veggie toddler - a young child learning how to walk and eat vegetables, not necessarily a wobbly vegetarian.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

White Broccoli

When I prepare a food that I haven’t yet served to my kids, I sometimes attempt to market it in terms that are already familiar to them. For example, when I steamed cauliflower for the first time, I introduced it to my kids as white broccoli. I figured since they eat plenty of broccoli without complaining, why not align the new vegetable with an already accepted one?
“It’s just like broccoli,” I argued to my kids, “but white!”

My kids looked suspiciously at the white florets but eventually took a bite. My 2-year-old son gave it a dramatic “blech,” while my 4-year-old daughter went back for more.

“It does taste like white broccoli,” she confirmed and then tried to coax her little brother into one more bite.

Fast forward a year when one day I open my weekly box of organic vegetables and find three heads of cauliflower. For dinner that night I bring steamed cauliflower to the table.

“Tonight,” I tell my kids, “we have white broccoli.”

“I know that’s not what it’s called, Mom,” says my 5-year-old who acts like a teenager.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“I know what it is,” she says as she takes a bite.

“You do?” I ask.

“It’s called cauliflower, Mom!” she says in triumph.

Meanwhile my son has removed all of the cauliflower from his plate. White broccoli or not, he wants nothing to do with it. I resolve to serve cauliflower more often.

My daughter likes it plain and steamed. My son, not at all.

My husband and I, however, prefer a little more flavor.

Garlicky Cauliflower

1 large cauliflower head, rinsed and trimmed into florets

3 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix cauliflower, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic in a bowl to evenly coat. Transfer into a baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the florets are softened. Remove from oven and sprinkle in cheese. Serve warm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting to know unfamiliar vegetables

There is a lot of talk of super foods these days. Those are food that have been identified as packed with more vitamins and nutrients than most other food. Many nutritionists remind us to eat our super foods. However, if I ate only blueberries, broccoli and walnuts I’m not sure how healthy I would actually be.

Super foods are great, no doubt. But eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and grains is still the best way to go. Nutrition fads come and go because they all claim to hold the key to healthful living. No one wants to know the boring truth which is that there is no one key; if you eat a wide variety of fresh food, simply prepared with good oils, in moderation, chances are you will be pretty darn healthy.

I always take note of Super Foods (yogurt, nuts, sweet potato, berries, and broccoli for example) and make sure I include them in our diet. However I like to bring vegetables out of the super hero realm and integrate them into our boring every day life. I strive to make eating vegetables in our house to be no big deal rather than doing a song and dance every time something green hits the table. I’ll take Clark Kent over Superman any day.

So then, let’s talk about what a wide variety of vegetables means. I plead guilty to cooking (and therefore eating) the same old vegetables day in and day out. I eat what I know how to prepare and therefore only know how to prepare what I eat!

It takes effort, self confidence, and a little bit of inspiration to get me to buy a vegetable that I have never or seldom prepared. This year I tried artichoke, brussel sprouts, rutabaga, and collard greens. My family willingly tasted some of the “new” vegetables but certainly not all of them. The key is repetition. If I get comfortable with preparing vegetables that are unfamiliar to me, then eventually my family will too.

What vegetables have you tried new this year or don’t usually serve because you find it challenging to prepare?