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Tag Archives: fussy eaters

How to get your kids to eat… vegetables (guest post)

I’m delighted to have a guest post today from Dr Orlena Kerek, a paediatrician and mother of 4 young children (still small enough to fit in the bath together, just).

Orlena blogs about raising healthy happy children at snotty-noses.com. She has a special interest in helping children eat a healthy diet, and she’s giving us some great practical advice today. You can also sign up to her newsletter and get a free copy of 30 Tips to get your Kids to Eat and LOVE Vegetables which I can’t recommend enough!

Dr Orlena Kerek

“Yummy, thank you so much for my delicious plate of vegetable pasta,”says my 5 year old as he politely asks to be excused from the table and proceeds to put his plate into the dishwasher. Ha ha! If only! If you have young children and they’re anything like mine, meal times can be one of those stress points of the day. It’s not that they aren’t polite. They’re just tired and hungry and don’t really want to eat their vegetables. They like to pick out the bits they like, namely the pasta around here. Children are noisy, boisterous and like to do things their way. And that’s fine. As parents, we just have to learn to work around them.

So, if your toddler, who used to eat perfectly, is going through a phase when they refuse point blank to even touch a pea or carrot, despair not! There are ways to gently encourage your toddler back into healthy eating.

Firstly, look at the bigger picture. In the short run, it doesn’t really matter what they eat. Constipation aside, they aren’t going to come to any great harm if they spend a few days eating nothing but pasta and cake. My 1 year old son once went on chocolate hunger strike when we went to grandmother’s for Christmas. She assured me that the chocolate decorations were too high for him to reach. Hmm, that wasn’t the case and he happily helped himself and refused to eat anything else for 3 days. He lived to tell the tale and now at nearly 6 eats such dangerous monsters as lettuce, cabbage and broccoli.

The plan is to teach your little ones to develop healthy eating habits. Ultimately you do want them to be eating a healthy balanced diet and if they get used to healthy food from an early age they’ll just think of it as ‘food’. It will be what they are used to and what they’ll feed themselves and hopefully their children when they’re old enough to take care of themselves.

It’s getting the balance right that can be difficult.

My top tips are firstly, don’t shout or argue with them. The more you shout and scream, the more they’ll dig their heals in and refuse to eat the offending item. They will come to resent you, and food will become an issue for them. But once you’ve let go of the idea that they have to eat their vegetables all the time, you won’t need to feel that you have to shout.

Make food fun. Need I say more? I think Anne has covered that one for me.

Offer them a range of healthy things to eat. This works a treat and recently I managed to get my 3 year old to eat celery with this method. Yep, I’ll confess I was shocked (I’d only really put it out for me). He said he liked it, it was his favourite taste, it was just a bit chewy for him. I suspect he won’t be so keen next time, but it won’t be on his ‘off list’.

Getting the balance right between food children like and don’t like is also difficult. Sometimes they genuinely don’t like something. Sometimes they just think they don’t like it. My children claim not to like aubergine or courgette, except they eat it at least twice a week without any fuss. Allow them to not like some things. Ignore them when you know they’re being fickle. (I wouldn’t get a single meal past the committee if I actually listened to all those cries of ‘yuck, not pasta again’, but 5 minutes later, it’s clean plates all around).

Keeping a food diary is another great idea. Children often eat in fits and starts. It doesn’t really matter if they eat lots of vegetables in the morning and then carbohydrates in the afternoon. A food diary is a great way to see what they are actually eating and to highlight sneaky snacks that mean they aren’t hungry at dinner time.

And talking of snacks, snacking is fine as long as it’s not always cake and biscuits. Young children fine it really hard to go the long times in between meals that adults do. They have smaller stomachs that get full up more quickly. And emptied more quickly. So let them snack on healthy things and keep treats as treats.

Healthy eating can seem like a huge mountain to climb, especially when your 2 year old shakes their head and says “no, no, no”. But keep calm and with a realistic approach you’ll get there in the end.

