Why is it that parents all over the world struggle with mealtimes? It seems an endless war is raging between toddlers determined not to eat vegetables and parents persisting on them having their peas and carrots. In most households with kids five and under, the dreaded dinner hour is filled with threats of no dessert, followed by responses of flying broccoli. Moms everywhere (including yours truly) are pureeing, disguising, and chopping vegetables to try make them more appealing to their little soldiers, only to sit down to a battle zone at the table.
This week I decided to try something completely new and unexpected. I wanted to turn the tables on the boys and take them by surprise. Instead of roasted vegetables at dinner I am going to be serving salad for breakfast. What’s that you say? Salad for breakfast!? Bad idea? Maybe it is… but I was very curious to see how this science experiment would go.
My findings were completely unexpected…
The Great Breakfast Salad Experiment
Hypothesis: Serving vegetables at breakfast rather than dinner will result in higher consumption rates amongst children six and under
Materials: Sliced cucumbers, mini-carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, pickled onions
Method: Every morning a different vegetable was added to the usual breakfast fare. Other than the pickling of the onions, all vegetables were served raw with no added dips or sauces. There was no prodding, begging, threatening or pleading. The decision to eat the vegetables was left completely up to the individual.
Day 1 – cucumber slices – consumption: 3 1/2 pcs.
Day 2 - carrot sticks – consumption: 5 sticks
Day 3 – bell pepper strips – consumption: 1/2 strip
Day 4 – cucumber slices – consumption: 5 pcs.
Day 5 – pickled onions – consumption: hard to calculate since most got picked off, guesstimate: 3 pcs.
Conclusions: Left to their own devices my kids mostly ignored any food on their plate they considered yucky. But, in the morning hours the revolt against the “healthy” stuff was almost non-existent and there were no flying vegetables. They hardly even reacted to seeing something green or orange on their plates (maybe they were still half asleep). As the week progressed consumption on one vegetable (cucumbers) did go up which leads me to believe my hypothesis might actually be correct! Feeding your kids vegetables in the morning might just be the way to go.
The recipe I served on the last day of the experiment follows below. It is more of an assembly rather than a recipe but if your kids like lox this is a great breakfast option.
BLA (Bagel Lox Avocado) w/pickled onions
2 shallots cut into small rings
3/4-cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 ripe avocado
8 pcs. of lox (4 ounces), about 2” strips
4 mini bagels, lightly toasted
4 lemon wedges (optional)
In a small mixing bowl combine the rice wine vinegar, salt and sugar. Mix well until salt and sugar is dissolved. Place onions in a glass container or bowl and pour rice wine mixture over them. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Note: Not many people have time to pickle vegetables in the morning rush so this step could be done in advance. The onions will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Place bottom halves of bagels on a cutting board. Scoop out some of the bread for the avocado mixture. This is so the avocado won’t squeeze out when your kids bite into it. I learned this the hard way!
In a small bowl, scoop out the avocado, mash it a little bit but leave it with a very chunky consistency. Add salt and pepper taste. Place two heaping spoonfuls on each bagel.
Note: If you plan to do this step ahead of time, add some fresh lime to the avocado to prevent browning and make sure to refrigerate. However, I would recommend not doing this more than a few hours ahead.
Top the avocado mash with some strips of lox.
Garnish with pickled onions and serve with a lemon wedge on the side. Add top of bagel or serve open face. Enjoy!
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “Lox, AWESOME! It’s like a little salty and sweetness”
Liam (age 4): “Never give that to me again”
Dylan (age 4): “Thumbs up for me!”
The dinner battle still rages on but it is nice to know we can have a truce at breakfast.
Try this experiment with your own kids. And let me know if your conclusions are the same.