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Veggie Filled Mac N’ Cheese

Veggie Filled Mac N’ Cheese

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!

Macncheese

 

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.

Macncheese

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!

Macncheese

Mac N' Cheese

Packed with veggies with that same cheesy texture and taste of traditional Mac N' Cheese.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Australian
Keyword cheese, Pasta, Pastabake, vegetables
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.
Why kids belong in the kitchen…

Why kids belong in the kitchen…

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!

Shelley's Good Eats Shop

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

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

creamy chicken pesto pasta creamy chicken pesto pasta

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

The perfect family meal made in just 20mins. With a rich creamy sauce and loaded with delicious flavour and vegetables!
Course Dinner, lunch
Cuisine Australian, Italian
Keyword creamy, Dinner, family friendly, Pasta, pesto
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 500 g Chicken thigh diced
  • 1 brown onion diced
  • 1 zucchini grated
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ½ cup sour cream light
  • 200 mL cup thickened cream
  • 350 g wholemeal pasta
  • 200 g baby spinach
  • ½ cup parmesans cheese

Instructions

  • Cook the Pasta as per packet instructions.
  • Meanwhile, Cut the chicken into small pieces, approximately 2cmx1cm pieces. Heat a large pan with olive oil, add the diced onion and zucchini and cook for 2mins and then add in chicken thigh cook until slightly browned 3mins. Reduce heat and then add in pesto, sour cream and cream. Stir to ensure that pesto is distributed evenly. Cook on low for 5-10 mins or until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Add the cooked pasta into the sauce and mix it together. Serve into bowls, top with Parmesan cheese.

Notes

- Want to add more veggies: try grated zucchini and shaved broccoli to keep it green and out of sight!
- Use milk or extra cream if you don’t have sour cream.
- Gluten free option: use your favourite gluten free pasta.
Kids Christmas Fruit Punch

Kids Christmas Fruit Punch

Adults shouldn’t have all the fun this Christmas, while the kids are left to drink water! So I created a delicious fruit punch that is low of sugar and still has the fizzy bubbles kids love with soft drink!

We have all seen the headlines, soft drink isn’t that great for you. From its high acidity that erodes teeth, to its even high sugar content! But that doesn’t mean that kids should only ever been able to drink water – and we all know they will probably complain if thats all you ever offer!

But this Christmas Fruit punch solves that issue. Not only is it a bright festive colour it also tastes seriously delicious and is very low in sugar.

kids christmas punch

Keep topping it up with ice as the day goes on so that is stay cold! If you don’t have a large enough jug, make it in a large bowl and ladle it out with a soup ladle, or half the recipe. After all it only takes 5mins to whip up again later!

Kids Christmas Punch

A Delicious low sugar option for kids this christmas! Move aside sugary soft drinks, lets have fun with a yummy fruity mocktail!
Course Drinks
Cuisine Australian
Keyword alcohol, Christmas, christmascooking, fruitpunch, punch
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 10 people

Ingredients

  • 1 L Cranberry Juice reduced sugar
  • 425 g crushed pineapple in juice
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1.5 L Soda Water
  • 2 Cups Fresh Berries
  • 1 lime thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch mint

Instructions

  • Combine the cranberry juice, pineapple and crushed ice in a large jug. Then Top with soda water. Add in the berries, lime and mint leaves.
  • Keep topping up with ice to keel cool throughout the day!
Funfetti Birthday Layer Cake

Funfetti Birthday Layer Cake

I am 26 today and I fully intend on eating this cake. I made it for myself, because what type of food blogger would I be without making one for myself.

And when I say cake I mean with REAL flour, sugar, eggs, butter. You name it! Why am I so passionate about this? Why a I a nutritionist promoting eating cake?

funfetti birthday cake

Why I always eat cake on my birthday!

My fondest memories of my childhood was picking the cake my mum would make me for my birthday – one year I got three (school, actually birthday, and party!! I thought I had won the lottery!). So to me it signifies learning to bake with my mum and celebrating and having fun with family and friends! OH and turning one year older, though I am slowly coming to that AGE where you don’t want to make a fuss of it anymore.

So I may be a nutritionist but I am a nutritionist that urges you to keep eating cake! Eat food that makes you feel good. So eat vegetables and grains and legumes and protein because they make you feel great and make your body function well. But also eat cake because it makes you feel good, eat it because of what it signifies for you!

 

So instead of finding healthy options for your kid’s birthday, make it with them and demonstrate to them that eating it is ok. That it is allowed! Because what a healthy watermelon cake tells them is that this food is not allowed, that it should be restricted.

Your kid is going to attend birthday parties; they are going to have the option of eating unhealthier foods. So show them that it is allowed as this can prevent kids from going crazy at parties, because its just another food, not some special treat that should otherwise be restricted.

So here is to making delicious cakes to celebrate our birthdays! Its how I plan on spending my big day today (plus a little work, because its unavoidable!). And best yet make this recipe for your kids because they will love it, I have never met a kid who doesn’t love sprinkles!

Funfetti Birthday Cake

Birthdays are for enjoying cake and celebrating someone you love! So ditch the healthy cake and make something you will all love!
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine Australian
Keyword birthday, Cake, sprinkles
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 225 g butter softened
  • 200 g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bi carb soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles

Icing

  • 1 Batch Cream Cheese Icing or 2 x Philly Cream cheese icing packs
  • 3 tbsp Sprinkles

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 170C and line the base of 3x 6inch cake tins or 2 x 8inch baking tins.
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric beaters. Then add in 1 egg at a time. Beating until smooth and creamy. Add in vanilla. Use a wooden spoon to fold in plain flour, baking powder and bi carb soda, alternating with buttermilk.
  • Finally fold in sprinkles, be careful not to over mix.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30min until cooked through. Allow to cool for 10mins before removing from their tins and then cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile make the cream cheese frosting or if using the new philly cream cheese icing packs you can ignore this pack.
  • Once the cakes are cooled carefully cut off the top of the cakes with a serrated knife if they are not flat.
  • Then place one cake on a plate, top with 1/4 cup icing, repeat until all cakes are layered. Then carefully spread your remaining icing around the edge. Smooth it down with a bench scraper or pallet knife. Top with sprinkles.
  • Keep cake in the fridge if it’s a hot day, and remove 20min before serving to allow icing to soften.

Other great cake recipes for your special days:

Savoury Buckwheat Crackers

Savoury Buckwheat Crackers

Buckwheat Crackers

Buckwheat Savoury Crackers

Gluten free crackers that are perfect for your weekend cheese platter, or for the kids lunchbox during the week!
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Australian
Keyword buckwheat, cracker, rosemary, savoury
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Buckwheat flour
  • 1.5 Tbsp Flaxseed meal
  • 1/3 cup Sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Garlic salt
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 8 Tbsp Cold water

Instructions

  • In a bowl combine the flour, flaxseed, sesame seeds, rosemary (fresh or dried!) and garlic salt. Stir in the olive oil. Then add cold water 1 Tbsp at a time until it forms a smooth dough. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30min-1hr.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll out the dough on a piece of baking paper until it is 2mm thick. Trim to make sides straight. Slide baking paper onto a baking tray. Use a large knife to cut dough into desired cracker size. Repeat with any remaining off cuts of dough.
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25min. All to cool completely.

 

 

Like this recipe? Why not try some other delicious lunch box additions!