Monday , 18 June 2018

Kyra’s Kitchen: It’s Not Easy Being Green


How often has the hapless cook been rewarded with that reaction to the vegetables on the dinner plate?

Many children and even some adults have a viscerally antagonistic reaction to one of the most nutritionally important components in their diet.

So what is the embattled meal provider to do?

I am not a proponent of, ‘You will sit there until you clean your plate’.   My husband was once forced in boarding school to sit for three hours over a congealed plate of cabbage until he choked it down gagging with every bite.  When we married, the vows included ‘for better or for worse but not for cabbage’.

I prefer dissembling, prevaricating and using every sneaky trick in the book to get that zucchini and broccoli and carrot into veggie haters and have them LOVE IT!

Hide the vegetables.  Present them in a different guise.  Surreptitiously add them to a favorite muffin or sauce.

My kids hated vegetables.  But they LOVED the Cottage Pie with no vegetables visible!  And the Smoothie Soups which were crammed with the some vegetables they professed to abhor and the Special Pizza/Tomato Sauce with the carrots, red peppers and celery nowhere to be seen.

Today they are both vegetable lovers and have even introduced ME to some of the more esoteric varieties.  Confession time:  I will STILL NOT countenance a Brussel Sprout in MY HOUSE!

So here are some ideas for bringing smiles and good nutrition to YOUR table.

The easiest way to hide vegetables is to make a vegetable soup – and blend it to a fare- thee-well.  Start with an acceptable vegetable such as carrots in Carrot Orange Soup [see recipe] but then move on to pea, bean or broccoli soup.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and some toasted chips in a fancy mug or bowl.  Dollars to donuts it will be demolished before you have geared yourself up to ‘persuade’ them to try it.

Puree various vegetables in the processor or blender than stir in one color each to a portion of mashed potatoes.  Make a tri-color potato mash and see what happens.

Add pureed cooked vegetables to a basic tomato sauce, or chili, or meat loaf, or Bolognaise Sauce when preparing the recipe and DON’T TELL anyone.  More battles have been lost because of TOO much information rather than too little.

Oh yes! You can hide a vegetable in that most popular of family dishes.  Stir some pureed cooked pumpkin or butternut squash into the cheese sauce and serve with a smile.

Add chopped vegetables to the pizza topping before sprinkling on the cheese and baking.

Prepare a cheese sauce [see recipe] and cut up vegetables for a FUNDOO DUNKATHON

NOT WHAT THEY SEEM MUFFINS [see recipe] Add carrots, zucchini, pumpkin or butternut squash in muffins and see them disappear.
[Note: many kids do not like unidentified lumps and bumps in their food so I often omit the raisins and nuts in muffins and breads]

2 cups carrot chunks
4 cups rich chicken stock [homemade or purchased] 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger or ½ teaspoon dry ground ginger
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
To finish:  ½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Combine all the ingredients except the sour cream or yogurt in a saucepan. Bring to boil then simmer uncovered until the carrots are soft, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat – cool – then blend.  Correct seasoning.
Serve with a swirl of sour cream or plain yogurt

4 tablespoons soft butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin [not pie filling] 1 1/2 cups flour [spooned in] 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/2 cup applesauce

Pre heat oven to 400.
Beat together the butter and sugars – then beat in the egg and pumpkin.
Stir together the dry ingredients.
Stir flour mixture into the pumpkin batter alternately with the applesauce.
Spoon into cupcake-paper lined muffin pans.
Bake for about 20 minutes.
Makes about 18 small muffins.

1 level tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk [you can use low fat] 2 tablespoons cream cheese or thick Greek style yogurt
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and white pepper to taste

Melt the butter and flour over medium heat in a saucepan, stirring until the mixture looks ‘fuzzy’.
Slowly stir in milk and bring to boil, stirring while it thickens.
Stir in cream cheese or thick yogurt.
Stir until smooth then remove from the heat.
Immediately, gently stir in the cheese until it has melted into the sauce.
Check the seasoning.
(Note: This sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated. You can then microwave just the amount you need to warm it back up.)
Serve the sauce warm in little individual pots with vegetable sticks [e.g. carrots, red pepper strips, zucchini sticks, pea pods, broccoli bites] alongside. 

And here are a couple of recipes which came from KIDS!

EM’s Krispy Krunchy Kale
My 12 year old granddaughter Emily – who would be perfectly happy existing on rice and bread – introduced me to this recipe which she LOVES.   She says it is the ‘best snack’.

1 bunch kale
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkling of salt
Pre heat the oven to 400.
Pull the stalks off the kale – wash and dry the leaves.
Tear the leaves into large pieces.
Set on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and drizzle on the oil.  Then sprinkle salt lightly over the leaves.
Bake in the oven for about 16 minutes, turning the leaves half way through.
Remove when crisp but not burned.  Allow to cool.  EAT!

Bugs on a Log
4 stalks celery – stripped of tough strings
1/4 cup peanut or almond butter [note: they SAY almond butter is healthier] About 1/4 cup raisins

Spread the nut butter on the celery stalks and ‘march the raisins up the log’.

McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for’s “Food” section.  She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking.   She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.

Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions.  What would you like to have for dinner?


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