December 5, 2009

The Number One Way to Get Kids (and grown-ups!) to Eat Their Veggies

The blog "It's Not About Nutrition" posted a great article, stating that new research suggests that the reason we don't eat more fruits and veggies is because we don't think of them.  Most people only buy from a relatively short list of possibilities, such as apples, bananas, carrots and oranges, failing to broaden their horizons to the many great options available.

The solution she suggests is to use this vegetable list on the US Department of Agriculture's site and make a game of it with your kids.  See how many veggies you can try.  I really like this idea, but it has one huge pitfall: what if you don't know a thing about mesclun or couldn't make something edible out of a hubbard squash to save your life?

You see, trying new vegetables isn't going to do you or your kids any good if they are poorly prepared.  And that's where my tip comes in: watch a cooking show.

For example, Alton Brown's Food Network show "Good Eats" is a kid friendly program full of science, humor and great recipes.  (All the episodes are available on, by the way.)  He addresses such misunderstood and neglected veggies as peas, okra, leafy greens, and Brussels sprouts.

I suppose this tip is a little weird and smacks of advertising, but it has actually been my experience.  As a direct result of watching Good Eats recently, I have purchased (for the first time in my adult life) fresh spinach, Brussels sprouts, split peas and acorn squash.  And they were all so good that I've gone back for more!  It isn't just trying a vegetable that matters, it's liking the vegetable.

So don't let your veggie preparation be the wedge that keeps your family and good health apart.  Find a cook book, a cooking show or a friend you trust and pick a recipe to try.  Get your kids involved in shopping for the veggies, picking the recipe, and cooking in the kitchen, too.  Kids have a lot more invested in a meal they made from start to finish, and their enthusiasm is a factor your don't want to ignore.

So take a look at the vegetable list (or at the produce at your grocery store) and try something new this weekend.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

P.S.  Take a peek at one of these quirky Good Eats videos with your kids for inspiration.  Look for part two of each half-hour episode in the related videos on the right.  I have sampled at least one recipe per episode and found them excellent.  Enjoy!

Give Peas a Chance
A Cabbage Sprouts in Brussels
Field of Greens

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