My kids don’t eat enough vegetables. Do yours? Do anyone’s?
I love vegetables – pretty much all of them – but I rarely cook them. My husband and I eat huge salads every night before our rice-and-bean dinners, but we don’t usually have any cooked vegetables. We’ve cooked some amazing veggie dishes for Thanksgiving, but on a day-to-day basis, it’s salad or veggies-with-hummus, and that’s it. The kids like veggies with hummus – especially bell peppers* – but salad is a bit beyond them.
(*funny story: whenever I bring out peppers & hummus, Elizabeth (21 months) eats the peppers but not the hummus. Recently I pulled some peppers out of the fridge to chop up for salads, and Elizabeth appeared at my side, calling out, “Hummuuuuuuus! Hummuuuuus!” She actually wanted peppers. She thought they were called hummus.)
Around New Year’s, I read Bee Wilson’s First Bite: How We Learn to Eat, and I was reminded of something I already knew – that the best way to teach a child to like a particular food is frequent exposure. Cook broccoli a lot of times, in a lot of different ways; give the kids a taste but don’t pressure them to eat it; and eventually they’ll like it (or at least tolerate it.)
So I decided to start cooking vegetables. At least once a week, we’ll have a cooked vegetable with our dinner – ideally something in-season, but realistically, whatever I can get my hands on. I’m aiming to vary both the veggies, and the style of cooking (so that I don’t follow up the salad rut with a roasted-veggie rut). And I’m planning to share the results here with you all!
So here are our first six weeks of vegetables …
- BORING STEAMED BROCCOLI: Technically, I made this before making the weekly-vegetable resolution, but I’m counting it as our first Veggie of the Week anyway. We ran out of salad, so I threw some broccoli florets into the microwave in a covered glass dish with a little water, and cooked it on high for … I don’t know how long. Not very long. Then I brought it to the table where my kids absolutely scarfed it down! I kept having to get up and make more. It was seriously nothing but broccoli with a little salt sprinkled on top. Win! Of course, the next time I did it, they hardly touched it.
- ROASTED BABY CARROTS: Pete and I loved this one; Maggie didn’t like it. I think Elizabeth ate a few.
- PAN ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BACON: This. Was. Amazing. There was so much bacon in it that I feel bad calling it a vegetable dish … but I did NOT just eat it for the bacon. I promise! The sprouts themselves were delicious too. I was so busy enjoying it myself that I can’t remember if the kids ate it.
- BEET HUMMUS and BEETS ON OUR SALAD: I simmered some golden beets (from the farmer’s market!) and then made half of them into hummus, and put the other half on our salad. I made little salads for the girls with just avocado (which they love) and beets. Maggie, who loves hummus, tried the beet hummus but wasn’t wild about it – to tell the truth, I wasn’t either. It was fine, but too lemony for me. Pete and I really enjoyed the beets on our salad … I’m pretty sure the girls just ate the avocado and left the beets 😉
- CAULIFLOWER CHEESE: I’m not eating vegetables for the purpose of dieting, so making a delicious bubbly cheesy dish of cauliflower sounded fine to me. And it was pretty yummy! The girls both ate some. But it really did turn out to be too rich for Pete & me to really enjoy it, and nobody was really clamoring for the leftovers the next day, and it was kind of a lot of work, so … I probably won’t make this again.
- KALE SURPRISE: we ran out of salad again, so I chopped up some leftover kale from a veggie stew Pete made for his dad’s birthday, and sauteed it with some jarred minced garlic (throw a splash of water in there too, and cover it briefly, that way the kale steams & softens), and tossed in the handful of spinach leaves we had left, and it was the biggest hit we’ve had yet. I didn’t even serve any to the girls, thinking garlicky kale was probably not kid-friendly, but when they saw Pete & me eating it, they both wanted to try some. And they tried it, and loved it, and wanted more. Go figure!
So far, the kids have enjoyed maybe half of what I’ve cooked … maybe. Not really a raging success, right? But I’m OK with it. My goal is to cook vegetables, and eat them, and enjoy them, in front of the girls. I’m not sure how many years it will take before “watching parents enjoy veggies” turns into “eating and enjoying veggies themselves” … time will tell.
Any favorite vegetable recipes to share with me? I’ll be back in another month or two to share another round of ideas.