Making meals fun is imperative for getting our little ones to try a new food for the first time. When a child eats something different for the first time, that experience will define their relationship to that food. If you can build healthy relationships around vegetables while they’re young, you’re ensuring that they’re getting all the nutrients they need to grow.
This is especially important to parents of children with dietary requirements, or those vegetarian or vegan households. Coming up with inventive ways to prepare and serve nutrient-rich food can be a time-consuming process, so we’ve done some of the hard yards for you.
Here are some fun hash brown stack ideas for kids.
Nutrients for Growth
Before we start stacking it’s important to know which nutrients are beneficial to your child’s or children’s development.
These are the key nutrients that promote growth, and the foods they can be found in:
- Protein – eggs, tofu, beans, lentils
- Fiber-rich Carbohydrates – whole grain bread/breakfast cereals/pasta
- Starch-rich Carbs – potatoes, rice, crackers, bread
- Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats – whole milk dairy products, high-quality cooking oils, nuts
- Calcium – dairy products, egg yolks, tofu, spinach, broccoli
- Folate – whole grain cereals, black or kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, spinach, asparagus
- Iron – whole grains, beans, nuts, spinach
- Vitamin A – carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, egg yolks
- Vitamin C – citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower
Trying to incorporate a variety of these elements into each meal is integral, thankfully some of these ingredients contain several of these nutrient groups.
A Good Foundation
As with building anything, a good foundation will define the success of the meal. When I started making these hash stacks I was making the browns from scratch. This is a time-consuming process that ended up with me testing almost every kind of frozen hash brown in existence.
Dr. Praeger’s Hash Browns
The best ‘frozen hash browns’ I’ve come across so far are Dr. Praeger’s range of hash browns. They’re all soy-free, have high-quality ingredients, and can be toasted in a toaster oven in a matter of minutes. Dr. Praeger’s Hash Browns come in three styles:
- Four Potato Hash Browns – red bliss, purple, Yukon Gold, and sweet potatoes
- Southwest Hash Browns – Yukon Gold potatoes blended with green chilies, jalapeño peppers, and chili powder
- Sweet Potato Hash Browns – shredded sweet potato and a hint of brown sugar
In my experience, the Southwest Hash Browns tend to be a little too spicy for a young palette. The Four Potato and Sweet Potato Hash Browns make the best foundations for your kiddy hash stacks.
Depending on your diet and access to different ingredients, some of the following may or may not be applicable to you and your family. Here are my suggestions for hash stack layers:
Hot Tip! Use the sub-heading names for these layers to make building the hash stack a fun and educational experience for your kids.
Under the foundation of any building, you will find a hard, thick, brown area which we call earth. For our hash brown stacks, the earth can be a piece of wholegrain toast. This gives us our fiber-rich carbohydrate element, as well as a little iron and folate.
On top of our Earth, we want to put down the first layer of our building. It’s time to call in the hash brown, as they will soak up some of the nutrients and flavors from the upper levels. As previously stated, the Four Potato or Sweet Potato Hash Browns from Dr Praeger’s work well here. They’re both high in starch-rich carbs, Vitamin A, and they both have sweet potatoes which are high in Vitamin A.
This should be the most transient element in the dish and can depend on what ingredients you have on hand. I like to rotate between the following:
- The Spinach Greenhouse – wash spinach leaves, cut up some fresh garlic, heat some olive oil, and lightly saute the spinach. This covers fats, calcium, folate, iron, Vitamin A, and C.
- The Beans Bedroom – this may take some experimenting first, find a way of cooking either black or kidney beans that your kid likes. This covers protein, folate, and iron.
- The Rooftop Garden – tomato and avocado cut into slices and arranged nicely make this layer. This covers fats and Vitamin C.
The cherry on top per se, I will either fry an egg or scramble some tofu to put on top. This gives you all the protein your kid needs, and looks great on the top of the stack.
Now you have all the knowledge you need to make your kids a hearty breakfast which they will love, and which will give them all the nutrients they need.