Counting Our Veggies

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


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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!

cookie 01

cookie 02

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.


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Week Five: Artichoke, Sun-Dried Tomato and Blue Cheese Pizza


Lucie chose artichokes as our vegetable for this week. We started by doing some reading about the artichoke and learned that this funny looking vegetable is part of an immature flower from a plant in the thistle family. The type of vegetable we are working with this week is called a globe artichoke. Other vegetables called Jerusalem artichoke and Chinese artichoke come from the underground part of different types of plants and are not related to the globe artichoke.

We started artichoke week with a recipe that I love: artichoke, sun-dried tomato and blue cheese pizza. We included the kids in pizza making by giving them each their own pizza to top. This worked very well for us because Theo is allergic to dairy. Instead of feeling left out, he was able to make his own cheese-less pizza to be proud of.

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This made me think of the “make your own pizza-pie” episode of Seinfeld. I found watching parts of this episode on YouTube to be a great way to procrastinate from veggie blog writing. I can assure you that the characters at my house are just as entertaining as the ones on Seinfeld. We used our favorite pizza crust recipe, Jay’s Signature Pizza Crust from allrecipes.com. I doubled the pizza crust recipe, so we would have enough crust for three kids pizzas and two regular pizzas.

The toppings we offered the kids included the following:

  • homemade pizza sauce
  • sun-dried tomatoes (I cut these into small pieces and soaked them in olive oil and fresh minced garlic for about thirty minutes before using them.)
  • canned artichoke hearts (I sliced these lengthwise to make them more bite-sized.)
  • mini-pepperoni
  • mushrooms
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • blue cheese crumbles

Theo was very careful adding the pizza sauce.

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The girls selected and arranged their toppings.

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I thought surely they would pile on the artichoke hearts.

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Lucie did decide to sample one.

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“Mama, I would give this two thumbs down, but I’m not sure where to put the rest of this yucky artichoke.”

Theo’s pizza ended up with pizza sauce and pepperoni. The girls’ added pizza sauce, sun-dried tomato, pepperoni and mozzarella. Lucie added a few mushrooms. Not too heavy on the veggies, but oh well.

Now for the extra yummy pizzas:

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I added pizza sauce, sun-dried tomato and artichoke hearts.

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Then, lots of crumbled blue cheese and mozzarella. I baked it at 425 degrees on a pizza stone for about 20 minutes. (Really, until it looked done, but around 20 minutes.)

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This is so delicious! It is my favorite kind of pizza. The girls have eaten it before and loved it. There must have been some kind of anti-artichoke attitude going around today.

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Theo could hardly wait to eat his pizza.

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Josie was very proud of her pizza.

I feel like today’s post was a bit light on the artichoke. But, we have plans to tackle a real artichoke soon. We have never purchased a fresh artichoke before, so this is a bit intimidating. Lucie has chosen a recipe that she would like to try. I hope she likes it better than she liked plain canned artichoke heart.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

I did not like the canned artichoke heart that Mama had for the pizza, but I liked the pizza that I made. I like making my own pizza. Sometime I will try making a pizza with different vegetables on it. I hope we try more artichoke recipes soon.

Click here to find Counting Our Veggies on Pinterest.


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Week Four: Roasted Radish, Pepper and Carrot

Radish week is coming to a close. Our final recipe is Roasted Radish, Pepper and Carrot that we found at Sarah’s Cucina Bella. This recipe uses the daikon type of radish that we made into radish cakes a few days ago. I had high hopes for this recipe, since I liked the radish cakes and like all the other veggies in this recipe. The idea of roasting them sounded appealing, as well as the idea of adding balsamic vinegar.

First we gathered our veggies.

Veggies for Roasting

The recipe calls for specific amounts daikon radish, carrot, red bell pepper and shallot. We just chopped up what we had without measuring and used an onion instead of a shallot, because that is all we had.

Pan of Veggies

I think Lucie is too young to use a sharp knife, but she was still interested in learning about what I was doing and had fun stealing a few peppers and carrots to munch on while I cut the veggies for roasting.

Veggie Stealer

We drizzled the veggies with olive oil, added salt and pepper and put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, we drizzled them with a bit of balsamic vinegar and put them back in the oven for about ten more minutes.

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The veggies looked good and smelled good at this point. I could not wait to taste them and neither could Lucie and Dave.

Tasting Daikon Radish

The verdict…

Two Thumbs Down for Roasted Radish

Two thumbs down! I had to agree with her. I thought the rest of the veggies tasted fine, but the radish was just not for me. I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but I really did not like it. Josie and Theo are smart kids. They watch Lucie very closely and they trust her judgement. They were not going near these radishes.

Dave, on the other hand, LOVED these roasted veggies, especially the roasted daikon radishes. He ate them with a baked chicken breast and had a second serving of veggies. He says he would gladly eat this dish again.

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Overall, I feel that we learned a lot during radish week. I had never even heard of a daikon radish before last Sunday and I ended up using them twice this week. I thought that learning about tillage radishes and the Night of the Radishes festival was interesting. I was proud of how excited Lucie was about incorporating the veggies into a math lesson. (Lucie’s radish calculations were Dave’s favorite part of our blog so far.) I also felt that the kids were very interested in what we were doing in the kitchen and enjoyed being involved in preparing and tasting our recipes. What was your favorite part of radish week? We would love to hear from you!

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

We tried a cooked daikon radish recipe. I thought it looked like a veggie salad before we put it in the oven. I gave it two thumbs down. I did not like it. I really liked radish week because I like the spicy taste of radishes. In fact, I just ate a bowl of crunchy, red radishes with salt and butter.


