Monday, April 25, 2011

The art of the hidden vegie

Some time back I mentioned that I never intended to be the sort of parent who hides vegies for their child (or the sort of parent who bribes their child with food, or the sort of parent who distracts a child with food etc etc). Yesterday I realised that, while Leo does still actually eat a wide variety of vegetables, they are now all of the hidden variety. I genuinely can't think of a vegie that he would pick up and eat on its own anymore - unless you would count potato/sweet potato in hot chip form and the very occasional snow pea. This despite my clear, pre-baby vision of a child who would munch celery and carrot from a re-usable container made from environmentally friendly plastics while wearing spotless organic cotton outfits.

This hidden vegie realisation came when we were having a roast dinner on the weekend at my Mum's house and Leo looked at it all like it was a plate full of foreign substances. I often present him a dinner like this but always with at least one thing that I know he will eat (i.e. fish cakes including hidden vegies that he will eat served with three unhidden vegies that he will probably leave). So, of a full plate full of roast, he ate two mouthfuls of potato and half a slice of bread. Lame.

I've shared a couple of my best vegie hiding recipes on here before: chicken stir-fry, shepherd's pie, and pumpkin lasagne and I thought it was probably time to throw a new one in the mix. Here is my recent burger recipe - you may need to adapt depending on the size of the vegies that you use:

Eleanor's Hidden Vegie Beef Burgers

500gm lean beef
1 onion grated
1 small zucchini grated
1 small carrot grated
1 egg
Bread crumbs
Olive oil
4 wholemeal burger buns
4 slices tasty cheese
Tomato relish
Oven chips and snow peas to serve

Mix beef, onion, zucchini, carrot and egg in a bowl. Add bread crumbs until the consistency is easy to handle and not too sticky. Form into four (or more) patties.

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and fry the patties until they are cooked through. Toast the buns under the grill until golden. Make the burgers up to your taste with cheese and relish etc. If your children are more open minded than Leo, you could obviously add lettuce, tomato, beetroot, goji berries etc. Serve with chips and snow peas.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The "at least its better than Maccas" clause

I've recently realised that sometimes I can convince myself that I am doing something good by rating my decisions against a very low bar. For example, I don't get much aerobic exercise but I figure tai chi, pilates and walking to the train station are more than some people who don't do anything at all - like this is a good standard to compare against. If I eat a chocolate bar I tell myself that there are people who eat them every day so one is not so bad. Similarly tonight when I decided I wasn't really up to cooking, I made some homemade pizzas for the boy and me (Mr Williams was out for Friday night drinks) and figured well, at least it's better than Maccas. Not a very high standard, but when I gave Leo a cup of milk and some apple slices I figured it was passable. It's probably worth noting that Maccas has already realised this is all that is required to knock over parental guilt and will sell you a cheeseburger with milk and apple slices too if that's what it takes to get you in the door! I'm not sure if it's worth writing a recipe out for my pizzas but I do find they are a big hit with the kiddies. It is literally just wholemeal pitta breads with some low sodium pasta sauce, ham and cheese (or anchovies, olives and roast capsicum for me). It's probably quite sad but I convince myself as there are tomatoes, onions and mushrooms in the pasta sauce, it's pretty much a balanced meal. But hey, as I said, it could be worse...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Can veganism kill kids?

I really have never blogged about anything too serious in the past, but I have to say the media articles over the last few days about the French vegans who are being charged with their baby's death had me amazed and concerned - not about veganism but about questionable media practice. Let me say up front, I am not a vegan but I do generally believe that a vegan diet can work for most people if managed properly. This French family's situation a bit more tricky that the papers make out. While it would seem easy to conclude straight up that a vegan diet is inappropriate for small children there is a lot more to going on here. Firstly, the parents had decided only to feed the baby breast milk for nine months even though she wasn't putting on enough weight. Secondly, they ignored the symptoms of bronchitis which were picked up in a routine nine-month check up and only decided to treat it with some questionable home remedies (I don't know what a cabbage poultice is). Thirdly, the parents are not believers in supplementing their vegan diet to get vitamin B12 which is generally accepted as something that a vegan diet cannot provide. Interestingly, a Canadian article I read clearly stated that that the cause of the baby's death was pneumonia-related illness (the bronchitis no doubt) and that the subsequent autopsy showed vitimin deficiency. However, when the issue was relayed in the news in Australia, the wording had changed to say that the baby died suffering from vitamin deficiency - which is technically true but misleading in suggesting that the vegan diet was the cause of death. This suggestion concerns me because I have read plenty of sources that say a vegan diet can be managed even for small children but that it needs to be carefully monitored and should be supported with vitamin B12 supplements. The French parents were not making any sensible decisions from the information available - they were not offering a diverse diet to their child, they were not offering vitamin supplements, and they were ignoring professional advice and not seeking medical advice for an obvious illness. So while I think it is absolutely reasonable that these parents are being held to account for the neglect of the wellbeing of their child, veganism really shouldn't be on trial here. That is an issue to be dealt with elsewhere and ideally backed up with research and evidence if it is to be deemed totally inappropriate for young children. I say veganism doesn't kill but that it is a choice that needs to be made with the backing of nutritional advice and a serious commitment to the health needs of the people involved. Ok, serious blogging over - next time I'll tell you about the wonders of "space food".