Monkey is a fussy eater. He wasn’t until he was about 13 months old then almost overnight everything changed. I’ve talked at length about it before and we have ups and downs with how fussy he is. We have been going through a very fussy patch lately. As he has been so poorly over the recent weeks he really hasn’t had as much of an appetite so we have been happy when he has eaten anything really. I am planning a seperate post about this but it is so difficult to be strict with them when they are poorly, especially with food as he needed to keep his strength up and things can taste really funny when you are poorly.
I’ve been watching “Junk Food Children who’s to blame?” on TV too recently, and well I think it is pretty obvious the documentary makers are laying the blame squarely on the parents. I think they are probably right, as they are the ones who buy the food for their children, but I can also see how it is a slippery slope and none of these parents do it with intentions of harming their children. Far from it, they are probably too soft on them and that isn’t always good for them.
Anyway it has made me think a lot about Monkey. He has a pretty good diet anyway, hardly ever has crisps, chocolate etc, BUT we could do better. He doesn’t really eat any fresh fruits (we get him eating dried, cooked, frozen pureed but no joy with fresh really) and we struggle with lots of vegetables too, and most things actually. Pasta, sausages, chicken, pretty much everything depends on his mood. Most dinner times are spent with Mummy and Daddy pretending to be the voice of a toy (postman pat, a bus, an owl, any toy really) as he is much more likely to eat something when a toy suggests it! Not ideal but we go with what works.
One great way to get kids interested in food is to get them to help with preparing and cooking food. Monkey does love cooking but after catching himself with the peeler a few months ago he has been more reluctant to get in the kitchen. He has expressed more of an interest though lately, and with poorliness and chicken pox meaning we have spent a lot of time at home, rather than out and about, I have grabbed the opportunity to get him back in the kitchen. We do a lot of baking, which is great, but there is no reason cooking can’t be fun too.
We love Annabel Karmel’s recipes, her veggie burgers are a firm fave and we make them regularly in big batches so there is always some in the freezer. Another regular is her hidden veggie pizza sauce, which again we make in big batches and freeze. I know not everyone is into hidden veggies and I would prefer Monkey ate vegetables without having to hide them, but while we work on that I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting them into him any way that we can.
Hidden Veggie Pizza Sauce
1/2 onion – finely chopped
1/2 leek – thinly sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1/4 courgette, grated
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato pesto (we use sacla sundried tomato pesto)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 1/2 tsp sugar
We tend to double this and make a big batch (because so many of the ingredients are halved etc.) which gives enough sauce for 20 pizzas, so this would do about 10 pizzas.
Monkey helped me prepare the veggies, washing them and grating which is good as at least he knows there are veggies. He even announces that he loves leeks and courgettes – without tasting them. I love his enthusiasm though even if I don’t believe him for a second!
Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, leek, carrot and courgette and saute for 8-10 mins until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic for one minute than remove from the heat. We have hard anodised pans and a hand blender so I add the remaining ingredients in the pan and blend in there, but if you have non stick pans, or if you prefer, you should move the veg to a blender or bowl at this point.
Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Return to the pan and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and then it can be frozen in batches. I usually spoon off a couple of ladles full into a tupperware which can then be got out to use with 2 pizza bases as and when. I would love to make our own pizza bases, but don’t have the time or energy at the mo – hopefully we will one day though!
The pizza sauce is great, but with the small amount of veg in there I doubt it would count as one of your 5 a day, and we really want to work on getting other veg into Monkey. Homemade pizzas are a great way of doing that, as cheese can help mask the veg, and you obviously get control of the ingredients. We use a half fat cheese, because it happens to be our fave and does help with our diets.
