I love food! I have always loved food! Says Natalie Hughes who does manage to entice her toddlers with healthy food.
Food has always played a big role in my life and as I child, I was the ‘perfect one’ who would eat anything and everything. This was a good thing because everything we did as a family featured a lot of food. Meals were eaten at the table every day, special occasions were celebrated with big family meals, parties always featured the most glorious buffets. My sister and I were often taken out to restaurants and every time we visited my Grandma, something delicious was always freshly baking in the oven. So, as a food lover, I was a happy kid. This has continued throughout my adult life. I love the social aspect of food, eating out and exploring new restaurants. I love discovering new cuisines and picking up new recipe ideas. I love entertaining, cooking for others and adapting recipes to make them my own.
When I was expecting my daughter, my partner and I had the usual ‘new parent’ discussions on how we want to raise our child. One of the things we passionately agreed on was wanting our daughter to have a really positive relationship with food. We want to take her out to restaurants without having to be concerned about what’s on the ‘kids menu’, we want her to eat what we eat and share our passion for good food. I read that researchers believe the experiences babies have when they first start on solids, can have a huge impact on the foods they end up liking and disliking and eating habits established in infancy, will actually influence their choices throughout childhood and adolescence. So, I made this my mission and as soon as Giovanna was old enough to begin weaning, I began on this wonderful adventure of exploring foods and hopefully developing the skills to become an adventurous diner. I offer everything to Gigi and serve lots of different foods and flavours, I want her to be exposed to a wide array of tastes. I vary the textures and sizes of food at mealtimes and offer her the opportunity to explore what’s on her plate. She doesn’t always eat the entire meal, sometimes I have to serve something 4 or 5 times before she acquires a taste for it. I encourage Gigi to just taste everything, rather than finishing what’s on her plate.
As well as offering variety at each meal, I try to make mealtimes fun and ensure the food is visually appealing. Children are attracted to colours and shapes and I often use a cookie cutter to create different shaped veggies and fruit, it’s a simple little hack that works really well. I include veggies and fruit in every meal, not just because of the amazing health benefits but also because they add so much colour and fun to the plate.
I began photographing Gigi’s meals when she was 7 months and I document them on my Instagram account @my_foodie_baby which now has over 17k followers. I love being able to share my recipes and offer inspiration and ideas to other mums going through the same journey. I’ve connected with an amazingly supportive and wonderful community of mums trying to provide the best possible start for their little ones and it’s proved to me that anyone can do this.
Encouraging your child to have a positive relationship with food is one of the most important things you can teach them, and you can really have some fun along the way.
Make my peanutty chicken skewers and peanut dip… a favourite in our house.
RECIPE FOR PEANUTTY CHICKEN
Makes approx. 12 skewers
We love to serve ours with some crunchy veggies, jasmine rice & fresh mango.
Coriander – half bunch (15g)
Shallots – 2
Garlic – 2 bulbs
Ginger – thumb sized piece
Fresh chilli – 1 (optional)
Lime – 1
Curry powder (mild) – 1 tsp
Tumeric – 1 tsp
Peanut butter – 4 tbsp
Chicken breast fillets – 500g
- Chop the coriander, shallots, garlic, ginger & chilli and add it to the blender.
- Add the juice of the lime, curry powder & tumeric and give it a good whizz in the blender. (You may need to add a drop of water to get it moving).
- Add the peanut butter and blend it all to a smooth paste.
- Coat the chicken in the marinade and leave for at least 2 hours for the chicken to absorb the flavours.
- Cook the chicken strips on a hot griddle for 15 minutes.
RECIPE FOR PEANUT DIP
Peanut butter – 2 tbsp
Coconut cream – 25ml
Soy sauce (low salt) – ½ tsp
- Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl for dipping.