Miguel Maestre’s no-fail hacks to get fussy eaters to eat their food

Struggle to get your kids to eat a well-rounded meal? TV chef Miguel Maestre dishes up two tips guaranteed to have them wolfing down vegies to the very last bite.

It is a parenting truth universally acknowledged that dinner time with kids is the worst.

That chicken dish they loved yesterday? Today they hate it, for no apparent reason.

As resident chef on The Living Room, Miguel Maestre shows families how to prepare meals that are both fast and tasty.

But with two children of his own, the TV chef knows how hard it is to impress kids.

So at mealtime, he draws on his repertoire of tricks to get the whole family eating healthy food.

These are Miguel’s go-to tips for dealing with fussy eaters: 

Turn them into junior chefs

Miguel says his daughter, Claudia, 8, and son, Morgan, 5, are “really adventurous eaters”, but they keep him on his toes with changing tastes.

“The first trick for me is to test their motor skills,” Miguel says. “We’ve been making bread, flat bread, gnocchi, and I get them involved in the process.

“We get really messy, and there’s a lot of clean-up after. But I get them to eat more of this stuff than they would normally eat.”

Miguel says kids are more likely to eat something they’ve prepared themselves.

And he says children’s abilities should not be estimated, even at a young age.

“I get them involved in the process of barbecuing,” Miguel says.

“They’ve discovered that whole broccolini are good to eat when they’ve barbecued it themselves.

“They put the olive oil in the bowl, and toss it. I’ve got really long tongs so they’re quite far away from the hot plate.

“If I put broccolini as the garnish on some fish they would not eat it. But if they barbecue it, they eat it.”

The more hands on his kids can be, the better, says Miguel.

“They’re growing up, turning 5 and 8, and they’re more capable of doing things. They can mix things properly, they can reach the bench. The more jobs they can do, the more they will eat it,” he says.

Camouflage the veggies

Miguel says that although kids can spot a vegetable at 20 paces, sometimes the best technique is to hide them in plain sight.

“They love bolognese, so I just grate 300 vegetables into it without them knowing,” he says.

“They’ve eaten four zucchinis, four carrots, onion and chillies without knowing. If something is stir-fried, I cut the vegies really small so they don’t see the shape. I’m really good at hiding things so you can’t see them.”

Written by Anna Brain.