|Help! My kids won’t eat fish|
By Cara Rosenbloom, RD
Posted: June 2012
Canada’s Food Guide encourages all Canadians to eat fish at least twice a week, but that’s hard advice for some children to swallow.
Many kids dislike fish, but even the toughest can be converted if you serve it in imaginative, delicious new ways. Use this guide to help you pick the best-for-kids fish, and prepare it so they’ll eat it up.
Low in calories and high in protein, fish is a healthy choice. It is also a significant source of vitamin D and minerals such as selenium, magnesium and iron.
Fish contains hard-to-find omega-3 fats, which are important for the development of the brain, eyes and nerves in children. Omega-3 fats also protect heart health, which is important now and for the future.
Some fish also contain harmful mercury, which may slow brain development and impair learning ability. Health Canada suggests choosing these fish, which contain higher levels of omega-3 fats and are also low in mercury:
|| Arctic char
|| Atlantic mackerel
|| Rainbow trout
|| Lake whitefish
Many other fish are low in mercury but don’t pack quite as much omega-3 value; these include mild-tasting white fish such as sole, halibut and tilapia.
Health Canada suggests limiting high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy, escolar, and fresh or frozen tuna. Canned albacore tuna is high in mercury, so choose canned light tuna instead. Read the complete guidelines from Health Canada.
No bones about it
Fish bones can be a big turn-off, so ask the fishmonger to help you select varieties with the fewest (or softest) bones. Fillets of salmon, rainbow trout, sole, halibut and monkfish are good choices, as are seafood such as shrimp, crab and squid rings (which many kids love!).
If your baked barramundi and soggy sole aren’t cutting with your kids, it’s time to try something new and inspired! Pair fish with other foods that your children already like – say, pasta or rice – so they are more likely to taste what you’ve prepared. Try some of these unique ideas:
- Enjoy cracker-coated fish fillets. Use sole, tilapia, turbot or haddock. Spread with a thin layer of light mayonnaise, then dip in your child’s favourite cracker crumbs. We love using whole grain cheddar crackers. Bake or pan-fry the fish and serve with your child’s favourite dip.
- Pair fish with fruit. Fish goes well with citrus flavours like orange, lime and lemon. Try our Fresh citrus fish sticks.
- Go Mexican! Fish tacos, shrimp fajitas or tuna quesadillas let the kids build their own dinner while incorporating fish into tortillas, lettuce, tomato, salsa and shredded cheese.
- Try sushi. Your kids may say “yuck” to raw fish, so ask for rolls made with shrimp, surimi (fake crab meat) or cooked crab. Or use canned salmon and create your own easy hand rolls with sheets of nori seaweed (available in most grocery stores), brown rice and julienned carrot and cucumber.
- Burger night, with a twist. Make fish cakes or fish burgers and serve them on a bun with your child’s favourite condiments.
- Show some Italian flair. Fish and pasta complement each other nicely. Try seafood lasagne or spaghetti mixed with a can of light tuna and spaghetti sauce. Tuna is also great on pizza.
- Spike some sandwiches: Make tuna or salmon salad sandwiches with interesting additions like sunflower seeds, Dijon mustard or dried cranberries.
Once your kids begin to love fish, protect the environment by purchasing varieties harvested from sustainable fisheries, which farm fish in a responsible manner that protects aquaculture for future generations. Visit Canada’s seachoice.org to help you choose sustainable fish and seafood.