If you’ve just read my article “What to Feed Children” then you may be thinking that the lists of foods I am not a fan of, and the foods I think are the best for children might be a bit overwhelming. How to put them into a day? How to put those foods together?
I am not a food blogger, in that I don’t make recipes and photograph them. I am much more into holistic health and the psychology of eating. So here you will find suggestions of the types of meals that include foods that balance a child’s body and allow them to grow up in health.
Perhaps one day I will put together recipes and photographs for you, but for today – read over this meal plan for a suggestion of what a day of balanced eating for you and your child can look like.
- Green smoothies.
Take the first opportunity to give greens to your child! A wonderful way to start the day, with all the amazing body balancing benefits of leafy greens.
A simple smoothie would include some sweet fruit such as bananas, oranges or apples. And lots of green leaves, such as spinach and kale. Broccoli and celery are great additions too. There’s no need to go crazy, a few things like that should be perfect. Start sweet and progress to green as time goes on and palettes change.
Berries are a great addition too. And adding an avocado makes it creamy and smooth.
If the flavour and look of green smoothies has gone down well, then if you want, you can add some green powders such as dried spirulina, chlorella and wheatgrass. It’s just another way of getting some greens, but this time from cyanobacterium which can add another facet of nutrition into a day’s eating.
Check out my article on “Beginner Green Smoothies” for recipes.
Free ranged and organic if possible. And not every day. Eggs make a protein rich and filling breakfast and can be made in a variety of ways. My favourite is to gently heat some vegetables such as peas and peppers, onions, leeks, or tomatoes in some butter or coconut oil and when soft I add some eggs that have just been whisked. This makes a vegetable packed omelette that is filling and nourishing. Other options are soft boiled or poached with toasted bread.
The bread choice is up to you. If you are happy to feed bread, then sourdoughs are a good choice and of course, never white! Go for a mix of wheat, rye, spelt etc. Simply to give the body a break from the flood of wheat it usually gets every day.
My favourite way to make porridge is to soak oats overnight in a bowl. Add enough water just to cover the oats, and add some dried fruit in there too. Overnight the dried fruits release their sweetness into the water and the porridge becomes sweet and soft. In the morning it can be eaten as is, baked in a heatproof bowl in the oven until the top dries but the rest is gooey, or warmed in a pan on the stove. Some grated apple and cinnamon adds depth of flavour. And nuts can be soaked overnight in a separate bowl of water, the water thrown out and the nuts added to the porridge. Chia and flax seeds can be soaked in there with the oats for a bit of extra fibre and omega 3 oils.
Children appreciate a warm drink for breakfast as much as grownups do.
Herbal teas such a fennel, nettle, cardamom or spiced mixes watered down in warm water so they aren’t too intense are a welcome warmth in the morning.
Pink fruit teas such as raspberry and strawberry are a fun and zingy drink.
And warm water with a squeeze of lemon is great for all first thing.
- Grated salads.
There are so many different salad options that I’m going to break them down. Grated salads are one of my favourites, and an easy way to eat raw vegetables that may otherwise get cooked, such as carrots or beetroots.
Grate together veggies such as colourful beetroots, carrots and add some juicy grated apple. Sprinkle some crunchy sunflower seeds over the top, with a tiny sprinkle of coriander seeds for a pop of flavour. This salad doesn’t need oil, but you can add some extra virgin olive oil if you want. A few raisins and a dash of apple cider vinegar makes a refreshing, delicious salad that is totally satisfying. Add some parsley leaves for a herby bite.
Grating a red cabbage, with colourful green, yellow and/or red peppers with seeds and apples in a cider vinegar and olive oil dressing with a few chives thrown in makes a stunningly colourful and filling salad.
- Chopped salads.
Chopped salads included diced and cubed veggies, and bigger bites of extras such as nuts.
Try chopped apple, celery and add walnuts with a yogurt and lemon dressing. Add a fresh herb of your choice, such as coriander for a juicy, taste bud awakening salad.
Also, in a similar yogurt dressing you could try sliced or cubed cucumber. This makes a very refreshing salad. Experiment with some mint leaves for a summer salad.
- Leafy salads.
Yes, children can eat leafy salads! Of course they can. Just keep putting them on their plates, or even making it a starter with a rule of “Try some”. Like the French say, it can take up to 15 tries before a child accepts a food. So keep putting salads in front of them! Sometimes children prefer plain leaves to leaves with dressing. Adding a pretty little jug or jar of separate dressing and letting them spoon or pour it on themselves makes a bit more of a grown up ceremony of it, which a child will very much appreciate.
Tearing up some fresh lettuce and adding a lemon, garlic, apple cider vinegar and herb dressing is simple and delicious. My favourite herbs for salad leaves are oregano, basil, chive and thyme – fresh if possible. The flavours are brilliant and really complement a bitter leaf. Leaves to go for include romaine, gem, butterhead or loose leaves such as spinach, watercress, rocket or mizuna. And you can’t beat the classic addition of ripe tomatoes and cucumber slivers to decorate and add a crunchy bite. Don’t be afraid to add soaked seaweed such as dulse to these types of salads. They don’t alter the taste, but add more nutrients.
- Baked Sweet Potatoes.
