Eat with your eyes (and get food in your eyebrows, on your lap and in your hair)

One of my kids has always been a grotty little thing. A bit like a walking diary – remnants of the day gather in layers on their clothing and are smudged in stripes around their head (and my house). I can see layers of morning tea underneath the milk from 2.30 and the after dinner biscuit adds a decorative element to finish the day. The fingers have permanent texta stains and I have, more than once remembered Pig Pen and wondered if we’re related.

Dirt is apparently good for kids, which might explain why this child is very healthy. But at dinner I’ve been driven to the point of total frustration and have now had to instigate two new rules.

1. If there is cutlery set out, then we MUST at least TRY to use it before we start picking through dinner with our fingers. And;

2. NO TONGUES at the table. I DO NOT want to see your tongue at any stage. We do not lick our gnocci clean. We do not lick the seasoning off baked vegies. Our tongue stays in our mouths at all times and if at all humanly possible we try to keep our mouths closed while we chew.

Of course, it’s a bit of an uphill battle, but one I feel the need to revisit every time someone else’s child has been here and displayed stunningly good manners. Recently a little friend came over. She sat still all dinnertime. When her plate was clean (and there was NOTHING on the floor around her) she brought her empty bowl to me in the kitchen, unprompted. I was so shocked, I forgot to say ‘thank you’.

I like to think that my kids can turn it on when they’re visiting elsewhere, but I’m not sure.

Some nights I have the strength to tackle lessons in etiquette and correct usage of utensils. But other nights, if my mummy-patience is more than a little frayed, I just make these salmon bites and avoid the flashpoint entirely.

Salmon bites recipes smuggles zucchini

See, they\’re mouth sized, in the hope that your child can play \’fit the shape\’.

Salmon & zucchini bites

Don’t worry about this mix being quite ‘wet’. Rolling the balls in flour gives them a nice crunchy coating and ensures that the inside stays nice and moist.

185g can pink salmon, drained
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
1 zucchini, grated (you can peel the skin off first, if your kids are absolutely green-phobic)
1 egg, lighten whisked
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp canola oil, for cooking
Lemon wedges, to serve

Combine all of the ingredients except the flour in a large mixing bowl.

Squeeze into gold ball sized patties. Toss in the flour and coat evenly.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the patties in the oil for 3-4 minutes each side until golden.

Remove and drain on paper towel.

Sprinkled with lemon juice and serve as a snack or place in a wrap with salad and light mayonaise.


Toddler Recipes: What (and how) to feed fussy eaters

Advice on how to get your toddler eating a wide variety of vegetables with 26 clever recipes that smuggle the healthy ingredients in.

12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Melissa Smith said,

    My 2yr old didn’t like these at all, but my 8 month old son loved them to bits and kept pulling my arm for more, this is the first time he has had any sort of fish and will be having it a least one a week from now on!!! Mummy and Daddy liked them too!!!!

  2. 3

    Leah said,

    The first thing my 5 year old said when he saw these yummy little balls, is… “Mummy, this is the best dinner, can we have this tomorrow too!” Both he and my 3 year old devoured 4 balls within a few minutes along with a green salad. If you knew my kids, you’d think that was a miracle, as we’re usually still sitting at the table 45mins later egging them on to finish their dinner. YAY for Vegie Smugglers! I’ll be telling all my friends about your blog/facebook page and your book is on my Christmas wish list 🙂

  3. 4

    […] Salmon and Zucchini Bites – this is another really easy and healthy lunchbox treat perfect for the whole family. […]

  4. 5

    Amy said,

    I just wanted to thank you for your website and this recipe in particular. My 3 year old son can be a very fussy eater, turning his nose up one day at something he happily ate the day before. He is also not good at trying new things. After reading your tips on how to get fussy eaters to try new foods, we talked about having two big bites. He thought that was a great idea, and I think it took the pressure and expectation off him to eat the whole meal. He immediately picked up the tuna bite, bit into it and said “this tuna bite is so good. You are the best chef in the world Mummy!” He also ate all of the vegetables on his plate without complaint.
    We now have plans to make the chicken sausage rolls for dinner, after looking at the picture he has decided he “loves those sausage rolls”. The ingredients for the pumpkin, corn & lentil soup are also on the shopping list.
    Thanks once again for making meal time enjoyable and not a battle. I’m very excited to try out many more of your wonderful recipes.

  5. 7

    debhurn said,

    Dear Vegie Smuggler
    Please read David Gillespie’s ‘Toxic Oil’ and restore your recipe to excellent health by swapping canola oil for lard/tallow/suet, olive, coconut or macadamia.Thanks, otherwise enjoying your site.

  6. 9

    Belle said,

    Hi! Just wondering if I need to squeeze the excess liquid out of the zucchini?

  7. 11

    Jo said,


    Loving these balls – but do you have any tips on how they can be frozen and reheated, keeping the crispyness?

    • 12

      wendyblume said,

      I wouldn’t really recommend freezing these ones jo, sorry!

      If you did give them a try, then I’d definitely say to reheat them in the oven.

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