Celeriac brunch

A celeriac (or celery root) came in our veggie box this week.  Celeriac is a variety of celery that has been bred for better eating roots (as opposed to cultivated for the celery stalks).  The roots mass together to form a bulb that looks a bit luck a hairy, ugly turnip.

It’s one ugly looking vegetable.

Celeriac has a celery / parsnipy / parsley-ish taste to it.  Although that description doesn’t do it justice.  I find celery a bit ho-hum (it’s no wonder it has been used in decades gone by as a vessel for scoffing large quantities of cream cheese and peanut butter under the guise of a “healthy” snack), and something that really bugs me about celery is how those fibrous strings stay connected to the other piece when I bite into it raw.  Celery for me is just something I add to soups and stews.  It’s a cheap filler.  It’s dispensable.

Photo and recipe from http://www.recipe.com

The flesh of a celeriac, however, has a much nicer texture than celery.  It’s less watery, almost creamy and there are none of those annoying fibrous strings.  It can be used pretty much like any root vegetable (although it has a lot less starch than a potato – a good substitute if you are wanting a lower starch alternative).  Roast it, mash it, fry it or stick it in a soup or stew.  Unlike potato, it can also be eaten raw.  The French use celeriac in céleri rémoulade a salad where it is grated, soaked in lemon juice and dressed with mayonnaise and mustard.

Photo and a great looking recipe (that includes capers) from http://www.croquecamille.wordpress.com

My original plan was to cook our celeriac up earlier in the week as part of my husband’s birthday roast dinner but I ran out of room in the pan.

Jose’s birthday roast dinner. Pork ribs, carrot, sweet potato and golden beetroot already had the pan full (the brussel sprouts and broccoli were cooked on the stove).

So, what to do with my rejected celeriac?  Last night the kids had already been fed leftovers and put to bed.  My husband was out of town and I felt like a bit of lazy fry up.  I decided to hash brown my celeriac and have brunch for dinner.

I peeled and grated the bulb and added about the same amount of grated potato and half an onion.  Cracked in an egg to combine the mix and seasoned with salt and pepper.

It’s easier to use a sharp veggie knife than a peeler to to remove the thick skin, gnarled roots and hairy stuff.  Some varieties are a more uniform shape than others, but I’ve noticed many of the celeriac varieties locally need a lot of cutting and trimming to get all the gnarly bits off.

I scooped a handful of the mix with my hands, squished it flat and pan fried it.  This mix made five decent sized hash browns.

I ate it was a poached egg, brussel sprouts, mushrooms (with sage and thyme) and spinach.  A tomato would have been nice to add some color and juiciness but I ate the last of my tomatoes yesterday.

Breakfast?  Brunch?  Dinner?

These were the tastiest hash browns (even if I say so myself!)  The celeriac is a much more interesting flavour than plain old potato but it didn’t overwhelm the other food.  The hash browns felt lighter than a stodgy potato hash too.  To me this is more of a weekend brunch dish, but it perfectly filled the spot for dinner.

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Faux health foods

“Health” is hot right now.  Organic produce sales are growing at a faster rate than their conventionally grown counterparts.  The growth in the gluten-free market has been insane.  There’s a trend for big food manufacturers to buy smaller health focussed companies to make their product portfolio healthier: Campbell Soup Company bought out Blothouse Farms (smoothies and dressings), Coca Cola has recently purchased Fair Oaks Farms (for a high protein milk shake) and Kellogg’s aquired Gardenburger.  Meanwhile health food companies (Annies and Hain Celestial, for example) are being tipped as hot stocks to buy.  Whole Foods Market has successfully carved itself a niche in the upmarket health food grocery sector growing its customer base in spite of a recession.  And most major supermarkets are trying to get at a little bit of the Whole Foods Market success by targeting the health food consumer with their health food offer going from being squeezed into a couple of bays to now spreading over several prime located aisles.

The health message, is of course, not lost on the marketing department.  It seems that a healthy solution is available for all tastes and meals.  The problem is many of the products that are being sold as healthy, simple aren’t.  Here are some things to watch out for.

Myth: It’s natural and organic, therefore it’s healthy.

A gift from the Gods?  Or a sugar alternative?

A gift from the Gods? Or a sugar alternative?

Example: Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that comes from a spiky aloe vera-like plant.  The nectar (or syrup) is marketed as a “gift from the gods” and agave nectar manufacturers claim it’s “the preferred sweetener of health conscious consumers, doctors, and natural food cooks alike”.  It might have been around for centuries and come from a plant (it also has a lower glycemic index than table sugar), but it’s still a processed sugar and doesn’t provide much nutritional value at all.  Use agave nectar in the same manner as you’d use any other sugar.  That is, use it rarely and in small amounts.

