Five fail-safe recipes to feed your kids

Fail-safe is a BIG claim when it comes to feeding kids. Especially small children who are busy experimenting with the boundaries of their worlds. Emily Dupuche of Food Babies Love shares her top five recipes for feeding your little ones, that the rest of the family will love.

It’s a fact of life, babies and toddlers can be very fickle, loving one thing this week and refusing to even try it the following. No rhyme nor reason, just them exerting their independence. So, given this unpredictability, how can I give you a fail-safe recipe? Whilst I can’t guarantee 100% success every time, I can guarantee you all these recipes are totally delicious and comforting to eat. They’re wholesome and nutritious so you know you are doing good by bub and, worst-case, if he is having an off week, you will enjoy eating what he doesn’t!

Leek and potato soup
Love, love, love this soup. Rich and comforting, its velvety texture will delight young and old. Served with fresh sourdough or hot buttered toast soldiers, it’s Sunday night dinner at its best.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 20g butter
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 big leek, green ends discarded, white end sliced and washed
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped into 2.5cm rounds
  • 1.5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100ml thickened cream
  • Chopped parsley to serve

Method: 

  1. Heat saucepan with oil and butter over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and leek and cook, stirring for 5-7 minutes until translucent and soft, but not browned.
  3. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.
  4. Add potatoes and zucchini stirring to coat.
  5. Add stock and bring to the boil, lower heat and simmer 10–15 minutes until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat.
  6. Blend with stick blender until smooth, adding a little more water if it is too thick. Add cream and chopped parsley. Stir well.
  7. Serve with toasted cheese sandwiches cut into soldiers for dipping. Remaining soup can be frozen in portions.

Tacos
There aren’t many kids out there who don’t like tacos and, whilst we don’t typically think of feeding them to babies and toddlers, there is no reason you can’t adapt them to suit. First is to clean them up—make your own seasoning mix and avoid sodium and preservative loaded commercial sachets. Opt for a natural greek-style yoghurt instead of sour cream, and find organic corn chips instead of taco shells. Small children don’t cope so well with the degree of difficulty in eating a taco shell, so a great serving suggestion is to serve a selection of meat, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, grated carrot, sliced cucumber, mashed avocado and yogurt with a few organic corn chips on the side, and let them dip and play to their heart’s content. Taco Tuesday here we come!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500g beef mince
  • A variety of vegetables (carrot, celery, zucchini, mushroom, etc.), grated or diced
  • 700g bottle of passata (or two tins tomatoes)
  • 1 beef stock cube

Seasoning mix:

  • 4 tbsp dried onion
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Freshly-ground pepper

Method: 

  1. To make the seasoning mix, simply combine all your seasoning ingredients in a jar and keep in the pantry for future use.
  2. Heat saucepan with oil over medium heat.
  3. Sauté the onion and garlic.
  4. Brown the beef mince and add the vegetables (extra goodness for the kids).
  5. Add 3-4 tbsp seasoning mix, passata and stock cube, and stir to combine.
  6. Simmer uncovered for 1-2 hours. Taste for seasoning.

Note: as there are no thickeners in the seasoning, you will need to reduce the sauce down so it holds in taco shells.

Cheesy pasta
Just like mac and cheese, only better. And oh so easy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cubes of vegetable puree: cauliflower and broccoli (or florets roughly chopped and cooked with the pasta for the last minute)
  • 1 cup cooked pasta: penne, shells or rigatoni work well for kids who love to feed themselves, and little stars are great for kids who like to be spoon fed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated tasty cheese (can use a blend of ricotta, parmesan, tasty or cheddar)

Method:

  1. Thaw and heat vegetable cubes.
  2. Make sure pasta is cooked, or reheat if using leftovers.
  3. Whisk egg and oil together very well.
  4. Add all ingredients into a bowl including cheese(s) and mix well. The egg will cook as you mix it into the heated pasta, or you can heat and mix in a saucepan on the stovetop.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Homemade fish ‘n’ chips
A healthier alternative to a Friday night favourite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small to medium potato per person, cut into thin chips. I leave the peel on
  • 1 firm white fish fillet per person. I like Basa or Rockling
  • Herbamare to season
  • Fresh lemon wedges

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Toss cut potatoes lightly in olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, turning once.
  2. Lay fish fillets flat on oven tray (can use same tray as potatoes if there is enough room) and sprinkle fish and chips lightly with Herbamare
  3. Oven bake for 5–10 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish
  4. Serve with a wedge of lemon and optional steamed broccoli florets

Multigrain chicken bites
It’s hard not to love fried chicken—heck, fast food chains have been churning it out for decades and we just can’t get enough of the stuff.  This version is not actually fried and uses a multigrain crumb, but it tastes delicious, and I’m yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love it. It’s a great finger food option and a crowd pleaser for all ages. Serve with any side you like from rice and veggies to delicious dipping sauces, or wrapped up with salad!

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice quality multigrain bread, crust on is fine
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp linseeds
  • 1 chicken thigh or breast
  • 1 dollop natural greek yogurt in a separate bowl
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Whiz bread in a food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix through seeds and place crumb mixture on a plate.
  3. Lay chicken between two sheets of baking paper and bash it with a rolling pin (or a big heavy tin) to flatten and break up fibres a little (this makes it easier for small kids to chew).
  4. Cut chicken into thin strips.
  5. Dip chicken in natural yogurt and wipe of excess on side of bowl (you just want a thin layer for the crumbs to stick to—too much and it will go soggy).
  6. Cover base of frying pan with a thin film of oil and when shimmering, add chicken.
  7. Fry on both sides for about 3 minutes or until golden. Do not overcook or they will dry out.

Written by Emily Dupuche, founder of Food Babies Love. Emily Dupuche is a mother and the author of Food Babies Love, a guide to introducing solids.

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