I would really love to hear some suggestions from you. I seem to have run out of healthy recipes to feed my 2 year old son who isn't a fan of veggies, although he loves fish. Can anybody give me a piece of their mind on what else to prepare for him? Thanks in advance!
Help! Any recipe suggestions for my kid?
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at 2 i just fed the kids what I was eating, while I grew up with the "clean your plate society" I only made the kids at least try a bite of everything.
any way, a good meatloaf is an easy way to sneak in vege
roasted butternut squash looks more like mashed potatoes then squash, hehehe
greek or peasant salads are a fantastic means for fresh vege, these are mainly separated by the size of the dice of the veges. mostly they use tomato, cucumber (i prefer english or lemon) , red onion, olives (kalamtas), feta cheese (although queso fresco works well or even fresh shredded parmesan goes good) and parsley little olive oil and vinegar salt and pepper and BAM! (sorry Emeril) you gots a great salad. you can also add artichoke hearts.
carrots..haven't met a kid yet that wouldn't eat a carrot, good old Bugs Bunny. 3-4 carrots peeled and shredded into a bowl then add some parsley and a splash of lemon juice and olive oil. that's it. you could get all gross and add raisins (blech, ok thats my hangup)
anyway so there are a few ideas, have fun.
Our kids have gone through a few different phases. I think a good practice is to lead by example. Over time, If your child notices that you eat healthy they have a better chance at picking up the same habits. If you take small portions or skip helping of vegetables your kids will notice. Same for salad and beverages.
Try to get them involved in cooking...even if it's simple. My son, Dominic, had a time when he wouldn't eat green beans. We let him drizzle the olive oil on top and grind the pepper (I salted). Of course we called them green beans ala Dominic...now he often asks if he could make them for us.
In my experience -- one 5-year-old and one 2 1/2-year-old -- some sure-fire winners are beans, soup, chicken, noodles, and carrots. Tomatoes and edamame (fresh soybeans) are big with my kids, but I know people whose kids won't touch anything but hot dogs, so there you go.
When in doubt, I just cook it all together and make a basic Italian minestre: sweat a little onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil, add soaked beans and some cubed ham or leftover chicken, add water and bring to a strong simmer, then add any other vegetables you feel like trying; a little garlic works very well, but some kids hate it. Cook 40-45 minutes until the beans are becoming tender, then season well and cook another 20 minutes until the beans are almost perfect. At this point add some small dry pasta -- spaghetti broken up works fine, but so does almost anything else (try asking the kid to pick a shape, so she feels it's her dish), and cook another 10 minutes or so until the pasta is quite soft. Stir and let stand 5-10 minutes, then serve with lots of grated Parmesan or Romano on top, plus a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked black pepper for the grownups. It's even better if you put the rind from the Parmesan in when you add the water -- adds an amazing flavor.
If your family gets into this, note that you can overseason it a bit and serve it room temperature in the summer, and it's if anything better than the hot version. You can also make it a bit thinner and serve it over slices of day-old country bread in the winter, for hearty food to fill up the troops. There are lots of recipes for various kinds of minestre around, adding potato, turnip, tomato, greens, pearl barley or farro, rice, and who knows what. They all work much the same way, so use what you've got. My son (the 5 year-old) will eat this stuff by the shovel-load, making himself so full he will actually decline dessert.
Another dish you might try is a Japanese donburi, which is basically stuff dumped on top of rice. A very popular one with kids is oyako-don, "mother and child donburi," which is chicken and egg topping. I won't go into the fine details, but basically what you do is take some chicken and vegetables, simmer them in seasoning (soy, stock, sugar, etc.) until just not-quite-done, then quickly stir in beaten egg, keep stirring as it just starts to cook a bit, and then pour the stuff right on top of really hot rice in an individual bowl and slap a lid on top. Wait 2 minutes and serve, removing the lid, when the egg has just set. Japanese kids LOVE this -- real "mom's home cooking" sort of thing.
Hope that helps.
Oh -- one more piece of advice. If you have a little time, plan on something that involves a fair bit of simmering in a pot, something (like the minestre I mentioned before) that is the opposite of finicky, and then make it a project with your child. You pre-cut the veggies and handle any raw meat or whatever, but other than that you help your child to add ingredients and the like, and then lots of stirring -- not too fast! -- is great. A very heavy pot is good, so the child can't accidentally knock it off. With a small child like yours, you can hold her on your hip while most of this goes on; with a 5-year-old, use a back burner and a stepstool. Obviously, monitor everything like a hawk! If you do this, you may well find that the child has a big investment in the dish, because "I made that!" And then, you'd be surprised, the kid will eat just about anything.
Of course, this doesn't work with every dish -- I shudder to think about a little kid doing open grilling or something -- but it's terrific for soups and stews on those days when you have some time to fool around.
