Saturday, 19 May 2012

Do You Teach Your Kids To Say Yes To Veges?

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Parents you already know this, but research says that you play a pivotal role in shaping children’s food preferences.  A very recent study in Appetite this month indicated that in child food trials, vegetable consumption was not influenced by fussiness as you may have thought, but with drink accompaniment. 

Adults had a strong preference for pairing soft drinks with high calorie foods.  Vegetables were not chosen with soft drinks. 

When adults pair soft drinks with energy dense foods instead of vegetables, children as young as 3 years of age are already mimicking these food patterns. 

Is it possible that adults who choose water during meals as their default drink of choice also follow a healthier diet?  These parents are likely to include vegetables regularly with meals, whilst modelling the healthy eating plate to their children at the same time.

Parents, you are the role models for your children.  An earlier study in Public Health Nutrition said just that. 

Healthy eating behaviours begin at home.  Young children and adolescents ate fruit and vegetables, when their parents did.  Employ rules for healthy eating in your home and encourage your children to eat fruit and vegetables every day.

How can you tempt your child to eat fruit and veg?

Give them a choice.  It’s as simple as that.  

A 2010 issue in Public Health Nutrition suggested giving children a choice during fruit and vegetable eating situations.  Instead of offering an apple alone, offer them the apple and a pear.  Let them make the choice.  This is a positive method that you can employ for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in your own home.

To get you started, why not try my Asparagus & Spinach Risotto.  It’s delicious with a feta & tomato salad.

Asparagus & Spinach Risotto

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch Asparagus (approximately 12 – 14 spears), cut into 1 inch pieces
6 large button mushrooms
200g baby spinach
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups stock of your choice
2 tablespoons reduced fat crème fraiche
Handful of parmesan, grated

Serves 4-5 persons

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add garlic and onions and fry until golden brown.  Add asparagus and stir fry for a few minutes.  Then add rice and stir regularly.  Gradually add a third of the stock and allow simmering.  Now add mushrooms.  Add the second third of your stock, followed by the spinach.  Keep stirring continuously.  Finally add the remainder of the stock.  Mix in the crème fraiche just before removing from the heat.  Serve with a generous coating of the parmesan and a lovely salad.

Tip – if you are entertaining, you can try replacing a bit of the stock with a large glass (250ml) of white wine.  If you choose to prepare with wine, then add this first, then the remainder of the stock.  Delicious!  

This was our first meal in Spain so forgive the Sangria that you can see in the background!  I also prepared it with a mixture of white wine and stock.

What tricks have you got up your sleeve to get your kids to eat fruit and veges?  Do share!