Summer brings an abundance of delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables. Farmers’ markets have farm-grown vegetables that taste so much better than what has been stored and shipped across the country (or the world). Take this opportunity to encourage your kids to try out something new. In the summer months, my kids can’t get enough of seasonal melons, corn on the cob, and more. Having them fresh and readily available encourages me to include more vegetables in our lunches and dinners.
Growing your own vegetables, in a small patch in your yard or even in a couple containers on a deck or balcony, gets kids even more excited about eating vegetables. My four-year-old son Kyle took this picture of our garden (don’t even get me started on the fun value of letting them play with your camera). We are seeing the little broccoli florets begin to form in the center of the big leaves, and it’s exciting. This is our third attempt to grow corn, and the plants are looking green and healthy. I hope it will be our best crop so far (the weeds are certainly thriving).
Hidden Valley Ranch is part of a nationwide school campaign encouraging kids to love their veggies. At loveyourveggiesgrants.org there are some great tips to help your kids love their veggies and get in the two to five cups a day that is recommended for a child under twelve. Another way that they are trying to encourage healthy eating is by publishing the book Henry and the Hidden Veggie Garden. They have enlisted mother and actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley to co-author this book with with her father, professional writer Gurney Williams III.
I have to admit a bias towards “star authors.” However, I’m not sure where exactly my bias lies. On one hand I think, “Kimberly Williams-Paisley–she’s so pretty, and I just love those “Father of the Bride” movies. I would love to read her little book!” On the other hand, I tend to put that book to a higher standard thinking, “I hope that they don’t think I’ll read this book just because someone famous wrote it.” I can honestly say that regardless of who wrote it and why I’m reading it, it’s a charming book!
It’s all about hidden vegetables–starting off with the vegetables that Henry hides on his plate so he doesn’t have to eat them, then learning with him about carrots and other root vegetables that are hidden underground as they grow, and finally his seeing his cousin Huck’s own little hidden garden which encourages him to start a hidden garden of his own.
I read this book to my son Kyle. Then the next day he asked me to read it again. The book has been out on the table in the living room because I needed to keep it out as a reminder to write this up. At least once a day he picks it up and asks me to read it to him. My nine-year-old daughter Amanda picked it up and read it to herself. It’s a great story, but what’s more–the not-so-subtle message about eating vegetables seems to be working.
This morning a couple hours after breakfast I heard Kyle scrounging in the refrigerator and I asked him what he was doing. “I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?” was the reply. Before I could answer he said, “How about some salad? Some salad with a little bit of dressing,” he said as he got the balsamic ranch dressing out of the fridge. “I can’t argue with that,” I thought as I prepared him a little salad. I asked him if he wanted tomatoes or anything else in his salad, and he said, “Just some carrots, cut up.” I put the carrots beside his bowl of salad, and he said, “No, I want a little bowl of dressing to dip the carrots in.” That’s when I knew that he was taking his cue from Henry, the boy in the book who learned to eat his veggies, because that’s exactly what he had for lunch one day!
Five of you (U.S. or Canadian Residents) will win a copy of Henry and the Hidden Veggie Garden. If you’d like to buy a book (U.S. residents only) they are available to purchase for only $5.00 through September.
To enter, spread the word about the Creative Summer Days giveaway event taking place here on 5 Minutes for Mom. Then leave a comment here. Just for fun, tell me your kids’ favorite vegetables (my daughter loves raw peppers–orange and yellow the best, and the veggie my son is most likely to eat without a fuss is grape tomatoes).
The winners will be announced on June 24 with the others from the Creative Summer Days event.