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We know it can be really tough getting kids to eat enough veg. Most of us here at GC HQ are parents and have been through – or are still tackling – the challenging job of persuading our children to finish their broccoli, mushrooms or spinach…
In fact, we find some members leave the veg scheme when they have small children - saying that they just can't get them to eat the veg. Yet many others join at exactly the same time - wanting their families to enjoy the benefits of fresh, unprocessed, pesticide-free food.
Obviously, we'd like more people to fall into the second group. By growing the scheme, we can create more jobs here in Hackney, support more local farmers and know that more people are eating great, fresh, organic food produced in ways that protect the soil, the climate and the planet.
With this in mind, we've created a category in our recipe section called "Dishes our kids love..." Not all children will love all the meals, but they're the ones that the parents that work here have found their kids eat happily.
Some of them are good for lunchboxes – fritters, flapjacks and fruit bars as well as dips that work well with sticks of carrot or pepper. Others are meals that the family can sit down to. And there are also some suggestions of ways to cook individual veg that have gone well with our various broods.
All the evidence says that the earlier children are introduced to vegetables, the more likely they will be to adopt a healthy diet in the long run. And it’s better to expose infants to different kinds of vegetables than to wait until they get older because they become more reluctant to try new things.
A study at the University of Leeds proved that you really can teach children to eat their vegetables. The idea is to introduce a vegetable 5-10 times, and eventually even a very picky eater will begin to eat some of it. Yes, it’s frustrating, but it does work.
The study found that younger children ate more than older ones and 40% of children increased their intake of vegetables over time.
Here’s one list of first vegetables for infants. It suggests squashes and potatoes are a great first choice, since they are easy to mash, and liked by most. Carrots and peas are good additions - and the colours are appealing. Green beans also make the list.
When they get a bit older, asking them to lend a hand in the kitchen is a great way of developing their interest in food and making them more likely to try unfamiliar dishes. Growing some fruit, veg or herbs in your garden or window box can help too.
Five years ago, you might have had a hard job persuading me that one day my kids would embrace everything in the veg bags. But now they're happy to tuck into squash stew, leek risotto, beetroot curry and stir-fried kale with ginger. We're still working on the aubergine, but I know its time will come. Good luck - hope this helps.
What are your kids’ favourite meals? We always welcome recipes for the website, so please send them in.