I’m not saying that just because it is made with natural or organic ingredients it is unhealthy, it just doesn’t automatically make it a health food and there are two reasons why I highlight this on my faux health foods list.  The first the fact that it is a natural or organic ingredient doesn’t change how our bodies metabolise it.  Natural margarine is still margarine and organic sugar is still sugar.

The second reason is both the terms “natural” and “organic” are poorly regulated.  “Natural” particularly can be used freely by marketers (and there are some shocking examples of how it is used).  “Organic” isn’t as clearly defined as it should be either.  There’s no one method of organic farming and through the magic of USDA logic some “organic” ingredients on the USDA organic labeled foods list aren’t organically grown at all (perhaps another post).

Myth:  It’s Sugar free, therefore it’s healthy. 

Sugar free!  But full of artificial sweeteners.

Sugar free! But full of artificial sweeteners.

If it’s sweet and it’s sugar free then it probably has artificial sweeteners in it (look for aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose and acesulfame potassium in the ingredients)  Sugar free options tend to be lower in calories than their full sugar versions (Diet Coke for example, has only 1 calorie) and because artificial sweeteners don’t raise blood sugar levels the same way as table sugar does diabetics may choose these products.

The reason why sugar free products make my faux health food list maybe different than you’re expecting.  Popular wisdom tells us that sweeteners cause cancer (due to a lab rat study of saccharin and bladder cancer conducted in the early 1970s), but actually the science around this isn’t as clear cut as we’ve all been led to believe.  Aspartame is one of the most heavily researched food ingredients ever and it’s been given the all clear by hundreds of health agencies world wide.  However, there is more recent research that makes me weary of these products.  There’s some evidence that artificially sweetened products may increase calorie consumption, weight gain and fat.  The thinking is these substitute sugars are designed to mimic the taste of sweet foods which normally would come with a hit of energy.  When we taste them we anticipate the calories to come and when they don’t we continue to eat until they do.  Whilst the research on this isn’t conclusive, this stuff just doesn’t cut it as a health food in my mind.

Myth:  It’s Fat free, therefore it’s healthy!

Lower fat but higher sugar.

Lower fat but higher sugar.

Using Stonyfield as an example here is probably a little harsh.  Stonyfield go to a lot of effort to get all the ticks in the right boxes.  In addition to their starter cultures they use additional probiotic cultures which creates a beneficial environment for digestion.  They’re USDA organic certified, GMO free, hormone free and don’t use artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives in their products.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at the fine print though!

Generally, to reduce the fat of a product manufacturers need to add something in its place.  Usually sugar.  At Stoneyfield it’s “naturally milled organic sugar” but that’s still sugar.  A cup of their strawberry yoghurt contains 35g of the stuff.  Whilst their full fat version is lower sugar than the fat free (a common occurrence) at 30gm per cup it’s still a lot of sugar in a snack.  Yoghurts are kind of an easy target for the sugar content because the lactose, of course, is sugar.  However I find most yoghurts on our supermarket shelves have added a huge amount of sugar to suit an increasingly sweet consumer palate.  Because of the probiotics this is a great treat but don’t fool yourself that it’s for unrestricted consumption.

Myth: It’s full of nutrition, therefore it’s healthy.

Oreo + multivitamin = WhoNu? Nutrition rich cookies.

Oreo + multivitamin = WhoNu? Nutrition rich cookies.

“Now delicious is nutritious too” claims the people at WhoNu?  These “so nutritious” Oreo style cookies have “as much fibre as a bowl of oatmeal and as much calcium as a glass of milk”.  It also has as much fat (7g), carbs (25g of which 14g is sugar) and as little protein (1g) as the same portion (3) of the original Oreo.  The ingredients list begins with sugar (not a good start!) and includes canola oil, palm oil, kernel oil, soybean oil, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, salt and flavorings.  The difference between this and an Oreo cookie is the WhoNu? manufacturers have added vitamins and minerals to make it “nutritious”.  These cookies are as healthy as taking a multivitamin with your Oreos.

Myth: It’s only 100 calories, therefore it’s healthy.

100 calories of junk food.

100 calories of junk food.

