How do you get Kids to eat that Healthy Stuff?

We're staying at our daughters place, couch surfing before we head off for Greece and she is battling night after night with an age-old problem ..... her kids not eating their vegetables or for that matter whatever is on their plates. Her kids are just more interested in macaroni and cheese than sautéed spinach and grilled chicken, and really who can blame them. Mac Cheese looks pretty cool compared to a tangled lot of wilted steamed healthy spinach and sautéed fish. According to research 9 out of 10 kids don't eat vegetables. So every night the same scenario is being played out in homes all over the globe .... How distressing! 

But fruit, vegetables and protein are vital parts of a kids healthy diet, so it’s important to help kids to enjoy eating them. I'm a mum of three and a grandmother of 8, so I too have had the battles. I'm sure my kids will tell you as a young mother in our house at times "it was eat your dinner or go to bed hungry, I really don't care" I feel your pain. It's only with hind sight (such a good thing growing old) that we sometimes see things in a different light... Here are some quick and easy ideas that I have been trialling on Harry 3, Lyla 6 and Kristian 8.

Kids love to play make believe. They also love games. Beans can be boring to a kid who thought he was getting baked beans not those yucky green things. But if those green beans or green peas are the grass for the Hound Dog (sausages) to play on, you just might get a few spoonfuls eaten. Relating healthy food to fun things the child already loves and turning it into a game is a great way to get a few bites of green down the hatch.

Amazing how much got eaten of this poor dog

Turtles before they were baked mince patties
were full of hidden veggies

Children are more invested in a meal if they help with its preparation. Pick a couple of fun things they can make and let them make their own meal. We have had a number of successes here. I DON'T LIKE EGGS NANNY! But we ate every mouse in the garden.  They were far more excited about what they had made they forgot they DIDN'T LIKE eggs .... 

A garden full of mice were gobbled up quick smart ..

I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like Green eggs and ham. 

Dr Seuss....

Spaghetti Jelly Fish not an everyday food but a fun one for them to make
and if you could add a little more nutrition in the sauce everyone is happy!

Carrots were another stumbling point but once they were the spines of Echidna's, they were no longer yucky carrots .... Letting them clean carrots, snap beans and make their own dinner gives them a sense of pride and makes them more enthusiastic to eat at meal time.

Meatballs become echidna's with a little imagination.

One thing you have working in your favor is that children like colour. So you can expose them to more colours by adding more vegetables and fruit to their plates. Try and paint a picture with their food to tell a story. Again this engages them in the visual fantasy whilst gobbling up the Big Scary Lion ..... 

Big Scary Lion delivers fun and nutrition
Let them have fruit slushies ... Let them pick the colours and make a layered rainbow drink .... you can hide all sorts in the green, red, purple and yellow ....

If you are struggling to get vast amounts of veggies into them ... HIDE THEM! Spaghetti sauce made with lots of grated vegetables not only tastes amazing it is one way to get some of the hard to eat vegetables into their tummies. Grated Zucchini, cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrot they are all great. I realise that in our busy lives prep in the kitchen is at a minimum on week nights, so do yourself a favour and make a double batch and freeze half for next weeks "Easy Night" meal.

All this ca be hidden in pasta sauce, cook it in a
slow cooker with lots of Tomato Paste. add your mince and cook through.

There’s nothing wrong with adding additional flavours to vegetables to make them more appealing to children. For a fussy child, the most important thing is that he/she gets comfortable and familiar with the rejected food. If that means serving it along with something you know they’ll enjoy, like cheese or bacon, that’s fine. Add grated grilled cheese and bacon over the cauliflower, or if your child loves rice add half as grated cauliflower into the rice dish.

Sweet foods that they love can also be made with healthy alternatives. Chocolate cake made on pumpkin, beetroot and cookies made on chickpeas. There is an amazing amount of great recipes out their to get you started. 12 Desserts made with Vegetables

Lead by example introduce new foods, let them try things even if you think they might not like them, don't tell them the origins of the food source and if your child hears you saying "I don't like that" you will never get them to try it. 

On the boat preparing food is a very important part of the days activities. Yogurt, cheese, sprout bread, biscuits, cake etc are all "Boat grown/cooked/baked" involving the kids in these activities keeps them occupied on sometimes long passages or whilst at anchor. 

Making Burgers can be so much fun!
We love catching our own food on Our Dreamtime. Whether it be catching fish, crab or pippies getting the kids involved in the process of sourcing, cooking and then eating has them beaming from ear to ear that they feed themselves. 

Grandson Ethan pleased with his catch!

Grandson Kristian suitably impressed with his fish ....
We have our grandsons collecting Pippies for Pippy Linguine and Crabs for Crab Cakes. They have tried their hand at bread making, sushi rolling and Pizza making. All great fun for all involved. 

10 Tips to help you win the Battle:
  1. Get kids cooking in the kitchen 
  2. Make their meals fun
  3. Make their meals colourful
  4. Introduce new foods by combining them with already familiar foods
  5. Hide nutritious food in fun food
  6. Be a role model
  7. Dip it, Cover it, Disguise it!
  8. Eat together
  9. Let them pick their meals .... Burgers tonight! Pack those burgers full of goodness ...
  10. Keep Trying


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