Making Vegetables Fun for Kids

 Let’s face it, lots kids (and many adults) would not choose to eat vegetables when given the option of other foods. Kids are far more likely to eat vegetables if they have helped choose them at the store or farmer’s market and helped prepare them for a meal. Better yet, kids who grow vegetables are even more apt to eat them. Check out this guide to starting a vegetable garden from Gardener’s Path:  https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/beginners/first-vegetable-garden/.

Fun Recipes to try with your kids

Vegetables are colorful, you can capitalize on that to make them interesting to your kids. Be sure to avoid overcooking!

Sautéed Broccoli, Asparagus, or Mixed vegetables (choose multicolored veggies, such as broccoli + carrots + cauliflower + red bell pepper) 

This recipe came from my friend Allison Highberger–a writer and fantastic cook who lives in Spokane, Washington!

1 cup raw vegetables per person; Cut up vegetables into bitesize pieces–if using a hard vegetable like carrot, cut it much thinner than the rest of the veggies, so it will cook in the same amount of time.

2 tsp oil per person (olive, peanut, canola, avocado, grapeseed)

Optional: 1/4-1/21/2 tsp finely chopped/crushed garlic and/or grated ginger or 1/8-1/4 tsp garlic powder or ginger powder per person.

Chicken broth

1/2 tsp sugar for 4 servings vegetables.

Directions: Heat a heavy frying pan over high heat, add oil, spread with a spatula to coat the pan, add garlic and/or ginger if using. Add the vegetables and toss in oil. When the pan gets dry, add chicken broth a little at a time to ‘steam’ vegetables. Sprinkle sugar over vegetables. Remove from heat as soon as vegetables are tender-crisp. They will continue to soften in your serving bowl.

You may ask “Why use sugar? Don’t we want to avoid giving our kids sugar?” The small amount of sugar in this recipe brightens the flavor of the veggies and takes away the bitterness. If that is what it takes to get our kids to eat veggies, I say go for it.

Roasted Vegetables

Potatoes, 1 very small per person, cut in wedges

Cauliflower, cut in bitesize florettes, 1/2 cup per person

Red, yellow or green bell pepper cut in strips, 1/4 per person

Onion, finely chopped, 1/4 cup per person

Garlic, chopped or crushed, 1/4-1/2 tsp per person

Spices: salt and pepper; paprika, dry mustard, salt and pepper as desired. For an interesting twist add a little mild/medium yellow curry powder

Optional: fresh or dried basil, or other herbs as desired

Optional: Additional veggies Asparagus, broccoli, carrots cut in bitesize pieces, 1/4 to 1/2 cup per person

Directions: Cook potatoes until barely soft in the microwave, or steam on stove. Toss all veggies in a large bowl with oil, garlic and spices. Spread on a jelly roll or other large flat pan and bake at 400 degrees F until potatoes are cooked through and other veggies are soft. Potatoes will get a little crunchy, which makes them sort of like fries.

Alternative: Use sweet potatoes in place of white potatoes. This is especially good with curry powder.

Veggies skewers

Cut veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms–or whatever sounds good) into bitesize pieces.

Oil (olive, peanut, avocado, canola,  grapeseed)

Spices: salt and pepper, garlic and/or onion powder.

Directions: Mix oil with whatever spices you are using. Put veggies on metal skewers and brush with seasoned oil. Roast in oven or on barbecue until veggies are tender crisp. Allow skewers to cool before serving.

Good Old Raw Veggies with dip

Carrots, cauliflower, peppers, broccoli, radishes, jicama, celery…. Cut into sticks or pieces that are big enough to pick up and dip.

Dips:

Hummus–commercial is fine

Healthy Ranch: Mix plain yogurt with a little mayonnaise (about 1/2 cup yogurt to 2 Tbsp mayonnaise). Spice with a dash each of paprika, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper. Add about 1/4 tsp dried dill weed. (I’ve done this dip with kids for years, and it is invariably very popular).

Guacamole: mash one avocado and add 2-4 Tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 Tbsp finely chopped onion, 1/4 finely chopped tomato + ~1/2-1 tsp mild chili powder + 1/2 tsp ground cumin. Optional: Add 1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt,  1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro + 1 tbsp lime juice.