Have you ever wanted to get your kids to try new vegetables? Does your husband stick with his old favorites like corn and green beans for all meals? Introducing new vegetables into your family meals can be a challenge, especially if you have picky eaters. But it can be done!
Here are three easy ways to serve your family new vegetables that they will eat and love!
Roast Vegetables to bring out their sweetness:
Let’s face it – some vegetables are downright bitter. Our usual methods of steaming or boiling vegetables only increases the bitterness. But roasting veggies is a great way to caramelize the natural sugars found in many vegetables. With Fall just around the corner, try picking up root and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips,or kale.
Each of these items can be roasted at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes with a little salt and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). In the Spring, you can roast asparagus with a sprinkle of olive oil and lemon pepper for a savory side dish.
I tried this recently with a batch of Brussels Sprouts I had picked up at my produce co-op. I had never eaten Brussels Sprouts before, but I started by roasting them in the oven with some olive oil, lemon pepper, and salt. Let me tell you – I almost didn’t share them with my family, they were that good! As the sugars developed, they grew sweeter and softer to eat with no unpleasant odors. Yum-O!
Pour on the sauce:
A little ranch dressing can go a long way in helping your kids (or spouses!) try new vegetables. Pick your kids favorite salad dressing or condiment and let them dip away. My daughter dipped her broccoli in the marinara sauce last night -not conventional, but she ate every bite! My oldest son is currently on a mustard kick, but if it gets him to eat asparagus, why not?
When you can, try low-fat options, but the main goal here is to let them dress up the veggies to help them go down easier. Adding a familiar condiment can help kids feel brave enough to try new foods.
OK – now I’ll admit this is a sneaky way to get your family to try new vegetables. But if they are truly resistant, try hiding it in a favorite dish! If your family love casseroles, simply add a small amount of a new vegetable in the casserole and serve away. If they notice, ask them if they like it. You don’t even have to tell them what “it” is. If they enjoyed it, you might casually mention “oh, did you know there was cauliflower in that?”
Jessica Seinfeld, author of the children’s cookbook “Deceptively Delicious” hides all sorts of fruits and veggies in her food by adding pureed vegetables of the same color to traditional kid friendly items. For example – she adds pureed cauliflower to macaroni and cheese.
The family gets all of the vitamins and nutrients of the extra vegetables, and they don’t usually know the difference. Check out the cookbook for ideas on using the pureed food technique to introduce painlessly introduce more vegetables into your family’s meals.
If subterfuge is not in your nature, tell the family that you are trying a new recipe and you really want their opinion on it. Be sure the recipe includes favorite and familiar flavors – like crumb topping, or lots of cheese if that’s what your family likes. Familiar flavors and textures can make it easier to try new foods. You might even have the kids help you find new recipes and help you prepare them, since kids are more likely to eat something they helped make.
Don’t get discouraged!
There is no time like the present to start introducing new vegetables to your family. But remember – it takes most kids (and many adults) a minimum of ten tries before they develop a taste for something. The French culture explains it this way “your taste buds haven’t learned to like this food yet”. Keep trying the foods, and try different preparations, until you find a recipe your family loves. Then try it again and again with different foods. Pretty soon you’ll say “Green beans? We haven’t had those in forever!”