With the children back to school, the return to inevitable hunger tantrums can quickly become a headache. Nutritionist, mother and cookbook author, Lizzie King is here with her advice on how to manage the meltdowns with her easy, delicious and healthy snack ideas for kids. Scroll down for a tasty chickpea and sweet potato wrap recipe.
With the children back to school, the return to routine can be a welcome break, but soon enough, the daily hunger tantrums can quickly become a headache. Team that with confusing messages and labelling about what’s healthy and what isn’t, and it can be even more stressful.
My three children are always ravenous when I pick them up. And I know how hard it can be to resist demands for crisps and biscuits. This is when it’s really important to navigate a clear line, so that you can steer clear of the screams for cake, hunger meltdowns and tantrums.
Be straight-forward and honest
By being really straight up about what you’re feeding them and why is key (it doesn’t eradicate the pleas entirely, but it makes them way less frequent!). Empowering children with real, true information about how their food impacts their health can be simple and very powerful. So, if you’re having trouble overhauling your family’s food scene, do think about this as a useful tactic. Nuggets of information, like “all the different colours in food help your body to fight bugs so you won’t get a sore throat” or “fish is food for your brain to make you cleverer” “spinach has iron which gives you energy to run faster” make a big impact.
Taking children into supermarkets is no fun for you or for them. Marketing tactics aimed at kids can make you feel like you’re in a losing battle when you have to endlessly say no to all the neon-coloured, sugar-brimming “foods” that they want. Getting a regular order of fruit straight to your door means you can grab a few apples or bananas for an easy, instant snack.
Putting together a few ready-to-go snacks helps too. A tiny bit of prep on a Sunday or weekday evening can save you for the week. For example, freeze the extras from their morning smoothies into ice-lollies, serve up the leftovers from a batch of soup in lidded mugs for a perfect autumn warmer. Or my failsafe when I haven’t been shopping, a homemade trail mix; just tip a mixture of nuts, seeds and dried fruit into individual pots.
Never waste hunger
When it comes to making healthy snacks for kids from scratch, parents and carers can be put off by the hassle factor. But for me, thinking about what to feed my children when they are really hungry is easier than at any other time of day, so don’t go wasting it!
Precisely because they’re ravenous, they’ll be much more accepting of what you put in front of them and far more receptive to new ingredients and flavours. Hunger is such a valuable commodity in the world of feeding children and I capitalise on this at the school gates by ensuring they get a mouthful of something delicious that is really nutrient-dense and nourishing, even if it’s not always something they’d choose.
Homemade energy balls as well as dips and vegetable sticks, and fresh fruit are often my go-to. But I wanted to switch it up a bit here with these Sweet Potato and Chickpea Wraps. My lot all went wild for them. They are kind of the Holy Grail of snacks because they tick so many boxes.
They taste amazing which is always the most important part, they take no time to make, they’re extremely versatile, you can make them ahead to-go, or store the batter in the fridge for a few days. And they use cheap, store cupboard ingredients, as well as being packed with nutrients. They are high in magnesium, which is crucial for healthy bone development, Omega fats for brain function and Beta Carotene for keeping immune systems strong and those back-to-school bugs at bay. We can’t stop making them. And for a second option, I almost prefer them made double the thickness as a speedy pizza base too.
Sweet Potato & Chickpea Wraps
Makes 6 wraps
– 1 sweet potato
– 200g chickpea (gram) flour (or 100g buckwheat flour and 100g plain flour)
– 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
– sea salt and black pepper
– 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for frying
– 1 bunch of fresh dill, fronds picked and chopped
– grated hard cheese
– crumbled feta
– sliced red peppers
– chopped tomatoes
– sliced avocado
Roast the sweet potato in its skin for 30 to 40 minutes at 180ºC/350ºF until very soft to touch. Leave to cool slightly, then peel.
Sieve the chickpea flour into a large mixing bowl along with the turmeric. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Whisk in 750ml of water gradually until you have a smooth batter. Add the olive oil and cooked sweet potato and beat until smooth. Add more water if it seems too thick to be a pourable batter.
Heat some oil in a small frying pan (20cm), then use a ball of kitchen paper to wipe the oil around the pan. Ladle in the batter, tilting the pan so it covers the base evenly. Generously sprinkle over some chopped fresh dill. When bubbles appear around the edges, use a spatula to ease the flatbread away from the side of the pan, then turn it over and cook on the side for about 2 minutes until golden.
If you’re making this to-go, fill with your preferred toppings (I like avocado slices and chopped cherry tomatoes or grated cheese), then roll up into a wrap. If you’re making this for the kids at home, pile the flatbreads on the table with all the ingredients in bowls and let them build their own.
To make pizzas: pour double the amount of batter into the pan and cook for an extra minute or two on each side. Cover with toppings and some extra fresh dill, then slice into quarters and eat. My kids love adding their own toppings.