Saturday, April 4, 2009

Eat Your Veggies!

That's every mother's famous last words, right?
"Eat your veggies, dearest."
I have to say, my kids are all so different when it comes to eating their veggies.
Doodle only likes fresh carrots, steamed broccoli and sliced cucumbers, without the skins.
She will eat salad on very rare occasions and only if she's in a good mood.
Beano hates all things veggie.
He eats broccoli when he is forced and he'll eat a carrot, maybe, only if there is absolutely nothing else to eat and he's starving and he has to be in a good mood already. If I offer him one when he's grumpy, heaven help us all.
Dubs will eat any veggie under the sun. He loves fresh bell peppers, onions (weird for a 4 year old, huh), green beans, steamed spinach, cucumbers, salad, sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus. Honestly, I have not found a veggie he will not eat.
Baby cakes is becoming more like Dubs every day. He eats fresh bell peppers and his broccoli is the first thing he eats at dinner time. In fact the other day I was eating a salad for lunch and he came over to me begging and I ended up feeding him lots of my salad.
Here are some tips I have found that makes eating veggies a little easier on kids.
* Start them young. Don't wait until they are 4 or 5 until you start feeding them veggies. The younger, the better. This is the mistake I made with Beano and Doodle, I waited too late to start eating lots of veggies.
* You eat them in front of them. Make sounds like they are so good and they are the best thing you've ever eaten. When they ask for some, share. It's the concept of
monkey see, monkey do.
*If your child does not like a certain veggie the first time, don't be daunted. It may take up to 10 tries before he takes a liking to it. It took baby cakes about that long to like bell peppers. Every day he would see Dubs and me eating one, so he would beg. Then he'd take a bite and spit it out and ditch the rest of the pepper. Now he loves them. He ate nearly half a pepper all by himself yesterday.
* Leave a veggie try on the counter for snacking on throughout the day. This is how Doodle found out she loves the middles of cucumbers. Plus this way they see you eating them all day too. This also cuts down on pre-packaged snacks and is heart healthy and full of fiber.
* Serve salad as the first course to dinner. Do your kids ever bombard you while you are cooking dinner? Do they ever stand in the kitchen and whine and complain because they are starved and dinner can't be done soon enough? Oh good, mine either. Who am I kidding? Most days it's all I can do from locking them in their bedrooms until dinner is done. Instead, why not give them a plate of veggies to start the meal. They may be more willing to try them when they are starving. If they reject them the first time, don't worry, just try again the next day, and the next, and the next.
* Try new ways of preparing veggies. Don't just steam them all the time. Try roasting them. My favorite new way of eating veggies is to drizzle them with a little olive oil and sea salt and roast them until they are tender. Recently we have done this with broccoli, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, asparagus and potatoes. It brings out more of the natural flavors. Last night I did this with asparagus and for the first time ever ALL my kids ate them, and liked them! I was used to being one of the only ones that likes asparagus and eating most of it myself. After everyone ate some there was not nearly enough left for me! Next time I'll have to make a bigger batch.
* Make homemade salad dressings for dipping fresh veggies in. If you think you like bottled ranch, think again. There are about a gazillion recipes for homemade salad dressings on the Internet. I have only tried a few, but the ones I have tried put bottled anything to shame. Shame I tell you, shame on you Kraft! The homemade varieties have no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, which most of your bottled varieties are chuck full of, plus the flavors will knock you socks off. My knees went weak when I tried the one I'm about to share, it was so good. The kids even like it!

Creamy Cucumber Salad Dressing with Cucumber Tomato Salad
3 cucumbers, sliced
3-4 large tomatoes, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1/4 c rice vinegar
3 T Dijon mustard, make sure to real the labels for preservatives
1 t sea salt
1 t dry mustard
1/2 t agave nectar or honey
1/4 t pepper
1/2 c olive oil
1. Place cucumber, tomato and red onion slices in a serving dish, reserving 1/3 of one of the cucumbers and 1/4 of the onion for the dressing.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender, including the 1/3 cucumber and the 1/4 of the onion. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour dressing over the veggies. Toss to coat.
4. Chill for several hours.
I like to put this salad on top of a green salad and mix the dressing all up with the lettuce. It is so good. You could just make the dressing and use it for dipping any kid of veggie in. I really can not believe how tasty real food is. I think most Americans are so used to pre-packaged, pre-made, pre-frozen food, that we have forgotten how good the real stuff tastes, and how much better for us it really is. It does not have to be difficult to eat better, it just takes a little effort and changing our habits.
Happy Eating!

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