I hadn’t heard of these 100 calorie packs until they were recently pointed out to me on the Leaping Zucchini Facebook page (please click ‘like’).  With a quick google search I was amazed at how many companies have packaged their junk food into these little 100 calorie portioned packages and marketed them as a good snacking option for those trying to lose weight.  A 100 calories of junk food is still junk food.  Most of the ones I looked at were full of sugar, cheap oils, sodium (some of the chips and crackers were 200mg per tiny pack), chemicals and virtually devoid of anything nutritious.  These are an expensive, dieters gimmick.  I can just see a box of these little packages being stashed in the office on a Monday morning and the entire box and 1,000 calories are done and dusted by 4pm.  Who can stop at just one little pack of their favorite junk food after all?  I’m all for portion control and understanding how many calories we’re really consuming in a snack, but eating real food and losing the taste for this rubbish is a much better way of approaching  it.

Myth: I found it in the health aisle, therefore it’s healthy.

Surely it wouldn't be merchandised in the health aisle if it wasn't healthy?

Surely it wouldn’t be merchandised in the health aisle if it wasn’t healthy?

Within minutes of browsing the health aisle I had dozens of examples I could have put here.  Smart Bacon (a vegan, junk filled bacon substitute), and PopChips (Never Fried.  Never Baked) were close but I settled on this one: Horchata is a Hispanic drink that’s made from rice with “the perfect touch of cinnamon and vanilla”.  It’s vegan and dairy free.  It’s “traditional” and “exotic” and is found at my local supermarket with all those other “healthy milk alternatives”.  It has 1g of protein per serve (standard milk is 8g), 4% of our daily calcium requirements (standard milk is 30%) and 18g of sugar per cup (standard milk is 11g and that’s all lactose not added cane juice which is used in this drink).

I understand if you are vegan, gluten or lactose intolerant having these foods grouped together in these aisles is convenient.  But when did vegan, gluten free and dairy free become synonymous with healthy?  Many vegan substitute products are filled with all sorts of things that I can’t pronounce.  Gluten free cookies are still cookies.  Dairy free ice cream is still ice cream.

The funniest (saddest?) additions to the health food aisles are fair trade products.  Fair trade is a great initiative but even if the cocoa farmer in Bolivia gets paid fairly for his beans it doesn’t make your chocolate any healthier for you.

How do I know what really is healthy then?

Eating less out of packets and more from the fresh produce sections is a practical way of staying away from faux health foods.  Although sometimes for convenience sake a packet makes it into the shopping trolley.  So if buying food in a packet look at the back of the pack.  Read the ingredients.  What’s in it?  I know some real food groups suggest only buying something in a packet if it has less than 5 ‘real’ ingredients.  I’m not sure where the number five came from.  Applying common sense I think is always a good rule of thumb!  I try to stay away from added sugars, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners and flavours, anything that’s a number and stuff that I’ve never heard of.  I google ingredients I see on packets that I’m not sure about and find out what I’m eating.  The more you look at labels the better you become and understanding them.

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Kale pesto fish and veggies (a.k.a. fish and chips around here)

Fish and chips on the beach (with Watties tomato sauce, of course!)

Real Kiwi Fish and Chips on the beach (with Watties tomato sauce, of course!).  It might be a summer tradition but it’s not for regular consumption!

Many of us kiwis have fond memories of eating fish and chips at the beach on a summer’s evening.  We would feast on thick battered fish and large quantities of potatoes deep fried in cheap vegetable oil, heavily salted and smothered in Watties tomato sauce.  Whilst, my fish and chip recipe is almost unrecognisable from that of the quintessential New Zealand fare this is what we call fish and chips around here.

The Chips

I don’t have a potato phobia but this dinner can be heavy on the carbs if you equate chips to meaning spuds.  I like to include a few root veggies in my chip mix but I roast a variety of vegetables; different colors and from different families and mix it up each time.    Tonight: a bag of brussels sprouts, half a cauliflower, several carrots, a rutabaga, a turnip and a sweet potato.  They’re washed, some are peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces. I use a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and whack them into the oven for about an hour at 400F (around 200C).

The Kale Pesto

Throw all the ingredients in a blender and blend.  It couldn't be simpler.

Throw all the ingredients in a blender and blend. It couldn’t be simpler.

