the blended family for beginners

the gentle art of tricking kids into eating veggies

the gentle art of tricking kids into eating veggies

Oh how I love food.  Food Food Food.  I love to go out and eat gourmet food at lovely restaurants.  I love to stay at home and cook food and eat it. I love to cook delicious food feasts for friends.  With wine.  By candlelight.  In fact, for most of my life I’ve had a very intimate relationship with the joys of food and cooking and all the lovely things that go along with that.  Do you know what food kids like to eat?  Chips.  And tomato sauce.  That’s pretty much it.

Realising that my usual repertoire of rustic gourmet goodness wasn’t exactly going to cut it with my new kids was a devastating turn of events.  I’m all about home-made from scratch cookery, smooching around the kitchen channeling Nigella Lawson and experimenting wildly with flavours and ingredients.  And putting fresh herbs in everything.  And I mean everything – I seriously couldn’t serve anything without some kind of herb or foliage on the plate.  So, in the beginning I swore that I wouldn’t be one of those mums that buys pre-made stuff, or gives her kids ice-cream when they’re asking for dessert and informing you that of course they get dessert every night at mum’s house (categorically untrue but I’ll give them points for trying).  I’m here to tell you that I was completely deluded and that lasted for about 5 minutes.  Because seriously, as I discovered almost immediately – who the heck has time for making everything from scratch?  Definitely not this stepmum that’s for sure.

So, I compromised and started buying individual packets of chips for lunches (this is apparently the only way to eat pretty much everything when you’re a kid – small packets are where it’s at) making apple crumble with canned apple {sob} and keeping a stock of ice creams in the freezer. And, I learnt to cook completely differently.  I will say this for our kids, they are generally pretty open to trying new flavours and they know what they like and what they don’t.  What I had to come to terms with was that it was different to how I was used to cooking.  Fancy a rustic lamb roast strewn with herbs and accompanied by caramelly-roasted root vegetables and a winter salad of rocket and pear?  Ummm no, they would like spaghetti bolognese please. And garlic bread. Not lovely rustic ciabatta with butter made from gently roasted garlic and finely chopped herbs.  No, they will only eat the soft, white garlic bread that you buy at the shops that has had a clove of garlic waved over it and sticks to the roof of your mouth like glue.

Now I know that obviously any mother worth her grain of salt knows how to hide veggies in food because they’ve already endured the years of tantrums and bribery and negotiating that go along with just getting toddlers to eat anything, but this was all new to me.  And in the beginning I made lots of mistakes.  “Please Miss 4, just eat this tiny piece of cucumber and then you can have an ice cream as big as your head” and many variations of that particular theme.  All such bribery attempts were met with either crying that swiftly escalated to a tantrum, or the simple yet effective method of just keeping her mouth closed and refusing to open it.  It was a battle of wills that I was swiftly losing.  And then I discovered that it really wasn’t that hard to hide vegetables in pretty much any meal, it just took a little bit of imagination and some stealth kitchen skills.

I was a bit nervous the first time I tried hiding veggies in the dinner, but it was so successful I almost couldn’t believe it and now it is a constant source of amusement and challenge to me to try and hide as many veggies in their dinners as I can without them knowing.  Do I sit through dinner and laugh at the fact they are eating a truckload of veggies without even knowing it?  Yes, absolutely.

What do you do to get your kids to eat healthier?  Do you have any tried and tested recipes that you can’t live without?  Spaghetti Bolognese is on high rotation in our house, click here for my recipe.


2 thoughts on “the gentle art of tricking kids into eating veggies”

  • It’s a great idea 😊 Although I’m lucky my boys love their veggies, I do hate waste. After they have finished their dinner, I bag up any leftover veg they didn’t eat and immediately freeze it. Next time I make pasta, lasagna, veg soup etc….I blend it up and in it goes…. I also do a lot of veg puréed in bags then frozen. I hide purées in so many dinners, shakes and cakes you wouldn’t believe it! 😍

    • Oh yes, love it! Pureed veggies go into pretty much everything that comes out of my kitchen as well its such a great trick 🙂

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