Easy Ways to Get Your Family to Eat Their Veggies

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by Claudia Beck, Organic Acres Host

and Organic Chef “Mom”

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In this convenience food era that we live in, it gets harder and harder to get our families to even want to eat fresh vegetables let alone actually eat them. Our food now comes crumbled and dried in boxes and pouches; sliced, diced and precooked in frozen clumps; and smothered and covered with so many sauces and flavorings at restaurants, sometimes we’re not sure what we have on our plates.

So it stands to reason that there are many justifications to get back to basics when preparing home cooked meals. Some obvious ones are that you can use the ingredients you and your family love the most, eliminate preservatives and additives, and begin actually tasting the foods that you eat.

But what happens when your family refuses to eat the wholesome fresh veggies you are trying to enhance their lives with? How can you get someone to eat something they absolutely refuse to? It’s easy!

Getting someone to eat a veggie that they hate has everything to do with the recipe you are planning and how you prepare the ingredients. When masked, minced and camouflaged into their favorite meals, they will eat anything you prepare for them. My son tells everyone all the time that he never eats spinach. Well he eats it all the time, he just does not know it. 🙂

You can finely chop fresh organic spinach, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, and a host of other veggies that are packed with nutrition but mild in flavor. Then add one or more of these, initially in small to medium amounts, into your pasta sauce, on your pizzas, stir into your Sloppy Joe mix and even your taco meat.

Try sautéing diced raw onions, garlic and bell peppers for 5-10 minutes in a little olive oil to soften and sweeten them before adding to your recipes. You can slightly steam chopped carrots and celery in the microwave for a minute or two to soften before adding. Put a ½ cup of water in a microwave safe bowl along with your veggies you want to steam and stir and heat in 30 second increments so that you do not over steam them to the point of mush. The veggies should not be completely covered in water when cooking. Then toss the veggies in to your recipes and your family won’t even notice their added texture. Save the steamed water and add to your recipe or refrigerate up to a week and save for another meal.

If your family does eat a variety of vegetables but may not eat large enough servings of each, take advantage of healthy convenience foods by adding in a bag of your favorite organic frozen veggies such as corn into your chili, green beans into your pasta sauce or soy beans in with your pork dishes. Canned organic beans make a delicious, healthy convenience food and can be thrown into any recipe. Pop them into it in the last five minutes just to warm them up since they are already precooked and ready to go. I recommend you rinse the beans under cold running water in a strainer for a few minutes first to remove the salt and douse the gaseous liquid that inevitably comes with beans.

How can you come up with these additions on your own? Be sure to keep lots of basic ingredients on hand whether they are called for in a recipe or not. You can do this effortlessly by making it a part of your weekly shopping routine to purchase lots of fresh organic vegetables that are quick and easy to prepare such as tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, spring onions, celery and mushrooms. Other tasty and healthful add-ins can include zucchini, yellow squash, baby spinach, and broccoli. These types of veggies work well cooked, or raw in salads. So if you forget to use them up during the week while cooking, you can make a delicious tossed salad over the weekend to use them up.

Keeping plenty of raw garlic, yellow, red and white onions, plus yams and sweet potatoes readily available will help you add scrumptious and nutritious ingredients to your roasts and baked chickens. You can also sprinkle a bag of your favorite frozen organic peas or carrots over these to add color and nutrition. No need to thaw, just open the bag and toss them over or mix them in.

Of course the best way to get your family to eat their veggies, at least your children, is to start as soon as they can eat solid foods. Do they love Mac & Cheese? Great! Toss finely diced fresh tomatoes and a couple of spoonfuls of peas on top. Always serve their sandwiches, toast and even bagels with whole grain bread and lots of fresh or lightly steamed veggies on the side, cook all their meats either mixed with vegetables or serve them smaller amounts of meat and larger amounts of nutritious vegetables and fruit.

They will get used to their meals being this way because that is always the way they have been. When my son was little he used to complain every time he had to eat lunch at someone else’s house that served that “white anemic” spongy bread. I am not kidding, it really grossed him out.

If you need a little “idea” help in concocting meals in this fashion, there are many planners and books available that use the meat in such a fashion that it is the side dish and the vegetables are the main dish. A great start to this way of meal planning is to look for recipes that are rice and pasta based. You can easily replace any recommended plain white rice or pasta with the many organic rice options and flavorful organic whole grain varieties of pasta that are available nowadays.

One additional bonus to adopting the above meal preparation routines is that you can begin to reduce and eventually eliminate any seasonings you normally use that contain salt. As you do this, your and your family’s taste buds will be less reliant on salt for taste and be awakened to the potpourri of flavors your fresh, organic ingredients bestow. Feel free to experiment with adding chopped fresh, organic herbs to your recipes for seasonings and added health benefits. When using organic herbs you will only need to rinse in cold water and then snip them up with your kitchen scissors straight into the recipes to suit your taste.

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Claudia Beck has been a green and natural living advocate for over 20 years. Now, as a business owner, wife and Mom dedicated to the health of her family, she aims to publicly educate and promote to others the innumerable benefits of an organic lifestyle.

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