Updated: Oct 13
There are so many advantages to a plate full of
color and the variety it provides. I could, of course, rave about the nutritional benefits of the antioxidants in those colorful foods, the fiber, the nutritional profiles, but what you really want to know is how to make them taste good, and get your little ones to want to give them a try.
So if you are guilty of opening up a can, tearing open a bag and heating up the veggies (I was for years!) then you are about to embark on an adventure that will open up opportunities for your family to fall in love with new foods.
When I first started trying new vegetables, there were a lot of fails, and I would choke down my veggies while my family ate a completely different dinner, that I also had to make. I wasn't happy about what I was eating, or the fact that my family was not eating as healthy as I wanted for them, but I didn't even like what I was eating, how could I feed it to them?!
I want to help you avoid those pitfalls, and instead slowly introduce new foods in a way that you and your family will enjoy, and you may be shocked that their new fav food is brussel sprouts!
First of all, think if there is a certain seasoning or spice that you lean towards using often. For me it was garlic. Oh, how I love garlic! And I put it in nearly every dinner dish I made. And my kids would wander into the kitchen and say "oooh, that smells so good!" So when I began to make new foods, I made sure to add the seasonings we already enjoyed. That way even if they were unhappy with the food they saw, their brain was already triggered by the smell to think that it would taste good.
So pay attention to what you are seasoning your current dishes with, and be sure to find ways to integrate them into the new recipes you try. If you are not really using any spices or seasonings, then start looking for recipes of foods that you are already eating and add in the spices they use. Once you begin to learn how to use the different flavors and spices together, you may find, as I did, that your current go to rotation of dinners are actually quite boring!
One of the best ways to make a vegetable taste delicious is by roasting it. You will coat them in an oil and seasonings, then heat them to perfection. Roasting brings out the sweeter side of the veggies, softens some, and crisps others. The first time I made roasted brussel sprouts, I tossed them in avocado oil, minced garlic and salt, roasted them till they were softened (the outside layer gets crunchy like a chip) and then sprinkled with feta cheese. My middle son, who detests all things new, fell in love and to this day begins eating the brussel sprouts before they get to the table. As a matter of fact I have to tell him to stop eating more than his fair share, now that is a good problem to have!
Butter of course, is also an excellent choice if you prefer to sauté your vegetables. A good grass fed butter is full of healthy fats and th will help you absorb the nutrients in the vegetables. Invest in a quality salt as well. Typical table salt, while enhanced with iodine, is also full of chemicals. Look for a sea salt, such as Himalayan sea salt. It boasts 84 trace minerals and elements and is a lovely pink. If you have a sweet little girl sitting at your table, you are only limited by your imagination in the ways you will spark her interest in the pretty princess dust that you are making her magic meal with.
Along those lines we can speak to favorite colors. You do not have to entice your child to eat every vegetable you roast, however you can certainly play up one of the colors. Is his or her favorite Paw Patrol dog the orange one? Well, I bet he powers up with carrots or sweet potatoes to get his orange color. Most likely a dinosaur would devour a kale chip with a roar.
Kids a little too old for cartoon characters and magic dust? What about a dipping sauce? Ranch dressing or Italian? Even a mustard or ketchup if they want. I think my kids coated more foods in ranch and barbeque sauce when we started this venture than I care to admit 😊 There are healthy options out there to gradually replace what you currently have if needed.
I will even confess to some bribery. When I am trying a new dish that is gonna be super healthy, it helps to have a healthy but delicious dessert making the kitchen smell heavenly while you eat to remind them that if they at least give everything a try... they can have some cookies 😏 Which is why I have an oatmeal cookie recipe at the bottom of this vegetable blog 😁
I am going to give you a basic recipe and I want you to make it your own. Choose spices that your family already loves, add them in liberally, and get your creative juices flowing for how you will personalize the presentation for your crowd.
Choose your veggies:
brussel sprouts, halved and placed cut side down
onion, red looks nice
diced butternut squash
cubed or sliced sweet potatoes
whatever vegetable you desire.
Next choose an oil that can be heated:
Avocado oil - read more about it here
Coconut oil - unrefined still possessing the coconut taste and all of its nutrients - some of which will be lost in the high heat, refined not having a coconut taste and lower nutrient profile
Animal fats - tallow, duck fat, chicken fat
You can either toss all your vegetables in a bowl, add oil and mix to cover them, then spread them on the baking sheet. Or drizzle oil over the vegetables on the baking sheet and then stir periodically while baking to coat them.
Also add seasonings. I love to mince garlic to add to the oil and then drizzle both over the vegetables. Salt is necessary to bring out the flavor. Italian seasoning or even dressing is delicious as well.
Roast at 425° F for 30 - 40 minutes or until vegetables are softened
note: if you are in a hurry broil them at 400°, keeping the baking pan on the middle rack, for 20 minutes.
Or make your own dressing to drizzle over the finished dish once it hits your plate. This is a favorite around here:
Tahini dressing modified from Clean Skin From Within
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon filtered water
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon dried chives or dried herb blend (optional)
OR 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
If fresh vegetables are a whole new adventure for you, be sure to be creative. And try them more than once. It takes time to change your palate to more savory if you predominately eat sweets.
thehungrykitchn hailing from Dublin, Ireland
1 large egg
4 tablespoons coconut sugar or monk fruit sugar
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter or ghee, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips or chocolate bar chopped or raisins, or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350° F
Process oats until fine like a flour. In bowl combine all ingredients except chocolate and mix until fully combined. Add in chocolate and mix together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool for several minutes on cooling rack
These cookies come together quickly and are a healthy treat that as a mom you can feel guilt free using as an incentive to try that new food on the table.