Is there any more of a ‘kid friendly’ meal than Mac N’ Cheese. I haven’t never met a kid that doesn’t love it!
I put that mainly down to the plain cheesy flavour of traditional Mac N’ Cheese. I have spoken about this a little bit but there is very good reason to why kids are attracted more to plain foods. There taste buds simply haven’t developed like us adults just yet! Are there foods you used to hate that you love now? Olives is a common one! Well that is because in our formative years our taste buds change and develop a lot to handle new and exciting flavours.
But plain doesn’t have to mean no veggies. That is why I packed this dish with veggies but kept that same cheesy texture and taste! This way you know your kids are eating something they love and still getting a nourishing dose of vegetables in their diet! Win Win!
Mac N' Cheese
Packed with veggies with that same cheesy texture and taste of traditional Mac N' Cheese.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
- 1 brown onion sliced
- 400 g cauliflower roughly chopped
- 400 g butternut pumpkin peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots roughly chopped
- 100 g cream cheese
- 2 cups cheddar grated
- 2 cups milk
- 500 g Elbow Macaroni pasta cooked
Add the brown onion, cauliflower, butter nut pumpkin and carrot to a large pot on high heat. Cover with water and bring to the boil for 10mins or until veggies are tender. Drain the water and place the veggies in a blender or food processor. Blend on high for 1-2mins until smooth.
Add the puree back to the pot on a low heat and stir through the cream cheese, milk and 1.5 cups chedder until the cheese begins to melt.
Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
Stir the cooked pasta through the creamy sauce and then place in a large baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Place under the grill for 5mins until melted.
You have heard it all before cook with your kids, its great for their development, it helps them eat better. BUT why? Why is it so good? Well I am digging a little deeper into the research to show you exactly why your kids belong in the kitchen! But if you are already convinced it’s a good thing, skip to the end to read my tips on making it easy and stress-free to get your kids to help you in the kitchen!
They need to learn to cook. It is a basic life skill. And at some point they will need to be able to cook themselves, their own kid’s food! So its great to get them started early, because it is a long process! They aren’t going to be cooking genius’ over night. They aren’t going to eat everything in site after just one cooking session.
Children learn by touching, feeling, tasting, smelling’s and listening. Cooking uses all of these senses. It has the ability to fully engage them. So while it might not happen over night, the benefits of cooking with your kids can stay with them through their life. It can allow them time to taste, touch, smell their food as well as create ownership over something they have created!
Why it is so important to get your kids in the kitchen
It’s a way to talk about healthy ingredients. It helped young kids get a feel for what goes into their food and what they eat to make them feel good! As they get older and a little more advanced you can really incorporate talking about different ingredients and why they are good for us!
‘Children who cook, become children who taste and sometimes eat’ – studies have shown that kids that cook a meal with their parents are more likely to taste it at the end. This is because the ingredients are no longer foreign. They have had the opportunity to try things and touch things while they are cooking.
It develops vital skills for their future. At some point in everyone’s lives they will be required to prepare a meal for some one else. Whether it be for a partner, friends, or their own kids. Oh and the earlier they start to learn, the earlier they can help you out. I remember in high school I would make my lunch everyday and cook at least one night a week. I though mum was being lazy, little did I know it was the best thing she could have done for me because I left home with the confidence to cook and look after my health and diet.
Cooking does more than just teach kids to cook.
They use math, reading, following directions and also one of the greatest skills anyone can learn intuition. As they gain confidence in the kitchen let them veer off from a recipe. Something it will work, sometimes it won’t! Not to mention cooking also help their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.
And if you’re not convinced by now, it can also be great for bonding time. And the proud smile on your kids face when the whole family is enjoying something they helped to cook is priceless!
The best ways to get your kids cooking
- Start small; introduce them to playing with veggies, or helping unpack the groceries. This can begin the conversation about what different fruit and vegetables are and why we need them!
