Friday, February 14, 2014

Veggie Fajitas and the Politics of Feeding Children Vegetables.

I'm not a believer in hiding veggies from your children. True, there are many celebrities with best-selling cookbooks that tout the benefits of pureeing veggies into things like brownies and spaghetti sauce. I think that's a neat idea. But as a way of life, I believe in presenting children with food that looks as much in it's natural state as possible. If they never know that they are eating a vegetable, how will they ever choose to eat one voluntarily?
Hear me out.
It's useful to add nutrients to a picky eater's meals. But overall, the real value is teaching kids that veggies are delicious, and an important part of their diet. Give a kid a zucchini and he's probably going to turn his nose up at it a few times. But be persistant. Eventually it will take. How do I know? Because we've lived this ideology again and again.
Tonight I made veggie fajitas for my family. No tofu. No seitan. Just carmelized veggies in a tortilla. Even I was skeptical that it would take with my kids, particularly my youngest.  But all three of my kids ate, and ate well.
We have a philosophy in this house that what's for dinner is what's for dinner. There will be nothing else. I am not going to cater to you. It's a hard line to draw. But if you don't eat, you go hungry. ( A big, BIG part of this is preventing too much snacking before dinner. Hungry kids EAT).
Let's just say it's a power struggle. And I win, almost every time.
Don't get me wrong. It didn't happen overnight. It took a long, LONG time. All I ask is that they try. Try the veggies.
2-3 bites at least. Then you can eat your beans and rice and tortillas.
And over time, those 2-3 bites turn into 5-6. And then a whole meal. It works. Try it. And let me know how it works out for you. What challenges do you face in the kitchen? Do you think my rules are too strict?
Veggie Fajitas
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 small zucchini, speared
In a large skillet saute the onions and mushrooms until soft. Add the zucchini and red bell pepper. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are caramelized. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in warm tortillas with rice and beans on the side.

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