Counting Our Veggies

Please join us as we focus on learning about and trying one vegetable each week.


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Week Seven: Fun with Veggie Art

One of our favorite clothing brands, Polarn O. Pyret, is holding a contest. They are famous for their fun prints and they are asking their fans to create their own prints. Lucie and I worked on this veggie print together. We were inspired by her favorite Polarn O. Pyret dress with teapots on it and by our veggie blog. You can help us win a gift card by voting for our vegetable print here http://bit.ly/1kpnebI.

Veggie Print

Here is a picture of Lucie in her favorite teapot dress.

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Wouldn’t a veggie print dress be fun!

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

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Week Seven: Broccoli

My kids love broccoli. It was the first vegetable we could manage to get Lucie to eat when she was just a little toddler. (She is about one year old in this picture.)

Lucie One Year Old

At first, she refused to try it. She finally tried it when we told her she could pretend to be a giraffe and eat the leaves off the broccoli “trees”. (I think we had just returned from a trip to the zoo and she was very excited about having seen the giraffes.) She did just that, leaving all sorts of broccoli “tree stumps” on her plate. Dave and I thought we were parenting geniuses when we got her to eat it. Somehow, possibly as a result of Lucie’s broccoli-loving example, Josie and Theo have always liked broccoli too. (Remember last week when Theo ate the big broccoli stem for no reason at all.)

Since the kids already like broccoli, you probably think choosing it seems like a lazy vegetable choice for this week. You are right! We are feeling lazy. I think we have chosen to go out of our comfort zone in the veggie department quite a bit lately and we just need something comfortable this week. Even so, I’m hoping we will learn more about broccoli and even discover a new recipe or two that we can enjoy.

We will begin with learning this week. I’m trying to come up with a list of twenty things you didn’t know about broccoli. (I just love that 20 Things You Didn’t Know About… department of Discover magazine.) Hmm. . .

20 10 (See LAZY!) Things You Didn’t Know About Broccoli

1. Broccoli is a member of the Brassica oleracea species, which includes cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, collard greens and kale as cultivars. Each of these varieties has been selected over time to produce larger leaves, stems, buds or flowers, giving us the veggies we know today. (Click on this link and read it! Very interesting!)

2. Per person consumption of fresh broccoli in the United States increased from 1.5 pounds per year in 1980 to 5.6 pounds per year in 2010. Americans are eating their broccoli!

3. One cup of chopped broccoli has only 31 calories. It also contains 135% of your recommended vitamin C intake.

4. The word broccoli has its origin in the Latin word broccus, meaning projected or pointed.  The word brocade and broach are also derived from this same Latin word.

5. The most common type of broccoli is called Calabrese because it was first grown in the Italian region of Calabria. (Calabria is the “toe” of the “boot”.)

6. California produces 90 percent of the fresh broccoli in the United States.

7. It is nearly impossible to can broccoli with acceptable results. It would turn to mush and smell bad if you tried. Yuck!

8. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush banned broccoli from Air Force One because he didn’t like it. The United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association responded by delivering two truckloads of broccoli to the White House, along with a sheet of recipe suggestions.

9. The children’s cartoon Veggie Tales has no broccoli character. The one I thought was a broccoli is actually an asparagus.

10. Sulphoraphane, a chemical that occurs naturally in broccoli, has been studied as a sunscreen.

We are having broccoli for lunch today and and the kids are excited!

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

I am really excited about broccoli! I remember always liking broccoli. I only ate the “leaf parts” when I was little, but now I eat the stems too. I think it is really funny that a president banned broccoli from his plane, because broccoli is so good.


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Week Six: Edamame in Chinese Chicken Salad

Things have been busy around here! We are sharing our last recipe from edamame week a bit late. We will have our vegetable for this week (rumored to be broccoli) in a day or two.

We love it when our readers leave us comments about our blog posts! Grandpa Perry told us in a comment that he loves the edamame in Panera’s Thai Chicken Salad. This comment inspired us to look for a similar recipe to give edamame one more try. We found the recipe for Lighter Chinese Chicken Salad at Gimme Some Oven. (I love this blog’s name!)

Lucie and Josie were happy to shell the edamame. This time they pretended that the pods were caterpillars that turned into butterflies as they shelled. This reduced their efficiency, but increased their level of fun.

