My thanks to the sponsor of this post: Hidden Valley® Ranch, also known among parents of finicky children as the "vegetable delivery vehicle."
The idea of "vegetable recipes for kids" makes me squirm because it implies that vegies need special treatment if kids are going to like them. It rubs up against my belief that kids should pretty much grow up eating what their parents eat. Eventually, they'll like it. Right?
Unfortunately, one's parenting philosophy doesn't always fit one's actual children. After more mealtime arguments than I care to admit, I had to adjust my vegetable thinking (and cooking) and take a long-term approach to raising vegie-lovers.
For us, that means:
- Lots of different vegetables prepared in lots of different ways
- Serving vegetables and fruits separately
- Clear expectations (a taste of everything on the plate, even a small taste)
- Low pressure (no wheedling, scolding or finger-wagging; hard to resist, I know)
- Making vegies a consistent part of most meals and snacks
The good news is that my kids' favorite vegetable dishes are also the easiest and quickest to prepare. Here are my favorite kid-friendly vegetable recipes…the ones that get cooked — and eaten (or at least tasted) — week after week.
Steam fresh or frozen broccoli florets till tender-crisp and bright green. Drain if necessary, then drizzle with a bit of toasted sesame oil and soy sauce.
Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"
Boil fresh caulilower florets in a small amount of chicken stock till tender. Drain all but a few tablespoons of stock and mash or purée the cauliflower with some cream or milk and butter. Add back a little stock if necessary to adjust the consistency. Season with salt and pepper (you may not need to depending on the flavor of the stock).
(Roasted cauliflower is also delicious.)
Preheat the oven to 425. Toss trimmed, fresh or frozen and thawed asparagus spears with olive oil and salt (if the asparagus is damp, pat it dry first). Distribute on an oiled baking sheet so they're not touching, then roast till browned, tender and sizzling.
Edamame is the Japanese name for green soybeans in the pod. They're sold in Asian supermarkets and the frozen vegetable section of many grocery stores. We buy ours at Trader Joe's. Once cooked, edamame are eaten by popping a pod into your mouth then pulling it back out through your teeth.
Boil edamame in salted water for about 5 minutes. Drain, sprinkle with a little salt if you like, and serve as a snack or side vegetable.
Photo credit: La Fuji Mama
Crudités With a Surprise
Peel or trim celery stalks, carrot sticks, sugar snap peas and a "wildcard" vegetable your kids have never tried: red pepper strips, black olives, cucumber spears, endive "boats," thin wedges of purple cabbage. Fill the celery stalks with cream cheese and slice into two-bite lengths. If your kids like dip, add a small bowlful. Arrange on a platter and serve as an afternoon snack or first course at dinner.
Sweet Potato Fries
Preheat oven to 450. Peel and slice sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch sticks. Pat dry, then toss with olive oil and salt. Distribute on an oiled baking sheet so they're not touching, then roast for about 10-15 minutes without disturbing them. Turn, then roast till browned and tender (another 10 minutes or so).
Cabbage, Carrot and Zucchini Threads
Julienne or shred green cabbage, a carrot, and a zucchini (a mandoline really helps; I've used an inexpensive Swissmar Borner V-Slicer for years). The goal is to create long-ish threads as opposed to short, grated bits. Heat some olive oil in a large saute pan or wok. When hot, add the vegetables and a sprinkling of salt and saute till the vegetables are tender-crisp. Season with a little more salt and pepper and serve as-is, or mix with pasta that has been tossed with butter and Parmesan, or with a little soy sauce and sesame oil.
Photo credit: Redacted Recipes
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Slowly but surely, my kids are coming to like vegetables. More importantly, we enjoy our meals together…and that's the best long-term strategy for encouraging healthy eating.
I'm always on the lookout for new ideas. What are your kids' favorite vegetable recipes? Please share in the comments!
This post is sponsored by Hidden Valley® Ranch. Discover how you can make vegetables delectable!