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?

10 tips to ensure your child grows to love vegetables

Yes, vegetables do play on my mind!  Here are a few things about veges and kids that I always keep in mind…

  • children need to eat a rainbow of vegetables for essential nutrients for growth and development.  Full stop!
  • exposure to a wide variety of vegetables is key.  If your child isn’t presented with vegetables, they will not stand the chance to get accustomed to them.  See I Create My Child’s Healthy Palate for more information on helping your little one to become a healthy eater
  • a child around the age of 2 years will start trying out their new found independence and say ‘no’ to a food.  This is not the time to hold back on serving up the vegetables (or any food for that matter).
  • the sooner children develop a taste for vegetables, the sooner they will have a stronger immune system, have more nutrients for their development, stay healthier for life & be more likely to come back to them…even after potentially coming off the bandwagon in teenage years!
  • education about the WHY, the importance of vegetables is crucial.  Help your child to appreciate vegetables rather than bribing them to eat their broccoli in exchange for dessert.  Even the mention of becoming a quicker runner, better dancer or growing up like their idol can be a great reason to start trying.  Moving towards talking about benefits for the body can also be started quite young.
  • it has been found that the variety of foods a child is eating at 4 years of age represents the majority of foods they will eat for the rest of their lives.  Don’t put off presenting new vegetables. 
  • you can hide vegetables but your child still needs to have the time to let their sensory system get accustomed to the different sensory properties, such as taste, texture and smell of the individual vegetable
  • a child needs the time to explore a new vegetable by looking at it, touching it and maybe even squashing it with a utensil or fingers, all with no pressure to eat.  They may need several occasions before they are ready to eat it.
  • involving children in growing or preparing vegetables is a step towards success.  See Interactive Eating – Rice Wraps
  • using different vegetables in slow-cooked meals or bolognaise can be a great way to get your child use to looking at and attempting new vegetables

IMG_9724[1]
Before your next grocery shop, have a think about which vegetables you might try with your child.  Will you add some more ‘hidden’ vegetables or will you have some to present each night for the week to see how close you can get your child to trying some.

How to add greens and more greens to fried rice

Stuff a couple of peas in fried rice as the daily greens!  Here is how I pack broccoli and kale into my boys’ dinner.
Basically the principle being – when you’re introducing a new food, you might as well dress it up well.  Not so they don’t notice it, but make it too good to knock back.
IMG_9532[1]First steps are making sure the boys accept the greens easily (they did).  Then my future aim is for cauliflower rice instead of any rice (cauliflower being more nutrient dense than rice).  Usually I go against tradition and use brown rice but didn’t have enough so I used basmati rice, next best option.
Of course you can add other veges or meat and herbs of which we had none today.

Does anyone else have some healthy and delicious ways with fried rice?

Child-friendly green smoothie + 10 tips to entice your child

Are you looking for a green smoothie that will provide PLENTY of nutrients to start your child’s day and tastes delicious?  Are you feeling like your child could never come around to this?  Well then read on for the recipe and how to wean your child onto this delicious breakfast OR snack.

IMG_8026[1]

Here is the recipe for one: (tip: write it out with the quantity for the number of people you are making it for and stick it up on the kitchen wall until you know it back to front!)

The ‘works’ green smoothie (AKA ‘the juice of a sea cucumber’)

  • 1 kale leaf, washed and stalk removed
  • 1 handful spinach, washed
  • 1/2 orange, peeled
  • 2 tsp almonds, soaked in water night before and drained (allows nutrients to be absorbed by your body better – ‘bioavailable’)
  • 1 tbs goji berries
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup water (or equivalent ice)
  • optional: probiotics, changing chia for sunflower seeds, linseeds or pepitas, 1 tsp Superfoods for Kidz ‘Vital Veggie Power’ (particularly used for Master 21 months who eats minimal orange or green veges if we’re being realistic!), swap 1/2 orange for 1/2 lemon + 1/2 pear.

