When Aaliyah was a few months old and I turned my attention to cooking nutrient-rich home-made baby food for her, my first stop for information was the internet – blogs, recipe sites, health care sites and anything I could get my hands on.
Whilst Googling I discovered an abundance of articles about how to tackle fussy eaters. There were literally pages and pages of them! With Aaliyah being my first child I remember thinking “gosh, does this happen to every child?!” I was determined to avoid this at all costs!
Trying to avoid fussy eating behaviours is vital for growing children as they need a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet for healthy growth and development. It can provide them with the best start in life and can help to tackle the obesity crisis currently affecting many countries including the UK.
Now Aaliyah is three, she is not a fussy eater and devours almost every meal I put in front of her; you can see the pleasure on her little face as she enjoys her meals. I like to think I have succeeded in winning the ‘fussy eater’ battle (well mostly anyway), so I want to share with other parents my experiences (and the aromatic recipes) that helped make this possible.
If you can, don’t try to tackle fussy eating behaviours, stop them before they begin. If you’re in the depths of despair with a toddler who will only eat three different types of food, these tips may help:
- Add aromatic spices to everyday meals. It will make meals taste delicious and the gorgeous aromas released will be so tempting it will make your little one’s mouth water.
- Toddlers want to enjoy the same meals as the rest of the family so cook up a family meal and simply remove a portion before any salt (or chillies) are added. Just remember to keep portion sizes in accordance with little appetites.
- Don’t be afraid of food rejection – keep introducing different tastes and flavours as taste buds develop over time.
- Set a place for your little one at the dinner table and try to eat together as a family.
- Never force your little one to eat and remember to say please!
So stay focused on your mission and remember you can still help your little one develop a taste for delicious food, and stop a fussy eater in his or her tracks. Try my ‘no fail’ Coconut Chicken Curry recipe for toddlers aged 10 months and up.
Coconut Chicken Curry – Stage 3
This SuperMeal is bursting with immune strengthening ingredients. Fresh lemon and broccoli provide vitamin C, and the coconut provides a source of anti-viral fats to keep cold and flu viruses at bay. In addition the chicken is anti-cancer and is an excellent source of ‘essential’ amino acids (protein), required for healthy growth and development.
Total preparation and cooking time: 25mins
Makes 8 servings
Suitable for freezing
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion – peeled, chopped
- 1 chicken breast fillet (skinless) – cut into 1cm cubes
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tomato – washed, grated
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- 150ml (5fl oz) unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
- Squeeze of ½ a lemon – ensuring no seeds fall in
- ¼ tsp ground garam masala
- 60g (2½oz) broccoli florets – washed, chopped (no stems)
Heat the oil in a pot, add the onion and stir-fry on medium-low heat for 3-4mins until soft and golden. Add the chicken, turmeric and stir-fry until the chicken is sealed (opaque). Add the tomato, garlic, cumin and continue to stir-fry for a further 2-3mins.
Add the coconut milk, desiccated coconut, lemon juice, garam masala and simmer on low heat for a further 10mins, stirring occasionally until the chicken is tender. If at any point the curry looks dry, add a little extra water and continue to simmer.
Whilst the chicken is simmering, steam the broccoli in a steamer or in the microwave by placing it in a microwavable dish and adding 2 tablespoons of water. Cover the dish with either a lid (leaving a small vent) or cling film (piercing a few holes), and steam on high for 1½-2mins until tender. Once cooked, drain the excess water and add to the curry at the end. Combine well and serve to baby warm with roti or overcooked rice.
Written by Zainab Jagot Ahmed, author of forthcoming book – Easy Indian SuperMeals for babies, toddlers and the family. Due for release on Mon 8th Sept and is available for pre-order now from Amazon.co.uk for just £11.22.