Sneaky Snacktime

October 6, 2009

I’m ashamed to say it, but when it comes to getting vegetables into my kids, I’m supremely ineffective.

And I hate to admit it, but I was raised better. Growing up, when my sister and I begged for a snack before dinner, mama calmly sliced up some celery, or green pepper, or cucumber, or even, god forbid radish… plopped the lot onto a plate and…we ate it. Happily. No lyin’.

Growing up, on our dinner table, there was both a salad AND another vegetable served at almost every meal. I think the only time there wasn’t a salad on the table was Thanksgiving dinner (creamed pearl onions took it’s place). My sister and I loved salad. Still do.

My kids wouldn’t touch a salad, even if you mixed in Twizzlers with the greens.

I suck.

Miss M. eats corn and that’s it. Pathetic. I fare better with Miss D. (well, who could do worse, really?) Over the course of the summer, she’s expanded her repetoire of vegetables she will eat. I’m happy to say that to the list of cucumbers, corn and frozen peas, she’s agreed to consume (in small amounts) red peppers, green peppers, carrots, grape tomatoes and cauliflower. I am quite proud, although the credit goes to her and her alone.

Still, my kids won’t eat salad and it bugs me. Salad is awesome! It’s one of my favorite things to eat, and I’ve even gotten my husband to like it, mainly because I stick a lot of goodies in there like bits of cheese, artichoke hearts and bacon.

My kids don’t like salad dressing. ANY salad dressing. Believe me, I’ve tried dozens. And if a kid won’t eat the ubiquitous Ranch dressing, the stuff that almost ALL mommies use as a vehicle to get veggies into their kids, mommy and her veggies are toast.

I decided to give salad dressing yet another go with Miss D. But this time, I decided, I needed to get smarter about things.

Strategy #1) My mama was smart enough to give us the veggies before dinner, when we were really hungry. Why not wait for a time when Miss D. is typically ravenous, such as after school?

Strategy #2) I’d make the salad dressing myself, and make it very simple. I mixed buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and some fresh chives together in my new (now with a lid!) blender. I pulverized it (so she couldn’t detect the chive…God forbid there is something green in the dressing).

Strategy #3) I introduced the salad dressing by serving it with vegetables she already likes.

Strategy #4) I’d serve it in something that would make her feel very grown up and refined.

Simplest Dressing Ever

1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 fresh chives, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper
salt and pepper to taste

I tasted this concoction and thought–meh. It wasn’t really flavorful, but she didn’t seem to like the flavorful dressings (eg: caesar, dijon viniagrette). But she didn’t much like the bland ones, either.
When she got home from school, I told her she had a very special snack waiting for her. I went into the refrigerator and pulled her Veggie Martini out.
She was pretty excited to eat it, and she definitely liked having her own little cocktail after school, even if was a veggie-tail.
She took a strip of red pepper, which was barely coated with the dressing, and ate it. I waited. A cucumber followed. Then I couldn’t help myself…I just had to ask.
“Sooo,” I said (trying desperately to sound causual), “What do you think of the dip?”
“It’s good,” she said, “but actually, it’s sorta weird. Can you wash it off?”
Sigh. I rinsed off the veggies, plopped them back in the vessel, and she happily crunched away.
The girl, for now, will take her cocktail naked, thank you very much. There’s worse things, I suppose.

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