Seafood… Will Kids Ever Love It?
In her latest blog post for The Big Prawn Company, food blogger, Claire Partridge considers how we can get kids into seafood from a young age.
Seafood is really one of those things you sort of grow into, isn’t it? I wasn’t much of an adventurous child when it came to food, I existed off a diet of plain chicken and mashed potatoes for about the first 8 years of my life.
But does it need to be this way? Kids are often described as “fussy” or “difficult eaters” but more often than not, they avoid things because they’re unknown, or they’ve never been given the opportunity to try them. That’s not me parent bashing – I didn’t really travel much until my late teens and it was only then I started to understand about world foods and different cuisines and I avoided foods I didn’t know because they were scary. What if I didn’t like them? How would I eat my dinner if I hated what I’d been given? Would I go hungry. None of the above happened by the way, I just had regrets about not getting more adventurous sooner.
So, how can we possibly add seafood into kids’ diets, without scaring the living daylights out of them? I’ve prepared 5 ideas to get you going…
Start ‘Em Young
Most babies and young children will try anything that’s put in front on them, so perhaps, don’t leave it too late. The big rule here is that you check incredibly carefully for any bones or bits of shell before you give seafood to a small person as they could choke, but if you’re careful, there’s no reason why after a year old a baby can’t try prawns or clams. Note though – if severe allergies run in your family, or your little human is already experiencing dietary related allergies, you might want to wait until they are a toddler and their immune system is further developed before introducing shellfish.
Try Easy to Eat Fish First
White fish is probably a good place to start, as it’s easily digestible and is less likely to cause allergies. Fish such as haddock, cod or sole is fairly easy for young mouths and new teeth to handle (again, check carefully for bones) and could go well with some pureed vegetables or mashed potato as a nutritious dinner. Lots of omega 3 fish oils = a big brain, so I’m told.
Make Food Fun
Once your kids are a bit older and if they are showing an interest in their food, why not try making some prawn kebabs as a family activity before a barbecue (or if it’s raining in Britain as it usually does, for under the grill on a Sunday afternoon)? The bright colours from peppers make the food look appealing and you could even teach them how to make a marinade and prepare the skewers for cooking. By getting involved in the preparation and cooking processes, you might find they are more likely to try something different.
Scratch Cook Childhood Favourites
If you’re into cooking at home and wanted to get the kids involved, ideally after the success of your kebab making above, why not try making your own versions of childhood favourites fish fingers? Make it fun by trying out different types of fish in them, try some with and some without added vegetables and see who can come up with the most creative and tasty version for the whole family to enjoy. It’s probably best to avoid smoked fish for really young children, due to the higher salt levels, but there are still some other great fish options you could experiment with in your recipes.
Use Seafood to Learn About the World
Not all fish and seafood will be native to your shores, so why not try some more exotic dishes and turn it into a geography lesson? Prawns and flaky white fish makes a great filling for soft tacos. You could try a Mexican night, where it’s the kids’ responsibility to learn some facts about the country and under adult supervision make fish tacos for everyone, using authentic ingredients. Seafood also goes well within gumbo or jambalaya dishes – an opportunity to host a New Orleans night from the comfort of your kitchen perhaps? Think about what else you could try too – could you make a themed dessert, or make some local soft drinks to really get into the spirit of things?
Adults, you could even enjoy an actual spirit or two but keep that to yourselves when there’s small ears listening!
Written by Claire Partridge – alter ego What Claire Did – a 30 something blogger from Glasgow in Scotland who loves cooking, eating out and travel.