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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Who Says Kids Don't Eat Vegetables?

Uploaded: Jul 23, 2014
East Palo Alto Library hosted Eat More Vegetables last week, part of the San Mateo County Library Summer Healthy Cooking series, taught by yours truly. Class started with only one young mother and her 2-year old daughter in the first row. Oh well?.so much for interest.

But quickly people began to fill in seats, except they weren't very tall people. In fact, not only was more than half the class really short, sitting in front of me were the biggest veggie critics of ALL TIME. (i.e. kids, ages 3-9)

Uh oh.

I don't have children, but I've cooked for them for years. People say, "kids don't eat vegetables." But over and over again that myth has been debunked. Not sure if it's because I play the heavy; "I'm a mean chef with a knife just like you see on TV and you will at least try this," but something works. Guess it's time to test the theory again.

After a quick adult-to-kid-approach switch-a-roo, class begins?..

"Vegetables have secrets, and the secret is that vegetables are? [psss psss into their ear. Pass it on." Food Party regulars - you know the secret. And when you combine it with the ol' "whisper into ear" shtick, it always hooks the kids.

I had them from hello.

Class goes on and we cook up:
Kale Almond Craisin Rollups
Candy Carrot Bites
Grilled Cauliflower with store bought Cilantro Pesto
Greens Saut� #1 with olive oil, tomato, basil and garlic
Green Saut� #2 with coconut oil, turmeric, cayenne and nutritional yeast. Both saut�s from the Easy Seasoning Handout.

What can I say? ALL the kids (of different ethnic backgrounds) liked ALL the vegetables. They were really into it. I was surprised! But better to hear from them. The young mother in the front row was first to come up at the end.

"I am so excited. I have been trying to get my daughter to eat more vegetables. Tonight she ate everything."

Below are two of our kid-approved creations. Try them with your family. We'd love to hear the results.

Summary: KIDS EAT VEGETABLES. But don't forget to work in that secret??..

Kale Almond Craisin Rollups
makes approx. 25

1 bunch Dinosaur Kale (this is the longer leaf kale, less curly on the edges)
1 jar almond, peanut or cashew butter
1 � cup of craisins
Wash kale and cut leaves in half the long way, removing the inner rib.
Spread on some nut butter onto each kale leaf, top with some craisins, roll up and munch! If taking to work or school, secure with a toothpick.

Candy Carrot Bites

6 large carrots, peeled and roll cut into same size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375�F. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Make sure carrots are coated well (use your hands to mix it all together). Put onto a baking sheet flat (all carrots touching the pan, not bunched up on top of each other). Roast 30 - 40 minutes. Peer in and check status while cooking. Move the carrots with a spatula half way thru the roasting process. Spray with water bottle sprayer as/if needed. Baked till browned around edges and tender.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 8:54 am

In my experience, kids will eat vegetables as long as the parents have the attitude that they will eat them. If parents assume that the kids need to eat different foods because they are kids then that is what the kids will believe too.

To get kids to eat well, stop giving them snacks for the 2 hours before mealtime. If the meals are taken sitting the family together at a table without tv or other distractions and it becomes a fun family time, the kids will automatically enjoy the time and eat the same food as the adults without thinking.

Unfortunately, I think advertising, continual snacking and the demise of family mealtimes in my opinion, are the real reason kids become picky eaters. If they have had their appetite curbed by snacks and know that they are going to get a snack soon after a meal, what reason do they have in eating any particular thing at any given time?

Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

My sister, a nurse, was looking over the questionnaire filled in by a child patient -

Food Allergies: veggies without dip

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Well said Mother of 4 and Steve - Sad, it's not even funny.

Posted by anne, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I think parents who have no taste, literally, turn kids off of vegetables. When DH would cook for DB (dear baby), he would never taste anything and then would wonder why our toddler wouldn't eat the things he had slaved over. We realized DB could reliably tell the difference between white zucchini (eat) and regular zucchini (not eat), even though both were peeled and looked identical on the plate. If I was honest, I could also tell, the latter being more bitter usually. I tasted or I insisted DH taste everything before serving DB, and therefore learned DH seemed not to really even taste the veggies for his own consumption, having been programmed since childhood to view them like icky medicine, I think.

DB would happily eat ground up beet greens and millet, and never acquired a taste for spaghetti or hot dogs. We always made sure the beet greens or whatever vegetable was fresh and tasted good enough that WE wanted to eat it, too.

OTOH, I am not a fan of nutritional yeast in cooking - is there an alternative for that recipe?
Thanks for the post!

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 8:59 pm

If you are a kid in Bangladesh, India, China or Brazil, do you tell your parents that you are only going to eat McDonald's french fries, etc.?

U.S. parents are to blame for their kids' food fussiness.

This basically doesn't happen in the rest of the world.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Children learn their food preferences from their parents. If the parents don't eat veggies or are picky eaters, the children will follow. These preferences develop in the womb and early childhood.

Posted by Easy, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Jul 27, 2014 at 5:21 am

My trick is to offer my kids a plate of cut, raw veggies when they are starving for dinner., and the same with fruit for lunch. Works like a charm.

I call it appetizer, and now they help make it half the time.
Meal prep needs to be a family exercise, not Mom's job.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Jul 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Thanks, Laura!
Just served your carrot bites for dinner and they were a big hit all around. Keep the veggie recipes coming!

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Right on Sally Torbey! Thanks for coming to the Food Party! It's better now that you are here :)

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