Get your child eating healthily

If all your child wants to eat is junk food, don’t worry. Here, we suggest healthy alternatives for your kid’s unhealthy faves…

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Swap chicken nuggets for something healthier

Swap cheese on toast, for pizza toast…

Add a healthy twist to a cheese toastie by making pizza toast slices. First, spread tomato purée on wholemeal bread (rather than butter on white bread) and top with grated (rather than sliced) cheese. Add a few slices of tomato, and grill until the cheese has melted and the bread’s toasted. The purée is rich in the antioxidant lycopene and wholemeal bread’s full of fibre and B vitamins.

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Creamy dips, for home-made salsa…

Crisps and dips are a favourite barbecue appetiser, but the calories soon add up when you choose the creamy ones. Give your evening a healthy start by making your own salsa and dip in rice cakes or plain tortillas to fight the fat. Put a chopped red onion, fresh tomatoes, chilli flakes and coriander to taste into a blender and blitz. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice over the top for a vitamin C boost.

Waffles for oven chips…

Potato waffles or faces may seem pretty similar to oven chips, but there are big differences. Waffles can contain half your child’s maximum daily salt allowance. However, the best oven chips have just a tenth. Choose chips without added salt and flavourings and, with half the fat of waffles, they’ll still satisfy the taste buds.

Shop-bought burgers for homemade burgers…

If you’re planning on firing up the barbecue, think about what you’re slapping on it. Yes, some homecooked foods take a bit longer to make but burgers are quick and you’ll know what’s in them. Just take a piece of steak (500g), grind it up in a food processor with half an onion and add a beaten egg yolk and season. Form the burgers and leave in the fridge while the barbie heats up.

Skinny fries for potato wedges…

Thin fries have a bigger surface area of potato per portion, so more area to get covered in fat. To keep the fat content down, go for chunky potato wedges.

If you make your own, you’ll know exactly how much fat has gone into them. You’ll need half a large potato per child’s portion and one potato per dad’s portion. Clean the skin of the potato and chop into wedges about 3cm thick. Place in a roasting tray and drizzle with a little olive oil, making sure they’re all covered, then cook at 200°C for around 20 mins. Try adding a sprinkling of dried herbs or a pinch of paprika for variety.

Sausage rolls for pitta pockets…

Planning a picnic? Sausage rolls are a handy outdoor snack, but they’re high in salt and fat. Pastry products like this are 20-30 per cent fat. Instead, fill a wholemeal pitta with chicken and salad. This will bring the fat level down to about five per cent and increase your little one’s fibre intake.

Frozen pizza for build-your-own slices…

The beauty of ready-made pizzas is the speed they go from freezer to table, but hidden in those delicious slices is a whopping amount of fat and salt. Try your own grilled version and you don’t have to add salt, and wholemeal bread and the skins of the tomatoes help contribute to your child’s dietary fibre intake. You can add extra veg like sweetcorn and peppers and your tot will love helping you build their pizza.

Beef mince for turkey mince…

Turkey’s not just for Christmas. Switch your usual meat to turkey once or twice a week and you’ll be reducing the amount of saturated fat you’re feeding your family, while still giving them the same amount of protein. Try substituting it next time you make a Bolognese, or using it for meatballs where recipes suggest pork. For more tasty recipes using turkey, visit www.changeyour meatnot yourmenu.co.uk/recipes.

Chicken nuggets for chicken kebabs…

Why? The contents of chicken nuggets vary depending on the price bracket, but at the very least they contain high amounts of fats (check the label on your usual brand to see what else). There’s no doubting they’re the perfect quick fix for busy mums, but stock up on a few skewers and older kids can help out with fixing up healthy chicken kebabs as an alternative. Just chop a chicken breast into chunks, plus a variety of veg (onions, peppers, squash, tomatoes – anything!) then get the kids to do the skewering. Add basil leaves, a sprinkle of herbs and grill for 10 mins, turning halfway through.

Milk chocolate for dark chocolate…

You’re better off going for dark chocolate over milk or white. The reason is that dark chocolate is jam-packed full of antioxidants, including phenol, which is linked to helping to reduce blood pressure, and has much less fat and sugar in it than milk and white chocolate.

A good way to make the switch for the family is to use dark cocoa powder whenever you’re baking cakes or biccies.

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Cheddar for Edam…

If you’re a family of cheese eaters, whether it be in sandwiches, on toast or in salads, try picking up Edam instead of your normal Cheddar next time you go wild in the aisles at your weekly shop. For health-conscious adults, it’s got almost 100 calories less per 100g than mature Cheddar and has a much lower fat content. It’s just as yummy with a slightly salty and nutty flavour, and most supermarkets sell slabs with gorgeous red wax around one side that toddlers will love peeling off.

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