We have an interesting mix of personalities in our home – husband who loves to experiment with cuisines, enjoys a local flavor when traveling and is always excited about the variety available during meals. And then as mother and son, we are more traditional and conservative in our preferences, and strangely enough both of us focus on meal times as ‘have-to’ and not ‘looking forward to’. Imagine the challenge that we have on hand when ensuring that vegetables are a dominant part especially when planning meals … needless to add, the youngest Agarkar enjoys his non vegetarian options best!
Assuming many families are like ours, here are some simple strategies that have made our life easier as a family, as the reality of wholesome meals is that veggies need to make more than just an appearance!
- Use the concept of ‘5 in a day’ and use vegetable juices to include greens such as spinach, celery and team them up with tomato, apple and pineapple juice as the morning ‘cuppa’ … small quantity and can be gulped down!!
- Sauteed servings … light butter, dash of lemon and salt or sometimes sprinkle of chat masala of mixed vegetables like broccoli, carrots, corn etc is nice side accomplice to the main course …. think of grating the cucumber and managing them into long noodle looking and you have a different flavor to it. Small portions will go down nicely!
- Along with the vegetable cuppa in the morning, try sprouts that are steamed with a dash of rock salt or pink salt … and allow your child this option … yummy and filling!
- Use a lot of curd and crunch when serving vegetable salad … using the age old ‘raita’ concept use croutons with carrots, cucumber!
- Parathas that use less oil, freshly rolled and using mashed vegetables are a perfect addition when kids just cannot stomach the look of vegetables. Toss in chicken, or paneer and add a bit of salsa and cheese … packed in rolls, these are perfect mid day meals.
- Children love the crunch component and finger foods … so try the grills and sticks using the air fryer to ‘toast’ those vegetables and serve them up as starters with a meal .. capsicum, onions etc
- Soup – from mushrooms to carrot, spinach to onion served as in a small glass also is a great way to build their taste buds
- Gravies can also have grated vegetables instead of chunky pieces initially to make sure kids get their daily dose and in time graduate to the more adult version. I often find that steaming vegetables, rather than cooking them retains their nutritional value hence consider this when serving up vegetables to your children.
- We love teppanyaki as style of cooking hence, served with rice these vegetables again have a different flavor and go down easily even with kids as the flavoring matches they palate
For us, serving smaller helpings, in a variety of ways and also always teaming it up with a favorite food type, works to motivate him to eat.
Eating vegetables and acquiring a flavor for them are two different skill sets and as parents, our goal should be to get them to enjoy it and not make it a ‘task’. But i also think, like with most things that we do for them, we must allow for some exceptions every once in awhile.
I am all for a baked pattice served with whole wheat bread with tomato, lettuce and some sauce toppings as a break from the routine two weekly meals for the kids. Create a break every now and then for the kid, and voila you have a receptiveness that will motivate you.