I am an idealist. I write as if the world is perfect and in a perfect world, there are certain things that should be done. However, in this real world of ours, I know that everyone has their own set of circumstances, and cannot always follow ideals. My hope is that I give you enough information to be able to use in your own set of circumstances.
Ideally, you were raised on zucchini, butternut squash, spinach and a great diversity of other wonderful vegetables. If you were, great! You will love the following recipes. If you weren't like I wasn't, give them a try. I have made up these recipes or adjusted recipes I had to make them more delicious and palatable for even a picky eater. Even if you think your child will turn up their nose at your hard work, try them yourself. If they see you eating and enjoying them, it will make a difference to them. The more you put these very nutritious vegetables in front of them, the more likely they will begin to like them.
When I worked for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), I had a poster in my office that showed a child with a plate of broccoli in 10 different pictures. The captions went something like, "See it" with her nose turned up in the first couple, "Smell it" in the next two, then "Touch it", "Taste it", and finally "Eat it" in the last picture where she was happily chewing a big bite. It may even take longer than ten attempts at getting them to eat a new food, but you have to do your part by putting it on their plate. Begin to make these kinds of foods, fresh vegetables, more the norm, and sugary, calorie laden foods more of the exception.
Tip #1: reduce the amount of highly processed "junk food" in your kitchen. Make fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts available to you and your kids. I like to have a minimum of three different fresh fruits for them to choose from for snacks in the fridge or on the counter. You may find it helpful to have them pick out which ones they want when you go to the grocery store.
Tip #2: if you prepare a new food for a child (or a picky husband), and they won't try it, or they take a bite and say they don't like it, the worse thing you can do is to not ever prepare that food again. Here we go with the ideals...ideally, each time you fix it, your child becomes more and more apt to like the food.
Tip #3: make up a rule (and stick to it)...ours is you can leave one food on your plate, but you have to at least try everything. This, of course, means that you have to make more than one type of vegetable or serve a fresh fruit with your meal. Try not to make an enemy out of any one food--then it is just a contest of wills!
I have tried different recipes for creamed spinach, and they were either too bitter or not flavorful enough. Thus, I made up my own...not to toot my own horn, but it is good! As a bonus, the next day it is great in an omelet.
¼ lb. Pancetta, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoon butter
½ c. onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 lb. fresh spinach, cleaned, drained and chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup Parmesan, shredded
Chop the pancetta and fry in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Add butter and the rest of the olive oil. Add onions and cook on medium heat stirring often until soft. Add garlic and cook until beginning to turn light brown. Add spinach and saute for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add cream and take off the heat. Add the shredded parmesan, and stir to combine. Enjoy.
The following zucchini recipe is the bomb! I buy a big wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano at Costco that I use for many recipes, but not this one! It works best with the cheaper grated stuff.
Baked Zucchini Sticks with Parmesan Crust
6 T. butter, melted
2 zucchini, medium size
¼ c. flour, salted and peppered
¼ c. panko bread crumbs (use regular ones if you don't have panko)
¼ c. grated parmesan, cheap kind
Preheat the oven to 375. Cut zucchini into 3 inch sticks, thick cut. Dip in flour, then butter, then mixture of panko and parmesan. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with marinara or pesto for dipping.
If you have never had butternut squash, you are missing out. It is sweet and almost creamy. This is an easy recipe--the hardest part is peeling the skin off the squash.
Roasted Butternut Squash
1 small butternut squash
3 tablespoons or so of olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425. To prepare the squash, cut it in half. With the cut side down on your cutting board, peel the skin off using a vegetable peeler or a knife. Then cut both sides in half. Scoop out the seeds, and dice into small 1/2 in. cubes. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Then sprinkle on the salt and pepper and mix with clean hands. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until tender and brown on the edges.