Soups, Snacks, and Lunch Boxes
Cakes and Cookies
This book will take the worry out of everyday cooking, because with it alongside you, you will know that you’ll always have something in the house that can be made into a tasty meal for the family. These are some of my favorite tried and tested recipes for all occasions, from healthy breakfasts to lunch boxes, family suppers, recipes for entertaining, and even fun foods for children to cook themselves. As a busy mother of three children, I know how difficult it can be to find the time to make a home-cooked meal, so I have tried to create recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, healthy, and, of course, tasty. Each recipe has been tested on a panel of children who, naturally, didn’t care how healthy the food was and were only impressed if it tasted good.
For many children, convenience and junk foods are no longer occasional foods but are becoming a regular part of their diet, and in this age of instant gratification, fewer and fewer families are sitting down to meals together. With the proliferation of processed packaged foods, many meals emanate from the freezer to be cooked in the microwave, and the kitchen is fast becoming the coldest room in the house. Healthy eating for children is crucial as it often sets the dietary pattern for life, and eating healthily from a young age can reduce the risk of developing diet-related diseases such as heart disease and some forms of cancer. For fighting disease, food is still the best medicine.
Food is more than just a biological need; its preparation expresses parental love and caring, and it’s so very satisfying to see your family enjoy your lovingly prepared home-cooked meals. There was once a time when children ate mostly the same foods as their parents, and this book aims to provide you with recipes that the whole family will enjoy together. You don’t need to be a Supercook. These recipes don’t require split-second timing, special skills, or expensive equipment, and most of them can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
Some weeks you’ll be able to plan ahead and know what you’re going to feed the family for supper on Friday when it’s still only Monday, and other weeks you may only have time to think about Friday’s dinner on Friday.
A bit of time spent planning, cooking ahead, and freezing some meals over the weekend will make the week ahead much more manageable. Decide on the week’s meals and what advance cooking you need to do over the weekend. Then make a shopping list for the week and jot down on a calendar the fresh ingredients you will need to pick up during the week. Naturally, there will be weekends when you’re too busy or the weather is too nice to spend time in the kitchen and so you can just plan simple meals for the week ahead such as Teriyaki Chicken Skewers (page 55) and salad and fresh fruit. There will also be occasions when you haven’t even had time to do the shopping and it’s already six o’clock, but you don’t need to panic since there are lots of ideas here for delicious recipes that can be made from basic ingredients.
Rather than thinking what are we going to eat and what are the children going to eat, we should be thinking of one meal for the whole family. A good solution to the problem of family members who want meals at different times of the day is to freeze some food in individual portion sizes so that you have your own stock of healthy convenience foods that can be heated in the microwave in a matter of minutes. Very often when you are making a recipe it takes very little extra time to prepare more than you need so you have portions left over to freeze.
International cuisine can be another source of inspiration—perhaps make a Chinese dinner for the family, choosing some of the delicious, easy to prepare Chinese-style recipes such as Super Vegetarian Spring Rolls (page 124) followed by Chinese Noodles with Shrimp and Bean Sprouts (page 102) and lychees with Caramelized Almond Ice Cream (page 158) for dessert. Wouldn’t it be fun to eat the food with chopsticks—you can buy child-friendly plastic chopsticks that are joined at the top, which makes it very easy for children to use.
This is a book of everyday family eating, and I hope it will be well thumbed and splattered with food and will help busy lifestyles become less chaotic. My aim is that this book will put the joy back into cooking, which is, after all, a labor of love.