How to get kids to eat broccoli – tips, tricks and recipes

Family

How to get kids to eat broccoli – tips, tricks and recipes

Your kids will be licking their plates with these tips and recipes for cooking broccoli

We all know that broccoli is delicious, and oh-so good for you. It's one of our favourite superfoods, and not nearly as expensive as avocado or blueberries: you can even grow it in your back garden. Now we love broccoli with everything from a Sunday roast to a stir fry, but unfortunately the kids usually think differently.

Yes, there are those annoying mums who go: "Oh broccoli? Little Oscar just LOVES his broccoli – he can't get enough of it!" But we all know that, for us mere mortals getting the little ones to eat their vegetables can be a challenge at the best of times and broccoli is always one of the ones they hate most.

It seems strange when you think about it – broccoli is really no less offensive than any other vegetable, but for some reason it's the one which always gets left on the plate.

Here are some ways to start encouraging the kids to eat up their broccoli – see if any of them work for you.

1. Cook broccoli properly!

Now broccoli can be cooked right or wrong and a LOT of people cook it badly. Our mums all used to put broccoli on to boil, go and do the washing/gardening/watch TV or whatever else and come back hours later on, back when all British food was awful – our mums still do, in fact.

But broccoli needs to be treated with care if it's going to be edible – those little bushes on the top get soggy too easily! Do not boil broccoli for any more than six or seven minutes, or try steaming it – this keeps all the nutrients inside rather than leaking out into the water and tends to make it less waterlogged.

2. Try tenderstem or long-stem broccoli

With less of a tendency to get waterlogged, tenderstem broccoli is a lot easier and more pleasant to eat - sales have gone through the roof recently, although it is more expensive. Tenderstem broccoli needs to be boiled for just five minutes tops, and is lovely served with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice.

3. Try different ways of cooking broccoli

Try stir-frying it or roasting it with some light soy sauce and olive oil – this also makes broccoli crunchy and salty rather than soggy – it's the closest you could get to broccoli chips!

4. Try serving broccoli raw

Broccoli is really nice raw and it holds its crunch - try with different dips and see how that goes down!

5. Mix it up with other things

Cut broccoli into smaller pieces so it doesn't seem as intimidating, and mix it up with other vegetables like carrots and cauliflowers in different combinations so the kids are used to seeing lots of different veg on their plates and not the same, predictable thing every day.

6. Make broccoli fun

After all, it does look like little trees! If your child enjoys imaginative play, try making a little house out of mashed potato and put the little pieces of broccoli around it in the 'garden'.

7. Take the pressure off dinnertime

In the end, if you've tried all the recipes, and all the cooking methods and your little monkeys won't eat any of it, just back off and let them eat what they'd like to for a while. Always put everything onto the plate so they're used to seeing and smelling a range of foods, but don't force it down, especially if they're still just toddlers.

8. Bribery

If it's been a long time and you're worried that older children are forming bad eating habits, then you can start bargaining. If they'll eat half of (and then finish) their broccoli then they can have something they really like – whether it's chips or a chocolate biscuit. Or put broccoli and beans on their plate and say they can eat one and leave the other one – at least that way they eat some greens.

9. Juice it

Whizz broccoli up with some apple juice, lemon juice and other veg into a wicked smoothie. They'll never know!

10. Add salt and butter!

It might not sound very healthy, but if you melt a little bit of butter and sprinkle some sea salt over the top it might become a little bit more appealing. This also helps with the texture.

4 Broccoli recipes children will love

You can also try some different recipes which are a good way of seeing whether your kids might like broccoli in more inventive guises than just beside their potatoes - these are some ideas to get you started.

Broccoli sweet potato cakes recipe

Read more here.

Ingredients:

  • One broccoli floret, chopped into small pieces
  • Two sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • A medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Method:

  1. In a large pot, combine the broccoli, sweet potatoes, onion and water. Bring it to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the vegetables and use a potato masher to mash the ingredients together.
  3. Add thyme and season with salt and pepper. Mash again.
  4. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  5. Divide broccoli mixture into 10 flat balls.
  6. In batches, adding more oil if needed, cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side.

Broccoli cheese recipe

Read more here.

Ingredients:

  • One tablespoon of flour
  • Large knob of butter
  • 300g of grated cheese
  • Quarter of a pint of milk
  • One floret of broccoli chopped into little pieces

Method:

  1. Gently heat the butter in a saucepan and add the flour until they combine together and then slowly add milk stirring constantly until the sauce thickens to the desired consistently – this only takes a few minutes.
  2. While the sauce thickens gently boil the broccoli for six minutes until it's cooked and soft but not soggy.
  3. Add the cheese to the sauce and add the broccoli in afterwards. Serve immediately. You can also add cauliflower to the mix here too.

Broccoli soup recipe

Read more here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 large celery stick
  • A handful of fresh mint
  • Half a pint of vegetable stock

Method:

  1. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
  2. Trim and roughly chop the celery and broccoli.
  3. Pick the mint leaves, then finely chop most of them, saving a few baby leaves to garnish.
  4. Heat a splash of oil in a pan, then soften the garlic and celery for about 2 to 3 minutes, then add the broccoli and stock.
  5. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes, then blitz with a handful of mint in a food processor.
  6. Season and serve with the rest of the mint leaves

Fruit and vegetable muffin recipe

Read more here.

Ingredients:

  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of broccoli florets,
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 medium apple
  • 1 medium banana
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup plain yoghurt

You can really use anything which you think works in terms of fruit and vegetables, as long as they're quite moist that will help. Also if the muffins are too large, they won't cook through so make sure they are small enough.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade
  2. In a medium size bowl, mix together the flour, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon and set aside Soften the butter in a pan
  3. In a mixer or another bowl, mix the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla and make sure they're well mixed
  4. Then in a magimix combine the steamed broccoli, courgette, apple, banana, apple juice, and apples auce. Pulse until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Shred your carrots and then combine the fruit and veggie puree, carrots and yogurt into the sugar and eggs, and beat until mixed.
  6. Finally, add all this to the flour mixture.
  7. In a muffin tin, place muffin papers or spray with cooking spray and scoop in the mixture – fill the little containers around two thirds full.
  8. For mini muffins: Bake in a 180-degree oven for 15-20 minutes for mini-muffins. For regular size muffins: Bake in a 180 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Broccoli omelette recipe

Cook a quick omelette with some small pieces of broccoli and cheese (or/and tomato?) and serve with chips!

Do you have any broccoli recipes you swear by to encourage the children to eat up their greens?

Good luck with your broccoli recipes! Let us know if you have any other tips or tricks to get the kids to eat broccoli over on Facebook and Twitter.

You might also like...

The 25 meals children should be able to cook by 11-years-old

These four-year-olds talking about marriage will make your day

More in Family & Money

Closer magazine cover