|Winning the veggie battle|
Winning the veggie battle
By Cara Rosenbloom RD
My daughter would never eat broccoli. After months of cajoling and even a bribe or two, it finally occurred to me to just ask her why. Her answer: “Because it’s too crunchy.” So I made vegetable soup, simmering it until the broccoli became soft and easy-to-chew. My daughter asked for seconds, declaring, “Oh, I DO like broccoli.”
“Too crunchy?” Try this
If children don’t like fruits or vegetables, it’s worth asking why. Is it the taste, texture or maybe even the colour? Here are some quick fixes to common complaints:
- “Too crunchy:” Steam or roast vegetables to soften them up, or add them to soups and stews. Choose naturally soft fruits such as mango, banana and ripe melon. Kids may also enjoy the whipped fruit in Frozen Yogurt Fun.
- “Too bitter:” Some kids are super-tasters, which means the bitter flavour you barely detect overpowers their taste buds. Choose sweeter options such as red peppers, carrots and beets instead of stronger tasting cauliflower or rapini. Or, try pairing vegetables with richly-flavoured tomato sauce, low-fat ranch dressing or a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
- “Too mushy:” Serve raw vegetables more often, and think beyond carrots and celery. Try serving raw green beans, cauliflower, broccoli and sugar snap peas. If you do cook them, steam them for just a few minutes so they retain their crunch. Stick with firm-fleshed fruit such as strawberries, apples and grapes.
Let them choose
Kids may be more likely to eat vegetables if they‘ve have a hand in choosing what they want or how they’re prepared. So take them shopping and see what tempts them, whether it’s a funny shape, neat colours or even a cool name.
- In the produce section: Try something new that’s in season – like white asparagus, persimmons or Clementine oranges. Challenge kids to find a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Stock up for a gorgeous salad with red peppers, orange carrots, yellow zucchini, green apples and purple cabbage.
- In the canned food aisle: Canned vegetables and fruits offer most of the nutritional benefits that fresh has, except when the product is high in sugar or salt. Kids may go for canned choices like baby corn, mandarin segments and peaches. Choose fruit that’s canned in fruit juice, not syrup. Vegetables should have “no added salt” or less than 240 mg sodium per ½ cup serving.
- In the freezer aisle: Choose frozen options no added sugar, salt or sauce. Many kids are tempted by the bite-sized ease of peas, and love semi-defrosted mango as a snack. Plus, unlike fresh produce which can lose vital nutrients on the journey from farm to fork, frozen vegetables are picked fresh and then frozen within hours. This locks in the maximum amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Use frozen vegetable to make Hearty Tuscan Soup.
Look for the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check symbol on canned or frozen vegetables and fruits. It tells you that the product has been reviewed by registered dietitians to meet Health Check criteria.
And visit these sites, supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, for more ideas on making fruit and vegetables a bigger part of your family’s diet: www.freshcannedfrozen.com and www.5to10aday.com.
Posted: November 2011