Preparing Vegetables; Simple ways to Turn Around the Pickiest Eaters

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vegetables - collage, photo of child It’s an issue of mass proportion! Kids are turning up their noses at dinner tables across the US. One thing is certain, if vegetables don’t excite you, more than likely, they won’t excite your kids either. Investing in a diet rich in fresh vegetables is scientifically proven to improve overall health, ensure the proper growth and development of children, and improve the body’s ability to heal and repair damaged cells. A nutritional diet is critical to brain function and development. Not only this, a consistent diet that includes fresh vegetables does not have to cost more, and can be more flavorful and satisfying than one that does not.

Vegetables at the grocery store typically don’t come with instructions, although they should. Many common vegetables can be prepared in certain simple ways that make them easy to digest and enjoy.

BROCCOLI 

Why its repulsive to kids> Easily dismissed, due to the thick, tough stalks, you may be inclined to throw away. Additionally, some claim consuming broccoli causes gas.

Notably, the cruciferous tops are highly digestible. Though the best part is often overlooked.

Quick Fix:

  • 1. Slice off the tops, and cut them into bite size portions. What you will have left is the true essence, the best part. The key to the stalk lies within.
  • 2. Trimming broccoli Stalks:  Slice a strip the length of the stalk, about an eighth inch from the surface. Continue this on 4 sides of each stalk. The tough layer of the broccoli is only about 1/8 inch on the surface.  Cutting that part away reveals the interior of the stalk which is tender. From there you can cut the remaining stalk into slices or chips.

  BEST USE OF BROCCOLI IN A DISH:  vegetables

If you are roasting a whole chicken, or poultry, place one sliced red onion, and approximately 2 lb. of trimmed broccoli crowns and stalks under, and around the poultry in the roasting pan. Roast about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until chicken is golden. The juices from the chicken will thoroughly season these two already flavorful vegetables, and appeal to the most skeptical of vegetable non-eaters.

CABBAGE

Why its repulsive to kids and adults> The sight of a whole head of cabbage is easily intimidating if you don’t know how to approach it. Also associated with flatulence. 

  Quick Fix:

Key to cabbage is cutting it into bite-size portions:

1. Cut cabbage in half, then quarter, then cut into smaller wedges.

  BEST USE OF CABBAGE IN A DISH:

Stir fry cabbage with russet potato wedges, and chicken breast strips. Use a light, poly unsaturated oil such as olive, sunflower, or coconut oil.

LEEK

 Notably:  Excellent member of the onion family. Flavorful, and delicious. Trim the root, and slice the entire length of the leek.

  BEST USE OF LEEK IN DISH:

Excellent for stir fried dishes, combined with sweet potato wedges, or strips, zucchini, and russet potato.

 ZUCHINI

 Why its repulsive: Bitter flavor

Quick Fix:

To bring out the underlying flavors of zucchini, and neutralize the bitter flavor, add to sweet potato, or russet potato. Also excellent grilled.

BEST USE OF ZUCHINI IN DISH:

To cut zucchini into strips:  1. Slice one zucchini lengthwise in half. Then cut the length of each half. Slice again until you have strips. Then you can cut those mid-way, or leave them uncut like spaghetti. Add to other vegetables in roasting pan. Drizzle 3 tbsp. olive oil, ½ cup halved pecans. Roast until golden, about 30 minutes.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

If you desire a slightly more crisp texture, leave pan partially uncovered when stir-frying vegetables.

Medium heat cooking oils recommended for use: Olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, or a combination of these. Recommended due to the fact that they optimally retain vegetable’s nutrients, and generally won’t fry vegetables to a crisp. They are poly unsaturated, (healthy fats), with anti-inflammatory properties.

Image credits: Sophia, Samantha. “Photo of Child”.[https://pixabay.com]. [11/15/2017].

 

Availability of Fruits and Vegetables Influence National Statistics

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture  Economic Research Service, (USDA ERS), in 2010 fruits and vegetables accounted for merely .08% of the average American diet. In contrast, grains composed 23%, added fats and oils contributed to 22%, and caloric sweeteners accounted for 15%. If you compare this with the statistics recorded in 1970, grains, (primarily refined), fats and oils have accounted for an overall estimated 15% rp_281-224x300.jpg availability of fruits, and vegetablesincrease in calories to the American diet. That is an astounding ratio of low consumption of fruits and vegetables in the diet; to high consumption of sweets and refined grains.

Availability, and Breakdown of Produce Consumption

USDA data reports that fruits, and vegetables form 0.8% of the average American diet. Further information suggests that Americans age 2-30 get more than 50% of their fruit consumption from juice. Peruse the product labels of juices found at many retail stores, (grocery, convenience, and discount stores). Consequently, what you will find is that many fruit juices consist of added sweeteners, colors, artificial flavorings, and other additives. However, fruit juice has a higher rate of availability than fresh produce. This link cites the direct impact of market and product availability on population. rp_Untitled-2-225x300.jpgThese  statistics are not representative of American’s eating habits so much as they are the  result of the impact of product availability on American’s eating habits.

Furthermore, a breakdown of American’s fruit and vegetable consumption suggests potatoes and tomatoes contribute to the highest vegetable consumption. In 2012, on average, Americans each consumed 52.3lbs. of potatoes, (1/2 fresh). In the same year, each American on average polished off 31.1lbs. of tomatoes, (59% canned). French fries and pizza easily account for these findings.  With regards to fruit intake, 107.6lb per person of fresh and processed fruit.

Simple Health Strategies

 

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is the simple and effective health strategy. Availability is the key. Industries that have long been thriving on the poor health of the individual are bracing for change. Companies can no longer ignore the rise in health consciousness as people are becoming more engaged in the process of food availability of fruits, and vegetableschoices and acknowledging a connection between  their food to their environment. Americans are able to communicate with others on a global level by sharing knowledge and experiences. According to Pew Research Center, over 205,808,420 people in the United States own, and carry a tool that instantly delivers information on any subject. In summary, children today following a diet consistent with the new USDA guidelines recommending half of meals be composed of fruits and vegetables will establish a foundation for healthier eating habits of future generations and lead to increased market availability.


increase availability,USDA, new federal dietary standardBibliography:  Bentley, Jeanine. Food Availability and Consumption.  [05/19/2014.] “USDA Economic  Research Service”  [http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-availability-and-consumption.aspx][8/23/2015.]; Smith, Aaron. Adoption and Usage. [07/11/11.] “Pew Research Center Internet, Science & Technology”  [http://pewresearch.org/2011/07/11/smartphone-adoption-and-usage] [8/23/2015.]; “United States Census Bureau;  U.S. and World Population Clock”   [http://www.census.gov/popclock]  [8/23/2015.]; Image: “USDA” [http://www.choosemyplate.gov]