One thing which I'd really love for us to do as a family is to grow our own herbs and vegetables. A friend of mine lives in a city but has an 'urban garden' where she grows vegetables and fruit, teaching her little girl how to garden in the process and I honestly think it's one of the sweetest things. Teaching my son to garden is something I began to do this year and I'm glad to say that he's shown a keen interest in the garden. I think teaching him how to grow his own produce and how to make healthy, wholesome meals out of it all is one of the best things I could possibly do for him as a parent.
Winter is the perfect time to make healthy family food in bulk - think big batches of hearty stews, simmering soups and shepherd’s pies. Using your own home-grown vegetables from the garden makes it even more special, nutritious and not to mention fun - I can envision my son having an absolute ball tending to his vegetable patch, especially seeing as he took great delight in his grandparents apple tree suddenly sprouting apples in the summer, he loves eating them all! Here are a few recipe ideas for getting the little ones involved in, not only growing their own produce, but in helping to cook and use the home-grown produce in some healthy meals too.
Although it’s a simple classic, it usually goes down well with children, much better than more exotic flavours. In winter you can make a chunky vegetable soup using all the winter vegetables that aren’t usually around. Use lots of root veg such as parsnips, potatoes, leeks, butternut squash and swede to make a tasty broth. Try and pick vegetables with flavours that really complement each other and remember to season with a bit of salt and pepper at the end. Chunky, crusty bread with some butter for dipping in the soup is compulsory in our house!
After a bitterly cold day there’s nothing better than coming home to a warm chicken stew bubbling away. Follow this BBC recipe and with vegetables from the garden you can make an amazing winter chicken stew perfect for all the family. Use your home grown carrots, parsnips, leeks and potatoes. You can even do some mash and peas to serve with it on the side, making a perfect warming and healthy meal for the cold winter days.
Shepherd’s pie is a great winter warmer and so easy to prepare. Follow Jamie Oliver’s amazing simple Shepherd’s Pie recipe for a filling nutritious delight. As there are lots of different easy stages to making it it’s a great dish to get the whole family involved in preparing. One person can prepare all the vegetables to go with the mince – chop some celery, onion, carrots and garlic cloves, then another person can prepare the mash potatoes for the tasty topping. I know my boy would love putting the potatoes, or tatos as he calls them, on top with the back of a spoon and fork for making that lovely crispy topping.
When cooking, get the children involved at all stages. Show them how to pick the vegetables from the garden and help them learn how to peel and chop so you can all work together. Growing your own vegetables is really educational for kids and makes meal times way more fun, especially if you give children their very own vegetable which is their responsibly to grow. I also think it instills a sense of healthy living and how eating the 'good things' can be really beneficial to them. They’ll take real pride in it and learn lots about where their food comes from. To easily grow your own vegetables its worth investing in a Premier Polytunnel. The Poly Tunnel provides a perfect environment for vegetables to grow in without taking up masses of space in the garden - perfect for those with slightly smaller outdoor spaces.
Is it important for you to teach your children how to garden and cook? It's something I really want to teach my son and I think it's something we'd all benefit from and have a great time doing as a family too.
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*This post contains sponsored content.