Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting Kids to Eat Their Vegetables is as Easy as Stirring Up a Little Creativity in Your Kitchen

Good Food

Have you ever had trouble getting your child to eat their vegetables?  If you roll your eyes and think, "duh," you've come to the right place!  That's because you're likely to be reading a blog post that might actually help you and your family start enjoying vegetables -- even some of the most despised green ones like asparagus -- a whole lot more.

Vegetables in general: it's not too hard to find more than a few children who hate them all.  But asparagus?  Most kids won't even try it, never mind go near it, and adults have been known to be really finicky with this particular green veggie, too. 

I know I couldn't stand asparagus and wouldn't even cook it for my hubbie who has always loved it.  Then, I started to crave it after I learned a few secrets about how to prepare this sometimes intimidating vegetable.  In fact, a lot of us are clueless about cooking this and even have trouble knowing how to spell that strange word for an even stranger looking vegetable.  

As you read on, keep an open mind because I'm hoping it might change your opinion about this too.  That's because I'm going to tell you that you and your kids may start appreciating unsung vegetables, like asparagus and other unloved vegetables.  The secret is in the cooking process and the herbs and accent flavors that they are combined with, as well as in the presentation of a colorful dish with texture and interesting shapes.

Here are some general tips about cooking vegetables, especially green ones.  This post is specifically about asparagus but the same basic tips ahead of preparing it apply for just about any vegetable of any color.

First -- Be sure the fresh asparagus you buy is indeed fresh.  If you're not sure, ask the produce department guy at your supermarket for advice to help you choose the best bundle you can.  Never buy frozen or canned asparagus if you really want your family to grow to love it, because like most vegetables this one is best prepared from fresh produce for maximum enjoyment of color, texture and flavor.

Second -- Make sure you wash well with cool water and slightly trim the white end of each asparagus spear before starting to cook.

Third -- Try the original and EASY recipe below that I've developed -- it REALLY is so simple if you follow the directions exactly.  My kids help me make this, and depending on their age and motor skills, your child can make part or all of this themselves.

Ever since the first time I served asparagus in the following way, my kids are demanding that I make it more.  Even the kid I have who I can't force feed lettuce to likes this.  The secret is to NOT OVERCOOK these, otherwise they'll be bitter and soggy.  You're after a very light, nutty, fresh taste that leaves your palate wanting more.

Roasted Fresh Asparagus With Nut & Fruit Vinaigrette
Original Recipe by MommyBlogExpert.com

1 bundle of fresh washed & trimmed asparagus
1 T. olive oil

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with wax paper or foil.  Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer in pan and drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over them all and season lightly with salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Roll the asparagus gently to coat entirely in oil.  Place in oven for about 12-15 mins and remove as soon a fork easily pierces the vegetable. This is called al dente and will have a slight crunch to it when you bite in.

1/2 c chopped nuts (your choice: cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc)

Step 2: Place your choice of chopped nut (my favorite is pecans) on a cookie sheet covered in foil and bake on another rack in oven while asparagus cooks. Remove after they are toasty brown with a nutty aroma.

3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 T. fresh thyme or 1 t. dry thyme
3 T. balsamic vinegar
3 T. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped dried fruit (your choice: cranberries, pears, apricots, plums, etc)
salt & pepper to taste

Step 3: Combine garlic, thyme, vinegar, oil, dried fruit, salt & pepper in a small bowl and mix well.  Set aside.

Arrange asparagus on a colorful plate then carefully spoon the vinaigrette fruit-nut mixture and all liquid equally over asparagus.  Sprinkle with toasted nuts.  Serve immediately and enjoy asparagus like you've never had before.

What vegetables do you hate or love?  What about your kids, what are their favorites and the ones you can't seem to get them in the same room with?  What ideas do you have to contribute for preparing vegetables that we can all enjoy more?

FTC Disclosure:  I did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this post.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

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