Smoosh up some avocado, mayonnaise, lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt in a bowl and spoon on top of a just baked sweet potato for a beautiful warm yet zingy meal. Some salads on the side and you’re good to go.
- Warm Legumes.
Cook or heat some chickpeas and lentils (or other bean combination) in a pan with fried leeks and tomatoes. Some oregano on top makes a warming dish for anytime of the year. Some extras could be some feta cheese thrown in at the end, and can also be served on a bed of leaves, or even some cooked brown rice or seed like grain such as quinoa.
The time to make soup is usually supper – in my head. Why, I don’t know. They can take some time, what with all the chopping and peeling of veg. But I tend to go to town, and chop loads. That way I know I’ll have soup for the next meal (and the next). If you’re an organized type (unlike myself) then you could freeze soup. Yes, I’ve heard it’s possible – I just tend to live on it for three days instead.
Soup doesn’t necessarily need to come with bread. If your child has had a grainy, wheaty day, then the soup will go down just as well without bread. Especially if it has some chunky veg. Otherwise, even on a non wheaty day, keep bread away. Bread isn’t so great as it fills up the belly and takes away room from the much more nourishing soup. If you want to give bread, consider giving it on the second bowlful instead of right at the start. Get the veggies in first!
Soup combos that I find yummy are:
- Blended Coconut milk, sweet potato and butternut squash.
- Beetroot and tomato. (Blended or chunky).
- Root veg in chunks.
And always start with the best soup starting combination of fried leeks, onions, celery and garlic. Start there, and whatever veg you go with next will always be delicious!
If your child is hungry at ten or eleven, then it’s up to you if you want to give a snack then. But I find a hearty breakfast, a nice long break and then a veg-ful lunch is a good way to get into the day. From lunch until supper can sometimes be a much longer wait, and also includes coming home from school. So consider this time to add just a little something so they don’t get too hungry for dinner time. Hunger isn’t a bad thing. It makes for clean plates, and that way is much better to get in more nourishment. Plus wanting food is the best way to make the food taste incredible!
Snacks can be:
- Oatcakes with soft cheeses, or nut or seed spreads.
- Nuts and berries on their own, or with some cultured, unflavoured yogurt.
- Celery sticks with nut butters and just a few bits of dried fruit on top.
- Fruit on its own.
- Chopped veggies and hummus.
We tend to eat more raw salads for lunch and warming cooked meals for dinner. But there’s nothing wrong with swapping everything around and making this meal a salad meal with finger food such as pickles and boiled eggs.
Otherwise dinner can be:
- Fish with cooked vegetables.
Vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips and carrots go very well with fish. A bit of butter and sea salt makes a simple yet filling meal.
- Baked Veggies in All Ways.
There are so many ways to eat baked veggies. Roasted with garlic, or baked in a pie. I very much like to start like I’m making a soup, add some steamed courgettes, carrots, peas and any other veg I like, cook them all in a tomato sauce with plenty of spices, transfer to a heatproof bowl and then crumble some oats in butter and spelt flour on top and bake until brown.
- Tomato Sauce and Veggies.
A classic, easy meal! Cook up any vegetables you like, add plenty of herbs and spices and pour in a tin of chopped tomatoes. Cook until the juice has reduced and eat as it, or with some vegetable pasta, wholegrain pasta, wholegrain rice or a baked spaghetti squash.
- Nut Burgers.
To make burgers, chop veg in with lentils and nuts and blend into a doughy consistency, then make into patties and gently fry in a pan of coconut oil or butter. This makes a satisfying burger to eat with salads and sauces.
- Sushi – A fun starter! Some avocado smooshed on a nori leaf with some alfalfa sprouts sprinkled on top, or even just some sliced cucumber and a dash of sauce such as Amino Sauce or soy sauce, lemon juice and sea salt or Himalayan pink crystal salt, roll up, and enjoy some sea nutrients. Pulsed up cauliflower makes a nutritious substitution for rice.
- Warm broccoli, with some cooked spicy curry paste on top for a flavourful, green side.
- Warm sauerkraut served on mashed potato.
Now and again, finish a meal with some dessert. Just something small that can add sweetness onto the tongue if a lot of strong flavours have just been eaten.
- Gently heat sliced apples in a pan with butter and cinnamon and maple syrup (optional) for a quick and tasty dessert.
- Some dark chocolate melted in a little pretty bowl, with some cashew butter in another makes perfect dips for strawberries or other berries. Fiddling with small forks or cocktail sticks makes this fun.
- Homemade raw banana ice cream. Freeze brown bananas the night before, and blend in a blender, food processor or a masticating juicer when dessert time arrives. Incredibly simple, real food, no sugar, but plenty sweet enough!
So there we have it – a whole day of suggestions for making your child’s diet completely nourishing with no junk.
All real food, all real ingredients.
If you would have preferred proper recipes with beautiful photographs, then leave some words of encouragement and turn me into a food blogger! An Instagram account could be one comment away!
Either way, I would love to hear from you. What are your quick and simple, yet nourishing real food meals that you find yourself going to time and time again?
What do your children love that would seem surprising to others?
How did you get your children into nutrient dense foods?
What do you get trouble with when it comes to feeding your kids?