Making pesto is super simple and a batch will make enough to flavour several different meals.  Combine any normal pesto ingredients into your blender with washed, destemmed kale and you’re done.  Tonight I used kale, a handful of walnuts (pine nuts are more traditional but I like walnuts, pistachios would be nice too), garlic, a big bunch of basil leaves, lemon juice and olive oil.  I go light on the olive oil at first, blend the mix a bit, and then add in a little more oil if the consistency needs it.  If you are not sure about the bitterness of the kale and / or the garlic you can blanch them before blending (I didn’t bother and I think it tastes great).  Most pesto recipes include hard Italian cheese.  Go ahead and add cheese if you want to but I use cheese sparingly and I don’t think the pesto needs it so I leave it out.  Refrigerate the pesto you don’t use in a jar if you are going to use it in the next few days, otherwise pop it into the freezer.  Don’t waste it on stodgy pasta.  It’s great on chicken and vegetables too.

Keep the rest of the batch in the fridge for other meals.

Keep the rest of the batch in the fridge for other meals.

The Fish

Spread on fish fillets and bake until done.

Spread the pesto on fish fillets and bake until done.

Frozen, plain fish fillets are a staple in my freezer (check on the ingredients panel that you’re just buying fish and not fish covered with other stuff).  As much as I try to plan all our meals there’s the odd night when I need to pull something out of the freezer.  Frozen fish is really quick to cook up in the oven and can be served with frozen veggies if you are completely caught out and the vegetable bin is bare too.  Tonight I pulled out some frozen Tilapia (ingredients list on the packet reads: Tilapia – and nothing else).  I covered the fillets with my fresh kale pesto and in 15 minutes it was cooked to perfection.

Relax and Enjoy

Home made fish n chips.

Home made fish n chips.

Beer isn’t something I’m promoting as an essential ingredient in a healthy diet but we ate this with a nice cold Stella Artois.  That’s something we usually reserve for a Friday night but it’s been a loooooong week already and the beer rounded off the meal perfectly.

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Why did I eat that?!?

What we eat isn’t just about hunger or our taste buds.  There are hundreds of environmental cues that influence what and how we eat.  Brian Wansink is a Professor at Cornell University who comes up with super interesting experiments to answer just that question.  Here are some of my favourites:

The tomato soup experiment

Participants were invited to a restaurant for lunch.  All were given tomato soup, but unbeknownst to them, 50% of the bowls were slowly and imperceptibly being refilled as they were eating.  Not only did the people who were eating from the self-refilling bowls eat 73% more soup than those eating from normal bowls but frighteningly, they didn’t believe they had consumed more than anyone else at the table and they also reported the same amount of satiety as those eating from normal bowls.

Brian Wansink with his bottomless bowl.

Brian Wansink with his bottomless bowl.

The message: In Brian’s words, “people use their eyes to count calories and not their stomachs”.  The wisdom of our body’s mechanisms being able to tell us through feedback loops when we are full are fooled by visual cues.  The majority of us (in the US) eat until we clean our plates.  Our eyes influence how much we consume (because what’s on our plate is a portion, right?) and how full we feel may have more to do with how much we believe we ate and less to do with how much we actually ate.

BottomlessBowl

The popcorn experiment

For this experiment Wansink went to the movies and gave movie-goers free popcorn in either medium or large containers.  The popcorn eaters who were given the bigger containers ate over 45% more popcorn – but get this, the really surprising thing is the container size influence is so powerful that even when stale popcorn was put in larger containers (and the participants said they weren’t hungry) 34% more was eaten from a bigger container.  Even when foods are not palatable, large packages and containers can lead to overeating.

The message: we overeat foods we have (not necessarily foods we want).  Not only is this a good reminder that if we’re going to have junk food go for the smallest possible portion but this phenomenon can be used in reverse for increasing consumption of healthy foods.  Want to increase your kids’ vegetable consumption?  Increase their vegetable portion sizes.

The candy experiment

A bowl of chocolate kisses was rotated around an office.  Participants ate twice as many chocolates when the kisses were placed on their desk than when they were 6 feet away and had to walk to get them.  Whilst both the visibility and the convenience of the chocolates significantly contributed to how many were consumed, convenience (ie, being in close proximity) contributed more to over eating them than visibility did.  The participants were also more likely to lose track of how many they had eaten when the bowl was located at arm’s length.

The message: keep food off the desk and out of reach at dinner time.

Slide 1

The ice cream experiment

Participants were invited to an ice cream social, given bowls and spoons of different sizes and told to help themselves to ice cream.  Those with larger bowls and spoons not only served themselves more but also ate more.

The message: Use large plates for veggies if you need to increase your healthy food consumption and use small plates for dessert (if you are going to have it at all).  Moving from a 12-inch to a 10-inch dinner plate leads people to serve and eat 22% less

Why the French are skinnier than Chicagoans

Parisians and Chicagoans were surveyed and asked how they knew they were done eating.  The French said they knew they had finished their meal when the food no longer tasted good or were full.  The Americans said they knew they were done eating when their plate was empty, the group they were eating had finished or the TV show they were watching was over.

