Broccoli salad, now, there’s the ticket. It has the advantages of sturdiness, and anything with broccoli imparts that aura of good health. My kids will sometimes eat it (though the Nuni’s BFF complained that it was “spicy”. Five year olds find currants to be “spicy.” Be warned.) I can make it one day and the leftovers are perfect for noshing the next day, and the next. [...]
his dish is a perfect potluck dish — it’s vegan (or not, depending on your additions), dairy-free, egg-free, and not too starchy. You can make it gluten-free by replacing the ramen noodles with rice noodles fried in a little oil. It’s also easy and quick to make, can be scaled up or down, and can be adapted to suit your tastes and your audience. With no mayonnaise, it will hold for a few hours without refrigeration (it also makes a great brown bag lunch dish). And did I mention it’s delicious? Flavorful, kid friendly — it even features healthy vegetables! [...]
We are in full on girly mode in the Savour Fare household. The Nuni is two and a half years old, and is seriously interested in the following (in no particular order): twirly dresses, crowns, glass slippers, toenail polish, my makeup, shiny shoes, and anything with sparkles. I would freak out in a feminist quandary, except I have a fuzzy memory of being VERY into princesses and makeup when I was quite young myself, and I am a perfectly acceptable adult with a career and a family and a tendency to wear Old Navy tee shirts to work. In the Nuni’s world, her current favorite book is one called “Fancy Nancy”, about a hapless girl who LOVES being fancy — she likes to write her name with a plume (which is a fancy word for feather), her favorite color is fuchsia (which is a fancy word for purple), and she can’t WAIT to learn French, because EVERYTHING sounds fancy in French. Poor Fancy Nancy is beset by a thoroughly plain family, who thrills her one night by dressing up in accessories, going to a restaurant and ordering parfaits, which are “French for ice cream sundaes”. Now, accuracy aside, parfaits are a very fancy dessert, and as the parent of a wee one who loves all things fancy, I thought I would accommodate her wishes and make them. As she also loves all things pink (as she regularly tells me, “Pink is my favrit color, mamma.”) I thought I would turn to the pinkest of all pink things — rhubarb. Sure, it doesn’t sport the aggressive magenta of anything made with beets, but for rosy, fancy, girly pinkness, rhubarb is your ingredient of choice. [...]
Back in the day when I lived in New York, I was more than a little homesick. I pined and yearned for my home state of California, and pounced on everything I could find that reminded me of home. I wore flipflops at the very first sign of spring in the city (and narrowly avoided frostbite in the process), I saw the movie Sideways 3 times in the theaters, and bought the DVD when it was released; I traveled all the way to TENTH AVENUE to find a tiny taqueria in the back of a bodega that sold real tacos; I listened to the Beach Boys on repeat. So you can imagine how happy I was when the last apartment we lived in in Manhattan was right next door to a California Pizza Kitchen (it also had a balcony, which means my poor husband was sent outside to grill in 50 degree weather. He was happy when we finally moved to California because I immediately started wearing black and wanting to see foreign films in a desperate cling to my New York days). Now I realize that California Pizza Kitchen is about as truly Californian as Red Lobster is truly a restaurant of Maine, but I was desperate. And the truth is, I kind of liked their food. Sure, peanut butter is not my FAVORITE topping on pizza, and some of those combinations were just weird, but the barbecue chicken chopped salad was quite tasty and quickly became my go to order. [...]
There seems to be this idea out there that kids will not eat vegetables. There are suggestions to disguise the vegetables as trees, or puree them and hide them in the brownies. I just don’t get it. Sure, some kids are neophobes — they will view anything unfamiliar with suspicion. And some kids won’t touch anything green. But I think it’s our job as parents not only to get them to EAT vegetables, in some sneaky and underhanded manner, but to actually get them to like vegetables, as vegetables. That’s going to serve them a lot better in life than never eating spinach unless it’s part of a cupcake.
The challenge is in how to do that. And there is no answer that works for every kid. Try different things. Prepare vegetables in different ways. Try roasting them, or sauteeing with a little bacon, or serving a salad, or baking into a lasagna. Let them dip the vegetables in ranch dressing, or cover them with a cheese sauce. If they don’t like green vegetables, cook carrots or cauliflower or pattypan squash. Make vegetables, in all of their wondrous variety, a part of their life.
Before you run screaming for the hills, don’t think that the Nuni is sitting there saying “How about some cardoons for Sunday brunch today, Mom?” She’s not a great eater in general in terms of quantity, and macaroni and cheese or ice cream tend to be more successful than bell peppers and eggplant. (And I fully admit that there have been nights when dinner WAS ice cream, ideally washed down by a vitamin and some green juice from Trader Joe’s (that stuff is magic — it looks like pond scum, but tastes like bananas and mangos, and has things like spinach and seaweed in it). But I keep trying. I serve her the veggies she’ll reliably eat, like carrot sticks and raw broccoli, and I keep trying new preparations on her. And occasionally, I hit gold.
Last week we were driving home, carrying on our typical patter “Who did you play with today? What books did you read? What do you want for dinner?” (the answer is usually “Macaroni and cheese, because that’s a dish she remembers), when she suddenly piped up “I want kale for dinner.” Kale? My child wants kale? Not one to miss an opportunity, I stopped at the Whole Foods on the way home to pick up some kale, and rushed when I got home to prepare these kale chips. [...]