By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
I'm not much of a fan of vegetable food art once the meal is cooked. There's way too much else to do without the job of making cutesy pictures on a plate, and I'm not convinced that it encourages kids kids to eat more vegetables anyway. The most effective way to promote good health
Personally I'm of the if you don't eat some vegetables on your plate I'm taking away your (insert any electronic device) & or you'll go to bed without seeing (insert name of favourite TV show) camp, because I don't believe that our children are our friends. They're children and, as adults, we're meant to know more than them and teach them what we know.
So what do we know or what should we know?
We know that eating 5 serves of veg and 2 fruit each day is:
Helps to maintain a normal weight and prevent obesity
Protects against many types of cancer, particularly later in life
Protects against heart disease, particularly later in life
Strengthens the immune system
And because we love them and want what's best for them we know it's important to feed them vegetables.
Now before you all swear, shut down your computer and scream that I've no idea how hard it is, here are some tips which I hope help because I, like you don't want a battle on my hands each night either
Here are 8 strategies which I hope may help
1.Get them out of the kitchen while you're preparing the meal.
This is a very important step and goes against the happy family, let's all cook together theory. Aside from them getting in the way and adding to the mess, you don't want your kid to see what's going into the meal. Once they decide they don't like it, even if they've not tasted it, the game's over. Better to stick them out in the garden in front of any electronic device and keep them away.
Now this may sound strange but many people -kids and adults -are put off by the smell of certain vegetables cooking. Cauliflower is one vegetable that springs to mind. If you mask the smell of it cooking you're in a better position to get them to eat it once it's cooked
Using cauliflower as the example again, I've fooled many kids into believing they're eating mashed potato when they're actually eating pureed cauliflower. Blended carrots are also good.
4.Ensure they're hungry before they eat
As adults we're taught the importance of only eating when we're hungry; even though we don't always do it. Kids mostly do and if you feed them up straight after school they're not likely to want to eat when dinner time rolls round.
I'm not suggesting you dump loads of sugar onto your veg but you can sweeten it up by blending less sweet produce with sweeter produce. Broccoli blended with peas is a great combo with fish and sweet corn blended with zucchini is a great base for chicken.
The old "chop them 'til you barely see them" is a great trick but it's quite time consuming. To save time I drop the veg into the blender with a cup of water and give it a quick blitz. It's super-fast and an efficient way to ensure the veg is small enough to be concealed in most pasta sauces. All you need to do then is strain away the water (which you can also use as stock) and you're ready to cook.
7.Make it cheesy
Kids like cheese and there's nothing like a good cheese sauce smothered over baked veg to encourage them to eat more. The bonus to this is they also get calcium for strong bones and teeth.
8.Make a morning smoothie
Green smoothies made from spinach, cucumber, pear, dates, fresh mint, lemon, water and ice are surprisingly popular with kids. You do need a very good high speed blender to ensure there's no bits, but if you nail the recipe and your kid likes it, then you've got them to a great 2 serve start !
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