Monday, June 8, 2009

Getting kids to eat their vegetables -- without tricking them

I happen to have quirky kids who love vegetables, but most parents aren't so lucky. Getting kids to eat something green has been a struggle for so long that it's become a cliche that shows up even in kids cartoons, with broccoli portrayed as a bad guy to be subdued by vats of cheese sauce (really... see the Powerpuff Girls in "Beat Your Greens").

In an effort to avoid taking a healthy vegetable and dousing it with unhealthy fats, some parents have taken to grinding veggies down into colorful purees and blending them into everything from pasta sauces to cakes and cookies. But is subterfuge really the best way to instill healthy eating habits in our kids?

Tanya Steel, co-author of "Real Food for Healthy Kids," takes issue with the practice of sneaking vegetables into other, traditionally veggie-free foods -- like adding pureed spinach to brownie batter. "As a mother of twins and a food professional, I was appalled by this deceptive and sneaky idea," she writes at "Not only are we teaching our kids to 'eat your brownies, they're good for you' (in a country where a third of kids are obese or overweight and perhaps the first generation to not outlive their parents), but we are lying to our kids and signaling, either implicitly or explicitly, that vegetables, in particular, are so yucky, they have to be hidden."

At's Child Caring blog, I've asked parents to comment with their favorite vegetable recipes, and I started the ball rolling by contributing my own favorite for cooking carrots. Here it is:
Honey-ginger carrots

Wash and peel the carrots, and then slice into thin disks.

In a medium-size pan, heat one teaspoon of butter with one teaspoon of
olive oil; add the carrots and stir to coat.

Drizzle with two teaspoons of honey or pure maple syrup, and sprinkle on
about 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger (or 1/2-teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger)
and a pinch or two of salt.

Add 1/4 cup of water, cover, and cook on low heat until the carrots are

How do you make sure your kids eat their vegetables?

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