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How to turn brussel sprout haters into lovers this festive season!

Whilst the sight of a traditional Christmas Dinner, piled with mouthwatering morsels might generally elicit an overwhelmingly positive response from most diners, the addition of the humble brussel sprout has never ceased to divide opinion. 

The Marmite of the Christmas dinner table, they are as loved and adored by some, as they are violently rejected by others, their strong, sometimes bitter flavour and pungent odour, blamed for their regular unpopularity, with families from young to old uniting in their dislike.

But fear no more! Lucy Thomas, Food Consultant to Organix and an expert in getting tricky toddlers to eat their greens, has come up with the following tips to help family members of all ages conquer their Brusselsproutophobia.

From sprout and spoon races, sprout cup relay races, sprouty toothbrushing, she’s got ideas galore on how to convert the most determined Brussel Sprout avoider into an ardent advocate. 

Lucy’s Five Step Brussel Sprout challenge 

‘Speaking to parents, I often hear how much they loathe the sprout themselves, making their kids far more likely to feel the same way. My challenge is therefore to get all members of the family on board with reclaiming the sprout back onto their dinner table! Some of these exercises will be more for the little ones, but others will work best if you all get involved… 

Step One: Familiarisation

Get yourself a bowl of these green delights, if you can find sprouts still on their stalks, this is ideal. Ask your little one to describe them – are they a fruit, a vegetable, encourage them to peel them, if on the stalk can they pick them off etc? Have fun transporting the sprouts from one end of the room to a bowl at the other end of the room by carrying them under your chin without holding onto it.

This will help your little ones grow more comfortable with the sprouts as well as help them associate them with something fun. 

Step Two: Fun and Games

Forget Eggs, this Christmas it’s all about the greens with our Brussel Sprout and Spoon Races!

Fun for all the family and friends this can be inside or out, all you need is spoons, sprouts and a collection bowl. And for further high jinx, add in some obstacles along the way and see how long you can keep your sprout on the run!

Scoring Sprouts 

Tape some paper cups to the floor and number them on the base. Take turns to roll the sprouts into the cups and see who gets the highest score with 6 sprouts.

Sink or Swim?

Find out if Sprouts sink or swim in a container of water?How quickly can you scoop them out with a spoon? How many sprouts can you collect in 10 seconds?

Step Three : Get Creative

Sit down with your children and demonstrate how you can peel off the outer layers of leaves and see how far you can peel them until it becomes too tricky. Count the layers or leaves. Show how to make flower shapes using the leaves as petals and stalks and the sprout as the centre bud. Using a simple drawn template of a house or car – use the sprout leaves to cover the lines to make brussel sprout pictures.The leaves can be glued in place – but will deteriorate and need to be composted within a couple of days

Encourage your children to talk about what you are doing together by asking them about the smell and texture of the raw brussel sprout leaves.

Step Four – Explore Taste – What to do with Brussel Sprouts

Do NOT overcook them, over cooking will drain the nutrients from the sprout leaving it with a rather pungent smell, which is not particularly enticing! Score a small but deep cross (x) on the base of the sprout to help it to cook evenly throughout.

Using plastic knives show how to cut the cooked brussel sprout in half and have a play by asking the following:

  • Can you brush your teeth with half a brussel sprout?
  • Rub the sprout on your tongue – is it smooth or bumpy?
  • Lick the sprout – is it salty or sweet?
  • Can you peel the layers off the cooked sprout?
  • Stick a tiny piece on your tongue does it stay there? Can you crunch it and make it disappear? Lead by example!!

Maybe children would rather hold it between their lips or make some teeth marks in it and see who can make a pattern with their teeth marks in the leaf? 

Don’t worry if your children find some of these tasks too demanding, or if they simply refuse, continue with the exercise and let them watch. Watching you will help reassure them and perhaps they will get involved next time.

Step Five – TIME FOR COOKING

  • A wonderful winter comfort food is Bubble and Squeak Patties 
  • Pre-cooked Sprouts can be added to mashed potato and cheese and lightly browned in olive oil
  • This Organix Cheesy Brussel Sprout Soup recipe is perfect for 12 months +
  • Try slicing brussel sprouts raw and add to homemade coleslaw with grated carrot, onion and white cabbage. 
  • Combine quartered and cooked brussel sprouts with sliced red onions and a mild tasting cheese such as a goat cheese or feta.
  • Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for an exceptionally healthy, delicious side dish.
  • And this recipe Christmas Dinner Jackets is perfect for using up those yummy Christmas meal leftovers, such as sprouts, roast veg etc and is suitable for all the family, including younger babies (10 months +) 

Good luck, have fun, and remember… a Brussel Sprout isn’t just for Christmas – if you and your little ones learn to love them, they can be enjoyed all year round!

See also > https://www.bouncemagazine.co.uk/how-to-budget-as-a-family/