Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tips and Gadgets: How I helped kids to eat more greens...and a recipe

Last post by Darienne was a delightful example of how to give a little help with kid's appetite for veggies. I am also a believer: If you offer them veggies at the right time and with a beautiful presentation, they will eat it. Add to that the few years that all of our kids have been seeing trays full of veggies besides cookies trays in birthday parties and playdates. That was also certainly a big step towards familiarity with the greens and colorful edible plants.

Here in my kitchen things are somehow different, so that Darienne's solution will probably take a special momentum to work - my kids rarely beg for food even when very hungry. I mainly have to call them 3 to 5 times before they come to the table. And when they start eating, they do their job with some interruptions, mainly to play or to annoy each other. So I mostly cook in peace. And eat ...ahem...  in a not so peaceful mood.

The way I lately found to awake their appetite for more greens (mainly because the greens are the ones they may separate in their plate) was to start talking about salads an veggies as I would talk about chocolate. And also I started eating my lunch with tons of greens on my plate, in front of them, and could not stop giving the best review about what I was eating. Yummm, how delicious... etc.
It took me one week to convert the 5.5- and 3.5-year-old boys in occasional salad eaters.

Last weekend, for an instance, they were thrilled to try salad  for "grown-ups" at my favorite local pizzeria. A simple version of a Caesar's salad came all pretty in a nice bowl and the bites of croutons made my task easy. They found out that the fresh romaine lettuce was as crunchy as the bits of toasted garlic bread, and the Parmesan cheese also was a great note to attract them.
When pizza arrived they were so happy - they ate their salad and were stealing cherry tomatoes from their dad's House Salad.

I also include veggies in their favorite dishes. Fresh zucchini, broccoli and spinach always appear mingled with pasta, meatballs or meatloaf. They can see them all, nothing is hidden or over-processed to be acceptable. When very inspired and having more than the usual 20 minutes to cook, I can do what I used to call "colorful" rice. The irresistible rice has lots of different colors in it, and they eat all of them.

Rice of Many Colors

What we have here is a kind of cute mix of colors, but you can do with whatever fresh is in your fridge. Rice and scrambled eggs always have been a quick choice for me when I was a kid. Also kids can help you to cook it, stirring throwing the ingredients in the skillet or even chopping them with a Progressive knife.

1 tablespoon canola oil or olive oil
1/2 cup tiny cubes of kid's favorite smoked cut (tofu, lean bacon, ham, sausage or really any kind of protein
4 strings of green beans, cut in tiny slices
2 tablespoons green peas (or edamame)
2 tablespoon red cabbage
Kosher salt to taste
2 eggs
4 cups cooked organic brown rice, cooked as directed by packet
Spring onion (or chives), cut in rings to decorate
1 tomato, cubed, seeded, to decorate

Heat oil in a skillet and sauté your choice of protein and stir-fry all veggies. Set them aside, in a corner of the skillet. Add eggs and scramble them. Add rice and mix all to a colorful pattern. Serve in a bowl with spring onions and tomatoes on top.


Myrna said...

That's a clever dish indeed, and also good looking. I enjoyed very much that you wrote: "They can see them all, nothing is hidden or over-processed to be acceptable.". This is great! It is also a good educative principle: to offer truth. Thanks!

Cindy Rowland said...

What's a progressive knife?

Anna said...

Hi Cindy, I forgot to include a link about this knife. And I am going to do it right now! Darienne posted about it a long time ago: It is a lettuce knife, serrated and made of plastic, and Progressive (capital letter with that, oops) is one of the brands.


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