Healthifying Kids Meals - Crunchy Apple and Chicken Salad

Sunday, 24 January 2010

After an unprecedented reaction to my post on how easy it really is to encourage your children to eat healthy food (ie: not give in to demands or firmly-clamped little mouths! I have to put a footnote here that this belief does not necessarily include severe behavioural or medical conditions, although I guess most readers would presume this understanding is a given), I've decided to start sharing with you some of my own ideas and recipes to encourage all children to sample the tongue-curling delights of nutritious and varied food.

I SO welcome your input via comment, or links to your own posts on great food ideas.

But first I want to make this clear because it seems it's unclear - I'm not anti sugar and fat. I'm pro variety. And pro nutrition. Making the majority of what we present our children high on variety and nutrition is one of the quintessential life lessons we can teach them on living a healthy, happy, vital, fit and balanced life. It's just that simple. And anyone who argues the point with financial, behavioural or medical issues is just, well... missing the point I'm trying to make. (I will, however, readily take lack of education as clear argument.)

I have to add, as previously stated, my kids eat lollies, ice cream, chocolate, icypoles, biscuits and chips most days - I am no nutritional saint! and far be it from me to kybosh a wide variety of foods, including 'party' foods, as no one loves chocolate and lollies more than me. I just make sure my kids eat these relatively moderately - or sometimes not so moderately. Basically, I just make sure that everything else they eat is busting with nutrition.

I honestly think a great way to get kids involved and in love with healthy food options is to a) grow your own food (yes, even in pots) and b) teach them to cook.

The above is Riley's effort and he's only 6 years old. It's Crunchy Apple and Chicken Salad for the fab kids' cookbook I'm a Little Chef by Anita Cross and Michelle Hamilton (Little Steps, 2009). Children are far more likely to show interest in a food they have made or contributed to. Sure, Riley didn't eat the iceberg lettuce (he ate some cucumber instead) but he gobbled down the rest. And it was absolutely delicious!

This simple little recipe combines celery, apple and chopped cooked chicken with lettuce and mayonnaise. Fast, simple and totally delish. Wonderful additions could be chopped snowpeas, walnuts, fresh blanched peas, shards of bitey parmesan cheese and the use of crème fraîche instead of mayonnaise (à la my hot pink potato salad).

Does anyone else have a recipe their kids love to make?


Cindy Rowland said...

Nice job on the salad kiddo!
I'd never seen this cookbook before. Thanks!

Jane said...

Hi Tania

I don't have particular recipes that the kids like to make - we get them to help here and there - but I am moved to comment that I, like you, am not a fascist about food ... I don't mind buying McDonald's or something like that occasionally for them. That said, I made the decision last year that the kids would only have fresh food prepared by my own fair hands as a general rule on school nights and I have not regretted it for one minute. I also stopped canteen lunches. Why? Because there was an obvious behavioural effect in my son in the afternoons at school on the one canteen lunch day per week and I'm convinced that preservatives were at the bottom of it. I let them have some change to spend so they can still enjoy the canteen thing and get an iceblock or something, but my kids are both pretty outgoing and they need help managing themselves: fresh food and sensible 7:30pm bed time on school nights being the approach I've tried to take. So I applaud your views. We are now in the enviable position of having a vegetable garden bursting at the seams, and our own beef (from our property down south) ... so I'm feeling really good about the food on the table.

Anonymous said...

ha - western food that you would never feed your children!! Maybe, but probably not!! You know we are loaded down with fats here! Just kidding. although my kiddies will not try leafies yet - i keep trying, but no go. And they absolutely would not eat anything in mayo - Ranch dressing perhaps, but never mayo tb

Sal Harris said...

I can't help but join in this conversation! I too am quite passionate about trying to give my son the absolute best start possible in terms of his health and palate. Many of the comments posted resonate with me as I have been treated a little strangely when I explain to people that my two year old does not eat sugar yet. And it is really hard when the barista at my local cafe just wants to give Mika a little biscuit or something! This morning he gave us a cupcake, and for the first time, (and only because Mika is only just now absolutely aware of what's going on) I relented and let him have a little of the bottom part to taste. It wasn't even very nice, and I was quite pleased to see my son nonplussed by the whole affair! He would much rather have a tomato any day :)

My husband and I have fed Mika everything that we eat from the time he started solids, and it has really paid off. We definitely have the odd chocolate frenzy, but it is always undertaken when Mika is asleep hee hee. I have no problem with introducing these foods as he becomes more aware of what other people are eating, but my hope is that the start we have given him will encourage him to fall back to healthier options more regularly than not.

I suppose the thing that has made it so easy for us is that we don't actually buy or eat softdrinks, chips, lollies, chocolates or processed foods on a regular basis. And the added benefit is that Leigh and I have been even healthier as a result :)

Thanks for all the great recipe ideas - keep them coming!

Sorry about the novel - don't I have anything better to do??

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