef friendly pie is... drum roll... soup. Soups like cream of chicken, cream of mushroom or even oxtail make great pie sauces. Just remember that ready-made soups are already seasoned. Try to go for low salt versions and do not add additional seasoning.
Get your toddler to:
- Chop (with a table knife) or tear up some cooked meat and/or vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
- Mix the meat/vegetables with some herbs and soup to make the filling.
- Spoon the filling into a pie dish.
- Lay some ready-rolled puff pastry on top.
- Brush the pastry with milk or a beaten egg (great for those who love painting).
- Decorate the pie by cutting fun shapes with cookie cutters from leftover pastry and putting them on top.
Then all you need to do is bake the pie for 25 minutes in a hot oven. It's great way to use up leftover meat and vegetables from a Sunday Roast. The flavour combinations are numerous, but here are some ideas:
- chicken, ham, pea, sweetcorn and parsley with cream of chicken soup
- chicken, ham, mushroom and parsley with cream of chicken soup
- chicken, celery, carrot and thyme with cream of chicken soup
- beef, carrot, broccoli and rosemary or thyme with oxtail soup
- mushrooms, spinach and oregano with cream of mushroom soup
What will you put in yours? Comment below.
Linked up to: