The vegetables are taking over the deserts of North Africa and Arabia. They have been spotted emerging from the great sand dunes of the desert and have now stormed the couscous. Your mission is to help the kids find them, eat them to defeat them and raise loud the victory cry…
Bring it on 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.
Couscous Clash is just couscous with plenty of vegetables. You can serve couscous with so many dishes. We have suggested a Moroccan-style “tagine” stew, but you can do it any way you wish.
The important thing is decent chunks of vegetables with the couscous. 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 challenge called Couscous Clash and ask if they would like to watch the video. Watch the video above together and repeat the rally cry, “bring it on 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 couscous and veg, you might want to watch the video again. As you serve, repeat the rally cry catchphrase, “bring it on 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
Moroccan Stew & Vegetable Couscous
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
1 tbsp oil
1 red onion, diced
100g chicken (skinless, boneless thigh or breast), chopped into bite size pieces (or veggie alternative)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 red pepper, diced
1 courgette, diced
100g butternut squash (optional – frozen pre-chopped is fine)
1 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
50g peas (frozen is fine)
50g sweetcorn (frozen is fine)
For the couscous:
1 mug of couscous
1 1/2 mugs boiling water
30g butter or plant-based alternative, diced
Handful of chives or fresh parsley, chopped (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 get them to say “Bring it on veggies!”
Heat the oil in a large frying pan set over low-medium heat. Add the red onion and cook gently, stirring often until it starts to soften (usually about 5 mins).
Add the chicken and cook until it starts to colour and is cooked through, about 5 mins. (If using veggie alternative, check how long it will take to cook – most can be added with the veg later on as they cook in just a few mins).
Add the red pepper, courgette, butternut squash if using, and chickpeas. Continue to cook about 10 mins, until the vegetables begin to colour and soften, add the spices and cook for another minute, then finally add the chopped tomatoes, peas and sweetcorn (and veggie alternative, if using) and cook through for another 5-10 mins until everything is cooked and softened.
In a separate bowl, add the couscous and boiling water, then quickly cover with a lid, cling film or upturned plate. Allow to sit and steam for 5-10 mins, until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is fluffy. Add the diced butter to the top of the couscous and stir through with a fork, fluffing the couscous as you go, then taste and add a little salt and pepper if you feel it needs it. Stir the couscous through the veg, or serve alongside the veg-packed tagine. Add the chopped herbs, if using, and serve immediately.
Kids in the Kitchen:
Older or more confident kids can help you with the chopping, but let younger ones help with weighing and measuring ingredients and adding them to the pan carefully with your supervision. Show them how to stir safely over heat, and let them chop the butter with a child’s (not sharp) knife, and let them fluff the couscous. For more tips on cooking with kids check out Kids in the Kitchen on Simply Veg.