It is a given fact that vegetables are a crucial part of the food pyramid. Low in fats and calories, vegetables provide us with vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber that our body needs. It is not only important for us to eat veggies but we should also teach our kids to include them in their diet early on. The big question is, how?
It’s not surprising that kids don't want to eat their vegetables, especially if they’ve grown accustomed to the sweet taste of milk. This aversion to vegetables, more often than not, continues into adulthood.
While there are a number of ways to improve the taste of veggies for your children to like them, adding a single, easy-to-find ingredient like cheese is perhaps the easiest. Here are 5 recipes that moms swear by – and they’re so easy to make!
1. Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Spinach is very rich in vitamin K, which is beneficial for blood and bone health, and vitamin A which help maintain good vision. Artichoke, on the other hand, is a rich source of dietary fiber which aids digestion, and anti-oxidants.
In this recipe, the sharpness of Parmesan counters the tangy taste of artichokes and the creamy base makes the spinach more appealing to kids. Just spread it on their favorite crackers!
Ingredients: 3/4 cup cream cheese 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped 1 1/2 cups artichoke hearts, chopped 1/4 cup sour cream 1/4 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or white pepper 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp garlic minced
Procedure: • Melt cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute. • Stir in the rest of ingredients. • Place into a container and cover with clean plastic wrap. Refrigerate and reheat before serving. You can also bake it for 20-30 minutes at 375°F. • Serve with crackers or toasted bread.
2. Creamy Eggplant Moussaka
Moussaka, a famous Greek dish, is a baked casserole made by layering eggplant with a meat filling topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. Eggplants are considered brain food because they contain a potent antioxidant called nasunin that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.
Here, the meat filling (almost the same as that of Bolognese) completely masks the eggplants, and the mozzarella cheese makes it even yummier!
Ingredients: 1/2 tsp butter 2 eggplants 2 1/3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 onion, minced 600g ground beef 400g can diced tomatoes 1 cup beef stock 1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped Salt and pepper 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Bechamel Sauce: 3 tbsp butter 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 2 tbsp flour 1/2 cup evaporated milk 1/2 cup all purpose cream 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Procedure: • Preheat oven to 350°C. Grease a baking dish with butter and set aside. • Slice eggplant lengthwise and spread the slices out on a flat surface. Sprinkle each slice generously with salt and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes. • In a large saucepan, sauté garlic and onion until translucent. Add ground beef and let it brown a little. • Add tomatoes, beef stock, mint, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside. • Rinse eggplant slices and pat dry. Brush a few slices generously with olive oil and fry for about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and stack on a plate. • Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add flour. Slowly whisk milk or cream in, adding salt and pepper to taste. Keep whisking until it begins to bubble and thicken. Remove from heat. Add parmesan and set aside. • Cover the bottom of baking dish with eggplant slices, half the bechamel sauce, and half the meat sauce. Continue layering until the baking dish is full. • Sprinkle mozzarella on top and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly. • Let rest for ten minutes, then serve with buttered bread.
3. Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin
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Broccoli and cauliflower may not be one of the bitter vegetables, but it is still not as appealing as mashed potatoes or mac and cheese are to children. Broccoli is high in vitamin C and contains nutrients with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Cauliflower, on the other hand, is low in fats and low in carbohydrates. In fact, it can pass as a healthier alternative to potatoes and rice.
In this recipe, the usual potato is substituted with broccoli and cauliflower for a very tasty but healthier gratin dish.
Ingredients: 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets 1/2 cup fresh whole milk 1/4 cup all purpose cream 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated 3/4 cup Emmentaler cheese, grated 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Procedure: • Grease a baking dish with butter and arrange all cauliflower florets on it. • Simmer milk, nutmeg, and all-purpose cream with the Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese over medium heat until smooth and thickened. • Pour over the cauliflower florets. Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. • Bake at 350°C for 45 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
4. Tomato Cheddar Soup
Tomatoes contain lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants, which has also been proven to improve skin’s ability to combat the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Because some kids dislike chewing the skin and seeds of tomatoes, you can puree the vegetable in this recipe to make it more appealing to children.
Ingredients: 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1/3 cup celery, chopped 1/2 cup white onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 can diced tomatoes, do not drain 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth 1/2 tsp salt 1/8 tsp ground black pepper 1 tsp sugar 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated 1/4 cup evaporated milk 1 tbsp butter
Procedure: • Heat olive oil over medium heat and add celery, onions and garlic. Stir occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. • Add tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. • Remove from heat and stir in cheese, milk, and butter. Serve with bread.