CSA Cooking Week 1: Getting a toddler to eat more veggies

Roasted RadishesRoasted Radishes, photo by Kate Chan

This spring my Love and I have decided to try using a few local food sources more consistently as a means of improving our health, modeling healthy eating for the girls, and primarily – to encourage our little whippersnappers to eat their veggies!  Now don’t get me wrong:  both of the babes eat healthy.  They *love* tofu (in soups, baked, fried, stir-fried, etc), carrots, zucchini, beans, corn, peas, yogurt, fruit of all kinds, brown rice, etc.  However, we noticed that they would also both choose to live off of tofu and fruit (with sides of steamed rice) if we allowed it.

Their eating wishes got us thinking about what WE were eating.  While we eat asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, corn (oh yea – the chicklet LOVES corn on the cob), peas, etc, the Chicklet  has begun to resist veggies…. especially green veggies.  If there is a speck of green in it (like the day I put chives into the scrambled eggs), Z refuses.

Really though, I am lucky. She does eat a fair amount of veggies.  It’s just getting harder to go with the flow with what we eat.  As of right now, she will eat:  edamame, corn on the cob, black beans, refried beans (does that count??), peas (sometimes), quickly stir-fried zucchini/carrots, jap chae (Korean sweet potato noodles with veggies and beef), Mexican rice with veggies (corn, carrots, peas, etc).

What I would like her to do is eat a bigger variety.  That means that we need to do the same.  We realized that we are a little stuck in our veggies routine too.  As a family, we needed to step up our veggie game and get walking/moving together. We are big believers in the family dinner (we all cook and eat together everyday) and want to carry that further.

So, we decided to tackle the goals head on. Here are the steps we are taking as a family to get ourselves eating healthier and living healthier.

Step One:  The fruit comes out for dessert after veggies and meat/tofu/fish/protein has been eaten.  With the fruit bowl looming in sight, she is suddenly motivated to eat her protein/veg a little better.  Not perfect.  But we are getting there.  After all, half the battle is training US to do the right thing.

  • HOW DOES THIS HELP THE TODDLER?:  Really, I think this step is helping me more than her.  I can clearly see now that she WILL eat some vegetables (although anything “green” is still *out*).  She will eat them – or at least taste a few bites to appease me and get to her beloved fruit plate.  So now that I see what veggies she DOES eat more clearly, I can continue to find new ones for her to munch on.

Step Two:  We found a local group that sells foods from local producers/farms.  They are “like a grocery store, but more local; like a CSA, but more flexible, like a farmer’s market, but more convenient” and all of this with a pickup location that is minutes from my work and my house!  (Sweet, huh?)  Basically every Thursday-Monday, I can log in to their site and view what local producers have to offer.  These offerings include a huge range of items:  from pastured eggs (to which we are now addicted – OH MY DELICIOUS), organic fruits/vegetables, local coffee roasters, gluten free breads/muffins/waffles (yes, gluten free!), to-die-for roasted nuts,  grass-fed local meat (beef, pork, poultry), etc all delivered/picked/etc within 24 hours of our Thursday pickup.  So far, we are completely addicted.  It has taken me a bit to figure out the process.  I’m not used to “grocery shopping” a week in advance like this.  However, we are on week three of using this resource, and it DOES make my life easier.  It’s SO smooth to stop on my way to pick up the girls after work, scoop up delicious local foods and head home.  Tomorrow is my next pick up.  We ordered our first fresh, naturally raised (pastured) chicken.  While it is not in our budget to purchase meats like this often, we are looking forward to the treat.  A fresh, local, pastured roasted chicken?  What a way to kick off the weekend, huh?  (Wanna come over too?)

  • HOW DOES THIS HELP THE TODDLER?:  She helps me pick out (and has helped pick up) the foods we will try or eat when we log in.  After the first week, she was curious enough to want to try the fresh pea pod shoots (not what we expected).  So far, since our growing season is really just now producing goodies, this is just picking up speed for us.  I’m sure we will order as the growing season continues.  (Or as our budget allows!)

