How to Make Your Kids (and Your Husband) Fall in Love with Broccoli at the Dinner Table

Let me take you back, all the way back to the holidays. My husband and I were visiting my family for Christmas dinner and the hours leading up to the dinner were filled with cooking. There was so much cooking that every piece of counter space in my mother’s kitchen was crowded with cooking equipment and splatters of the dinner to come.

Except for one piece of kitchen real estate that remained on reserve for appetizers…On the island in the kitchen we had a tower of cupcakes and a bowl of cauliflower and broccoli available for snacking. As the hours passed, the cupcakes disappeared, but the veggies remained untouched.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but really? Not a single person in my eleven-person family even humored the idea of veggies?

My nephew turned his nose up when I suggested he give cauliflower a try. My five-year-old niece picked up two cupcakes at once and continued to drop the chocolate cupcake on the floor for the beagle, Moe, to enjoy. My husband didn’t even notice the broccoli, and my brother-in-law laughed when I suggested he give one a try.

It was at this point that my mother and I decided we needed to call in the reserve. If we were going to get anyone to eat our assortment of vegetables at the dinner table, we’d need the sauce and dip reserves.

As a parent to a young child, you probably already know about the benefits of dip. Paula Seefeldt mentioned in her babybites post about Healthy Lunch & Snacks for kids that dressing, hummus, BBQ sauce, and peanut butter will entice your kids to eat their veggies, and Paula’s absolutely right.

Research has proven the dip theory to be true. Hidden Valley Ranch, the popular food brand, has even launched Love Your Veggies™ as a result of a study that found children consumed more vegetables when paired with a moderate amount of ranch dressing. (The Love Your Veggies initiative provides general education and grants to schools to provide healthy lunches.)

While dip may work great at snack time or in your child’s lunch, it may not be enough to get everyone in your family to eat their veggies at the dinner table. If you want your kids (and the rest of your family) to fall in love with broccoli at the dinner table, give these dinner-time sauces a try.

Spiced cranberry ketchup – Not sweet, but flavorful enough to kick your dinner into high gear. Usually cranberry ketchup recipes suggest you pair this sauce with meat, but we found it went great with bread and that cauliflower. At our Christmas dinner the kids loved it!

Honey mustard sauce – An excellent dipping sauce or drizzling sauce for many greens, including asparagus and snow peas.

Peanut sauce – The color of peanut sauce may present an obstacle, but if you can get one of your picky eaters to try just a little bit of this sauce, they’ll be pleased. Great on almost any vegetable dish, but mostly commonly found over an Asian noodle and veggie dinner.

Béchamel / cheese sauce – Much like the sauce you’d need for macaroni and cheese, a béchamel works well with just about anything, especially that broccoli and cauliflower that sat motionless on the counter. Here’s a recipe that I’ve come to love.

Recipe for béchamel sauce

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Melt butter in pan over medium-low heat. Slowly add flour while stirring. Continue to stir for at least one minute (maybe longer) until the mixture has a floury aroma. Slowly add milk, continue mixing. Turn the heat up a touch to bring the mixture to a boil. Be sure to keep stirring for at least the next 2 minutes.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Temper by adding a spoonful or two of the warm milk mixture into the bowl with the eggs and mix. Pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture. Bring to boil as you continue to whisk. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

About the author

Sara Lancaster talks about all things sauces and dips on her blog, Saucy Dipper, and she writes web copy for her small business clients through her content marketing company, No. 2 Pen.

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