Summer Veggies At Their Best

by

Daniel shucks some corn.

If there is any time of the year that is best to try to entice your little ones to try vegetables, it’s now: mid-August, when the summer bounty is at its peak. Squash, eggplant, tomatoes, okra, corn, beans: They all should be in abundance now at your farmer’s market, roadside stand or grocery store, tasting their very best. Now you just have to convince your kids of that!

As I write in my book “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything,” children’s rejection of vegetables is a problem that just about every parent will encounter at some point along the way. Most uncooked vegetables, particularly dark green vegetables, have a sharp (or bitter) flavor that takes little palates some time to get used to. And too often, we parents give up in exposing our kids to these vegetables, instead of purposefully working to teach them to like them.

I give lots of tips for this in my book. One of the best is to emphasize vegetable exposure in a seasonal manner, so you can be sure that your kids are really getting the very best in terms of freshness and flavor. There is simply nothing like a perfect August tomato; let your kids try them on their sandwiches and take the time to point out how good they taste. Here are some other examples:

 Corn on the cob is a great food for little kids; one that can really engage them. Children as young as two can help you shuck, and they all enjoy eating right off the cob.
 Same thing with green beans: Let your kids help you string them!
 If you’re trying something that may present a new texture, like eggplant, cut the pieces into very small bites and make sure that kiddie bites are well-cooked, even more so than are yours. Don’t be afraid to sauté in olive or canola oil to soften the vegetables and add a familiar flavor.
 Often, the problem with kids eating vegetables is simply the preparation. Summer is the perfect time to try something a little different, like grilling vegetables. Slice up some bell peppers or zucchini and put them right on the grill with your burgers and hot dogs.

If you can get your child to taste and perhaps even like one new vegetable this summer, you’re doing well! Just remember to build on that: Remind him the next time how much he liked that squash or green beans when he tried them. Serve fresh vegetables often this month, when they are really at their best. And this is also a good time to make the point that vegetables are seasonal and we won’t have them again in this top form for another year.

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