How to eat fluoro green!

Well I meant to make a nice coconut, Asian-style fish dish for dinner tonight.  But instead, I opened up our Thermomix to fluoro green…!  I was extra-keen with the coriander (a great herb to strip heavy metals from our body) but to my surprise the boys LOVED the green sauce and ate the meal!  Hooray for their body’s reaping the benefits.

Here is the recipe:

Fluoro green fish

This dish made enough for three of us (husband away).  I made this in our Thermomix, but please give it a go if you don’t have one.  It’s a forgiving recipe that can be made roughly to these measurements.

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp peeled ginger

1 onion

1/2 bunch coriander roughly chopped (including stems and roots)

4 zucchinis

~20g sesame or coconut oil

1 tsp turmeric powder

~100g finely sliced cabbage

5 mushrooms

(Please add in as many or as little vegetables as you like.  I got side tracked and forgot to put in other veges, like carrot or broc pieces)

~300g local, fresh white fish

~150g coconut cream

Himalayan pink rock salt, pepper to taste

Optional : fresh chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, rapadura sugar.  The boys don’t fare well with most of these foods so we leave them out.  But the dish is still tasty without them 🙂

1. Add garlic, ginger, onion, coriander and zucchinis to the Thermomix bowl.  Grate 10 secs – SP 8 until smooth.

2. Add oil and cook 100deg – 2 mins – SP 1.

3. Add turmeric powder, salt, pepper, cabbage and mushrooms.  Cook 100 deg – 7 mins – SP 1.

4. Add fish and coconut milk.  Cook 100 deg – 5 mins – SP 1.

Serve with rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice, carrot ‘noodles’ or just as is.

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So once I got my game face on and served the boys this ridiculously green dish (the photo doesn’t do it justice!), Master 4 was shovelling it before I knew it…!  Master 2 came around at the end (his usual trick, taking time to get used to the idea of what was in the bowl and after the obligatory ‘yucky’, with my response ‘say “I’m not sure about it”‘).  It was so green, they didn’t even SEE the cabbage for the greenery!  Woohoo!  It’s a winner.  I’ll be making it again before long to remind the boys of how delicious they found it the first time 🙂

So what do you think, can you fathom testing your kids on the greenery?

Vegetable hide and seek

What vegetables do you hide in bolognaise or slow-cooked meals?  Do you go for the same ones each time?  Do you leave some slightly chopped (eg carrot, mushroom) so your children will just notice them or do you whizz them all?
Along with zucchini, carrot and mushroom, I have also included some grated beetroot (yes they notice the colour but the flavour isn’t dramatically affected), brussel sprouts and even kale.

Don’t be shy of trying new vegetables!  These might be the ones you completely hide or for kale/spinach, I slice finely and then chop so there aren’t big, long ‘scary’ bits.  If the boys notice it, I don’t pretend it’s not there and I don’t make a big deal.  I might say ‘oh that’s just kale…gosh you’re doing a great job eating your dinner tonight’ or if they look terribly worried….well, at first I did say ‘it’s basil!’ as I know they eat that no worries. Once they were happy to eat it, the next time I was more confident to label it kale. The dark, leafy greens have so many health benefits…

Will you buy a bunch at your next shop to try?  Or get some brussel sprouts to finely slice?

The no dry carbs rule

One rule for feeding my kids – they are never served dry crackers or plain rice, pasta, quinoa etc.  This is to avoid them getting stuck on the idea that plain is better..or even an option!
Pasta, rice, rice noodles or quinoa could still be served on the side but with a dressing at least.  It might be sesame or olive oil (cold pressed to avoid refined oils) or tahini or even coconut oil or avocado.
For Master 2 who is still learning to eat ‘mixed textures’, such as a casserole, I might give him a corn thin with avocado to buffer him.  But I will present the casserole first and let him have a go, then place the corn thin on top of the casserole…so he has to at least try the sauce, which has made it’s way onto the corn thin.  Eventually, there’ll be no corn thin.  And slowly he has began to pick out more and more ‘bits’ to eat 🙂 Heidi
oops there's some sauce on the corn thin and hummous...

oops there’s some sauce on the corn thin and hummous…

Learning foods

Does your child eat the family meal?  Or could they do with a ‘learning food’ on their plate?  This could be anything from your plate or another food from the fridge or pantry. Eg a line of sauce, a dollop of a spread or a new nut/seed trail.

Think outside the box and bring enthusiasm to the table!

Just because you wouldn’t eat it, doesn’t mean they won’t!

Note to self… A child can only ever learn to eat as much variety of food that they are exposed to. Don’t assume your child will/will not eat any food! Of course they might need consistent exposure to get used to it but if you give up after the first or second try…they will not have the time to learn to eat it.
And just because you wouldn’t eat it, doesn’t mean they won’t!

Keep your eyes peeled when food shopping next week and see if you can increase your child’s exposure to a couple of new foods!

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Deconstructed kid’s meals

Keep in mind ‘mixed textures’ (such as chunky soups, casseroles, stirfries, pasta/rice/bowl dishes) can be very difficult for your child’s sensory system to cope with. It can be easier to serve the meal ‘deconstructed’ – think veges, meat etc all served apart. This gives your little one a chance to discover each food for itself and not be trying to deal with many textures and flavours at once.
It doesn’t mean you can’t put some sauce or flavour over the meal though!

