Kid-Friendly Vegetable Dishes

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As a parent, one of my biggest fears is that I’ll become a nagging mom when it comes to eating vegetables (I’ve already accepted that I’ll be a nagging mom about everything else). That is why when my eldest was born I knew I would have to come up with a strategy to get my kids to eat healthy. The most important thing for me was to get my kids to like vegetables, at least down the road when they’re a little older. That’s the reason I never hid mashed vegetables in dishes – how could they possibly enjoy eating veggies if they get served inside a spaghetti with meatballs dish? The fact that the tomato sauce might have broccoli, zucchini and spinach pureed in a blender and hidden inside is irrelevant; no one would be able to taste the flavor, texture and consistency of the vegetables. As we all know, most kids like anything sweet and the following dishes are not only sweet, they will get your kids accustomed to the texture of veggies, while their flavor will be enhanced by natural sweeteners (agave syrup, dried fruit, fruit juices).

Carrot & Raisin Salad

This is an easy salad that’s great as a a side dish, a picnic salad, or even dessert. Carrots are rich in beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A. This is necessary for eye health, as well as cell repair, and can therefore slow the aging process. Carrots also have cleansing properties that help detoxify the liver. Raisins are high in iron as well as fiber, which can aid in digestion and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Ingredients:

Six carrots
1/3 cup raisins
One cup 100% pineapple juice

Directions:

Boil ¼ cup water and soak raisins for 30 minutes. Set aside.
Peel & grate the carrots. Add ½ cup pineapple juice.
Drain raisins and add to carrots. Mix very well. Add ½ cup of pineapple juice and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Slimming Version:

Use only 1/2 cup of pineapple juice and mix with 1/2 cup water. Use ¼ cup raisins and sweeten with stevia to taste.

String Beans

This is one of my family’s favorite side dishes, so I make it often at family gatherings. It’s also quick to make and requires very few ingredients. String beans are a rich source of dietary fiber, as well as minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Once the string beans are ready, I like to eat them at room temperature, or even cold, straight out of the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

Two lbs. frozen cut string beans, completely thawed
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce or low-sugar teriyaki sauce (you can use gluten-free soy sauce as well)
Stevia to taste

Directions:

Spray wok with cooking spray. Saute the minced garlic for one minute on low heat. Add string beans. Stir for 30 seconds and add ½ cup water.
Add ½ cup soy sauce. Stir occasionally.

String beans are ready when they turn dark green.

When string beans look ready take off stove and when they cool down add four teaspoons of stevia and do a taste test. Also do a taste test to see if you need to add more soy sauce. If you do – add in ¼ cup increments. I find that I usually need a full cup of the soy sauce. The ideal flavor is both sweet and salty, but a little more sweet than salty.

You may also need to add water if the string beans are not completely cooked (i.e. not dark enough).

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