“Eat your vegetables!” Those simple words have the power to make some children quake in their Sketchers, and still others plan a revolt at dinnertime. And I’ll admit–when I was younger, I wasn’t fan of healthy eating, and it would have my dream come true if chocolate would’ve been included in the major food groups. “After all,” I’d reason with adults, “Cocoa comes from a plant, and that makes it a veggie.”
But having veggies at the dinner table shouldn’t be a hassle, and definitely not the beginning shot for a parent vs. child war. Below are a few simple tricks and recipes that will make your family’s veggie experience a little more pleasant.
Ways to Make Veggies More Kid-Friendly
The name implies beauty, but for many kids this veggie is to be used as a replica of the human brain at science fairs, and not for eating. And admittedly, the smell of it cooking doesn’t make it more appealing. Getting the family to eat this requires a bit of trickery. So why not turn cauliflower into mashed potatoes? Who doesn’t like a helping of spuds?
Break a head of cauliflower into florets, and steam until tender. Place the veggie into a food processor, add 2 tablespoons of cream cheese. Add 1/4 cup sour cream, and pulse until the cauliflower is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Spoon into a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste and stir well.
Going on a picnic or to a family gathering? Try this recipe for Fake Potato Salad.
Sounds like something a chicken would put in a garden, right? Though it’s colorful and looks like something from another planet, most kids I met don’t hesitate to give this veggie a thumbs down. But here’s a couple of ways to make it more kid-friendly.
The first is to roll eggplant sticks in seasoned breadcrumbs. Served with a side a delicious marinara, it’s a great alternative to bread sticks.
A few weeks ago my family and I were invited to a spur of the moment party, and I didn’t have time to prepare an elaborate dish. I cut a large eggplant into 1/4 inch circles, brushed them with olive oil, then broiled them on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes per side. Then I seasoned on side lightly with Tone’s Tuscan Garlic Blend, and topped it with sun-dried tomatoes, cheddar, and Italian cheese. Baking at 425 degrees until the cheese was melted completed the dish.
Ah yes, even though this is prepared as a vegetable, because it comes from a flower, it’s classified as a fruit. Perhaps that explains the subtle sweetness in the younger, smaller squash. Whatever the reason, this food has wonderful health benefits, and seems to shine in breads. If you feel extremely sneaky, it can be added to brownies.
And if you’re gluten-sensitive, have a try at this zucchini crust. It has a quiche-like texture, but seems to go over well with the kids.
So, I’ve shared a few of my favorite recipes/tips. What’s yours?
Debbie Roppolo is an award-winning baker, cookbook/children’s author, and an award-winning humorist. She resides in the Texas Hill country with her husband and two children.