Thursday, October 8, 2009

Think your child will never eat spinach? Think again...

Asia life article July! For many parents, feeding our children is the most stressful aspect of parenting. We tend to associate meal times with battles over control, bribes we later regret, left over food and a lot of mess. Georgie Treasure-Evans offers a few ideas and some child-friendly vegetarian recipes to bring the fun back into family meals, as well as a balanced healthy diet.

It is a common misperception in many countries that children like their food plain and easily distinguishable. Here it is rice porridge. Where I come from, fish fingers, alphabet chips and tiny frozen veg spring to mind. You may find it hard to imagine your kids eating the necessary pulses and leafy vegetables that replace the iron, protein and vitamins that we get from meat and fish.

Luckily the reality is that most young children love strong flavours and will happily eat whatever their parents do, allowing for personal preferences, of course. Resistance at meal times usually has more to do with how they are feeling than with the food itself. When a child is ill, tired, upset or over excited his appetite is often the first thing to go, followed shortly by his ability to behave as we might wish them to.

The best advice I received for dealing with meal times is to relax, let go and trust that your children will eat what they need when they need it. Offer everything in small helpings and allow them to create a little mess as well. Give them some of the much sought after control that they so rarely experience in their young lives. And make it fun.

The tried and tested recipes below are just a start, to get your own creative juices flowing. Enjoy the process as much as the result. Remember that small kids love to cook and are more likely to eat what they have helped to make! Let them help you or your cook chop soft vegetables, grate cheese, crush the garlic, and lick the bowl. If you are in a hurry give them some pots and their own ingredients and let them make messy mixtures on the floor.

Lentil Bolognaise (vegan)
This can be a sauce for pasta or baked potatoes, with cheese on top if not vegan, or topped with mashed potato (sweet and normal) and baked as shepherd’s pie. Make lots and freeze half, or blend into soup. Soak green lentils or mung beans over night, cook red and yellow split peas from dried. Tinned lentils are a quick alternative.

Fry 2 chopped onions and 1 garlic clove in a large pan with olive oil until soft.
Add chopped carrot/courgette/pepper/aubergine/mushrooms (any or all as desired) and two cups of lentils. Fry for another minute. Stir in vegetable stock and simmer for about 40 minutes, adding stock until the lentils are soft. Add two cans of chopped tomatoes, season to taste, fresh thyme and oregano go nicely with this.

Ten minute green spaghetti
Puree steamed fresh or frozen spinach – either on its own or with a bit of cream / cream cheese / splash of milk, and grated nutmeg. Pour over pasta and pile grated cheese on top.

Spinach quiche
Find a short crust pastry recipe and follow, or buy ready-made from Veggies, on St 240. Line a quiche dish and bake blind for 10 minutes (score the pastry with a knife first). Fill with steamed spinach and cubes of feta. Pour over mix of 3 beaten eggs, half a pint of milk, and a teaspoon of English mustard. Grate black pepper on one side for adults. Bake
for 30 mins approx. Spinach is a great source of iron but you can replace with any veg you like.

Courgette pasta
Get the kids to cut or grate courgettes. Steam and toss into favourite pasta shapes with a little sour cream, crushed garlic and grate cheese on top. Add pine nuts or cashews for protein.

Peruvian bean stew with feta
Cut 1lb potato and1lb pumpkin into cubes and cook until nearly soft. Fry 1 onion and garlic, 1 optional chilli, 1tsp cumin and add 1 tin of tomatoes. When the onion is soft stir in potato and pumpkin and a little water and cook until soft. Stir in 1 cup white beans (cannelini/lima/butter), 1 cup corn and 1 cup peas. Crumble feta cheese on top and lots of fresh thyme, parsley or coriander. Eat with brown bread, rice or quinoa for really high protein meal.

Hot “chocolate’ ice cream sauce
Soak prunes and dried apricots in boiling water until soft. Blend with bananas and pour while hot over vanilla ice cream or plain yoghurt. Tastes like chocolate caramel but full of iron. Enjoy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is my first visit here, but I will be back soon, because I really like the way you are writing, it is so simple and honest