Step Three:  We signed up for a CSA.   A CSA is “Community Supported Agriculture”.  Basically, we have “contracted” for a “share” of vegetables from a local farm to be picked up weekly.  Our CSA will run through October – about 22 weeks of goodness from our local organic farm.  Our share price is working out to be about $22 a week.  There were a couple of reasons that we jumped in to a CSA that we had not initially thought we would do.  Here are the pros/cons as we saw them:

  • PRO:  Option number #2 didn’t seem to have the “surprise” factor that we were looking for.  Opening the CSA box is like Christmas, we don’t know what we are going to get – so we let Zoe open the box and we get excited with her as she explores through the box.  Our first box had the best fresh carrots in it.  I told Zoe about growing up and picking carrots out of my uncle’s garden as a child.  We washed and peeled a carrot as we talked.  After I took a crunchy bite and remarked about how sweet it was and that it was “crunchy like an apple”, she was in.  She’s now eaten a fresh carrot for an “after school” snack everyday this week. (I count this as a success as all previous other veggies that she would eat are cooked.)
  • CON:  The “surprise” factor for the adults.  We are not fans of a huge variety of things like:  radishes, arugula, kale, chard, etc.  The night before our first CSA box pick up, we actually had a little “buyer’s remorse” from the sign up/deposit.  We wondered if the veggies would get eaten or if they would languish in a corner of our fridge until one of us just composted them.  We freaked.  And then we bit the bullet and went down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up our first box.  And guess what?  We got radishes and arugula in our first pickings!  Lord help us, we celebrated with Zoe upon opening the box and each of us mouthed “Ay Ay Ay!” Radishes!” to the other.  But never fear, I posted a radish question on the Gluten Free Gobsmacked Facebook page and we were rescued.  I roasted the radishes and they were fabulous.  Probably not a weekly request, but definitely tastier than anticipated. :D  And now… on to the arugula.  Somehow, some way… I will make it work for us.
Step Four:  We signed up for milk delivery.  Holy beans!  I had no idea how fabulously easier it is NOT to have to run to the grocer at 4:45PM to two crabby kidlets in two after work in search of milk.  The cost?  Truthfully, it costs me about 10 cents more per half-gallon than it would to buy the same at the local grocer.  Not too shabby.  I would have gladly paid someone that 10-20-30 cents when we’ve had the after work shopping to do JUST to have the milk appear on my doorstep.  And guess what?  It appears in the morning before we leave for work.  (God bless those work hours!)  We’ve now signed ourselves up for the weekly dairy delivery that I can alter/order/change-up as needed.  It is currently rocking my world.  I can’t wait to see how it saves me when the baby starts drinking milk too this July.  Good lord – the sheer number of gallons of milk + trips to the grocer = many morning blessings and cheers for the Milk Delivery guy.  (Thank you, Brandon H, wherever you are!)
All of these steps are making my life more interesting and honestly, less stressful.  While the new challenge is to stay on top of the pick-ups/deliveries and ordering, we are making head way.  It’s all still new and I want to make sure we are sticking within our food budget while we experiment with our different avenues of food sources.  In the last three weeks, we have been to a standard grocer twice.  Once for dish soap and tofu and the other was a trip to my beloved gluten free market for flours/pasta and Amy’s frozen dairy-free/gluten-free burritos.
So, here’s to changes.  And to cooking my way through our CSA box.  I think I will try to post some recipes from our CSA experiment just to keep you all updated on what we are doing.  (And hopefully to get some more ideas on what to do with this stuff! LOL!).  Our first CSA box included the following:
  • radishes
  • roasted these, see below
  • carrots
  • eating these 1 by 1, raw for snacks
  • red leaf lettuce
  • eaten Korean BBQ style as wraps with grilled chicken
  • green leaf lettuce
  • ripped up for salad
  • iceberg lettuce
  • ripped up for salad
  • spinach
  • stir-fried with fresh organic ginger, garlic and GF soy sauce
  • arugula - 
  • HELP! We have a relatively “huge” bag of this peppery bugger.  Tips, anyone??
  • joi choi (like bok choi)
  • On the docket for tomorrow’s menu; stir-fry style
  • mint (which, when I said, “oh yum, Mint!” made Zoe dig in the box looking for a peppermint candy…)
  • Plans:  tzaziki and watermelon-mint salad, maybe a mint lemonade for me on Friday.
Any tips for that arugula?  Please post them here on the Facebook page.  I’m dying.  We are really challenging ourselves NOT to waste the foods we receive through these fabulous local, organic sources and ,more importantly, we want to model veggie-love and healthy eating for our little ones.
So… here’s what I did to the radishes to get them worked in to our dinners.  And just to let you know, I did eat a raw radish.  I rather liked the crunch, but the 10 minute later weird heat in my mouth was exactly what I don’t love about them.  Ah well.  I’ll keep trying them raw.  Maybe I’ll grow in to it.  But if there are more in my CSA box next week?  I’ll be making more of this:

