I love vegetables. Sprouts being my favourite of all, and for me the best part of the Christmas feast.
I suppose it was the way I was bought up. There were always plenty of fresh veggies available as my Dad worked hours on the allotment – I think I probably learned to weed a row of carrots before I could walk, and early evenings were always spent helping do the watering in the summer. In my life, it was just part of growing up. The veg was there, so we ate it – we were bought up with if it’s on your plate you eat it as we can’t afford waste. I have therefore grown up with a love of most types of vegetables – I don’t like cauliflower, and what are tomatoes about (I know not actually a vegetable but we do tend to eat them as such!)?
Hubby on the other hand is not a lover of anything green! It is again a reflection of the household he grew up in. His Mum is not a lover of them and therefore he was never encouraged to try them to decide for himself. Instead, he grew up believing he didn’t like them, because that is what he had been told. I have broken him a little bit on his resolve not to eat them, and he will even have one (only one) sprout with his Christmas dinner, all be it totally covered in gravy so all flavour is lost.
The boys have been encouraged to try things, in the hope that as their palates and their minds develop they will realise that it is ok to like things others don’t, and likewise, not like something that is raved about! It is all about personal preference and not doing things because you think you should or shouldn’t.
When I hear Mums complain that they can’t get their kids to eat veg I feel sad for the kids for not getting the experience, but also the Mums who are fighting the media belief that kids don’t eat healthy things. My boys have a limited number they will eat without hesitation, and these are sweetcorn – both on and off the cob, peas – M got very annoyed with the book “I don’t like Peas”, as he couldn’t understand why anyone didn’t like them!, carrots, and swede. Swede, while a bone of contention as to is it is a swede – as it is where I come from, or a turnip, as it is called here, is the number one veg. The boys will fight over having the bowl sitting next to them at meal times and then pile their plate so high you think its going to be wasted, but no, every last dollop is enjoyed. D will eat a little broccoli, but only the stalk, as he says the curly bit feels funny in his mouth. Neither boy will go near a mushroom, and if onions are used in things they have to be so small they don’t see them or so big they are easy to pick out.
Tonight though for tea, we are having meatloaf. This is the perfect meal for getting hidden veg into them.
An American friend of mine first gave me the recipe that I adapted to suit my needs. She said use whichever mince you want – I use turkey, but have even used Quorn and nobody noticed it was a meat free meal. You then need an equal volume of veg. I was told put it into the liquidizer and blitz it until it was finally chopped, but what I do, is over blitz it, so there is no recognizable thing in there, and just a greying orange goop. I used carrot, mushrooms, onion, peppers, and anything else that needs using up! My friend told me the important thing is seasoning, so as well as salt and pepper, I use oregano, and smoked paprika – this gives a barbecue sort of flavour. Put everything in a bowl with a couple of eggs and squish it together. Then add fresh breadcrumbs – about 4 slices until the mixture holds together – sometimes you need a little more, it depends on the veg used and the size of the eggs but you want a mixture that holds together but is still moist. Oil a baking sheet and shape the mixture into a loaf on it. Bake it for half an hour at 160c, then it needs to be glazed with a mixture of ketchup, mustard, and a dash of vinegar – use more mustard if you like it fiery or less just for a flavour. I have even substituted the ketchup for barbecue sauce to change the taste. It then goes back in the oven for 45 minutes, but glazing again after about 20mins.
It’s a hearty meal and a perfect comfort food. I make mash and peas to go with it. The internal veg gives great flavour but nothing is over-riding, and so the kids have no idea they are eating things they would happily turn their noses up at.
I’m really hungry now – roll on tea time!