Monday, March 15, 2010

Love your veggies

We all want our kids to go gaga for veggies but once they enter the toddler years, it can be tricky to get them to eat anything green. Little mouths tend to clamp shut, little heads get started shaking, and you end up with an "eat your vegetables" face-off which we all know you just won't win.

But Jennie Garth has some ideas for you about how you get your kids excited about veggies, and she shares them in a series of web=isodes on iVillage, called Garden Party

In Garden Party, Garth, who I used to revere as Kelly in Beverly Hill 90210, now mother of three daughters, visits farms and gardens to learn about how to grow vegetables and then talks to kids and kid-friendly cooks about how to prepare them in a way that is fun and appealing to little ones. So, things like making salad art, getting creative with dipping (Hidden Valley is the sponsor of the show) and giving veggies a little bit of spin (broccoli can be "little trees" and asparagus can be "beanstalks") Each month, she focuses on a new vegetable: right now, for example, its all about lettuce.

I went to an event called Veggie Central at Grand Central Station last week, where Garth appeared to do a veggie-related activity with local 3rd graders and to talk about the show. Garth made bagel faces with the kids, where you spread on cream cheese as a base, then apply eyes, nose, and mouth with chopped into small pieces -- tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, peas, whatever you've got. Just look at how cute this one is:

The Organic Gardener,Jeanne Pinsof Nolan, was also in attendance, showing kids how to plant all manner of seeds, and answering their questions about gardening.

My favorite question was from a little boy who asked, "If you plant a seed, will it really grow?"

It does seem pretty far-fetched.

Nolan also mentioned to the kids how the President himself had a garden at the White House where he grew all kinds of vegetables. Kids seemed to dig that. What they didn't dig was beets. When Nolan asked if anyone ate beets, there was a resounding silence. Looks like beets needs to get some better PR. On the other hand, carrots were, unsurprisingly, a popular favorite. Hey, did you know carrots come in other colors, too, like white and purple? I think even my son, who gags if you even bring a carrot within ten feet of him, to try a purple carrot.

And if all else fails, there is always ranch dressing. A spoonful of ranch helps the vegetables go down. Although I'd recommend just a spoonful and not a whole fountain of it, which is what I saw at Veggie Central. I'm talking about a literal ranch fountain, like this:

Happy crunching!!