Saturday, April 09, 2011

You Say Tomato, I Say Miracle: Getting Picky Eaters to Eat Vegetables

Ever notice that you could put a perfectly delicious tomato on a kid’s plate and it will just sit there untouched. Take that same tomato and make it into sauce for pizza or spaghetti, and it’s The Best Thing Ever?

What is this miracle? I’m not the first parent to notice it, either. During live calls on KCUR and Whole Living radio, other parents chimed in to note the strange and wonderful phenomenon of tomato sauce.

It gets better, too. Not only can you get that tomato onto a kid’s plate and have it devoured, parents say, but that same sauce can also be a vehicle for veggies like carrots and red peppers, too.

For this recipe, I used both “extra” veggies and served it up with meatballs. For extra kid-friendly goodness, you can serve it over whole grain pasta. And then sit back and enjoy watching your kid eat a healthy meal without the struggle.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
For the meatballs:
1 lb. lean ground beef (I use grassfed)
1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Mix together and shape into 1/2-inch round meatballs.

For the sauce:
28 oz. diced tomatoes in juice
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1 onion diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tbs. brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bay leaf

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion, carrots, red pepper and garlic. Sweat the vegetables for about five minutes. Add the ginger, allspice, cinnamon and saute for two minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the lemon and vegetable broth, brown sugar and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a fast simmer. Add the bayleaf.

A few at a time, minding the splatter, add the meatballs. Try to get them each covered in the sauce. Cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Check to see if meatballs are cooked through to well done. Cook longer if needed. Stir gently, to prevent breaking up the meatballs, every 10 minutes to make sure they all cook evenly. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Serve over whole grain pasta. Watch kids eat a vegetable without fuss. Enjoy peaceful dinner.

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