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Week Four: Baked Radish Chips

While Lucie and I were researching radishes online, we came across an article about a festival in Oaxaca, Mexico called “The Night of Radishes”. This festival is held each year on December 23 and features art carved from locally grown radishes. You can read more about it in this article from the Vancouver Observer.

Lucie and I decided to try our own radish art. We saw this idea at Shades of Tangerine.

Radish

Carving Radish

Radish Mushroom

The kids all thought this was a fantastic thing to do. They now have big plans to carve an entire enchanted fairy garden from vegetables. I think we will save that project for later…

In addition to making radish art, we tried making two different kinds of radish chips. The first was plain baked radish chips with salt. We found this recipe on food.com.

First we sliced the radishes. We just used a knife, but they may have been a more consistent thickness if we had used some kind of vegetable slicing device.

Sliced Radishes

Next, we added one tablespoon of peanut oil and tossed the slices around to coat them. I’m sure any other kind of oil would be fine.

The girls were excited to help with the next step and had fun lining them up on the baking sheet.

Radish Helpers

We sprinked them with salt and baked them at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Then we flipped each little radish slice over and baked them for another 8 minutes. We may have overcooked them, but we found that we liked the crispy ones the best.

Radish Chips

These were eaten in less than one and a half minutes. And they only took about 30 minutes of slicing, arranging, flipping and salting to make. We need to find a way to automate this process.

Seriously, look at this reaction from Josie:

Josie Tasting Radish Chips

She was smiling as she tasted a radish! We got a triple two thumbs up rating for this one!

Radish Chips Theo Two Thumbs Up

Radish Chips Josie Two Thumbs Up

Radish Chips Lucie Two Thumbs Up

We will definitely be making baked radish chips again soon.

We also tried a cinnamon, sugar and honey variety of baked radish ships from Pinch of Yum

This variation was a little trickier to bake. They went from soggy to overdone in the blink of an eye.

Radish Chips Cinnamon

The girls did not like this kind of radish chips, but Theo and I gobbled them up.

Theo Tasting Radish Chips

I thought they tasted kind of like really burnt marshmallow for s’mores, which I love, but I would probably skip this variety in the future.

Thanks for visiting,

Jen

P.S.

A few words from Lucie:

We made radish chips and they were a lot of work. Josie and I helped Mama lay the radishes out on the tray. I like one kind of radish chips, but I did not like the other.

I think the radish festival and carving contest in Mexico is cool. I would like to visit the radish festival someday. I like the mushroom radish that we made. Vegetables can be more than tasty. They can also be fun!


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Week Four: Comparing Radishes – Combining Vegetables with Math

This year, Lucie has been attending a virtual school from home. We feel very fortunate that K12.com is a public school option in our state. One of the things we love about it is that we have time to come up with our own learning projects to supplement the already comprehensive curriculum that K12.com provides. This blog is one of our projects and today’s radish project was a way of incorporating math and consumer education into our vegetables. When we shopped for radishes on Sunday, we wanted to compare the price and quality of radishes available. We shopped for radishes at Whole Foods and Hy-Vee.

We decided to measure how much radishes cost per ounce and whether the quality varied based on the price.

Whole Foods/Hy-Vee Radishes

We purchased the two bunches of radishes on the left from Whole Foods. These cost $2.00 per bunch and were labeled as “organic”. We purchased the two bunches on the right from Hy-Vee. They cost $0.99 per bunch. We purchased one bag of radishes, pictured below, from Hy-Vee at a cost of $1.99.

Hy-Vee Bagged Radishes

Now to weigh the radishes.We removed the leaves and roots from all radishes before weighing, but left them in the picture for comparison.

Whole Foods bunched radishes:

Whole Foods Radishes Two Bunches

Hy-Vee Bunched radishes:

Hy-Vee Radishes Two Bunches

Hy-Vee bagged radishes:

Hy-Vee Bagged Radishes

Lucie made a table to help her compare price per ounce.  (I helped her get started and assisted with the calculator.)

Comparing Radish Prices

Her calculations showed that the Whole Foods bunched radishes were $0.33/oz., the Hy-Vee bunched radishes were $0.22/oz. and the Hy-Vee bagged radishes were $0.12/oz. While we were working on her table, we talked about dividing dollars into cents and rounding to the nearest penny. Lucie was frustrated that she could not divide a penny into thirds, but was able to understand why she could not. We compared the appearance of the radishes. The Whole Foods radishes were the prettiest, the Hy-Vee bagged radishes were the second most attractive and the Hy-Vee bunched radishes were the least attractive, but not bad. We found no difference when we compared the taste of the three types of radishes.

I introduced her to Microsoft Excel and helped her make a table of  the different radish attributes and a bar graph comparing price.

Type of Radish  Cost per Ounce  Amount of Leaves Appearance Organic Flavor
Whole Foods Bunch  $                     0.33 lots best yes Great
Hy-Vee Bunch  $                     0.22 few good no Great
Hy-Vee Bag  $                     0.12 none better no Great

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I asked Lucie to decide, based on her radish data, which type of radishes she would choose to buy and why she would choose that type.

Lucie’s response: “I would buy the bagged radishes from Hy-Vee. I want the lowest price and they all taste good. I would only care about how many leaves the radishes had if I had a pet rabbit who would like to eat the leaves. If I was making a craft out of the radishes, I would choose based on which ones were the roundest and the smoothest. I thought it was really fun to do a math calculation of radish prices and make a graph about them.”

Theo was interested in watching Lucie’s radish analysis and kept running through the kitchen to steal radish snacks.

Now, what were we going to do with all these radishes?

Thanks for visiting,

Jen