yum

Roast Radishes
-Serves 2.5 as a side dish
Ingredients:
1 pound fresh radishes
olive oil
salt
pepper
garlic powder
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
fresh chives
butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Clean and trim the radishes.
  3. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, red onion, and garlic powder.
  4. Roast in oven for 13-18 minutes or until they begin to turn golden brown (see photo).
  5. Remove from oven, toss with a bit of butter and some fresh chives.
  6. Serve warm.
NOTES:  Next time radishes show up in our box, I might just season these guys with a little pasilla chile powder and serve with some homemade chive-sour cream and buttermilk dressing.  Oh yes.  That is sounding good to me now! :)
17 comments on “CSA Cooking Week 1: Getting a toddler to eat more veggies
  1. Summer says:

    When ever I am not sure what to do with an abundance of greens, I either add them to pasta sauce, cook them in broth, maybe with noodles or I use them as stuffing for something. I know that cooking them can defeat the purpose of fresh greens, but it can use them up right? What about pesto? Argula has a strong flavour. Could be fun.

    I used some lettuce that I needed to use up to make thai fresh rolls last night. I just shredded the greens really fine. Who says that you have to use traditional ingredients?

  2. Kristin says:

    We do our first CSA pickup on Saturday. We have our own garden also so we are going to be over run with produce and we are not food wasters so I am going to have to be on my toes for this one. THANK YOU for the radish recipe! I have some in my garden (free seeds I received) and we are going to be getting them in our CSA and I need all the ways I can to prepare them. I am also curious about any arugula recipe’s as I have never had it and will be getting that also. I am going to like this CSA series!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Arugula is the BEST for salads. Take it for lunches when the kiddos don’t have to try it, and use it with something sweet, like strawberries. Arugula with strawberries and some chicken, with a balsamic dressing. Delicious and very healthy! If you’ve got any space to garden this summer (even a few pots), try that too. My son (now 6 and still picky) opened up a lot on vegetable when he saw the growing process. Also, if you can find even one green that she likes, you can get her to eat others. For my son, it was basil. He liked it, so I’d julienne some spinach in there too and get him used to the flavor, and now he loves spinach too. Also, try kale chips. Rip the kale, and toss with a tiny amount of olive oil, salt, and lemon juice; spread flat on a cookie sheet and roast at 300 for about 20-30 minutes (time will depend on how wet your kale is). I like flat leaf kales best for this, green or red. My son will gobble these up. It’s a stepping stone!

  4. Kalinda says:

    What beautiful radishes! I love this roasted radish idea. I love radishes (especially the really spicy ones). It seems that there aren’t many radish recipes out there. (Seems like lots of people are also in the not-crazy-about-them camp.) I love the idea of trying them cooked. I’m not sure I’ve ever tried cooked radish before.

  5. AL Pearsall says:

    I love my CSA – best thing I’ve done for my health food-wise (besides giving up gluten) in a long time. If your CSA is set up so that you can pick your own lettuce or what have you, get her feedback or maybe let her pick some squash or whatever out of the box herself.

