healthy kid-friendly dinners

I heard a five-year old friend say to her mother recently, a very dear friend of mine and dedicated mum, "I just want a dinner I recognise."

We giggled at the time but we both kinda got it. 

Most kids aren't interested in trying new foods and I sometimes find I have to offer something a few times to both Tilly and Henry before they'll accept it as familiar fare. Henry has started referring to food as 'kids food' or 'grown up food' – why, I have no idea as we eat together as a family, the same foods. 

Anyway, one of my new year's resolutions is to increase the nutritional value of some of the recognisable foods that kids will usually tuck into with no arguments.

First up: Tuna Mornay.


TUNA MORNAY (with chickpeas!)


1.5 cups brown rice

1 onion, finely diced

1 420g tin of chickpeas

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 head of broccoli

2 tblsp plain flour

2 cups whole milk

1 425g tin tuna 

1 salt, pepper

approx 1 cup grated cheese


Cook the brown rice (I use the absorption method, works every time.)

In a heavy based pan cook the onion in a little olive oil.

While it is browning, throw the chickpeas into your food processor with the lemon juice and whizz. 

Steam your broccoli in florets (I use a microwave steamer – it takes 5 minutes) and add ot the chickpeas and whizz again.

To the now-browned onion add the flour and stir. Cook on low heat for a few minutes. Then add 2 cups of milk and cook for another 2-3 mins. It will thicken up to coat a spoon. Stir in the tin of drained tuna. Now add your chickpea and broccoli mix and stir well. Add more milk if it is too thick.

Season well and add in your cheese – I use Nimbin Natural Elbo style vegetarian cheese – no animal rennet and it has really low sodium.

Gosh this is nice.

A note about FOOD PROCESSORS -> I use one that Adam bought me for Christmas a hundred years ago but is still awesome. I think the secret is (and we fluked it) to have a processor that stores easily and washes really easily, otherwise you don't want to get it out and use it. 

P.S. This is yummy the next day for lunch too!


20 Comments on “healthy kid-friendly dinners
January 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm

That looks really yummy! My son is like that, he gets really insecure if I go too ‘out there’ with a meal for him. I must try this recipe, I love the idea of adding chickpeas.

International Woman of Mystery
January 13, 2010 at 12:28 am

Love it! I’m going to try it soon – always looking for new fish things. Do you ever make macaroni & cheese? I used to add silken tofu and pureed cauliflower to it. Fabulous! xo

January 13, 2010 at 10:44 am

but when do you add the tuna?
no not being facetious – genuinely puzzled here

January 13, 2010 at 10:52 am

VETTY! You’re right – eek! Sorry, going back into the post to ADD THE TUNA IN now!! thanks! xxx

January 13, 2010 at 11:00 am

silken tofu and pureed cauliflower! that’s genius! I’m going to try this xxx

January 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm

thanks lovey – you know i’m such a novice when it comes to these things!

January 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm

oh Yum…. I wonder if I can get my suddenly fussy 6 year olds to eat this, they’ve always turned up their noses before yet they LOVE tuna!

Alex Nolan
January 14, 2010 at 9:47 am

Right-o! There is NO way that either of mine would eat tuna mornay and call it ‘something they recognise’!!! James is allergic to fish, so we avoid things like that for all family members (with the exception of us, when sans enfants…

Could you please come up with something suitably different that means I actually want to bother cooking for them, when all they want is sausage, mash and peas! Or lasagne! Edward asked Grandma for ‘roast pie and meat’ last weekend! I can hear words from Oliver Twist ‘meat?, meat? Who has been giving him meat?’

I have made moussaka which they love, but to be honest, it is so much easier to buy from Waitrose as it takes an AGE to make. Any top tips for a speedier version perhaps?

Thanks, Fi, you’re a love!!!


Alex Nolan
January 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

PS. I have just read the new list down the side..

I make soap regularly – really simple, but hellishly time consuming. Also, a bit fumey, for a preggy lady like yourself…

Now, about that dresser for Tilly – have you joined ‘’? Great website for free stuff – like ebay but free, as long as you are prepared to give away, you can receive free stuff too – can be anything! Also, gets stuff out of (or prevents stuff entering!) landfill, and all about the love of recycling.

Happy surfing the web…..


January 14, 2010 at 10:41 am

Alex – have you ever tried a fruit and veg curry for the kids?

my kids love them. i have been meaning to give Fi the recipe to try out for ages now.
you can use whatever’s around and include peas and sultanas or whatever fruit they like this week!!
also you can adjust the curry to suit fussy palates.

January 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Fi, do you reckon cannelini beans would work too? I despise chick peas thanks to my grandmother who made us eat them when we were growing up (I also blame her for my hatred of lentils and eggplant, thanks Nan!).

January 14, 2010 at 8:43 pm

hmmm, am not traditionally a fan of moussaka myself having been fed a couple of very oily versions along the way somewhere but am always up for a challenge! Obviously FORGET the tuna thing if James is allergic, but I think perhaps we should have a week here of simple, quick, cheap, kid-friendly menus… leave it with me my friend and I will return to this, I promise xxx

January 14, 2010 at 8:44 pm

that is an awesome site, thank you! am actually posting tomorrow night about my whole reduce/reuse/recycle mania so this is fab, thank you xxx

January 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm


January 14, 2010 at 8:48 pm

I reckon cannellini beans might actually work better as they are a less distinctive taste and they’ll blend up beautifully. Butter beans too. Great idea and I might see what else I can sneak them into! Very sad you hate lentils – might have to attempt to sway you with a dahl bhat some day? xxx

Alex Nolan
January 15, 2010 at 3:12 am

I have a recipe (could be a Cranks recipe) for a butter bean stew type thing. It is lush – serve with salad and a hunk of bread – and a good glass of merlot or rioja and you have me in seventh heaven. Shall I find it – post on here or email, Fi?

Alex Nolan
January 15, 2010 at 3:20 am


3 tabsp olive oil
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tins butter beans, drained
3 cloves garlic
1tsp sundried tomato puree
Basil leaves to garnish

Warm olive oil in pan and add tomatoes. Heat for 2-3 mins.
Add beans, crshed garlic, tomato puree, S&P.
Simmer for 5 mins
Transfer to plate, add more olive oil to your taste and sprinkle with basil leaves and pepper.

The recipe actually is a bit different than this, and uses 350g ripe tomatoes if you fancy, but the last line of the method is actually this:

“Wipe the bowl clean with a piece of bread. It’s child’s play”

Like I said, LUSH!!!

Simple and VERY quick.


Might be tea tonight…..

January 15, 2010 at 3:37 pm

In addition to Alex’s freecycle suggestion, may I recommend, if you’re in the area, the Dulwich Hill Salvo’s on New Canterbury Rd? They always have dressers – some much prettier than others, but still.

Sorry, have lurked on your blog for a while, which I found via another one: what a great vibe!

January 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Thanks K, am tempted to get in car and drive to Dulwich Hill this afternoon! I LOVE a good Salvo’s! Thanks for your vibey comment, that’s a lovely thing to say. xxx

January 19, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Just made this with cannellini beans and peas (had no broccoli) – yummmmmmmm!


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