Recently I have been asked this question a lot: 'What can I feed my Toddler now- he is always always hungry!'
With children in the UAE having been off nurseries and school for six weeks now, many parents despair at the thought of having to prepare Breakfast, Snack, after Snack Snack, Lunch, Snack, after Snack Snack and Dinner for their hungry little mouths.
Everyone runs out of options very quickly, as no one wants to feed their child yoghurt after cheese after cucumber followed by ice cream every single day.
Mindful Eating teaches about ‘complex snacks’. These are snacks that are high in nutritional value, low in sugar, therefor avoiding a spike in insulin and the dreaded sugar high. They flatten the ‘sugar rush’ curve (pun intended) and don’t let the blood sugar rise immediately, but release slowly over time, increasing energy and keeping moods steady.
Below are my top tips to feed your hungry toddler during quarantine, including some easy recipes that can be made in under 15 minutes and frozen for future use!
Make the last snack of the day a good one, packed with dense nutrients so your toddler’s dinner can be light, which leads to better sleep and helps with their digestion.
Involve your children in the making of meals and snacks. It is a great activity for oyu both and they’ll be so delighted to see what comes out! Children as young as 18 months are able to crack open eggs or whisk a batter.
Experiment. Your kid doesn’t know that sweet and savoury ‘dont match’. Pair their afternoon allowance of M&M’s with Bretzel sticks, Greek Yoghurt and Cucumber. This will delight the senses and will make them feel as if they’re trying something entirely new.
Allowing sweets on a regular basis (in controlled portions of course), will make them less of a novelty andthereforenot as exciting as they are when they’re off limits. Don’t give the children free access to sugar all day long, but make it a part of their meal. It is ok to give them that Mini Egg from Easter as a Desert for lunch (if they are not meant to nap shortly after wards).
Plan the snacks in advance. You can spend two hours one morning and prepare the snacks for the week. If you use some of the recipes below, you can freeze them easily and they will last you the whole week.
6. Don’t overthink it. A yoghurt, string cheese, nuts and fruits are all wonderful snacks if this is all you have time for. You can always try and combine them- apple and nuts at the same time as Greek Yoghurt? Yummy! Blend and freeze it- thereisyour ice cream for the afternoon!
And now to the fun part! My Top 4 Snack Recipes to make in under 15 Minutes!
1. Frozen Greek Yoghurt Bars Spread a thick layer of Yoghurt (I like to use Greek Yoghurt, this can be plain or with flavor) onto a baking tray lined with wax paper. Let your child add whatever they like on top: Nuts, Cereal, Fruit, etc. and leave overnight in the freezer. Crack into pieces and keep in freezer bags in the freezer for anytime snacks.
2. Sweet Potato Cookies-
Cook 250g sweet potato, let it cool. Leave 1 Tbsp of Chia Seeds in water to gel) and then add the cooled sweet potato and drained chia seeds to 100g banana and mash well. Add 2 Tbsp water, 1 cup oats, 1/4 cup plain flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon Roll into balls or cookies and bake for 20-25 Minutes on 180 Degrees.
3. Banana and Blueberry Fritter
Mash 2 ripe bananas and mix with 1/4 - 1/2 cup buckwheat flour (or plain flour) and add in 1/4 cup blueberries and a pinch of cinnamon. Fry with a little coconut oil in a non-stick pan.
Add toppings as you wish- Peanut Butter, Greek Yoghurt, Nuts and Seeds, etc
4. Brocooli and Cheese Snack Fingers for easy freezing
Grate a head of broccoli and add two handfuls of grated cheese. Mix with 2 eggs, 100g of self-raising flour (if using normal flour just use 2 teaspoons of baking powder instead of one), 1 Teaspoon of baking powder and 100ml milk (I like to use whole milk, but it can be substituted for almond or soya milk etc). Spread out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment or wax paper (ca 2cm thick) and bake at 180 Degrees for 20 Minutes until lightly browned. Cut into Fingers. *You can pretty much substitute the broccoli for any vegetable that isn’t ‘wet’ (Tomatoes would be wet, carrots if left to dry for a while after grating wouldn’t be!).
Kate Sheikh is a Co=Founder of Soul Space Dubai (www.instagram.com/soul_space_dubai), a Yoga Teacher for all ages and a Mindful Eating Coach. You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org for any enquiries.