The message:  You’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight if you learn to be influenced by internal cues instead of using external cues to know when to stop eating.

FrenchParadox-Obesity-2008-Wansink-Cartoon

Other super interesting Wansink finds

  •  Low fat labels lead people to eat 16-23% more total calories
  • You’re 30% more likely to eat the 1st thing you see when you open the fridge or cupboard (so stock your fridges and cupboards wisely!)
  • 50% of the snack food bought in bulk is eaten within six days of purchase
  • The average person makes over 250 decisions about food in a day
  • A person will eat on average 92% of any food they serve themselves
  • Both children and adults will drink 76% more out of a short, wide glass than a tall narrow glass of the same volume (but perceive the opposite to be true)
  • If the buffet costs more you eat up to 42% more

Slide 1I wouldn’t fall for that!

 A commonality in the outcomes of these studies is that we think we are better at self monitoring than we are.   The bottomless bowl soup eaters didn’t think they had eaten any more than the people with the normal bowls; the office candy consumers lost track of how many they had when the bowl was within reach; some of the participants in the ice cream experiment were nutrition experts (and not immune to serving themselves more ice cream in the bigger bowl) and a movie-goer who had happily munched down more popcorn than the claimed “I wouldn’t fall for that!”.

We think we are better at self monitoring than we are.  Whilst knowing about these traps helps reduce our perceived vs actual consumption we still wrongly think we can self monitor to overcome bias more effectively than we actually can.

Learning to pay attention to when your body has had enough is easier said than done.  Start by using the visual cues such as smaller plates, serving smaller portions not going back for seconds or leaving food within sight and reach.  Also try to make meal times as relaxing as possible, slow down, turn off the tv, try to stop at the “I could eat more” stage rather than the “I’m stuffed stage”, and remember you don’t need to finish everything on your plate.

Want to read more from Brian Wansink?  www.mindlesseating.org and he’s He’s also the author of: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (2006) New York: Bantam-Dell.

References:

Wansink B, Painter J.E, North J (2005) Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake.  Obesity Research. 13:1 (January) 93 – 100

Wansink B, Junyong Kim (2005) Bad Popcorn in Big Buckets: Portion Size Can Influence Intake as Much as Taste.  Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.  37:5 (Sept – Oct) 242 – 245

Wansink B, Cheney M (2005) Super Bowls: Serving Bowl Size and Food Consumption.  Journal of the American Medical Association, 293:14 (April) 1727-1728

Painter J.E, Wansink B, Hieggelke J.B (2002) How Visibility and Convenience Influence Candy Consumption.  Appetite, 38:3 (June) 237-238

ChineseBuffet-Obesity-2008-Wansink-Cartoon

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Lemony greens and beans

My husband is out of town and the kids had leftovers so I just wanted to whip up something quick and easy for myself tonight and use up the red chard and kale that was still hanging around the fridge from last week’s veggie box delivery.

I’m not sure if this is going to be a family favourite, but by gosh, I enjoyed it!

I chucked into the pan finely chopped onion and cut up stems from the red chard.

Followed by the chopped leaves of the chard and maybe half a dozen kale leaves.

I added tin of cannellini beans

Grated in some lemon zest then added the lemon juice and a splash of leftover chicken broth to give it some moisture and flavour.

Then finally a couple of black olives and some capers to jazz it up.

It was better-than-expected good for something that was just using up some leftover veggies.

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Cauli fried rice

What was Rafa eating in the last post?  It was my version cauliflower “rice”.

If you read these sort of blogs you’ve probably stumbled across cauliflower rice before.  It’s just cauliflower blended until it looks like rice and it is from the same line of thinking as spaghetti zucchini, carrots or squash.  It’s just another way of reducing pasta and rice intake and upping the veggies.