- Sit them on the bench and talk them through what you are doing. If there is an easy mixing step, mashing step get them involved – they don’t have to be involved in every step every time.
- Invest in some kid safe knives and peelers. To get them to help cutting soft fruits and vegetables and peeling carrots, potatoes or anything really!
- As they get older start to get them more involved in meal planning, and start supervising opposed to taking over.
- They don’t have to be involved in every single thing you cook. That is far more stress inducing than beneficial. INSTEAD, section out 30mins of time on the weekend or and get them involved in baking cookies that are then going to be enjoyed by the whole family – this not only makes it a little less stressful, teaches them valuable skills, but they also get to be proud of what they created as they whole family enjoys it!\
Try some of my favourite easy recipes to get them started!
Don’t get deterred, it is a VERY long process. You won’t see their relationship with food affected after just one stint helping out and they definitely won’t be amazing cooks by age 5. Just like we slowly developing our reading skills over time, we developing our relationship with food over time. It is a constant work in progress.
What do you struggle most with when getting your kids involved in the kitchen?
Love The Shelley’s Good Eats Team! xx
School is well underway. We are either entering week 2 or week 3 (who are the lucky ones? Ha!). And you already you are sick of the lunchbox coming home full, you’re at a loss of what to feed your kids? What snacks to feed them? And concerned they aren’t getting the nutrients they need.
Well I am here to tell you to not worry – easy said than done right? Well I posted a little lunchbox checklist over on instagram last week, and now I am going to go a bit more in depth.
When it comes to packing your kid’s lunches it is important to pack them a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients. But it’s equally as important to remember that what they do or don’t eat for lunch doesn’t equate to their overall health. For kids (and adults for that matter) if is much more important to look at what they are eating over a whole day, week, month even year instead of just one mealtime.
Lunch Box Check list…
That being said here is a sweet little check list to help you in the morning rush to pack the lunch boxes! Try and include a source of easy of these and your kids will be well on their way to meeting their daily requirements.
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are one of the most important food sources for growing bodies – especially that are active running around the play ground all lunch time! Try and include at least 2 sources – one for each break time. Some of our favourites are: bread roll, ham sandwich, corn thins with dip, crackers.
- Proteins: Protein is equally important for growing bodies and also helps to keep them fuller for longer (and focused well into class time!) – Try including yoghurt pouches, sliced cheese, cottage cheese to dip with veggies, salmon patties, boiled eggs.
- Fruit and vegetables: Fruits and veggies are where your kids are going to get the bulk of their micronutrients and fibre! Avoid serving a fruit juice, instead include cut up fruit. It’s easy to grab on the run, and packed with fibre to slow the release of sugar into the blood. Try and include at least one source of vegetables and 1 source of fruit in their lunch box – keep it interesting by including a dip to accompany them!
And of course it would be me if I did say to add a little sweet – but that doesn’t mean if has to be unhealthy, try including a source of hidden veg in cupcakes, or reducing the sugar in the recipe by half!
So now what are our 5 favourite snacks you should start packing right now?
- Salmon Sweet potato patties – a great source of carbohydrates and protein for those little active bodies! They are easy to grab on the run – another important factor to consider when packing your kids lunch boxes.
- Corn thin and avocado, or seed butter – Keep them interested with some yummy spreads on corn thins. Avocado or seed butters will also give them a great source of healthy fats to keep those minds focused. Peanut butter is a great option – but check if your school allows nuts first!!
- Pinwheels – If you are feeling a little more adventurous and want to make some snacks ahead of time that can easily be stored in the freezer and pulled out in the morning try these veggie filled pin wheels.
- Dips with veggies – Get veggies interesting by serving them up with a dip. Try out favourite dips here – which also provide your kids with another serve of veggies and legumes!
- Boiled eggs – Boil eggs at the start of the week and store them in the fridge for up to four days. This is a powerhouse of nutrition for your kids. Not only is it a nice soft texture, easy to grab on the run but also packed with protein! Make sure to peel the eggs for your younger kids to make it a bit easier for them!
