Weaning into real food.
Everyone always stresses when it comes to weaning their first child, it seems such a daunting process. However the reality for most Mum’s seems to be that it’s the transition from the mushed up fruit and veg to meals you can sit down together and eat as a family which is the tricky bit. So, how to get from weaning to family meals?
It’s also really important to bear in mind that research is building to show that a lifetime of taste preferences are laid at a very young age, even before birth, so the wider the range of tastes they’re exposed to the better, in terms of their food choices later in life.
However please remember that children’s taste buds haven’t been blunted by coffee and strong tastes yet, so do introduce lots of flavours but don’t necessarily make them as strong as you would for an adult. You should NOT be adding salt to children’s food, to be honest if adults give up salt they may notice it for a couple of weeks but their taste-buds quickly recalibrate, so maybe for your own health it wouldn’t hurt to ease off a bit?
Any risottos are good as the consistency is easy for young children to deal with and additional seasoning for adults can be added just before you serve. Try my recipe for jumbalaya a firm favourite, for young children substitute the chorizo for a standard sausage, cut into bitesize pieces and thrown in a the stock stage.
Pasta is obviously a really popular family meal, for something similar try substituting the pasta for gnocci (Italian potato dumplings). The only thing to bear in mind is these do not work well as leftovers, they continue to swell when they’re left in the fridge until they have the consistency of wallpaper paste.
The traditional English meat and two veg meal works well and you can leave the sauce/gravy in a small dipping bowl on the side. If your child is at an age that still struggles with the texture you can always substitute the roast meat with fish. Just run your fingers over the raw fish to feel for bones and obviously be vigilant when cutting up for any you missed. If you’re buying from the counter at your supermarket of fishmongers ask for a piece from near the tail, as this is less likely to have bones.
Pies and stews (try Billie’s dumpling recipe) are another easy choice.
Larger wheat or udon noodles in a stir fry work brilliantly (the crystal ones are a bit tricky for small fingers), again you need to go easy on the soy and fish sauce because of the high salt content, but ginger and garlic and even a little chilli make for an interesting adult and kiddy meal (try the basic kiddy satay recipe).
The only thing you may need to do with all of these combos is to ensure the veg is cooked slightly longer for kids than for adults, gradually increasing the crunch as the child gets older.
Most importantly of all with any food you’re introducing to your children is that they see you eat it. Having an adult sit and eat with them. Obviously this can be easier said than done, but rather than picking as you cook, why not prepare a small individual plate for yourself and then eat with your child? You can still have a meal with your partner later if you don’t fancy dinner at 6pm and lets be honest its probably also better for your digestion to have two smaller meals.by