Long before Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry’s wife), author of Deceptively Delicious, began slipping spinach into brownies and cauliflower into mashed potatoes to get her kids to eat more vegetables, we were doing the same thing, but not as secretly.
Kids usually know when someone is trying to put something over on them, so our approach to introducing children to vegetables has always been to let them see what they’re eating. Also, we’re careful about the add-ins. Beets and broccoli might work in the Seinfeld kitchen, but we like to start with less assertive flavors, like green beans.
Spanish rice, which is Spanish in name only and probably comes from a Mexican dish with onion and tomatoes, is a great recipe for culinary doctoring. For serving along with kid food like hamburgers or hot dogs, we go for Spanish rice with green beans and tomatoes.
There’s nothing mysterious about it; the rice is lightly browned and cooked with green beans, which are diced but recognizable and tomatoes, cut in small chunks. We suggest the first time you make it, use only a small amount of green beans; once you’re sure your children like it, add more the next time around. If they’re turned off after a few bites, put the recipe in the “hold” file and try again another time.
Child experts say to pick your battles, but food should not be one of them. Most children will eventually eat all kinds of vegetables, and some will surprise you and turn into vegetarians.
—By Jean Kressy