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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vegetables, kids and UFO Phil

Yesterday, when I asked E what she wanted for dinner, she wasn't sure. So I gave her a list of options and she decided on homemade mac and cheese.
Now, here's the thing, like most kids, it used to be that anything other then the stuff that comes in boxes with either a packet of cheese powder or a foil packet of cheese paste was disgusting to her. I wanted to give her mac and cheese that actually.. you know, had cheese in it. So I found clone recipe for the boxed stuff with the cheese paste, and made that. Every time I make mac and cheese, I change one more thing until I can make mac and cheese like mom used to make, well.. sort of. In as much as I follow any recipe.
Last night was the first time I tried baking it so it go all nice and crusty on top. IIRC, mom used to use Ritz cracker crumbs and french fried onions on top. I used a mix of sharp cheddar and seasoned cereal crumbs. I use seasoned cereal crumbs instead of panko for most panko uses. They bake up nice and crispy, usually are fortified with vitamins that don't completely cook out, and they keep as long as need them once I crush up the cereal and season it.
I also let her try a piece of the turkey I was cutting up to mix into Mike's and my mac and cheese and asked if she wanted some. She said yes, so I mixed in some turkey. It was a hit. I'm getting closer step by step.
She still thinks cooked veggies are nasty, so I made two separate casserole dishes with mac and cheese in them. The bigger one for Mike and I had frozen peas in it, and she just ate raw carrots with hers.
I was talking to a friend about how to get kids to eat veggies recently. Her son dislikes them intensely. So I started thinking.. see.. getting my kids to eat veggies has never been a problem because it's never been optional. They have to at least try everything, but if they don't like it, I have raw alternatives on hand. This is because when I was a kid, my parents tried to force me to eat brussel sprouts. I *hate* brussel sprouts. I'd coat them with cheese, make loud gagging noises and complain bitterly up until the time I decided I just wasn't going to eat them. My parents told me I couldn't leave the table until I finished them. When mom woke me up at the table the next morning for school, she gave up and never tried to force me to eat something I hated again.
There it is.. my kids have always HAD to eat veggies, but I don't force feed them veggies they don't like. I give them alternatives. That helps somewhat. Another thing that helps since E has been old enough is making soups with her active participation from shopping for them on up. She will eat a lot of things she wouldn't usually if she chooses to put them in soups and she likes brightly colored soups. So it's one way to get her to eat things like tomatoes.
William loves food. He doesn't like some fermented foods, but other then that, I haven't found much he won't eat. So the veggie battle with him was convincing him "Yes, if you eat 2 lbs of carrots every day for as long as you like, you WILL turn orange so please don't."
I've camouflaged veggies for children I've babysat. Shredding spinach into meatloaf and that sort of thing, but I really prefer not to. It does work though. Spinach goes well into meatloaf and hamburgers and I still cook my pot roasts in vegetable juice. Veggie juice is one of the easiest ways I've ever found to get kids to eat their veggies. With the right seasoning, it makes a quick marinara like sauce for ramen noodles, a virgin mary made with vegetable juice and zapped for a minute makes a quick tomato soup to dunk cheese sandwiches in.
Another great way is gardening. Let kids grow their own veggies or take them to a U pick it farm and kids will generally eat stuff they harvest with pride and happiness.
A bag of frozen peas and carrots that's seasoned and then dehydrated enough to be crispy but not super hard makes a snack food that both my kids will eat happily. Get some sesame crackers and nuts and make your own trail mix with veggies mixed in.
Spaghetti squash is a LOT of fun for kids to shred, with E, she will happily eat spaghetti sauce on spaghetti squash if she got to shred it after I cooked it. I will never bake one again though. Mike wouldn't eat it baked. It got a bit slimy in parts. Piercing it and simmering it works best for us.
Mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes is pretty much the standard in my family now. I have a recipe for mashed cauliflower in free mini cookbook
I'm not really sure what do with a kid who's had the option not to eat veggies from the start. We aren't vegetarians because it's just easier to use to manage a balanced diet in our budget with meat, but we do eat a lot of veggies. So all my suggestions sort of count on a kid who grew up with vegetables in their meals.
Do you have any suggestions for getting kids to eat vegetables?
Well.. today I'm going to crochet myself a headband using some of Paton's silk/bamboo blend.
And try really hard to get rid of my current earworm. Mike's had What's New Pussycat? stuck in his head. I've had UFO Phil's Listening Coast to Coast and his Aliens Really Stink stuck in my head.


  1. Your article should definitely be read by anyone searching for more information pertaining to this subject.

  2. haha cool a fellow ufo phil fan... as for veggies as a kid i just hated them as im sure all kids parents made me eat them as much as i didnt want to they would usually give me the opition to eat them like "well if you eat them you can have desert if not then NO desert" or eat your veggies too and you can stay up an extra hour or play your games longer" etc etc things like that. now some ppl would think that this isnt a good way to make kids eat there veggies.
    but i feel it was a good way for me.


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