Friday, September 3, 2010

Green Day

We took care of Loretta's adorable children (2 and 4 years old) Thursday, which made lunch time even more fun, I really enjoy cooking for other people's kids.  If I could just do a lunch daycare where I fed kids lunch, it would be a blast.  On this particular day, I had green on my mind because a mother had asked, on a veg parenting forum, recently, about how to get her children (around 2 and 4) to eat more vegetables**.  Loretta's kids eat great so I knew they would probably eat anything I cooked, if they weren't too distracted by playing.  Rob pressure cooked the chickpeas we soaked last night before he went to work so I also had chickpeas to use.  I reread "The Chicken Gave it To Me"* this week to my kids which has a green planet where everything is green, including the inhabitants.  Thus, I decided today was green day and everything would be green.  The kids snacked on Veggie Booty (a treat!) while they watched a Tinker Bell movie (she always wears a green dress) as I fixed lunch.
Green Mango "Ice Cream" and Green Curried Chickpea Patties

The ice cream is really one of our usual mango, shredded coconut, flax seed, kale, non-dairy milk smoothies, but I added rolled oats to make it spoonable.  Josie was asking for this for a few days so she was thrilled.  When K (four years old) first sat down, he was a little skeptical.  My kids were already spooning the ice cream in their mouths so he asked what it was.  I said "mango ice cream" and he sounded interested, but was still obviously wondering why it was green.  He ate a few tentative bites and then more and said, "I could eat this all day!" and I had to laugh.  He is so cute!  Once they had drained the Vitamix of the ice cream, they all clamored for more.  K's sister, T (two) was more interested in the Green Curried Chickpea Patties which, if I do say so myself, were even better with the addition of kale.  Instead of parsley, I added about half a dozen de-stemmed raw kale leaves.  I doubled the recipe and thought I'd keep half of the mixture to use another day, but I had to go right back in the kitchen and cook them all (probably sixteen patties) since the first plate disappeared so fast.  A couple of the kids dipped their patties in unsweetened ketchup and the others ate them as a sandwich on Strawberry Field's Veggie Seed Bread.  Parker took the green to a new level by adding avocado, pickles, and mixed greens to his.  To keep five children at the table eating, instead of running around crazy until they keeled over from lack of calories, as they are sometimes wont to do, I read "How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head" by Bill Peet.  Droofus is partially green (okay, he is more blue than green, but he becomes a vegetarian dragon and eats grass).  I love reading to a group of kids under six because they ask questions incessantly.  Parker was never like that, he just sat still for book after book from a very young age, but he is an exception.  Once their bellies were full and they were off to play trains/house/Lego, I took a second to grab a bite, but didn't get a chance to snap a decent picture.  Afternoon snacks were rice cakes with seaweed (another treat!).  We did continue green day a bit after our guest were gone, by putting kale our homemade pizzas at dinner.

*I will review "The Chicken Gave it To Me" in another post, I can't believe I've never reviewed it for the blog before.

**Some of my advice to this or any parent trying to get more veggies into to their kids:

  • Serve them!  Seems simple, but a lot of times we here a complaint about a food or the kids don't eat something so we stop serving it.  Don't stop!  (Of course, be mindful of allergies and food sensitivities and if a child doesn't feel well after eating something or shows a reaction, I would avoid the food and/or have them tested.)
  • Serve vegetables for every meal of the day, breakfast and snacks too.  Seriously, the more kids see a food, the more "normal" they find the food.  Many kids also eat more earlier in the day than later and if all the veggies are packed into dinner they may just miss out because they filled up at breakfast and lunch.
  • Be okay with different preferences.  If you are serving veggies (a wide variety, but always trying to get a green leafy one in daily) all day, they will consume some of them.  Parker loves garlicky kale, Josie prefers mixed green salads, Dema begs for green soup, they all go for green smoothies.  So I don't stress if all three kids don't eat every bite of everything I serve them, they get what they need throughout the day/week.
  • Variety, variety, variety.  I aim for ten different fruits and veggies a day.  It doesn't have to be ten servings and usually it is more than ten.  If you're child is only eating one, shoot for three or five.  Try different ways of preparing or presenting veggies.
  • "Sneak" them.  I often add extra veggies to dishes, but I like to make sure my kids know what is in a dish, especially if they ask for more.  I want them to reach for vegetables when they are out on their own and know that they enjoy the taste of them.  Josie from a very young age would remind me to buy kale so we could make smoothies.  If your child has been "taught" (I am always amazed at how many children's books or children's shows assume that kids won't like vegetables or show "normal" children turning up their noses to healthy foods, I will never understand why we do this type of shooting our families in the nutritional foot) to dislike the word vegetable and anything involved with veggies then just sneak and don't tell for now.
  • Eat vegetables yourself.  While this did not work for me as a child, I really do think it has an effect.  If children see their parents eating and enjoying vegetables, they are more likely to do the same.
Oh and I had the kids listen to Green Day, okay not really, but next time I will.  They did rock out to some music, it was adorable.


sara said...

all your suggestions to get kids to eat veggies are right on! i really believe if we just serve them and don't make a big deal, kids will see them like any other food, not "yucky!" and i love your green-themed meal, how fun!

The Voracious Vegan said...

Green Day has been one of my favorite bands since I was a little kid, so I LOVE this post. And those patties? DELICIOUS! Great idea.

Carissa said...

I would sign up for a vegan cooking class if you were to ever schedule one. ;)

Marja said...

This post makes me happy. Thanks for sharing your tips! I don't have any kids at the moment, but I'm often wondering what it will be like being a vegan parent in a big non-vegan world.

Mary Ellen said...

I would love to know the ingredients in your "green" mango ice cream. It sounds so good. Do you use fresh mango?

VeganLinda said...

Sara,Thanks, I love doing color being my fave.

TVV, Green Day is awesome! I've improved the patties even more by adding quinoa...I'll cover that in a future post.

Carissa, I really do love doing cooking classes, I just never feel like my kitchen is ready for spectators. You are always welcome, though!

Marja, How sweet! Our ten years of parenting vegan children has gone by so quickly and I feel many things are easier now than they were ten years ago with more and more people understanding plant-based diets.

Mel, We loooovvvveee fresh mango, but there is never any left for things like smoothies/ice cream. We buy frozen mangoes in bulk (10 or 20 lbs at a time) from the buying club. I throw in whatever we have on hand at the time (kale, flax seeds, mangoes, bananas, oranges, shredded coconut, etc. and for "ice cream" texture I used rolled oats). We have a Vitamix now so it is a snap.

Here is a sample recipe: