Welcome back for the second and final post in my Falling in Love with Vegetables series. If you missed the first part, you can find it right here.
Alright! So, we have well-informed children who are a part of the vegetable selection and preparation process. We are providing them with healthy options at home. What ELSE can we do to foster a love for vegetables at a young age? Well, I have two more tips for you plus a simple kid-friendly recipe to try out.
4) Have fun! Kids can’t resist a good time, even where vegetables are concerned!
Try setting out a variety of veggie sticks with a few homemade dips to choose from, then let them have at it. I’ve also cut veggies and fruits into cubes, given them toothpicks and dips and that was a huge success (of course reserve the toothpicks for children who are old enough to handle the pointy ends). Another idea is to build things or even create animals or faces out of vegetables. Call it veggie art! Let them build it and then eat their creation.
I recently introduced whole steamed beets to my kids. I simply steamed the beets and sprinkled them with a little sea salt and ground black pepper. Then we stabbed them with forks and ate the beets whole. They got all over our teeth, turned our lips and tongues bright red, and the kids thought it was all in the name of fun. And you can’t pass up the educational opportunity that comes naturally with eating beets. “Kids, how long do you think it takes this beet to be digested?” I’m sure you can figure out the rest on this one.
5) Make ’em taste good! The colors, textures, and flavors of our veggies should be a multi-sensory delight!
If WE don’t like used-to-be-green canned peas, warm mushy apples or over-cooked asparagus, how can we expect our kids to love them? They should smell, taste and look amazing! The best way to achieve this is to buy our produce FRESH and LOCAL. There is nothing like the flavor of a freshly harvested organic vegetable. Abundant Harvest provides us with all the information we need to properly store and prepare our produce. My goal is to showcase or highlight the flavor of the vegetables themselves. My kids devour lightly steamed broccoli tossed in a bit of butter and sea salt. Roasted root veggies with ghee and dried herbs are also enjoyed at our house (have you tried the herbs de provence from AHO?). It may not happen overnight, but kids will eventually develop a healthy palate for fresh veggies if given the opportunity.
Well, if you read my first blog post in this series, then you may have wondered about the sweet potatoes and maple butter I mentioned.
Sounds like a little bit of heaven, right?
At Thanksgiving last year, we actually enjoyed a delicious and completely gluten-free meal complete with sweet potatoes and maple butter. The maple butter was my sister-in-law’s idea (thank you, Heather) and we have continued to enjoy sweet potatoes this way ever since. So I’m going to tell you how to make some for yourself.
All you need are a few simple ingredients: organic sweet potatoes, organic butter, ghee, sea salt, maple syrup and cinnamon. If you think of it hours in advance, it’s a good idea to set your butter out to soften at room temperature so it’s soft enough to whip.
I wouldn’t be a good health coach if I didn’t tell you why you want organic butter. Toxins are stored in fat, so butter that isn’t organic has concentrated levels of whatever toxins were in the cream it was made from. I prefer butter that is both organic and pastured, which is high in inflammation-reducing omega-3 essential fatty acids thanks to cows eating grass like they should be!
Okay, so the first step is to prepare the sweet potatoes. Scrub them good with a vegetable brush and dry them. I then cut off the ends, cut them in half lengthwise and then in half again. You can make them any size you like.
I prefer to put my sweet potatoes in a large bowl and then pour melted ghee (clarified butter) over the potatoes. I toss in a bit of sea salt and stir it around until all of the potatoes are well-coated. As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer to use ghee when cooking at high temperatures. If you don’t have any on-hand, you can also use a 50/50 mixture of butter and olive oil melted together.
Next, I cover my cookie sheet with parchment paper and place my ghee-covered sweet potatoes cut-side down prior to roasting at 425 degrees. Then slide them in the oven and set a timer for about 30 minutes.
Now for the maple butter. Take your 1/4 lb. softened butter and place it in a mixing bowl. I like to do this in my Kitchenaid mixer, but you can use a bowl and hand mixer if you prefer. To the butter add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. You can adjust both of these additions more or less to your liking. Next, turn on the mixer and let it whip up until well-combined. I find that it’s necessary to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides with a spatula once mid-mixing. When done, it should have a light fluff to it.
I like to transfer my finished product to a smaller dish like a ramekin and store in the fridge until it’s time to eat. And then I shamelessly lick the spatula. Yummy.
The sweet potatoes are ready when you can easily stick a fork through them. I find that it takes about 30 minutes usually, but it may be more or less depending upon the size of your potatoes.
The only thing left to do now is to spread that maple butter over your potatoes and enjoy! This is the simple recipe that turned my children’s loathing of sweet potatoes into a newfound love!
- 3 large organic sweet potatoes
- 1/4 C melted ghee (or 50/50 butter/olive oil)
- 1 pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 lb. organic butter
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Melt ghee over low heat in a saucepan
- Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush, rinse, and dry
- Cut off potato ends, then cut in half lengthwise and in half again
- Place potatoes in a large bowl, toss in ghee and sea salt until coated
- Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper
- Place potatoes cut-side down on the parchment paper and place in the oven
- Set timer for 30 mins.
- Place softened butter in a mixing bowl
- Add maple syrup and cinnamon
- Mix until well-blended, scraping the sides once with a spatula
- Transfer compound butter to a small dish such as a ramekin
- Store butter in the fridge until ready to use
- Remove potatoes from oven when they are easy to pierce with a fork
- Add maple butter and enjoy!