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We marinated two chicken breasts in a mixture 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar for about 15 minutes before grilling them on our griddler.

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Next we made the dressing according to the recipe, leaving out the optional sriracha chile sauce. The dressing smelled so good! I love the smell of anything that includes fresh grated ginger. Lucie and Josie were pretty skeptical about a third round of edamame tasting, but when I let them sample this dressing with a piece of carrot, they became a bit more optimistic.

Now for the salad. We did not have romaine lettuce, as the recipe calls for, but we did have bagged baby spinach, so that it what we used in its place. I love it when my veggies come pre-shredded, chopped or otherwise prepared!

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We combined the veggies, dressing, almonds and chow mein noodles in a bowl. Josie was impressed with the colors of this salad. She said it reminded her of fall.

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Finally, we sliced our chicken breasts and topped our salads with them.

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What would the kids think? They are not huge fans of salad and edamame has not made it to our list of favorite veggies, so I was prepared for the worst.

Theo could not wait to dig in.

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He gave the salad two thumbs up. He ate around most of the edamame, but I’m pretty sure he ate a few by accident. He ate all of the chicken and a good portion of the other ingredients.

Josie said….

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What?!? Two thumbs to the side! That is a pretty good rating from her, considering this is a salad. She ate all of the chicken and she liked the carrots and red cabbage. She still did not like the edamame.

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Lucie thought the whole salad was great and ate everything. I agree with her. It was fantastic! We decided we felt like we were eating at a restaurant. I think the taste of edamame might be growing on me. Surprisingly, we enjoyed the red cabbage in this recipe. I normally pick all the red cabbage out of salads, so this was a big change for me. I was also surprised to see that the kids ate it.

We have two important ideas from edamame week  to share with you. First, if you do not like a vegetable, keep trying it in different ways. It may grow on you! Second, edamame is a great way to distract kids. They focus on picking it our of their meal and eat all the other vegetables on their plate instead. I think I will call this the “decoy vegetable” trick. 😉 I wonder what that book I’m wanting to read will say about this kind of vegetable trickery?

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

I really liked the new recipe we tried. I liked the edamame in it too. My favorite part of this recipe was the dressing. I was surprised that I liked it. I even asked Mama to save the leftovers for me! Maybe edamame isn’t so bad after all.


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Week Six: Crispy Edamame and a New Book

Baked radish chips were a big hit with the kids, so I was hoping that crispy edamame would also appeal to them. I used a recipe from allrecipes.com by Sophia Candrasa. It was really simple. We used frozen shelled edamame that we had first thawed with cool water as the recipe suggests. We coated the shelled edamame with olive oil, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper and baked them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Super easy.

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The crispy edamame looked and smelled delicious when they came out of the oven. Would they taste delicious?

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Lucie was very hopeful…

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Aww… two-thumbs down. Josie and Theo wouldn’t even consider tasting them.

I thought that these crispy edamame smelled fantastic. I could not wait to taste them. I was disappointed because I thought they were just ok. Definitely not wonderful. I think the taste could grow on me. As usual, Dave thought they were great.

I was impressed by Lucie’s willingness to try the edamame again and her optimistic attitude that she might like them prepared in a different way.

We are in our sixth week of trying new vegetables with the kids and I am very happy with how things are going. The most important goals of this project are learning new things, having fun with the kids and exposing them to vegetables and recipes they might like to try. It is not about making them eat something they do not want to eat. So when I read about the book It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating by Dina Rose, I headed straight to amazon. The book arrived a few days ago and so far I have only had time to read the first few pages, but I can’t wait to read more. In the first chapter, the author makes the point that 30% of  all children between the ages of two and three do not eat any type of vegetable on any given day and when they do, the vegetable is most likely a french fry. I am hoping to get my kids eating two or three kinds of vegetables almost every day because they want to. I look forward to reading more about the authors approach to encourage the kids’ healthy eating.

In the last six weeks I have tried several things I never thought I would try and I have enjoyed many of them. I love hearing from you about what recipes sound good to you and about your favorite ways to prepare the veggies we are trying. Please continue to share your thoughts with us. The kids love hearing your comments too!

