Do Your Kids Eat What You Cook?

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No. No they don’t.  Well, sometimes they do, but not all of the time.  Usually they at least try it and eat just enough to make it through the night without waking up starving.  Several days ago I read one of the funniest posts by a friend of mine about how her children shun her carefully prepared and labor laden dinners while rewarding her for her more uninspired offerings.  Now that I think about it, my friend probably didn’t find it funny, but I certainly did because it’s the story of my life.  On one particular afternoon when coming home from school, Thing 2 opened the front door and said  “What’s that smell?  Smells like armpit!”  Yes, she said that the dinner I made smelled like armpit.  Good thing that I have developed a thick skin because nothing says FAIL like dinner smelling like armpit.

Admittedly, my kids are on somewhat of a food adventure living with me.  It kind of goes along with the territory if your mom loves to cook and blogs about it.  Like most kids, they’re not always eager to eat what I have cooked, particularly when it involves vegetables.  So, I have a few tricks to get them to eat their fruits and veggies and in the process have reaped some unintended benefits.

Trick #1 – Ask your kids to cook with you.  My girls (and even my son) love to cook with me.  Including them makes them feel special and they take ownership of the food that they are preparing.  Usually this mean that at the very least they will taste what they cook.  For some added fun, invest in a kids cookbook and let them pick what they want to cook.

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The Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book is one of our favorites.  It contains fun and easy to follow recipes and has information on nutrition, reading food labels and food safety.   Every recipe has a list of the utensils needed for preparation, which helps kids learn their way around a kitchen. Not to mention that the time we spend cooking together is more time for conversation.  Thing 1 literally becomes a fountain of information while we’re in the kitchen.  And she’s always so impressed with all of my kitchen gadgets.  🙂

Trick #2  – If it’s what’s available, they will eat it.  This fruit bowl stands on my counter all of the time,  stocked and ready.

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When they want something to go with breakfast, an after school snack, a bite to eat on the way to gymnastics – here it is!  I try to vary my offerings and I don’t have much else for them to munch on.  Limit their options and they will have no choice, but to either eat what you have or go hungry.  They never seem to pick the later and I usually have to buy fruit twice a week .

Trick #3 Hide veggies in your food. This is pretty common and effective.  Add some mashed cauliflower into some mashed potatoes and they will never know the difference.    I’m sure that you’ve heard of pureed carrots in marinara sauce but, how about my favorite, chopped red bell pepper?  I love red bell peppers and eat it raw with hummus all of the time but, my girls swear that they “HATE IT!” However, the have no idea that I put it in my spaghetti sauce, which they just love!  Red bell peppers are extremely high Beta Keratin, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and antioxidants.  They are so good tasting and so good for you that  I also put them in my sloppy joes and chili.  I feel so sneaky.

Trick #4  Stick with what they like.  You may be bored with peas and green beans, but, if that’s what they will eat then stick with it and get creative.  My girls love broccoli and we have it about twice a week….every week…52 weeks of the year.  I used to love broccoli, but not so much anymore.  Yet, I make it because I know that they will eat it.  I throw in some other varieties here and there just to keep things interesting (and because I like vegetables).  If your kid likes peas, then put them in everything – tuna salad, potato salad, casseroles – whatever.  Every once in a while, they will surprise you. Thing 1 and Thing 2 say that they don’t like spinach.  However, if I saute it in a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil with chopped shallots and garlic (usually served with salmon), they love it.  In fact, our lettuce isn’t really lettuce at all.  It’s spinach.  Somehow, they don’t make the connection and eat it without complaint.  Strange, I know, but it works.  Go with what works and slowly introduce them to other vegetables.    Their pallets will mature over time and you will be able to branch out  or it will be time for them to move out and it won’t matter any more.

Speaking of vegetables, tonight I made one of their favorite veggie recipes of mine, Meatball Soup.  It’s not the vegetables that they like, it’s the meatballs.

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Ingredients

1 c. chopped celery

1 c. chopped onion

3 cloves chopped garlic

1 32 oz. box chicken broth

1 8 oz. tomato sauce

1 14.5 oz stewed tomatoes, slightly cut up

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

*pinch sugar

2 bay leaves

1 12 oz. pkg. Italian style meatballs (I use chicken meatballs)

1 c. frozen mixed vegetables

1 1/2 c. mini Farfalle (bow tie pasta)

Directions

Melt butter in 5 quart stock pot and add celery, onion and garlic until just tender.  Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and next four ingredients.  Simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes.

Add meatballs and mixed vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn up the heat to medium high, just until slight boil and add pasta.  Cover and cook for 12 minutes until pasta is tender.

* When cooking a savory recipe, if you taste it and it tastes “flat” , meaning it’s seasoned enough, but the flavor just doesn’t stand out, add a pinch of sugar.  Not a stingy pinch, but no more than a pinch. You don’t want it to be sweet, but you want it to enhance the flavor.  It works just like salt does when baking.

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