Getting the good stuff into your kids’ meals isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial for healthy development. Calcium in particular is important for strong bones and teeth, so it’s vital that you get enough of this into their diets. Here, Jane Rylands of British kitchen appliance manufacturer Belling shares her top tips for sneaking extra calcium into your children’s meals.
Getting the good stuff into your children’s diets isn’t always easy. But, by thinking creatively about how you incorporate these into their meals, you can ensure they’re getting enough of the right nutrients — even when you’re serving up their favourite treat meals!
Calcium is one of the most important minerals that your children will need. It supports the structure and hardness of bones and teeth, but also enables our blood to clot, muscles to contract and even encourages our heart to beat. Here, I will be sharing my top tips for parents looking to boost their children’s calcium intake with exciting meals that they will love eating.
Choose a cheese fondue
A cheese fondue that your kids can dip baked bread or vegetable sticks into is sure to be received well. And, with so many delicious cheeses that can be baked, including creamy ricotta and tangy goat’s cheese, you can try a different one each time to introduce your little ones to lots of different sources of calcium. Your kids are sure to love ditching their knife and fork and getting stuck in with finger food, so give this a go to add a fun element to dinnertimes.
Suggest making mini pizzas
Adults and kids alike love pizza, so why not try getting the kids involved with the dinnertime preparation? Making your own mini pizzas is a great way of letting the children get hands on and have lots of fun in the kitchen. Plus, they’re sure to feel a sense of achievement when they sit down to tuck into their tasty treat meal.
You’ll want to keep the cooking process as simple as possible to keep the kids engaged and to get to the fun bits quicker. I recommend buying pre-made mini pizza bases and setting up a workstation where they can add their own tomato sauce base and their favourite toppings. This could even be the perfect opportunity to pre-grate a variety of different cheeses and place them in the same bowl, to sneak some extra calcium into their dinner.
Serve cheese and fruit kebabs
Get creative with your kids’ snacks and give some cheese and fruit kebabs a go. All you’ll need is cubes of any hard cheese and some of their favourite fruits to thread onto a skewer. Halved strawberries, apple slices and whole grapes work really well for this. As well as ensuring your kids are getting their calcium and a portion of their five a day, they’re sure to find these more fun to eat than their usual snacks.
If you want to stir up excitement about this snack, you could even get them to help you prepare them. They can help chop the fruit and cheese and place them onto the skewers — just be sure to supervise your children around any sharp items like the knives or skewers themselves.
Create colourful smoothies
Kids can be easily drawn in by colour, and this is no different when it comes to the drinks they choose. Smoothies are a colourful, delicious and nutritious way to incorporate extra calcium into your child’s diet, and as the milk you use will be whizzed up into an appealing drink, they’ll be none the wiser!
Simply place a couple of handfuls of their favourite berries into a food processor with a sliced banana and top it up with 500ml of milk. Whizz together until the drink has a silky-smooth consistency and serve in their favourite cup or glass.
If you want to boost your child’s calcium intake even more, try switching regular cow’s milk for sheep’s milk. This alternative is recommended by the Sheep Dairying Association as it contains double the protein and about one third more energy than cow’s or goat’s milk. It is usually the choice of athlete’s looking to bolster their performance, so it will be perfect to boost your little one’s energy.
Make creamy desserts
Kids love sweet treats, which means they’re most likely looking forward to dessert each night than the main dish. And, while their favourite sponge cake might include some calcium, you can find desserts which are much higher in the mineral.
Try creating your own frozen yoghurt for a healthy post-dinner treat. I recommend following this frozen strawberry yoghurt recipe from BBC Good Food and setting out bowls of tasty toppings that your kids can add. Finely crushed biscuits and chopped nuts will work well, as will dried or fresh fruit pieces.
There you have it! Five ways to sneak some extra calcium into your children’s diets. Try one or all of these and you may just find a new family favourite