Sponsored by:

ice cream is not for breakfast

feeding your kids without losing your mind

Archive for the 'vegetables' Category

Summer harvest


Our first harvest of the season included eggplant, arugula, basil and cilantro.

The kids joined me in putting together an arugula salad, and we decided to add red grapes and pine nuts for color and crunch. For the dressing, we whisked together olive oil, vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, paprika and a pinch of sugar. Delish!

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Sunday, July 19th, 2009 at 9:00 pm |

Farm-to-table (The 2009 version)


Don’t want to jinx it, but I can hardly resist the first glimmer of hope in my organic vegetable garden.  This is our second year, and buoyed by our beginner’s luck last year (click here for the earlier post), we went all out  this time—with a raised bed and fence.

And the results, so far, are encouraging.

Check out the green tomatoes and the skinny eggplant!

Oh, and we already harvested some arugula last week! I’ll post pictures of the salad soon.

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
| | Comments Off on Farm-to-table (The 2009 version)

Feast your eyes!


Thanksgiving is just a week away, and I’m looking for inspiration to carve out a menu.

Loyal readers of my posts (yeah, the two of you) know that I run a vegetarian household, and will not be stuffing a turkey.

We’ve invited a couple over (who are also vegetarian and therefore will not be bummed by the missing traditional centerpiece) for Thanksgiving dinner.

Every year, I find myself cooking up new plans for a tasty centerpiece dish. We’ve tried Tofurkey (Tofu Turkey) before and found it not to be very appetizing. So this year, I’ve settled on Basil Pesto Lasagna.

Here’s what I’m planning (both appetizers and desserts will be store bought):

(And because this is a blog about kid nutrition, let me quickly add that my kids love every item on this menu!)

•Spincah puffs

•A thick harvest soup (made with onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, corn, pumpkin and V-8 juice).
•Basil pesto lasagna.
•Spicy roasted red potatoes with garlic.
•Roasted asparagus with Parmesan cheese.
•Mashed potatoes with sour cream and chives.
•Basmati rice pulav with carrots, beans and corn, topped with cashews and raisins.
•A spicy coconut milk stew with potatoes, carrots and tomatoes.
•Raita–a bowl of yogurt into which I add diced cucumber and freshly chopped cilantro.

• Pumpkin pie
•Cranberry tart

Suggestions for future centerpiece dishes, anyone?

Photo Credit: Seth Harrison, The Journal News

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Thursday, November 20th, 2008 at 12:11 pm |


The trouble with greens


I have to admit, my children generally eat pretty healthy.

Yes, we give them animal crackers. They get chocolate sometimes, but it’s dark chocolate. And the milk they drink is organic.lettuce.jpg

The problem is greens. In the past, we used to be able to get our children to eat more greens.

Both were really into peas at various points, but that seems to have faded.

My four-year-old was really into olives and even ate asparagus, but since he emerged from his extremely picky stage, he hasn’t accepted them back into his diet.

We’ve gotten lucky that he will eat raw red cabbage and carrots. But they’re not green now, are they?

I worry sometimes that we rely on grains, dairy and meat (and sometimes chicken) for the overwhelming majority of their calories. Both our little guys are huge carnivores. And the bread they eat is whole wheat, multi-grain or bakery-made; no Wonder bread here. Their cereal is either Cheerios or Honey Bunches of Oats.

Yes, they do drink juice and yes, they do eat certain fruits. Bananas, grapes, blueberries; Markus will eat raisins, though Rafael doesn’t like them anymore. But that brings me back to my original point: how is it that my children avoid virtually all greens (the grapes they prefer are red).

Trader Joe’s stores sell long-cut French green beans that are — I think — flash-frozen (when we defrost them, they are crisp, so I don’t think they were sitting around for long before freezing).

That seems to be the one in with Rafael, the four-year-old. He’ll eat them. And if — and only if — there’s peanut butter on it, he’ll also eat celery. Unfortunately, celery has virtually no redeeming nutritional value. It’s basically water with a little bit of fiber. And he already gets lots of fiber from all the grains he eats.

He always wants to try salad, but he’ll take a bite of the lettuce, wrinkle his nose and spit it out onto his plate. We keep letting him try it, in the hopes that one day, some day, he’ll actually eat it.

So this is the plan: walk around the supermarket produce department with Rafael and let him pick out a couple of greens he thinks he’d like to try. If he picks it out, maybe he’ll actually try it.

Stay tuned.

Photo via SXC.hu.

Posted by Amy Vernon on Saturday, October 4th, 2008 at 9:03 am |

A fresh carrot and purple pepper


My husband and oldest went out on Saturday ostensibly to go picking something. I never actually knew whether it was apples,  peaches or pumpkins, which is fine since they didn’t come home with them. It was a nice bonding time between father and daughter and the day was lovely, so they enjoyed the drive.

When they came home, however, they were carrying a small plastic bag and a white bakery box. The box contained a peach pie they picked up at the place where we usually buy pumpkins and apples every fall.

The plastic bag, however, was more interesting from my point of view. It contained one carrot with top and dirt, one tiny purple pepper, a tomato, a large zuchini and a tiny tree of broccoli.

Since it’s still a little warm to make vegetable soup, I wasn’t sure what to do with the selection. What do you do with a single carrot and a purple pepper?

Apparently the pick-your-own farm they found was just like a very large garden, and my oldest happily went up and down the rows sampling this and that.

It called to mind her grandparents, she said. They always had a large garden and they’ve let my children pick fresh vegetables for years. There’s nothing quite like pulling a carrot from the ground or taking a knife and cutting off a piece of broccoli still on the stalk.

