Desperately Seeking Vegetables

It began in the garden.

Earlier this week, TJ plucked and ate a chive. A green onion-like herb, which is close enough to a vegetable in our yard. The last time he liked eating a vegetable, it was pureed and he was still in diapers. There he was, munching away on a chive and heading back for more, like it was second nature. In my amazement, I completely forgot about pressure and snapped crappy, out of focus photos on my phone to document the occasion. A few days later, he willingly tried an onion ring, and then happily devoured 5 more! Chives and now deep-fried, battered onions… Is this my kid?

Building on his willing exploration and curiosity, I started looking for ways to pair the unfamiliarity of vegetables with the comforting familiarity of safe food. In the ‘How to Cook’ section of Ellyn Satter’s book, “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family”, I found a recipe for zucchini pancakes. Pancakes! These little edible disks are TJ’s most trusted food. He will accept food cooked in a pancake that he wouldn’t eat on its own. Could pancakes be the key that opens the door to vegetables? Could we lose pancakes in an ambitiously futile attempt at vegetable seeking?

Two typical Zucchini

Zucchini. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I modified the recipe to introduce the mild flavour of zucchini with the recognizable flavours of apple and cinnamon.

Zucchini Pancakes

1 zucchini (skin removed and grated)
3 eggs
1 grated apple
7 Tbsp flour (all purpose)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cinnamon. (I used 1/2 tsp which gave these a very pronounced flavour)

  1. Grate zucchini and squeeze as much water out as you can with paper towel or by pressing the gratings into a mesh strainer. Grated pieces will make for a stringy texture. You may want to run the gratings through a blender or food processor.
  2. Add eggs and apple and mix well. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
  3. In a medium skillet, fry over medium heat until lightly browned. Serve warm, plain or with favourite topping. We added maple syrup. Whipped cream and applesauce are also tasty.

I was a little worried at first, as I skipped the food processor step and when I cut the pancakes into quarters, some of the zucchini gratings fell out. I just told T he could put those aside and enjoy the pancake, which he did. He happily went back for seconds and thirds!

This time I remembered not to pressure with photo documentation and forgot to take a picture for the blog. I’ll get this right. I will.

After conquering three new vegetables in a single week, I found the courage to try cauliflower bread sticks. Lately, cauliflower has been popping up in my newsfeed as an ingredient for bread and pizza crust. I was expecting another mild vegetable posing as something else familiar, this time, cheesey bread. I can’t remember the last time I cooked cauliflower that didn’t come frozen out a bag mixed with broccoli and carrots. I also learned why.

In all fairness, the cauliflower breadsticks I made are meant to be dipped in a marinara sauce. T wasn’t a fan. The texture of the bread is odd, he’s not much of a “dipper”, and the most prominent flavour was way too much basil. I can’t, in good conscience, post the recipe.

Plus, there was this other unpleasant side effect and I’ll be one to tell you, (because nobody else does). Baked cauliflower stinks, and not in a way that you can simply FeBreeze out of your kitchen either. No, cauliflower is a smell that haunts you like a vintage horror movie. Hostage Dad came home seven hours later and the smell knocked him over in the doorway. It was bad. Later that evening, we both noticed the smell had wafted downstairs and seemed to follow us around the basement, at which point I considered calling in an old and young priest.

One week, four new foods tried and three accepted! Oh, and a little vanilla in a carefully placed shot glass is a simple and very effective air freshener.


13 responses to “Desperately Seeking Vegetables

  1. Oh, these look lovely! I’m a fan of pancakes with shredded cabbage, onions and carrots, myself, but I eat pretty much anything. Wonder how just onion pancakes would be?

  2. We tried these last night and they came out FANTASTIC! We did find that they took a lot of topping to get a nice robust flavor (we used thinned cream cheese with cinnamon), but it has a great texture/mouthfeel — a little rougher than standard pancakes but with a similar fluffiness. I had to have my partner spoon the baking powder for me as I’m having a bad week for my own sensory issues, but other than that it was something I could easily cook myself — and it came out great. Next time we’re planning to use more apple, though!

    Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  3. Great news! Love this post for many reasons. Bread/pancakes are GREAT ways to “chain’ to new foods if they are already being accepted. Looking forward to hearing more of your successes. Also, I am not surprised at your son liking the “spicy” of chive/onion. MANY of my picky/selective eaters are stronger taste lovers.

  4. I’m finding myself thinking “Hmm… I like pancakes… Maybe I should run out and buy a zucchini and see if I like this.”

  5. LOVE THIS! My daughter’s most trusted food is also pancakes. I can add applesauce, bananas, oats, yogurt, and she still loves them. I have been trying to figure out how to work zucchini bread to her diet since she loves banana bread and pumpkin bread but I haven’t tried it yet. This method looks great and I will try it both with pancakes and bread. Thanks for all you do and congrats on the scallions and onion rings!!!

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