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Death By Vegetable

This mom's struggle to get vegetables on the table and in the kids.

I really hate being a cliché, but my family has become one of those where dinner is an ongoing problem. With me working evenings tutoring, we’re no longer able to gather together every night. But even though I can’t be there, I want my kids to eat a balanced, healthy meal. So, I stocked the kitchen with things my non-cooking husband could handle serving, including a variety of vegetables.

I have learned that a man who doesn’t like vegetables himself cannot be relied on to deliver vegetables to his children on a nightly basis. Vegetable eating ceased because my husband, conflict avoidant as he is, did not insist on the one bite rule that I enforced. One green bean or broccoli floret or zucchini round was all I asked.

While I’ve been known to put diced beats in the Sloppy Joes, my husband can’t manage much past getting the beef browned. It became clear I needed a vegetable strategy that even he could institute. So I hit the cookbook section of the Naperville Public Library. Scouring the vegetarian selections, I found The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook. Meat and potatoes are two of my kin’s favorite foods, so I snatched it up. Then I spied Mom’s Best Meals and snagged that, too.

While The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook didn’t yield anything to add to my family meal plan, it did provide some entertainment. I amused myself by renaming some of the dishes with titles more descriptive of my kids’ likely reactions. So, “Indian-Spiced Sweet Potato Potpie,” became “Indian-Spiced Death by Potpie.” “Double Eggplant Moussaka” became “Double Disgusting Moussaka,” etc.

Mom’s Best Meals, though, was a gold mine. And why not? I reasoned, recalling that when I was a kid I ate my dinner every night. So we tried “Chicken and Rice Dinner” for dinner. Homerun. “So Tender Swiss Steak” didn’t knock it out of the park, but they ate the sauce and it’s onions. The meals were so successful that I gave my daughter a pack of Post-Its and let her and a friend search out more dinner delights. From another room, I heard “Ooooh, that looks good,” “Wow, I’d like that,” and even the occasional “Oh! Yum!” What had they marked? "Homemade Chocolate Easter Eggs," "Strawberry Silk Pie" and "Ice Cream Sundae Cake."

Not every meal in Mom’s Best Meals is going to make it to my table, though. Quite a few rely on Velveeta as a cloaking agent in the vegetable side dishes and there’s more than one made with one too many cans of mushroom soup. Still, I’m game for trying "Meatball Stew." If they eat it all up, they might even find a piece of "Ice Cream Sundae Cake" for dessert.

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