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How to get kids to eat food they hate
Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Food writer Fiona Faulkner

Fiona Faulkner is the author of 25 Foods Kids Hate and How to Get Them Eating 24 - out now at She has also devised a special menu for travel company Scott Dunn’s Kids Explorer Clubs. We like her style (and her Avocado Ariba Ice Cream, see below) and gave her a gentle grilling…

Packed with citrus and nutrient-rich oil, this delicious avocado ice cream is a signature Fiona Faulkner recipe

Q It can be hard to keep children eating healthily at home, but arguably much harder on holiday. Do you have any tips to keep the children off €˜chips with everything€™ – and endless ice creams?
A Set down a few ground rules before take-off and landing (this strategy works particularly well for over 7s who are starting to grasp the concept of what I refer to as €˜growing foods€™ and €˜treat foods€™). Ultimately, if kids feel as though they€™ve had a say in creating the rulebook, they€™re more likely to stick to the rules. I€™d advise that on holiday (as with birthday parties, etc) you loosen the reins a bit and factor in that everybody €“ quite rightly €“ will want a few more treats. In terms of the €˜buffet table€™ eating that a lot of hotels and resorts tend to adopt, again, instil a few simple rules. Allow them the freedom (and fun) to go up and serve themselves €“ but limit them to (e.g.) one breakfast €˜treat€™ €“ which they can choose themselves (so they feel in control). You could even adopt a €˜points€™ system. Each treat equals one point and each child has an allocation of X number of points to use within 24 hrs. If they use them all at breakfast €“ well, that€™s their decision!

Q Did you eat everything on your plate when you were a child?
A Bearing in mind I grew up in the 80s – at a time when ready-meals were coming bang into fashion – I was more than happy to eat my body weight in Findus Crispy Pancakes. I was never €˜fussy€™ per se but have always been a natural vegetarian €“ to my mother€™s horror. I€™m simply passionate about vegetables and my diet is about 80% veggie (it€™s usually the smell of bacon that gets me €“ isn€™t it always€¦?!)

Q What was your favourite childhood food?
A See above re Findus Crispy Pancakes. Plus ParmaViolets€¦ Monster Munch€¦ Wham! Bars – and the highly inappropriate Candy Cigarettes. Basically my favourite stuff wasn€™t exactly the healthy stuff (despite genuinely loving my veg too). In fact one of the things I try and teach parents in my workshops is to resist the temptation to become the €˜food police€™. Kids are biologically hardwired to love the sweet stuff (it€™s to do with the taste receptors on their tongues). Plus they generally place far less importance on nutritional values than we do as adults. Let€™s be honest: as kids we once loved junk €“ and now so do they. It€™s a simple fact of life and banning the treats can sometimes be counter-productive in creating a €˜forbidden fruit€™ syndrome. But do remember: just because your kids love sweets and crisps etc, it doesn€™t therefore automatically follow that they€™ll grow up hating fruit and veg (I€™m living proof of that). Everything in moderation €“ including moderation €“ and (again) that mantra particularly comes into play on holiday. My book explains why as parents, we should never bribe with dessert.

Q If you know you’ve a lot of children to feed and don’t know what all of their favourites are, what are your three failsafe dishes?
A I€™ve just designed a menu for luxury travel company Scott Dunn€™s new children€™s clubs which is custom-designed to appeal to a broad spectrum of kids €“ from fruit-phobics and veg-dodgers through to hardcore foodies. As a twist, each dish celebrates a different Scott Dunn holiday destination. Here are three dishes from the new menu that I€™d describe as real heroes €“ in getting kids eating €“ and loving – their greens, reds €“ and yellows! [Popeye€™s Pesto / Mediterranean Muffins / Slumdog Soup] The feedback so far has been fantastic €“ quite literally!

Q Is eating seasonally something that’s possible with children and their love of blueberries and peas?
A To be honest, I€™m not so sure. As lovely as eating seasonally is, some parents find that by only offering their kids tomatoes for a scant few weeks in the British summer tomato season, €˜fussy€™ kids in particular can then sometimes €˜forget€™ that they like tomatoes by the time the next season comes around. Having said that, I can€™t bear to eat bland, imported strawberries (for example) and tend to make us all wait until they€™re coming up at the local PYO. The key I think with eating seasonally is to eat what you can and then freeze what can be frozen. The freezer really is your best friend in the kitchen

Q What are the best dishes to get children cooking easily that will taste delicious and give them a real sense of satisfaction?
A Old-fashioned baking is the easy answer (what kid doesn€™t love knocking up a batch of cupcakes or brownies?) and this instils not only a real sense of satisfaction but can also be a great lesson in maths, chemistry, and even languages (€œtell me €“ what€™s xxxx in French?!€) So yes, baking is a great starting point €“ ditto smoothie making. But remember that kids often love to help out beyond the sweet-stuff too. Believe it or not I actually find that making risottos is quite a good one for kids: there€™s a lot of stirring involved; the heat is very low; and it€™s an ideal recipe to throw in a good few finely chopped herbs as well as veggies at the end. 

Q And finally… What’s the one piece of kitchen kit that’s worth investing in for children? Perhaps an ice lolly maker or mouli?
A Yes €“ both the above! Cookie cutters are also a great idea. Not only for their intended use but also because you can road test new lunchbox sandwich fillers with the kids by creating fun-shapes with the bread (another tip: IKEA plastic kids€™ knives €“ perfect for spreading butter etc). Try my blueberries and cream cheese combo €“ a super food lunchbox favourite. Or mashed banana and avocado (full of healthy omega oils) €“ or another Scott Dunn recipe: Moroccan sandwiches €“ with hummus, grated carrot and sultanas!

Recipes taken from 25 Foods Kids Hate and How to Get Them Eating 24 by Fiona Faulkner – out now and available to buy at

Recipes also featured in new Scott Dunn Explorers children€™s club menus at Daios Cove, Crete, Pine Cliffs in the Algarve, Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus and Verdura in Sicily. See



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2 Responses to “How to get kids to eat food they hate”
  1. Great ideas – on a more basic level always found that sticking a cocktail umbrella in the meal made them eat better!!

  2. angels&urchinsblog says:

    Getting Stuck In – Genius idea, and gives a great excuse for a holiday cocktail!

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