If you’ve never made it before, here’s a few tips:  If you’ve got a decent food processor be careful not to over do it and end up with cauliflower mush (it breaks up really quickly).  I use a Vitamix on about 6 (moderate speed) and throw in individual cauliflower pieces whilst it is on and then removing the mix in small batches so there isn’t soup going on at the bottom.  Another method is to put roughly chopped pieces in a blender altogether with water which makes the blending more even then strain out the water when it’s done.  A hand grater works fine also.  It also freezes really well so you can pull out portioned batches as required.

cauli rice 1

Cauliflower has such a mild taste that it’s a little nondescript when eating it just by itself.  It’s great with something with lots of flavour particularly something spicy.  I like it with a slightly saucy dish but if you top it with a really running sauce it can water log.  Likewise microwave cooking can water log it a bit (but if you do want to use the microwave, don’t add water), steaming works fine but pan frying is my favourite.  Again because of it’s moisture content, it can’t be used as a rice substitute in recipes that need rice to absorb liquid, so risottos, casseroles and puddings aren’t going to work.

cauli rice 2To make something similar to this: fry up an onion and a bit of garlic.  Add the cauliflower and anything else you’d normally put in to fried rice.  I used both frozen and fresh veggies, some left over pork and a bit of egg which I made into an omelette in the pan before I started.  Add a bit of chilli powder, a touch of soy sauce if that’s your thing and there you have it.

cauli rice 3My three-nager turned her nose up at the look of it (which is how we start most meals at the moment).

cauli rice 4But once she tried it she had to admit it was pretty good.

cauli rice 5Rafa needed no convincing.  Another meal time success.  Oh, except one caveat, the floor did need a bit of a clean up after.  It’s not the cleanest meal for a kid whose spoon skills are still a work in progress.

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Kids and veggies

My mom sent me the results of a recent food survey conducted in New Zealand where 500 moms were asked about their children’s eating habits.  Perhaps not surprisingly to any parent, 85% of moms said they had at some stage experience fussiness from their kids at meal times (we’re all nodding, right?).

The survey went onto strategies used to get healthier food into their kids:

  •  Hiding/disguising food – 57%
  • Using sauces – 51%
  • Bribing with treats – 39%
  • Making food into shapes – 32%
  • Withholding treats – 31%
  • Sticker or rewards charts – 26%
  • Making threats – 22%

Whatever works for other parents is cool with me.  This parenting gig isn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be, but I’m not sure that hiding veggies or covering them with BBQ or cheese sauce is really giving the right message.  Neither am I convinced that bribes are great in this situation either (and I admit that I sometimes use yoghurt or fruit after dinner as encouragement, a.k.a a bribe, for making a bit more effort on the main).  We all do what we can do, right?  But I thought I’d share my top strategies that (for the most part) have worked for encouraging my kids to be good veggie eaters.

salad

Ana making salads for herself and Rafa.

  1. Eat healthily yourself.  I’m convinced this is the most important thing you can do.  We all know how much our kids like to imitate us.
  2. Always include veggies at every lunch and dinner.  Even if it’s not a huge serving and some of it goes uneaten, always have them as an option.  The idea?  That veggies are the norm at meal time.
  3. Keep kid friendly, quick and easy veggie options in the house.  Those little snack packs of carrots and sugar snap peas are great.  Our freezer always has a couple of packs of back up veggies too.  Frozen peas, broccoli, beans and corn are always on hand.  Even on lazy dinner nights it’s easy to put some kind of veggies on their plate.
  4. Keep the veggie thing battle free.  If they don’t eat all their veggies that’s ok.  I do encourage at least a couple of bites so they have some, and can develop a taste for healthy food but I don’t expect them to love everything I make or feel like they have to eat everything on their plate.  If they are having some at every meal then that’s great.
  5. Start early.  If veggies have been a key part of their diet since they started solids again that’s what is expected.
  6. Your kid isn’t going to starve.  This was big in my house when we were growing up and some nights we may have not eaten much but we knew that if we refused what was put in front of us we weren’t going to get what we wanted later.
  7. Educate your kids on different kinds of veggies and talk about them positively.
  8. Involve them.  I’d love to have a veggie garden but at the moment that’s not practical for us.  We do have a cherry and an apple tree though which is a huge source of family fun.  The kids also help buy and prepare veggies.
  9. Food isn’t “good” or “bad” it’s just food we eat regularly and food we eat on special occasions.  I’m not going to tell my daughter who is delighting in her ice cream vacation treat that it’s “bad”.  How can something that tastes so good to her be bad?  But she does know it’s a vacation treat and I think that’s the important lesson.
  10. Remember you’re the mom.  Until the kids are old enough to buy their own food what they eat is on you.  They may whine a little now but they’ll have much more to whine about if they end up to be unhealthy adults.
Rafa enjoying cauliflower "rice"

Rafa enjoying cauliflower “rice”

I’m interested to know from other moms, what works for you?  Or can you remember a good strategy that got you to eat veggies when you were a kid?

The study was conducted by Anchor CalciYum and was reported in Waikato Times.

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