8 ways to make your child love vegetables

We talk you through the health benefits of various veg and give you some cooking suggestions too…

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Broad beans

Broad beans are especially yummy this month and good for you too. They’re packed with plenty of protein, vitamins A and C, and potassium. Plus, they’re especially high in fibre and iron, and very low in sodium. They’re also full of folate – necessary if you’re pregnant. When the beans are in season, you only need to steam them for five minutes. Only older beans need the skins removing. Here’s what to combine them with for tasty treats this month…

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  • Liven up a plain green salad with a handful of broad beans, some chopped and fried-up strips of bacon and a splash of olive oil.
  • Chuck some chicken pieces in a wok, add a pack of stir-fry veggies, a handful of broad beans and a dash of soy sauce for a tasty twist on your usual stir fry – and it’s ready in five minutes.
  • Broad bean dip is yummy for summer entertaining. You need 200g podded broad beans, 200g Greek yoghurt, a handful of mint leaves, 20g Pecorino cheese, half a crushed clove of garlic and salt and pepper. Purée the cooked beans and all other ingredients in a food processor. Serve with chopped raw carrot, pepper, celery and fennel.

New potatoes

  • Toss a handful in olive oil and some sprigs of rosemary, then wrap the whole lot in foil and cook on a barbie – lid on – for around seven minutes.
  • Slice boiled new potatoes and fry in olive oil until golden. Drizzle with a dressing of 4tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp white wine vinegar, 1tsp smoked paprika, 1 clove crushed garlic, and a pinch of chilli powder for a tangy side dish.
  • Fry up leftover new potato chunks (skins on) with onion, garlic and sliced red pepper. Add three beaten eggs and cook until brown on the bottom. Stick the pan under a grill to brown the top for a Spanish omelette.

Tenderstem broccoli

Add foods that are in season to your shopping basket and you’ll find they’re tastier and cheaper. Look out for tenderstem broccoli, which is so soft it hardly requires any cooking – perfect for short-of-time mums.

It’s packed with vitamin C (double the amount found in oranges), folic acid (perfect for mums-to-be and new mums), and it’s a great source of calcium for your little one’s developing bones. It’s also full of disease-fighting antioxidants and nutrients, including those that reduce the risk of cancer.

  • Make your own broccoli, sweet potato and pear purée. Peel and chop 300g of sweet potato into chunks. Peel, core and quarter a small pear. Place everything in a steamer until tender (the potato may take longer). Then blend or mash (depending on the baby’s age) the ingredients into a purée. Wait until cool to serve.
  • Give your veg a kick. Simply steam the broccoli until tender, stir in 30g of butter and sprinkle with garlic salt (find this in the supermarket spice section).
  • Adding some marmalade to the broccoli gives it a tangy twist. Boil your broccoli until tender then drain. Add marmalade to the hot pan with 1tbsp of water, place back on the heat and when the marmalade melts add the cooked broccoli and stir, then serve.

Celeriac

Celeriac is an autumnal unsung hero. Its odd appearance means it gets overlooked, but peel off the ugly skin and it’s beautiful inside – low in calories with bags of vitamin C, fibre and potassium. It’s yummy taste is a bit celery-ish. It tends to go brown once chopped so use quickly or put in water with lemon juice.

  • Use it to make tasty oven chips. One celeriac should feed a family of four. Peel and cut into thick slices, then into chips. Boil these in a large pan of salted water for 1-2 minutes. Drain, then pop onto a baking sheet with 2tbsp olive oil, sea salt and 1tsp mild curry powder. Toss to coat the chips and cook for 30 minutes at 230ºC (Gas Mark 8).
  • Team with pears for a warming soup. In a pan, soften 4 chopped shallots, I garlic clove and a grated thumbnail-sized piece of root ginger in 1tbsp olive oil. Add 1 peeled and cubed celeriac and 4 ripe pears that have been peeled, cored and chopped. Simmer for 30 mins until the celeriac has softened completely. Liquidise, season and serve.
  • Try this alternative to mash. Boil a peeled, cubed celeriac for around 20 minutes until soft. Drain and purée with a hand blender, adding a handful of grated Gruyère cheese and a pinch of allspice powder.

