Guest Blog by Menzies Hotels.
Kids and junk food is not a new combination, but sadly it is an unhealthy one that can lead to obese children. If you don’t want your kids to become an obesity rate statistic, but the thought of wrestling them away from their favourite fast food treats seems like mission impossible, we have a sneaky suggestion for you.
It’s simple, really: adapt your children’s favourite junk food into healthy homemade family-friendly alternatives. Here are a few of our top tips for healthy ‘junk’ food:
Fast food burgers made with fatty, salty beef, a white bun, and lots of toppings are high in calories, cholesterol, fat and carbohydrates. Try subbing out the processed beef for a grilled chicken breast to cut down on cholesterol and fat, and serve it on a wholegrain bun for added fibre.
Bump up your burger’s appeal by topping it with tasty avocado rather than bacon and cheese, both of which are full of saturated fat. And if your kids can’t eat a burger without ketchup, whip up some fresh salsa instead. It’ll give the burger a burst of flavour without the hefty dose of sugar that’s found in store-bought ketchup.
Fish and Chips
Make fish and chips healthier by replacing traditional deep-fried chips with a baked sweet potato version. Cut a sweet potato into wedges and spread them out on a baking tray coated in heart-healthy olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary, then bake until crispy. Your kids will be surprised how the sweetness of the potato adds extra flavor to this junk food favorite.
And while we’re at it, try grilling or baking a juicy piece of cod and flavouring it with lemon and dill, rather than coating it in batter and sizzling it in a vat of vegetable oil.
Kids love pasta, but the problem with takeaway pasta dishes is that they’re often coated in processed creamy or sugary sauces. Try cooking up a simple homemade tomato sauce to lather it in instead. Using fresh tomatoes will make the sauce more flavoursome than tinned or fast food versions, both of which are packed to the brim with sugar. Serve wholewheat pasta, instead of the regular white stuff, for more fibre.
Cut down on the fat and simple carbohydrate content of a traditional shepherd’s pie by replacing the cheesy mashed potato topping with mashed cauliflower. Break down a head of cauliflower and boil the florets, then blend until smooth for a mashed layer your kids will love. If you want to add texture to your cauliflower, blend in some low-fat coconut milk for more flavour and creaminess.
Sugary Drinks and Fruit Juice
Empty liquid calories from sugar-heavy soft drinks, fruit juices and other processed drinks can wreak havoc on your child’s health. Make a delicious replacement by adding fresh fruits or vegetables to a pitcher of water, and keep it in the fridge so it’s handy whenever your little ones want a sweet treat. Within a few hours the water will take on the flavour of the infused produce. Start with kid-friendly options like strawberries, lemons, grapes or cucumbers.
Chicken nuggets are a staple of many kids’ diets, but the junk food version is fried, fatty and often made with the less healthy dark meat of the chicken (or with unidentifiable bits of chicken altogether!). Make nuggets healthier at home by using white meat, and baking instead of frying. Cut chicken breasts into nugget-shaped pieces, coat them in bread crumbs using egg whites, and toss ’em into the oven.
If you follow these simple recipes, your kids won’t even know the difference, and you can sleep easy knowing your little ones aren’t going to balloon into unhealthy little monsters. (Though we can’t help with the monster part, we’re afraid!)