Monday, August 31, 2009

Eat Your Vegetables

I seriously dislike these words. How many times have you heard these words? Maybe you have even said them yourself (especially if you have children?)... Well, here is why I don't like the words "Eat your vegetables:"
  • They put too much emphasis on vegetables as if there was something "wrong" with them; you really never hear people say, "Eat your ice cream."
  • Often these words are followed by, "And then you can have some dessert/ice cream/chocolate/candy/cake..." - Again, it makes it seem like there is something "wrong" with vegetables.
  • If someone tells me to do something, I naturally rebel and don't want to do it. It's no different with children as far as I can tell...
  • Food should bring joy to our lives; being told to eat something is not very joyful...
When the teenager was a toddler, people were always amazed by the wide variety of salads and vegetables he ate. (And I got mad when they made a REALLY big deal about it as I didn't want the teenager, then a toddler, to think that liking vegetables was unusual...).

While the teenager has always eaten a wide variety of vegetables, there were times when he didn't like a particular vegetable. Sometimes he didn't even like the smell or look of something. I usually tried to convince him to try it at least once, but I never forced him. If he didn't want to eat a particular vegetable, he just ate another vegetable or more salad. Over the years, he has grown to like almost every vegetable I make.

Now, it's tempting to take credit for his love for vegetables and attribute it all to my parenting skills and the wide variety of salads and vegetables offered on a daily basis. :o) Well, almost two years ago I was blessed with the arrival of the toddler - a very energetic, strong-willed, independent child. The toddler certainly likes fruits and vegetables. BUT, he is VERY particular about what he likes on any given day. It may be peppers on Mondays, tomatoes on Tuesdays, zucchini on Wednesdays. But don't you dare come near him with a pepper on Wednesday!!! :o)

I still believe in not forcing children (or for that matter anyone) to eat vegetables or "making a big deal" about them. However, I also realize that I got a bit lucky with the teenager... So I have started to make all sorts of soups, stews, and sauces with "hidden" vegetables. The toddler loves them, and if he can't identify it, he won't get upset if I feed him a pepper on a Wednesday! :o)

Last night, I made some roasted vegetables, my favorite way of preparing and eating them these days. And the toddler ate them all...

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Here are the veggies (red bell pepper, zucchini, potatoes, & red onions) that I tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt & pepper before I put them in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes
And here they are done! :o)
Questions: What is your favorite vegetable? What vegetable(s) do you not like? Were you ever forced to eat your vegetables?

Be well,


  1. Anonymous8/31/2009

    Roasted veggies are a great side dish - so easy to make and always delicious! I like lots of different vegetables, green beans are probably the least likely to appear on my table.

  2. I used to hate, hate, hate zucchini and squash. They still aren't my favorites, but I've learned to appreciate them a bit more as I've gotten older?

    My favorites? Broccoli, fresh green beans, and cucumbers.

  3. I agree that the WAY in which we say something has serious impact on how the words are received.

    I adore tomatoes and peppers and cucumber. I like mashing cauliflower and baking sweet potato.

  4. I was never forced to eat but veggies--I just always loved them!
    I've always liked vegetables more than meat too and I'm not even a vegetarian! HA
    I looove zucchini, squash, green beans and cauliflower! Yum!

  5. Great post! That's smart to roast veggies like that - nom, nom, nom. I would want to put feta cheese on mine. hehe (therein lies my problem!) Growing up I was a green beans only kinda girl (only hot); carrots (only cold). Now I don't think i've turned down a veggie - my faves are definitely tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and every pepper - they're the most versatile for my recipes, but i'm getting into cucumbers, zucchini, squash and broccoli more and more... haha

  6. I couldn't agree with you more
    I had to sneak all sorts of veggies in on my teen than toddler too...(our kids are polar opposites) it's my NOW toddler that eats his veg's

    and he too is "day of the week" specific!
    that is so funny!

    GREAT JOB!!!

  7. hahaha, i love this. i wish someone would tell me to eat my ice cream! luckily i was never told to eat my veggies, i never liked a lot of veggies until recently but now i can't get enough of them. making up for lost time perhaps? your roasted veggies look good. still trying to determine the difference between roasted and baked veggies! i can't pick a favorite, probably mushrooms or asparagus. there is not one i don't like!

  8. My favorite vegetable is ripe red tomatoes, sliced, cold, with a bit of salt & pepper. I could often make a meal of homegrown tomatoes. In fact I do often meake of meal of them. Tomatoes are my favorite part of summer.

    BTW I tried quinoa for the first time this weekend. It was wonderful.

  9. I totally make that veggie combo all the time. I put them on the stove though instead of the oven and use club house 'veggie' seasoning instead. You should try it. It's very yummy this way as well!!!!

    BTW - I totally agree with you regarding the whole 'eat your veggies' thing. I does end up making veggies out to be the bad guy and it shouldn't.

  10. I love your outlook at this, very much. I agree that many parents put way too much presure on their children, and thus cause them to dislike veggies without even giving them a chance! Another problem our society has is in the commercials, such as the Chef-Boy-RD commercial, where the mom is trying to hide the fact that their in one serving of vegetable in the product. It's ridiculous!!
    My favorite vegetables are mushrooms, eggplant, and tomato, but I also ike beans and corn and brussel sprouts!