    I was raised on the kitchen counter; I credit it with my growing up as a kid who would eat just about anything. My mom or aunt or whomever always had me stirring things together with a wooden spoon in an unbreakable bowl. This gave me a huge sense of ownership over whatever it was I had “helped” to make (with lots of positive feedback on my performance in the kitchen) and, sure enough, I would eat whatever I’d helped to make. It sounds like your little one is too young to use a knife, but she can put cut up veggies in a big bowl and toss it together with some dressing, or help snap some beans or peel some peas. Give it a shot. =)

  6. megan says:

    Kim from the blog cook it allergy free posted a recipe for pineapple, bacon, arrugula salad that sounds really good and easy to make. The recipe for the radishes sounds great! I never really cared for radishes except in potato salad, I’ll have to try it :)

  7. Julie says:

    There is a recipe featured on Fine Cooking for Penne with Ricotta, Arugula, and Basil that sounds awesome. I use GF penne from Tinyada. It holds up well. Arugula is also good with thinly sliced cucumbers drizzled with rice wine vinegar. Additional seasoning could be anything from a sprinkling of sea salt to Shoyu with ginger and garlic.

  8. Martha says:

    I’ve become infatuated with refrigerator pickles. You do have to like salty and sour flavors though. Radishes are one of the vegetables I use in my pickle mix. You can use pretty much any crisp vegetable. I’m not on Facebook so I can’t leave you the pickling brine recipe there.

    These pickles are a yummy contrasting taste to rice or noodles. I chop them and sprinkle them over some soups too.

    Refrigerator Pickle Brine

    1 3/4 cups water
    1 1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
    1/2 Tbsp sugar
    1 Tbsp salt
    1 Tbsp dill seeds, slightly crushed
    1 tsp yellow mustard seeds, slightly crushed
    1/2 tsp cracked peppercorns
    1/4 tsp celery seed (optional)
    4 cloves garlic
    about a pound of crisp vegetables such as cauliflower, radishes, daikon, bell pepper,
    pickling cucumber, jicama, turnip, rutabaga, etc. I’ve even used broccoli stems in the mix.
    Wash and prep as appropriate for the particular vegetable, for example peel the jicama,
    turnip. Cut up into bite sized pieces.

    You will need wide mouth jars with lids. You need to wash and sterilize the jars.

    Combine the liquids and seasonings in a deep saucepan. Add the vegetables and bring it
    all to a boil. Cook it only for a few minutes and remove from heat allowing it all to cool. Put all
    the vegetables, seasonings and liquids into the sterile jars. Put the lids on and refrigerate.
    They will be good for a month if not eaten up before then. Just to be sure it is clear these aren’t canned pickles and must be stored in the frig!

    I love these pickles chopped and used as a topping on greens, soups made with greens,
    noodle soups, and just for nibbling.

  9. What a great challenge to have a new box of veggies every week! If you’re not a fan of the peppery heat of arugula (we call it rocket in Australia) you can cook it. This helps a lot. Sweat it down with other strong tasting greens like silverbeet/swiss chard and onions, use it in a quiche or mixed with fetta. Good luck!

  10. victoria says:

    Arugula is best wilted. Wilt arugula either in some oil in a pan or steam it. Toss it with a can of chickpeas (rinsed), some lemon rind , fresh lemon juice, and some parmesan. Serve over GF grain of your choice for a really quick dinner. Arugula also pairs well with sweet. I’ve been making a cooked chickpea dish with dates, cardamom and star anise that screams for a bitter green.

  11. Gretchen says:

    Others have given lots of good ideas for arugula, but if you don’t like how peppery it is, fat will tame it. You can mince it and combine with a creamy cheese or yogurt, to get a peppery but tamed dip or spread. Or combine with walnuts, garlic, and olive oil for a delicious pesto. We actually have frozen arugula pesto in our freezer right now, which can be made into a quick pasta sauce or added to a soup or stew. I especially like it with walnuts.

