Sunday, July 20, 2008


Our kids aren't terribly picky eaters, but they do tend to resist fresh veggies from time to time. We used to keep a well-stocked "snack box" in one of the lower cabinets, filled with raisins, goldfish, fruit snacks, granola bars, and cereal bars. While none of those treats are going to send my kids over the top, sugar-wise, I began to notice that they were having trouble finishing their healthy dinners when they had access to the snack box in the afternoon. About a year ago, I read an article about a woman who placed "appetizers" on the kitchen counter while she was preparing dinner. The appetizers consisted of raw, bite-sized veggies. No dip, no dressing, no fruit or cheese. Just veggies. When faced with the option of snacking on veggies or nothing, her kids would grab handfuls of healthy, fresh veggies and munch away their pre-dinner hunger. She went on to explain that she didn't feel such a struggle to force her children to finish their dinner-time veggies since she had already served them veggies in the raw.
I liked the way this woman was thinking...killing two birds with one stone. I could get more veggies into my kids and have less arguing over meals. Brilliant plan! So, I tried it and it works. No, let me re-phrase that. It works BEAUTIFULLY! Now, my kids call it the vegetable box and they are bummed if we don't have a well-stocked box all through the week. Sure, they have their individual favorites. We usually run out of red peppers first, then the cukes. Poor broccoli is typically the last to be devoured and if it starts to look a little wilted, it becomes steamed broccoli for dinner.
I've also found that stocking our veggie box has made no difference in our grocery bill, despite the price of fresh veggies. Since we've cut way back on our other snacks, I simply use that saved money to off-set the cost of our healthier choices. Each week, we buy one bag of baby carrots, 2-3 cucumbers, 1 large red bell pepper, 1 head of broccoli, 1 head of cauliflower, and one bunch of green onions (for Daddy!). When I am diligent, I wash and prep all the veggies the day we buy them at the grocery, There are weeks I don't fill the box because I get rushed or we aren't going to be home as much, but appetizers have become a fixture in our home.
So, if your kids (or you!) don't get enough veggies through the day, try appetizers!