Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sneaky Snacktime

I'm ashamed to say it, but when it comes to getting vegetables into my kids, I'm supremely ineffective.

And I hate to admit it, but I was raised better. Growing up, when my sister and I begged for a snack before dinner, mama calmly sliced up some celery, or green pepper, or cucumber, or even, god forbid radish... plopped the lot onto a plate and...we ate it. Happily. No lyin'.

Growing up, on our dinner table, there was both a salad AND another vegetable served at almost every meal. I think the only time there wasn't a salad on the table was Thanksgiving dinner (creamed pearl onions took it's place). My sister and I loved salad. Still do.

My kids wouldn't touch a salad, even if you mixed in Twizzlers with the greens.

I suck.

Miss M. eats corn and that's it. Pathetic. I fare better with Miss D. (well, who could do worse, really?) Over the course of the summer, she's expanded her repetoire of vegetables she will eat. I'm happy to say that to the list of cucumbers, corn and frozen peas, she's agreed to consume (in small amounts) red peppers, green peppers, carrots, grape tomatoes and cauliflower. I am quite proud, although the credit goes to her and her alone.

Still, my kids won't eat salad and it bugs me. Salad is awesome! It's one of my favorite things to eat, and I've even gotten my husband to like it, mainly because I stick a lot of goodies in there like bits of cheese, artichoke hearts and bacon.

My kids don't like salad dressing. ANY salad dressing. Believe me, I've tried dozens. And if a kid won't eat the ubiquitous Ranch dressing, the stuff that almost ALL mommies use as a vehicle to get veggies into their kids, mommy and her veggies are toast.

I decided to give salad dressing yet another go with Miss D. But this time, I decided, I needed to get smarter about things.

Strategy #1) My mama was smart enough to give us the veggies before dinner, when we were really hungry. Why not wait for a time when Miss D. is typically ravenous, such as after school?

Strategy #2) I'd make the salad dressing myself, and make it very simple. I mixed buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and some fresh chives together in my new (now with a lid!) blender. I pulverized it (so she couldn't detect the chive...God forbid there is something green in the dressing).

Strategy #3) I introduced the salad dressing by serving it with vegetables she already likes.

Strategy #4) I'd serve it in something that would make her feel very grown up and refined.

Simplest Dressing Ever

1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 fresh chives, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper
salt and pepper to taste

I tasted this concoction and thought--meh. It wasn't really flavorful, but she didn't seem to like the flavorful dressings (eg: caesar, dijon viniagrette). But she didn't much like the bland ones, either.

When she got home from school, I told her she had a very special snack waiting for her. I went into the refrigerator and pulled her Veggie Martini out.

She was pretty excited to eat it, and she definitely liked having her own little cocktail after school, even if was a veggie-tail.

She took a strip of red pepper, which was barely coated with the dressing, and ate it. I waited. A cucumber followed. Then I couldn't help myself...I just had to ask.

"Sooo," I said (trying desperately to sound causual), "What do you think of the dip?"

"It's good," she said, "but actually, it's sorta weird. Can you wash it off?"

Sigh. I rinsed off the veggies, plopped them back in the vessel, and she happily crunched away.

The girl, for now, will take her cocktail naked, thank you very much. There's worse things, I suppose.


  1. ha! too cute...
    good idea, though. will tuck that away for later.

  2. I have to admit I'm not one for salad. It's rabbit food. I hate the texture, I hate the taste, I hate making it. I do adore a spinash salad however with mandarins and almonds.

    But congrats on the getting the little ones to eat thier veggies!

  3. Simply brilliant! I like some salads (mostly just simple arugula, parm and lemon), but I never at them as a kid. My husband's biggest task since he's been with me is to get me to eat more veggies, and he's been successful as my won't-eat list is slowly shrinking.

    Had my mom presented this to me every day after school, though, the process might have been a little easier in the long run.

  4. Good thinking! I like it! My ex-housemate never ate veggies - wouldn not even put them in his mouth. I tried (he was 26!) but little success...then he fell in love and desperately wanted to impress...and low and behold he now eats pretty much anything! How is this?! I find it fascinating! It is all about psychology me thinks...

  5. Love your idea of the martini veggie cocktail!

    When my daughter was little, all she wanted was Happy Meals from McDonald's. I told her I would fix her a Mommy happy meal when she got home.

    I had previously had her decorate white paper bags (.10 each at a craft store) and picked up dozens of stupid toys from the dollar store (also .10 cents each at the time).

    Whatever I was making for dinner, I would individually wrap it up and hand it to her as we were sitting down to eat. Even though she could see there were pork chops and mashed potatoes on table, she was also so surprised when she unwrapped her food!

    "I've got pork chops and mashed potatoes. . . and a toy!"

    Still cracks me up when I think about that!

