Earlier this year I spoke at the Children’s Food Trust’s annual conference and the (perennial) question of whether or not to hide veg in children’s food came up. This spills over into the wider debate of the role of ‘appearance’ when it comes to children’s food: just how much should we be PR’ing the role of fruit and (in particular) veg?
To be honest, I’m very much of the belief that the most important thing is getting our kids to eat (more of) their 5-a-day (whether or not they realise what they’re eating). This is purely from a nutritional viewpoint. Of course, I’d rather kids enjoyed rather than endured their veg (or had it hidden in their food ) but (frankly) if their palate has been used to sugar and salt from the get-go, it’s incredibly hard to get them enjoying fruit and veg off their own backs – unless there’s support at home. And sadly, this isn’t always forthcoming.
That said, cookery in school does help. Hugely. So don’t be disheartened if what you have prepared for them to cook one week doesn’t go down too well at the tasting part. Just give it time.
Newsflash: Kids eat with their ears, eyes and head. If they don’t like the look or sound of something, they probably won’t eat it. My Popeyes’s Pesto (with olive oil!) sounds so much more appealing (I think) than Spinach Pesto. So do get creative with what you call your dishes.
Likewise, if you’re making sandwiches, never underestimate the power of a cookie cutter. Try carrot, hummus and sultanas as a Middle Eastern idea – or cream cheese and blueberries for an all-American sandwich.
Finally I simply had to share two of my favourite recipes….
My Mr Lion Lunch and Under the Sea Mr Crab Baked Potato.
They may not be cool enough for the glossy food mags – but kids just love ‘em!
Fiona Faulkner is a mum, broadcaster and author of the book ‘25 Foods your kids hate…and how to get them eating 24‘. She’s working with us on our Take Two campaign to get every child eating at least two portions of fruit and veg during lunchtime at school.