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The joys of the Buddha bowl for supporting food exploration

The other day my children had already eaten (a quick easy dinner of beans on toast before bed) and my husband came home having already eaten Pizza at work. I decided to cook myself exactly what I felt like eating, just for myself, which never usually happens!

So I made a Buddha Bowl (or plate in my case as I don't have any nice large bowls at the moment). Some of you asked for the recipe so here's what I made myself.

- Baby broccoli

- Edamame beans (shelled)

- Grated carrot

- Sliced radish

- A couple of slices of avocado

- Cooked baby beetroot chopped

- Freekeh

- A handful of rocket

- Some tinned sweetcorn

- A handful of chopped herbs (I added mint, coriander and parsley)

- Butternut squash (Roasted in a drizzle of olive oil, a tablespoon of maple syrup and some spices (a sprinkle of paprika, ground coriander, cumin and some salt).

I added a simple Tahini dressing using olive oil, tahini and some honey.


Top Tips for little food explorers:

We often serve meals this way for the little ones as it's a really simple simple way for exposing them to a wide range of foods. Here are my top tips for Buddha/Bento/Donburi style meals for little ones.

1) Ensure there is at least one food your little one will eat from what's on the table and that they'll be able to eat enough to feel full from. Even if they just decide to eat roast potatoes and corn. In the words of Ellyn Satter "you provide- they decide" let them choose for themselves from what's on the table.

2) Get some little tongs and serving spoons out and let the little people self serve. Children are more likely to be adventurous when it's their choice. Also part of them becoming accustomed to a new food is simply interacting it and this is one way of doing this.

3) Don't comment pressure or focus on what they are or aren't eating. In case you missed our video on what pressure can look like you can check it out here.

4) If food waste is a worry thing of ways to reuse some of the leftovers. We will often make a salad, curry, soup or omelette from our leftovers to save waste.


How to build your own

There are so many other options for what you can add to the table here are some of our favourites:

Protein foods:

  • Salmon or chicken cubes (marinade with a little garlic, sweet chilli sauce, fresh ginger, sesame oil and teriyaki sauce)

  • Tofu cubes (coat in some corn flour and black pepper and fry off)

  • Chickpeas or garbanzo beans (fry in a little olive oil, honey and soy)

  • Some hummus works well too we often go for beetroot or garlic and lemon flavours

  • Edamame beans (the girls love having these still in their shells so much fun to eat)

  • black beans

  • Eggs (poached, boiled or fried)

Veg it up:

The possibilities with adding veggies are endless. Add some new foods to explore alongside some old favourites.

  • tinned sweetcorn

  • baby beetroot

  • broccoli

  • green beans

  • sugar snap peas

  • bean sprouts

  • mushrooms (fried in a little soy and honey)

  • grated carrots

  • roasted brussel sprouts (roast in a little soy, chilli oil and honey) If spice isn't your thing some teriyaki sauce works well too)

  • capsicum in different colors

  • chopped raw cabbage (again try using a mix of red and green)

  • sliced radish

  • cucumber

Add some green:

  • roasted kale (simply chop it up, removing the hard stalk, place on a tray, drizzle in olive oil and salt and roast for 20-30min) it's lovely and crispy

  • rocket

  • baby spinach

  • cress

  • microgreens

Grains and carbs:

Children get most of their energy from carbs having a buddha bowl is a fun way of experimenting with new types of carbs. Serve one they will eat alongside something new.

  • Quinoa

  • Rice (experiment with different types of rice) adding a teaspoon of miso to the rice as it's cooking can be yummy too

  • bulgar wheat

  • Freekeh

  • Roasted pumpkin or squash

  • Roast potatoes

Herbs and other condiments to add flavour:

We will often put some fresh herbs on the table for the children to help themselves.

  • mint

  • coriander

  • parsley

  • pickled ginger

  • some seeds or nuts (cashew, sesame seeds or flaked almonds to add some crunch)

  • Experiment with some sauces different dressings or dips. We love trying to add a little spice to a mayo with some sweet chilli sauce or wasabi paste)

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