Three Winter Foods Kids "Should" Hate, But Actually LOVE...and how we prepare them.
One of the most common things that I hear from parents is: how do you get my child to eat _____?
The top 3 culprits that parents believe their kids hate but they come back begging us for more are Brussels sprouts, Spaghetti Squash, and Eggplant. When prepared correctly and with the right selection of seasonings, they can be fail-proof favorites.
These are my personal favorite on the list and I am sure that is part of the reason it is so easy for us to convince the kids to keep coming back for more. The key is to make sure they have plenty surface area when you roast them in the oven so that they are able to caramelize some which intensify their sweet flavor. We start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Cutting them in half and removing any hard stem at the base is the best way to maximize their surface area. You can also quarter them to cut down on cooking time. Put them in a bowl and toss with vegetable oil and (my secret ingredient) McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning. Spread them out in a single layer on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the outer leaves turn dark brown and crispy.
Is it spaghetti? Is it a squash? Spaghetti squash gets its name from the texture of the cooked flesh of the squash. It will become naturally stringy and have a spaghetti-like appearance. You may not fool a "carbivore" who eats pasta regularly, but you can likely convince your kids to try this meatless pasta alternative regularly if you pair it with some Alfredo sauce. The simplest way to prepare spaghetti squash is either in the microwave or roasted in the oven. Start by cutting the squash in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds. Salt and pepper the inside liberally and place it cut side down on a foil or parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool to the touch. Alfredo sauce is made of just heavy cream (1 cup), butter (1/2 cup), and grated Parmesan cheese (2 cups). You'll just melt the butter and cream together, remove from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan cheese until it's thick and creamy. Season with some salt and pepper and its done. Scoop the spaghetti squash out from the now-cooled shell and mix it with the alfredo sauce and serve.
Eggplants can be a bit intimidating at first but the trick is to bread them and pan fry them up nice and crispy! Start by cutting the eggplant into 2" x 1/2" x 1/2" sticks. Soak those sticks in heavily salted water for 30 minutes. This helps to remove the bitterness some larger eggplants can have. While they are soaking, heat a 1/2" of frying oil in a cast iron pan to about 350 degrees. Remove the eggplant sticks from the water and pat them dry. You will make a standard breading station and bread the eggplant before frying. Dredge them in flour, shake off the excess, and dip them in egg wash. After removing them from the egg you will toss them immediately in panko breadcrumbs seasoned with Italian herbs. Line them up on a tray ready to fry. Once the oil is up to temp you will add a few sticks, one at a time to the hot oil and fry them until golden brown, turning to promote even cooking. Once removed from the oil, place them on a cookie cooling rack or paper towel to wick away the excess oil. Hold them in a warm oven until ready to serve. Season lightly with salt. Eggplant "fries" are excellent dipped in your favorite marinara sauce!
Hopefully, these few tips and recipes will help you prepare some of our most popular menu options that you never would have known your kids will love!