Finding vegetables that children will happily eat isn’t the smoothest of roads in parenting, is it? In the almost nine years that I’ve been a mum, there have been countless times when one or both of my children have fiercely resisted the presence of anything remotely resembling a vegetable on their plates. It can sometimes feel like such a battle, can’t it?
And of course, we’re currently in Brussels sprout season, which in my experience doesn’t do us many favours when it comes to persuading children that green vegetables are yummy. Now you may love Brussels sprouts, but there’s no denying they have a distinctive, strong flavour which many people struggle with. My children flatly refuse to have anything to do with them, and I have to admit I’ve given up trying to persuade them on this particular vegetable. So when I was asked to try out Flower Sprouts, a new variation on sprouts that claims to be far more palatable, I was intrigued; if ever there was a tough audience it was us!
Have you heard of Flower Sprouts? I hadn’t, despite being into the whole vegetable growing thing. Looking like a tiny little cabbage with green frilly leaves streaked with purple, they’re a relatively new vegetable and are actually a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. They have a milder, subtler flavour than sprouts, whilst also retaining the sweet, nutty taste of kale. Sounds perfect for children (or adults) who find sprouts too strong and bitter, don’t they?
I’ve found it’s easier to introduce a new vegetable to children as part of a dish that they already like, ours love stir fry so we had a look at the recipe inspiration on the flower sprouts website and went for Pad Thai noodles.
Flower sprouts are very versatile to cook with; they can be steamed, boiled, microwaved, stir-fried or blanched. To cook the flower sprouts in this dish you just blanch them, then stir fry them with the other ingredients – so quick and easy.
The children spotted straight away that there was a ‘different’ vegetable in their bowls, we made it a bit of a game and challenged them to guess what it was. Cunning plan here: they had to taste it to be able to make a good guess.
We all had a taste and tried to describe the flavour. The kids came up with ‘a bit sweet’, ‘green’ and ‘leafy’; they thought they were a type of cabbage (good guess kids, that’s the kale’s influence). Lily loved the fact that they look like a miniature vegetable, this really helped encourage her to try them.
When I told the children that they had been eating something called Flower Sprouts, they were genuinely surprised. To quote Sam, ‘but they don’t taste like sprouts, sprouts are yuck’. Mission accomplished I think!
I have to say I was sceptical about whether my children would eat Flower Sprouts. Because I had never eaten them myself, I couldn’t compare them to other vegetables that I knew they did or didn’t like. Now we’ve all tried them I can see why the kids just got on and ate them without a battle; they have a lovely subtle flavour, and their texture is similar to cabbage which also makes them more palatable than sprouts. Flower Sprouts are also super healthy; they contain more vitamin B6 and vitamin C than standard Brussels sprouts and have been created using traditional, non-GMO breeding techniques.
A mini super-veg, packed with vitamins and nutrients, that kids will happily eat, which is also easy and versatile to cook – what’s not to love? We’re going to try them out with a roast dinner next, I also like the idea of adding them to the Christmas leftovers bubble and squeak to give it a healthy vitamin kick.
Flower Sprouts are available from November to March at M&S, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, and will shortly be available in Sainsburys and Asda. Check out the flower sprouts website for more information and recipe ideas. Will you be giving them a try at the family dinner table?