Don’t forget to follow Counting Our Veggies on Pinterest, where you can see boards for other recipes and vegetables we are considering and find all the recipes we have used on our blog.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

We tried a new edamame recipe. I though I was going to like it because it looked good. I did not like it and I gave it two thumbs down.


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Week Six: Edamame in Gingery Beef Stir Fry

On our last few grocery shopping trips, Lucie has spotted the edamame and expressed her desire to try them soon. So that is what she picked for our vegetable this week. Edamame, a type of immature soybean, is also known as a vegetable soybean or edamame bean. You can read more about edamame at the National Soybean Research Lab’s website.

Dave went to Hy-Vee and brought home every kind of edamame he could find for us to try. He found fully cooked edameme in pods, frozen edamame in pods and frozen shelled edamame.

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I have only tried edamame as a part of a Kashi frozen entree. While I have enjoyed eating the Kashi® Steam Meals™ Sesame Chicken, I was a little nervous about preparing edamame on my own.  (By the way, this is an excellent dairy-free option for those days when you are too tired to cook. Theo loves it.) I planned to try preparing our first edamame meal with a similar idea and chose Gingery Beef Stir Fry from A Full Measure of Happiness

While I was preparing the ingredients, a whole herd of rowdy children came to the kitchen to see what was going on. They insisted on trying the edamame right away, so we followed the directions from the package of the fully cooked edamame in pods. We microwaved them for 30 seconds and sprinkled them with sea salt.

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Lucie was excited to try them. Theo practically crawled across the counter to get to them.

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Sadly, they were not a success.

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Josie acted like she was going to die from edamame poisoning.

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Theo gave the edamame two thumbs down. His sisters agreed with him completely.

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Fortunately, the girls found a way to make the best of the edamame.

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Theo had to join in. They also found that shelling edamame for our supper recipe looked like fun.

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The girls were very efficient and soon had the whole tray shelled.

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While they worked, I prepared the other veggies that we would need.

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Theo wondered about the broccoli stem that I removed and decided to make it into a snack.

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He also sampled some raw broccoli florets, some raw carrots (claiming to be a bunny rabbit) and a few red peppers. Meal preparation time is a great way to get kids interested in eating veggies. I think they are more likely to try a few bites of something new when they are hungry and waiting for their meal.

We prepared the Gingery Beef Stir Fry according to the recipe.

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It looked and smelled very tasty.

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We served it over black rice, as the recipe suggested.

I wasn’t sure if the kids would be willing to try it, since they had just rejected edamame, but they were all willing to try again. We were hoping the soy sauce and honey made an improvement in its flavor.

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Nope. No improvement for Theo.

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As I suspected, two thumbs down from Joz.

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Same verdict from Lucie. These ratings were based on a bite consisting only of edamame.

Since the kids all like beef, rice, broccoli and usually red bell peppers, I urged them to try eating around the edamame. They did and said that they liked the rest of the food. Chow mein noodles sprinkled on top of everything made it even more appealing. After a while, I asked Lucie if she thought that the edamame would taste a little better if she ate it with a piece of broccoli or beef. She though it might and gave it a try.

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She decided to upgrade her rating to two thumbs to the side.

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I was shocked when Josie did the same.

Dave and I both though this recipe was very good. We would both eat it again. I do agree with the kids. I did not really like the edamame by itself, but I thought it tasted fine when eaten as part of this recipe. Dave thought the edamame on its own was great.

I think distracting kids with edamame was a great way to get them to eat broccoli, onion, red bell pepper and carrots.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

I was kind of surprised that I did not like edamame. I did not like the way it felt in my mouth and I thought it tasted bizarre. It wasn’t as bad if you ate it with other food.


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Week Five: Chicken, Bacon and Artichoke Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce

We have had a busy week. The weather was warmer than it has been in a while. On Thursday we even went to the zoo. It was in the low 40s, after all. Time to get some fresh air! Yesterday, we got some beautiful snow.

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We baked heart shaped cookies and made Valentine’s too.

In the middle of our crazy evening we tried another artichoke recipe for our Valentine’s Day dinner. We already had the kitchen a mess from the cookie baking, so there was no way we were cutting up more fresh artichokes. Lucky for us, this recipe called for canned artichoke hearts. Chicken, Bacon and Artichoke Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce from Iowa Girl Eats looked delicious, but a little bit complicated. By complicated, I mean that I had to use three of my stove burners at one time. This kind of complexity in a recipe makes me very nervous. With help from Dave, I managed to pull it all together.

