Have the kids help you measure and weigh ingredients, fill the mug for the rice with rice and water, and stirring things together (show them how to safely stir over the heat and keep a close eye on them). For more tips on cooking with kids check out Kids in the Kitchen on Simply Veg.
While the sun beats down on the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean, those crafty vegetables have been busy. We’ve heard they have set up their base in the Caribbean. It’s time, time they felt the heat. Find them, say “feel the heat”, then eat them and defeat them.
Feel the heat veggies!
Tea-time adventures turn a meal into a game you play together. It’s about finding the fun in the food because that encourages children to eat it. It’s not so much about the recipe which puts the food on the plate (that’s up to you), but the fun which gets the food from the plate into their bellies.
Caribbean Challenge is just a fun name for chicken, rice and peas. We have suggested a recipe with jerk chicken and both beans and peas with the rice, but you can do it any way you wish.
The important thing is decent chunks of vegetables with the rice. Don’t try hiding the veg, which does nothing to improve your child’s diet, and don’t make the veg too small. If you present chunky veg your child feels in control. This is important – they can eat the veg when they choose, they can separate it out and not eat it, or they can play the game and “eat them to defeat them”. If they have that control they will be more inclined to give it a go.
To get started, tell your kids that as part of Eat Them to Defeat Them you have a fun game called Caribbean Challenge and ask if they would like to watch the video. Watch the video above together and repeat the rally cry, “feel the heat veggies”, with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. Then ask the children if they want to help Chef Andrew to defeat the veggies.
Before you serve your chicken, rice and peas, you might want to watch the video again. As you serve, repeat the rally cry catchphrase, “feel the heat veggies”, and when you or your kids eat vegetables you can say things like “you’re going down veggies” or “let’s defeat them”. During the meal avoid any pressure and keep the mood fun.
Once the meal is over, praise, praise, praise – but don’t mention health. “Well done, we defeated the veggies”. Remember, for veg-resistant children a sniff, a lick or a nibble is good progress – praise it. Then add a sticker to your Eat Them to Defeat Them wall chart, if you don’t have one you can download one here. Ask the kids if they enjoyed the challenge, and would they like to try another. Good luck.
Jerk Chicken, rice and peas
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
200g chicken (boneless, skinless thigh or breast) or veggie alternative, diced
1 tsp garlic puree or 2 finely sliced garlic cloves (optional)
200g sweet potato, diced (frozen pre-diced sweet potato or squash is fine)
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp jerk seasoning
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 red pepper, diced
400g tomatoes, chopped (or use 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes)
1 veg stock cube (optional)
1 tbsp tomato puree
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tsp cornflour or tapioca starch mixed with 2 tsp water to make a paste
2 spring onions, sliced (optional)
Rice & peas:
1 mug rice (ideally basmati, but you can use others and just check package instructions for how long it takes to cook)
2 mugs water
1 400g tin kidney beans
50ml coconut milk (optional)
100g peas (frozen is fine)
1 veg stock cube (optional)
Veg Portions / Serving: 2.5
Here’s our recommended recipe, or you can simply adapt your own recipe – just keep the veg chunky and serve with a reminder to the children to Eat Them to Defeat Them and say “Feel the heat veggies!”
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the diced chicken and onion. Cook for about 5 mins, until the chicken begins to colour. If using veggie alternative, check the instructions on the packet, but most can be added into the pan with the veg later as they cook quickly.
Add the garlic, sweet potato, carrot, and water to the pan and continue to cook until the sweet potato begins to soften, about 10 mins.
Add the vinegar, jerk seasoning, brown sugar, red pepper, tomatoes (and veggie alternative, if using) to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and allow to cook slowly until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5-10 mins. Add the veg stock cube, if using, tomato puree, lemon juice and black pepper to the pan, stir well, then pour in the cornflour paste and stir thoroughly, continuing to cook for 5-10 minutes until it thickens slightly before adding the sliced spring onion, if using.
For the rice and peas, add the rice and water to a saucepan and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to leave it simmering until the rice is soft and tender and the water is nearly absorbed (check packet instructions to know how long this will be). At this point, add the kidney beans, coconut milk if using, peas and veg stock cube if using, cover the pan and continue to cook for a few more mins until the rice is tender, light and fluffy.
Remove from the heat and serve with the Caribbean Jerk Chicken.