Sunday, February 16, 2014

What's with the candy? Where are the Veggies?

It used to be, as a kid, that candy overload was saved for Halloween. Christmas included some chocolate and candies as well. Easter was a Chocolate extravaganza.

Now I live in the US and here it feels like there is candy, junk food, and chocolate all the time. My kids were young when we left Canada so maybe this is just a school thing in Canada as well. I am not sure, but here is how the school year is shaping up:

Halloween: Party + Candy
Christmas: Party + Candy
100 days of school: Party + Candy
Valentine's: Party + Candy

We have not hit Easter, St. Patrick's Day, or who knows how many other days are candy days at school here.

I get having the party. The games are fun, the celebration is fun, but is setting the stage that a celebration means indulgence in candy, sweets, etc is the norm a good thing?

It's hard as a parent to bring this up to other parents to "Cool it with the candies." I think we are all just trying to do what is right for our kids and try to raise them the best we can. This is not a conspiracy to make kids fat but it sure doesn't set the right tone in my mind.

Today for example I went to a Dad's and kids meetup at a friend's house. It was great, we got together, the kids played, the Dad's talked, and we had burgers. Me being the boring guy I am, I offered to bring a veggie tray. This went out early and the kids ate a ton of veggies. Mission accomplished since the junk food (not much thankfully) came out later.

So, yes, I am that guy who brings veggies to a party. Hell, it's not like I used to love veggies, I avoided them like the plague. But given enough time off of processed junk food a while back and I started to discover the various textures, flavours, and natural sweetness in various veggies.

For example, have you tried Jicama? No? You should (it is pronounced Hikama by the way), it is sweet, juicy, and similar to an apple with a nice crisp refreshing bite to it. We prepare it by peeling the skin and then chopping the interior into strips. Again, have you tried this? Then again I should not tell you; I should keep my mouth shut since I love this stuff and it is always in limited supply at the grocery store. So, ya skip it, forget it, you won't like it.

Fennel Bulbs
What about Fennel (sometimes called Fennel Root or Fennel Bulb or Florence Fennel Bulb)? This stuff has a mild licorice taste and is a favorite in our house. It is pictured to the left. We cut the green tops off, then we cut/trim the bottom root (the circle at the bottom where it was cut from it roots) and then just chop up the remaining bulb into strips.

The good old carrot is a sweet winner in the veggie family. Again, another fav.

Snap peas are our peas of choice. We love to snap them and make them pop. The boys like to split them and eat the peas before chewing the pods. That is after they have first snapped it in half for a satisfying POP!

Another fav of mine which people are surprised to try raw is Rutabaga. I am partial to the ones with the white bottom and the purple top. We peel these and slice them into strips.

Those are some of my not your normal grocery store veggie tray selection (minus the carrots) of veggies we love. We also do the old favorites/enemies of broccoli, celery, cauliflower, and cherry tomatoes.

All of these I have listed we eat raw often. One of the things we also do to encourage them in our house is to one, avoid having sweets in the house, and two, we have some on hand all the time in a section of the fridge that we let the boys know they can dig into any time they are hungry between meals. They raid it every so often and are happy to have this control and love a variety.

As well as letting the boys raid the veggie tray between meals I will let them pick out what veggies they want when I make them lunch or snacks. This makes it their choice and though they might not be in the mood for snap peas today, there's always several other options for them to choose from. One day they might eat an entire container of cherry tomatoes and overdose so that they will not touch tomatoes again for several days. Fine with me.

That's a little about how we try to fight the candy epidemic we face as parents. And remember, forget I mentioned the Jicama, you won't like it anyway.

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