My kids are weird OR How to get your kids to eat vegetables

But I don’t mean it in a bad way.  Don’t you love it when people say things that are really rude and then suffix it with this self-protective sheath of “But I don’t mean it in a bad way.”  Or when they are about to say something totally insulting and decide to prefix it with, “Now, not to offend anyone, but…” and then they proceed to say something that they know very well is meant to offend.  I so love that.  Or not.  Drives me nuts.

“I don’t want to offend you but you’re totally stupid and wrong and you obviously don’t have a brain in your head.”

Doesn’t that sound sincerely inoffensive because of the desire-not-to-offend clause?  I totally buy it.  Yup.  I do.  Because I’m an idiot who believes suffixes and prefixes that totally contradict the main point that a person is making.  It sort of reminds me of people who say they want unity, compassion and forgiveness but then proceed to mock anyone who disagrees with them, thus polarizing things even more. Mmmm… I just love it when people do that.

And don’t you love how I have gone off on a total tangent that could be fodder for a couple of posts wherein I would have to do a lot of shoe eating if I said exactly how I feel about anything and everything and everybody when I really just came here to tell you that my kids are weird but not really because the only reason I was originally saying they were weird is that they LOVE vegetables?  Hello?  Is anybody there?  Do you like my run-on sentences?  Are you listening internet?  Or am I just echoing down the empty corridors of my DSL connection?  Echo…. echo…. echo….

So my kids are weird.  See?

boys silly

So my kids aren’t really weird.  I mean, they have their quirks like any kids.  A couple of them still pick their noses.  One of them would rather have his loose teeth hanging by threads than have them pulled and receive cash rewards.  They love watching science videos from the library.  But really, they seem pretty normal by most counts.

See?  Normal as anything…

boys2

Except for their overwhelming cuteness.  That can’t be normal.  No.  That is entirely unique to my own children (and yours… and your grandchildren and my nieces and nephews… and your nieces and nephews.)

boys 2

The weird thing about them is that they really love vegetables.  Not all vegetables, mind you.  But certainly more than I ever liked as a child.  I have yet to make egg plant for them.  And I haven’t figured out a delicious way to prepare beets yet.  Have you?  Any fail safe recipes?

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Many people have asked me how on earth I get my kids to eat things like Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts and Parsnips.  This question has a multi-part answer.  #1 being I ROAST THEM.  Roast your veggies with a bit of olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt and maybe a bit of fresh herbs and your children are probably going to be a little more likely to at least try them, if not beg for them in the future.

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My #2 answer involves parenting choices rather than cooking choices.  Here it is:  I make them eat them.  Yes, I do.   I do this thing that is apparently somewhat unpopular these days from what I have heard.  I actually make my children eat veggies.  If I serve something, they have to eat at least a small helping of it.  There are no alternative meals when I make dinner.

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My kids are learning to like things simply by having them placed repeatedly before them. My oldest used to really not like brussel sprouts but now eagerly takes a nice helping of them whenever I serve them.  I try to tell them, whenever they don’t like something, that their taste buds will develop over time and that they will likely eventually like things that they used to not like.  And I make sure to share with them some of the things that I used to not like that I love now.

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I still don’t like fish.  But we won’t go there, okay?  Good.

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So if I have to give a full answer as to how I get my kids to eat such a variety of foods, I have to include homemade baby food into the conversation.  I think feeding them homemade baby food probably made a substantial difference in how they responded later on to new food tastes.  Don’t get me wrong; each of them have gone through various stages of pickiness and some are pickier than others over all.  But I really believe that homemade baby food trains a baby’s tongue to enjoy a variety of tastes because the different foods actually… taste different.  What a concept, eh?  Now don’t get me wrong… I’m no super mom.  I went through phases where I was just too tired to make homemade baby food and decided to just buy the jarred variety.  I could only do it for a couple of weeks at a time though before deciding that that stuff just smells too nasty.  If you’ve ever tasted it, you will know that it tastes about as bland as anything could ever taste.  It trains babies to not crave actual flavor.  Each jar seems to just be a different variety of yuck.  It basically prepares them to think that things like Chef Boyardee Spaghettios are actually flavorful in comparison.  Fresh baby food tastes like what it is whether that be spinach, beets, squash, green beans, etc…  Jarred baby food, in comparison, tastes like mushed green and squished orange and blended yellow and pureéd brown.  Bleah.  So I have to say, start right by starting fresh!