This is the fun bit that kids can really get involved with. We bought Monkey a child safe knife – which has a rounded tip and a fairly blunt serrated edge. It still cuts veg so you still have to be very careful around it, but the thought of Monkey cutting with it terrifies me a heck of a lot less than helping him use our big scary kitchen knives would! It means he can join in with the chopping safely and without giving me heart failure. (Yes he is wearing his PJs in these pics, I indulged him with a PJ day when he was poorly :))
So he helped me chop up the mushrooms and yellow pepper and had great fun doing it. The amounts and size of the bits I guess depends on your kid and their fussiness level. We are going for not too much, and fairly small at the moment as if they are big he will either eat round them or refuse to eat them at all. Even some of these size bits have been a challenge to get him to eat! Monkey is seriously stubborn and often goes to bed without eating any tea when he doesn’t like what is on offer (or at least he has decided he doesn’t like it even when we know it is something he does actually like!).
So anyway, yes our chunks are quite small. We also use some flavoured turkey meat for the most part, though do use other meats too sometimes to shake things up a little :). Monkey helped spread the sauce onto the pizza bases and then sprinkle the meat, veg and of course cheese on top. Yummy pizzas made :). Now I won’t say it was plain sailing. We make variations of this quite often and it depends on his mood and like I say at the moment he really is quite fussy. He did eat some though and moaned more about the chunks of meat than the veg and with him it really is all about seeing something he doesn’t like. If a mushroom or pepper is hidden under cheese he eats it no problem. If he can see them he doesn’t want it. So it is a work in progress but for my part, I thought they were blimming lovely and it is a good way to get him involved with cooking and vegetables so got to look at the positives!
Ha ha, brilliant to make him eat by getting the toys to speak to him. I want to see a video of your attempts at feeding Monkey! You might become a YouTube sensation as Postman Pat, who knows? Those pizzas look yummy. I want some! #TastyTuesday
haha this really made me chuckle, if we did become a sensation it would only be because of how bad are accents etc are! Thankfully it does work though! 🙂 xx
These look great! I love that there is “hidden” veg in the sauce so if all else fails at least there is goodness in that bit!!
Monkey looks like he’s really enjoying making these which is so cool! X
We are vegetarians and we could still do better. This is our favourite thing to do, we started it when our youngest became a fussy eater, she always ate everything if she helped to make it. The talking toys are a brilliant idea x
I love this idea of hiding veggies – my children love sprinkling sweetcorn on pizza too x
As you can imagine, I 100 percent agree with you that getting them into the kitchen is a great way to encourage them to try new food. If they see food as something fun to explore, it’s amazing what they end up trying. Have you tried making savoury puff pastry tarts, vegetable scones, dough balls, pies, frittatas? All easy things they can make. I find that choosing easy recipes is key because the more independent they can be while cooking, the more willing they are to explore and taste. There are lots of ideas on my site and in the Tickle Fingers Cookbook. #ToddlerApprovedTuesday
I completely agree and I will definitely be having a look at your website for more ideas, thank you! xx
Completely agree about getting them involved in making the food! It’s hard to get my little guy to eat veggies too, so must give this recipe a try 🙂 #letkidsbekids
I feel your pain except I hide the veggies for my big boy not my little one! This looks delicious and something I definitely need to get the toddler involved in making pizza, he loves to bake!
Ah yeah i am sure he would love it 🙂 xx
We love making pizza, I think I will try that pizza sauce recipe next time! #toddlerapprovedtuesday
It can be really difficult with fussy eaters. I really like the look of your hidden veggie sauce, I must try it! I think it’s great Monkey is helping in the kitchen, my kids love it too!
Thanks for sharing #LetKidsBeKids
These look really yummy! Thanks for sharing!
They look so yummy!
Although my kids eat a lot of vegetables, I love the idea of getting them to eat more. Plus it is so fun making pizza with kids. We’ve only done it twice and mine loved it. #ToddlerApprovedTuesday
Home-made pizzas often work well for us too – and I also tend to hide veggies in things because I don’t see anything wrong with getting extra veggies into children that way. My two love peas, broccoli and bananas so I do manage to get some fresh fruit and veg into them but it isn’t always easy to get them to eat a good amount of fruit and veg. Getting children to help prepare food is a fun way of getting them more interested in what they are eating too.
