My top 10 tips to smuggle vegies into kids…

Sadly, I’ve had to spend way too much of my time thinking about this. Miss Fruitarian (age 5) and Mr Meat-&-Potatoes (age 3) used to make most mealtimes about as joyous as stabbing myself in the eye. However after many mealtime disasters and much trial and error, I think I’m almost there with them reasonably able to consume most ingredients in moderate amounts. So I’m in a position to provide a helpful list of ways to get your children eating healthy food without complaint….

TIP 1:
Hiding healthy food in yummy meals

Some people are anti hiding food, thinking kids just need to learn to eat their vegetables. This is true. But my logic also states that once the kids are eating healthy food that’s hidden, their palates become used to the flavours and you can gradually reduce the amount you have to hide things until they will happily munch down anything.

TIP 2
Chop things small

Once food is grated or chopped finely, kids are much less able to identify and pick out foreign items. If it’s all mixed together in a yummy delicious meal that their tastebuds approve of, the battle is won. Use a grater, learn knife skills and invest in a mini food processor to make blitzing food quick and easy.

TIP 3
Keep it colourful

There’s a reason why kid’s toys are all bright. They love it! It attracts them and it looks fun. Use this logic in your mealtimes and you’ll have kids thinking ‘yum’ as soon as the plate is put down.

TIP 4
Kids love flavour

At some point around 8-12 months, both my kids went from loving bland, to needing much more challenging flavours. Don’t dumb food down thinking that they will prefer it. Sure, leave out the chili and olives, but experiment a little and you may be pleasantly surprised by how much the kids like interesting foods.

TIP 5
Variety

A British study found that 1 in 4 families ate the same meal on the same night of each week. If this works for you, fine. But my kids get really bored and uncooperative when being fed sausage rolls every Thursday night (I found this out the hard way). They like the surprise of ‘what’s for dinner’. It keeps it interesting and more playful.

TIP 6
Patience

Understand the current stage of your kid’s development and realise that it doesn’t matter if they don’t eat every meal. Perhaps it stems from the early frantic days when you shove as much milk into your kiddie as possible in the hope that they will sleep all night, but some days they are not hungry and do not need to eat. Maybe freeze their dinner, to avoid the frustration of scraping a whole bowl of food into the bin.

TIP 7
Plan Ahead

Yes, it’s boring. But it’s also a key to success. Know what’s for dinner before they ask you. It doesn’t mean you have to cook every night. When you do feel like cooking, make double batches and freeze portions so that even on hellish nights you have something good to give them.

TIP 8
You get what you get and you don’t get upset

This wonderful mantra is from Australian chef Bill Grainger. Visit him at www.bills.com.au. It sums up a couple of important things – 1. What you see in front of you is dinner. I WILL NOT go and make you toast or open a tin of beans. 2. You must TRY what is in front of you. You don’t have to like it, but you must try it.

However, if you kids are visibly gagging over something, or even you concede that perhaps things didn’t go so well in the kitchen tonight, then offer them a banana or a bowl of cereal. No interesting specials like spaghetti in the tin or cheese on toast. Please don’t prepare food twice in a night – they will sniff food victory.

TIP 9
Look at your own diet

Kids copy you. Assess what you eat and make modifications so that you are setting a good example. Quit crappy snacks. Start eating fruit again. Include more vegies in your cooking and rediscover how good fresh food can be. Perhaps your mum wasn’t’ so great in the kitchen and perhaps you didn’t have a good introduction, but now is your chance to eat well.

TIP 10:
Distract yourself

I’ve taken up knitting. Truly. So that I can sit at the dinner table, am present and can participate in dinnertime talk without having to actually watch the carnage. I breathe deeply, remember lessons learnt from the Buddhism for Mothers book and remind myself that food flying around everywhere, being smeared on chairs, spat out and pushed aside is part of children being children. If I watch them my blood pressure rises and I start yelling. Knitting seems to be more of a positive activity than guzzling wine which incidentally does also distract me quite nicely.

So there you have it, they’re the top tips that I’ve discovered. But what are yours?…

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11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Trina Dowling said,

    awesome website. where can i get your book & buddhism for mothers?

    • 2

      wendyblume said,

      Buddhism for Mothers with Lingering Questions is by Sarah Napthali – good for getting better perspective when faced with frustrating kid stuff!

      My book will be out September 😉

  2. 3

    Very wise advice, and quite funny too!
    My little guy loves vegetables so far, but I like your recipes to inject a little something new in his repertoire.
    Thanks,
    Karla

  3. 4

    Jodi Woodford said,

    These are great tips… my 6 year old used to be a fantastic eater but over night he has turned into a “white food groups” eater! We are using a lot positive discipline atm (thank god for Skylanders ;-)) which is currently working. He is not eating a meal yet, but he at least tries things for that coveted tick 🙂

  4. 6

    “You get what you get and you don’t get upset

    This wonderful mantra is from Australian chef Bill Grainger. Visit him at http://www.bills.com.au. It sums up a couple of important things – 1. What you see in front of you is dinner. I WILL NOT go and make you toast or open a tin of beans. 2. You must TRY what is in front of you. You don’t have to like it, but you must try it.

    However, if you kids are visibly gagging over something, or even you concede that perhaps things didn’t go so well in the kitchen tonight, then offer them a banana or a bowl of cereal. No interesting specials like spaghetti in the tin or cheese on toast. Please don’t prepare food twice in a night – they will sniff food victory.”

    This is what we do in our house, too. They HAVE to try it but they don’t have to eat it if they really don’t like it. AND, they are allowed to say that they don’t like something, but they are not allowed to call it yucky or disgusting because I would never serve them something that is disgusting.

    • 7

      beckoes said,

      Happy bloggerversary!! 🙂 loved your blog for over a year and have a few recipes I revisit time and time again!! Thanks for all the hard work and time you put into it!! And introducing me to veggies in chocolate cake! I run my hands together like an evil villain as I watch my kids eat zucchini in cake!

  5. 8

    katie said,

    Love these tips but I strongly disagree with your comments about Tip 7. Planning ahead IS NOT boring!! I actually get a real kick out of knowing that I have planned the meals for the week, bought all the necessary ingredients and cooked what I can when I have lots of time, so that it’s all ready on the days with less time. I love Tip 8 too, and have occasionally been known to resort to cheese on toast….

    • 9

      wendyblume said,

      Well, planning ahead may be satisfying but I’m still not convinced about it not being boring. Some weeks I just can’t think of a single thing I want to eat! I’ll ask the kids and invariably mr M&P will say ‘sausages’.

  6. 10

    chrism said,

    i like your comment about offering a banana or cereal if they don’t like what they are given, no other options. my wee treasures had me making 4 different meals to suit them.


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