Sunday, January 4, 2015

Eat Yer Darn Veggies

Every Sunday I painstakingly pick out the freshest and most ripe vegetables in the produce aisle. And by painstakingly, I mean googling things like "how to tell when an avocado is ripe" and "is it bad when all the peel is already off the onion." Avocados are vegetables right? Well, they're green, that's good enough for me.

For someone who lives in the cracker and candy aisle, produce is a whole 'nother world. A very strange one at that......Shallots: from here on forward, thee shall be known as "baby onions." Why do you need a fancy name? Ginger doesn't just come from a spice bottle? It actually comes from a root (that happens to resemble an ogre's fingers)? Green onions are a many splendor-ed thing: you can even use the white part! Squash is for more than decoration? You can actually EAT those weird looking things? Is it wrong that thumping melons makes me feel dirty? And there is actually a thing called a key lime. Contrary to popular belief, the well-known pie does not contain both keys and limes.

Despite my trepidation and skepticism, I always try to buy vegetables. I usually come home from the grocery store with three bags of assorted fruits and vegetables...and at least one bag of chocolate. You know what happens? By the end of the week, I'm all out of chocolate and the fruits and veggies are all rotting in my refrigerator. Even though I TRY to be a good herbivore and go out of my way to fill my home with vegetables, I just can't get anyone (including me) to eat them.

I think the big problem is that I don't know how to prepare them. I mean I can't just cut up a bunch of onions and green peppers and dump them on a plate. Well, I could but....ew! And for the love of me, I just can't figure out how to roast asparagus or green beans without them being all soft and soggy (am I cooking them too long, too short, too much oil?). I seriously don't know what I'm doing wrong. Veggies as an ingredient IN a main dish, I can do that. But I just can't figure out how to prepare them by themselves. Dudes....I'm 30 years old. I'm like a LEGIT adult now. How come I can't figure out how to eat vegetables?!


So apparently, we are all supposed to be eating 2.5 cups of vegetables a day. I read this on the internet so it must be true. But I also read that chocolate is NOT a maybe not everything on the internet is true. But 2.5 cups? How? How the hell do people do that? For my family (four non-babies), we would collectively have to eat over 100 cups of vegetables EACH WEEK. That's INSANE. I don't think that many vegetables will even fit in my car? (I'm excellent at making excuses). Do I have to buy a second refrigerator just to hold all those freaking vegetables? Am I going to have to start growing sh*t in my backyard?

Well, I'm taking this as a mini challenge. No, I'm not going to make my kids scarf down 2.5 cups of baby carrots and broccoli every day. But I'm going to make it a point to introduce more vegetables into their meals. Except for maybe breakfast. I'm not sure they even make a vegetable that goes with Cinnamon Toast Crunch....or pancakes.

I'm starting slowly by making minor swaps and vegetable additions where possible. My daily peanut butter and jelly breakfast toast (ok, so maybe I'm NOT a legit adult) is now going to be a ranch and avocado toast (this is surprisingly yummy!). And I'm going to serve some kind of vegetable side at each dinner. Someone told me that steak fries don't count (sad face). This just cut my total number of favorite vegetable recipes in half.

So today at the grocery store, I bought broccoli (so much broccoli!), green beans, mushrooms, peas, and carrots. Now I just have to figure out what the hell to do with all this stuff. While I was able to convince my two year old to eat cucumber spears tonight by telling him they were swords, I'm pretty sure he will eventually catch on to my games....but then again, he's the kid who tried to pick his nose with a pencil and then got the pencil stuck in his nostril, so maybe not.

(P.S. Your favorite vegetable recipes would be very much appreciated!)


  1. My kids always liked cooked carrots, tossed with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Also, snow peas and those super tiny baby carrots with dip, especially when served as a snack, not as a side of dinner.

  2. the first "veggie" that my kids would eat was a simple salad with fresh, chopped spinach leaves, red leaf lettuce, shredded carrots and diced celery. they love Garlic Expressions salad dressing, so they liked the salad. if your kids like a particular dressing as a dip, try putting it on a salad. over time I added frozen peas and broccoli...but still no tomatoes!

  3. Serve cut-up raw veggies when you and your kids are hungry (like before dinner). Dip helps.

    You can add cut-up peppers, onions, and other veggies into scrambled eggs (sautee the veggies, then put the eggs in a pan) or add to a quiche.

    Chop up carrots and celery and put them in tuna or egg salad, or chop them really fine and add to burgers, tacos, or meat loaf/sauce/balls. Mushrooms are especially easy and tasty to do in this way--see

    If you puree veggies into a nice smooth soup or a pasta/pizza sauce you can get a lot in there without kids noticing too much. And instead of mashed potatoes do mashed sweet potatoes or half potato half parsnip or cauliflower.

    Add shredded or pureed carrots or squash to mac&cheese (you can buy a block of frozen butternut squash puree and add half of it to a box of mac & cheese; just reduce the milk). The squash puree can also be used in place of mashed bananas or pumpkin in quickbreads.

    Chop and cook a bunch of veggies at once and then freeze them so they're easier to use, or just buy them canned or frozen. Or jarred--salsa is a pretty good vegetable!

  4. also forgot ants on a log (celery w/ pb or cream cheese, with raisins on top) and smoothies. You can put a handful of raw spinach or roasted carrot in the blender with yogurt, a banana, and frozen fruit and it's not really noticeable.

  5. I say fruits count as vegetables for purposes of getting your 2.5 cups a day. (And I'll be obnoxious and point out that 2.5 cups a day * 4 people * 7 days = 70 cups for your whole family per week; also, for the little guys isn't it less?)

    Anyway, we usually serve cut-up fresh fruit with breakfast and for afternoon snack (often with something salty like pretzels or popcorn), and a veggie with lunch and dinner. There are all sorts of ways to sneak in vegetables, but my kids are such picky eaters that none of them work for us. Our go-to vegetables are:
    - Raw bell peppers, baby carrots, and cucumbers; sometimes sprinkled with salt and pepper; Ted likes to dip them in hummus; normal kids might also like ranch dressing. You can chop them into chunks or cut them in long thin strips, or for peppers, cut them into rings. If you cut them differently they're practically like different foods, to kids.
    - Broccoli: Bill's preparation of choice is to blanch them briefly (90 seconds), then I melt some butter in the pan, throw in some minced garlic, and toss the broccoli with with the butter-garlic mixture and a little salt
    - Roasted cauliflower: toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika (or seasonings of your choice), roast for about 20 min at 425 degrees; Bill also likes it raw
    - Roasted asparagus: similar but the kids don't like it as much
    - Romaine lettuce: Ted will eat pieces of romaine with salad dressing if the moon is in the seventh house of Jupiter
    - Cherry tomatoes: On the seventh and nineteenth Sunday of every year, Ted will eat these, or if they came from someone's garden

    1. OMG CM, my math is so bad....ha ha! Thanks for the tips, I'm going to try hummus, that's a great idea. And tje cauliflower. I don't know why my asparagus is always the wrong texture. What temp do you use?

      Also, Iforgot that jake actually does like cherry tomatoes! That's something....

    2. Oh nm, I just saw that you do 425 for asparagus too.