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Kid-Friendly Vegetables

How to Make Vegetables Taste Good to Kids


Fried Brussels Sprouts

One Way to Make Vegetables Taste Good: Deep-Fry Them

Stephanie Gallagher
Rare is the parent who says, "Oh, my kids just love vegetables. Can't get enough of them!" Rather, most of us struggle with getting our kids to eat more vegetables.

Ironically, one simple trick can solve the problem - or at least help: Make the vegetables kid-friendly. It's obvious, but it needs to be said: If vegetables taste good to kids, they will eat them.

Making Vegetables Taste Good for Kids Doesn't Detract From Nutritional Value

It's a simple concept. Yet many of us act like vegetables somehow lose all of their nutritional value if we add a little butter, salt or sugar to them. Of course, that's ridiculous. Sure, we may add a few calories or a couple of miligrams of sodium. But we're not taking away any vitamins, minerals, fiber or antioxidants.

If anything, enhancing the flavor of vegetables with fat, salt and sugar makes them more palatable, which, in turn, makes us want to eat them more! Chefs know that all food must be seasoned properly. That means adding salt and pepper at some point during the cooking process, then tasting just before serving and adding more if necessary. The same is true with sugar and spices. I like Maldon sea salt for its incredible flavor, and because of its unique shape and texture, a little goes a long way.

As for fat (butter, olive oil, lard, bacon), well, fat is its own special and wonderful flavor enhancement. You don't need to add much to make your food taste good. And despite the bad rap deep-frying has taken, if you deep-fry properly (at the right temperature, in a good fat, such as pure pastured lard), you can actually enjoy better-tasting food with fewer calories and all the same nutrition (see my video on fried Brussels sprouts.)

Here are a few of my favorite ways to make vegetables taste good for picky eaters:

  • Add Butter.

    Butter is sweet and rich and enhances the flavor of just about any food, but it is especially effective at making vegetables taste good. You don't need to use a ton of butter, just enough to wrap those green beans or broccoli in a warm coating of lusciousness.

    My green beans with browned butter recipe is a great example of using butter to make vegetables taste good to picky eaters.

  • Roast Them.

    Roasting brings out the natural sugars in vegetables and caramelizes them. My roasted chickpeas, crispy kale recipe and my roasted green beans are great ways to make vegetables taste good to kids.

  • Add Sugar. Relax. I'm not talking about adding cupfuls of sugar to your cauliflower. A drizzle of maple syrup or a teaspoon of honey can work magic on vegetables.

    My mashed sweet potatoes and carrots have a touch of honey and brown sugar to bring out the natural sweetness in both of these vegetables. And my broccoli raisin salad has sugar, orange juice and raisins to bring sweetness to a sometimes bitter vegetable.

  • Add Bacon. Two or three strips of bacon added to a vegetable dish for four can transform a ho-hum vegetable into one that has your picky eaters begging for seconds. My Brussels sprouts with bacon is a great example of this. So is my Crockpot green beans with potatoes.

    One warning: When you're adding bacon to a recipe, you're increasing the salt content in it. Taste the vegetables after you've added the bacon to see if you need to add more seasoning.

  • Deep-Fry Them.

    There's nothing like frying to bring out the flavor in a food. Rather than buying prepared or processed deep-fried foods, which may be fried in unhealthy hydrogenated oils or have other preservatives or additives, I recommend deep-frying at home. Use a good fat, such as pure (non-hydrogenated) lard from pigs raised on pasture.

    Two great recipes to try: fried Brussels sprouts and sweet potato crispy fries.

For more great tips for getting picky eaters to enjoy vegetables, sign up for my Picky Eaters E-mail Course. It's free!

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