I wonder how rich I would be if I got a dollar every time I said to either one of my boys throughout the last 18 years - 'eat your veges!' or 'I think you should have some salad with that half roast chicken!' or 'just one more spoonful of peas, please'.
Whether you have good or bad eaters, I think I can safely say that historically, most children will scoff all that is tasty on their plate (meat, gravy, chips, pasta) and leave the 'yucky stuff' (veges and salad) for the dustbin. Always 'totally full' when it comes to vege time. However can always find space for a slice of lollycake or scoop of Hokey Pokey ice cream.
They don't care about the starving kids in Africa at all!
Then we have to consider their contrary swings of food mood, one day they are happy to eat broccoli; the next day - well - is the next day. So how do we do it? How do we get our children to 'make a picnic on their fork - with a little bit of everything?' without engaging in some instances, their gag reflexes? As concerned parents we all know if they are not eating their veges then they are missing out on all those amazing vitamins, daily intake of fibre and antioxidants, all the good stuff they need when growing!
I have to admit I was lucky up to a certain age with Jack and Tom. I used to tell them every day when they asked what was for dinner, I would always repeat - 'ah, it's your favourite'. Some days it wasn't as tasty as the last, but they would always repeat - 'ah it's my favourite' - psychology 101, however like with Santa, I couldn't trick them for long!
So what do we do - how do we become more clever in the kitchen and on the plate? Here are a few tips I used and also some clever ideas from talking to friends of mine, with differing levels of vege consumption. Give them a go and let me know how you get on.
A really good and easy ploy is to hide veges in your children's favourite dishes - say lasagne, a delicious all round family pleaser - along with the pasta you could layer slices of zucchini and/or roasted peppers (but don't let them see you do it!)
Or try the same colour veges with say macaroni cheese and fold through little florets of cooked cauliflower - a yummy combination if I do say so myself.
For me though the answer is cooking outside and now summer is here we can pull the cover off the BBQ and click! click! - cooking alfresco.
Food becomes so much more exciting when you skewer or marinate with a yummy sauce, which can be vegetable based if pureed. Salads become more interesting, food becomes more colourful and on the whole it's a fab family experience all round.
Invite some school buddies round. Eating with friends is not just for adults, children will be far more experimental if your child's best buddy is happy to tuck into a plateful of green stuff.
Kebabs are a great way to get your kids interested especially if they are able to put together their own personal selection of meat, veg and sauce. Get them involved and committed, with loads of choices, start at the supermarket, then in the kitchen preparing the veg into bit sized pieces then skewer with the meat of their choice. Finally at the dinner table they can add their sauce - voila!
Marinades are also a fab way to disguise the flavour of some of the more adventurous veges like capsicum or onion.
Corn on the cob is delicious, looks appetizing and is great for a BBQ. It's an interactive veg to eat, everyone gets a face full and it's crispy and sweet. Nice and seasonal as well so you will get all the best nutrients, and it's won't break the bank.
The season has just begun so let me know how you get on and what tips you have for getting more veg into your little ones and most importantly - good luck.
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