Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Anyone for dessert?

I was wondering recently whether to introduce puddings on a regular basis. At the moment, they are definitely treats and few and far between. I recall reading in some parenting book or magazine that it’s good to have a (reasonably healthy) pudding and to offer it without any conditions – so, no withholding pudding if dinner is not eaten – because it provides a wider variety of nutrients and the opportunity to get more food into the child if they don’t eat much of their dinner.

But we’re not really pudding people. Well, that’s not entirely true. If I go to restaurant, you won’t catch me refusing to see the dessert menu and more often than not you’ll hear me asking for it the second my plate is whisked from the table. I rarely go without dessert when out. And I will always have one (or more) for special occasions. On a daily basis, though, desserts, puddings and chocolate tend to be reserved for the evening and are usually a special grown-up treat, rather than a regular thing.

We did end up going through a stage where Rosemary was expecting ice cream at the end of every meal. Where she would ask how many spoonfuls of dinner she would have to eat in order to get ice cream. So we stopped giving ice cream, in the hope that she would just eat her dinner, with no expectations of treats of any kind (it mostly worked, though her desires for ice cream do surface on occasion). We definitely don’t want to go back to that.

What I’m thinking about are fruit-based puddings, like apple crumble, fruit pie, fruit jelly (made with fruit juice and agar agar flakes) and even just fruit salad. I’d have to tone down the amount of sugar I put in my crumbles, though. And maybe some other puddings that could count as reasonably healthy, though I can’t think of any that wouldn’t have to have fruit in to be considered healthy!

I am talking home-made here, too, not defrosting a Sara Lee gateau (which would be no good for me, anyway, as they all have gelatine in), though I do realise that home-made doesn’t always equate directly to healthier. So, it would add some extra work in for us. A lot of puddings would be things that Rosemary could help make, though, which is usually fun and has a whole bunch of other benefits, too.

Is this a good idea or a really stupid one? Do you have regular puddings or are they reserved for special occasions? Does pudding come with the proviso that the main course must be finished? And, in fact, do you have other courses, too? A salad starter, for example, or cheese board or something? Would it just lead to us all becoming obesity statistics? And can you recommend any reasonably easy and healthy puddings?


  1. The kids get offered fruit or yogurt as dessert. Fruit salad is easy and popluar, I use a mixture of fresh and tinned fruit in natural juice. Sometimes I make rice pudding, which is really easy and you can put in virtually no sugar or add fruit if you wish. Instead of crumble (my kids aren't keen on the topping) we have baked appples or other stewed fruits.
    Sometimes they have ice-cream but not very often. Now and then we make banana muffins if we have bananas to use up, again you can reduce the sugar content if you wish.
    I don't do any of the "no dessert if you don't..." my kids are good eaters generally and I don't like to make a big deal about food in general. The more fuss I make the more fuss they make it seems! We ahve a fruit bowl on our kitchen table and they are allowed to help themselves when they want a snack.

  2. What a great post! My 2 always have a yogurt after dinner which they love. Once or twice a week we have bananas and custard (Devon...guilty! I can't make homemade at the moment!) and maybe at the weekend we'll get some ice cream. I think everything in moderation. That's the way we were brought up and it never did us any harm.

  3. We have been of the habit of pudding lately, and they are so cheeky now they ask for it at lunch too! I wish we were more healthy, but I am just pleased they don't eat kid food anymore.

  4. Isobel has pudding at nursery - things like rice pudding are always a good one - make a batch and put portios in the freezer.

    You could use Agave nectar instead of sugar in the crumble and add oats.

    But mostly we don't have pudding, occasionally we make granola bars and have them as a supper snack.

    There is always a yoghurt!

  5. In France most families would have a 3 course meal at lunch and dinner. Pudding would consist of a fruit or a yoghurt, sometimes something nicer like rice pudding or pancakes. Pudding doesn't necessarily need to be something really sweet or unhealthy.

  6. Juicytots: Sounds good. I was thinking mostly fruit or fruit-based desserts, in order to get an extra portion or two of fresh fruit and veg. Rosemary's getting back into having a bowl of fruit at breakfast time too, which is good. She's not much good at helping herself to fruit yet - just takes one bite and leaves it lying around usually - but we do have it in easyish access, anyway.

    Laura C: Rosemary tends to have at least a couple of yoghurts throughout the day, so she's not always especially bothered about getting one for pudding, but maybe a couple of times a week would be OK.

    Susanna: That's the trouble; once you offer something (especially something sweet), they just want more and more... Just like me, really; one biscuit is never enough.

    Zoe: I hate rice pudding! Hate, hate, hate. But Chris loves it, so I suppose Rosemary should get to try it. OK. Agave nectar sounds interesting; will look it up. My crumble is already predominantly oats, so therefore incredibly healthy!

    Foodie Mummy: I was actually thinking about France and Spain when I asked about other courses, actually. In both places, there seemed to be a custom of having some kind of salad as a starter, then main course, then dessert which, as you say would often just be fruit or yoghurt. Special occasions would often call for a trip to the patisserie and a really fancy gateau or fruit tart. Mmmm. Mouth watering at the thought. Hmm. Maybe we should introduce a salad starter as well. And move near a patisserie!

  7. We have the occasional pudding, but I wouldn't have them all the time. I do use them as "punishment" sometimes, so paradoxically one child sometimes gets to have pudding because the other was naughty. (I'm evil.) I do know that if there were no conditions on having pudding, the main course would not be eaten at all half the time. The main reason we don't have pudding all the time is because I find it unnecessary, expensive and bothersome.
    (Sorry for being a bit of a grump - I'm still sick. Good luck with the decision. Beware of creating expectations you then have to live up to.)

  8. I have been thinking of this too. We very occasionally offer the kids ice cream on weekends, they love it, but otherwise we don;t do dessert, geekydaddy and I don't eat it. But as a kid myself we would have crumbles and various fruit dishes (and angel delight and birds custard and all sorts of other yummies!), and we loved it. None of us are overweight. I don't think it is unhealthy to offer homemade desserts, even small amounts of cookies or cake. In fact tonight I gave them a bit of brownie (organic but store bought) with ice cream and sliced pears, and they loved it. Thanks for inspiring me!

  9. It's spooky that I should stumble upon this post today as I was just wondering today whatever happened to puddings! I always give my toddler a puddings of fruits and fromage frais but us adults never get pud! I am sure in the past families all sat together for main meal and then "afters". And if you have friends over for a dinner party you wouldn't dream of not offering dessert. Hmmm, something to ponder.