Thursday, 14 June 2018

How Do you Make Them Like Vegetables? + Epic Recipe

Among the many millions of things parents are required to worry about these days, diet has to be in the top five (you know, along with breastfeeding hand-wringing, terrorising each other over gentle parenting, and over-analysing screen-time and media consumption).

*Little pause to give parents time to hyperventilate.*



So, my kids actually eat plenty of vegetables, even though I have one super-picky eater <cough> Tigger <cough>, and no handy older kid for the younger ones to want to emulate. And especially with Jude, we did get to the point where he was just eating beige food all the time (being Tigger he has a crazy metabolism, which means if we don't fill him up at dinner, he will wake up starving at 5am). So if that is where you are right now, I hear you sister!

But we tried a few things, and these days, meals are mostly not an issue (knocks on wood).

First and foremost, Simon and I had a long chat to mentally prepare for the tackling of the end of the beige kingdom. You know, reminding each other that Jude was not going to just let himself starve, and that missing a meal is unpleasant, but in Jude's case at least, definitely not life-threatening.

Buoyed up and ready, we simply implemented the "you eat up your plate or you get nothing else". There were tears, there were a few trips to his bedroom so he could calm himself down a bit. There were a couple of missed meals. But once he realised that we did in fact, mean what we said, he simply ate. 

Being a super-picky eater though, there were (still occasionally are!) times when he chose to go to bed hungry rather than finish his plate, but there is no more drama about it. One of the things we definitely did not want to find ourselves doing, was pleading endlessly with him for "one more mouthful of broccoli" with subsequent bribes/punishment/general loss of peace and tempers.

A few extra things that help are:

- soups! Blended! with as much bread as they like! (This is 80% of their lunches, I try many different recipes, I just blend them all. They don't uniformly love them, but they eat them, no problem. And it means I don't feel bad about pasta for dinner if I know they've already eaten plenty of vegetables for lunch.)

- pairing vegetables they refuse with a food they will definitely want seconds off (toad-in-the-hole were the gateway drug for Jude liking peas and green beans).

- when introducing new food/textures/recipes, I do it repeatedly and in very small quantities. Basically, they have an entree of a couple of mouthfuls of something unfamiliar, and once they've (extremely quickly) cleaned up their plates, they can have as much as they like of a familiar food (even if it means just sandwiches). Over time, unfamiliar vegetables and textures become familiar, and voila! One more thing I can make them and rely on them gobbling up.

Hopefully we will get to a point where they are just happy to try new food, but right now in toddlerdom, we'll call it good enough.

As promised though, I also have a magic bullet recipe. It's great for a picnic, has vegetables in, can be eaten hot or cold, made in advance or in 30 minutes and is a huge crowd-pleaser:

Vegetable Cupcakes

(Adapted from an original recipe I found there - it's a great cookbook in general, each recipe has tons of possible alternatives and everything is super easy to make, highly recommend! *I get no money for saying this, not even from Amazon!)

to make around 20 small cupcakes

what it will look like

1 large courgette (or 2 small ones)
1 large carrot
- or around 200g of whichever vegetables you want to use, aubergine would work well for example - 
125g of goat cheese
125g of cheddar/gruyere
175g flour
6 eggs
6 tblsp vegetable oil

preheat the oven to 200C
  • grate the carrot and (unpeeled) courgette, crumble the goat cheese and mix together
  • grate the cheddar, measure out the flour and add both to the vegetable mix
  • combine together
  • in a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs then add oil, salt and pepper
  • whisk together to combine
  • pour the egg mixture onto the vegetable mixture
  • stir together
  • oil your silicone cupcake liners, or don't bother if you are using paper ones
  • plop the mixture into each liner - you can fill them up to the top - they will rise in the oven then sink back down a bit
  • pop in the oven until the top in brown (15 minutes? I'm not sure, I always just eyeball it)

Voila! As I said, they are good hot or cold. You can make it into a loaf as well, but unless you have a well-oiled silicone cake mold, it will probably stick to the sides, you have been warned!

Now enjoy your picnic, knowing you have manged to get some vegetables in your children.

You are welcome. 


  1. I love reading what you guys do! I just have a 2 year old right now, and he eats mostly anything-sometimes he'll go through a phase of a few days where he refuses something, but then he starts eating it all the time seemingly out of the blue. I've found it helpful to try introducing foods in different ways. For instance, he's not really into eating pinto beans, he'll pick out everything else (rice, veggies) on the plate and leave the beans. BUT, we had taco salad last week with pinto beans, and since they were paired with different veggies + dressing, he ate them. Tonight at dinner, he didn't eat much off his plate (pork, green salad, potato salad), but my husband made it clear that he would eat it at his next meal. We went grocery shopping and when it was time for "bedtime snack" my toddler cleared off his plate no problem because he was hungry and that's the food he was allowed to eat!

  2. Yes! That is a good strategy! That and hunger. Can’t beat hunger ��