Ready, Steady, Carrots
Once you pack away the steriliser, fill an entire recycling bin with old bottles and cross formula off the shopping list for the last time there’s a whole world of solid food out there just waiting for your child to try and sometimes reject.M was, (and still is) no exception to this rule. He knows exactly what he likes, how he likes it and when.
Cooking for toddlers is undoubtedly the next anxious step in the child parent relationship and this unchartered territory can be a nightmare to start with, especially when we all know that one family who can’t wait to tell you how much broccoli and spinach their child ate for breakfast, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and it can be reached with relative ease, with the right approach.
No doubt you’ve all heard of the infamous ‘baby-led weaning’? A great introduction to solid foods for babies and opportunity for them to discover what they like and dislike for themselves. This is all well and good when milk is still the staple of their diet but when you decide to reduce their milk and focus more on solid foods it can be incredibly frustrating to watch them turn their nose up at almost everything you put in front of them.
To say that it was taxing with Monty would be an understatement but one of the best things we opted to do when it came to introducing new foods (predominantly vegetables) was to be consistent. Offering the same single item they dislike with each meal puts the ball in both courts. M learnt very quickly that the same thing was appearing on his plate at dinnertime and with a healthy balance of firm parenting and tantrums he soon learnt that if he made a decent effort with said vegetable it would all be over a lot sooner.
‘Stealth veg’ is also a great misleading technique for getting the goodness inside them without them knowing. I’ve attached a personal favourite below so that when the overbearing pressure of the Jamie Oliver brigade becomes too much, you can sleep well knowing that they’ve got some of “whatever they’re suppose to have” inside them. Don’t be afraid to admit that your child doesn’t like things, after all kids are meant to like ice cream and nothing else. So just tell your friends they eat truck loads of dragon fruit and nappa cabbage but behind closed doors sleep easy knowing they had chocolate ice cream with stealth veg sauce topping.
Mr Oliver may have struggled to get kids to put down turkey twizzlers and pick up carrots, but there are that two things that he did really hit home with us. One was growing your own veggies where possible, and secondly, getting the kids in the kitchen to help you cook.
Whether you’ve got acres of garden or a small balcony you can grow a great selection of vegetables, fruits and salads that will help you to get your children eating the right stuff as well as saving a few quid along the way. Don’t ask me why but we opted for salad (something I didn’t like until I was 15) in our household and with regular trips to the garden for watering, Monty was soon excited to see the fruits of his labours on his plate and they now disappear with relative ease.
Homemade pizza has also been a great family activity for us. The anticipation and excitement on pizza day is comparable to that of winning the lottery. So we hit the kitchen with a kilo bag of flour that goes everywhere, some ready to go pizza dough and what ever toppings his lordship chooses. Standing on his stool he commands the kitchen to get the pizza in the oven as quickly as possible and devours it at competitive eating speeds.
So grow it, make it, cover it in whatever sauce you want just don’t be afraid of it. If you are then you can bet your kids will be too.