When I was a kid, I was stubbornly fussy. Even to this day, I eat little fruit, and it took me the better part of my adolescence to allow warm food to touch cold food. Meals with me were never fun. I cringe to think of the endless patience my mother needed to get me through every bite.
But now I know that if I’m raising a little fusspot, I’m well equipped with a few recipes that I wish my parents had shared with me.
If you’re looking for simple yet tasty food ideas packed full of veggies, give these a try!
Green Pea Hummus Dip and Fresh Veg
Getting fresh veggies into a kid’s diet can be tricky, to say the least. And with the temptation of freezer meals, it can be hard to prepare a meal that your kid might not receive well. On the bright side, there’s one thing that makes fresh veggies a lot more enjoyable, and that’s a delicious dip.
With nothing more than tinned peas, tinned chickpeas, some salt, garlic, cumin and a teaspoon of tahini, you can make a dip with a mild, nutty and creamy flavour your kids will love. Plus, it’ll last in the fridge, so you can use it over a few days.
Take your ingredients and blend them with a glug of olive oil and a teaspoon of ice water. This lightens the tahini and removes any bitterness. Don’t ask me why, but ever since my Israeli aunt gave me this tip, my hummus became 20 times better.
Then just peel and cut some cucumber, carrots and celery and leave them on the dining room table for your kids to pick at while doing their homework. You’ll get to sneak in a bunch of nutrients, and they won’t even realise they’re eating veggies!
Top Tip: Boiling the chickpeas with half a teaspoon of bicarb breaks down the skins and allows for a smoother, creamier hummus.
Veggie Burgers and Sweet Potato Chips
Meat is not only expensive, but it’s also a lot for a small stomach to deal with – especially when you consider the salt and fat in a regular burger. But burgers are just so good…fortunately, so are veggie burgers if you do them right!
The fun thing about veggie burgers is that you can only use the veggies your kids like and then sneak in some others they won’t notice when they’re not looking.
As a general rule of thumb, starchy veggies will hold together better than cruciferous or leafy veggies, so think sweet potato, lentils, peas or chickpeas. Add spices for flavour and make sure to dust the outside of the patties with flour to help them stick together in the pan. You can also add grain such as quinoa or bulgur wheat to up the fibre content.
If your kid’s a fussy eater, don’t immediately assume they’ll reject more complex or ‘adult’ flavours.
I remember the first time I came into contact with spices. I fell in love with the idea of these powders and flakes that could change the flavour of an entire meal with only a small sprinkle. It seemed like some kind of magic to me. Your child’s mistrust of certain basic food groups could just be an indication of a more advanced palette.
Sweet potato chips are magical and are as easy as could be to make. The fibrous nature of sweet potato means the chips don’t run the risk of going floppy and burning, which sometimes happens with regular potatoes. Just chop them up and stick them in the oven with some salt and rosemary to season.
If you’re making a stack of patties, make sure to use all the mixture. You can freeze the remaining patties in cling wrap for an easy meal in a few days’ time.
Roast Garlic Mashed Sweet Potato With Roast Veg
Mash was a staple growing up in my house; usually made by me after getting home from school with a lot of butter, milk and salt. When my father decided it was time for my family to get healthy, we suddenly switched to mashed sweet potato. I was not happy.
The resultant mash seemed simultaneously watery, fibrous and altogether a little tasteless. It was only years later that I learned the joy of mashed sweet potato with roasted garlic and a little butter topped with roast tender stem broccoli and carrots.
Add a bit of smoked paprika and things can get seriously tasty.
Moreover, roasting results in the most delicious vegetables, and it’s a great way to introduce kids to new veggies they may be wary of. It’s hard to turn down anything roasted in the oven!
If you want some fresher ingredients, opt for fresh green beans or even soft, canned sweet peas.
This healthy, delicious meal can be a great winter warmer, especially when spicing the mash with cumin and ginger. You can also use this method for your favourite vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe to bring it up a level.
Cheesy Broccoli and Cauliflower Bake
This one is for nights when you’re craving cheesy comfort food but don’t want to order another pizza.
Cruciferous veg is a vital part of everyone’s daily diet, yet it’s so often overlooked. Broccoli and cauliflower can be absolutely delicious when roasted with garlic, mushrooms and thinly chopped spinach, then covered with a sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan.
If you’ve ever covered a bake in parmesan, you’ll know that it really helps keep the top of your dish nice and crispy. Plus, it adds a saltiness when combined with a soft, mild cheese like mozzarella.
Pop it all in a baking tray and make sure to turn the oven over to grill near the end for that crispy finish.
The bottom line with veggies is that all of them can be enjoyable when they’re just done right. All you need are delicious recipes.
Showing your children how tasty a simple ingredient can be when it’s prepared with thought and love broadens their taste buds. Plus, it helps them develop an interest in basic culinary skills that’ll serve them for a lifetime.
Get your kids involved in the kitchen. Let them smell the spices, explain simple processes to them and pretty soon, you might be getting healthy meals made for you!