Cooking as a family is a great way to spend time together after one of those interminable days when all you want to do is get home and relax with your loved ones without worrying about what to cook. The idea is to make the most of the ingredients you’ve got and spend some quality time with the kids while making a lovely healthy dinner packed with all the nutrients we need.
These three quick and easy dishes are perfect for making with children—and before you know it you’ll have a healthy, balanced family dinner.
Salmon and spaghetti
Children and fish aren’t always a match made in heaven, and you often have to disguise fish dishes before they’ll eat them. One winning combination is salmon—always a safe bet, as kids generally like this mild-flavoured, fatty fish—with a classic ingredient that never fails: spaghetti.
The recipe couldn’t be easier: simply sweat a medium-sized onion in extra-virgin olive oil and, when it has turned golden, add some cubes of salmon. Once they’re cooked, add a dash of cream. Meanwhile, boil some spaghetti in plenty of water until it’s al dente. Now, mix the pasta together with the sauce and top it off with some basil leaves (optional).
How can you get your little kitchen helpers involved in making this dish they’re bound to love? You could put them in charge of the spaghetti by getting them to test it and tell you when it’s ready. Or they could be responsible for adding the cream (and licking clean the spoon or any spilt cream…) or picking and washing some fresh basil leaves if you have a plant on the balcony or in the garden. After ten minutes of teamwork, you can all enjoy a healthy, balanced dinner rich in omega-3 and proteins.
Chicken and vegetables nuggets
Although chicken nuggets are usually a regular feature in children’s dinners, vegetables aren’t usually quite as popular. So why not try combining the two to make the perfect nutritious, fun, mouth-watering dinner? Simply pick your favourite vegetables (aubergine, courgette, carrot, pumpkin, etc.), cook them and grind them up with a raw egg to make a smooth paste. Put the puree in a bowl, add some small pieces of chicken you’ve lightly fried for a couple of minutes in extra-virgin olive oil and shape some nuggets.
Roll in breadcrumbs or panko (lighter, thicker breadcrumbs from Japan) and fry in plenty of extra-virgin olive oil. If you prefer, you could bake them at 190 ºC for about 15 minutes instead of frying.
Kids will have a great time making the nuggets (and no doubt making a bit of mess at the same time!) and covering them in breadcrumbs before they go into the frying pan or oven. They can also help chop up the vegetables and, if they’re feeling really creative, make different shapes of nuggets using a biscuit mould or similar. There will be some cleaning up to do afterwards, but everyone will have had some great family fun. And you can’t put a price on that!
Broccoli and béchamel sauce gratin
This is a great way of getting kids to eat broccoli, cauliflower or any other vegetable they aren’t too keen on eating on its own. Simply steam the vegetables, together with some potatoes and a carrot (steaming is always better than boiling, as vegetables keep their goodness), add a light béchamel sauce and bake in the oven with plenty of cheese.
You can get your children to help you make your own béchamel sauce by adding the flour while you stir (or vice versa). Tip: use extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter for a healthier option.