1. BE REALISTIC - Don't offer your children a quinoa and carrot power bowl and expect them to dive in. Add new or healthy ingredients to a dish that you know they will enjoy. For example, mash some peas in with their favourite fish cake recipe. Also, add a little cheese to vegetable dishes - it goes a long way.
2. COOK TOGETHER - Kids love cooking and spending time with their parents. Get them involved in making their own dinner. Make it fun by including cute aprons, stools to step on and invest in some gadgets like a garlic crusher or lemon squeezer that they will enjoy using. Include the children in the process by informing them about ingredients and spices to make them excited about the dish.
Lama Jammal, founder of Mamalu Kitchen, runs regular cooking classes for mothers
3. ESTABLISH ROUTINES - Ensure that snack times are well in advance of meal times. It will be much easier to get kids to try new foods if they are actually hungry!
4. GIVE CHOICES - Ask them what they want for breakfast the next morning while you're putting them to bed. Also, ask what they would fancy in their lunch box at school. Listen and meet them in the middle (baked potato wedges instead of a French-fries request) And be sure to ask them how their lunch was after school or nursery.
5. TAKE CUES FROM YOUR LITTLE ONES - Your child will let you know when he/she is full. Even if it’s after only four bites. They will not starve but they could however develop a negative relationship with food if they are force-fed.
Lama's three boys, Teymur, 3, and twins, Hany and Laith, 2, always get involved at meal times
6. "HEALTHIFY" the popular dishes! Pasta, pizza, burgers - hide some vegetables in the sauces or the burger itself. Do not underestimate the power of blending! One of my boys hates mushrooms while the other two love them so I just sneak them in and everyone is happy!
7. GET EXCITED about food. Whether its tasting new foods together and describing them or playing with toy kitchens and fake food to get them more interested. Use cookie cutters to make sandwich shapes for lunch boxes, fun fruit skewers, etc. Create fun names for dishes such as "shell pasta" for linguini with clams (yes, my kids did try this) or magic soup, energy balls that give you power…
8. INVOLVE LOVED ONES - Eating together as a family or eating dinner with their friends does help. I’ve seen my child eat chickpeas with a group of his friends, which would never go down otherwise.
Lama Jammal is founder of Mamalu Kitchen, which runs cooking classes in the UAE for mothers, nannies and helpers. Follow @mamalukitchen on Instagram/Facebook for more helpful hints and tricks on family eating.