GARDENING FOR CARNIVORES: Getting Kids (and Husbands) to Eat their Veggies

Harvest 8/18/12

We have a big problem in my house; although I tend a large, fertile garden and would be happy to eat nothing but veggies all summer the other three members of my family–all male–are confirmed carnivores.  This leads to a big dilemma, how to get them to eat all this lovely produce?   A lot of cooks out there swear by what I call the ‘sneaky veggie trick’.  You know what I am talking about, hiding pureed spinach in brownies or chopped kale in chicken fingers.  While I’m sure these recipes do a good job in increasing the nutritional value of consumers’ diets, it does little to forward my goal of increasing my family members’ taste for vegetables.  I want my husband and sons to know that they are eating vegetables and to like it anyway.  I even dream that one day they will look forward to eating vegetables.   I can dream, can’t I?

Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

One carnivore-approved dish I make–stuffed vegetables–is one that is popular throughout much of the Mediterranean and Middle East.  In the most basic recipe you mix ground meat with cooked rice and chopped or grated onion and moisten with the juice and pulp (seeded) of a fresh minced tomato and season with salt/pepper.  Then you can add any number of other flavorings: currants, chopped fresh mint, dill or parsley, or ground cinnamon and allspice, pine nuts, or garlic.  In most recipes the onions and ground meat are sauteed first in olive oil but I find it’s just as good to mix it all up and stuff into the veggies and bake in an oven (covered) at 350ø .  And the great thing is you can use almost any vegetable that can be hollowed out or folded over: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplants, onions, turnip roots, cabbage or spinach leaves, even squash blossoms.

All I can say is that all my carnivores devoured the stuffed tomatoes and peppers I made tonight–true, they polished off the stuffing first but my little tiger at most of a tomato and even my little lion munched part of a red pepper and tried a bit of green.  First steps!

PRACTICAL TIP: And while I’m on the subject, I found some vegetable varieties are more kid-friendly than others.  Look for small size and unusual colors.  For instance, while I like my tomatoes big and juicy, most kids like the sweet little cherries and pears (my son calls them ‘ploppers’ because he just plops them in his mouth).  Same for the ‘one-bite-eats-all’ mini-white and little-lemon cucumbers.  And what kid can resist purple carrots or white peppers? 

This friend of the garden can’t wait to eat this very long, purple bean!

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