It's no mystery that many parents struggle with getting their young children to eat fruits and vegetables. Vegetables, in particular, seem to be a food group that children stubbornly resist. That's why teacher and chef Linda Steidel is hoping to inspire parents to bring their kids to the farmers market.
According to Steidel, getting our children to eat fruits and veggies doesn't have to be so hard. "If we get our children involved in the process of how produce grows, then engage them in a simple recipe and offer samples to taste, the kids become much more excited by the process," she says. "We need to expose our children to really good food."
She sees the produce available at the Farmers Market Day at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, or any farmers market in Southern California, as an opportunity for great exposure. "I take them on a chef 's tour of the local farmers market and start by identifying the produce to the children," Steidel adds. "Many of the farmers offer samples. For example, a baby carrot that's been picked when vine-ripened can taste like candy."
Then Steidel follows the class with demonstrations using simple seasonings and fresh herbs and offer samples for the students to taste. "Kids become much more excited when they understand how produce grows in the earth, then ends up on the table," she remarks.
She believes that everyone tends to eat healthier and more deliciously when they feel a connection to the earth that our food is growing in. Even planting a small garden with children can help kids become excited about eating fruits and vegetables. In contrast, think of a child who has only purchased produce from a supermarket-often imported from a faraway country and losing nutrition and taste before it's even eaten.
And once you get the vegetables home from the market, cooking them doesn't have to be labor-intensive. "You can do some spectacular things that are very simple and taste well," says Steidel. "I love to grill vegetables with a little olive oil and a little salt and pepper."
She says there is not a vegetable you can't grill, even avocados. She also recommends picking up some fresh herbs at the farmers market. For instance, top your veggies with rosemary, then cook, and in 20 minutes you can have the most amazing meal.
Steidel currently teaches cooking classes at Williams Sonoma and previously taught cooking at Torrance Memorial Medical Center's Farmers Market. She also has authored four cookbooks that are sold at Williams Sonoma.
"I definitely feel that it is very important to engage our children in all aspects of eating healthy," she says. "Once they understand where food comes from and how simple it is to prepare fresh ingredients that taste better than any packaged food, it's a great start."
Veggie- And Kid-Friendly Meals
- 1 ball purchased pizza dough
- 1 cup cubed mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced very thin
- 8 to 10 basil leaves
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 450º.
2. Let the pizza dough rest for about 1 hour at room temperature on an oil-greased baking sheet. Brush pizza dough with olive oil and top with cheese, garlic, tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper.
3. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Grilled Red Potatoes And Sweet Corn With Herb Butter
- 1½ pounds red new potatoes, cut into thick rounds
- 3 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 12 shallots, peeled
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Grill potatoes, corn and shallots, turning often to prevent charring. Cook until grill marks appear and potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a bowl; toss with butter, parsley, salt and pepper.