Your child’s sensory system will cope more easily with textures that are similar (think grated veges in bolognaise or dhal/lentils), but don’t forget your child still needs to be exposed to the vegetables and meat in their real form for their sensory system to develop.

Here is an example:
– adult dish – quinoa, mushrooms, chicken, medium boiled egg, onion, avocado, peas and sesame oil dressing and possibly chilli flakes
– kids version – quinoa with sesame oil on top, everything else separated on the side, no chilli.

Mixing it up at the table

[12 mths+] If you don’t want your child getting ‘stuck’ on the thought of having a particular food every day, the best way to prevent the obsession is to only offer it every second day (or so).

I purposefully only offered this heaven in a mouthful every second night to my two boys or the night I stopped giving it, they would’ve been beside themselves! (if only everyone was happy to ditch dairy yoghurt for this, it might be a tad cheaper…!)

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Interactive eating – rice wraps

[18 months +]

They always say, the more a child is involved in the process of preparing food, the more likely they will be to eat it.  Well, I proved it with this fun meal!  Call them what you like – rice wraps, vietnamese spring rolls or just spring rolls, they are guaranteed to get your kids eating raw vegetables (which is my constant aim) and even trying new foods (even better!).

Rice wraps

How to get the kids hooked!

1. Allow them to help prepare the veges – pick some veges or herbs from your garden, cut omelette or cucumber with a rounded-end knife, scoop avocado out etc.

2. Put out a range of items so they feel like they are choosing what they are eating. We put out chicken cooked with garlic, avocado, grated carrot and beetroot, omelette cut up, basil.  Don’t forget things like bean sprouts, snow pea sprouts, grated cabbage, baby spinach or capsicum and cucumber cut into sticks.  Finding these organic for the boys can be tricky.  The adults also had red onion.  We avoid the vermicelli that is sometimes used as it is really only ‘fodder’ and if the boys can fill up with veges/protein/good fats instead, I am happy!

3. Get them involved in first watching and learning how one is made and then helping the next time.  We needed one on one for this activity but I’m sure they will soon get better with it.

you get to pick what you will wrap up!

you get to pick what you will wrap up!

4. Ease them into it slowly if needed.  We explained the rice wrapping was just like rice noodles which the boys love.  This allowed their brain to cope with the texture and flavour, knowing it was something they had already experienced.  After the first round, we suggested they try something new wrapped up, such as grated beetroot.  Wow, they agreed to it!

wrap it up, let Daddy help

wrap it up, let Daddy help

now you roll.....

now you roll…..

5. Provide a sauce – the ‘dip dip’ is half the fun (and might disguise some of the new flavours!).  We used sesame oil due to the boys’ soy intolerance, but you could also bring out kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) which sticks to the rice well, tamari or sweet chilli sauce or even tahini (super healthy).  Or make your own!

6. Always remember to confirm that they liked these (as long as they did) and keep talking about them until you make them again, to avoid the ‘yuck/I don’t like these’ next time!

How do I get my fussy eater to EAT??

Some strategies to get children eating:

1. The best way to get your children to become healthy eaters is to ensure you are a ‘healthy eater’.

2. Involve your children in the cooking process. Some of the soft vegetables are easy to cut with a butter knife. For example mushrooms, capsicum, snow peas and beans.

3. Only offer small amounts on the plate. If you are really trying to introduce a ‘disliked’ vegetable maybe just start by them having it on their plate. Baby steps!

4. Look at your routine, are the children filling up on afternoon tea and snacks. When the 4.30 hunger strikes and dinner is not ready, Jessica Seinfeld suggests offering vegetable sticks. Her book Deceptively Delicious has some wonderful recipes and strategies. I offer my children a cup of ‘frozen peas’, for some reason they think this is special because they are frozen.

5. Keep offering. I know how hard this is because we are all so busy and there is nothing more frustrating and heartbreaking than having a meal you have lovingly cooked pushed away. Or what my Miss 2 year old does is looks in the bowl and yells “YUK”!!! But I keep trying and I know that her sister Miss nearly 4 is a wonderful eater, so it is just a phase.

6. It can be a long process of getting them to change but if you are consistent and have clear expectations of what you want them to eat, they will do it.

7. Create the atmosphere as pleasant as possible. Ask the children to put a table cloth on, set the table, arrange some flowers, even light a candle, put some lovely background music. Try not to turn dinner into a screaming match, ignore behaviour that can be ignored. Encourage the positive behaviour.

When to get help? If you a worried about your child not eating enough or the food battles are getting too much there is help out there. I once had a little girl in my class that would only drink apple juice (not diluted), nearly 2L a day and over 250g of ham. The sugar content in the apple juice was enough to cause concern. This had gone on for 6 months before her mum had decided to put her into daycare to see if she could get some help. After a month she was eating normally. She was almost at the point where the doctors were going to admit her into hospital. She had turned the food into a power struggle, which as you can understand this is not something we ever want our children to associate food with power. So please speak to your doctor if you are concerned. If you still feel this hasn’t satisfied your worries then speak to a child psychologist. The Triple P parenting program is also a good way to help with some strategies.

I will post some other great kid friendly food hints and recipes soon…..