Photo credit Mali Maeder
Mealtimes with children can end up being an exhausting struggle. Some don’t like mushrooms, others don’t like steak and trying to get anything healthy and green into young mouths can be more difficult than teaching a duck to play the mandolin (have you ever tried that? It’s really hard). However there are some great ideas for improving your kid’s taste buds and making mealtimes a fun and exciting adventure again.
Nutri Kids are a set of books which aim to educate children on the benefits of healthy eating by giving various vegetables a character. Like Connie Carrot. It helps make eating vegetables cool for young kids and can increase their interest in eating a variety of things.
Cooking with your children is a fabulous way of encouraging healthy eating. Letting them nibble the ingredients as you chat about what you are doing and why they are good for you. There are a variety of top rated bread cookbooks which you can use to introduce your children to more exotic tastes such as olives or nuts and seeds. Plus they can get their hands dirty, which most children won’t shy away from! Just make sure they clean them first.
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If you are really struggling there are some brilliant ideas on how to sneak vegetables into various child favorites. Including this fantastic recipe for a pasta sauce which will have them oblivious to the goodness hidden within. 7 different types of veg to be exact!
Peel 2 onions and trim 1 small leek and 2 stalks celery, halve and deseed 2 red bell peppers. You can either chop these roughly with your hands or use an electric chopper on pulse mode. Finally, grate 2 zucchinis and 2 carrots.
Over medium heat, warm a large saucepan and add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Chuck in all the vegetables and add a large pinch of dried oregano and 2 bay leaves. You want to cook the veggies until they are soft but not burnt as this will spoil the flavor with bitterness. It should take about 20 minutes with lots of stirring.
Peel 1 small butternut squash and cut it in half, scoop out and discard the seeds then roughly grate the flesh. Add it to the pan of vegetables. Add 4 (14.5 oz) cans plum tomatoes with juice, 2 cups water, a pinch of sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the pot to the boil and then leave simmering for a further 30 minutes to ensure the squash is nice and soft. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft. You will need to leave this to cool once you remove it from the heat, remove the bay leaf and then blitz everything until smooth with a hand blender.
Your children will have no idea they are eating anything other than a typical pasta sauce. They could even use some of that bread they made to mop up the leftovers!
Experiment with them and see what works, but don’t make mealtime a chore. Quite often that in itself will put young minds off anything set in front of them.