    Cooking, of course, will tame it even more. It’s a good first approach to any green you find too strong to eat raw: olive oil and perhaps lemon juice or garlic are good additions to wilted or cooked greens. I like adding a handful of greens to a bowl of miso soup or a cup of chicken broth to wilt. When I’m having some kind of broth as a snack I usually go through the crisper and add a bit of this and a bit of that — green onions, greens of all sorts, herbs, sliced radishes… a shredded leaf of cabbage, even a chopped fresh tomato can change a snack of broth into a feast.

    You can also eat the radish greens, by the way. They’re a little coarse in texture compared to veggies that are grown for their greens and not their roots, so we use them for pesto, put them in soup that is going to be pureed, or chop them and add them to stews. They’re not as peppery as their roots. This week’s batch of soup is based on potatoes, a head of escarole, and radish greens, with milk and a little nutmeg added to make it taste luxurious. Pretty good for something that’s using up our extra greens! Another way I like radish greens is to quick-pickle them Japanese style in a brine of rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. They don’t keep long even in the fridge, but they’re delicious alongside Japanese-style meals or even with things like red beans and rice (which goes very well with vinegary foods.)

    Greens have a lot of nutrients and aid digestion so it’s good to find ways you like to eat them, even if you don’t eat a lot in one sitting. That’s one of the nice things about CSAs: even though the surprise factor can be daunting; the need to use everything up gets you to stretch your boundaries and try new foods.

    That said we’re using the local variant of your local foods site and adore it to bits, so picking and choosing is certainly nice too! No local milk delivery but we can get fabulous milk through them.

  12. Val says:

    Hot gf pasta, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, grated parmesean cheese, some of those pastured eggs and arugula. The hot pasta cooks the eggs and wilts the arugula. If you don’t feel that the heat of the pasta has cooked the eggs enough, nuke for a minute or so. It’s really good and best of all fast.

  13. Stephanie says:

    I LOVE arugula, and didn’t know it until I got a CSA! Our favorite sandwich last summer: Sliced tomatoes, smoked mozzarella from the farmer’s market, and about 1.5 inches of arugula between whatever bread you can eat. A little salt and pepper was all that was needed, but sometimes I put a little balsamic vinagrette within.

    It’s also good (again, dagwood sized portions were my fancy) with a Dr. Praeger’s veggie burger.

    I’m also a “yes” vote on eating radish greens. I made pesto with them, I’ve sauteed them in butter (with or without sliced radishes), and I’ve used them in place of spinach in other recipes. My daughter will eat “quick pickled” radishes–slice them thin, put them in a bowl with rice or cider vinegar, a bit of salt and a pinch of sugar. By the time dinner’s ready, so are the radishes.

  14. Emily says:

    I found you on my quest to find ways to get my veggie hating 3 year old to try more than the 2 veggies he currently eats willingly. Seriously, this otherwise wonderful kid has given me a run for my money, with his picky eating and daredevil antics. (Oh, if you ever need a good resource for caring for kids’ teeth, I found this Mom’s Guide to be so helpful as we dealt with a major tooth injury & extraction.) I think your fresh way of shopping sounds wonderful. We usually do the local farmers market and I love how it gets my kids interested in fresh produce… usually just the fruit, though. Those radishes are beautiful. My daughter would probably gobble them up. (Do they come in “boy” colors?? If so, my son could possibly be won over by blue radishes!) Thanks for the post. I’m inspired and encouraged! :)

  15. Lisa says:

    I don’t know if you’ve managed to get rid of your arugula yet, but you should check out this recipe. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/potato-arugula-salad/detail.aspx
    I hate mayonnaise and went in search of a potato salad minus mayo and I loved this. I’ve made it will a djion vinagrette and sometimes I add steamed green beans. You can definitely alter it based on your tastes.
    I also have a CSA share this summer and I’m very excited that you are posting recipes and ideas. Especially since I also have no idea what to do with all the chard. :S

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