Friday, March 27, 2009

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

My son is now collaborating with me on my other blog, Recipes for Ben, and we've been having lots of online chats to make our plans for recipes to add. He always has a long list of recipe requests for dishes he remembers from childhood. The other day, after sending another list that ended up with Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Gingerbread with Warm Applesauce, he suddenly asked: Did we only eat desserts? Didn't we ever eat any vegetables?

I was kind of embarrassed. I have always tried to be a good mother, but when I think about my performance in the vegetable department, I realize that it has been kind of lackluster. Vegetables were always an afterthought in our house, even on Thanksgiving. We'd look over the table, all laden with festive dishes, and realize, yikes! No vegetables! We would hurriedly slap some frozen peas in a bit of boiling water and there! Vegetables, check!

Thinking back to my own childhood, I see that I can blame Clarence Birdseye for my vegetable issues. My mother was a busy working mom, unusual for those days, and she took advantage of all the newest labor saving products. We ate TV dinners, frozen chicken or tuna (remember those?) pot pies, and little packages of frozen Birdseye vegetables--peas, corn, and the dreaded peas 'n carrots.

Once I had kids of my own, I just had no vegetable recipes to fall back on, so we continued on with the Birdseye tradition. As any parent knows, kids tend to crave what they don't get at home, so it's no wonder that Ben is now a superb eater of vegetables. He even invents his own recipes and they are good. Take that, Clarence Birdseye!

Please skip on over to the other blog and check out Ben's first post there, his recipe for Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions. You'll really like his way with vegetables, and I'm pretty sure you'll love his sense of humor, too. Sick vengeful glee, indeed!

Fun fact: I'll bet you didn't know that Clarence Birdseye started out as a taxidermist. The man was interested in preserving practically everything...

Here is a quote from an article on Clarence Birdseye by Mary Bellis:

Clarence Birdseye was born in 1886 in Brooklyn, New York. A taxidermist by trade, but a chef at heart, Clarence Birdseye wished his family could have fresh food all year. After observing the people of the Arctic preserving fresh fish and meat in barrels of sea water quickly frozen by the arctic temperatures, he concluded that it was the rapid freezing in the extremely low temperatures that made food retain freshness when thawed and cooked months later.

In 1923, with an investment of $7 for an electric fan, buckets of brine, and cakes of ice, Clarence Birdseye invented and later perfected a system of packing fresh food into waxed cardboard boxes and flash-freezing under high pressure. The Goldman-Sachs Trading Corporation and the Postum Company (later the General Foods Corporation) bought Clarence Birdseye’s patents and trademarks in 1929 for $22 million. The first quick-frozen vegetables, fruits, seafoods, and meat were sold to the public for the first time in 1930 in Springfield, Massachusetts, under the tradename Birds Eye Frosted Foods®.


Judy said...

Hello, I saw the thing on Birdseye on t.v. once. Very interesting. I will check out Ben's recipes. My children love vegetables, even more than me. We used to raise a big garden on the farm when they were young and they grazed right out of the patch if they were outside and got hungry! Guess it paid off because they always watch what they eat. I love sweets and tend to go overboard on them.

June Saville said...

I really think the quicker we all get back to cooking ourselves, the better. Mind you I always have!

Freshly cooked food prepared by an imaginative cook is just so tasty kids will even get to enjoy veggies naturally.

Also, we'll be healthier and save money on fast food bills.

Erikka said...

thanks for the inspiration clair. my mom and i have wanted to sit down and type up all her old recipes b/c some of them are quite literally falling apart. this would be a neat way for not only her and I to share recipes, but to make them accessible to the whole family! (we'll see if I can get either of my two brothers near an internet, let alone a blog!)


WasSoggyInSeattle said...

My kind of Mom - NO VEGETABLES!!!!

BdVdB said...

Give yourself a little more credit, mom. Though the vegetables were an afterthought, we still ate them regularly (sort of). They just rarely came from anything as complex as a recipe.