My friend Zach is a fantastic writer and a moving-vehicle wizard. Unfortunately he has a weakness. More than one, really, but I don't have links to any of the others at the moment.
Shared with me by my dad the other day, a short NYT article about vegetables. He emailed me the in-line text, so I'll just copy it for you:
Learning to Love Veggies: Readers Weigh In
I’m overwhelmed! A recent column asking for suggestions on how to entice Americans to eat more vegetables drew nearly 600 e-mailed responses and a long, long menu of food for thought.
Most of the suggestions came from people who love vegetables and have already figured out ways to incorporate them into their own and their families’ diets. But equally instructive were those from people who said they were not especially fond of vegetables and suggested ways they could be made more appealing.
A recurring theme was that we should stop trying to sell vegetables for their health value (and stop scolding people for failing to eat enough of them) and instead focus on the positive — the delicious flavors and colors that can add so much variety to meals and snacks. Another was the importance of teaching people fast and simple techniques for achieving mouthwatering results.
As Elif Savas Felsen wrote, “If you teach Americans how to cook vegetables and stop yelling at them like some righteous food-health nut, they will learn.”
And Katherine Erickson urged that we “stop calling vegetables ‘sides’ ” and instead design meals around them.
Give children a taste for fresh vegetables early on — very early. As soon as my sons could pick up pieces to feed themselves, minimally cooked mixedadorned their food trays.
“Don’t give up,” L. K. Schoeffel wrote. “Keep making all those veggies a central part of your family meals.” If at first the children balk, reintroduce them again and again. And be sure to eat them yourself.
Introduce vegetables as fun foods, perhaps by reading, together, “The ABC’s ofand Beyond” (Ceres, 2007), cleverly written by Steve Charney and David Goldbeck and beautifully illustrated by Maria Burgaleta Larson, complete with poems, jokes, riddles, geography, recipes and ways to grow food.
Create a sense of ownership. If possible, have children help plant a little cherry tomatoes and toss them in a salad.or grow something edible on the deck or window ledge. Get them involved in choosing vegetables in the store or at a farmers’ market, remark about their interesting shapes and colors, and let children help prepare them. Even a 2-year-old can rinse
“Ask them how many peas they can pick up with their forks,” Edward Batcheller suggested. “Help them cut up string beans. Let them learn how to peel carrots. Come up with all sorts of vegetables, fruits, etc. that they can put together to make a good drink with the blender.”
Many readers urged schools to reinstate cooking classes for both girls and boys — learning about food can also reinforce lessons in math, science and geography — with a focus on fresh vegetables that are also served in the lunchroom. But lunch offerings of overcooked, tasteless vegetables will win no converts.
Children and adults often learn to experience new vegetables at other people’s houses — or while shopping. Supermarkets, big-box stores and other retailers can prepare vegetable tastings for anyone to sample.
As in decades long past, children should be served the same foods the grown-ups are eating. No special “kid food,” as several readers put it. Likewise in restaurants, dishes on the children’s menu should include lots of tasty vegetables in place of fries.
Dr. Susan Gardner of Houston asked: “Where are the parents of yesteryear who simply put varied andon the table and assumed that their active and busy children would eat them? No wheedling, no begging, no comment.” Carol Caputo of New York had a similar thought: “Parents today ask their kids what they want to eat. You are the parent, you decide. Don’t discuss food, just serve it!”
For that witching hour when the kids are hungry but dinner is not yet ready, serve cut-up fresh carrots, cucumber, celery or red pepper, or a combination, with a dip like hummus, salad dressingor seasoned yogurt. Edamame beans are a great snack — children love popping them out of the shells.
Hungry children are likely to eat what is readily available. If instead of cookies and chips, there is a platter of ready-to-eat vegetables or a bowl of cherry tomatoes handy, they just may eat them.
Even the most reluctant consumer of vegetables can handle them if they are grated or puréed and hidden in stews, soups,, loaves, and muffins. My family’s favorites included pumpkin and .
Missy Chase Lapine, who has won fame as the Sneaky Chef, suggested “slipping veggies in the meals people already like to eat, like spaghetti and meatballs. Once people realize that the meal they just loved contained spinach, they become more open to trying spinach straight up.”
Focus on Flavor
“Never boil them,” Walter Jacobsen wrote. “Even if they’re frozen, I think they taste much better, are much crunchier, if sautéed in a flavored oil.” A popular refrain: “What’s wrong with a little fat — olive oil or butter — to make vegetables more palatable?” As some noted, if you reduce the meat portion and buttered bread, there’s ample caloric room for some oil or butter — even pancetta or— to season the vegetables.
A very popular idea was a vegetable-rich soup (I used to purée the vegetables my boys rejected on sight), perhaps with tiny meatballs, chicken cubes or seasoned tofu. Consider making a big batch to eat for a few days, perhaps freezing some (labeled and dated) for another day. My lunch the other day was cabbage soup I cooked last year.that I’d made and frozen in 2008. Beneath it I found turkey and
Many readers suggested my own favorite: stir-frying vegetables in a little olive oil seasoned with garlic, onion, shallots or balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Another of my favorites: grilling vegetables, which can be done on the stovetop in a ridged grill pan as well as on a barbecue grill.
salt and pepper or herbs, and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they reach the desired texture., either individually or mixed, in the oven or toaster oven was another popular suggestion. Cut the vegetables into approximately equal sizes, toss with olive oil, season with
Roasted kale crisps for snacks were mentioned often. Margaret P. Mason suggests spreading a single layer of kale pieces on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake at 375 to 400 degrees. Turn them after about five minutes, making sure they don’t burn.
Juiced vegetables were frequently mentioned, too. Chester Chanin thinks restaurants should offer “appealing fresh vegetable juices as a complimentary side drink before the meal arrives.” I’ll drink to that!
I have to say that I love being able to copy-paste something here and not have it screw up the margins, font, color, and text size for the rest of my entry. I'll drink to that. Thank you, New York Times, for using Times font.
-It smelled like snow last night.
-My wrist appears to be re-injured.
-I am seriously considering starting another blog which will do nothing but list the reason, each day, that I did not go to sleep on time the night before.
-I commented on the most recent entry at www.misplacedmama.blogsome.com and received a response! How nice. I like her.
-People (Beth, Art, Tim, Sara) keep trying to convince me to participate in Nanowrimo this year. Thoughts?