It’s finally here, the time of the year when each successive trip to the farmers market gets more colorful and beautiful. The bounty of summer is upon us guys, and I can hardly wait to cook light and bright recipes that make the most of this season.
Summer or not, however, there is a good chance that you are dealing with a picky eater who is consistently good at avoiding all your attempts to have them eat more vegetables. My children who are 6, 4, and almost 2, go through phases of loving something one week and then hating it completely the next. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to these tendencies, and I have learned not to take them personally. Ha!
Instead, I chug along and keep my creative hat on to constantly offer vegetables in new and renewed forms. Children are such sensory creatures and I try to use that to my benefit by incorporating more ways than just taste to tap into their hidden vegetable lover. Today, I wanted to share three such ideas with you.
Call it a blast from the past, but in my opinion, cheese fondue is one of those trends that desperately needs to make a comeback. Many of us might look at the bubbling cheese pot and instantly think unhealthy, but I beg for you to focus on the piles of vegetables waiting to be dipped instead. Vegetables like lightly steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, cherry tomatoes, crunchy sugar snap peas, or a rainbow of yellow, red, orange, and green peppers, to name a few. Radishes, squash, beets, sweet potatoes, and whole grain bread also make for good dipping options.
Imagine a family fondue night where each person has their own plate piled high with vegetables, ready to be skewered and dipped in the cheese. It is a social experience that automatically engages the whole family in a fun conversation that isn’t focused on “why aren’t you eating that?”. And speaking of sensory experiences to enhance taste, the act of dipping and swirling into the cheese definitely make a positive difference.
Fondue is a Swiss tradition, and so the cheeses that works best for it are Emmental and Gruyere. There are plenty of recipes on the Internet that will give you good results, including a few that don’t require fondue pots. Wooden skewers make for a great replacement for the metal ones, just so you know.
Lastly, if you are still concerned about the fattiness of the cheese, just remember that you aren’t eating it by the spoonful. What sticks to the vegetables when dipped is really not that alarming.
Earlier in March, I shared with you Six Ways To Raise Children Who Love Fruits And Vegetables. In it, I shared the virtues of grazing boards for developing healthy eating habits. I like the ease with which they come together because it is mainly assembling rather than cooking (perfect for summer), and best of all it is eye-candy that even the toughest critic might have a hard time ignoring. Much like the cheese fondue idea above, grazing boards encourage sitting together and sharing an experience that is more reminiscent of snacking and chatting, rather than sitting down for a stuffy meal.
Putting together a grazing board is easy. First, find a big base – a chopping board or a serving tray will do. Add a couple of bowls to hold hummus, yogurt dips, or spreads. Next, fill the rest of the space with boiled eggs, cheese, charcuterie, nuts, dried fruits, and of course your favorite crunchy veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, olives, endives, carrots, celery, etc. I will admit that putting out pita or bread has proved counter intuitive since that’s what my children reach for repeatedly without giving the other things a try. So hold off on the carbs if necessary and see where the rest of the grazing board takes you first.
Have you noticed that when you make a green smoothie, it usually tastes very tropical instead of chlorophyll-y. Fruits like pineapple, banana, oranges, and berries are extremely efficient in hiding the green taste. We make green smoothies a lot in our home. Once, when I had a little bit of extra left over, I froze it in a popsicle mold and what do you know, they were even better when I pulled them out on a hot day.
The key when making a green smoothie is to resist dumping too much in the blender. Don’t add more than 4 or 5 ingredients to keep the taste clean; one of them being the sweetener. For instance, spinach, almonds, pineapples, avocado and dates make a wonderful creamy texture. Coconut milk is another surprising ingredient that adds a wonderful creamy, nutty, and tropical flavor to a smoothie. You can also add some chia seeds right before freezing. Not only does it increase the protein in the smoothie popsicle, but it also makes the popsicles look pretty.
If you are running low on inspiration for a green smoothie base to freeze, just check out the menu of your favorite health food store or smoothie/juice shop. Then just play around with those ingredients at home for a wonderful and happy surprise.
So that’s it my friends. I hope that I have given you three new ideas to get your littles to eat more of their greens and purples, and all the rainbow of vegetables. Remember, that patience and repetition will always be the key. And of course, don’t forget to set a good example by making vegetables part of your daily life too. As always, I’d love to read about your trials and tribulations too so please do share down below in the comments. Until next time, happy eating.