Time for Vegetables with Family Gardens and Farmers' Markets


Butter crunch lettuce is easy to grow in a home garden. It has a rich flavor, does well in heat and is bolt resistant. It grows in full sun to part shade.

Image courtesy of Cindy Silver, MS, RD, LDN

I meet a lot of moms and dads who tell me they would like their son or daughter to eat more vegetables. In fact, I also meet moms and dads who tell me they would like to eat more vegetables themselves. This is a common hurdle for families with kids. You know what I mean, right?

A perfect family team-project comes to my mind – for fun, for fresh air, for appreciation of where vegetables come from, and for better buy-in at the dinner table. You guessed it – planting a family vegetable garden. Or, if your living arrangement doesn’t allow this kind of outdoor activity, then taking a family trip to the local farmers’ market is the next best thing.

A child who plants her or his own spinach, radishes or asparagus will want to taste them. A child who chooses the sugar snap peas at your farmers’ market will want to snack on them. A child who tosses the salad greens – from the family garden or farmers’ market – will want to try it. Not only will kids surprise you when they taste these spring green vegetables, but they will gradually begin a habit, with your help, to include something green on their meal plate every day. 

Quick Tips for Getting Kids to Eat their Spring Vegetables

  • Add cut up fruit for a nice, sweet flavor. For example, encourage your child to try a green tossed salad with some fresh strawberries sliced on top. Or, include a cut up pear or apple in the vegetable stir fry.
  • Make the colors pop! For example, let your child add a handful of bright green spinach leaves into her or his favorite smoothie. Or, let your child sprinkle dried cranberries onto steamed broccoli.
  • Get the kids into the kitchen. For example, have your child wash or spin-dry the lettuce, snap off the tough ends of asparagus, sprinkle herbs onto a salad, or flip the vegetable omelet – with parent supervision.

Here’s a spring vegetable recipe that the kids will want to eat as whole spears for fun. Kids can help by shopping for the ingredients and sprinkling on the Parmesan, with supervision.

Oven Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan  

4 servings; 45 calories per serving

1 pound fresh asparagus
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Pinch black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Rinse asparagus in cool tap water and pat dry.

3. Cut off about 1 inch from the stem end of each piece of asparagus and discard (or add to your kitchen compost). Or, kids can snap off the tough ends.

4. Very lightly, spray a sheet pan with cooking oil spray

5. Lay asparagus onto the sheet pan in a single layer

6. Brush the olive oil onto asparagus

7. Sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper

8. Roast in the oven for 5-8 minutes, or until tender. Thicker asparagus will take longer to cook.

9. Test doneness of the asparagus by poking with a fork.

Cooking Tip: This recipe will also work on the grill. Brush on olive oil lightly and turn asparagus a couple times while cooking. Then sprinkle Parmesan and black pepper after asparagus is totally finished cooking and off the grill. As with roasting asparagus in the oven, try not to overcook.

Cindy Silver is a licensed, registered dietitian who is again serving on Piedmont Parent's Fit Family Challenge expert panel. Follow her on FacebookTwitterPinterest and visit her website.

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About this Blog

Nibbles of Nutrition

About This Blog

Cindy Silver is a licensed, registered dietitian. She is the owner of Market Basket Nutrition, a nutrition education business, and is a Nutrition Services Provider for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. She has a master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition. 

She works with families to help them master the skills of good nutrition for healthier and happier lives. She believes that everyone can improve their nutrition and feel better by taking time to write tasty and healthy menus, get more organized in the grocery store and then cook simple and delicious meals at home. 

She also enjoys fresh air exercise, cooking, gardening, traveling and kids. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband and their son is a senior at Appalachian State University in beautiful Boone, NC. Visit her website at marketbasketnutrition.com.

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