I'd put money on Little Miss C not being the only toddler out there who isn't particularly keen on fruit and veg. After a Christmas season in which she went to several parties that presented her with the opportunity to eat her own body weight in crisps we thought it about time to try to reverse this unhelthy eating trend.
LMC has always been a fan of meat dishes and would quite happily snack on sausages or similar in the same way that other (healthier) children might eat a banana or an apple. Over the last couple of years I've therefore become quite good at trying to squeeze as many vegetables as possible into dishes like bolognese. After my latest batch I thought it about time to share the recipe.
The beauty of this recipe is that I try to include whatever I have in at the time, alongside a few staple ingredients.
- Tin of chopped tomatoes
- Worcestershire Sauce
Start off by frying an onion until soft in a large frying pan. I also tend to add crushed garlic at this stage.
I then dice carrots, celery and any other veg I find into small pieces and adding them to the soft onion. The size of pieces all depends on how much or little your child likes that particular thing. Mushrooms are often a good addition at this stage, but if your child doesn't like the texture of them I find that they can get quite lost in with the mince if you cut them into small enough pieces.
Once the veg is soft I then add the mince to the pan and cook it until brown all over. I like to add a good healthy measure of worcestershire sauce at this stage as I find that it adds a certain depth to the flavour. If I'm making an "adult version" then a good slog of red wine also goes in at this point. I omit this from the toddler version, although my Health Visitor seems to think there's nothing wrong with children having dishes that include alcohol in the contents – and I guess it may help with any sleep issues(!) I then add a can of chopped tomatoes and any other chopped up tomatoes that may need using up in my fridge.
Once the whole pan is bubbling I then turn down the gas and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes for the flavour to develop fully.
After letting it cool it is portioned up into freezer bags so that I then can just pull one out and defrost it for one of LMC's meals. The latest batch that I made produced nine portions for my daughter, but if you add even more veg then you can stretch one portion of mince even further. Obviously if you have hungrier children it may not stretch as far.
The lovely thing about this bolognese is that it can be served in various different ways. With some mashed potatoes it is just like cottage pie. With pasta (or spaghetti) and grated cheese on top it's a classic italian dish. On a cold winter's day it works well with a jacket potato, or if you're in more of a rush you can even just serve it with some bread.
Definitely always worth having some in the freezer for a quick, but healthy toddler meal.