You know the routine. Opening up the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator to fill it up with produce from your box of good and, lo and behold, there are the beets from the last delivery—limp, wilted, and once again destined for the compost. You know that you would eat them, but no one else will eat them if you prepared them.
Now, growing up I didn’t like things like beets, kale, or other green things. For me, the only thing to do with beets was paint my plate, lips, and face with them, until my mom caught sight of it and then I still had to eat them, which I did, but with great reluctance. (As a child, I discovered that if you plug your nose when eating foods you can’t stand, you can’t taste them as well so they’re easier to swallow!) My sister, however, loved beets and sometimes she was nice enough to eat mine for me. Today, I eat beets, along with many other veggies, probably largely due to my mother’s persistence in getting me to eat my veggies.
Good food should be something one enjoys! Often, certain veggies are an acquired taste—it takes time before we come to the point of enjoying them. If your family has recently made the switch to healthy eating, it can be a bit of a challenge changing your diet from processed, and/or high-sugar foods, to one that includes home-cooked meals with organic ingredients and more fresh vegetables.
A balanced diet is important when it comes to your personal health, but it is doubly important in your children’s. Diseases that were only heard of with adults over 50 are now a legitimate concern among our country’s youth. What your child is eating now is laying the foundation for later in life, and your behavior and attitude about food will make an impression on them every time you sit down at the dinner table.
For a three year old, a plate of veggies may not seem very exciting. Changing perception can go a long way in getting your children to eat healthy and balanced meals. A plate of veggies that is colorful and topped with a homemade cheese sauce can be very fun. Incorporating the flavors s/he is familiar with and enjoys may be the difference between food introduction failure and success, and first impressions are very important when it comes to introducing new foods.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” This rings true in the food world. Remember, taste buds do change over time. Also, by trying different ways of serving up the veggies your children may finish the entire serving the second or third try, despite having a declared hatred for it! The secret is to either make the vegetables tasty or go completely unnoticed. Serving up veggies on their own may not be that appetizing, but as soon as you throw a good dressing into the mix or pile them into a tasty casserole, you can enjoy watching as they are happily devoured!
Consider grating or chopping veggies to make them go unnoticed. Broth-based soups are a nutritional wonder and when puréed many things that have difficult textures are easier to swallow. Finding creative names for veggies is a great way to add a fun perspective to eating. Cool names can make cool foods: “dinosaur broccoli trees,” “elf trees,” “power peas,” or “X-ray vision carrots.” Getting them to try something new is 90% of getting them to like it!
In summary, when it comes to changing your family’s eating habits, Mom, you are the one who makes it happen. You are changing your family’s futures for the better. And you are doing an awesome job!
Marty, for the Klesick Family Farm