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Lastly, I really try to not keep any junk food in the house.  Junk food being chips, “granola bars,” (I’m talking about those sticky ones that you’d be hard pressed to find a recognizable oat in) “fruit snacks,” and other packaged items that are marketed as “healthy” but probably have enough preservatives and refined sugars in them to keep them until the next millenium.  Give or take a century or so.  They can snack on apples, nuts, carrot sticks, sweet bell peppers or sugar snap peas.  Sometimes we will make popcorn or have corn chips with salsa or homemade yogurt.  When there are not any unhealthy options available healthy ones become automatic and eventually first nature.

bell pepper

Oh we still eat our share of naughty foods like brownies and ice cream and evil fatty foods.  But veggies… we must have veggies.  The Pastor didn’t grow up having to eat veggies so when we first got married his vegetable repertoir included Green Beans.  And at that point in my life I hadn’t discovered the difference in quality between fresh and frozen vegetables so we spent a couple of years eating rubbery green beans.  I was 20 when got married, okay?  I had a lot to learn!

We certainly still have our meals where we don’t get our fresh veggies in… and we certainly sometimes go without veggies entirely.  But too many days of this and I start feeling weighed down with veggie guilt — veggie guilt that The Pastor simply doesn’t understand.  He would live (or attempt to live), contrary to the scriptures, on bread alone.   Or bagels alone. Or crackers and peanutbutter alone.  Or cereal alone.  It’s not just veggie guilt though… I love them and crave them and am depressed when they were exceedingly expensive, which they often are when you live a couple thousand miles from where most of them grow.  I am always very happy when my kids beg me for vegetables.  It makes me know that I’m doing something right.

And then one of them punches the other and another one spits his food onto his plate and another wipes his hands all over his pants and I take back that last thought and grounds me once again in reality and I am summarily humbled.

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12 thoughts on “My kids are weird OR How to get your kids to eat vegetables”

  1. Nancy, it’s your fault for their weirdness! You brought that strain of DNA to the MIX! It’s a wonderful weirdness that I have witnessed in person and which permeates this blog!

  2. Don’t listen to my hunky-beet hating-hubby, Nan! Jeff’s an anti-beet-ite. (Seinfeld anyone?)

    I LOVE beets. I’ll find something for ya. Our kids like some veggies, but mostly raw. They don’t like the “mushy” ones. And by the way, our kids are wierd too. They like taking medicine. Go figure.
    Danielle

    Danielle & Jeff’s last blog post..Real Life Thursday-ooops I forgot!

  3. Wow Nan! You sound just like my mother! She never purchased the store bought baby food as she always made homemade meals for us too. I don’t ever remember a time that I didn’t like veggies. She did the same thing as you as we always had to eat whatever she planned for dinner. To this day I believe I could eat anything. When hubby and I lived in Korea, I ate things that would make the average person squirm and I owe that to my wonderful loving mother. You Rock! And your children are so adorable!

    Debbie’s last blog post..Road Trip Part 4 – Take Me Out To The Ballgame

  4. You’re a better woman than I am. I have gotten better about eating veggies and there are quite a few I actually like. Unfortunately they are all the ones my family does not like and I have nearly given up trying with them. And, yeah, I could live by the Pastor’s diet. I might be overweight and sickly if I tried to live by bread alone, but my tastebuds would enjoy it. Does spinach feta bread count as having a vegetable?

    Last night as I was channel surfing, I caught sight of someone roasting beets and they looked mighty delicious. That’s really saying something since I have been traveling everywhere with a bucket “just in case” for the past few days. Beets are pretty good raw dipped in a little ranch, too. Okay, I can’t talk about this any more.

    Jenni in KS’s last blog post..Winfield, Kansas

  5. I like almost all veggies. For one reason or another, Anja (our 1-yr-old) isn’t too fond of carrots. I thought they were a food most babies loved! But she eats tomatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, squash, even broccoli!

    Great post–and thanks for the roasting tip. I might have to try roasting them for Hubby sometime. He’s not always so good about eating his veggies.

    Minnesotamom’s last blog post..No Words Can Describe

  6. This reminds me of a time when a mom I knew in Oregon told me that she HAD to go somewhere because her 3 year old wouldn’t go anywhere else. I told her she should make sure her daughter used more than one phone book when driving! I’ve had fresh beets once. I think my friend just blanched them. They were quite yummy that way! My kids love raw carrots, but once I roasted them with butter and brown sugar and they didn’t like them. Crazy kids!

  7. About beets, Nan – fresh from the garden, wash them and trim off the messy ends. Cut them in half, or quarters if they’re big, then boil them for about 45 minutes or until a fork pokes in easily. Scrape off the peel, then serve them hot with butter, salt and pepper. Simple and wonderfully delicious to most of us. Josh still doesn’t like them. Mike and Anne grow them every summer and all of their kids love them.
    Aunt Loie

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