I ‘hide’ vegetables in pasta sauce all the time, it’s a great way to get more veg into them, and even though my lot are pretty good (thankfully) you can never have too much. Also, the 5yo doesn’t like ‘bits’ in sauces, so it’s good for him (he’ll happily fill his plate with veg, but doesn’t like unexpected texture in a sauce!). And, maing food together is always a winner 🙂 #letkidsbekids
I would love to do that but at the moment it very much depends on his mood whether he will eat pasta and sauce at all as he doesn’t always like pasta! Hopefully one day I will have more luck with that though 🙂 xx
We love making homemade pizzas, it is hard to get children to eat what you really want them to eat isn’t it! I love that Monkey can see exactly what you are putting in his pizza and still eats it. Love the child safe knife idea too, I only let mine us a table knife as i’m scared they’ll get hurt!! #letkidsbekids
I know exactly what you mean and the child safe knife feels like a good compromise to me! xx
I have the same problem with my 2-year-old. She used to eat everything we put in front of her. Now, she’ll LOOK at it and if it LOOKS off to her, forget it. And what looks off today will look tasty tomorrow. I just never know. I was just wondering what I should have on the menu next week. Veggie burgers and hidden veggie pizza look pretty good to me!
Oh it can be so frustrating can’t it? It is exactly the same here! The veggie burger and pizza are usually winners and we usually do pretty well with very heavily blended vaggie soups too! xx
I’m one who finds way to hide veggies in the kids meal. I’ll give this pizza sauce a try and fun in the process.
They look delicious! Completely agree with getting kids into the kitchen to help make food, it’s the best way to get them to try new things or eat things they normally wouldn’t! My son normally hates pizza, unless he helped make it! Lovely post! 🙂 x
Thank you, it definitely helps doesn’t it? x
What a great idea. My boys love pizza, so must try hiding veggies #TastyTuesdays
These will be on my meal plan for next week so thank you!
Pleasure, hope you enoy it as much as we do 🙂 xx
I’ve got a very fussy eater at home who at the moment only likes sandwiches and pizza so I will definitely try this! Thanks for sharing this. I’ve got a AK cook book but this one is not in there. #brilliantblogposts
Oh gosh that does sound hard work! Yeah I think I read it in an article she wrote actually, so glad I kept it, such a great recipe! Good luck xx
Ooh yum, this looks lovely! I do love recipes with hidden veg – you have to do whatever works!
Great idea, we love making homemade pizza’s. I hope the fussy stage gets better soon. our eldest used to be really fussy, hes now nearly 6 and is so much better then he was a couple of years ago, he will eat most things and generally will at least try everything.
Luckily all 3 of ours love their fruit and veggies but can you believe I actually have to do this to get The Hubs to eat more than just carrots and beans!
I’ll be saving this recipe for him! 😉
Thanks for linking #toddlerapprovedtuesday xx
I am so so lucky that non of mine are fussy eaters they, in general, will eat anything. Especially Elsie (1) she just demolishes everything! There are a couple of things the others dont like (Ellie (10) hates cheese, Jenson (3) isnt a fan of carrots and get this Evie (2) HATES chicken nuggets and stuff like that, we dont have them very often but when we do she just leaves them she is a much bigger fan of home cooked something! Oh and anything with garlic bread on the side always goes down a treat!!
The hubs is a pain though and I am forever trying my luck getting him to eat more veg, i actually feel like his mother!
Thanks for linking up to #ToddlerApprovedTuesday
What a great post!
Fortunately Alexander is great when it comes to eating his greens, but I sometimes have trouble encouraging Oliver to eat veggies (he loves his fruit), so I will definitely be trying out this brilliant recipe!
Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays
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I’m so lucky that Potato isn’t a fussy eater at all. Oddly though, one of the very few things he doesn’t like it pizza. He loves making it, but loves all the ingredients separately, but he doesn’t like them all together! I have batches of pizza/pasta sauce in the freezer too. We use them for all kinds of different things.
Thanks for linking up with #LittleChefs
I love this post and might have to try making this pizza for myself. I am a rubbish cook but I am hoping to get better as we start our weaning journey. Thanks for linking up with #playathometuesdays
Mmmmm these look delicious and what a clever way to get them to eat vegetables! 😀 xx #toddlerapprovedtuesday