With three sons and three stepsons, I know all too well the struggles of trying to get a kid… and then a teen…. then grown men who should know better…. to Eat. Their. Vegetables.
Here, rather than give you specific recipes, I am just going to lay out for you the tips and tricks I have used to accomplish this monumental task.
I started with simple things. Carrots and parsnips are two of my favorites that I have used in my house. My degree of success with just these two is actually pretty high. Both can be washed, peeled, trimmed, and grated on a box grater. Spread the grated veggies on some paper towels and blot them as dry as you can. Add 1/2C and up to 1C to your favorite meatloaf or meatballs recipe. You may need to add a little extra breadcrumbs to get the right consistency, especially with the meatballs as you want them to hold together. This actually helps you get a nice moist result, the meat is flavorful and more nutritious, and they won’t even know they’ve been had!
I have also added these same grated veggies to chili and taco meat, my spaghetti sauce, and even my beef and barley stew! I make a kind of chunky sweet and sour sauce for chicken, and the grated carrots especially go well in that.
Carrots are a great vegetable! My kids will eat chunks of carrot cooked all day in my pot roast, and sliced carrots and parsnips in my flavorful chicken noodle soup. I’ve tried the cauliflower mashed with potatoes and no one really liked that, but parsnips? Way to go, Mama!
The best tool I’ve found for my mashed potatoes and parsnips is a ricer. If you have never used one, it is a hand tool similar to a giant garlic press. You push the cooked potatoes and parsnips through it and the result resembles rice. You then add your butter, cream, salt and pepper, and use a large rubber spatula to toss and mix it gently. The result is an amazingly fluffy, textured mash that tastes wonderful.
Another thing everyone likes is a baked cauliflower head. Wash it thoroughly, trim the stem, and pat it dry. Brush with a beaten egg and pat buttered seasoned breadcrumbs all over it and bake in the oven.
Wash, peel, and bias cut 10 to 12 carrots. Even mix in a few parsnips! Put in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain, and put back on the stove with a stick of butter, 1/4C packed brown sugar, salt & pepper. Mix well, and let bubble and thicken several minutes. My kids call these dessert carrots and they love them.
As they have gotten older, they like creamed peas with pearl onions, pasta in an alfredo sauce with spinach and other finely chopped vegetables. Broccoli with a cheddar cheese sauce also goes well.
Some kids like vegetables, and that’s great! For those who don’t, try some of Grammy’s tricks and tips. Tell me about yours!