The Top Ten List
Though my child’s repertoire for vegetables – and meals in general – continues to expand, below are the ones that made the original Top Ten list.
1. Baked sweet potato fries – This has been the biggest hit to date. Naturally sweet in taste, yams and sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients and are available year-round. They are simple to make, too. Just chop them into your favorite shape, season with olive oil, salt and pepper – and bake about 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
2. Raw broccoli, carrots, red pepper and cauliflower with “magic cream sauce” – There’s really nothing wrong with making magic with your food. As soon as I told my little guy that ranch dressing was magic cream sauce, he jumped on the boat (as have all his friends when they have come over for play dates).
3. Roasted broccoli – Though broccoli is usually well-received in our household in any shape or size, I find that roasting broccoli is super easy, especially when you are already baking something in the oven anyway. Like sweet potatoes, all you need is a little olive oil, salt and pepper (you could use garlic and/or steak seasoning, too) and bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
4. Edamame – This tradition started one night at a sushi restaurant and is now a favorite at home, too. This vegetable is loaded with protein, and is rich in rich in calcium, iron, zinc, and many of the B vitamins as well. I buy frozen edamame with and without the shell and boil it for 3 minutes. How easy is that?
5. Grilled asparagus – I discovered this wonderful dish while camping. First, flavor asparagus with chopped garlic, soy sauce and olive oil. Then throw it on a grill for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Pour the marinade back on the asparagus when serving, and you and the kids will love it.
6. Corn on the cob – This gains immense popularity when we grew our own corn, but the little corn dishes and skewers helped make the experience entertaining and enjoyable. Warning: Must be drenched in butter.
7. Almost fried okra – This tasty treat resembles the deep-friend Southern version, but is much more healthy. All you have to do is slice okra into bite-sized pieces and sauté them in olive oil, sprinkling a little corn meal and salt on top. I prepare fresh yellow squash the same way in the summer, and it makes a delicious side dish.
8. Mashed cauliflower – This one takes a wee bit longer, because you have to steam the cauliflower about 15 minutes in chicken broth. After that, all you have to do is smash it, add a small amount of mayonnaise or cream (1-2 TBSP, depending on your preference and how much you are making) and a little more broth, season with salt and stir. Yummy!
9. Baked potatoes – I am not sure if eating the potato is more about getting grated cheese and salt all over the table, or enjoying the actual vegetable; but baked potatoes are a slam dunk, any night. My little guy eats the entire potato, less the skin, as long as there’s plenty of fixins – such as broccoli, red pepper, bacon bits, and of course, butter.
10. Sautéed Spinach – Before I served this veggie for the first time, I prefaced by saying, “This is one of Mommy’s favorite veggies. You want to try it?” My child’s response? “Oh mommy, this is delicious.” To prepare, simply sauté in butter for about two minutes and serve. This vegetable has become his very favorite vegetable (and even tastier if you can grow your own spinach).
About The Author:
Melinda Hinson Neely is the author of EAT IN NOT OUT: The Learn-How-To-Cook-Book Without the Recipes. Selected by Barnes and Noble selected the title as a “Compelling Read from Authors You Need to Know,” the book is now available on the NOOK, Kindle and in print. Her first book Finding Life’s Secret Sauce provides tips for fitting good food, fitness and fun into your crazy, busy schedule. You can enjoy more healthy living tips via her blog, http://melindahinsonneely.com.