Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Getting Kids to Eat their Veggies: the Perpetual Parenting Adventure

You're at the farmer's market and there they are: stand after stand of beautiful red, yellow, green and orange peppers, purple and white eggplants, green leafy vegetables of every variety, squashes, carrots, potatoes, beets, mushrooms, tomatoes... you want to bring all of them home. Or at least, I do. I'm kind of a vegetable maniac. I'm not a vegetarian and my mouth waters at the thought of lovely marinated steak and lamb kabobs or juicy burgers and sausages on the grill, but generally I subscribe to the idea of making meat a side feature when we have it and mostly cooking vegetarian. That's pretty much the only way we can buy the yummy, expensive pasture-raised organic stuff anyway. I love vegetables, especially roasted in the oven or sauteed with lots of garlic.

However, my children do not seem to agree with this idea. They want a whole lot more meat and carbs than I ever long for. And dairy. And sugar. They're not absolutely horrid about eating vegetables, but also not nearly as fond of them as I am. All too many veggies, so lovingly prepared, find themselves being scraped off plates into the compost after dinner. I do insist that they at least be tried, but not rudely complained about. The kids have learned that a reaction of "Yuck! This is GROSS!" means leaving the family table and going hungry that evening. So they have generally learned to take a gingerly bite and not comment if they don't like what they find in their mouth.
Sometimes if they help you cook they will be
more likely to eat the finished product... so they
say. I usually find this only works if it's apples.

And yet... I have a few meals that I can pull out of my hat that feature a LOT of veggies that they do actually eat. Here's one I made last night. I'll write down what I used, but I am pretty sure you could use just about any combination of vegetables you've brought home from the farmers market.

Loads of Veggies Nacho Bean Dip

2 T olive oil
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 t garlic powder
1 t smoked paprika
1 T cumin
3 large tomatoes
1 zucchini
1 bag of riced cauliflower
1 bunch of cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans refried beans
1-2 cups shredded cheese

Serve with:
Tortilla chips
Sour cream
Lime slices
Hot sauce (Chile Garlic Cholula is our favorite!)

Preheat oven to 350. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Begin chopping all the veggies. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for several minutes, then add the spices and stir them until they are turning fragrant, about 30 seconds. Begin adding the veggies as you chop them. Once they all have cooked and softened nicely (10-15 minutes, stirring frequently), add salt and pepper to taste. Put the veggie mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread the refried beans over the top and then cover with cheese. Bake about 30 minutes. Serve with all the sides.

Not one person noticed that the "rice" was actually cauliflower and I didn't find reason to mention it. I was honestly surprised when Mason said "Wow, five stars, mom!" and everyone else agreed. That's rare praise, music to Mama's ears indeed.


  1. Thank you for sharing, Kirstie! If only I could be this creative with vegetables on a daily basis, I'm sure my kids would eat so many more vegies. Well, this is one to add to my arsenal. :)

  2. I hope it works for you. I'm sure with your lifestyle, you could add in quite a bit of interesting vege into the mix that I've never even heard of! And thanks for stopping by, too. :)