Annabel Karmel’s tips for combating fussy eating over the summer holidays…
The fresh, feelgood spirit of summer can be an amazing opportunity to encourage even the fussiest of eaters to explore exciting new healthy foods and dabble in new flavour combinations.
Here are some of my top tips on how we can enjoy good food together as a family this summer.
Create quality time in the kitchen
The great thing about holidays is the opportunity to spend quality time together so let’s extend this to the kitchen! Cooking is a great opportunity for children to master new skills, and it’s precious one-on-one time too.
It doesn’t have to be over complicated or time consuming. Children like to assemble their own food solay ingredients out in bowls and let your child fill and fold their own wraps or choose their favourite toppings for their home-made pizzas. It’s amazing how being involved in the planning and preparation of a meal can stimulate a child’s appetite.
From fresh fruits to traditional dishes, holidaying abroad can be a great opportunity to encourage children to give new foods a go and there is no reason why you can’t apply this positive experience to your local park or garden!
Have a picnic party and theme food to different cuisines from around the world. For example, one day why not embrace the tapas style dining experience of Spain? Some cubes or slices of Spanish tortilla, mini veggie croquettes, and slices of cheese are good options. Or you can go Greek and serve up mini koftas, Greek salad, fresh fish and pittas and dips. Why not get an inflatable globe so you can show them which country the food they are eating comes from? It will double up as a good game of catch post lunch too!
Fire up the BBQ
A beautiful summer’s day wouldn’t be complete without a fabulous al fresco feast. It’s also amazing what a change of scenery can do to tempt little ones into trying new foods and flavours.
Children often like the independence finger foods offer and BBQs or picnics present finger food opportunities a-plenty. Bite-sized portions mean more manageable mouthfuls which are less overwhelming for a small child. My advice is to put bowls of different finger foods out (including lots of colourful veggies) to encourage them to explore new foods and flavours.
You could also serve some salad ‘kebabs’ by threading lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber onto straws or skewers and drizzle with a minty yoghurt dressing. Or griddle strips of protein-packed chicken with a simple tomato salsa to dunk and dip, cook-up a classic corn on the cob with cheesy butter or assemble a colourful giant couscous salad.
Holidays offer the ideal excuse for those extra foodie ‘treats’ usually in the form of afternoon ice creams! I personally like the age-old saying ‘everything in moderation.’ Plus, there’s no reason why healthy foods can’t be a treat too. Take my Banana & Strawberry Ice Cream which has just three ingredients – bananas, strawberries and a dash of maple syrup. Or my Berry & Beetroot Lollies! Kids love them and they count towards their 5-a-day.
Let’s get outside and get children learning about where the food on their plates comes from! Farmers’ markets and local greengrocers are top locations when it comes to exploring a world of healthy foods and they are often packed with the freshest and tastiest produce. Why not bring some new ingredients back home and cook up something together for lunch?
Who doesn’t love a ripe and juicy strawb! Picking your own fruit (and veg) is so rewarding and there are so many pick-your-own farms in the UK, mainly situated on the outskirts of cities. It’s a fantastic outdoor activity which teaches kids about food provenance, and let’s not forget the nutritional benefits these red juicy gems hold.
ANNABEL KARMEL’S SALMON & VEGGIE STARS
Catch a falling star and put it on your plate! Little ones will love the fun factor of these salmon and veggie stars. Fussy eaters love the independence finger foods bring so this recipe is a great one to get little ones eating Omega 3 packed salmon and nutritious veggies.
MAKES: 15 STARS
Suitable for freezing
75g broccoli florets | ½ onion, chopped | 1 large carrot, peeled and grated | 250g salmon fillet, skinned and diced | 40g Parmesan cheese, grated (or dairy-free alternative) | 30g panko breadcrumbs | Squeeze lemon juice | 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped | 1 egg yolk | 2 tbsp mayonnaise
– Preheat the oven to 180C Fan and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
– Cook the broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and roughly chop.
– Put the onion and carrot into a food processor and process for a few seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and process until finely chopped.
– Place a star cutter onto the baking sheet. Add the mixture and press down to fill the cutter. Remove the cutter and repeat to make 15 stars.
– Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until lightly golden and cooked through.
ANNABEL KARMEL’S MINI SAVOURY MUFFINS
Post-nursery snack, lunchbox addition or picnic pleaser, this mini muffin recipe will come in handy whatever the occasion. Packed with carrot, courgette and sweetcorn, this tasty snack packs a nutritious punch – perfect for tiny hands and hungry tums!
MAKES: 24 MINI MUFFINS
Suitable for freezing
100g courgette, grated | 50g carrot, peeled and grated | 25g tinned sweetcorn | 75g Cheddar cheese, grated | 50ml milk | 50g Greek yoghurt | 1 egg, beaten | 110g self-raising flour | ½ tsp baking powder
– Preheat the oven to 180C Fan.
– Line a 24-hole mini muffin tun with mini muffin cases.
– Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix well and season lightly (for babies over one year)
– Spoon into the cases. Bake for 15 minutes until well risen and lightly golden on top.
ANNABEL KARMEL’S BERRY & BEETROOT LOLLIES
Who knew that eating veggies could be so much fun! These lollies are also a great way to soothe sore gums.
MAKES: 4 – 6 LOLLIES
100g cooked beetroot | 50g blueberries | 75g strawberries, chopped | 2 tbsp apple juice
– Measure the ingredients into a jug. Blend until completely smooth and liquid.
– Pour into 6 small ice lolly moulds.
– Freeze for 4 – 6 hours.
ANNABEL KARMEL’S AVOCADO, TOMATO & CHEESE QUESADILLAS
If you struggle to get greens into your fussy eater’s diet, then this recipe is worth a try. Avocado is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and is a great nutrient dense food. Why not get your little one helping to scoop, mash, spread and sprinkle ingredients onto their own tortilla wrap. They will be more inclined to give something a go if they’ve had a hand in the creation!
MAKES: 2 QUESADILLAS
1 ripe avocado | 1 tomato, deseeded and chopped | 25g Cheddar cheese, grated | 4 small tortilla wraps | A little oil
– Slice the avocado in half and remove the stone. Scoop out the flesh and mash in a bowl using a fork. Spread over the two wraps.
– Sprinkle both wraps with tomato and cheese. Put the remaining wraps on top and press down.
– Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown, crip and the cheese has melted.
– Slice into wedges before serving.
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