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Eat Your Veggies: An Interview with an Expert (my mom)

July 15, 2011

Raw turnips

Thanks to SUBWAY® restaurants for sponsoring my post about summer fun with my kids. Check out the Kids Eat Free program at any LA area location! Just purchase any two subs, two sides and two drinks, and you can get a kid’s meal FREE!

Caveat: despite the above intro, I do not actually have children. But I grew up eating vegetables. Lots and lots of vegetables. So I decided to ask an expert, my mom, how she got all of us 5 kids to grow up to eat our veggies.

Suebob: What were your secrets for getting us to love vegetables?
Mom: Well, everyone didn’t always like vegetables. I got a face full of peas a couple times. (Mimes a toddler blowing out a mouthful of food). Ick.
Suebob: Yeah, there were always things some of us didn’t like…
Mom: Like Laura and her sweet potatoes.
Suebob: Oh, yeah, I remember.
Mom: (this is a story I have heard approximately 1000 times) I TOLD the school she would not eat sweet potatoes and that they should not try to give them to her. But that teacher made her eat them. And you know what she did? She threw up right there at the lunch table. Well, they didn’t listen, so that’s what happens.
Suebob: But we did eat a lot of vegetables.
Mom: We couldn’t always afford meat. So we had to do something else. We had cheese, we had macaroni, we had vegetables. It was only later that we got to have meat all the time.
(She fails to mention that, because we lived by the ocean, other diet staples were California lobsters, abalone and scallops. Dad had a rowboat and lobster traps and friends who SCUBAed. So it could have been worse).
Suebob: But we always had veggies.
Mom: Yes, Dad and I grew up eating them. So we just always put them on the table and we liked them.
Suebob: I remember eating asparagus and artichokes from the time I was very little. I had lunch the other day with a friend who is 40 and who had never eaten an artichoke.
Mom: Imagine that! But those were treats! They were kind of expensive, so they were for special occasions.
Suebob: Yes, you always made a big deal out of them. Maybe that’s why I liked them so much. To this day, I’d rather eat asparagus than ice cream.
Mom: You were always a little strange that way. You would never eat a hamburger, either. You’d rather eat nothing than a hamburger.
Suebob: That is still the case. (I have been a vegetarian since 1986).
Mom: But we offered a lot of different kinds of veggies made different ways. Sometimes just raw and sliced up, sometimes sauteed or steamed. Back when I used to boil the heck out of things but I realized that isn’t good for the flavor or for the vitamins, so I was happy to find that bamboo Chinese steamer basket.
Suebob: Did we always have a big garden?
Mom: You know your dad. He loved to fool around growing things.
Suebob: The first thing he did when you bought a house was to plant a giant garden.
Mom: That was the best time. We loved being out there with all those plants and fruit trees, picking our own strawberries and watermelons.
Suebob: So what would your advice be to parents who want their kids to grow up eating vegetables and fruits?
Mom: You have to have them there on the table, every day. They have to see you eating them. Eat together so you can talk and enjoy the company. This eating in front of the TV is terrible.
Suebob: Anything else?
Mom: Yes. Learn to cook. It’s not so hard to peel a vegetable and to cook it, but people act like if it doesn’t come from a package, they don’t know what to do. They’ll eat all this junk but complain because vegetables are too expensive. Well, potato chips are $4 a bag. You save a lot of money if you just learn five or ten meals you know how to cook and can do over and over. I’m not a good cook. I never was, but nobody ever starved.
Suebob: And we all grew up eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
Mom: Thank goodness for that.

Curried Pea Soup
Curried Pea Soup

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  1. July 15, 2011 09:27

    We suck at gardening, but we have a CSA. It’s pretty amazing how many vegetables the kids will try if we just say “they’re from OUR farm!”

    • July 15, 2011 09:27

      I mean a CSA share. Not literally our own farm!

      • July 15, 2011 10:20

        There’s something magic about knowing where your food comes from that makes it taste better!

  2. July 15, 2011 19:51

    Ah man, I love pea soup. Yum!

    Though I have to say, Suebob, don’t get me wrong, I really like asparagus. But it’s no ice cream.

    • July 16, 2011 23:05

      I liked ice cream better before I started reading ice cream recipes. It is just so OMG FAT SUGAR FAT FAT.

  3. July 15, 2011 20:39

    I also prefer ice cream over asparagus, but partly because of the pee smell…

    We grew up eating fruits and veggies, even in the early ’70s in Fairbanks, Alaska, where that was nearly impossible, except for frozen and canned. But they were always there. Then we returned to California in ’75 and got even more fruits and veggies. My daughter (only child) eats her veggies just fine, and with her, we just put them in front of her, consistently. There are those that she likes vs. those that she doesn’t, but she eats plenty. I’ve had parents of friends who said that their kids would not eat even fruit (hello, sugar!), but then they came to our house, and I would put a plate of sliced apples, or grapes, or strawberries, out with the hotdogs or mac and cheese, and often, the fruit is the first thing to go.

    Your mom is totally right. Learn to cook. Make the food available. Enjoy it in front of your kids. That’s all it takes. And I suspect it’s different with different kids, just as some will become vegetarians, and others adore meat, but you can try your best and then let it go.

    • July 16, 2011 23:04

      It’s like advertising – you have to see it a bunch of times before you want to try it. But I’m still not eating any dried old lima beans.

  4. July 15, 2011 22:31

    I want that pea soup, IN MY FACE

    • July 16, 2011 23:03

      I KNOW! Now I eat it, but I was certainly one of the spewers.

  5. July 16, 2011 19:08

    excellent interviewee! getting kids to eat veggies is something worth the perseverance!

    • July 16, 2011 23:05

      She knows what she is talking about! Thanks.

  6. July 17, 2011 19:18

    Some of my favorite posts that you’ve done have been conversations like this with your parents. I feel like I love them as much as I love you because of these little things. I’ve never understood parents who didn’t get that setting an example is the best way to get results. Do as I say not as I do is rarely successful. Hope you and your mom have some delicious asparagus this week!

    • July 23, 2011 21:50

      Thanks, Kizz. I DID buy her some asparagus. Me? I roasted green beans and eggplant for lunch (not together) and had kale pizza for dinner.

  7. July 22, 2011 04:39

    My grandparents’ farm in Michigan, with all its love and fresh, imperfectly perfect fruits and vegetables, made me a fruit & veggie lover. I have blessed memories from my visits to their farm. Beyond that, my Mom (who’s 86) was and still is a health fanatic (in a good way). She’s been reading and studying about food and exercise since I can remember. My Mom ALWAYS served at least 2 veggies with dinner and I always loved this. Then there’s my Nana from Boston (my Moms’ Mom)… who was a sweet eater and smoker and soap opera lover… but ALWAYS had veggies at dinner. NOT just veggies, though. “NICE” ones. I can still hear my Nana saying, “Eat your NICE peas [or whatever she was serving].” “NICE” emphasized.

    Love this post!

    • July 23, 2011 21:48

      The best place to learn to love veggies is in a garden or on a farm.

      NICE veggies LOL!

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