Sprouts

They’re high in vitamin C, D and folic acid (great for pregnant girls) and if you don’t overcook them they taste yummy. Boil them for no more than 8 minutes (or steam for 10) for the best taste. Or try combining your cooked sprouts with some chunks of fried chorizo sausage, or a handful of chopped, toasted hazelnuts and a knob of butter. Delish!

Leeks

Leeks are the perfect veg for a new-year detox as they’re rich in vitamins and minerals. They’re easy to digest when cooked, so perfect for delicate post-Christmas bellies. Just slice off the root, remove the outer leaves and rinse. Then try these tasty recipes.

  • For a warming risotto, soften 8 chopped spring onions, 4 chopped leeks and 4 crushed cloves of garlic in 1tbsp of olive oil. Add 300g of risotto rice and then add 1.5l of veg stock, a little at a time, until it’s all absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in 50mg of parmesan and serve.
  • Try a different take on a jacket potato by softening 2 sliced leeks in a pan. Halve your pre-cooked and still-warm jacket spud, and scoop out the potato. Combine this in a mixing bowl with the leeks and 4 heaped tbsp of garlic and herb soft cheese. Spoon into the potato skins, top with grated cheese and grill until the cheese melts.
  • For a tasty side dish of leek and cheese crumble, slice 500g of leeks into thick circles and heat in a pan for 15 mins with 400ml veg stock, 100ml single cream and a tbsp of wholegrain mustard. Pour mixture into a baking dish, saving a couple of teaspoons of juice. Finely chop 100g breadcrumbs, 30g skinned hazelnuts and a handful of parsley in a food processor. Scatter this over the top of the leeks and drizzle over remaining stock. Bake in a 200°C oven for 15 mins.

Carrots

Sweet and colourful, the carrot is extremely versatile, and goes great in desserts, puddings and salads. Look for firm carrots without any cracks, and always top and tail each one and wash well before cooking or eating.

  • Peel 15 medium carrots and boil them in salted water for about 15 minutes until tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and leave to drain again while you melt 50g butter in a large saucepan. Tumble the carrots into the pan, season with salt and pepper and drizzle 2tbsp runny honey over them. Fry lightly until the carrots are glazed and serve quickly as a yummy side to roast dinners.
  • Give coleslaw a twist by peeling and grating 150g carrots, add 1 chopped spring onion and a dash of lime juice. Dry fry 1tbsp of chopped cashew nuts and leave to cool before mixing with the carrots. Drizzle some soy sauce over the mixture and serve.
  • Carrots for breakfast? Not as mad as you might think if you make carrot and courgette muffins. Peel and grate one carrot and one courgette, and add to a bowl with a whisked egg, 1tbsp raisins, 2tbsp milk and 1tsbp oil. In another bowl mix 75g plain flour with 15g light brown sugar and 1tsp baking powder. Combine with the wet mix and bake in muffin cases for 15 minutes at 200ºC.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower might look a bit odd with it’s off-white, brain-like appearance, but it’s a fantastic veg to get into your family’s diet as it’s packed with folate and vitamin C, making it great for mums-to-be, too. Look for cream-coloured heads, and check the leaves are fresh, avoiding any that are dry or yellow. Keep it in the fridge and use within a week of buying.

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  • Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil until just tender. Drain and pop into an ovenproof dish. Make a white sauce by melting 25g butter in a saucepan and adding 25g plain flour. Gradually add 1pint of milk, stirring all the time over the heat until smooth. Add a dash of nutmeg and pour over the cauliflower. Sprinkle grated Cheddar over the top to cover the white sauce, and bake in a pre-heated oven (190ºC/Gas Mark 5) for about 20 minutes.
  • Don’t be afraid to try cauliflower raw – it’s great with the right extras. Break it into small florets and mix with grated carrot, a chopped red onion and handful of parsley. Whisk together 1tbsp of white wine vinegar, 1tsp of Dijon mustard, 1tbsp of olive oil and 1tbsp mayonnaise for a dressing. It tastes delicious with ham or chicken.
  • Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan and sauté a chopped onion until soft. Add a chopped cauliflower, a chopped carrot, a chopped potato, and 1.5 litres of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until the veggies are soft. Pop the mixture into a blender, add 85g of Stilton and whiz until smooth. Serve with crusty bread. Yummy!

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