Healthy fast food at home

By Drum Digital
13 April 2014

Fast food isn’t always isn’t always junk food and food eaten at home isn’t always junk-free. The secret is to use nutritious, natural products when cooking – and make meals so delicious kids won’t even notice they’re eating healthy food.

Parents have suspected it for years and doctors are also starting to admit it: there’s a link between what kids eat and their behaviour. Aggressive, impulsive and unreasonable behaviour and self-centredness may be caused or aggravated by poor eating habits. Add to that the link between diet and learning problems and you begin to realise how much easier children’s lives become if they eat healthily. One of the biggest culprits in behavioural and other problems is junk food. This doesn’t include only fast food and takeaways but also home-cooked meals made with highly processed, refined ingredients that are loaded with chemical additives such as colorants, flavourings and preservatives. The secret is to use nutritious, natural products when cooking – and make meals so delicious kids won’t even notice they’re eating healthy food. These dishes are easy to prepare and tasty and they’ll provide your children with everything they need to start the new school year with a healthy body and mind.

Eggs and soldiers

Most kids prefer a boiled or scrambled egg to a precooked convenience meal which is good news for busy, time pressed moms who want to put a nutritious meal on the table. For this recipe remember to remove the boiled eggs from the water while the yolk is runny.

2 eggs per child

sliced bread, preferably wholewheat


Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Meanwhile toast the bread and spread with butter while still hot. Slice the toast into thin strips. Remove the eggs from the water and cut off the tops. The kids can dip the strips of toast into the egg yolk.

Lemon prego chicken

A quick and delicious meal.

4 chicken breasts, skin removed

juice of 2 lemons

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

15 ml olive oil

salt to taste

Gently flatten the chicken breasts with a meat mallet and marinate them in the lemon juice and garlic for an hour or longer. Season to taste with salt. Heat the oil and rapidly cook the chicken over high heat until golden brown on the outside and the liquid has evaporated completely. Serve immediately with mashed potatoes. Serves 4.

HINT The longer the chicken marinates the tastier it will be.


Delicious for breakfast with plain yoghurt. Oats are the main ingredient of granola. The quantities are just a guideline but ensure you use the same proportions.

5 handfuls rolled oats

1 handful sunflower seeds

½ handful sesame seeds

1 handful almonds

1 handful cashews

1 handful wheatgerm

olive or sunflower oil to coat the mixture

250 ml honey

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Mix all the ingredients and coat with the oil and honey. Spread on a baking sheet and

toast until golden. HINT Make a large batch and store it in an airtight container.

Homemade hamburger patties

Most readymade hamburgers are junk food. They have a high fat content and are made from the cheapest ingredients

available. They’re also packed with unnecessary colorants, flavourings and other additives which means it’s worth making your own.

500 g mince (beef, mutton or ostrich)

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 egg, whisked

1 handful breadcrumbs

5 ml English mustard

15 ml chopped fresh coriander or parsley

salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients and shape into four hamburger patties (any thickness or size you like). Chill until needed. Cook in a heated griddle pan or on the braai. HINT Serve on rolls (preferably wholewheat) with slices of cheese, tomato and onion, lettuce leaves and gherkins.

Fruit pudding

Instead of cakes and pastries treat the kids to this wholesome homemade pudding with its cake base and fresh fruit

topping. The blueberries can be replaced with frozen berries or other fruit such as strawberries, peaches, plums or pineapple.

100 g cake flour

5 ml baking powder

100 g butter, melted

200 g white sugar

1 egg

60 ml milk

70 ml blueberries

100 g cape gooseberries

15 ml brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Combine the cake flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Beat together the butter and white sugar as well as the egg and milk then blend both mixtures with the flour mixture, stirring to form a batter. Turn the batter into a greased ovenproof dish and sprinkle the berries on top, followed by the brown sugar. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 4-6.


Make the fishcake mixture in a food processor. Use any fish but remember mackerel, salmon and tuna contain plenty of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

3 fish fillets, boned and and skinned

a small handful breadcrumbs

1 egg

juice of 1 lemon

a few sprigs parsley or fresh coriander

salt to taste

olive oil

Place all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor and mix well. (Don’t overmix or it will become mushy.) Remove from the food processor and shape into cakes slightly smaller than hamburger patties. Chill in the fridge. Shallow fry in the oil in a heated cast-iron pan until golden brown on the outside.

Serves 4.

Chicken sausage with lentils

Excellent fast food as it’s ready in minutes and wholesome too. Lentils are packed with protein and contain no fat. They tend not to be a favourite with kids but this tasty meal is the ideal way to get them to eat pulses.

30 ml olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

150 g chicken sausages, sliced

1 can (400 g) lentils, drained

can (400 g) chopped Italian tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil, add the garlic and onion and sauté over low heat until the onion is soft. Add the sausages and stir-fry until just done. Add the lentils and tomatoes lower the heat and simmer until most of the liquid is reduced and you have a tasty sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

HINT Instead of using tinned lentils cook your own. Raw lentils don’t need pre-soaking and are cooked in minutes. Cook 250 ml in boiling water until soft. Season with salt at the end of the cooking time. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Use as described.


Kids love this delicious homemade drink which is an excellent substitute for fizzy cooldrinks.

4 lemons

100 g sugar

1 litre water

Thinly slice 2 lemons and place in a bowl. Add the sugar and a little water and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Crush the lemon slices with a potato masher. Squeeze the remaining 2 lemons and pour the juice into a jug. Add the sliced lemon mixture and remaining water and chill before serving.

HINT Serve with ice blocks made from fruit juice or water with tiny lemon wedges.

- Sarah McKerron

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