Christmas food made easy

December 14, 2012, 12:01 pm Kate Di Prima Yahoo!7

Don’t cook a million meals for Christmas Day! Here’s how to tweak one meal to suit all age groups

Christmas food made easy
Toddler + Preschooler
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It’s quite common for many households to prepare several meals to suit all the different members of the family. But there’s no need to slave for hours over the hot stove, because it’s possible for one simple and tasty meal to be adapted to suit all age groups! Here’s a handy guide to help you prepare typical Christmas Day meals, snacks and desserts so everyone can enjoy them on the big day.

Breakfast

For adults, teens and tweens

Offer French toast served with fresh cherries and reduced-fat vanilla yoghurt, as well as chilled Bircher muesli with reduced-fat blueberry yoghurt.

For kids two to five years

These littlies can enjoy the same French toast as the grown-ups, cut into soldiers or triangles and served with the cherries sliced in half, seeds removed and drizzled with reduced-fat plain or vanilla yoghurt. The muesli can also be offered, but make sure you remove the nuts, as these are a choking hazard for children under the age of five.

For littlies six months to two years

Cut the French toast into 1cm squares and stew or blend the cherries, removing any of the seeds. French toast is a healthy breakfast for this age group and it’s safe to introduce cooked egg around six months of age. Drizzle with plain, full-fat yoghurt (reduced-fat dairy should be reserved for those over two years of age). For the muesli, remove a few tablespoons of the pre-soaked mixture, taking out the nuts, and blend until only soft lumps remain. Serve with a tablespoon of plain yoghurt stirred through.

Pre-lunch or dinner nibblies

For adults, teens and tweens

Serve fresh, chopped summer fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, mango, banana, paw paw, blueberries and stone fruits, accompanied by a selection of cheeses and crackers.

For kids two to five years
Chop the fruit into fun shapes such as Christmas trees and stars, or cut into cubes and thread onto wooden skewers, carefully removing the spike-like tips. This is a great way to get young ones to try new fruits threaded between their favourites! For a great visual display, you can stick the skewers into styrofoam or ‘florist foam’ that’s been wrapped in Christmas paper.

The kids can serve themselves, but make sure you remove the large seeds from grapes, cherries and other stone fruits. Cut the cheese into small, manageable cubes for little fingers or slice over water or rice crackers.

For littlies six months to two years

If your bub is just starting with solids you can puree or fork-mash the fruit, depending on what stage he’s at. For older littlies, it can be eaten chopped. It’s best to remove all skins from fruit until your little one can chew through them (usually when he has two top and two bottom front teeth) and your tyke will love exploring through all the different tastes and textures, making lots of mess along the way. For this reason, it’s great to serve these snacks as part of some outside time, where you can rinse off under the tap!

Cut soft crackers such as Cruskits into thin strips so your little one can hold them in his hand. Be careful with some oven-baked crackers, as they can be very sharp on sensitive gums. From eight months kids can enjoy tasty cheese, cut into very small bite-sized pieces or grated into long ‘spaghetti’ strips.

Christmas lunch or dinner

For adults, teens and tweens

Turkey, chicken or ham can be served with a selection of cooked vegies such as baked pumpkin, potato and sweet potato, along with some greens such as lemon and almond beans and steamed broccoli or broccolini. Use flavours such as cranberry sauce to serve, and macadamia nuts or ginger and cloves in the cooking of the meat. You can also make gravy using the flavours from the pan once you’ve drained any oil. Use a salt-reduced stock and tomato paste to make a tasty jus.

Alternatively if you prefer a more ‘Aussie’ Christmas meal, serve fresh, cooked seafood such as prawns and fish (and don’t forget the oysters!) with a seafood sauce made with light mayonnaise mixed with tomato sauce. Cold cuts of turkey and ham go great alongside these, along with fresh salads such as rocket, cherry tomatoes and water chestnuts or roasted pumpkin, pine nuts and fetta.

For kids two to five years

Chop the cooked chicken, turkey or ham into small, bite-sized pieces that your little one can pick up with a fork, which he can enjoy with the family sauces and dressings. The vegetables can also be chopped into small pieces and you can add a bit of grated cheese melted on top to give them a more familiar flavour.

As for the seafood, your child can enjoy cooked prawns, hot or cold, and most freshly cooked fish. However there are a few types of fish that contain high levels of mercury and aren’t recommended for children or pregnant women – these include shark (flake), swordfish, marlin, sea perch, broadbill and orange roughie. Meanwhile, flathead, whiting, bream and snapper are all fine.

For littlies six months to two years

Blend, mince or chop the freshly cooked turkey, chicken or ham and mix with some of the cooked vegies. To add a creamy texture, you can mix with a few spoonfuls of plain yoghurt. Similarly, you can blend, mince, chop or flake cooked fish or seafood and mix with a small amount of ricotta or creamed cottage cheese. Add some blended tomato from your salad for vitamin C and flavour.

Desserts for the whole crew

Christmas cake and pudding are the traditional fare, but these may be too rich (or full of alcohol) for anyone other than the adults sitting around the table. For an alternative that suits the whole family, try a steamed pudding or frozen fruit dessert or gelati. Add dried fruits such as raisins, currants, sultanas and dates and serve with a ‘brandy flavoured’ custard, vanilla yoghurt or plain yoghurt with stewed fruit.

Traditional Christmas baking includes rum balls, white Christmas and fruit tarts, but equally tasty replacements everyone can eat include dried fruit and muesli bites,

mini fruit muffins and gingerbread Christmas tree decorations.


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