Is there anything better than tucking into a perfectly prepared curry that’s bursting with flavour? From soul-warming Mexican Mole to Sunday morning favourites like Chilli Choc Chai Pancakes, there’s nothing like the simple pleasure of eating good food. When it comes to easy recipes for toddlers, you might be surprised at how much the whole family can benefit by adding a kick of flavour.
Cooking spicy food for kids has countless advantages. For us foodies, it’s such a joy to raise kids who can enjoy a diverse range of dishes. Even more importantly, encouraging kids to widen their palette offers a life-long health boost. Adventurous eaters have been shown to be more likely to enjoy a greater range of foods as an adult. Beyond adding curry to their chips, these adventurous eaters consume healthier food throughout their lifetime.
Got a fussy eater at home? Believe it or not, you can change that! In fact, experts have found that adding herbs and spices is a smart solution to getting bored kids excited about eating. Finding recipes for toddlers that even the fussiest little ones will eat is all about experimentation. Why let mealtime be a fight? With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can transform every meal into a time of engaging experimentation.
Spicy Food for Kids: The Lifelong Benefits
Even if you love cooking, dishing up two separate menus at every mealtime gets tiring– and it’s counterproductive! Widening kids’ palettes while they’re young is essential. Adding depth and flavour to dishes will quickly make kids more receptive to new flavours while they’re still young.
Beyond simply allowing kids to enjoy multicultural and fusion dishes, spicy foods for kids is a great way to introduce little ones to healthier options. Skip the salt and sugar in favour of healthier herbs and spices. Add new flavours and create rich dishes incorporating otherwise bland fruits and vegs. With the right toppings, you can get your toddlers eating everything from arugula to yam.
Helpful tip: Before you get started on nourishing your soon-to-be adventurous eater, it’s crucial to clarify a couple of things. Too often people confuse spicy food with hot food. Keep in mind that spices include everything from cinnamon to clove to coriander. Not all spices are hot. Anything stronger than sweet paprika could be too much for young palettes so don’t feel like every recipe has to include chill peppers or other hot spices.
Coping with Fussy Eaters
Getting fussy eaters excited about mealtime is no simple task. Like so many things, however, the key is getting started. The earlier you start, the easier it will be. Believe it or not, eating spicy food while you’re pregnant actually, helps babies develop a taste for spicy flavours!
Once you get started, keep going. As every parent knows, persistence is everything. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat again! Keep moving forward with an ever-changing meal plan. Arming yourself with easy recipes for toddlers is the key to moving forward. You might find that some kids can’t stand cinnamon on toast but love apple cinnamon muffins.
Try herbs and spices in a range of different dishes before you decide if your child likes them. Your kids might hate mint ice cream but love a little kick of mint on sausage rolls. The great thing about experimenting with these kinds of dishes is that it’s easy to keep one portion with seasoning off to the side. This creates a plainer alternative if the meal does flop (but doesn’t leave you stuck eating bland kids meals in order to share).
Make Cooking Fun for Kids
Getting the whole family involved is one of the best ways to introduce spicy food for kids. Anyone who has ever seen kids making mud pies in the garden or pouring together every drink in the foundation knows that kids do indeed love experimenting! All you need is the right strategies.
Bring kids to farmers’ markets or start a herb garden. Find a way to make it into a game. Learn about what different countries eat (in many countries, even plain and easy recipes for toddlers are packed with spices!) or create a contest to see who can try the most “new” things. Separate it entirely from the boring routine of having a plate set in front of them.
Try to make the food itself more fun too. Of course, the best recipes for toddlers are bright ones. Make it colourful and vibrant. Tumeric and paprika are a lot more intriguing than salt and pepper!
While you can definitely make mealtime more interesting, don’t push too hard. Add one spice at a time so you can identify what kids do and don’t like. If your fussy eaters are pushing back, change your strategy. If they’re not engaging in the process, sneak a tiny amount of seasoning in. Simple additions to kids’ favourite food can go a long way. Add a dash of cumin to spaghetti bolognese. Sprinkle a tiny bit of nutmeg into the pancakes.
Go-To Easy Recipes for Toddlers
The first step in making spicy food for kids (or even adults who are fussy eaters!) is to make slight alterations to your family’s favourite dishes.
What better place to start than ice cream? Incorporating new flavours into treats that kids can’t turn down is foolproof for fussy eaters. Try options like Grilled Thyme Apricots with Lemon Myrtle Ice Cream. If you have an ultra fussy eater, start with a tiny scoop of vanilla alongside your artisanal ice cream. This will allow kids more control of the flavour intensity in each bite.
Another simple recipe for kids is pizza. Even the pickiest eaters out there can find one type of pizza that they love. Check out my video for inspiration on family pizza night. It’s at the top of my list of easy recipes for toddlers and it’s an incredible simply way to try different herbs and spices without covering the entire pizza.
I’ve heard from many happy parents that dips have been the ticket to success with picky eaters. Whether it’s rich BBQ sauce for their chicken nuggets, a dot of paneer curry on bread or paprika hummus with a potato, the best easy recipes of toddlers are often simple sides. Again, it’s all about making FUN spicy foods for kids. Create a game where the kids dare each other to try sauces. Let them have their favourite crisps or chips along with a new dip. Remember, it’s not a race toward all-healthy eating all the time. Even something as simple as making a face on their eggs with chives and parsley will open their minds.
What are your favourite easy recipes for toddlers? Have you had any luck with spicy food for kids? I’d love to hear about your family’s go-to recipes. Share in the comments and help us all cope with fussy eaters at home!