For more fabulous tips, sign up to my mailing list to receive 30 Tips to get your Kids to Eat and Love Vegetables.

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Making Food Fun… Easily

Making Food FunToday I’m very honoured to be guest blogging over at Snotty Noses, the wonderful blog of Dr Orlena Kerek, a mum of four and a paediatrition.

I’ve written a post with, hopefully, useful and easy ideas for making food fun for your little ones, encouraging them to eat more.

Read my post here.

Carrot and cumin dip

Nicholas, who doesn’t like carrots, has really enjoyed the ‘orange dip’ we’ve been eating for most of this week, as have both hubby and I. We’ve dipped in various vegetables and also had it spread on flat bread.

vegetable

It’s quick and super easy to make, and would be perfect party food as you can easily make a lot of it. This is definitely a recipe I’m going to be making lots more of in the future, and not just because it’s a stress-free way of getting Nicholas to eat carrots.

The original recipe is from Taste.com.au and makes 8 servings using 1 kilo of carrots. I quartered the recipe (if you can say that!) and it produced 2 very generous adult servings.

The amount of cumin in the original recipe and mine is conservative, giving just a mild flavour which is perfect for little ones. If you’re making this for adults, I’d add more.

CARROT AND CUMIN DIP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 5-30 mins (depending on how your cook the carrots)
Makes 2 very generous adult servings
Can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge

250g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
15ml (3 tsp) olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Salt and pepper

Cook the carrots your preferred way (I steamed them in the microwave).

Put the carrot, oil, cumin and garlic in a mini food processor, and process until smooth (this can take a little while and you need to keep scarping down the sides of the bowl).

Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Eats-Amazing-Fun-Food-FridayI’m linking up to Eat’s Amazing Fun Food Friday, a weekly round-up of fun and creative food. Check out the other fun creations on Grace’s blog.

Baked vegetable bites

These vegetable bites are really a variation of my zucchini (courgette) bites, with more veg thrown in! They’re great for using up vegetables lurking in your fridge (you can really use almost anything), and leftover bites can go into tomorrow’s lunchboxes or frozen for another day.

baked vegetable bitesSince coming up with our leftover veggie pops (or ‘cheesy lollipops’ as Nicholas calls them), I often put food on sticks. If you have a fussy eater, I would definitely try putting food they don’t particularly like on sticks.

For littler ones, especially those doing baby-led weaning, these bites are the perfect size for little fingers to pick up and feed themselves.

The bites are baked rather than fried, which not only means they’re healthier but you can throw them in the oven and forget about them for a while instead of standing in front of a frying pan turning them over. Sometimes before baking them I roll the balls into some extra breadcrumbs so they end up with a thin crunchy coating.

Don’t worry too much about exact quantities. If the mixture is too wet to shape into balls, just add some more breadcrumbs; if it’s too dry, add a little bit more beaten egg.

baked vegetable bites 2BAKED VEGETABLE BITES

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-18 mins
Makes about 16 bites
Freezable

1 medium-large zucchini/courgette, finely grated and squeezed
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 handful spinach, finely shredded
1 egg
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
Pinch of salt (optional)
Extra dry breadcrumbs for coating (optional)

Heat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and mix until combined.

Shape into small balls (adding some more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet). Roll balls in the extra breadcrumbs if using.

Place on the lined baking tray and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

 

Ham, Cheese and Veggie Muffins

I was very happy to discover this new blog (The Diary of a Fussy Eater). Amy’s a working mum of a fussy eater who’s taking a stand to get her boy to eat more healthily. If, like me, you’re struggling with your own fussy eater, I’d definitely recommend checking out Amy’s recipes and techniques.

ham, cheese and veggie muffins

Amy’s Ham and Cheese Mini Muffins are super easy and quick to make. I made them with Nicholas pretty much immediately after seeing the recipe and my fussy eater scoffed three of them as soon as they were cool enough to eat for his afternoon snack. Win!

