Parents, let’s be honest with ourselves for a second.
We all try to get our kids to eat their vegetables. It’s practically a parental commandment that we must beg, bargain and battle the nutritious morsels into our kids.
But how many of us actually eat them ourselves? Not enough, according to nearly every survey on the topic.
The USDA recommends that most adults have between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, with the majority being vegetables. A serving is defined as about a cup of tightly packed leafy vegetables, or half a cup of chopped vegetables.
That most adults aren’t getting them into their diet is probably due to two main factors: taste preference or convenience.
To make veggies palatable for the whole family, get creative! Try hiding the vegetables. For instance, pureed vegetables can be incorporated into sauces and can be used in place of soup bases. Finely minced veggies can be used the same way and can also be incorporated into burgers, meatloaf or meatballs. Pureed or minced vegetables can also be used in homemade flatbreads. Simply add enough flour and salt to some pureed vegetables to form a dough, break into small pieces, roll out and cook on a griddle. Voila! Instant hidden veggie meals.
Another idea is to make baked chips. Kale chips, for example, are gaining popularity. Nearly any vegetable can be sliced thin, salted, spritzed with oil and then baked at 275 degrees until crisp.
Smoothies may seem like a good idea, but use caution. Processing vegetables in this way may sometimes damage both their fiber content and the nutrient density. Smoothies that rely on a lot of fruit to make the vegetables more palatable can also spike your blood sugar.
To make vegetables more accessible and convenient, plan ahead! If you’ve used one of the ideas above, portion them out before storing them. You can do the same with raw vegetables. Cut up some vegetables at the beginning of the week and store in small batches. So, when the munchies hit, you’ve got a ready-made snack. With a bit of advance planning, these snacks can become portable replacements for any fast food or vending machine snack that you presently find convenient.
So, parents: no excuses. Eat your veggies!
Neera Siva is a health enthusiast, mom, patent attorney and writer, in no particular order. She and her family live in Santa Clara County. Check out her website at healthierbites.com, or follow her on twitter @neera_avis.