My children love meat in many forms. We eat chicken, beef, turkey, and pork on a regular basis. The simpler, the better as far as my children are concerned. Lately though I've been making a concerted effort to have at least one meatless dinner per week. That could mean some kind of fish, seafood, egg, or vegetable dish. I'm making this effort for a number of reasons, including to increase the variety in our diets, to experiment with new recipes, and to decrease our meat consumption.
Last night I made a vegetable stew in my crockpot (see recipe below). My husband, my 11 year old daughter, and I all enjoyed it. This is a good recipe to make if you're working from home and can put ingredients in at different stages. This recipe won't work for you if you need something that you can dump in the crockpot in the morning and return to in the evening because it doesn't require a full day's worth of cooking time and some ingredients go in later than others. The recipe worked for me yesterday because I was working from home while my kids were in school and then I was not at home at all during the pre-dinner hours because I was driving my children to various activities.
So two out of three of my children enjoyed this meal. For the other two, forget about it for now. My 13 year old is my pickiest eater and she wouldn't even consider eating this meal. She went right for the rolls and leftover chicken from a previous meal that were also on the table. I didn't push her to try "just one bite" or anything. With her I've learned that she takes a very long time to get used to a new food. She prefers "white" foods like plain pasta, bread, etc. So for now, just seeing it, smelling it, and watching the rest of us eat it is enough. I used to push her more, but it didn't yield much success. She has, however, surprised me over time with reaching for and trying new things (like salmon, baked ziti, etc.) on her own without being coaxed.
My 7 year old is not as picky, but she does resist trying some foods. With her, though, I do push a little to try new things. Encouraging her to try something does not usually result in a power struggle (unlike her older sister). So she tried a little veggie stew, didn't like it, and moved on to the leftover chicken and plain green beans. I don't always serve leftovers as an option with our meals, but knowing that I was serving something likely to be unappealing to at least some of my kids lead me to include some other options for them.
So the bottom line is that how you approach presenting new foods to your children is going to vary based on the personalities and tendencies of each individual child. Being mindful of
avoiding power struggles, however, is important for all children.
We had a lot of leftovers with this recipe, which I froze for a future meal. We'll see how it goes next time!
Here is the recipe (modified from the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann):
Crockpot Veggie Stew
28-oz. can whole tomatoes with their juice (broken up)
2 1/2 cups frozen corn
8 oz. fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 15-oz cans pinto beans, with their liquid
1 cubanelle pepper, chopped
pinch of oregano
2 T olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T chili powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground coriander
1/2 cup water
1 large zucchini, sliced in half-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Combine the tomatoes, corn, green beans, pinto beans, pepper and oregano in the slow cooker.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onions until softened. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add onion mixture and water to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Add the zucchini. Cover and continue to cook on low for another 3 hours. Serve with cheese on the side for people to add and stir in as desired.