We had ‘that’ chat tonight. The big one. The one about which types of green vegetables the reluctant teen will actually eat. It wasn’t the easiest of chats as it’s fair to say he is still of the view that all green food is evil.
He knows (or claims to know) about the benefits of eating green foods, but he’s been pulling every trick in the book to avoid actually eating them. It doesn’t help that he is highly allergic to all types of beans, so they have been off the agenda since he was a very small boy.
After the chat we drew up a list. A sort of vegetable league table to help me understand which vegetables he absolutely loathes and which I can get away with.
So which types of green vegetables will he eat and what’s banned?
Storming to the top of the ‘green food is evil’ league table is the stable of the Christmas lunch. The humble sprout. Loved by some but truly hated by others.But, here comes the science-y bit …Dr Lisa Methven, a lecturer in food and nutritional sciences at the University of Reading says the reason some people do not like Brussels sprouts is because they have a genetic over-sensitivity to them. And that’s why some people think sprouts taste horribly bitter.
Funnily enough, when I made a pie on Boxing Day with leftover turkey and sprouts, he said it was delicious….just saying!
Maybe not really a green vegetable, but this list is the reluctant teen’s, so I’m including it. Poor, delicious cauliflowers have been roundly rejected as ‘looking like brains’ and ‘tasting like fart-water’.
I’ve not cooked them often for him but admit I’d never really understood just how much he didn’t like them. Such a pity, as I truly love a good cauliflower, they are so healthy and there are so many ways to cook them.
Here are some of the cauliflower recipes I’ve tried – some of which the teen has accepted, and some of which landed like a lead balloon.
Seriously, I expected cabbage to come in right at the bottom of the list, as so many people seem to hate it. Could overcooked school dinners be responsible for this vegetable being so misunderstood?
Soggy, bland boiled cabbage (of any of the varieties, including kale and bok choi) is pretty unappetising, but there are so many other ways to prepare cabbage. I’m not giving up on cabbage yet as it’s packed with nutrients. I’ve negotiated a lukewarm agreement from the teen that he will at least try some new cabbage dishes. Bring on the braised red cabbage and I ‘m definitely going to try vegetarian haggis!
Before making this list, poor old peas were right up there on the list of things that the teen would absolutely not eat. Now he’s accepted that there are worse things in life (see above!) and that he might ‘give peas a chance’!
I’ve always done the mum thing of sneaking peas (and other veggies) into casseroles and other family favourites, simply to make sure the teen gets at least his five portions of veggies a day.
Now I’m experimenting with different ways to prepare peas, to persuade the boy that they are actually really good. These ideas look delicious!
When he was little, I could guarantee that the teen would whine every time broccoli appeared on his plate. ‘I don’t want those evil green trees mum’ he’d say. It was a circular battle of wills and hard work.
Fortunately, he has seen the light and is now reasonably happy to have broccoli – just not too often!!
I love broccoli as I eat an almost exclusively vegan diet. It’s my lean, green vitamin machine! So we’ll be having plenty more of it on our plates. I just need to experiment with some new ways to jazz it up a bit.
Now you’re talking. Popeye was right about spinach. It really is the veggie of champions. Whether it’s cooked or simply eaten raw, both the teen and I are big fans of this super low-fat, low cholesterol vegetable. As well as bursting with vitamins, it’s also a good source of protein for vegans, so it’s something we eat lots of.
We love salad made from baby spinach, thinly sliced red onion, baby plum tomatoes and homemade vegan salad dressing.
Top of the types of green vegetables the teen will eat is reserved for courgettes. We both love them steamed, pan-fried or oven roasted as a simple side dish. We’ve also experimented with making ‘courgetti’ to replace spaghetti and they are delicious. We love our spiralized courgetti tossed in homemade basil pesto or tomato ragu with a heap of olives stirred in.
If you haven’t treated yourself to a spiralizer yet, this cheap and cheerful one really does the trick. I’m not convinced that the big, fancy expensive ones are any better!
What types of green vegetables do you struggle to get your kids to eat? Let me know in the comments.