Vegetables
All they're good for
I have to admit something, but promise you won’t tell my daughter. She has subzero interest in anything that I write, so chances are she won’t find out unless one of y’all say something.

Last night, I pretended like I was going into the kitchen to get a second helping of the sloppy joe that I put my foot in, if I do say so myself. Actually, I was very quietly, very inconspicuously, but very intentionally sliding the same broccoli I had forced her to pile onto her plate in hearty portion off of mine and back into the serving bowl. If you’re judging now, pace yourself. There’s more. 

That’s not even the first time I’ve pulled a trick like that. Once, I eliminated every piece of asparagus from my sight by “sneezing”… and dropping the bits of vile weed into my napkin every time I “blew my nose.” I’m also not above tossing slices of cucumber into potted plants and sliding shreds of bell pepper into my pocket if they’re still so undercooked that they maintain that offensive crunchiness. 

I don’t like vegetables. Not the kind that are supposed to be so good for us, anyway. I love corn, on and off the cob, peas, green beans, potatoes (which, for the sake of this conversation, are vegetables and not just a vegetative carbohydrate). I can even eat carrots in, say, a pot roast or pot pie and chopped onions are a staple in about 65 percent of the meals I make. But mentally, I revert to a finicky four-year-old when I go to the grocery store and see the variety of veggies on display. All beautifully colored and nice to look at, but nothing that I want to see on my dinner plate. No. I don’t want to. And you can’t make me.

But, way before I was a mama, I had health class in school like everybody else and learned the importance of eating the standard five a day, and I’ve read more than my fair share of blog posts and news articles confirming again and again the health benefits of kale and eggplant and (ugh) cauliflower. I just can’t get excited about doing it. Not in an army-green smoothie, not in that V8 fruit juice that’s supposed to disguise the taste, and certainly not eating them raw or just barely cooked. Put those bad boys over an open campfire and I still wouldn’t want them, much less barely braised or nuked.

I fear I’ve passed on my culinary biases to The Girl, who never had so many different vegetables cross her palate because I don’t buy or cook them. Because I don’t like them.

We’ll tear through some fruit, though. Apples, bananas, kiwi, grapes, nectarines, even out-of-season strawberries. There isn’t too much in that family we don’t love. Given my druthers, however, I’d nosh on a piece of cardboard than a leafy bit of something that looks like it should be potted and sold in the garden department at Lowe’s.

I want to set a good example for her and instill good eating habits in her while she’s still young and impressionable, so I suffer in silence (and fake it on days when I can’t choke down not one more piece of this-tastes-like-tree-bark-no-matter-how-much-garlic-I-put-on-it). The upside is she’s slowly developing her own tastes: she loves collard greens and baby carrots (which unnecessarily cost more than regular ol’ carrots, but I’ll gladly pay the difference). If she’s feeling really jiggy, she’ll ask the Subway sandwich artist to sprinkle a little iceberg lettuce across her 6-inch ham and cheese.

I’m trying to be more adventurous, not only for her health but mine. I just got my first Crock Pot and a book of veggie-intensive recipes, some of which I’ve never given the time of day. I’ll keep a napkin or a potted plan close by just in case, but we’ll see.

Do your kids eat veggies willingly?


Image via nannetteturner/Flickr