Sometimes you just have to mix it up a little at the dinner table. I always think it's a good idea to buy one new thing a fortnight and force yourself to cook with it. It's a good way to spice up meals a bit and adds to your cooking repertoire, making it more diverse and less boring.
It's a little challenging with small kids, because often you have go-to meals because you know meal time will be easier to bear. Yep, that's right! My kids would rather eat dry cat food than some of the things I serve. It's humbling. I try to reassure myself that their taste-buds haven't sufficiently developed yet, while I force feed them.
I was reading an article written by a dietician the other day about the "shared responsibility eating" theory. Basically you place the dinner on the table buffet style, and your children get to serve themselves, deciding what they want to eat and how much they will eat. There is no obligation to finish or taste anything. Well I think that's crazy. My kids would starve themselves. Or eat crackers for the rest of their childhoods. (trust me, I have been there in my own childhood, resulting in one never-hungry and malnourished girl. That's right-I never felt hungry enough to eat.)
My kids get served a portion of what we are eating and have to finish it. They at least have to have a taste of the things they're not used to, for example, if I add a new veggie or make something they've never tried before, they will have to at least experience it once.
We usually have our sweet potato boiled and mashed, but for Christmas lunch I decided to roast the sweet potato in wedges, drizzled in a honey cinnamon glaze. This was served alongside Gordon Ramsey's Beef Wellington (Oh my. This is a must-make!) The roasted glazed sweet potato was so divine that I could probably have eaten the lot of it in one sitting. I have since brought it to the dinner table as a side, and it's always been a much-savored hit.
ROASTED SWEET POTATO WITH HONEY & CINNAMON GLAZE (Adapted from Food Network)
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick fingers
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven at 190C.
Lay all the sweet potato fingers flat on a lined baking tray.
Combine the oil, honey and cinnamon in a small bowl until well incorporated. Drizzle this mixture over the top of the sweet potato. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until tender. If you prefer some more colour, you can finish off the roasting with a few minutes under the grill on a high setting.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired before serving.