Cooking with spices should not be a problem when serving food to children. It is possible to make spicy food that children will want to eat, and adults can also enjoy. Starters, main courses, desserts and party food can all be made with a little extra spice.
There are a few precautions to observe when preparing spicy food for children. Babies and infants have delicate digestive systems, and may have a bad reaction to spicy food. Infants under the age of one should never be given spicy food.
Children between the ages of one and two can be gradually introduced to mildly spiced food, but should not be given any hot spices that act as stimulants. Hot spices create a strong burning sensation within the mouth, and children do not want to eat any food that causes pain.
Older children can become more adventurous in their food choices once they are accustomed to eating food that is just a little bit spicy.
Here are a few tips and ideas for making spicy food that children will want to eat.
Many children enjoy eating chips with dips, so ideal party food could include some spicy Mexican or Tex-Mex food. Warm nachos can be served to children, with melted cheese and some creative toppings. Children can be encouraged to try a selection of party dips, ranging from mild to moderately spicy. These should including guacamole, salsa and spicy bean dip.
Other mildly spiced dishes suitable for children include fajitas, rice and beans, enchiladas and tostados. Older people who like their food a little more fiery should be offered additional chili sauce and jalapeño chillies, which children should not try.
A mild Indian curry makes a good meal when it is served with rice and chapattis or naan bread, and it’s easy to make a curry that children can eat, with a few mild ingredients. Chicken, sweet potato and coconut curry is a good option.
Most children enjoy trying to eat food using chopsticks, and can eat lightly spiced food that has been cooked in a wok. Stir-fried food can be served with noodles or egg fried rice. Children should be allowed to pick the type of food they prefer, such as sweet and sour chicken cooked with ginger.
Pumpkin pie, apple pies, banana bread, gingerbread, and most fruit cakes, will taste better when a little cinnamon and nutmeg are included in the ingredients. Cinnamon and nutmeg can be also be added to a child’s breakfast of oatmeal, served with milk and honey.
A little grated nutmeg should be sprinkled on the surface of hot egg custard and milk-based puddings, which can be cooked with a few cloves.
Spices can be added to hot sweet drinks, without adding a strong flavor. Cinnamon gives gentle warmth to a hot milky drink. Children may also like a sprinkle of cinnamon in a hot chocolate drink, a cup of cocoa or a malted milk drink.
Not all spices are hot and powerful, and spice can be safely added to main courses, desserts and cakes that children can eat. Some children may develop a taste for hotter and spicier food, after being gradually introduced to spices through a variety of ethnic meals, international cuisine and traditional local recipes. Younger children should only be served with milder food that does not contain any hot spice.