  6. What a great idea!! I don't do a good job of getting my kids to eat veggies either.

  7. You're awesome, you know that? Sometimes the novelty of how ordinary foods are served can entice kids to eat them. My friend's mom went to great lengths to cookie cutter fruits and veggies in little bear or heart shapes ;) As long as she's eating the veggies, I think you're doing great. xxoo

  8. Uh,yeah. If you put ANYTHING in a martini glass then it is immediately fancy and therefore, yummy.

    Of course, not as yummy as a fruity martini - but she might be a bit too young:(

  9. At least she ate it! My girls love salad. My son acts like I am trying to kill him if I present a single vegetable anywhere within 10 feet of his being. Go figure. He is also a dressing hater. If they would just realize how yummy it is...

  10. Ha, that's funny. I still don't like salads. I love vegetables and eat most of them raw or cooked, but I don't overly enjoy the actual salad greens. Drives my mom insane to this day!

  11. A radish?? REALLY???

  12. Props to you for getting her to try it! I've heard it can take a couple dozen times before kids make up their minds about a food. After having a dog that will eat anything I'm going to be in trouble if my kids are picky! Have you tried a honey-mustard salad dressing? That was one of my favorites growing up because it was so sweet. Maybe a pasta salad could bridge into more of a regular one too?

  13. Love your blog!!! What girl doesn't like a "martini" after a long, hard day? :)

  14. Great idea...kids love anything in grown up glasses!! The dressing, er, uh, dip sounds simply divine, as well :D

  15. Wash it off, that is precious. Oh well, you tried!

    Chuckles loves salad, mainly because she uses it as a vehicle for ranch dressing and shredded mozzarella. But hey, if she gets a leaf of lettuce stuck to the ranch and cheese, then I am happy. She graduated to blue cheese dressing tonight at dinner, so I was pretty proud of her. My oldest? Hates salad. I can sort of bribe her with the shredded mozz, but she eats her salad dry, too. No dressing of any sort. Yuck.

  16. My boyfriend makes me eat salad every night. We don't have a lot of time so we often stick to the basics- boring. I would love for someone to dress my salad and put it in a martini glass. Great idea.

  17. My kids hate salad too. My daughter says lettuce makes her gag. I'm like you, I ate veggies all the time when I was a kid. I loved radishes, salad, celery, raw cabbage (the center part especially). I wasn't a big fan of bell peppers. If my mom made slimy spinach with butter my sister and I knew we had better eat it first while it was warm because nothing is worse than cold slimy spinach!

    I'll have to give your veggie martini a shot!

  18. My kids were hit and miss with the veggies. I don't think it's you who sucks. I think you have two kids whose palettes dislike the taste of vegetables.

  19. Phoo-D: Honey Mustard Dressing is bliss! I love it! My hubs will gag if it's in the house, but why not? It's for the greater good, right?

    Leslie: Thanks for popping in...your blog always makes me smile.

    Ungourmet: Slimy spinach? Bleah!!!!

    Passions: yeah, I do suck. But you are nice to suggest otherwise.

    All of you gals who comment are so much fun...wish you could all be over here for a non-Veggie-Tini...

  20. What a great idea! I used to have veggie lovin' fools until school started. My kids thought yogurt and rice cakes were dessert. Then all the kids at school let them in on the real skinny and now I'm doomed. I'm always looking for new ways to get good foods into them. Thanks for the tip!

  21. Even though I know you feel like you suck, it made me feel better to know that other moms can't get their kids to eat veggies. Jack will not eat anything...really any veggie. I made him try them, but I think that strategy ultimately backfired. I have backed off quite a bit in hopes that once he decides that he can try them, they will taste good. Sigh!! Thanks for the recipe - I'll give it a try.

  22. Kid won't eat anything but raw carrots. No corn, no peas, no lettuce.
    [and is it just me, or does prepping veggies before I prep dinner seem like prepping two meals? I can barely get dinner on the table at a decent hour, and the thought of cleaning and slicing one more thing makes me feel beaten down. Melodrama? Nah.]
    And he won't eat salad dressings. Any.
    But he will eat mustard and he will eat carrots. So he gets raw carrots for most meals (eats them a third of the time.) And I blend the rest of the veggie family into smoothies. He picks either spinach or broccoli to go in a blueberry smoothie, but wouldn't touch them otherwise. I've tried great recipes, I've tried hiding stuff, and I've tried dozens of introductions in which he willingly tastes but won't eat more. Oh well. Smoothies will have to be good enough.
    I can't stand salad or salad dressings, either. Love raw veggies and tolerate them cooked. So I guess he comes by it honestly. and life's too short. And sweet potato fries count as veggies. As does salsa. So I guess that has to be good enough.

  23. My daughter AND my husband would never eat a vegetable if left to their own devices. And, I'm not exaggerating. I started making dinner salads with everything they liked in them--chicken, croutons, cheese, hard boiled eggs....In the beginning they picked the goodies out (no kidding!), but eventually that was too sickening even for them. Try it, and let me know. No salad, no dinner, or dessert.

  24. Don't feel bad. My kids won't eat salad either. And it was also an integral part of my dinner every night growing up. Apparently my girls don't like the soggy feeling of lettuce in their mouths. They haven't told me this directly, mind you, it's what I gathered as I peeled it off of their chins after they attempted to return it to their plates.