Recipes and Tips for Healthier Living and Smarter Budgeting

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kids and Veggies

Not long ago I got talking to a friend about children and vegetables. She used to live in Taiwan and noticed that kids there don't have any issues with eating vegetables. They don't even think about not wanting to eat them because that's what everyone eats. I think this is so wonderful and wish our culture were more like that! As a country, we'd be so much better off in so many ways. 

When you study the evolution and disintegration of the American diet, it becomes obvious why our children turn up their noses at the green stuff (and yellow and orange and...). Adults aren't even eating the recommended amount, so how would their kids learn to like them?

When I was a child my family ate veggies often, particularly fresh vegetables from the garden. My mom had collected numerous squash recipes to make things interesting and to try to help us like squash. For me, at least, this worked. Since we didn't have much money, vegetables along with wheat and rice made up the foundation (and majority) of our diet. (Interesting how the least inexpensive, most natural foods are often the most healthful!)

I have raised my own children similarly. Now that we live mostly off a weekly Bountiful Basket, we have increased our vegetable consumption to the proper level (as I discussed here), but I served veggies to my children before that and we have always grown them in our garden. So why do my kids claim to dislike so many of them? Honestly, I feel sometimes like they're getting pickier as time goes on!

Back in September I was so frustrated with this I asked for ideas on how to get children to eat squash, in particular. Unfortunately, that is still an issue at my house. So whenever we have some on hand I try to sneak it into the meal without my kids knowing. Sometimes this works better than others, but what I have found that is most consistently effective is putting squash in spaghetti sauce. As long as I don't add too much and I blend it up well, the redness of the sauce disguises it. And since the sauce we use the most already has lots of veggies in it, my kids are used to seeing a sauce with textures.

So, I'll keep plugging away and keep serving all varieties of veggies, regardless of the complaints. And I'll keep looking for yummy, more kid-friendly recipes to try to change my children's mindset. I guess the fact that my 4-year-old will finally eat carrots and cucumbers with dip shows we're making progress...albeit slowly. :)

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