How can I get my family to eat more vegies?
I don’t want to convert people to any specific diet but I am here to give you vital information and ideas to improve your health. I hope to get you thinking and planning ways to incorporate more whole plant based foods in your diet.
I want you to feel good about what you eat and enjoy the benefits of healthy eating. Remember; always respect those that choose to eat differently to you as we are all on our own paths. But I do want you to take charge of your health and leave the fear of being judged behind you.
I know you are thinking…..that sounds great but how do I talk my family into eating and enjoying their vegies?
I am not a parent, but I take my hat off to the mother who holds her head high and does not give in to a tantrum. It is a hard job and to all the parents out there sometimes you just have to learn to float rather than flourish.
I do not protest to be a child expert but being a teacher and a health and nutrition coach I have spent my fair share of time around the youth and have learnt a sneaky trick or two. Some of the strategies that I am about to suggest will not always work and may require the patience of a saint but none the less give them a crack and see what works for you. If you don’t have success dust yourself off knowing that at least you tried your best.
Lead by example. Children are copy cats they pick up comments made by their parents. I urge all you parents out there not to say “yuck I hate carrots”. They want your approval and to be like you and in no time at all they will not want carrots either. Always give your children options, maybe they would like to serve their own vegetables or salad after they see you do the same. You are the role model of good behaviour so always use positive language around healthy food. Don’t talk about diets and kilojoules just food that gives you energy and makes you happy and healthy and food that you only eat sometimes or at parties.
Trick them if you must…..Sorry kids and fussy spouses it is for your own good.
Zoodles mixed with noodles. Zoodles are an excellent way to get your children to consume more green vegetables without noticing a taste difference. If you have a spiraliser at home older children could help to prepare them and mix them through pasta before serving.
Green pancakes. These are a Dr Suess inspired breakfast. Add spinach to your pancake batter in the blender or grate zucchini into pancakes to up the vegie content of any breakfast. Kids like weird and wonderful colours and you can get very creative with names like “monster pancakes” and “green goblin breakfast.”
Grating extra goodies into Bolognese. When making a hearty bolognese sauce you can add grated carrot, grated zucchini and lentils. These will not impact the taste of the final product and most kids and fussy partners will be none the wiser. I also like to add lots of herbs as they too are wonderful for flavour and packed full of antioxidants.
Zucchini in porridge. This one is not just for the kids as I also like to add grated zucchini to add bulk to my breakfast and amp up my intake of vegetables at all meals. If your children are fussy just peel the zucchini so that they can’t detect it in their porridge.
Carrot cake oats. This is one of my favourite recipes for breakfast and is also super simple to prepare just grate some carrot and add dates to sweeten with some cinnamon, ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. It is a whole food and super healthy breakfast that will fuel you through till lunch time. These worked with my friend’s daughter who called them “bunny oats”.
Grow some lettuce and tomatoes. Kids love nothing more than seeing that they can grow their own vegies. If they grow it and harvest it they always want to eat it. I have grown tomatoes by drying seeds from the best tasting cherry tomatoes and planting them in an old yoghurt container with a clear lid. Keep it in a sunny spot like a kitchen window and give them a spray of water each day. When they start to grow to touch the lid, carefully take them outside and plant them in the garden. Children learn to be gentle, caring, patient and more sustainable.
Plastic knives for kids. These little inventions are fantastic to allow kids to be part of the food preparation while keeping all their ten fingers.
Make food fun. Remember that food needs to be fun for young children so let them make vegetable faces on homemade pizza or smear food through their tiny fingers. This ensures that they are learning about the world of food through tastes and textures and decreases fussy eating habits.
I have included my yummy Family Friendly Vegie Pie recipe to start sneaking in those extra vegies.
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Remember no one is perfect but we can all make conscious decisions to affect our health and that of our loved ones in the most positive way.
Hippocrates was right when he said “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.
Family Friendly Vegie Pie
This recipe is always a family favourite. The deliciously creamy cauliflower mash can win over any fussy eater. I love making these pies when I have guests for dinner as they are served in their own little dish and look much more difficult than they really are.
• 1 large onion (diced)
• 2 large carrots (diced)
• 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
• 2 small eggplants (cut into 2cm cubes)
• 400g can of diced tomatoes
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 1 cup red split lentils
• 2Tbsp tomato paste
• 3tsp coriander seeds (grind in a mortar and pestle)
• 1tsp black peppercorns (grind up in a mortar and pestle)
• 2tsp cumin seeds
• 1tsp mustard seeds
• 1tsp ground turmeric
• 3cm piece of ginger (grated)
• 650g cauliflower (approx. half a large cauliflower)
• ½ cup cashews soaked for 4 hours in water
• 1Tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1/3 cup soy or nut milk
1. Heat a large pot and add the onion stirring frequently, as the onion begins to soften add the carrot, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black pepper.
2. Add the eggplant stirring constantly to ensure that the spices do not burn.
3. When the eggplant begins to soften, add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and stir well.
4. Add the can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock and lentils.
5. Bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring frequently until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
6. You may need to add more stock if mixture is too dry.
7. While the mixture is simmering: Roughly chop the cauliflower and steam until soft.
8. Place the cauliflower in a blender, strain the cashews and add to the blender with the yeast and soy or nut milk.
9. Blend on high until a smooth consistency is achieved.
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