Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Turning Children on to Vegetables - VegFamily

If you are an educator, aunt, uncle, babysitter, parent, or know a child at all, this is worth a read. Basic stuff to think about, but effective!
For example:

1. Encourage an interest in vegetables.
  • Grow some in your own garden or even on your balcony (check out the bounty I get to enjoy every year!)
  • Bring children on an excursion to a farm so they can see how these foods are grown.
  • Go to a “you-pick” farm to get corn, peas and other favorites.
  • Let your child help pick out vegetables at the grocery store or farmers market.
  • Bring your children to ethnic stores and explore different types of
    unfamiliar vegetables. Ask for information on how to prepare them.
  • Be excited about vegetables yourself – your example is a powerful teacher.

2. Provide plenty of vegetables.
  • Turn vegetables into “convenience foods” by chopping celery, carrots,
    radishes, broccoli, etc. and keeping them in a child-friendly container in the crisper - don't forget to have a little blow of salsa or hummus for dipping!
  • Include vegetables with lunch each day – a few raw veggies, vegetable soup, wraps, pitas or grain, vegetable and protein salads all go over well. I personally loved pitas with hummus, roasted red peppers and alfalfa sprouts - still do!
  • Serve vegetables as snacks. Edamame (green soybeans in their
    shell) is almost always a hit, as are "fun" veggies like cherry tomatoes, almost any raw veggie and dip, "ants on a log" or tuna / salmon / chicken / egg / tofu salad stuffed cucumber.
3. Prepare vegetables in (a variety of) child-friendly ways.
  • Prepare vegetables so that they are tender-crisp rather than mushy - most kids actually prefer their veggies raw, so you may not have to cook them at all!
  • Roasted vegetables of almost any kind are sweet and delicious without added sugar - broccoli and cauliflower also lose any "sufur" smell or taste this way! Even chilled, leftover roasted veggies like sweet potatoes, winter squash and cauliflower are delicious and easy to eat.
  • Sauce it up with simple cheese (or "uncheese") sauces, toasted breadcrumbs or even pizza sauce

One thing the article doesn't really touch on is the concept of "hiding" vegetables in other things - I personally don't believe in it, given that as a practice it tends to breed distrust and never teaches the true delicious potential of quality produce. Also, and very importantly - be persistent. A child - like an adult - has to experience something several times before it becomes habitual and the possibility of developing a preference occurs. If a child truly does not like a vegetable prepared in every form, try a different one! 5-10 a day, any way, is the goal!

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    About Me

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    I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

    Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!

    Today, my love for teaching is branching out even further - I'm in Montessori training to solidify my love for the system and working with children and families!