At the Dr. Yum Project Kitchen we are always looking for fun ways for families to enjoy healthy food. In my pediatrics practice I see an epidemic of vegetable “haters” and many of their parents who are too frustrated to know what to do. Little by little, these kids slide into the “junk food lane,” eating a diet of fiberless processed food which can lead to myriad of potential health issues (which I see in my practice every day). We are determined to find ways show kids that whole foods can taste good and make them feel good, too!
Some times kids just need a “food chain” to coax them to try new foods. Make a new food with a familiar flavor or texture and you may see them gain confidence in trying those foods. We ran into a spice mix on simplecountryhome.com that can be used on squash. It really mimicked the flavor of Doritos, a popular processed “snack” which is loved by most kids I know. However, this spice mix was completely natural with nutritional yeast lending the “cheesiness” and spices like onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne giving it the “kick!” Nutritional yeast is different from baking yeast and looks like yellow flakes with a cheesy nutty flavor (it’s also FULL of B vitamins). I buy mine at Wegmans but it can usually be found at health food stores in the bulk section. So imagine taking the ultimate most palatable junk food and using its flavors to coax kids to try new veggies in a healthy way! Genius! We tried this flavoring on four different veggies during some of our kids camps and the results were unbelievable. I even brought some of my patients into the kitchen and Voilà! We transformed kids into veggie lovers! Poof! Veggie-hating be GONE!!
Once kids realize they can enjoy “brussel-itos” they will be more willing to try brussels sprouts in other ways. I have seen this work for many camps as I introduced kids to BBQ Kale Chips and then heard stories about how they were trying more greens at home. Many vegetables can be made into chips either raw or by baking (see the directions below). Add the super special spice mix and you’ve got VEGGITOS! See an example of the four veggies we tried. Use your own veggie chip recipe and sprinkle the vegito seasoning on to taste. One day in camp we thinly sliced a rutabaga and found it to be super tasty, too. Have fun embracing your family’s new love of veggies and celebrate the health and wellness that will follow!