We’ve heard the vegetables have taken over the pasta in Italy. The kids will need to search for the vegetables, pick them out, and then defeat them in the only way possible. Your mission is to help the kids find them and eat them to defeat them and then let out your victory cry…
Feel my power!
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
Pasta Power Play is a fun story that goes with any pasta dish. We have suggested a lasagne below, but it will work just as well with a pasta bake or spag bol, or any pasta dish of your choice with plenty of veg added.
The important thing is decent chunks of vegetables with the pasta. 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 Pasta Power Play and ask if they would like to watch the video. Watch the video above together and repeat the rally cry, “feel my power”, 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 pasta you might want to watch the video again. As you serve, repeat the rally cry catchphrase, “feel my power”, 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.
Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 1.5 hours
100g courgettes, sliced thinly lengthwise (or use a veg peeler to make long strips)
100g carrots, sliced thinly lengthwise (or use a veg peeler to make long strips)
200g butternut squash, sliced thinly lengthwise (or use a veg peeler to make long strips)
1 tbsp oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
200g beef mince or veggie alternative
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp mixed herbs
1 veg stock cube (optional)
1 tbsp tomato puree
12 lasagne sheets (dried is fine)
50g mozzarella and cheddar, grated (or plant-based alternative)
Veg Portions / Serving: 3
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 my power!”
Preheat your oven to gas 6/390ºF/200ºC. Lightly oil a baking sheet and lay out the sliced carrot and squash in a single layer if possible. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until they start to soften but still hold their shape.
Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 mins until softened. Add the beef mince and continue to cook until it starts to colour, about 5-10 mins. If using veggie alternative, add to the pan at the next stage. Stir in the tomato puree and cook another minute.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, mixed herbs, and veg stock cube if using (and veggie alternative, if using) and cook, stirring regularly for 10-15 mins. Set aside.
Ladle one third of the meat sauce into a casserole dish, place one layer of lasagne sheets followed by the squash on top. Spoon over another layer of the sauce and repeat with the lasagne and courgette, followed by the final third of the sauce, last few lasagne sheets and carrots. Top with mozzarella or cheddar and bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.
Kids in the Kitchen:
Have the kids help you measure and weigh ingredients, older kids can help you use the veg peeler on the 3 veg. Have them help with layering ingredients in the dish 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.