When people talk about what kids are eating, they normally focus on protein and iron (hence the emphasis on meat in kids’ diets) or occasionally calcium. But people so rarely ask about how many veggies kids have. Or if they do, they just brush off how little their kids eat as not being that much of an issue. As long as they’re getting all the protein and iron they need, it doesn’t matter, right?
The World Health Organisation attributes up to 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year literally to people not consuming enough vegetables (funnily enough, they don’t have the same kind of statistics for people not eating enough meat…. quite the opposite, in fact). (1) And they recommend a minimum of 400g (so about 5 cups) of vegetables per day to help prevent heart disease and cancer.
So maybe veggies need a bit more focus after all….
Now, I have kids, and I know that you can’t just decide to put a plate of veggies in front of a kid and they’ll magically be eaten. (if you can, you probably don’t really need to read this post…). In fact, my 5 year old is currently on an all veggies strike. So trust me, I know how hard it can be to get kids to eat veggies.
So, in the coming weeks I’m doing a series of posts on how to get your kids to eat more veggies. And first up we have the amazingly versatile, but not overly popular veggie – cauliflower.
Benefits of Cauliflower
When you hear about the benefits of veggies, people often link them to the bright colours of veggies like capsicums, carrots and tomatoes. But what about cauliflower? Does the fact that it’s white mean it isn’t really that important a veggie?
Nope. For starters, 1/2 cup of cauliflower has over 1/3 of your child’s daily vitamin C requirements. Vitamin C is essential for the immune system, strong bones, healthy blood vessels, hormones, amino acid (protein) break down and iron absorption.
Cauliflower is also a great source of folate, which is required to form DNA, so you need it for every new cell in your body. So pretty important for growing kids!
Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Cauliflower
So we know that cauliflower is good for us, but how do we get our kids to eat it?
One of my favourite ways to get more cauliflower in is with cauliflower rice. This has been around in the low carb world for quite a few years now. While I definitely don’t promote a low carb diet, and especially not for kids, cauliflower rice is great for getting more veggies into your kids.
Here are some of the ways I use cauliflower rice:
- Mix through normal rice. I find if I’m serving rice on it’s own, I need to use white rice so that the cauliflower blends in. If I’m making something with a sauce like fried rice, then I can get away with brown rice.
- Add to mince dishes. You can replace some of the mince in bolognaise or savoury mince with cauliflower rice for a veggie boost. I find this works better in wet mince dishes, rather than patties and meatloaf because it can change the amount of liquid in the recipe.
Cauliflower works well in mash, too. You can steam some cauliflower, and then either mash it in with potatoes for your mash, or if you have super anti veg kids, you can blend it so it’s smooth, and then mix it through the mash.
You can also add blended cauliflower to any white sauces you have. My Hidden Veg Mac and Cheese recipe uses pureed cauliflower in the cheesy sauce. I often also add blended cauliflower to my Instant Cheese Sauce for a veggie boost.
Try cooking your cauliflower different ways. My favourite way to cook cauliflower is actually to bake it. It comes out much sweeter, and my older kid loves it.
If you have less fussy kids, and you’re just trying to get more veggies into them, you can add cauliflower florets to pasta or rice when you serve it. Cauliflower also works quite well in stews and curries, because it’s quite neutral flavoured and soaks up the sauces well.
Hidden Cauliflower Recipes
What if your kids are on a veggie strike and you just plain need to hide it? Well, my Berry Smoothie is your answer! Just steam some cauliflower, then freeze it, and your kids will never know it’s in the smoothie! It’s amazing what you can get into a smoothie!
As I said above, cauliflower works really well in white and cheesy sauces. Check out my Hidden Veg Mac and Cheese for a dinner that’s packed full of veggies.
Are you looking for more information on kids nutrition? Grab my guide to the top 5 nutrients for vegan kids below.