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August 26, 2009

The Cleverer Way to Get Children to Eat Vegetables


A school of thought exists that to get children to eat vegetables, you need to apply one of two things to them – cheese or chocolate. In fact, it is widely held that the Swiss invented fondue for this very reason, except that originally it was meant to add further inducement to skeptical children – the knowledge that one was cooking over an original fire.


There is something to that. The easiest way to get children to eat broccoli is to slather over the top of it a thick layer of melted Velveeta cheese. The benefit of this is that the coating not only disguises all hint of vegetable-related flavor, but also masks the appearance nearly completely. It is like a kind of edible paint meant to make a dingy, one-room efficiency appear to a child’s palate to be the Taj Mahal.


Although this most commonly proves successful, it does bring with it the negative side effect of effectively negating all health benefits from eating the broccoli in the first place. The food may be full of nutrients and minerals, but what does it matter when the fats, cholesterol and sodium involved guarantee a child’s heart to explode by age 10.


A cleverer gambit is necessary, beginning with the broccoli itself.


The question is – fresh or frozen. The answer is – if you insist on eating frozen broccoli, always expect that it will turn out to be entirely inedible. It is probably already soggy and devoid of nutritional content, and will require something so awful that you would have been better off simply skipping dinner. Always go with fresh.


Cut up your broccoli and steam it lightly. Rumor has it that this retains the maximum nutritional value. At any rate, it will be more edible if you steam it lightly than if you scald it with steam for so long it falls apart at a fork’s touch.


While this is steaming, perhaps for as little as 10 minutes over a light simmer, create the sauce. Melt some butter over a medium-low heat. This will prevent the melted butter from burning and turning what is about to be a very lovely, citrusy sauce into a darkened horror.


Add some minced garlic and stir it around for a few minutes so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, and releases its flavors. Add to that some ground black pepper and finally a generous tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.


It is a little known secret, but fresh lemon juice is the skeleton key of the green vegetable world. It unlocks every door, allows you full access. There may be some green vegetables that do not go well with fresh lemon juice, but they are considered among their kind as traitors to the state.


Allow to set for a few minutes, as the broccoli finishes cooking. The sauce will thicken a little bit, allowing it to cling to the steamed broccoli and infiltrate its tree-like crowns, which will prompt the release of slight garlicky-lemony tastes when bitten into.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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