So while the harvest season is upon us, I’d recommend taking your children of any age to a pick-your-own farm and let them see where food comes from. It might be a revelation.

Posted by Randi Weiner on Monday, September 22nd, 2008 at 11:17 am |
| | Comments Off on A fresh carrot and purple pepper

Playing with food


I thought this day would never come – my two-year-old leaning from his high chair with arms outstretched, pleading “boccoli, boccoli” as I walked to the dinner table with a plate of steaming asparagus.
Now, I don’t fuss over details. The idea is that Aristu is enthusiastic about vegetables, may it be broccoli, asparagus or green beans, is good news. That’s a big change from a few months ago when he would spit out anything that had vegetables in it, even though I tried to hide it in all kinds of food.
Now, he’ll eat as many florets of broccoli as I give him — OK, I’m pushing it; let’s say three or four — though he doesn’t eat the stem. But we’ll get there at some point. The other day he examined a string bean for a few seconds before tentatively putting it in his mouth.
What does bother me, though, is that he seems to like his vegetables after giving them a bath. We usually give him a plastic cup with a little bit of water because he seems to want to graduate from his sippy cup. These days he likes to slip the broccoli/beans/asparagus into the cup, swirl it around, take it out dripping, suck on it and then chew it. The other day he gave the same treatment to a chicken nugget. As my husband and I and our oldest – he’s 12 – gagged with disgust, Aristu wasn’t bothered at all. He sucked on the chicken nugget and then wolfed it down.
I don’t like the idea of his playing with food while eating dinner. I know that at day care he sits before a television while his teacher feeds him. I disapprove of that, but I don’t insist she stop doing that because, otherwise, it would take her forever to feed him. I know, it takes him 45 minutes to eat when he’s home.
But I’m going to let him play with his food as long as he eats it at the end. If you’re the parent of a fussy eater, you’ll understand. It doesn’t matter how he eats it, as long as he eats it. Right?

Posted by Hema Easley on Friday, September 19th, 2008 at 10:38 am |
| | Comments Off on Playing with food


Raising Vegetarian Kids


When we visit India, my kids love to go the local McDonald’s. And it’s not just for the toys.

My vegetarian kids love their McVeggie burger (a vegetarian patty made up of peas, carrots, green beans, red bell pepper, potatoes and onions) and the McAloo Tikki burger(a patty made out of potatoes, peas and spices).

“Why don’t they serve this in New York?” they ask.

We hardly ever take them to a McDonald’s here, except when we are on a road trip and there are no other options along the highway. And then, their choices are limited to orange juice, fries or hashbrowns.

Technically, they are lacto-ovo-vegetarians which includes eating both eggs and dairy products, but no meat or seafood.

My rationale for raising them as non-meat eaters is that I feel this way I am giving them a choice as opposed to making it a matter of habit. And if they should choose to become non-vegetarians some day, I will not question their decision.

But more importantly, I try to make sure their current diet is not lacking any nutrients.

Luckily, there is no shortage of nutritious and healthy vegetarian recipes or ideas for homecooked Indian meals, and most restaurants(except for fast-food chains) have tons of options.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mickey Dees and all the other fast-food chains had healthy vegetarian options?

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Thursday, September 11th, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
| | 1 Comment »



A few months ago, we embarked on our most ambitious summer project yet.

An organic vegetable garden in our backyard! We planted tomatoes, zucchini, green chilies, basil, cilantro, peppermint, cucumbers and bell peppers.

To our delight, most (R.I.P cucumbers) of the vegetables survived our less-than-perfect tending. And we had our first harvest last week!bell-pepper.JPG

The kids enjoyed getting their hands dirty and watching the veggies “being born.” But the best part, they say, was popping the cherry tomatoes into their mouths, soon after harvesting them.

The project allowed the kids to make the farm-to-table connection, and they’ve grown a special fondness for yellow bell peppers. Bonus!vegbasket1.JPG

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 12:32 pm |

Great idea for a veggie sneak


<P>Colleague and foodie extraordinaire Liz Johnson has a great reader-submitted recipe for zucchini pesto on her blog, Small Bites. It looks like a slam dunk for veggie-averse kids — go Montebello mom Daniela Sepulveda! </P><P>I’m going to try it this week and report back. And since we’ve been talking so much about eating cheaply and locally, this could be a hit on both fronts. My local farmer’s market is overflowing with zucchini right now. </P><P>(And I already know the baby will love it — she was the only one to appreciate the fried zucchini “cakes” I made a few weeks ago and devours anything with basil pesto. I guess one out of three isn’t bad!)</P> zucchini.jpg<P>(Poughkeepsie Journal file photo)<P>  

Posted by Katie Ryan O'Connor on Sunday, August 10th, 2008 at 10:10 am |
| | 1 Comment »


A pretty little baby cooker


Apparently there’s this new appliance now available stateside from Europe that is all the rage. It’s called the Babycook by Beaba, a French-made steamer, blender, defroster and reheater in one.

It looks like a food processor but much smaller and is considered ideal for making food for babies ages 6 to 24 months. You can steam vegetables and meats in less than 15 minutes and then puree them to your child’s desired consistency.

When I saw it in a catalog, I considered purchasing one and then I looked at the $139.95 pricetag and thought otherwise.

It’s nice to have compact units for baby that in theory are supposed to make things easier and less messy. But when I think about the gadgets I purchased when Zyla was first born—a baby bottle warmer and a Diaper Genie—now stored away in the basement, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

I remember before she was born, I was frantically searching for the right, changing table until my husband said what happened to changing dirty diapers on the bed, couch or floor. I got a changing pad instead.

It’s just as easy to steam vegetables in a pot and defrost in the microwave. But I guess it’s not as pretty!!!

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 at 1:20 pm |