Love them or hate them, they’re a Christmas tradition coming to a dinner table near you soon. Sprouts are guaranteed to divide opinion over Christmas dinner, and your child will likely be no exception.
When it comes the good old Brussels sprout however, it seems that there is an actually completely objective reason to explain why Brussels sprouts have split the nation for generations.
It’s in your genes
Research into Brussels sprouts by Scientist at the Eden project shows that they contain a chemical which tastes bitter to people who have a particular mutated gene. Around 50% of the world’s population have the mutated gene and are therefore immune to the bitterness. The other 50% on the other hand, can’t get enough of them.
There’s a good reason to chomp the festive veggies down when they are on offer though. Sprouts are high in vitamin C and iron, and are said to help reduce cholesterol as well as provide other health benefits.
Cooked well, they are the perfect consistency to cut up for young children to handle when following baby-led weaning. If the thought of cleaning up squished sprout afterwards puts you off, a feeding bib with pockets – will easily catch any dropped bits to help with the aftermath.
But with adults turning their noses up at the very sight of the little green fellow, it’s hardly surprising that children might not be too keen.
The importance of eating meals together
It’s a fact that children learn behaviour from their parents and siblings. That’s why it’s even more important for fussy eaters to share family mealtimes together.
Christmas dinner is the ideal opportunity to introduce new flavours and motivate children to join in with taste tests, even from a very young age. So what can you do to encourage your child to at least give Brussels sprouts a little try this Christmas?
Encouraging your child to eat Brussels sprouts
Idle threats, like withholding pudding, seldom work, especially at Christmas time when there are so many other treats on offer. Encouraging your child to eat a sprout requires a more creative approach.
- Get your child involved in the preparation. If a child is involved in the cooking process, they are more likely to want to eat the food that is created. If you can, buy Brussels sprouts on the stalk and get the kids to pull them off. They’re a lot more fun than those that come in a bag, and children will enjoy snapping each one off.
- Change how they look. Let’s face it, sprouts are not the most attractive of vegetables and even trying to eat one whole is quite literally a mouthful. Try cutting them in half and roasting them, or shredding them and adding them to a salad (perhaps for Boxing Day). They will look a lot less imposing in smaller bite sized pieces.
- Roast or pan-fry them. Do you remember school dinners? Plates piled high with sloppy, overcooked vegetables? Nobody enjoyed that. Don’t boil your Brussels to death this year, try roasting or stir-frying them with a drop of balsamic vinegar, maple syrup or honey to bring out the natural sweetness. Check out Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Parmesan Brussel sprouts
- Add other ingredients. If it’s the bitterness that puts your little one off, add other flavours that they might like. Bacon or chestnuts are firm seasonal favourites, but cranberries and cheese can also be winning additions for kids.
- Make them into chips. You’ve heard of vegetable crisps? Brussels sprouts chips are just as easy and kids love them. Pick off the outer leaves of sprouts and toss them in olive oil and a little salt. Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for about 5 minutes at 200oC. Keep an eye on them though because they will brown quickly!
- Hide them! If all else fails and your child is still not sold on the power of the humble sprout, revert to underhand tactics and simply hide them in a bubble and squeak recipe. Mix the Brussels sprouts with mashed potato and cut into Christmas shapes before frying until golden brown. They’ll never know…
So with these expert tips and our award-winning feeding Christmas Rudolf the Reindeer UltraBib, make your family Christmas dinner one to remember this year.
Happy Christmas to you and your loved ones from all at Bibetta.