Just in time for New Year, here’s a question from
Julia for our vegetarian chef: How do I
get my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables?

Vegetarian Chef Sara:  This is not
an easy one, especially if they’re not already in the habit of
eating fruits and veggies! But here are a few suggestions that just
might help.

  • Lead by example: If you wrinkle your nose at
    fruits and vegetables, chances are your children will as well.
    Don’t underestimate the power you have! I’ll never forget, many
    years ago when I implored one of my brothers, who at that time ate
    no vegetables except french fries, to at least try one of my
    homemade veggie burgers. His wife, young son and daughter sat
    around the kitchen table in awe, eyes wide, watching intently as my
    brother took his first bite. You could have heard a pin drop it was
    so quiet! He loved it so much he ate three! Following his example,
    everyone tucked in.
  • Set a new routine: Make it de rigueur to serve
    a vegetable soup or salad before the rest of the meal. Serve 2-3
    colours of vegetables on the plate for rounded nutrition and eye
    appeal.
  • Try recipes that have fruits and vegetables
    naturally
    as part of them: For example, soups made with
    squash and pear or apple, carrot or pea.
  • Involve the children: Bring them to a farmers’
    market or supermarket, and have them help select one new vegetable
    or fruit.
  • Buy fresh and good quality produce: When
    introducing new veggies and fruits, eat with the season.
    Introducing a child to a mealy flavourless winter tomato or hard,
    California strawberry in January, may turn them off for a very long
    time. Make their first taste, the best!
  • Try different cooking methods: Don’t assume
    just because a child doesn’t like a particular food prepared one
    way that they won’t like it prepared another. Children who don’t
    like steamed spinach may like it in a salad mixed in with other
    greens. Try roasting veggies to bring out the natural sweetness,
    fun stir-fries, raw nibbles with a yummy dip.
  • Tempt with familiar flavours: Season veggies
    with flavours your child already likes.
  • Make it easy: Keep a stash of veggie sticks
    and  cut-up fruits ready for snacking, any time. Serve with
    nutritious and delicious dips.
  • Marketing: Give dishes fun, kid-friendly names
    such as ‘Cheesy peas’ or ‘Taco bean dip’.

Sara Harrel is a passionate, dynamic vegetarian
chef who runs The Veg Company, a consulting firm specializing
in vegetarian cuisine and marketing. She teaches at George Brown
College Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts and writes a
column in the World Association of Chefs Societies
magazine.

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