This is a guest post by Wendy Blume from Vegie Smugglers
Got a toddler who is refusing to eat everything? Relax, you’re not alone! This is a common stage, tied closely with their wider developmental issues. And in the same way you’re introducing new disciplinary tactics, it’s time to introduce some new kitchen tactics to bridge the gap between baby feeding and big kid dinners.
Helping your kids through a phase of fussy eating can be made much easier if you keep in mind that aversion to new foods is a human survival instinct rather than simple rebellion. We’re supposed to be suspicious of new things and bitter flavours – it’s how we survived for centuries without dying from poisonous or rotten food! But in our century, we want to woo our kids into eating new foods and you are the key to showing them how to do that.
Realise that most kids go through a period of food rejection. It’s normal. Try to handle it with grace. True, it’s hard to keep your cool when the food you’ve slaved over is being flicked back at you and dropped on the floor. BREATHE and count slowly to 10. You need to start a two phase attack on those dinnertime battles.
Firstly, you want to get their nutrition in, so a bit of vegie smuggling might be in order. And secondly, you want to teach them the joys of healthy eating and the important role of fresh produce in their lives. Start with where your kids are currently. Your toddler is still breathing and growing, which means that they are eating SOMETHING! Write a list of what they will eat and start from there. Possibly your list will contain things like pasta, bread, cheese, rice, meat or potatoes. These are all great starting points to find inspiration and the starting point for many of my Vegie Smugglers recipes.
For instance, if your kids like pasta, make a roast capsicum sauce to serve on the side. Give them their independence and allow them to do the dipping (they love to be in control).
If they like bread, make them a vegie filled muffin (see the recipe, below). If they like cheese, bake finely chopped vegies in a ramekin of cheese sauce. Rice lovers can eat risotto or fried rice with cauliflower and corn. Meatlovers are easily sorted out. – meatballs are a total lifesaver – blitz a tin of chickpeas and add that to your mix along with grated carrot and zucchini.
There are a bunch of ways to creatively incorporate vegies without your toddler knowing. Doing this allows you to relax, knowing that their nutritional needs are being met. And once that’s done, you can venture down the fun road of introducing them to new flavours and educating them about the joys of healthy eating. But that’s a whole other post!
Cheese & ham muffins
- Canola oil cooking spray
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 carrot, peeled, grated
- 1 zucchini, peeled, grated
- ½ red capsicum, seeded, finely diced
- 100g ham, chopped
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1 cup milk
- 90g butter, melted
- 1 tbsp tomato chutney (optional, but delicious)
- Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin with cooking spray and line with muffin cases (if you like).
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Stir through the parmesan, vegies and ham. Season with black pepper.
- In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk, butter and chutney (if using).
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine without overmixing. Divide between the muffin holes and bake for 25–30 minutes or until golden.
By Kat – The Organised Housewife
About Wendy Blume
I’m an illustrator, graphic designer and home cook who spends most nights in the kitchen trying to feed two fussy children. The Vegie Smugglers blog and cookbooks are my labour of love aimed at helping all of you out there in the same situation.