Rant - December, 2006 - Joanne

Don’t Sweat the Vegetables

(and some hints/tricks to
getting a young child to eat vegetables)

While this is not really a rant, I've recently had a discussion with another Mom about vegetables and it brought this issue to mind. Not that the subject isn't on my mind – I can create perfect-world scenarios just like everyone else.

My son Trent waffles between eating selected vegetables and not – he’s a protein boy at heart. He will sometimes eat his weight in broccoli or cauliflower, and sometimes not. I’m not proud, I've occasionally snuck things he usually dislikes into meatballs (like shaved squash or zucchini or carrots) and I make sure that pasta sauce has some kind of fresh vegetables cooked it in so he gets the essence of the vegetable if not the fiber.

I think vegetable soup or homemade broth is the easiest fast vegetable-rich vehicle. Trent loves soup, as most children do. Smoothies seem to be the best way to pass off fruit to non-fruit eaters. A garden is also a great vehicle to fresh fruit and vegetable eating. Trent will eat fresh peas in the garden and devoured the summer raspberry crop with glee. Strawberries are easy for us to grow and a huge hit in-season, as are cherry tomatoes.

There are theories that "super-tasting" children are more sensitive to the bitterness in vegetables, which may explain some aversion. Cooked vegetables are less bitter than raw. There are tons of vegetables out there to choose from. Try something odd and make it fun and make sure that you eat/try it too. We have fresh garbanzo beans in season that "talk" – I wiggle the shells to say "don't eat me" and the beans inside magically disappear. Edamame (soy beans) are a good vegetable to try. (But choose organic; otherwise they’re likely GMO soybeans.) They resemble peas and can be shelled at the table. It usually takes 3 or 4 times to try something to make a decision whether you "like" it. We ask him to try a bite and then don't push it. Try a bit of soy sauce on it. Trent adores avocado and broccoli in soy sauce or balsamic vinegar.

Another trick is to have the child mix the salad with clean hands – it’s hard not to taste it when your hands are covered in it. Are we master parents? No way. Trent eats some vegetables and some fruit. We all do the best we can on a day to day basis. Some days are good fruit and vegetable days, some days are not. Good luck.
Fava Beans

Some Resources:

Dr. Sears on Serving Vegetables

Dr. Sears on
Growing a Garden

Golden Beets

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