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veggie kids

March 4, 2010

I think it’s pretty obvious that healthy food is a priority in my house.  I am pretty lucky that my husband has always been willing to eat the vegetarian meals I cook.  My son has been more of a challenge, but I thought I’d share what he’s taught me about feeding kids.

I’ll start with pregnancy.  I had a pretty fabulous 9 months.  I craved spicy food, had an aversion to fake meat products, and was not very interested in sweets (which is pretty unusual for me).  I taught yoga until I was 6 months pregnant and continued to practice until the end.  I walked my dog almost everyday.  I was lucky to avoid a lot of the typical complaints, such as heartburn and swelling.

For the first 6 months of my son’s life, he consumed only breast-milk.  Breastfeeding was a lot more difficult that I had anticipated but in hindsight, it was definitely worth the effort.  At 6 months, we started incorporating some solid foods into my boy’s diet.  I made his baby food and he loved almost everything.  I changed up his food quite a bit and would always try my concoctions (I learned that pureed peas/kale/quinoa is especially delicious).

When my boy got a little bigger, and wanted to feed himself, things got a little trickier.  Right around his first birthday, he also got much pickier about his food.  He loved fruit, so that was always a winning choice.  Oddly, raspberry was one of his first words, why start with one syllable when what you want is three syllables?

While his diet was not everything I had hoped, I did not give up trying.  I persistently gave him vegetables, which my dog consistently ate.  With time, he has come around quite a bit.  Some days he even brags that he ate his broccoli at daycare even though he friends didn’t.  He still eats more processed foods and sugar that I would like, but he never eats white bread or high fructose corn syrup. 

I do have a few tricks for sneaking veggies in:

1) Smoothies.  Almost always a winner, and you can sneak a lot of veggies in with fruit.  In the summer, my son loves walking out in the morning dew with me to pick kale from the garden for our smoothies.

2) Try a wide variety of foods, and never assume that your kid won’t like something.  He may hate peas and love brussel sprouts, you don’t know until you try.

3) Pancakes are a great vehicle for veggies.  Shredded beets, carrots, or zucchini mixed with whole grain flour or a whole grain pancake mix (Arrowhead Mills makes some great ones).

4) Offer foods multiple times, some days my boy likes spinach, other days he picks it all off his plate and puts it on mine.

5) Set a good example, you can’t snack on chips and expect your child to eat an apple.

6) Be creative! Last night my boy wanted mac and cheese for dinner. So I made my own version.:

  • Ezeikiel sprouted grain penne
  • Veggies: last night we used broccoli, carrots, and spinach (note: use 2-4 times more raw veggies than dried pasta by volume; the veggies will shrink and the pasta will grow)
  • a can of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup. tahini
  • 4 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • almond milk (to thin to desired consistency)
  •  juice of half a lemon
  • dash of salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.   Place in all the pasta and veggies in the water.  While pasta and veggies cook, mix all other ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Drain water when pasta is cooked.  Mix in sauce.

My son loved this dish and totally accepted it as “mac and cheese.”  We were both pretty happy.

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