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The Picky-Eater Cure

Tempt foodies and veggie-phobes alike with these tasty ways to serve vegetables that are anything but garden variety.

By Krista Crabtree

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The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults and kids 
(ages 8 and up) consume 2½ cups daily of a variety of vegetables. But a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report revealed that fewer than 10 percent of Americans achieve this. According to the CDC, a plant-heavy diet has been shown to reduce the risk of everything from type 2 diabetes and obesity to cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

So how can you get your family to eat more veggies? Try these ideas to infuse your vegetable offerings with fun, flavor and flair.

When cooking veggies, remember the flavor balance of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami [savory],” says David Fischer, a career sous chef and protégé of James Beard award-winning chef Colby Garrelts. “If you hit three out of the five flavor profiles, your mouth will water.

Brussels sprouts

For full flavor, Fischer recommends cooking brussels sprouts the way his mom did: Roast sprouts until tender; then finish in a pan with butter or olive oil and Parmesan. For more umami, add bacon or crushed, toasted hazelnuts.

Recipe: Turkey Tacos with Brussels sprouts.


Its long, thin stalks and small florets lend themselves well to roasting. For crispy broccolini, spread out stalks on a sheet pan, sprinkle with olive oil and salt, and roast until slightly brown.


Aside from roasting crispy kale chips, Fischer’s favorite cooking method is to sauté the greens with butter, onions and garlic. At the end, add salt and pepper, plus a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to broaden the flavor profile.

Recipe: Spicy Kale Chips.


A tasty, hands-on treat. Steam artichokes for an hour, or until tender. Serve in a bowl, pull off leaves, and dip in melted, salted butter or mayo. Bite down on a leaf, and pull it through your closed teeth to remove the flesh. After you’ve finished the leaves, scrape off the choke, or the fuzzy part, to get to the heart.

Recipe: Artichoke, Leek and Potato Soup.


Polenta fries are a good french-fry alternative, says Fischer. Add milk or stock to finely ground cornmeal 
in a pot, and stir until thickened. Spread mixture on a sheet pan, and cool in the fridge. Cut into shapes, sprinkle with cornmeal, and fry in avocado oil. Serve with a roasted red pepper aioli, made by blending roasted red pepper, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Spaghetti Squash

Swap out noodles for vegetables with spaghetti squash. Roast a spaghetti squash, scoop out the middle, and serve like a taco with beans, sautéed vegetables and cheese, or with a marinara sauce and fresh basil.

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs with Pumpkin Seed Pesto.

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  1. On page 26 of your Spring 2018 magazine there is a picture of what looks like a great spaghetti squash meal but no recipe. The article is about picky eater cures. Can you please send me the recipe for this delicious looking meal? I can guess at what is in it but I would love the recipe! Thanks