By Jane De Graaff, Food Editor, 9Honey
I’ve recently come across something so exciting that I can’t contain myself any more. That really doesn’t happen often. I’m excitable about things that I like, sure, but I’m not easily swayed. I regularly see books, programs, tips and tricks that are fun, interesting and worth sharing come through the news room. But it’s rare that I come across something that I so very genuinely love.
And this is one of those lovely, glowing times. But I warn you, it’s not for everyone.
It’s called Phenomenom!, (that’s not a typo) and it’s a tool for getting kids interested in vegetables through a series of awesome (free) videos.
Because it’s so brilliant I hunted down the series creator, Alice Zaslavsky—aka Alice in Frames—to talk to her about why it actually works for my most recent episode of the 9Honey food podcast ‘What the F is for Dinner’. Check it out below, because it’s going to change the way you have dinner with the kids.
Listen to the fifteen minute food-prep podcast ‘What the F is for Dinner’ as 9Honey chats to Alice in Frames about the ultimate trick and recipe to get your kids eating vegetables tonight.
And again, because it’s so brilliant, I’ve been relentlessly sharing it with my six-year-old, and he’s become so connected that he’s gone from hardily eating anything, to mashing up avocado on toast, knocking back mountains of carrot sticks, and (just this weekend), whisking, flipping and serving up his own pancakes (with added veg). Yep, he even heated the pan and waited until the butter was sizzling.
It was hard for me to take a back seat while he got to grips with hot pans and sharp knives, but it’s safe to say that as a kid with very little interest in food, he’s suddenly turned a corner.
Master six trying out pancakes
I’m going to lay it all on the line here and say that it’s no coincidence that this new interest coincides perfectly with Phenomenom! being introduced to our lives.
“As soon as you start talking about something being ‘good for’ kids or ‘healthy’, what that does is it makes their expectation of taste go down,” says Alice. And fair enough too, because as an adult it has that same effect on me too. So, what the program does instead is reframe how we talk to kids about food and chat talk about all the kings that kids really love and relate them to vegetables.
We’re not talking the usual ‘sometimes food’ and ‘healthy food’ frameworks, instead we’re talking the history of the multi-coloured purple carrot, why different foods change your poo, and demonstrating recipes that kids can make themselves. It’s actual kids-peak for how veggies can be delicious and fun.Related
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To be honest, I see stuff every day that tells me how I should be talking to my kids about veggies and food. I know all the tricks.
But I’ve got one that would just rather do anything other than eat.
I thought the series of videos was cute (entertaining and informative), but I also knew that I wasn’t the one that needed to be convinced. So, I showed the videos to my troublesome eater. And the honest truth is that he was hooked.
Take a listen to the podcast to see why the series was developed to be accessed for free.
A lot of the time, the message aimed at children is just “not cool enough”, says Alice, who knows from her past life as a teacher how hard kids can be to impress. So she asked the kids what they wanted, and then made it for them.
Check out the Phenomenom! recipe for frittata in the video above and take a listen to Alice in the podcast as she talks the tricks to make kids fall in love with vegetables, frittata for kids and this easy sweet potato and broccoli frittata recipe.
Sweet potato and broccoli frittata recipe
I can’t say it’ll work for every family, but I can say with certainty that the theory was tested in our house, and it sure as hell worked for us.
And to all the parents fighting that nightly battle… good luck!
Alice’s quick guide to kids and their veg:
- 95% of kids in Australia don’t get their required daily dose of fruits and veg
- The message has to be about so much more than ‘it’s good for you’
- Use lots of garlic, because it’s delicious
- Sautee lots of onions, because it’s delicious
- Always add garlic after onion – it has more sugar than onion and burns quicker
- Always use more veg, not less – 2-3 types minimum (beyond onion and garlic)
- Let the kids help, and don’t hold them back if they’re interested
- Lead by example and make vegetable dishes that you like
- Eggs fix everything – and hide all manner of sins if your veg are a bit sad from being in the fridge
- Skip the confusing steps and make it as simple a possible
- Stick with a cast iron pan so you don’t have to line the pan
- Lace your vegetables with the stuff the kids do like; think cheese and bacon and use more than one type of cheese if you dare
- Roast your vegetables – and make sure you have leftovers
- Mix it all up, because that way you’ll make every bite interesting.
- Sprinkle toasted nuts over the top of everything, or seeds or bread crumbs for crunch