I made a couple of little changes to her wonderful recipe. I used wholemeal self-raising flour (she uses plain flour with the addition of a couple of tablespoons of wheat bran) and I added some veg (I just couldn’t help myself!). I think you can easily get away with adding some grated vegetables as the overall flavour is still ham and cheese which kids usually love.

Like me, Amy isn’t a fan of hiding vegetables as it doesn’t help little ones learn to enjoy eating their veg. BUT that certainly doesn’t mean I don’t do it. I think the important thing is to keep offering them an assortment of vegetables, cooked in different ways to keep trying to pique their interest.

I make these muffins with Nicholas and point out all the ingredients as we add them, so I don’t think the veg can be called hidden! Our favourite grated vegetable to add is carrot, but courgette (zucchini) has gone down well and also parsnip.

This recipe is also great in that it’s very ‘forgiving’. The amounts don’t have to be exact and we’ve also made them successfully tipping everything into the bowl together (egg unbeaten), mixing until combined, so perfect for getting your munchkins involved (which is also a good way to encourage them to eat).

The muffins freeze very well and are also great in lunchboxes. And I’ve scoffed quite a few myself!

Thank you Amy for helping me get more vegetables into my own fussy eater 🙂

ham, cheese and veggie muffins

HAM, CHEESE AND VEGGIE MUFFINS

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 10-15 mins
Makes 12 small muffins
Freezable

1 cup of wholemeal (or plain) self-raising flour
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
100g cooked ham, sliced
1/2 cup milk
60g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup finely grated vegetables such as carrot, zucchini or parsnip
Salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat your oven to 200C. Lightly spray or grease a 12-hole muffin tin.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, cheese and ham.

In a jug or small bowl, whisk together the milk, butter and egg then stir through the grated vegetable. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (mixing too much can make your muffins dense and chewy).

Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin tin holes. Bake for 10-15 mins until golden and cooked through when tested with a skewer.

A confession

I have a confesson to make.

I blog easy and healthy recipes for toddlers (and their busy parents). I love being in the kitchen and I especially love making things for my toddler Nicholas. I would happily spend all of my free time cooking for him.

But (deep breath)…

I have a fussy eater.

There, I’ve finally admitted it. My toddler often refuses to eat what I spend so much time preparing for him and which I then blog giving the impression that he scoffs everything (well at least I think that’s the impression I give).

Having a fussy eater wasn’t in my agenda. Hubby and I are foodies through and through, and food is a big part of our lives.

Nicholas eating tomato

We did baby-lead weaning immediately, got Nicholas smelling and touching and trying a vast arrange of foods very early on. He happily ate tomatoes and whole broccoli stems as well as other vegetables during his first stages of weaning. I tried to limit the amount of fruit in favour of more veg to encourage his tastebuds to explore not just sweet flavours.

Nicholas eating baby corn

Then he started becoming fussy. Just a little bit. I kept telling myself it’s a normal phrase; it will pass. But it didn’t. I’d hear other mums complain about their fussy toddlers and think ‘I’m glad that’s not us’. But it was.

He got fussier and fussier, and our ‘fussy phase’ goes on and on.

I long for the days when he happily tried pretty much everything he was offered rather than the ‘No! NO!’ and ‘Finished mummy’ (while handing back an untouched plate) I get now. His refusals mainly involve vegetables, even picking out the tiniest pieces from dishes, holding them aloft and declaring ‘No broccoli mummy!’, and not touching meat dishes (usually the only thing he never fusses over) when there’s hidden veg lurking (how does he know when he hasn’t even tasted it?!).

Nicholas eating spaghetti
I’ve had a post in my draft section for many many months. A post giving advice for fussy eaters (!). It’s a work in progress as I keep adding things I’ve researched or tips that have worked (although aren’t a ‘cure’). It may be a while before I feel ready to post it!

Now that my shoulders are a little lighter (it always feels better to get something off one’s chest), while I wistfully look at old photos of Nicholas loving food, if any of you lovely readers have some fussy eater advice, please share!