For many parents out there, encouraging little ones to try new foods can often result in mealtimes quite quickly turning into a battle of wills! My own son used to squirm, shake his head and scream until the floor was decorated with dinner.
But soon I started to work out the tricks of the trade to get him playing ball. The key is to figure out what works for whatever stage you’re at.
First and foremost, it’s important to make mealtimes an adventure, and whilst this sounds idyllic when you’ve got a jam-packed schedule and a ‘to do’ list as long as your arm, there are some simple but effective tricks for tempting children to try new foods.
For starters, why not try preparing foods in different ways. Take cauliflower for example - most kids I know wouldn’t eat boiled cauliflower, but roasting it is a whole different ball game. You can also try threading colourful bite-sized pieces of food such as peppers, cucumber and quartered cherry tomatoes onto a straw or skewer to create salad kebabs. Not only does this very quickly and easily make salad fun for children, it offers them a variety of nutritious food too. Serve drizzled with a light creamy dressing for added appeal.
Kids love new things, especially when they’re miniature or personalised. My Baked Potato Miceare a fun way to liven up jacket potatoes or get creative with my Animal Face Bagels. And if you can, perhaps when there is slightly more time on a weekend, why not prepare your children’s dinner with them. Lay out ingredient bowls (with lots of added new foods) and let your fussy tot top their homemade Tortilla Pizza- it’s a proven tactic to get them to try new foods that they would usually shun. By preparing simple meals together from scratch, you’ll stand a good chance of instilling a love of good, healthy food.
Here are a few of my other favourite fun recipes to tempt any picky eaters out there!
SWEET POTATO BOATS
An excellent source of vitamin A, sweet potato is packed full of goodness and acts as a fun and heathy ‘boat’ for your Bolognese. This is a great dish for any leftovers, and you can easily double or triple to serve the whole family, or if you like, add different fillings such fish and vegetables too.
MAKES: 2 SWEET POTATO BOATS (2 CHILD PORTIONS)
1 small sweet potato
3 tbsp leftover Bolognese Sauce
2 tbsp grated mature Cheddar cheese
1. Prick the sweet potato with a fork several times and cook it in the microwave for 7–10 minutes until soft in the middle or bake in the oven at 200°C/400°F/ Gas 6 for about 45 minutes, or until soft and cooked through.
2. Preheat the grill to high. As soon as the potato is cool enough to handle, slice it in half and scoop out some of the potato into a bowl. Mix it with the Bolognese Sauce and spoon it back into the boats. Sprinkle with the cheese.
3. Place under a hot grill for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
4. Serve with steamed broccoli florets.
MINI BUNNY QUICHES
A great recipe for any future summer picnics, these mini bunny quiches are simple, yet effective and a tasty alternative to a wedge of quiche for little ones.
MAKES: 6 QUICHES
8 mini tortilla wraps
2 onions, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
150 ml double cream
150 ml milk
120g Gruyere cheese, grated
Carrots, chives, spring onions
1. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan. Grease 6 size 1 ramekins with oil. Trim the tortilla wraps to 14cm diameter circles. Line the ramekins with the wraps, pushing them into the bases and up the sides.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a saucepan. Cook the onions for 10 minutes until soft. Spoon into the ramekins. Sprinkle with the thyme, mix the eggs, cream and milk together in a bowl. Season. Divide the Gruyere between the cases. Pour the custard on top. Bake for 20 minutes.
3. Cut out the bunny ears from the remaining 2 wraps. Brush the ears with oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake alongside the ramekins for 8 minutes until golden.
4. When the custard is set, remove from the oven and inset the ears into the quiche. Decorate with carrot for the bunnies’ nose, chives for whiskers and spring onions for the eyes.
SUSHI SANDWICH ROLLS
It’s time to liven up lunchtimes with my sushi style wraps. These are an ingenious way to get kids trying new ingredients. Serve with kids chopsticks for added appeal!
MAKES: 6 MINI ROLLS
2 slices of bread
1 x 80g tin of tuna in spring water
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
6-8 batons of cucumber cut into 2-inch strips
2 tbsp grated carrot
1. Put the two slices of bread onto a board and remove the crusts.
2. Using a rolling pin, flatten the bread until about 5 mm / 1/8 in thick.
3. Mix the tuna together with one tablespoon of the sweet chilli sauce.
4. Spread the remaining mayonnaise (½ tbsp per slice) over the bread and then spoon the tuna about a quarter of an inch from the edge of the bread in a line.
5. Arrange the cucumber strips in a line above the tuna, followed by the grated carrot.
6. Roll up from the tuna end and press down to seal. Trim ends to neaten using a sharp knife, then cut into three little rolls.
For lots more recipes inspiration visit www.annabelkarmel.com