  11. Veggies are amazing. My kids are opposite. DD likes hers raw or, if cooked, still crisp. DS on the other hand, prefers his cooked up or better yet, mixed into something. While eating an enchilada once, he informed me that "this was the ONLY way he liked corn:. :)

    The only veg I do not like (and it bothers me to no end because it's my fave coulour) is eggplant. **SHIVER**

  12. I just found your blog and can't wait to read more!
    As for veggies, there was always a "no veggies, no dessert rule" in my house.I never liked veggies growing up, but now my favorites are broccoli, eggplant, and onions. Not a fan of beets though!

  13. I used to avoid eating veggies when I was younger, but over the years I grown to appreciate them more and more to the point where I could eat them at any time.

  14. Gorgeous veggies, Andrea!

    I am really struggling with Maddie and getting her to eat just about anything other than PB&J or Chicken Nuggets these days!

    I don't force her to eat them... she does have to try "one bite" of everything at least (which is a new rule we just started this weekend!)... we'll see how that goes!

    We definitely were not forced to eat veggies when I was growing up. Unfortunately, our main food groups were McDonald's and Pizza with tons of pepperoni! Thankfully, I love my veggies now!

    I'm still not a fan of brussel sprouts at this point...

  15. Anonymous8/31/2009

    I used to be extremely picky with my veggies when I was younger, but my parents never forced me to eat what I didn’t like. I very much appreciate that they did that now, and I’m sure the teenager and toddler will too :) But sneaking in those veggies in pasta sauces, casseroles, and other dishes is a great way to get them to eat veggies without forcing it!

    Currently, I can’t think of a vegetable that I will absolutely refuse to eat, but must admit I’m not a fan of mushrooms, big chunks of onions, and celery. I will eat them if they’re mixed in with stuff or cut in small pieces.

    My favorite vegetables are romaine, green beans, lotus root (Asian veggie), zucchini, cooked tomatoes, ummm everything :D

  16. I am kind of like your toddler; I prefer my veggies roasted!!!! It's the best way to prepare them in my opinion :)

  17. Those look delicious! I've always LOVED tomatoes and just cant' get enough of them in any color or size!

  18. Anonymous8/31/2009

    I'm totally with you. I hate to "rate" foods with the "you can have X after you finish Y". That doesn't mean I don't ever do that but I do try to catch myself before those words come out of my mouth. I think it's sort of ingrained us!

    My 5 yo is much more willing to eat vegetables than my 3 yo, it was exactly the same when they were babies too. I always remember that sometimes kids need to try something 20 times before they start to like it and consider it as something they'll eat with hesitating. Knowing that helps me feel better when they reject a new food I offer for them to try.

  19. Anonymous8/31/2009

    I totally agree with your philosophy!! I think that your approach is totally why the toddler loves veggies!! I hope I can approach eating well the exact same way when I'm a mom!!

    My mother doesn't like a lot of veggies-therefore she didn't encourage me to eat them much as a child- the result? I love almost every veggie!!

  20. I don't think there is a vegetable that I really don't like...I'll take anything! I did grow up in a house where we had salad and vegetables at every meal and that was normal - which I thank my parents for all the time!!!

  21. I love everything, and my toddler son will eat almost anything i put in front of him, although he loves his rice, pasta and grits most of all, except fruit candy, he and i both HATE all kinds of cheap fruity candies. Dad offered it to him first just to see what he would do, so that we knew i didn't influence his decision. But he still hated it. Yuck!

  22. i love all veggies, but my fave are all the sweet ones - beets, carrots, etc....

  23. I am a veggie lover!! (I have to choke down fruit though.) As a kid, I loved Veggies which was odd because my family was one of those "Eat whatever you want, I don't mind cooking you an extra meal because you don't like what I made" families... So my dad would make pork chops and mashed potatoes for the family and peas for me.

    My favorites? Broccoli, Snap Peas, Peas. Definitely.

    And as you mentioned, I really REALLY hate when people make a big deal out of my daughter eating healthy. My goal is for her to always eat healthy and enjoy the healthier foods.

  24. Anonymous9/01/2009

    I feel like I've failed if the only way I can get veggies into a few of my kids is to "hide" them. LOL Glad I'm not the only one. I do have them try a bite of everything each time though, vegetables or any food, for that matter. Can't say they don't like it if they've never tried it!

  25. LOVE veggies - there are very few I don't like. I'm not too crazy about fennel (but love fennel seeds?!) or peas (only in Indian food). I used to hate mushrooms (texture) and spinach but now they are my favorites. Oh, and brussel sprouts! Once I learned how to cook them, I was hooked. Your roasted veggies look yummy!

  26. I've never thought about this before! You're right, it does send a negative message.
    My favorite veggies are always roasted...carrots, asparagus, zucchini...yum. I have also been really into mushrooms with everything lately for some reason!

  27. I love veggies, and roasted, yumm!! What a great post especially with showing toddlers how to enjoy vegetables.