Health & Wellbeing's resident foodie, Nadia Sawalha, reveals the tricks she uses to kid her teenagers into eating well
I’m going to be honest, guys – as much as I love my gorgeous daughter Maddie, she can be a nightmare when it comes to what she will and won’t eat! How silly of me to assume that breastfeeding her all of those years ago would be the most painful thing I’d ever have to do regarding her diet. Well, I can tell you that the pain of breastfeeding doesn’t even compare to the pain of feeding her as a teen. Watching her devour buckets of fried chicken slathered with mayo, and piles of meat feast pizzas while guzzling Diet Coke, brings me out in hives.
Now, of course, I don’t buy any of these evils because, as Maddie says, “Mum, I earn my own money now, so I can finally eat what I want!” (Why, oh why did l let her get a Saturday job?) Does she not realise I’m a Celebrity Masterchef winner? Does it not count for anything that I have five cookery books to my name? Does she not realise that to have a mum who actually asks her what she would like for dinner (instead of a mum, like mine, who was a ‘you’ll get what you’re given’ woman) is a luxury? Clearly, she doesn’t.
But…deep breath…I have learned (slowly) that to get into any kind of battle over what she eats merely exacerbates the problem. So, I have to box clever. Read on to discover some of the ways I do just that.
One of my guilty pleasures is giving my girls meals that they think are bad for them but are secretly nutritious (I’m positively evil!). For instance, they love all things from Wagamama, so I make a lovely big steaming bowl of ramen but with an extra nutritional punch using chicken bone broth (which is so good for gut health), griddled organic chicken breast and brown rice noodles with green beans (by some miracle of god they actually eat green beans!) They are absolutely oblivious as to how healthy this soup is for them, and so they slurp it up without a second thought. I also make fake Nando’s by marinating organic chicken in the Nando’s bottled sauce (it’s important to leave the bottle out so they see it) but I then serve it up with organic sweet potato chips and green veg.
Maddie is a beigeatarian (she prefers foods that are beige) and, like most kids, loves pasta. In fact, when she was three she told me she wanted to marry spaghetti! I have tried a whole host of pasta substitutes over the years to no avail. But, last month, I finally found a fake pasta that the kids (and even husband Mark, as he can be the biggest kid of all) actually like. Drum roll….Freee by Doves Farm Brown Rice Penne (£2.25, dovesfarm.co.uk). I can actually get it past the miserable lot. In fact, I feel a little overwhelmed through just writing this.
I’ve spent years extolling the virtues of kale, while secretly hating it and never actually eating it, but I’m making a real effort this year. One of the things I’ve discovered is that kale, like us, benefits from massage. I kid you not! Simply massage the leaves with olive oil and a little salt, slightly crushing the leaves, and refrigerate it in a covered bowl overnight. It’s then delicious in a salad. Bizarre!
I’m obsessed with pears at the moment – they’re so juicy and fragrant! They have to be conference pears, and I love them with a little cheese or a handful of walnuts. I particularly love them with dolcelatte cheese, but that’s a no-no right now.
Mark and I fell off the health wagon over Christmas and piled on weight! I actually wrapped a whole brie in pastry, baked it and ate the lot with bread. So, we’ve been posting our weight loss journey on our YouTube channel. Cheese mustn’t be seen again until next Christmas!