Theo is allergic to dairy, so we fed him some of the chicken and pasta before we added the sauce. He was not willing to eat any of the artichoke, but he did like the plain chicken and pasta. Setting aside part of a recipe before the dairy ingredients are added is something that works well for us, since the rest of us love dairy. We don’t have to make two meals and everyone feels included in what we have cooked

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Josie decided to try the artichoke. Just as she suspected, she thought it was horrible. She did like the chicken and bacon part of this dish and managed to eat a few noodles.

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Lucie loved it!

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Dave and I thought this recipe was wonderful. It was a great Valentine’s Day dinner. Yum!

We have two more fresh artichokes left to try. We did not get to them today, but we did ice our heart cookies. The girls did most of the decorating themselves and they are very proud!

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Even though Josie and Theo did not enjoy eating artichoke, they did eat other things that were cooked with artichoke. I think this is a good strategy for helping children grow accustomed to the taste of different vegetables. Even with two thumbs down from two kids, I consider this a positive vegetable experience.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

I will have to ask Lucie for her thoughts tomorrow. She is already sound asleep.


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Week Five: Parmesan Stuffed Artichokes

Today we tackled the fresh artichoke. I watched a video of how to prepare an artichoke in order to prepare myself for this task. The guy on the video made it seem easy, except for the removal of the fuzzy part (the choke) in the middle. The choke removal even seemed to be tricky for him. (Please watch it here at curious.com, because what we are about to show you on our veggie blog turns out to be not ideal.)

Lucie chose a recipe for parmesan stuffed artichokes from Las Vegas Food Adventures. She was really excited to get started.

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She inspected the artichokes and decided that we should start with two and save the other two for a different recipe, so we cut all of the ingredients for our recipe in half.

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We had seen in the video that you must rub the artichoke with lemon any time you cut part of it away to prevent the artichoke from turning brown. We had our lemon sliced in half and ready to go as we began to peel away the outer leaves and cut off the stem.

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I cut off the top of the artichoke and carefully rubbed with with lemon to prevent browning. See that little purple spot in the center? The fuzzy choke beneath that is not good to eat.

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I decided to cut out the fuzzy choke that was mentioned in the video before cooking. After all, all I had to do was scoop it out gently with a spoon, right? Or a high powered laser.

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By this time, I felt that I must be doing something very wrong because I had a vegetable the size of a hockey puck left in my hand and a whole cutting board full of fuzzy stuff and discarded leaves. Dave walked through the kitchen at this point and decided he had better eat something else for supper, because “this looked too experimental”.

For artichoke number two, I decided to be more conservative with the cutting.

Josie could sense a disaster and came to try to help. She and Lucie worked on removing the outer leaves from the next artichoke.

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We left the choke in this one, hoping to remove it after cooking, as the recipe recommends.

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The girls stuffed them with the bread crumb mixture and we put them in the pan with white wine and chicken broth (which we used in place of water).

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We covered them and put them in the oven for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. They came out looking and smelling pretty good.

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Lucie could not wait to give them a try.

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She was very enthusiastic at first, but soon decided that she would rather eat something else. She decided on a one thumb up and one thumb to the side rating. I got to eat the artichoke with the choke still in it. It tasted fine and the choke was easier to remove after being cooked, but it was still a bit of a mess. I had more of the leaves on mine, which you are supposed to use your teeth to pull the artichoke flesh from, before discarding the fibrous part. I didn’t love this process. Dave’s rating was “not too bad”. He and I both agree that we prefer the canned artichokes, both for ease of preparation and taste.

To summarize, these fresh artichokes made me tired. I am looking forward to another canned artichoke recipe this week.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

Today, we tried a new recipe.    I gave it one thumb to the side, and one thumb up.  I also tried raw artichoke.  I gave it two thumbs up.  I also liked helping Mama in the kitchen.  I learned that the artichoke is the bud of a big, green flower.  Once it blooms, it is no longer edible.  I wonder what it looks like when it blooms? (We looked it up and found this page with some very interesting artichoke information.)

Artichoke_22 This is Lucie trying the raw artichoke.