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Five ways to sneak fish into kids' diets

Jane O'Shannessy: Coles Home Economist
Monday, July 9, 2012
Five ways to sneak fish into kids' diets

Getting kids to eat well can be a challenge. While it’s easier to encourage children to eat meat or hide the odd vegetable in more palatable foods, getting them to tackle fish can be a much trickier proposition.

But, fish forms an essential part of a healthy diet and ideally should be eaten twice a week, so it pays to be persistent. To make it easier, try these top tips on how to make fish more appealing to kids.

1. Crumbed fish

Cut skinless white fish or salmon into bite-sized pieces and crumb them. You can lightly dust pieces with flour, or polenta – for children with allergies to egg or wheat and gluten. Alternatively, brush the fish with some lightly beaten egg and coat with dried breadcrumbs. Japanese panko crumbs give a very crispy crumb, but a cornflake crumb works just as well. Shallow fry the pieces until golden, and then drain on absorbent paper. Serve with sweet chilli sauce or mayonnaise mixed with a little Greek yoghurt and lemon juice. You can also add chopped herbs for extra flavour.

2. Choose mild fish

As a guide, white fish such as cod or barramundi tends to have a milder flavour than oily varieties like salmon. You can add fish to noodle stir-fries, but make sure to cook the fish and set it aside before sauteing the rest of the ingredients. Adding the fish back in at the end with the sauce will ensure it won’t overcook or disintegrate.

3. Make fish cakes

Make fish cakes or patties by “mincing” salmon or white fish in a food processor, and mixing with mashed potato, a teaspoon of mayonnaise, chopped shallots, some finely grated lemon rind, parsley, and an egg. Season well and add some breadcrumbs until the texture is firm enough to hold. Roll the mixture into small patties, dust with a few more crumbs and refrigerate for approximately an hour. Shallow fry and serve with mayonnaise or any other sauce your kids love. You can opt to make these into mini cakes that are easier for kids to handle, which can also be served in a small burger bun with lettuce and tomato.

4. Make mealtimes fun

Try baking fish in a baking paper parcel in the oven with some lemon slices, herbs, sliced leek, olive oil, salt and pepper. Kids will love helping to fold the parcels, not to mention opening them to eat what’s inside. To accompany, peel and cut some sweet potato wedges, and toss in a little oil, salt, and pepper. Bake these for 20 minutes on 220 degrees C, or until golden.

5. Choose a cheaper alternative

Canned tuna is a convenient and cost effective alternative to fresh fish, which you can add to pasta bakes, vegetable lasagne or fried rice.

More expert advice

Related video: Curtis Stone explains how to poach fish

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