All the recipes here are meant to be for the whole family to enjoy together. In fact, every photo and recipe is from a real meal that my family ate together.
These recipes have been created with the knowledge that children will be eating them, too. So the flavours have been kept in balance: nothing too over-powering or too spicy. But the flavours are never bland.
They eat what we eat.
As a family, we follow this for many reasons.
1. We want our kids to be open minded about food, to try new things and experiences. What better place to start than at the family table? Many of the recipes here are inspired by our travels and wanting to experience other cultures.
2. It is so much fun to eat together. Family meal time is sacred time. Its the part of our day where we connect the most with each other. We are all participating in the same thing, with no distractions and we can catch up with each other and how our day was. Its really nice to share the same food while doing this – it is part of the experience.
3. Why should I be a short order cook – taking orders from everyone on what they will and won’t eat? I don’t want to cook more than one meal.
4. This ties in perfectly with Baby-Led Weaning, a way of weaning your baby. In a nutshell, the pureed food stage is skipped altogether and babies move straight to solids at 6 months (only once able to sit un-aided). Both my boys were introduced to food this way, and we find it joyful watching our babies get so much satisfaction from eating and developing independence from choosing what they want to eat.*
* Curious about Baby-Led Weaning? My e-book is coming soon, so watch this space. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list so you won’t miss it.
Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t
They all go through it at one stage or another, it’s a normal part of stating their independence. I’m currently experiencing this with my 3 year old, Oscar.
The answer is to not stress about it. Its never going to work every time (see picture opposite) But keep cooking the great food you want to eat together and offering it to them. This could take a while, and a mountain of patience. Keep giving them opportunities every day to try new tastes, flavours and textures.
What if my child simply refuses to eat what I make?
As a mother of a toddler, this sounds familiar to me. It happens in my house all the time. One day, something miraculous happened. After the umpteenth time I offered broccoli, he took it! And now he loves “green trees”. As well as many other foods he once declared that he didn’t like, he now does after trying them at preschool.
Of course, you don’t want them to go hungry so feed them something they will eat. That’s fine. Its very tempting to give up and just say “Oscar doesn’t like broccoli” and just write it off. But keep offering what you eat. Not pushing, or getting upset, just politely offering. One day, they will let down that stubborn guard.
How do you cater to childrens’ taste?
Quite simply, don’t. I like the idea of children being exposed to complex flavours and to be able to talk about different tastes and foods from different cultures. I do hold back on chilli, though, because I think a tolerance must slowly be built up for that. Its easy to add it as a condiment for those that want it, such as with chilli oil.
Do you have any tips on getting children to eat certain foods?
Firstly, it’s important not to make a huge fuss, because as soon as they feel like they are being controlled, then they really won’t eat it! I always offer one thing I know they will eat, so then they will have something at least. Then hopefully the next time, or the next time after that, they will be open to trying it.
It needs to feel normal to them. The more often they are exposed to different foods, the more open to it they will be.
You can try some different tactics. Like this Afghan Pumpkin Curry for example. And yes, I am suggesting that your child will eat curry from Afghanistan. The flavours are actually pretty simple – there are only a few ingredients, and the taste is so lovely – sweet and warming from the ginger. I called it “orange food” at first to try and get him to eat it.
Bribery. Seriously – anything it takes to get them to try it in a non-pushy way. Once they do try one mouthful, they will likely realise that they do like it. Because good food is delicious and pleasurable.