A could of years ago my son, Arthur (who just turned 5), was well-known in my circle of mums for being a “good eater”. He would eat most things, chomping happily on dishes with strong exotic flavours, a variety of vegetables, most fruits, cheese… Then he gradually became a bit of a fussy eater. He now won’t eat any cheese apart from Parmesan (middle class!); hates bananas and avocados (used to love them); dislikes most veggies (apart from cucumber); and doesn’t like curries or spiced food. Still, as bad as that sounds, I would say he’s about average – if not better – than many other kids I know in terms of how many foods he will happily chow down on.
So, I totally get it that mums – and dads – have this extra stressful factor to contend with when putting dinner on the table. It’s SO much easier just to serve something you know they’ll eat, time after time. But how will they ever come around to liking foods, or benefit from a wide range of foods, if you give in and choose not to challenge them?
With Artie I am trying to accept that part of his new pickiness is just a phase, and part of growing up and deciding your own likes and dislikes. It is really stressful though.
My approach is to mix it up. Sometimes they get dinners that I know they will love and lap up, asking for seconds (spag bol, roast chicken, fish pie) but on other days I will give them something a bit more challenging (mild curries, vegetable pastas, different grains). Saying that, Beatrix (just 3), will always enjoy the exact opposite of what Arthur dislikes. So, usually someone will eat something.
It’s a rare occasion where everyone eats everything and asks for more. I just want you to know that even food bloggers have normal kids too.
To get some veggies into Arthur, I made this dish last week. He wasn’t raving mad about it, as stupidly I told him that the sauce contained lots of vegetables. But you know what? He ate it. So as far as I am concerned, this dish is WINNING! Beatrix absolutely loved it, as did Adam.
It is simply a great way to get vegetables into a child who refuses them in their natural state. Oh, the feeling of joy as you see your little veg hater eating his dinner. Do try it with the veggie hater in your house and let me know – did it work?! Hope so!
Prep time: 35 minutes (to roast vegetables)
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
2 small courgettes
1 small aubergine
3 small peppers: green, red, orange
5 cloves garlic
350g wholemeal pasta (I used fusilli)
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Generous grating of parmesan
Salt and pepper
- Cut the vegetables into large chunks. I didn’t peel the garlic cloves. Toss in oil. Roast in a moderate oven, about 170C, for about 35 minutes. You could do this in advance.
- Once they are almost done, put a large pan of water on to boil. Salt a little. Once boiling add the pasta. Cook until only just al dente – about 1 or 2 minutes under cooking time stated on packet. Drain.
- Whizz up the roasted veggies in a small processor.
- Mix the cooked pasta with the roasted veggies. Add the passatta, oregano, balsamic and seasoning.
- Tear mozzarella over the top and cover generously with grated Parmesan. Drizzle extra virgin over and bake for 20 minutes on about 180C until brown and bubbling.
- Serve with a little salad.