Blend until smooth.

just some of the ingredients you can see...

just some of the ingredients you can see…

Superfoods for Kidz - Vital Veggie Powder

Superfoods for Kidz – Vital Veggie Powder

Here are some of the steps we took to wean the boys onto this smoothie….and who now SLUUUURRP it!

1. Start on an easier smoothie.  We started with 150ml almond milk, 1/2 banana, handful of soaked almonds, 1 tsp carob powder, 1/2 tsp honey or 1 date, probiotics, pepitas/sunflower seeds thrown in. See my post, ‘What About A Brekky Shake‘ for further ideas. Adjust the carob/cacao/cocoa or slightly more honey to entice them in.

2. Make small changes…slow and steady wins the race!  We started adding 1/4-1/2 tsp barley grass powder.  This is a great start in developing a taste for some supergreens and the boys gradually got used to 1 tsp barley grass powder.  This then became the green/chocolate smoothie.

3. Give it a name.  The boys were used to names such as ‘choco-coco banana’ or ‘honey cinna-banana’ so by the time I announced we’d try a new smoothie, they were excited to name this new one.  This time I drummed up more excitement by using Master 3.5’s new interest, sea animals.  I suggested ‘what about the juice of a sea cucumber?’.  A definite ‘YES’!

4. Introduce a new cup/straw.  As we are trying to get rid of plastic and the chemicals that go with it, I decided to invest in some stainless steel cups and drinking straws.  I brought these out on the day we tried the new smoothie.

IMG_8028[1]

5. Plan to drink the new smoothie yourselves first and only offer a taste for your kids – miracles can happen when there is no pressure and they see others enjoying it.  The first morning I made the new smoothie (juice of a sea cucumber), I talked it up, but only made enough for my husband and I, not planning for the boys to drink more than a taste.  They both had a taste and Master 22 months took the bait…. ‘MORE!’.  So we donated one of our smoothies to him and made do that morning with some sneaky ‘low-fives’.

6. Slow and steady wins again.  I then made Master 3.5 his usual ‘choco-cinna banana’ in WITH the remnants of the new smoothie.  In fact, I knew half of the ingredients of the green smoothie weren’t THAT far off what he was used to.  So I added the almonds, goji berries and chia but left out the orange and greens (there was already some taste of them in the dregs) and added almond milk instead of water.  It was daring but he went with it!

7. Blend and blend again. Sometimes the smoother the better, particularly with fibrous foods like orange.  Be sure to start weaning off super smooth once you have the kids hooked in so they don’t rely on ‘no bits’ forever.

8. Know went to step up, and went to back down.  Again, slow and steady wins the race.  Keep making your green smoothie first, and making your child’s preferred one with more and more dregs.  I sensed that Master 3.5 was interested in the new smoothie after he saw Master 22 months slurp his up.  He just needed a day or so extra to get his head around a change in his breakfast routine, not SO much the taste.

9. Give some warning.  I planted the seed ahead of time and one day confidently announced ‘we’ll be getting up early to get out and go to the beach tomorrow morning, so we’ll all have the juice of a sea cucumber tomorrow okay?’.  He agreed, although I was probably still prepared to make his back up if he needed.  Nope, he was completely happy to enjoy the new drink with us!

10. Educate! We have drawn a picture and told the story of how each ingredient does something to help our body.  Master 3.5 is learning to have a sense of ‘taking care of his health’ as he asks me to go through each ingredient and what it does again!

your body will thank you!

your body will thank you!

Of course another idea would be to get your children involved in making the smoothie and talking about all the yummy ingredients in it, pointing out the ones they already know and the ones that sound enticing (like goji berries).  I didn’t play up the greens but maybe that was just me anticipating a reaction!

And the best bit about this shake is… you won’t even have to fake a ‘yummy’ smile as you drink, because it really is delicious!

Please let me know how you get on or other delicious variations  🙂 Heidi

If you prefer, I raise my kids is on Facebook or Google +…