How the UK’s top parenting bloggers encourage their children to eat!
Sick of spending hours slaving over a healthy, home-cooked dish only for your kids to refuse to try it? Find out how some of the UK’s top parenting bloggers convince their children to eat!
According to a recent study of 2,000 parents by Wren Kitchens, nearly three in four parents admit their family could be eating better, with almost half acknowledging it is a daily struggle to get their children to eat healthy and nutritious meals.
The findings also show that nearly 1 in 3 parents reward good behaviour with unhealthy treats (28%) whereas only 1 in 5 reward good behaviour with healthy treats.
So with this in mind, what changes can you make to tackle these issues? The research, which forms part of the Wren Kitchens’ Little Kitchen campaign, explores family involvement and activities within the kitchen and whether this can support and encourage a healthier, happier family lifestyle.
Here are some tried and tested tips, tricks and recipes from some of the UK’s top parenting and lifestyle bloggers to give you some inspiration.
Get creative, visually!
Katie from Mummy in a Tutu often creates a dinner story. The “Eat the Story!” concept involves choosing a story that your child loves, or finding a new one, and recreating an image from that story on a plate using healthy and nutritious foods. Katie says this technique “is a great way of getting kids to enjoy healthier food or branching out of their comfort zones and trying new tastes.”
Have a go-to healthy (and easy) snack
Avoid grab-and-go snacks like pre-packaged cereal bars (which are filled with sugar) and whip up something like George from Busy Parent Fitness’ Peanut Butter Bites containing protein, fibre, and healthy fats with Omega-3. They’re freezer friendly too, which is ideal for those busy days!
George says “This recipe is easy to make, and not that messy, so why not have the little ones help you out in the kitchen? They’ll have great fun rolling out the mixture (as it feels a bit like Play Doh), and will hopefully be more likely to eat it.”
Sneak in the greens
Convincing kids to eat their fruit and veg can be tricky, so why not play a game of hide-and-eat? Sam from Smart Cookie Sam has a Colourful Egg Fried Rice recipe that she’s used for nearly 15 years with her children, which is perfect for sneaking in some of their all-important 5-a-day!
Sam says “The beauty in this recipe is that you can use whatever leftover veg you have, so long as they are chopped up small. It can also have frozen peas and sweetcorn in it so it fills out the dish. All the ingredients in this dish are cheap, so it is a useful budget dinner.”
Get the kids involved
Encouraging the kids to get stuck in whilst preparing the food is a great way to get them interested and excited about the food they’re about to eat. Adrienne from That’s My Mum loves making scrummy (yet healthy) Banana and Blueberry pancakes for breakfast with her son Jude.
Adrienne says “Like most four year olds, Jude has his favourite dishes but I try and encourage him to eat a variety of different things. He loves helping me in the kitchen and I love watching him discover new foods.”
Have a mealtime theme
Leyla from This Day I Love says “Both of my girls are very independent and strong -minded. They know what they want and what they like. This can often make meal times tricky. Putting a plate of food in front of them is often met with a refusal to eat, yet there are tips and tricks around this.”
A great tip that seems to work really well for parenting blogger Leyla, is to have a theme for meals. “This particularly works really well at lunch time, as it can help make a simple sandwich much more fun and appealing. All you really need is a variety of biscuit cutters.
We recently had a woodland-theme lunch and the girls used cutters they associated with a woodland. Choosing the theme and cutters as well as cutting out the shapes gives them a great sense of achievement, and they feel much more involved in the process.”
Create a ‘Little Kitchen’
Tracey from Mummy Shire has some great tips for encouraging your kids to be self-sufficient, happy and comfortable in their kitchen. One of her top tips simply being; make a little kitchen for them!
Tracey says “My children have their own aprons, and Little Mister (who is 4 years old) has his designated mixing spoon which is slightly smaller for his little hands, and easier to manage.”
“I prepare areas of the kitchen so they’re suitable for the children, with extra stools so they can reach without being hindered, and getting out the measuring cups rather than weighing scales. A bit of pre-prep and Little Kitchen equipment can go a long way.”
Make a day of it
As we all know, being a parent means you are busy…super busy in fact, which sometimes results in dinner needing to be whipped up nice and speedy – and that’s perfectly ok. However, have you ever considered organising a ‘family day’ to prepare dinner completely from scratch…from start to finish – all together?
Mel, the founder of women’s running community and blog This Mums Runs, highly recommends taking some time to do this. She spent a full day planning and preparing a delicious (and healthy) pizza party with her family, which they all enjoyed together. From creating a menu, a restaurant sign, shopping lists and to collecting food from the shop – the whole experience is fun and is a perfect excuse for valuable family time.
Mel says “I won’t lie to you, We ALL felt like we ate like kings that afternoon – delicious homemade pizzas, freshly made salad of spinach, brocolli, tomatoes and avocado. And all the plates were virtually licked clean. It may have taken a day to prepare but it was honestly one of the best family dinners I have ever eaten.
Involving the kids, making the shopping a fun activity instead of a painful weekend chore, finding ways to make sure ALL of us had a job to do…were huge lessons in how we can all eat better if we do it together. Busy or no busy.”
Treats can be healthy too – With summer just around the corner, the request for ice-cream is soon to be yelled from all the little ones. However, there are some great alternatives out there to these ice-cold, sugar laden treats.
Top lifestyle blogger Nicole from Ginger Kitchen has come up with a mouth-watering Banana & Chocolate ice cream recipe that is so easy to make, and it only requires four ingredients!
Nicole says “I’m a firm believer that being healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy food and still eat lots of lovely yummy things, being healthy is simply about making good choices and finding better alternatives to those unhealthy foods we all crave every now and again.
… I really wanted to create something that was easy, that tasted yummy and contained a hidden fruit or vegetable, because getting kids to eat their five a day can be difficult. This ice cream is so simple to make and isn’t too different from regular ice cream so they might not even notice.”
You can explore more bloggers’ (and find any recipes mentioned) in the Wren Kitchens Little Kitchen e-book which can be found here.