Kids respond to finger food really well, as it is often easier to grab something quickly before they head off to play. If you don’t have your lunch box yet, grab one here! This isn’t an affiliate code; Anna is just seriously amazing at what she does! If you want more tips on how to go plastic free in your kids lunch boxes this year check out this post.
What are your favourites things to pack in your kids lunch boxes?
Filled to the brim with chocolate, you would think these double choc fudge cookies couldn’t possibly be good for your kids! But that is where you’re wrong. As far as sweet treats go, these cookies hold up pretty well in the ‘nutrition department’. Made vegan using a flax egg, which is also a great source of omega threes. But if you’re not vegan and don’t have flax on hand it is totally suitable to sub in a normal egg in these chocolate cookies!
Why Oat Flour?
Truth – I have had a bag of oat flour in my pantry for AGES!!! And only just discovered it again as I was packing for my recent house move. So I thought why not give it a try. I always opt for wheat flour because I know how it works in baking, and well honestly it usually tastes the best (and there is absolutely no reason to fear it, unless you are gluten intolerant).
But with the recent influx of requests for gluten free treats for your kids I thought I should give it a whirl with these cookies – let me tell you this won’t be the last time I use it! Oat flour gives such a great fudgey texture, similar to almond meal without the strong taste and well nuts so you can pack it in your kids lunch boxes!
Oat flour, or oats are also nutritional powerhouses. They are packed with B vitamins (if your vegan it is really important to be looking for sources of these as its traditionally found in meat!). Oats also have a great balance of protein and complex carbohydrates for sustained energy and satiety.
The Elephant in the room…. the sugar!
It’s a sweet treat, they are cookies, so yes it does have sugar! AND THATS OK!!! It is ok to consume a little bit of sugar, it is ok for your kids to consume a little bit of sugar.
If you didn’t catch up instagram post last week you might be wondering why I would choose brown sugar over something like coconut sugar or honey – everyone says they are healthier, so surely they are! BUT that actually aren’t. If you want to read more about sugar, read this article to learn more!
Instead of focusing the on the type of sugar you use in a recipe, it is instead more valuable to reduce the total amount of sugar in the recipe (especially when cooking for kids!). So whats the best way to do this? If there is a cup of sugar in a recipe reduce it by 1/4 or even 1/2 cup. This very rarely changes the texture of a recipes (unless you first need to cream the butter and sugar).
Hint: I have already reduced the sugar in my recipes, so I wouldn’t recommend reducing it further!
More Sweet Treat on the blog:
Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cookies
Healthy moist rich fudgey cookies that just melt in your mouth! Make them with vegan chocolate chips to make them vegan!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 cookies
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup rice bran oil
- 1 flax egg 1 tbsp flax meal, 2 tbsp water
- ¾ cup choc chops
Preheat the oven to 160C. Combine the oat flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. Make the flax egg in a bowl by combining the flaxmeal and water. Make a well in the centre and add in the rice bran oil and flax egg. Whisk together to form thick dough. Mix through the choc chips.
Form 1 Tbsp of mixture into a ball and then flatten out slightly, alternatively use a cookie scoop. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Bake in the oven for 20mins. Allow to cool completely.
- swap coconut sugar for brown sugar, it has a similar taste and flavour profile! Don’t believe me – check out this post…..
- use vegan chocolate to make this recipe completely vegan! - Lindt dark chocolate is vegan!
Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of our ‘Shelley’s Sustainability Series’.
This week we are coving all things food waste…mainly how you and your family can reduce the amount of food waste in your home. And because we know how overwhelming it can be to incorporate new systems into your family’s busy routine, we have broken this topic down into three, easy to digest, sections. But before we get onto the main event, it is important to note that every single one of us has different varying capacities to make these sustainable lifestyle changes. For this very reason, the all or nothing approach to sustainability can generally leave us feeling inadequate, frustrated or wondering whether we even have the ability to make a difference.
