Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hidden vegies, how many does your crouching child need?

With most of the nutrition advice that I've found being pretty general, I often get to wondering how many vegies little kids actually need in a day. The advice for adults is pretty clear - five a day full stop. No blurry lines. Eat five vegies or something very bad will happen to you. For school age kids there are some specific guidelines too but for toddlers...nothing.

I've got a few child nutrition books and I've looked at a lot of online resources and I think the general answer is "some". I found one source that said you should go with one cup of vegies a day. Another says serve at least one vegie at each meal (I don't know where I'm going to put them between porridge and some slices of pear - maybe some steamed sprouts for entree??). Most articles/books/blogs seem to say as long as toddlers get some vegies in their diet at some time each day, you're doing ok. The key thing is that little ones get a range of vitamins and minerals and plenty of fibre rich foods.

I should note that I swore that I would never be one of those people who hides vegies for their kids (also noting that I had never in my life tried preparing a meal for a toddler before). I thought that I would go with the Maternal and Child Health Nurse's advice that Leo should eat whatever we ate. As it turns out he does not like Thai red curries (too spicy), lamb and chickpea salad (too chunky) or pumpkin tagine with cous cous (who knows what the problem is here??).
So I have joined the league of vegie hiders and have learnt a few tricks from a cohort of other toddler feeding parents. One told me that white sauce is the key - this led me to developing macaroni cheese with peas, broccoli and spinach. Consequently I have decided that pasta is the key, you can sneak anything into a sauce a la Bolognese with carrot, zucchini and spinach.

Leo also had a period that he preferred his food in pancake form which is when I developed my corn cake recipe (see below). If you are a grown up, I would strongly recommend serving these with bacon, relish and sour cream to cancel out the health benefits ;)

Eleanor's super quick corn cakes

1 small tin of creamed corn
1 cup of wholemeal self raising flour
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
chopped spring onion and coriander optional

Mix all ingredients in a bowl to a pancake batter consistency (you may need to adjust the amount of milk to get it thin enough.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.

Melt some butter in the pan - it should bubble lightly.

Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the pan and wait for small bubbles to appear on the surface (approx 1-2 minutes).

Flip corncakes and cook briefly on the other side.

Toddlers will happily eat these as they are and you can also pack up leftovers for a snack later. They are good for a day or so in the fridge.

Enjoy! If your toddler is also going through a pancake phase, I would recommend risotto balls as another excellent option.

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