The Secret to Children and Vegetables

If you’re feeling frustrated and discouraged by your child’s refusal to eat his greens, I thought this article might prove enlightening – specifically, the part where they tell us:

Infants have around 30,000 taste buds spread throughout their mouths. By the time we hit adulthood, only about a third of these remain, mostly on our tongues. So eating is an intense experience for the very young. No wonder nursery food is traditionally bland.

Children don’t tend to lose their extremely sweet teeth until puberty. The reason they often don’t eat their greens could be that the bitter notes in them are amplified by so many taste buds. And as we keep pairing flavours with experiences and forming prejudices, by the time children’s palates are more accepting of vegetable flavours they are negatively associated with parental nagging – an altogether different mood to that of the fun occasions when sweet treats are bestowed.

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Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Okay, so that doesn’t really answer the problem of getting kids to eat their veggies – aside from hiding them in their food. What can we do about it? Apparently, the key to getting kids to eat their veggies lies in what you serve your veggies with. Most of the time, the other food alongside our veggies are stiff competition because they’re too tasty. If you serve your veggies along with other less tasty food, it will increase the likelihood of the veggies being eaten. The best thing to do, however, is to serve the veggies on their own before serving anything else.

Many years ago when I was vegetarian, I noticed this. Vegetables started to taste better because I was no longer eating meat. When I started eating meat again, the vegetables lost their appeal. So perhaps that’s what we need to do – veggie starters.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Soy Sauce Chicken with Potato and Chinese Cabbage

Another slow-cooker chicken recipe that I experimented with recently… I forgot to take a photo (not that there’s much to look at anyway) but I thought I should record the recipe since the boys were pretty happy with it and it’s a really easy one to do.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pieces of Chicken Maryland
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced into quarters
  • Chinese cabbage, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp thick soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mushroom soy sauce
  • 1 cube of chicken stock
  • 2 rice bowls of water
  • dash of white pepper

Method:

  • Place chicken, onion, and potatoes into the slow cooker pot.
  • Mixed everything else together (except the cabbage) in a bowl and add to the slow cooker pot.
  • Set to cook on auto.
  • Add in the cabbage 30 minutes before eating.

We Made Roast Beef!

The hubs complains that I never try anything new, so I decided to make roast beef. After loads of whatsapp tips and advice from my chef SIL, we ended up with this:

Roast Beef

All things considered, it went quite well. All three boys approved of the flavour – not that anything could have gone wrong since it’s just salt, pepper and olive oil with a hefty chunk of beef – so I think it’s safe to say that this one’s a keeper. I thought I’d better record the instructions so we can replicate it in the future.

Ingredients:

  • 700g beef (best cuts – sirloin or fillet)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter

Method:

  • tie up the beef with string to make a uniform log.
  • massage the beef with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • heat the grill pan over the stove – make sure it’s screaming hot.
  • sear the beef until all surfaces are brown.
  • place a few cloves of crushed garlic under the beef and add a tablespoon of butter over the beef.
  • put the whole grill pan into the oven at 200C for 20 minutes.
  • transfer the beef to a plate and cove with foil.
  • let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes:

I got my beef already prepared from the supermarket so I didn’t have to tie it up. Unfortunately, the cut I bought was eye-round and it was very tough. I’ve been told by the chef that the best cuts to use are sirloin or fillet. If you go with ribeye, you need to make sure you need to cook it for longer to render the fat or it may be texturally challenging to consume.

The purpose for searing the meat over the grill pan is to seal it. It’s an extra step but it prevents the blood from oozing out of the meat.

For gravy, use Bisto gravy powder.

Recipes: Slow-Cooked Chicken Casserole with Zucchini and Corn

Slow Cooker recipes are always good to have around for those days when you know you’re going to be rushed for time after school. You can set it and forget it earlier in the day before the chaos (i.e. while the kids are still in school) and dinner will be ready when everyone comes home.

This recipe is a safe one for the boys because we don’t stray too far from flavours they know and like. Though they grumble about the veggies, at least they eat them. Sometimes I think they grumble only because they feel they have to or I might start to think I can get away with feeding them any kind of vegetable.

Slow-cooked Tomato Chicken Caserole

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Maryland
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced into quarters
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100ml water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic paste

Method:

  • Place chicken, onion, zucchini and corn into the slow cooker pot.
  • Mixed everything else together in a bowl and add to the slow cooker pot.
  • Set to cook on high for 2 hours or auto if you’re putting it on earlier in the day and heading out.

Breadmaker Recipe: Wheat Germ and Honey Bread

One of the difficulties I have with my boys is that they’re texturally challenged. There are certain foods they won’t eat, not because there is anything wrong with the way it tastes, but because it’s just “wrong” texturally. Unfortunately, bread is one those foods – it’s either right, or it’s wrong. There is no room for compromise.

There is a particular loaf of bread that we buy from the bakery that both boys agree with. Unfortunately, it’s not always convenient for me to get that bread and sometimes they’re out of stock, so I’ve been trying to find a bread recipe with the same texture. I wasn’t having much luck until a friend shared this one with me…

White Bread with Wheatgerm

The recipe is for a larger loaf that is meant to be made by hand so I had to adjust it a little to make it work for my breadmaker. I also removed the bits I didn’t think would go down well with the boys and we ended up with this:

Ingredients

  • 238g bread flour
  • 25g wheat germ
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5g dry yeast
  • 20g butter
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 138ml water

Method

  • Place water, honey and butter into the breadmaker mixing bowl.
  • Add flour, wheat germ and salt.
  • Make a well in the center and add the yeast.
  • Turn on the machine to dough function.
  • When the dough function has completed, wait one hour for the dough to rise.
  • Turn on the machine’s bake function.

Notes

  • Although we have a knead and bake function, I’ve stopped using it because the dough rising is sometimes a bit unpredictable. If the baking function comes on before the dough has risen sufficiently, I end up with a very dense bread that’s texturally challenging even for me.