Eat Your Veggies, Kids

Fresh Green Bean Salad

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 How hard is it to get kids to eat vegetables?  Very hard, according to the press kit I received a while ago promoting Green Giant frozen vegetables:  In a survey of 200 kids ages 6 to 10, one-third of parents said their children are more likely to be elected President on day than meet the daily recommended servings for fruits and vegetables.  Further, parents in the survey said it’s easier to persuade children to do their homework than finish their vegetables. 

According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, less than 15% of kids get recommended number of fruit servings daily and less than 20% get the recommended number of veggie servings daily.  Stats on adults aren’t better.  Nearly 90% of Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet for good health (1).

 Some families do eat veggies!  Shopping the produce section of the grocery store yesterday I heard a boy yell out “avocado” as his mom swung their cart by a display and grabbed a bundle.  A minute later, another little girl squealed out “oranges, Mommy, oranges” and her mom loaded up a net of mandarins. 

 When my babes were beginning to eat solid foods I was disappointed in the lack of variety of jarred “baby food” so I blended vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli and froze them in ice-cube trays,  in baby-size portions, easy to thaw and serve.   

 As my children grew older I took advantage of their dinnertime hunger and served raw and lightly steamed vegetables as an appetizer, often with a tasty dip. Their consumption rate was high because they were hungry.  I’m convinced that these early and frequent taste experiences has helped them remain curious and open minded about new foods and flavors.

 Good habits have lifelong benefits.  Eating patterns, specifically fruit and veggie food choices, are developed at an early age and track into adulthood (2).  The Dietary Guidelines 2010 states that “consumption of vegetables and fruits is associated with reduced risk of many chronic diseases. Specifically, moderate evidence indicates that an intake of at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and fruits per day is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Some vegetables and fruits may be protective against certain types of cancer.”  They also tend to be low in calories (when prepared without fats and sugars) which can help with weight management when substituted for higher calorie foods.  

 In the spirit of enjoying vegetables, here’s one of my family’s favorite vegetable recipes, Fresh Green Bean Salad; we like it best served warm or at room temperature.  You can vary the dressing to suit your taste or the theme of your meal. When I prepare an Asian meal I make a dressing seasoned with fresh ginger, rice vinegar, a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil.  Or streamline the process and use your favorite bottled dressing. 

 References:

 1. Stark Casagrande S, Wang Y, Anderson C, Gary TL. Have Americans Increased Their Fruit and Vegetable Intake? Am J Prev Med. 2007;32(4):257-26

 2. McAleese, Jessica D, MPH; Rankin, Linda L., PhD, RD, FDA  Garden-Based Nutrition Education Affects Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Sixth-Grade Adolescents J Am Diet Assoc, 2007;107:662-225

Fresh Green Bean Salad 

 1 1/2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces

1/2 to 1 cup sliced fresh red or yellow bell pepper or halved cherry tomatoes

Herb & Olive Dressing:

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar

1/4 cup drained, sliced pitted black oil-cured or kalamata olives

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as thyme or marjoram

Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water for 5 to 7 minutes or until beans are tender-crisp. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.   While beans cook, prepare dressing:  Place onion in medium bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add vinegar and mustard; stir to dissolve salt.  Stir in olives, olive oil and herbs.   Add green beans and bell pepper.  Toss to serve.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Copyright © Lorelle Del Matto 2011

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

Comments

  1. mary ann flanders says:

    The green bean salad is delicious. The olives really make it! I don’t think it will last until it’s room temp. We’re eating it lukewarm right now. Thanks.

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