This year, my husband has worked to get our kids invested in the vegetable garden, under the theory that they will be more inclined to eat/try foods to which they have an experiential connection. We’ve made definite strides in combating their overly picky palates, and victory usually comes in getting the kids active in meal planning and preparation. By making meals seem like events, instead of just pit stops between school and video games, we’ve seen that we can transform their attitudes about the foods they eat. For example, we recently started a “make-your-own” night (once with pizzas, once with tacos), and the boys not only ate, but clamored for more. I also give them cookbooks and magazines to peruse, and they occasionally pick out new recipes for us to try. Don’t get me wrong; I still have to put the Mom foot down on occasion and remind them this is not a restaurant, but still, this is progress.
So, we extended this theory of interaction to the garden, hoping that the boys would feel the same excitement about eating something that they helped grow. Other than our usual staples of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant, my husband let the Heathens pick a few seeds when it was time to plant. They both picked green peas, which I’m sure they felt was a fairly safe bet; after all, canned peas are one of the few vegetables they will eat without excessive dinner table theatrics. However, we both know there is a big difference between a fresh vegetable and a canned vegetable, especially in the eyes of an 8 year-old.
We harvested our first round of peas this weekend, and though the Heathens were excited, they were also mildly fearful now that it was time to pony up and eat the fruits of their labor. I finally took pity on them, and decided that we wouldn’t go for the full monty this first go out of the gate. Instead of making them scarf down a helping of plain peas, I decided to mix the peas in a familiar dish. I wanted to set them up for success, and not let their picky-eater anxiety get the best of them. I made grilled chicken and gnocchi, tossed in an Alfredo sauce with a splash of Marsala. I added the cooked peas and called it done:
The boys got to eat their peas, and we celebrated another small victory in our quest to eat a little fresher and a whole lot better.
On a random aside, my husband has also proven that the picky eater does not fall far from the tree. He decided he doesn’t like gnocchi, but he loves pierogi. Explain that one to me…