With the Summer holidays upon us, we asked our nutritionist Charlotte to share some quick and easy family meal and healthy snack ideas to take the pressure off at mealtimes. Plus some of her favourite ways to keep little adventurers busy and make plenty of memories.
Quick and easy family meal ideas…
- A veg-packed Frittata is a great option for a nutritious lunch or dinner, and you can keep it in the fridge to enjoy another day. Have it in the garden in the sunshine or pop it in your picnic hamper with some natural yogurt for dipping. Try this delicious Leek & Potato Frittata from the Little Dish Family Cookbook
- A veggie Stir Fry is another super-quick meal the whole family will love. Simply slice some veggies – carrots, peppers, onions, spring onions and broccoli all work really well - fry them in a little oil until they’re soft, sprinkle in some fresh herbs and add some cooked noodles. Why not let little ones have a go with chopsticks too!
- Make a big batch of a yummy Pesto at the start of the week and then serve it with freshly cooked pasta, rice, fish or chicken throughout the week. This Kale Pesto from the Little Dish Family Cookbook or my Easy Pesto are both good ones.
- Toast is also great for a quick and nutritious lunch or toddler tea. Try smashed avocado on wholemeal toast with a sprinkle of seeds, nut butter with cucumber sticks on the side, egg on toast with a side of tomatoes or no added sugar baked beans and a sprinkle of cheese.
- Tomato sauce with pasta, beans or pulses is another winner. Make a big batch of this delicious Tomato Sauce and serve with pasta, or add some chopped butter beans or kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas or fish to make it really balanced.
Healthy snack ideas
- My versatile Veggie Muffins make a nutritious breakfast, healthy snack or a grab and go lunchbox filler. Pack them full of whatever leftover veg you have in the fridge
- Crackers and oatcakes – spread a little cream cheese, hummus or nut butter on top or make a yummy veggie dip and let little ones have a go at dipping the crackers in! This Green Pea or Beetroot Hummus are both yummy
- Carrot oat bars – these make a lovely snack or lunchbox filler for babies and toddlers
- No-cook pinwheels – try this super-easy Hummus Pinwheels recipe from my new book
- A platter of yummy fresh fruit is also a lovely way to introduce little ones to exciting new flavours, and cool off on a sunny day. Serve watermelon wedges, mango pieces, strawberries and peach slices.
Family fun with little ones
- Cooking with kids is great fun over the Summer hols. These low sugar Fruit Muffins are a nice one to make with budding bakers, and make a fruity snack or yummy picnic treat. Or try these Courgette & Feta Muffins – packed with lots of veg and flax seeds for added goodness. Another lovey recipe to make with little helpers are these Rainbow Scones which were created by Hungry Little Bakers.
- We love eating outside as much as possible in the Summer. It’s a great way for kids to enjoy an exciting new eating experience and often encourages little ones to try new foods. We have carpet picnics with platters of yummy fresh fruit and veggies, and let them choose what they want to try. Building and eating in a den is also a big hit in our house.
- Start a little veg patch or herb garden. Tomatoes, courgettes and cress all grow really well. You can also buy these brilliant plantable books from Willsow – read the story to learn about veg and herbs, plant the book in some soil, water it and watch your herbs grow!
- Open a garden café! We love setting up a café area where Raffy can pour us drinks with his little tea set, chop fruit and serve us imaginary ice creams. Hours of fun!
- Go fruit picking. Hunting for berries is a lovely way to learn where food comes from. It’s also a great way to encourage little ones to try new foods. You can find your nearest pick-your-own farm by visiting pickyourownfarms.org.uk
- Painting with water is a brilliant way to cool off and pass an hour or two in the garden. Sometimes we let Raffy lose with a bucket of water and a paint brush, and he gets busy painting the fence and walls. We also love these Aquadraw kits which come with a big mat and water pens – kids can get really creative and there’s absolutely no mess!
I hope you have a lovely Summer holiday and make plenty of memories with your little ones. For more toddler recipes and fun, follow @littledish on Instagram.