Here at Shelley’s Good Eats, we want to give you all the information to help inspire and empower you to take control of reducing your food waste…But we also encourage you to take small, manageable steps that are realistic and achievable for you and your family. So without further ado here are our top tips on how to reduce, reuse and recycle your household food waste.
Reduce – Your food-related waste
Your family’s food waste can be split into two categories, food-related packaging and actual food. Reducing your food packaging on a budget can be challenging, however, there are some simple ways to improve your impact without spending all your money at expensive bulk food stores. Simply picking packaged foods with recyclable packing (remembering to look for the little triangle) and recycling them correctly when you are done is a great way to reduce your impact. Similarly, opting to ditch single-serving packaged foods, and replacing them with larger, usually more cost-friendly, options can help you reduce your family’s food waste.
Shopping for your fresh food at your local farmers market can also be a cheaper and more eco-friendly option, while also being a fun food experience for your kids. Choosing to shop locally and reducing the amount of plastic packaged fruit and veg you buy are effective and easy ways to reduce your family’s impact. A little pre-shopping meal planning can also go a long way to reducing the amount of food wasted by your family each week.
Reuse – Your food scraps
Food scraps are often overlooked for their many useful benefits. Giving your scraps a second lease of life can be a great way to reduce your impact and potentially save you money. Things like vegetable, chicken or beef stocks that you can use as a base for soups and other family-favourite recipes, are simple, sustainable and cheap to make at home from you leftover meat bones and veggie cut-offs. Keeping these scraps sealed in your freezer and pulling them out when you need them, is a great way to store your scraps and also helps to keep them fresh. Citrus peels are another severely underestimated household scrap that can easily be used to make your very own eco-friendly cleaning products. These products are really cheap and easy to make, helping you save some serious pennies while also reducing your impact.
Recycle – Your waste
Your family’s food-related waste can be separated into four different categories, recycling, food/green waste, soft plastics and general waste (waste that goes to landfill). Fortunately, traditional recycling and soft plastic recycling is becoming easier, with more companies incorporating more clear directions and labels for us to follow! However, it can still be difficult to understand where certain parts of your family’s food waste should, and more importantly shouldn’t, go, as many cities have different waste management systems.
Your local council’s website is always a good place to start to clear up any yellow-lidded bin (traditional) recycling questions you may have. This can also be a good place to start finding information on how to start a worm farm or compost bin at home. But what if you can’t compost at home? Or you simply don’t have the time? Fortunately, there are a few ways to make sure you are disposing of your family’s food/green waste properly, without having to start your own backyard worm farm or compost bin. Apps like Sharewaste are a great way of finding people or community gardens in your area that are accepting green waste for their own compost bins, worm farms or chickens.
The new kid on the block is soft plastic recycling…
and thankfully, this form of recycling could not be easier for your family to incorporate, with the drop off points for this waste being in most Coles and Woolies stores! Meaning all you have to do is collect your household’s soft scrunchable plastics and take them with you on your weekly grocery shopping run (it’s that easy!). For more information about the do’s and don’ts of soft plastic recycling, visit the Redcycle website.
We hope that this edition of ‘Shelley’s sustainability series’ will help empower you and your family with the knowledge you need to reduce your food waste, no matter where you are in your sustainability journey. For more information on the dos and don’ts of recycling, check out our other blog post here.
Have a happy sustainable Tuesday from our family to yours.
– The Shelley’s Good Eats Team
A bit about the Author
Hi my name is Karly. I am a 3rd year Nutrition student, studying on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I work as an assistant at Shelley’s Good Eats, in-between my studies. As well as having a passion for all things nutrition, I also have a keen interest in sustainability. In the future, I would love to combine both of my passions and educate people in a dynamic and multifaceted way.