Lets talk about picky eaters, because I know, at some point it is something every single mum will experience.
Up until a couple of months ago I would have said my boys were pretty good eaters, in fact, I was confident that they were eating a good, balanced diet. Aadam loves his “mealies”, broccoli, raw carrots and peas, (He will not however, touch raw tomatoes, potatoes, butternut) and Yusuf eats pretty much EVERYTHING. Fast forward a few months and I find myself getting stuck in a rut and I feel like he’s surviving on bread, pasta, carrot sticks and cucumber. (partly due to my own laziness).
When Aadam started solids I pretty much pureed and mashed everything up for him for FAR FAR too long. I think it’s the first time mum syndrome, you are paranoid your child is not eating enough so you mash it up and make it easy for yourself to quickly feed them. Funnily enough, he used to eat a TON of mashed potato and butternut then (explains a lot now). With Yusuf however, at about 4 months old he grabbed a piece of wors (sausage) from my hand one day, and literally stuffed it in his mouth, our sign he was ready. With him I took more of a “baby led weaning” approach, pretty much letting him eat whatever he wanted as long as it was easy enough to hold and soft enough to dissolve. I do think that has made a huge difference in their eating habits, and if we were to have a third child I would definitely do that again.
I’ve noticed a definite difference as well with 2 things. By my kids picking the veggies themselves, they are more likely to eat them! I’ve learnt through this that Yusuf loves Celery and Aadam adores Aubergine ! Secondly, getting them involved in the cooking peaks their interest and they have more desire to taste the food they have created, so wherever you can, get them involved in the prep work. One of my boys favourite things to do is to peel corn and top and tail beans!
That being said, here are 6 of my favourite “hidden veggie” recipes, for all of those days/times I feel like my kids have not have a balanced diets and I need to be a bit sneakier :
- Chicken fried rice – This is my non brainer for a Sunday evening, especially if you have left over rice or chicken in the fridge. Sautee some diced onion in olive oil with some garlic until soft. Add in chicken, if its uncooked fry until lightly browned (I flavour mine with chicken spice, garlic and rustic herb and a pinch of paprika). Next, I add finely diced peppers (red and yellow) together with a cup of the good old McCain mixed veggies (peas, carrots and mealies) and soften down. Add in your rice and mix well. I push everything to the side and add in a beaten egg and scramble it in the same pan at this point and then incorporate into the rest of the pan. Finally I add in a bit of Soy Sauce and Tomato Sauce for the kids.
- Lasagna – Always a sure way to get Veggies into my kids. I finally dice up peppers, carrots and sometimes mushroom to add in mine
- Stews are a no brainer – I have to be careful here though, Aadam refuses to eat cooked carrots (beats me as he will eat a whole pack raw), so when I dish for him I have to mash the carrot up a little so it’s not as obvious
- Hidden Veggie Chicken + Rice – This is a one pot wonder and another one of my favourites. You can view the full recipe here , I have tried it out with diced up cauliflower and broccoli added in as well and it’s been fabulous
- Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce – I’ve always used Annabel Karmels’ recipe for this one and the whole family loves it! It includes peppers, carrots and courgettes.
- Ratatouille – Funnily enough – with all my kids quirks, they both LOVE ratatouille! I add pretty much whatever I have in the fridge but typically its aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, onions and peppers. I serve it with Bulgur wheat, which we call “special rice”.
A lot of this I only have myself to blame, for example, I never thought to give them soup (though I love it), I left it too late and now they won’t touch it! Smoked Salmon/ Trout is another example, I sat in awe the other day watching a friend’s 1 year old happily munch away on smoked trout, if I tried to give it to my boys I’m sure they would throw it in my face! Again, my own fault, I never thought to give it to them.
Studies do show that if you put vegetables on your child’s plate every night, within a few months they will eat those vegetables, so it’s all about exposure and leading by example I guess. We will keep persisting.
What tips/ tricks do you have with your kids? I’d love to hear about your experiences with fussy eaters.