Healthy Meals

What were all those parents of picky eaters whining about? Getting kids to love vegetables is easy.

And then, of course, reality set in. I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story. Chances are you live it every day.

So I’ve spent a lot of time struggling with how to get my kid to once again embrace vegetables. Some folks advocate hiding the vegetables, but I’m not a big fan of mixing pureed produce into brownies and mac and cheese.

I don’t like the message it sends. I don’t like teaching kids that vegetables — and therefore healthy foods — are something to be hidden, to be eaten only when deceived. I’d rather my kid reject broccoli on the plate than eat it pureed into a cookie.

There is a middle ground. But you have to give up the idea of kids loving their veggies. Someday, perhaps. For now, they just need to tolerate them. As I say to my son all too often, “You don’t have to like it. You just have to eat it.”

My trick? I call it partnering. As in, partnering vegetables with foods they like. This is different from hiding. The veg is there, full-frontal. But it is paired up with something they won’t just eat, but actually crave.

That’s what sets this apart from that old standby of trying to entice kids to eat baby carrots by letting them dip them in ranch dressing. Sure, kids like the dip, but few would list it among their favorite foods. It just isn’t enough of an enticement.

The foods you need to enlist in your fight are the ones they love. Particularly if you hope to get your kids to eat vegetables at lunch, when you aren’t there to model good behavior (or threaten).

So here are 10 lunch box-friendly ideas for partnering vegetables with foods your kids actually like.

1. Wrap it

A sandwich wrap is a fine place to stash foods they love. And hate. Greens or shredded carrots (don’t push your luck by doing both) are naturals here. Pair them with their favorite meat or cheese (or both) and a splash of a coveted condiment.

2. Chop it

As in, a chopped salad. I know, veg averse kids don’t generally care for salads. But think beyond traditional and find a way to work with the foods your kid loves. My little guy craves steak. So I made him a salad of lean (cold) bison steak, chopped mango, diced onion and a few finely chopped greens. I gave it a savory vinaigrette dressing and he didn’t mind the veggies.

3. Sushi it

This is a variation of the wrap, but kids love the novelty of it. I slather cream cheese or peanut sauce on a whole-wheat tortilla, then top it with greens, deli meat and cheese, then roll it into a tight log. Then just cut it into sushi-like bites. You also could use strips of red bell pepper instead of the greens.

4. Soup it

Not, vegetable soup. That’s asking for failure. But what about chili with chunks of butternut squash or chopped tomato? Or even chicken soup with celery or sweet potato? Easy dinners that make thermos-perfect leftovers.

5. Sauce it

Sad, but true — cheese sauce (with crumbled bacon, if you are so inclined) really does make everything more appealing. Nuke some leftover roasted or steamed veggies, pop them in a thermos, add cheese (or cheese sauce). You’re good.

6. Spud it

Baked potatoes don’t really count as a healthy veg, but they love being topped by them. Nuke a potato, then pop it piping hot in a thermos. Accompany with cheese, salsa and a chopped veg.

7. Quiche it

When you’re eating something as amazing as a cheesy (bacony?) quiche, you don’t care that there are onions or asparagus or mushrooms in it. And quiche is the world’s most perfect lunch food. It packs great hot or cold.

8. Noodle it

Whether hot or cold, pasta always helps the medicine go down. Toss chopped cooked (leftover) veggies with pasta. Then nuke it and toss with cheese in a thermos. Or do the same blend cold with vinaigrette or bottled peanut sauce.

9. Nacho it

Assemble a variety of nacho toppings — some meats, cheeses, sour cream, a packet of guacamole, and of course salsa and a chopped veg. Accompany with tortilla chips and let kids build their own nachos as lunch. Easy for you, too.

10. Sushi it, Take 2

This time, for real. Most grocers these days have sushi counters and can make to order. So grab a package of brown rice sushi with avocado and whatever veg your kid likes. Effortless for you. Delicious for the kid. Don’t forget the soy sauce.

November 9, 2015
veggies for kids

Creative Ways To Prepare Veggies for Kids

What were all those parents of picky eaters whining about? Getting kids to love vegetables is easy. And then, of course, reality set in. I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story. Chances are you live it every day. So I’ve spent a lot of time struggling with how to get my kid to once again embrace vegetables. Some folks advocate hiding the vegetables, but I’m not a big fan of mixing pureed produce into brownies and mac and cheese. I don’t like the message it sends. I don’t like teaching kids that vegetables — and therefore healthy foods — are something to be hidden, to be eaten only when deceived. I’d rather my kid reject broccoli on the […]
September 4, 2015
breakfast burrito

Morning Fix: Breakfast Burrito

Ingredients 2 eggs 1 tbsp  milk 2 green onions, chopped half red or green bell pepper, diced ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese 2 small whole wheat tortillas pinch salt pinch freshly ground black pepper Procedure: Make the egg mixture the night before so all that needs to be done is a warm up in the microwave and wrap in a tortilla to head out to school or work. Step 1 In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Stir in onion, pepper, salt and pepper. Step 2 Spray a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium low heat. Pour egg mixture into skillet and as egg begins to set, use a spatula to gently push cooked portions […]
September 4, 2015
molo soup

Rainy Day Molo Soup

Ingredients: 2 lbs ground pork 2 lbs chicken 1 ½ cups water chestnut, minced 6 tablespoons fish sauce 1 tablespoon salt 1 cup shrimp, sliced, chopped, or minced ½ cup annatto seeds (soaked in ¾ cup water) 1 cup minced onions (¾ cup goes to the filling while ¼ is for sautéing) 2 packs wonton wrapper (about 100 counts) ½ cup minced green onions 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons) ½ tablespoon ground black pepper 1 piece raw egg ¼ cup toasted garlic to garnish (please see Arroz Caldo post on how to toast garlic) 4 tablespoons cooking oil 12 cups water (8 cups to boil chicken, 4 cups to be added to the soup) Procedure: Pour water in […]
September 4, 2015
butternut squash soup

Fast& Easy Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients: Butternut squash, 2, about 4 lb (2 kg) total weight, peeled and cut into chunks Unsalted butter, 4 tablespoons  (2 oz/60 g) Yellow onion, 1, chopped Ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon Ginger, 2-inch (5-cm) piece, peeled and grated Salt and ground white pepper Ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon Brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Vegetable broth, 4 cups (32  fl oz/1  l) Sour  cream, ½ cup (4 oz/125 g) Fresh chives or flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped, for garnish Procedure: In a frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Put the squash chunks in the slow cooker and sprinkle with […]