My maternal meltdowns seem to ebb and flow like the tides of the sea. I’d like to think that my most recent was my last, but let’s be frank, it’s quite unlikely considering my house is inhabited by two tyrannical tiny persons, intent on bringing me down like a pack of hunting dogs. They know my weaknesses well. But they’re not the only ones able to wage war and after my recent self excommunication from all things vaguely associated with social media, and generally other human beings, I decided to reignite the beacon of oversharing and shine a light on the atrocious reality that is my children’s diet. That and my quest to improve it with actual real life nutrients.
Perhaps not the best battle to attempt when my mind is as fragile as my pelvic floor.
Before investing in cookery books for idiots, I decided to Google how to hide vegetables and get recipe ideas so that I could start immediately on Operation Vegetable. Who knew that hiding vegetables in food is as taboo as smacking your kids? It’s categorised under lying, deceit and treachory and will teach children not to trust anyone ever. Like with all terrible parenting choices (that I appear to make), it inevitably leads down the rocky road of substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. All because I tried to hide a piece of fucking broccoli inside a meatball.
Guilt ridden, I tried a week of positioning unscathed veggies on the side of the plate in the hope that their sudden comeback would inspire my children to wolf them down like a carrot-starved rabbit but alas, to no avail.
I know that I should persevere. That the poisonous accompaniments will one day be accepted, even if it is only ritualistically once a week when they’re drowning in gravy. The veg, not the kids. My brother reckons that even the kids he saw in poor areas of South America on his travels complained about the vegetables, preferring to gnaw on a mud-covered dog leg. However, for peace of mind, I just need to know that at least once a week, I have managed to get one over on them when they unwittingly consume a cube of courgette.
I employed two women to help me in my fight. A Girl Called Jack and Jo Pratt Madhouse Cookbook.
The write up on Jo’s book was promising. Recipes for a busy working family that are quick and will get kids eating. It was very apparent, however, within the first 14 seconds upon opening the book and reading the first recipe that this wasn’t the cookbook for me. Twee photos of children eating kumquats in pristine, freshly ironed clothing and happiness. A family that, as far as I’m concerned, is a complete fantasy. A fairytale. Or at least somewhere in Kensington. Here are some examples:
Jack’s book has faired much better and has so far escaped any explicit graffiti. The courgette, raisin and lemon bread was a success when coated in nutella and she also inspired me with her penny pizzas although I did cheat by just using a tortilla as a base rather than actually making the dough. I KNOW I KNOW, but my daughter ate sweetcorn just because they were heart-shaped. A revelation.
I attempted a bit of covert vegetable hiding by making muffins but included my daughter in the cooking process so she knew it existed. That seemed to appease the anti-lying Gods. She loves cooking so I knew this would be a winner especially as we were using a butternut squash, the main ingredient of her favourite Ella’s Kitchen Pouch. It became quickly apparent though, after finding her being more interested in licking the butter off the butter lid that these cakes were not inspiring, regardless of how many chocolate chips we added. Clearly, just being able to suck food effortlessly from a pouch is far simpler than actually having to use muscles of mastication. Plus, the orange slightly detracts from the beige.
Needless to say, after a fortnight of under zealous cooking and baking, I’m taking another sabbatical from trickery and treachery and returning to my roots. The freezer. However, I thought I’d share with you a few of my own recipes just in case you too are heavily bounds by the chains of Captain BirdsEye and Aunt Bessie, and fancy a bit of inspiration that doesn’t require just pouring crumbed goods onto a baking tray.
Ingredients: Egg. Bread.
Prep and cooking time: Fairly quick unless your child insists on ‘helping’ with cracking the egg, in which case, add 45 minutes onto prep time to ensure all shell has been removed.
Difficulty rating: Easy, unless your child prefers it in a circle shape and won’t eat any of the bits left over from trying to cut out said shape. Then it’s a massive pain in the arse.
Likeliness of being eaten: 95% especially when buried under a sea of ketchup.
Prep and cooking time: Very quick. Can be prone to delays. (See Eggy bread).
Difficulty rating: Easy peasy. Unless your child insists on it being a particular shade of cooked with no brown bits or jagged edges. Then it’s a massive pain in the arse.
Likeliness of being eaten: 45%. Can increase success rate by calling it a pancake without the milk and flour. And applying a generous helping of ketchup.
Ingredients: Look on the tin. But I presume it’s rice.
Prep and cooking time: About 15 seconds opening a tin.
Difficulty rating: The tin opener can be a bit of a bugger sometimes, but otherwise straight forward.
Likeliness of eating: 95%. Don’t even consider doing something wanky like adding fruit or making your own.
Ingredients: Butter, milk, flour, cheese and cauliflower.
Prep and cooking time: Bloody ages mainly because anything over five minutes guarantees constant interruptions as you have to separate bickering and fighting siblings that can’t possibly be left alone. The smell of a real life vegetable being cooked will also increase whinging and begging for crisps tenfold.
Difficulty rating: Due to the amount of steps required and therefore the amount of interruptions, rage inducingly difficult
Likeliness of eating: 0%. Despite your children liking cheese and occasionally licking a piece of cauliflower without projectile vomiting, it’s not crisps and therefore will not be entertained.
The vegetable battle isn’t won just yet but when it comes to beige, I’m a frickin’ champion (just don’t add vegetables).