I always remember baking with my grandmother, especially cookies. Cookies are relatively easy, make the home smell wonderful and what kid doesn't like licking the dough off of the beater? Grandma didn't have a stand mixer back in the late 70's-early 80's either. Did everything by hand.
It can be messy, but isn't that what being a kid is all about? Of course, then you get to eat warm home made cookies.
Soups are another simple and healthy way to go and the possibilities are endless. And you can make a pot and freeze the leftovers.
I found that veggies that are made as finger foods are often eaten more easily and with more pleasure - stringbeans, asparagus, broccoli (little trees). My daughter wouldn't eat any vegetables when she was little, and I was following the general advice to leave out the salt. Then one day in exasperation i stuck the end of a string bean in a little salt and she ate it up. I think she inherited my family's need for salt (none of us have high blood pressure). Having something to dip into can help (string beans dipped in guacamole, in hummus (kids seem to love it) or just oil and salt, or lemon butter.
Then, my mainstay was to make a vegetable soup or minestrone, but always, always to blend it (immersion blenders are great for this). They called it green soup and liked it even in periods when they would eat no vegetables at all. I made it at least two times a week (with variations like spinach soup, pumpkin soup, etc). Never call it vegetable soup. It's green soup. Some like to call it dinosaur soup or crocodile soup or whatever.
Remember potatoes are actually not all starch, they even have iron and other vitamins.
Frittata cann be a way to get veggies into the menu - just chop them more finely than you normally would so they;re not recognizable. Also rice dishes (risotto with zucchine, for instance or even cauliflower which is white and less noticeable as a vegetable - slowly fry with garlic and oil till it gets soft and then cook the rice in the same pan with broth) and then make fried rice balls with the leftovers (add an egg, lots of parmigiano, roll in flour and egg and breadcrumbs and fry). Also pasta dishes with veggies. Try a pummarola sauce - put a can of tomatoes (or good locally grown in-season tomatoes), a carrot, a stick of celery, parsley and an onion in a pot and boil together till tender. Blend it all so it's creamy, not in recognizable pieces. Cook the pasta, immediately put a couple of handfuls of parmigiano on it while hot (it melts onto the pasta) then the sauce and mix well, then add a chunk of butter. It;s a great summer pasta dish and one of my favorite (and easiest) sauces. The pressure cooker does a great job on this.
My kids and my granddaughter loved and love frozen peas - yes, frozen, to pick up with little fingers and eat. No need to cook them, and they're good. The frozen aspect of them is a special appeal. Stringbeans would work too.
Finally, there's funny face salads. chop the ingredients or grate them finely, or cook if they don;t like the shreds sticking in their throat (carrots, lettuce, spinach, raw or cooked string beans. raisins, tomato slices, olives, radishes, etc, can be used as garnishes. Make a pile of, say, grated carrot (you can dress it with whatever you like) then put, say, green "hair" on top, a couple of tomato eyes (or raisins, or olives or radishes),. You can make a cat face with string bean whiskers, or whatever you like. I loved making them, and the kids liked eating them. Each kid has to have his own face in his own dish, so it takes a little "plating" time.
When i was a kid, string beans actually had strings, and many was the time i choked and gagged on them, half down my throat and half in my mouth. My mother was unbending (resulting in me hating lots of foods for way too long because they were forced on me) and so finally i discovered i liked them raw. I would get a little cup with raw string beans and dip them into a little pile of salt.
Anyway, with kids, if you want them to LIKE something eventually, remember their tastes change, but if you force them to eat something they will hate it much longer than if they are allowed to reject it till they get curious.
Yeah, funny face stuff works wonderfully. One time I was stuck, I'd promised my son spaghetti and it turned out we only had squid-ink linguini, and we were 45 minutes from the closest store. So I dressed up his plate to look like Baikingman, a character from the Japanese kids' show Anpanman, which he adores. It never seems to have crossed his mind that black spaghetti wasn't a totally cool thing -- he was entranced and ate scads of it.
children in Japan love Bentos more for the fun shapes then the food in it.
If he loves fish - why not try making fish cakes with potato and some egg to bind it? My kids from that age loved fish fingers, mashed potatoes, and cooked peas with a little butter. Or tuna mornay with either rice or mashed potatoes. You can hide other white veg in the mash such as swedes, turnips, celeriac, and parsnips.
Celery sticks with smooth peanut butter filling went down well (you may want to blanch the celery a bit first to soften it slightly). Can also dot the top of the P.B . with dried sultanas/raisins and call it a caterpillar.
What about savoury muffins? he can help with these, doing the mixing and filling the paper cases into the muffin tray, it always makes them feel much more important and willing to try eating it. Say, for example, things like pumpkin muffins for example, (you may call them scones or biscuits depending on where you are).
Good luck and have fun with it - lots of great ideas above, give some a go and find what works for you both. And don't stres too much on the veggies, his palate will change to enjoy them as it develops.
Edited by DC Sunshine - 6/5/10 at 12:27am