If you have children, it won’t have escaped your attention that the Easter Holidays are upon us and you probably have two thoughts – ‘Help! What on earth do I do with my children for the next few weeks? and ‘How the hell do I stop them mainlining chocolate until they’re bouncing off the walls?’ Well, we have a solution for both those dilemmas. The gorgeous Cooking Them Healthy girls (read more about them here) have come up with some special Easter recipes and advice for us on cooking with small people. If you’re in need of some kitchen inspiration, then look no further…
My child has a sweet tooth – what healthy snacks can you recommend which are not crammed full of sugar?
Georgie: It is really worth trying to cut back on sugary snacks for children to help avoid that inevitable “sugar crash”. If possible try to give them fresh fruit or more savory snacks (nuts, seeds, vegetables).
This doesn’t mean that I never give my children sweet snacks, I just try to moderate it and give treats that have added nutritional benefits where possible. My favourite snack is a flapjack as they are easy to make, tend to last well in a biscuit jar and the oats are a great source of soluble fibre for a healthy digestive system and B vitamins for energy. Our peanut balls with dark chocolate and oats and peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies are also delicious and have the benefit of being rich in protein and good fats.
I would love to cook with my toddler. What are the best jobs for him to help me with when I’m cooking?
Children of all ages can benefit in so many different ways from getting involved in cooking, helping to develop their fine motor skills, maths, following instruction, sequencing, creativity…. All children can help with stirring, sieving, and cutting (for young children just use a plastic knife and soft food) but to get the most out of it, try to really engage them in what you are doing.
- From the moment you visit the shops, start a conversation with them about where the food comes from, and ask them to help select fruit and veg.
- When you are cooking, think about what you are doing and how they can learn from it. Exposing children to simple mathematical terms (such as adding, halving, doubling, estimating) in such a practical way can really help with their understanding when they start learning about them at school.
- Being confident in the kitchen is such an important part of being a good cook and the life lessons that you give your child by cooking with them from a young age really do make a great difference. It will also hopefully provide them with a solid foundation for a future of interest in food.
Easter is obviously a time when there is lots of chocolate around. Do you have any good alternatives to offer them or do you tend to let them indulge a little over this time?
I couldn’t deny my children chocolate over Easter, but I have tried to curb the amount of eggs they get given after they got 9 large eggs (and about 100 little ones!) one Easter. I now ask family members to give them Easter craft activities and other non-edible treats instead, and I do the same with my nephews and nieces. My children love cooking Easter treats for themselves and their friends so I embrace this by choosing healthier recipes to reduce the amount of refined sugar they are getting over the holidays.
Cooking Them Healthy’s special Easter sweet treat recipes…
Butterfly Carrot Cupcakes (Makes 8-10 cupcakes)
These are delicious spiced mini carrot cake cupcakes. Little ones will love being involved in making these, and they make a nutritious alternative to typical carrot cake recipes, using whole wheat flour, which is less processed and higher in fibre and B vitamins. The cinnamon & ginger add delicious warmth to the recipe – cinnamon is lovely spice, naturally sweet and helpful in balancing blood sugar levels. Walnuts are protein rich and full of good fats.
100g butter melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
130g whole wheat flour
60g maple syrup
60g dark brown sugar
100g grated carrot
1/2 banana mashed to a paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
80g walnuts chopped or smashed until small pieces
200g Philadelphia cream cheese (don’t be tempted to use half fat as it doesn’t work and in my experience Philadelphia is the best)
60ml maple syrup
- Pre heat the oven to 180.
- Line your muffin tin with 10 cupcake cases.
- Place your melted butter, dark brown sugar, maple syrup and egg into a large bowl and mix all together.
- Add in your grated carrot, crushed nuts and mashed banana.
- Sieve over your whole wheat flour, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon. With a large metal spoon fold the mix together. Try not to over mix as it will result in a dense and heavier cake.
- Spoon the mix into your cases and fill 3/4 full.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch and if a skewer is inserted into the cake it comes out clean.
- Leave to cool on a wire wrack
- Meanwhile mix together the cream cheese and maple syrup until thick and lump free.
- Cut off the top, mounded piece of the cupcake and cut this in half. These are going to be your wings.
- Spoon a little of the icing on top of the cake and place the wings on top so you create what looks like a butterfly on your cupcake.
- If you don’t want to include the icing these are delicious served on their own and can freeze brilliantly (un-iced)
Healthy rice crispy nests with berries and hidden eggs (Makes 7-8)
The one thing most people think about making around Easter time is the little chocolate nests filled with chocolate eggs. We have managed to create something that will be just as much fun to make with your children, taste wonderful and is just that little bit healthier yet still involves the treat of a chocolate egg!
We’ve included brown rice, which helps ensure a slower release of energy, as well as providing useful fibre, and almonds which are a great source of protein. We’ve also included some chia and sunflower seeds, which contain Omega 6 fats, which are good for healthy skin.
25g Brown Rice Puffs
100g almond butter (if you can’t get almond butter you can use ground almonds which have a stronger taste)
25g dried berries
A sprinkle of chia and sunflower seeds (any seeds or small chopped nuts would work wonderfully)
Fresh raspberries, blueberries or grapes
Some chocolate eggs
- Pop the almond butter & honey into a small pan and heat for a couple of minutes. It will gradually soften and form a thick paste. Next add in the dried fruit, seeds and rice puffs – mix all together with a wooden spoon.
- Next checking that it’s not too hot, take small ball sized handfuls and either in the palm of your hand or using a cupcake case – firm the paste together and mold it into little nest shapes. You really should be able to create a nice little hollow so don’t give up if it starts off rather crumbly – it will come together.
- The cupcake case itself will lose its shape so I often place them in another fresh case for effect (so each nest sits in 2 cases)
- Leave to cool and firm up, then fill with fresh berries or grapes and you can hide a little chocolate egg or jelly bean in there too.
- These will last unfilled in an airtight container for over a week. And can be frozen so you can have them to hand whatever the occasion.