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Getting vegetables into ALL your meals – plus Ranch Dressing and Broccoli Slaw recipes

Vegetables

VEGETABLES, Photo by "tellgraf", Image ID: 881416, http://www.sxc.hu/

Just about any health authority recommends eating more fruits and vegetables.  The CDC even has a calculator to tell you how much is recommended for you based on your age, gender, and activity level.  

Generally, I don’t have any problem getting fruit into my kids.  No, not juice, which kids drink way too much of, but actual real whole fruit.  It is sweet and delicious, and since I deal with all the mess and work of buying, cutting, and preparing it, all they have to do is love eating it.

But, sometimes veggies are a different matter.  Fruit, we generally eat close to how nature provided it.  I will cut it up or peel it, if necessary, but we usually have it raw and unseasoned.  Veggies however, can get to be a bit boring that way.  And, there are some veggies my kids don’t like raw, such as broccoli. 

So, a lot of the time I either steam the veggies and serve them with a bit of real butter, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, or roast them in the oven in a bit of olive oil.  We do this with root veggies similar to Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten.  We also like to cook broccoli and asparagus by roasting in the oven.  So, that takes care of the dinner veggies; but what about breakfast and lunch?

Now that my girls are in school and packing a cold lunch this has presented a bit of a challenge.  During Pre-K, they would eat lunch at home and we would just heat up leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.  But now, since they have to eat their lunch cold from a lunchbox, that is not an option.

The triplets like salad, but Emma doesn’t.  So, green salads for lunch each day would not be a solution.  I have tried making a simple broccoli slaw and that goes over well with three of them, but again Emma is not that crazy about it.  The veggie and grain salads using such things as quinoa that I have tried have not been well-received.  So, this leaves putting some raw grape tomatoes (LOVED by all) and some baby-cut carrot sticks in just about all their lunches.  I usually include a little container of either homemade hummus or homemade ranch dressing with it.  But, kind of boring.  Do you have any other ideas for incorporating veggies into kid’s lunchbox lunches?

That brings us to breakfast.  A while back, we participated in the “100 days of real food” blog’s “Mini-Pledge Week 1: Fruits and Vegetables” where you were supposed to “Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.”  Dinner is no problem, lunch we can do with the tomato/carrot option, and we always have fruit at breakfast.  But, how to incorporate veggies into breakfast on a daily basis?

Spinach, Tomato, Mushroom, Shallot, & Goat Cheese Fritatta

Spinach, Tomato, Mushroom, Shallot, & Goat Cheese Fritatta - Don't let the smile fool you, she only ate half of it!

My kids like scrambled eggs and we have them at least five times a week for breakfast as they are a cheap and healthy source of protein.  So, the most obvious solution is an omelet or frittata where I  add some veggies such as spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. to the eggs.  But, when I have tried that, they only eat about half their eggs and they complain that they want their “plain eggs” instead.  I even think that serving dinner-style steamed veggies as a side to plain eggs may be received better. 

Another option it to serve raw or grilled tomatoes (British-style) as a side.  I have also tried Everyday Paleo’s baked eggs that include spinach and sweet potatoes and “Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Parmesan”, also known as “Eggs in Purgatory” from various sources.  They ate these, but again, wanted to go back to plain scrambled eggs.  For snacks we have done “green smoothies” by adding raw spinach to yogurt, fruit, and milk in the blender.  They liked it, but more as a snack, not so much for breakfast.

So, I am looking for ideas on how to incorporate vegetables (not as juices) in ALL your meals, especially into breakfast. 

– Stacey

Here are a couple of my recipes for some of the foods mentioned above:

Simple Broccoli Slaw

  • 1 bag Broccoli Slaw (12oz, about 4 cups, shredded broccoli stems with a bit of purple cabbage and shredded carrots)

    Broccoli Slaw

    Broccoli Slaw

  • 2 tsp prepared yellow mustard (adjust to your taste)
  • 3-4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Mix it all together in a large bowl.  Makes about 6-8 servings as a side. This is not a sweet slaw, but a bit spicy.

Ranch Dressing
(based on this one from allrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

    Ranch Dressing ingredients in bowl

    Ranch Dressing ingredients in bowl

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp dried chives
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Ranch Dressing in bottle

Ranch Dressing in bottle

In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. 

I pour mine into an old glass bottle and just keep in the fridge.  If you have kids (or a husband that likes ranch dressing), you will use it pretty quickly.  Shake before serving.

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About feedingmytribe

Mom to four 10-year-olds. Trying to find my way through the confusing world of food and nutrition to provide my girls with a healthy start in life.

4 responses »

  1. This is a great topic! I think a LOT of parents struggle to get the veggies in for lots of reasons. I have one child with a sensitivity to strong tastes, textures, and smells, so it was always a challenge for me to even get him to TRY something new. Because of this, I always make sure that there’s at least one thing on the table he likes and it’s usually a vegetable (more health bang for my buck). My experience is that most kids respond best to raw veggies or ones that are very simply prepared. I’m not good myself at getting in as many veggies as I should, so I tend to add them in easily to other things I’m making. I make vegetarian chili, or meatloaf with shredded veggies in it. I add extra veggies to spaghetti sauce, chili, any kind of casserole. Kind of funny, but my kids love mac and cheese and on rushed evenings we did have it–but with tuna and peas mixed in. I think it was several years before my kids figured out that not everybody eats mac and cheese that way! But to this day, even entering adolescence, my food-sensitive child will choose to add peas to stuff he’s eating, and he’s begun to try foods he has never tried before. The other thing that I think is sometimes a challenge–just by cost if nothing else–is getting fresh veggies in. I realize not every family can afford or has the resources to access fresh, healthy produce. I always shopped the sales and whatever was on sale that week I worked into our meals. There were times we either couldn’t afford or couldn’t access places like a farmer’s market, but we had a small supermarket near us that had some good produce deals, and I tended to buy from there. I hope other people will post their ideas too–I love to see what other people do!

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle,
      I know that fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive…a function of our government’s subsidizing the soy and corn industries and not farmer’s that grow veggies. But, most folks want their cheap sodas thanks to the subsidy of HFCS, so what can you do?
      I feel that you should not let “the perfect be the enemy of the good”, meaning if you can’t afford all organic fresh veggies and fruits (we can’t), then buy non-organic ones or buy frozen veggies. Check out which ones are more important to get in organic by seeing the Environmental Working Group’s list here: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list/ There are some concerns about BPA and high sodium levels in canned veggies, but frozen is fine. It is better for a kid to be eating a non-organic apple or eating frozen broccoli that it is for them to be eating junk food.
      As you said, buy what is on sale and plan your menu around it. For example, when I am at the local grocery that marks the ripe bananas down to 25 cents a pound while the green ones are 65 cents a pound, I buy the ripe ones. They are sweeter and ready to eat. Also, if you buy what is in-season, you are more likely to find it on-sale. I found a blog that has a post on “9 Ways to Eat Healthily (and Cheaply)” at http://www.fitclub661.com/9-ways-to-eat-healthily-and-cheaply/ and it has some tips on getting cheaper veggies and fruits. You can also plant your own garden if you have the space and weather conditions for it. We have a small one this year, but the oppressive heat here in OK and lack of rain have resulted in us not getting a lot of food out of it, mainly grape tomatoes and cucumbers. But, my kids have relished eating those since “they grew themselves”.
      Thanks for you comments, Stacey

      Reply
  2. Here is another link to a site with suggestions for “Eating Healthy on a Budget”: http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_eating_on_budget.htm

    Reply
  3. Pingback: School Lunch – What We Pack « Feeding My Tribe

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