Last updated on Feb 2nd, 2021 at 09:34 am
When it comes to your toddler’s food, let’s face it, most of us parents stick to ‘safe’ dishes, such as cheesy pasta and tomato sauce based-dishes. However, you‘d be surprised at the variety of flavours you could add to your toddler’s food, that they’ll actually enjoy!
In fact from the age of one, you could start slowly introducing different flavours to your toddler’s food in the form of home-made sauces, spices and condiments. This will help to discourage fussy eating later on.
Choosing the right condiment
Although it’s a good idea to expose your little one to different flavours, you’ll need to steer clear of strong, spicy flavours such as curry pastes. Some shop-bought sauces may also contain ingredients such as sugar, salt and additives. The best thing to do is to always check the label. Ingredients are written in order of their quantity, so if sugar and salt or something you haven’t heard of feature high on the ingredient list, put it back on the shelf.
Remember these essential points next time you’re planning meals:
- Ready-made sauces are predominantly high in salt and sugar, so while a Bolognese or tomato sauce in a jar may seem like the quick option for a healthy family meal, check the label first. Making your own tomato sauce doesn’t take too much time, and you’ll end up with a far tastier dish that you know is healthy.
- Stir-fries are quick and delicious meals that you can pack full of different vegetables. Make a simple sauce with a little soy sauce and nam plau (Thai fish sauce), or oyster sauce.
- Curries are surprisingly popular among children, and they don’t have to be high in fat and salt like the ones you associate with take-away curries. Make your curry with mild curry powder or a bit of korma paste and mix in something to add a bit of sweetness, like apple slices and mango chutney (things like mango chutney often contain sugar, so read the labels if you want to avoid too much sugar in your child’s diet).
Facts about popular condiments
Soy sauce is a popular addition to dishes such as stir fries, but people are often wary about the sodium content. It should be used in moderation, and should only be used sparingly in dishes for children under four years. Soy sauce can occasionally cause allergic reactions, mainly because of the wheat it contains. If you think your child may have an allergy to wheat, look for a soy sauce that doesn’t contain any wheat. Soy sauce has also been found to have health benefits; dark soy sauce in particular contains anti-oxidants.
Tomato ketchup is an extremely popular sauce with children all over the world. Parents often worry about using this too often because of its sugar levels. Try buying an alternative tomato sauce that’s low in salt and sugar, (and isn’t full of other additives to replace that sugar and salt). Tomato ketchup isn’t all bad though; as it’s tomato based, it contains a lot of lycopene. Lycopene is full of anti-oxidants and can help the body in many ways. Adding a little tomato ketchup and sweet chilli sauce to healthy foods like salmon fish cakes makes them more appealing to children.
Olive oil is a top source of oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid (OEA) which helps keep brain cells healthy. Babies need a very different diet to the low in fat, high in fibre diet that adults need. Babies need fat in their diet, and not too much fibre, as they’re growing at an extremely fast rate. Olive oil is great to cook a baby’s food in.
Although it’s quite tangy, pesto is often a popular choice amongst kids. Mix mayonnaise with a little pesto and spread it over a tortilla wrap. Put some sliced tomatoes and mozzarella onto the wrap, season with a little salt and roll it up. It’s easy to make your own fresh pesto sauce for pasta. You can also add a little pesto to salad dressings.