November 16, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green!

It's not easy being green...
I like to think that my family eats healthy most of the time.  When I tell people that Big-A's favourite vegetable is broccoli, and that both my boys will happily devour steak, ribs and pork tenderloin at dinner time, I’m sure they either don’t believe me or think that I’m adding an addictive substance to their food.  They simply LOVE food!  My husband and I know that in the future, they’ll both eat us out of house & home during their teenager years.  But we’d take that over daily fights at the kitchen table, begging them to eat the food on their plate!

Although we eat healthy, balanced meals most of the time, we do know that we can do better.  Less bread and potatoes, more greens and fish.  It sounds easy, doesn’t it?  But we all know that it’s not.  I am a VERY picky eater.  I didn’t touch asparagus (and many other foods) until I met my husband.  How can I expect my kids to try the foods that terrify me?

Will we let that stand in our way of eating healthier?  No!  My family has made a conscious decision to add a new (preferably green) vegetable to our diet each week.  We know that it may take 20 tries to get our kids (and myself) to eat and enjoy these new veggies, but we are determined.

Week 1: Rapini
  • Other names: Broccoli Rabe; Broccoletti; Broccolini; Grelos
  • Has long stems, thin leaves and small florets, all parts are edible
  • Cruciferous vegetable containing the same cancer-fighting properties as broccoli and cauliflower
  • An excellent source of vitamin C and folic acid
  • Also contains vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and fibre

So off I go to my local grocery store.  I know exactly which area in the produce section to visit - the area full of leafy greens with red and white stems, the area that I always ignore.  Usually, I fill a bag with green beans, grab some peppers and quickly pass the leafy area, continuing my shopping at the broccoli section.  But not this time!  I take a look at all of the different vegetables.  There are so many to choose from!  And I LOVE that most are Ontario grown!  I decide to start with rapini.  It looks like baby broccoli.  We eat broccoli…how bad could this be?

My husband’s eyes light up when he sees the bag of bright green rapini.  He loves all vegetables and can’t wait to try a new one.  I scour online recipes to find the most appealing one.  Most recipes instruct you to slather on melted cheese.  I'll avoid the cheesy recipes for now.  After carefully cleaning the rapini and trimming away the non-perfect leaves, I boil it for 6 minutes and toss in a frying pan with olive oil, fresh garlic and salt.

Dinner’s ready!

We all sit down to a meal of grilled pork chops, rice and rapini (I did make sure to steam some peas as a back-up for the boys and I).  My husband loves it!  Success!  Big-A agrees to take a bite of a floret and likes it!  The leaves, not so much.  Lil-J devours the first bite.  The second bite is quickly spit out into his bib.

Now it’s my turn and I feel all eyes on me.  I start to feel anxious, not sure about this.  I feel like Survivorman eating random green plants to stave off starvation.  I put on a brave face and take a bite…not bad!  Pretty good, actually!  I’m really not a fan of the bitter leaves, but I’d eat it again.

I’m proud that my family has added one new super healthy vegetable to our diet, a vegetable that none of us have eaten before.  I know that if I keep serving it to my boys, I will eventually be able to drop the back-up veggie and they may even ask for seconds.  I might even treat them by slathering on melted cheese one night!

Making small changes to the food that your family eats will result in big changes to their health.  Introduce your children to the massive variety of vegetables in the produce section of your local store.  Let them choose one to try.  Start by asking them which one looks the most like a monster, or which one most resembles Daddy!  If you’re ‘picky’ like me, conquer your own food fears and set a great example for your children.   

Your children will thank you...someday!


Anonymous said...

Shauna can you come cook for me?? Emilie is very picky and automatically tells me "I don't like this" before she even takes a bite!

Keep are giving me hope that my kiddos will eventually eat their vegetable!


denise franzini said...

I love it...Great stuff Shauna. Rapini is a great time.!!!

Shauna MacKenzie said...

Thx ladies! I'm glad that you enjoyed my post!
It's not easy Val, but don't give up. Aidan is starting to push back w/ veggies so I make deals with him. I'll start with telling him he can have dessert if he eats just the top parts of his asparagus. After 5 dinners of him eating the tops, I'll tell him he can have an extra special dessert (a treat from his Halloween bag, etc) if he eats one whole asparagus. We've also always had the expectation that our boys will eat everything that we eat, and not backing down has worked for us! I look forward to sharing more experiences with you!
Maybe you can share your favourite rapini recipe with me Denise! I'm still looking for a good one :)