Vegetables may be a star quality food group but the methods you use to prepare and cook them can make a big difference to their palatability.
Here are some handy tips to help you make meals that your child is more likely to enjoy:
Preparing fruits and vegetables
It’s important to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables to remove surface grime and pesticide residues. Organic fruits and vegetables are preferable and when in season organic carrots and apples can taste amazing – sweet and delicious. However, I understand that not everyone has access to or can afford organic produce. If so, you can wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with the following methods:
- Using a large bowl or basin, filled with enough water to cover the fruits or vegetables, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (cheap white vinegar is sufficient or you can use apple cider vinegar) and soak the produce 1–5 minutes. Rinse in plain water if necessary to remove the vinegar. You can also use a soft scrubbing brush to wash hardy vegetables such as carrots, apples, zucchini and so on.
As a general rule children prefer the taste of crisp vegetables rather than overcooked ones. So don’t boil the broccoli to death!
- A greater amount of nutrients are lost when vegetables are boiled so if you must boil veggies keep it to a bare minimum. Broccoli cooks in less than 1 minute when boiled.
- Steam your vegetables and undercook them slightly. Steam sliced veggies for a maximum of three minutes so they retain their brilliant colour and crispness.
- Steamed vegetables taste better than microwaved ones. I know the trusty microwave is handy but they do make potatoes taste rubbery and carrots limp and lifeless.
- Kids often prefer plain old raw veggies such as carrot, red capsicum and celery sticks. However, make sure they’re washed and peel off the skin if the skin is tough or if it tastes like chemicals (this can occur with carrots and apples).
- The stringy part of the celery sticks should be removed using a potato peeler as the strings are tough to eat.
Presenting fresh fruits and vegetables
As mentioned in Chapter 8, healthy foods need to be made more convenient than junk food in order to compete. Here is a quick recap:
- Have delicious summer fruits already washed and ready to eat. Do this straight after the grocery shopping and place them in convenient containers. • Make a fabulous fruit salad then let your family know it’s ready to eat.
- Vegetables are out of sight, out of mind as soon as they’re assigned to the veggie crisper. Instead, straight after the grocery shopping, wash and cut up plenty of vegetable sticks and put these in seethrough containers.
- Any vegetable stick or fruit can look more appealing if they’re placed in the most dazzling (and seethrough) container or bowl and given the most convenient place to sit in the fridge or on the kitchen bench or table.
- To grab your child’s attention, always place healthy, prepared fruits and vegetables on a refrigerator shelf which is at your child’s eye level or on a table that is within their reach.