Turn up the Heat on your Family Meals

Published / Written by Anna Scott / No Comments Yet

What do you think of when spicy food springs to mind? Your local curry house, quite possibly. Or perhaps you tend to steer clear of the spice rack in your kitchen when it comes to family cooking. Or perhaps not. If it’s the latter, then you might not find this post particularly useful. In fact, you might be all ‘been there, done that, move along now, you’re boring me’. Anyway, I’ll stop trying to second guess you and just get on with it…

SpicesBasically, spicy food doesn’t have to be the preserve of your Thai takeaway – if you’re scared of giving your kids a bit of heat in their food then… just don’t be. Ok, so we want to give children healthy, balanced diets, with lots of fruit and vegetables, yes? But sometimes, only sometimes mind, healthy can be a little… *whispers* bland. And who wants to eat bland food? I certainly don’t and I wouldn’t expect my kids to either.

One of the easiest, and more importantly, healthiest ways of adding flavour to food is to add a bit of spice. I’m not talking handfuls of red hot chillies here, but maybe just a small amount of curry paste, or be a bit creative with your sweet spices. For example, the thought of a vegetable stew doesn’t necessarily get the taste buds excited. I mean, is there even such a thing as a vegetable stew?

BUT, fry up some onion with a bit of curry paste, chop up all the left over veg languishing  in the bottom of your fridge, cook with some handy tinned tomatoes and you’ve got yourself a vegetable curry. Just chuck a bit of yoghurt on top to make it even more appealing to the young folk. Of course, another advantage of that particular do-it-yourself dish is that it’s not going to break the bank either.

A key to this whole spice thing is to match the heat with other appetising ingredients – if you’re planning on making curries and the like more regularly, a tin of coconut milk will quickly become your best friend. And cooking your rice in coconut milk too is always a winner… And kids like coconut…

But like I mentioned before, it’s not just about adding chillies to every dish. Thinking about channelling your inner-1970s child an attempting an actual chilli con carne? Then don’t reach for the pre-prepared sauce on the supermarket shelf and don’t add just a speck of chilli powder to liven it up. Turn your attention to all those sweet spices in your rack – cloves and cinnamon aren’t just for Christmas you know. They can add richness to your dish and could be more interesting, appealing flavours for your kid’s palate.

So instead of sticking to plain ingredients with plain flavours, open up your children’s meal times to a whole new world of colour. Just don’t overdo it. Biting into a chilli isn’t the most pleasant experience for anyone, let alone a pre-schooler. And make sure they don’t wipe their hands anywhere near their eyes…