Mom, do I have to eat this?


How many of us have heard this sitting across the table from our children?

Now, if yours are like mine, that remark is used automatically before ANYTHING green actually hits the plate. In fact, in my kitchen we have two quality control inspectors who make it their official duty to lift lids and inquire as to composition and features of each dish.

Furthermore if you have been living with the squished up faces, sighs, exclamations and stomping feet over 13 years, as I have, the desire to cook one more meal is just shy of electro shock therapy. So you rummage around in the cupboards, check the freezer and ask yourself do I have to cook macaroni and cheese one more time? So in an attempt to put the joy back into cooking I have developed some quick tips to turn those frowns upside down and make mealtime an enjoyable family event. Plus you will be taking steps toward preventing childhood obesity.

My 3 tricks/tips in the game of vegetable culinary warfare.

1.     Camouflage It

My kids love the sauces, like ranch dressing and melted/nacho cheese. So when it comes to getting green vegetables down their throats without whining and complaints I use these “camouflagers” . Now, you are probably saying ok, you got them to eat the healthy vegetables but what about the stuff you’re putting on them.

Well, this is where the stealth shopper in all of us has to be deployed. Look at ingredients carefully as well as the serving sizes. There are numerous fat free ranch dressings on the market today. The Hidden Valley Original Ranch® Fat Free has 0 grams of fat and no cholesterol. Kraft has a Free Ranch Fat Free Dressing (but be careful make sure you grab the “fat free” version.) It has 50 calories for 2 tablespoons along with 0 grams of fat and 2 grams of sugar.

The cheese sauces are more difficult and may require a visit to a health food store but there are several available online which are decent. Sargento makes a line of low fat cheeses and the mild cheddar is a good choice. One slice has 60 calories and 4 grams of fat. They also have shredded low fat sharp cheddar which has 90 calories with 6 grams of fat.

2.     Dip It

There are times when you can sense the attitude amongst the younger set and you know its time to head for the trenches. When everyone is wound up, ready to explode; I choose to go the cold cut route. A plate of cut up, diced up, sliced up veggies (carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, celery, peppers, radishes-whatever is in the fridge) and two or three fat free sauces/dips.

Here, fat free ranch is ideal (see above for options) but to change things up I will add a couple low fat varieties. These are easy to make with low fat cottage cheese or sour cream. Put in onions, dill, maybe a little ketchup for color and you have a dipping masterpiece. Additionally, Kraft has many low fat/no fat dressings but check the ingredients and pack away a couple family favorites for those days when you want a no hassle, vegetable consumption frenzy. What’s best about this “cooking” extravaganza is that I often gain a couple of helpers exploring their creative culinary talents in the kitchen.

3.      List It

Before any actual veggie cooking begins get a commitment and confirmation from the fussy eaters. “What cooked vegetables will you eat and agree to eat whenever I put them on your plate?” It’s a really good idea to check this list periodically. I’m sure you will remember the holiday meal of 20 relatives when you designed a menu based on these lists only to hear at the end of the table, UGGHHHH, mom I don’t like these anymore! So ask and ask again as tastes do change and maybe one day they may even surprise you with, “Mom, I had mushrooms at Jimmy’s house and they weren’t bad, maybe I’ll try them next time”.

Which brings me to my final point, when you are ready for guerilla warfare, put that artichoke or avocado on the table and tell them they can’t get up from the table until they try one bite. Oh, I know you’re probably asking yourselves has she gone crazy. Does she want a green beard? But hold on, there is a method to my madness. How will you ever expand their food choices, if they never put “one of those” in their mouths! My daughter didn’t like seafood, so I never bought it. As she approached the “wonderful” teen years and became a social creature, meals at friend’s houses were common. Lo and behold, wanting acceptance from a new acquaintance, she choose to eat the shrimp that was served at her friend’s house. You guessed it; arriving home she said “Mom, I like shrimp now, so when Suzy (the new friend) comes over can we have it for dinner?”

These tips/tricks have worked countless times in my battle with veggies plus they have expanded my kid’s palates to ensure they are healthy eaters. Try them and see if it improves your meal times and instead of whining you get compliance and an actual dinner conversation. Next, we’ll talk about an easier topic, fruits.

Bevin Wallace from Gaiam Life has what she calls gourmet eaters. Check it out

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what practices have proven successful in my household.

Looking forward to your comments and ideas!

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  1. something

    I love it Donna! The idea of “listing” is so smart. I’m pretty lucky here though. My kids and I eat pretty much the same stuff. If I don’t like it, it won’t be bought… UNLESS it’s something healthy the kids like. The biggest thing my kids will not eat that I do is liver! Lol! It’s cool. So many people don’t like it. What ever! Lol! I also like the idea of “social eating”. They will “try” a dish at someone’s home and tell me that they eat it “now”. So funny!

    Excellent blog! Love the photo too!

    Thank you for sharing!
    Tracy Allen recently posted..Gratitude &amp The MLM – “The Pyramid Scheme”

  2. donna thomas says:

    Tracy, Have the same issue with liver in my house and we too experienced the social eating issue at my house, ours was shrimp. Wouldn’t touch it when suggested or served by “MOM” but at a friends house, it was great. So we have explored the shrimp option and it is getting eaten! Bravo for friends!

  3. difficult

    Donna I appreciate you sharing these tips. From babies to teens it always has been difficult to get them to eat their vegetables. I have used a couple of your tips and the camouflage actually did work a couple of times! Also enjoyed how you wrote in some of your own personal experience with amusement.
    Lynn Brown recently posted..Creating Your Raving Fans- Top 3 Methods to Online Success

  4. broccoli


    To this very day I can get my son to eat broccoli when I spread it with low fat cheddar cheese. He knows it’s broccoli but he still eats it and loves it!

  5. children

    Nice tips on how to get children eat food that’s good for them. Thanks for sharing!
    Felicia recently posted..WPT- German dominated WPT Marrakech

  6. successful

    Felicia, After 3 kids and more than 20 years of being a mom, I have tried to come up with some ways to get over the temper tantrums… some work and some don’t! Are you a mom, do you have any great ideas that have been successful getting them to eat those greens?

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