Yesterday between lunch and dinner I was hungry so I started digging through the fridge for a quick bite.
But let’s back up to the previous night’s dinner: I unveiled a butternut squash, fresh from the farm.
Predictably my son, now 12, said: “I’m not eating that. I don’t like squash.”
And I said, “just try it, it’s as sweet as candy.”
As always, he looked for a way out of it, by trying to be clever and making a deal. “Okay I’ll taste it but if it’s not as sweet as candy I’m not eating it…. OK?” He was hoping I’d agree to the deal and that he wouldn’t find it sweet. I didn’t exactly agree and just cajoled him into trying it.
His first bite was tentative. Subsequent bites were more enthusiastic. He finished it and asked for more. But just to save face, he made sure to tell me that it was not quite as sweet as candy. (Which candy one asks? lol).
The squash was very flavorful to begin with but then I added cinnamon to make it more appealing to young taste buds. You might also try applesauce to make it juicier or melted butter to make it creamier. Picky eaters might need a little honey or maple syrup to win them over. Find a fun name to call the vegetable—Orange ghosts? Maybe draw some googly eyes on one before baking it! (Spaghetti squash might endear itself to your child because of the association with their favorite food). Keep in mind—and this is one of the most important tips that I always give parents—the less sweets your child has, the more open he will probably be to non-sugary food. Picky eaters are often the result of taste buds that have been corrupted by overly sugary foods and this makes it more difficult for young ones to appreciate the subtle flavors of most vegetables.
Why was it so delicious?
The squash came from a CSA (community sponsored agriculture) that I participate in with a group of neighborhood parents. Ours is very informal and does not require a membership with a farm. One person volunteers to take care of ordering stuff, managing the delivery, and distributing all the food evenly into individual bins, and then emails everyone that the food is ready and waiting in the carport/garage/lawn. The other members come and pick up within a designated time frame, bringing our own bags and containers. The parent who manages all the logistics gets a free bin. The food always consists of local produce and local eggs.
We never know if we’re going to get eggplant or strawberries or cucumbers. But we do know that we’ll get whatever is in season and being grown locally. It’s almost always better than what’s in the stores because it was literally picked the day before, so very fresh and full of flavor. Also, it’s certified “ non-spray” so we know that it was planted, grown, and harvested by people who are serving it to their own families—if you think about it, that’s a good litmus test. (Most small farms cant afford an organic certification which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.)
Another advantage? Members of the group often post recipes for others using the exact ingredients and quantities that they have all received. And it’s a great opportunity to try something different. (Hint: almost anything can be stir fried with olive oil, salt, and garlic for a great side dish).
To learn more about CSAs check this out. You may even want to start your own. With all the alarming news about glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, the public is starting to understand the dangers of conventionally grown food. Organic food is safer because the most toxic fertilizers and pesticides are prohibited, but that does not mean that it is richer in nutrients; “factory organic” produce (as I call it) is farmed on huge tracts of land, often in Salinas California, where crops are planted and replanted in the same soil repeatedly instead of rotated in the traditional fashion, and this depletes the soil of vital nutrients. Did you ever think about the importance of humble dirt in the quality of your food? It’s never advertised, so you often don’t realize why you’re paying more for the smaller and healthier yields of independent farms. The quality of your food is inextricably linked to the health of the soil. So I avoid buying from huge warehouse operations where food is hauled from far away, and I source local whenever possible.
Add nuts to everything!
If your kid is not allergic, s/he should eat a handful every single day—they are a fantastic source of protein. There are so many kinds to choose from so s/he’s bound to find something to please his/her palette. I refrain from peanuts because there is a higher likelihood of mold contamination and mold wreaks havoc on human health and costs a fortune to properly diagnose and eradicate. Also, peanuts are the ugly stepchild in terms of nutrition.
Nuts are healthiest raw. If your kid is more receptive to roasted, make sure they’re roasted dry and not in canola or soybean oil. The sweetest nuts are cashews, pecans, and macadamias. While all are powerhouses of nutrition, I view the champions as: sprouted almonds, walnuts, pili nuts, and Brazil nuts.
Back to my snack!
It was not an obvious choice, but I thought I’d give it a whirl:
- Leftover summer squash, from my CSA farmshare
- Cinnamon dusted pecans, from the farmers market
I added powdered cinnamon to the squash too, so it was a very cinnamon-y snack. I must have been in the mood for something sweet, and this hit the spot! it was hearty and filling and energized me.
So the next day I offered it to my son, and here he is, eating it right out of its convenient package.
Give it a try! Tell me what your kids say!
Always looking for healthy ways to please kids,
-Your Good Food Fighter