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Handy hints to get children eating vegetables

Top food blogger Charlotte Hume shares secrets garnered getting son Freddie to tuck into his greens

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The apple of Charlotte's eye; Freddie is now a fuss-free eater...Most of the time!  

10 DECEMBER 2008

Everyone knows getting children to eat veggies is a superhuman task; one London mum Charlotte Hume was more than familiar with, as her son Freddie wouldn't go near a vegetable let alone eat one.

In The Great Big Veg Challenge, a hint and recipe-packed publication which started life as a online blog, she chronicles her efforts to overcome his veggie-phobia and introduce him to life's leafier pleasures.

Here she shares some of her tips on how she went about it.

"Freddie and I ate through the entire alphabet of vegetables," she says, "but it can be simpler. Take the letters from your child’s name or the name of their favourite football team and try out vegetables starting with those letters."

She also suggests cooking and tasting the vegetables at least three different ways in order to show the child more variety and give the vegetable a better chance of being appreciated.

Another option is encouraging your child to score each dish a mark out of ten. "But don't take it personally if the score is low," she warns.

Trying to discover what it is about a vegetable your child dislikes is also important. Is it the taste, the texture or the colour? "You might be able to combine it with something that improves the taste," Charlotte suggests. "Or make a smooth soup if it is the texture." Freddie hated peas because he hated their 'squeakiness'. "But when I made a smooth pea pesto sauce and served it with pasta, his fear of peas disappeared."

Holding a tasting session to try out different varieties of vegetables like lettuce or squash can also work "Children can score each variety out of ten and see which wins the popularity contest," she suggests.

Visiting farmers’ markets and farms where growers show your children how the vegetables grow is a good idea, too.

Another way to spark interest, she says, is to grow your own. "Even if you only have space for a few tubs of herbs or tomatoes, learning to grow and cook their own vegetables is a wonderful way to encourage children to learn to love eating them."

Avoiding mirroring the behaviour of a fussy-eater is essential she reminds us. "Don’t narrow down what you offer them, try and keep trying out new, unfamiliar vegetables instead. They might hate carrots and peas but could develop a love of plantain and artichokes."

And if all fails, there's always peer pressure. "If there is a recipe your child’s best friend likes, then mention it, get them round and see if they will try it together," says Charlotte.

Charlotte Hume is the author of The Great Big Veg Challenge – How To Get Your Children Eating Vegetables Happily (Vermilion, £16.99)