Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Better Food for Kids

Better Food for Kids
Your Essential Guide to Nutrition for All Children from Age 2 to 10 
Second Edition
Joanne Saab RD, Daina Kalnins MSc RD
The Hospital for Sick Children
Softcover, 352 pages

Let me tell you a story...
Once, when we were visiting a couple on the man's side, people I didn't know well.. I was firmly told by the young wife that her kids would never.. fill in the blanks here. Never eat this or that and will be perfect little Stepford children forever. This was not a fun night. Of course, her children were two and under, having had zero outside influence - yet.

We all start out with great plans to feed our own children the best of the best and never let them see a fast food joint or food from a box.. but that gets compromised when they actually meet other children! Food is social, they are going to start wanting what they see on t.v. and what their friends are eating. This doesn't mean the death knell for all your plans for healthy children though - it just means that you have to get creative.

Joanne Saab and Daina Kalnins, both registered dietitians who work in pediatric nutrition at The Hospital for Sick Children and mothers of small kids themselves, have put together this updated, revised and expanded edition of Better Food for Kids.

The book is filled with nutritional advice, goes through all the age groups from 2-10 with delicious and nutritious recipes that kids will enjoy eating. They include all the nutritional information for each dish, as well as chapters on Essential Foods and Nutrients, Important Vitamins and Minerals, Vegetarian Diets, Avoiding Food Contamination, Food Allergy and Intolerance, Disturbances in Bowel Function, and Childhood Obesity.

I myself have three children. And three children means three different eating styles. Seriously, you wonder how three siblings can end up so different. While my children are older and my daughter is very adventurous with Eastern, often vegetarian cuisine, my boys still prefer simple foods - especially when I make homemade versions of take-out classics.

This is an opportunity to make what seems like a treat into a nutritional powerhouse. When we tested a couple of the recipes, we went for the slightly older ones. Twists on classic tacos and pizza - all totally healthy and totally delicious. These are recipes that you can have fun with, and serve to your children with pride.

Mushroom and Broccoli Stromboli 
Makes 4 - 6 servings

Stromboli is an enclosed sandwich made of pizza dough filled with a variety of fillings. It is similar to a calzone or a panzerotto. Serve with tomato pasta sauce for dipping. 

Kitchen Tip
Bake the stromboli in the bottom third of the oven.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
  • Baking sheet, lined with parchment or greased
1 cup broccoli florets
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
½ red or yellow bell pepper, chopped (I subbed zucchini)
½ tsp dried basil
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 lb whole wheat pizza dough
2/3 cup tomato pasta sauce
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
½ cup chopped pepperoni (optional) 

  1. In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook broccoli for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water. 
  2. In a nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium heat. Saut√© mushrooms, garlic, red pepper, basil, salt and pepper for 5 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add broccoli and set aside. 
  3. Divide dough into 4 pieces. On a floured work surface, roll or stretch each piece of dough into an 8- by 6- inch (20 by 15 cm) oval. 
  4. Spread pasta sauce over each oval, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle with mushroom mixture, cheese and pepperoni (if using). Fold short ends over filling, overlapping to enclose it, leaving the sides open. Pinch seam to seal. 
  5. Place on prepared baking sheet and brush dough with remaining oil. Bake in  preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until dough is puffed and golden. 

Fish Tacos
Makes 8 tacos

These are a nutritious change from beef tacos. Set out all of the toppings in bowls so everyone can help themselves.
  • Preheat broiler
  • Baking sheet, lined with foil and greased
1 lb skinless white fish fillets, such as sole or cod
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp dried oregano
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 lime wedges
8 6-inch (15 cm) flour or corn tortillas, warmed
1 plum (Roma) tomato, chopped
½ avocado, diced
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
½ cup salsa
¼ cup light sour cream or plain yogurt

  1. Arrange fish fillets on prepared baking sheet. Brush with oil. Sprinkle with chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Broil for about 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Squeeze lime wedges over fish.
  2. Break fish into chunks and divide among tortillas. Top with tomato, avocado, cilantro (if using), salsa and sour cream. Fold in sides of tortillas and roll up from the bottom. 
Since we are talking about healthy children, why not consider a donation to The Hospital for Sick Children or your own local children's hospital this holiday?