My son has definitive opinions about many things. One, in particular, is brussel sprouts.
A few years ago to broaden my son’s palate, I decided to cook up some delicious brussel sprouts. I should have accepted this in advance as a fateful task given that he has a gag reflex to most vegetables as it is.
As I roasted them, I tossed in some crumbled bacon thinking that it would make them ever so delicious. I was confident that he would not turn them down. Bacon is usually the answer. Is it not?
He tasted a microscopic nibble. He face contorted and then, oh, the drama that ensued!
A few weeks passed. I was scurrying about, picking up dirty socks, hanging the wet bath towel to dry and changing the linens. I reached up to retrieve my son’s extra sheets from his closet shelf and BOP! The most peculiar thing hit me on the head.
There, at my feet was the green styrofoam package containing the remaining brussel sprouts from weeks before.
As we know, single mom-ing is overwhelming to say the least. Parenting is hard, especially alone. There are priorities we need to worry about like our children’s performance in school and their health and well-being.
We need to worry about putting food on the table.
And I mean that in the most literal sense.
Providing meals is time-consuming and can be stressful. It can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t like to cook. Then, your child’s mouth clamps shut at the sight of veggies.
My son’s vegetable aversion was inconvenient, but I continued to try different approaches. Eventually, he has come around. Believe it or not he had lettuce on his turkey sandwich yesterday. And he is “only” 13.
Here are some tips that may make veggies (and fruit) the talk of the table. Well, maybe.
- Appearance is appealing! Fill colorful bowls with cut up fruits and veggies to place on the dinner table. Cut veggies and fruit in advance and keep them in storage containers in the fridge.
- Try to offer variety so that there is something for everybody. Serve a few options so that your kids can choose what they like.
- Cook your veggies in a pot of water with bouillon for more flavor.
- Add bacon to everything. It is almost foolproof. But not so much if brussel sprouts are involved.
- Sprinkle your cooked carrots with a bit of brown sugar.
- Veggies and fruit don’t necessarily need to be at the dinner table. Before mealtimes, kids tend to be hungrier. Take advantage of that by offering snacks like grapes, strawberries, carrots, and hummus or apples with cheddar cheese.
- Play with your food. Arrange veggies and fruit whimsically on a plate so eating them is more fun. Make a face with the peppers and carrots.
- Let your kids help- after you go apple picking (or to the grocery store) make applesauce. Kids who assist in the process are more apt to try what they have created. They are invested.
- Disguise it- shredded carrots in meatloaf, avocado in cookies or minced mushrooms in a burger.
- Fat is flavor. Take a page out of Julia Child's book and add butter. A pat won't hurt.
- Bring fruit in with desert; make chocolate covered strawberries or (my kiddos love to help to dip). Add banana and warmed Nutella on a scoop of ice cream for a banana split (add nuts for protein, too)
- Celery is tasty with Nutella, apple butter or peanut butter. Sprinkle with nuts or raisins, too.
- Graham crackers with peanut butter and sliced banana is a smore stand-in!
At the end of a long day, you don't need to argue over a brussel sprout. Offer what your kids will eat. Someday they may like artichokes. It just doesn't have to be today.
And that is the dish.
Because the table matters.