Eating family meals: how to make fish fun

Aldi prawn skewers
Child-friendly: kids like eating food from sticks, like these prawn skewers Credit: Pearson

Nutritionist Catherine Jeans offers the Herdman family valuable tips on how to encourage their children to eat more fish.

The family

The Herdmans are from Newbury, Berkshire. David, 39, is an account development manager and Leanne, 34, runs a dance school. They have three children, nine- year-old Jimmy, Stanley, seven, and Darcey, four.

How to get kids to eat fish

David says: “I know there are lots of health benefits to eating fish, and would love some ideas on how to encourage our children to enjoy more types – at the moment they like fish fingers but not much else.”

Catherine says: “It’s about committing to eating fish as a family, especially if you as parents are not that keen. It’s important to give your children the chance to be able to enjoy fish by getting them used to the taste. You should focus on oily fish, which are rich in omega-3 fats, but you can also find these in seafood, such as prawns.

“Aldi stocks a good range of fresh fish and seafood. A great way to start kids eating fish is by learning to make a tasty Spanish paella, with rice and seafood, which is easy.

“Kids like eating food from sticks, so think about making kebabs with salmon or prawns with lots of veggies, especially if you have the barbecue out. Use cajun spices or teriyaki sauce to add a nice flavour.

“If your kids like fish fingers, you can make a healthier version yourself: chop up some fish, sprinkle with a bit of flour and dunk first in beaten egg and then in a crispy coating with some goodness in it – use ground nuts and seeds as well as herbs, spices and maybe a little lemon zest.

“Another one to try is fish burgers; add cooked fish to mashed potato with flavourings before covering in a crispy outside. Or for a lighter, Thai-style fish cake, blend raw fish with spring onions, egg, ginger, chilli and garlic, and make into patties. Coat with flour and gently sauté them.

“Most kids enjoy making fajitas, so for something different, put out grilled salmon or prawns as well as the usual meat. Another children’s favourite is a tasty fish pie using cream sauce and a flaky pastry or mashed potato top.”

Simple swap

Leanne says: “The children like yogurts for dessert, but I’d love some inspiration for healthy alternatives.”

Catherine says: “Fruit is a good place to start: try to build a healthy dessert around it. Dishes like baked apples are a bit out of fashion, but are easy to make and very tasty. I am a big fan of crumbles, too – they are a good way to use up summer fruit. Make the topping with crushed nuts or oats and seeds to add more fibre, and cinnamon or dessicated coconut to sweeten rather than sugar.

“Fruit kebabs look appealing, and are a good way to introduce different fruits. You could even dip them in a little melted dark chocolate for a treat – Aldi’s Moser Roth range is great.

“Another favourite is what I call a ‘five-minute cheesecake’: mash ground almonds with honey and banana, then layer in a glass dish with slices of fruit such as kiwi, yoghurt and berries. Delicious.

“Now the weather is warmer, you could prepare some homemade fruit lollies using puréed fruit or smoothies, which are always a hit with children.

Countdown to Rio

“We were lucky enough to watch some track and field at London 2012, which the boys fondly remember, and they’ll want to watch the athletics again from Rio at home. The children will probably dash off into the garden to recreate the events. We’ll have the bunting up and will be cheering on the athletes.”

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Fresh idea: Aldi's Thai lemongrass and ginger sauce will spice things up Credit: Aldi