Freelance Writer, Early Childhood Teacher and Tutor.
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Children can be notoriously difficult to feed, no, I don't mean party food or snacks – they’ll eat these until the cows come home, but vegetables and a varied, balanced diet.
As children get older they have developed habits, good and bad, and redirecting these habits require their input to make it really work. One method I have had success with is what I call the "Yours plus One" approach.
These are the foods the children like or eat willingly; I ask "what is YOUR favourite meat, orange, green, purple vegetable ...” A list is made and posted on the refrigerator. Meals are then planned using the list, including items from each column. I encourage each child to plan the menu for one meal each week themselves, choosing a Carb, a Protein and a Vegetable. On the night of their menu they are the head chef and I’m their assistant.
At two or three meals each week I introduce a new vegetable, often as a part of, for example, a stir-fry, taco sauce or in mashed potato.
Not all new foods are liked; however the children learn that when it is mixed with other foods they either tolerate it or don't taste it at all. Invariably they don't even notice when the percentage of new food increases in the old favourite.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
Add grated carrot and finely chopped silverbeet, chard or spinach to taco mince
Roast carrots and parsnips as it makes them much sweeter
add chives or parsley to mashed potato
frozen mixed vegetables work well in meatloaf or meatballs
blend cooked cauliflower into cheese sauce
Encourage children to 'eat the rainbow' every day. Younger children enjoy identifying what colours they've consumed and those still to be eaten. They can colour in a rainbow as they eat each colour, or receive a coloured token to collect.
Most importantly, make it fun so they associate laughter, smiles and great dinner table conversation with the vegetables you are introducing. And yes, I did say dinner table – make dinner a family oriented, family focussed time each day. I am sure you remember the crazy conversations around a dining table somewhere. How memorable are dinners in front of the television with no one talking?
Good luck. I’d love to hear how you go so why not leave a comment or maybe share some of your own tips and tricks.