Spice is nice: recipes for children

Posted by / Thursday 31 August 2017 / Eating Preschool Age

"After many years of planning and writing menus for under 5’s, it has become clear to me that children’s tastes are changing", says Deborah, our resident cook.

"For most, gone are the days of bland bolognaise, tasteless pies and watery stews. Based on observations, our nursery and pre-school children are now heartily tucking into chillis, kormas, jalfrezis, casseroles and enchiladas all delicately but convincingly flavoured!

Deborah Bolt

Deborah is the Kitchen Supervisor for three of our Early Years' services in Exeter - Beacon Nursery, Cedars Pre School and Whipton Children’s Centre. She uses the food to teach the children some basic cooking and baking skills.

"Even my puddings are lightly enhanced with a sprinkle of cinnamon or mixed spice.  Our babies (all over 12 months) will happily enjoy a mildly spiced Lamb Curry or Vegetable Jalfrezi for lunch or a Sweet Potato and Ginger Cake for pudding.

"I think this change in taste is due mainly to our multicultural society. Many families think nothing of a midweek Chinese takeaway or a weekend treat of curry and rice. The media also plays a huge part in this via children’s TV. Whatever it maybe, I for one am embracing this trend via my weekly menus!

Here's two recipes with a bit of spice - Vegetable Chilli and Lamb Curry. 

Vegetable Chilli (Serves 5)

What you'll need

1 Small Onion
1 Small Carrot
2 Sticks of Celery
1 Small Courgette
1 Cup of Red Lentils
1 tablespoon Tomato Puree
1 Tin Kidney Beans
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
250ml Boiling water
A Little Vegetable Oil
Mild Chilli Powder to taste


How to make it

  1. Peel and chop the onion, carrot and celery.
  2. Chop the courgette.
  3. Heat oil in a pan.
  4. Add onion, carrot and celery. Cook for a few minutes.
  5. Stir in the courgette. Cook for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the tomato puree and chilli powder. Cook for a further minute.
  7. Add drained kidney beans and red lentils.
  8. Dissolve stock cube into the boiling water and add to the pan.
  9. Bring to the boil and simmer until vegetable and lentils are soft.
  10. Serve with white rice.
"We educate our children on where their food comes from and help them to understand how it affects their bodies, helping them to make healthy choices now and in the future."


Lamb Curry (Serves 5)

What you'll need

1 Small Onion
1 Small Carrot
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
250g Lamb Mince
1 Cup of Peas
1 Tablespoon Tomato Puree
1 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
½ Heaped Teaspoon Curry Powder
½ Heaped Teaspoon Mild Chilli Powder
250ml Boiling Water


How to make it

  1. Peel and chop onion and carrot.
  2. Dry fry the mince in a hot pan until brown.
  3. Add chopped onion and carrot, cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, spices and water.
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

"For a tasty change, I serve this with naan bread and a little natural yoghurt flavoured with freshly chopped mint."

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