Family-Friendly Ways to Dish Up Vegetables
Get everyone to eat more greens (and reds and oranges and yellows) with these deliciously simple serving ideas.
Once, your kids loved veggies—but then they stopped thinking it was fun to stick peas up their nose. So how can you help them get to the three to eight servings of vegetables that nutritionists say kids should eat each day? We took five of America's favorite vegetables and made them tastier (but still a snap to prepare). Use the ideas to get past the roadblocks to reaching your whole family’s veggie goals.
Veggie baked potato. Scoop out the flesh of a baked potato and mash with steamed broccoli and 1% cottage cheese to add protein and calcium (but few calories). Stuff filling back into the skin. Spuds with skin are packed with vitamin C and are one of the best sources of potassium and fiber.
Honey carrots. These crunchy root vegetables are vitamin A powerhouses, but they're typically served bland and uninspired. To make them more of a family pleaser, boil baby carrots until just tender, then add a dab of butter and honey.
Tomato tower. Tomatoes are our most common source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease and breast cancer. But we generally eat them in the form of sugar-loaded jarred spaghetti sauce or a use only a thin slice in a sandwich. Instead, stack slices of tomatoes with thin slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Kids still not impressed? Whip up Southwestern rice: Toss canned diced tomatoes and mild canned chile peppers with instant brown rice, and cook. Add shredded cheese.
Better broccoli. The antioxidants in broccoli may prevent colon and lung cancer—and its calcium is more easily absorbed than the calcium from milk, so it's a natural bone builder. But we usually serve this veggie raw (a major turnoff for most kids) or, even worse, overcooked to an unappetizing olive hue. Instead, serve microwaved broccoli with low-fat ranch dressing or protein-rich hummus for adults or kids with more sophisticated tastes.
Festive corn. This whole grain is rich in fiber (1 cup provides nearly 5 g) and contains antioxidants that promote eye health. Unfortunately, we keep serving it the same old way: boiled and boring or slathered in butter. To spice it up, try polenta parmigiana. Cook polenta (made from cornmeal, a more concentrated source of nutrients than fresh corn) according to package directions. Top with marinara sauce and low-fat mozzarella. Another idea: Mix equal parts frozen corn and canned creamed corn—it's naturally low in fat but has a consistency kids love. Warm over medium heat and sprinkle with shredded low-fat cheese.