Fresh Asparagus Kicks Off Fresh Produce Season!

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March 26th, 2010

Spring bulbs are starting to appear, and that means it time for fresh produce season! Farmers markets and roadside stands are displaying a gorgeous early crop lettuces and spinach, rhubarb, spring onions and asparagus.

Spring is the perfect time of year to recommit to eating more vegetables. Most people consume an average of only one serving of fruits and vegetables a day. Studies show people who work in at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (and up to 9) are more likely to lose weight and keep it off long term. Getting kids to eat vegetables can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Keep these tips in mind when you’re introducing new vegetables to your kids this season:

1) Stick to what they know and love. Pair new vegetables with flavors you know they already like. For instance, if your child likes buttered pasta noodles, try tossing any steamed vegetable with a little melted butter and serving them along side their favorite noodles.

2) Read all about it. When you’re reading to your children at night, choose books that include pictures of food. Talk about the different foods with your children. When your child responds favorably to a particular new vegetable, serve it to them the very next night.

3) Be consistent. Studies show children need to be served a particular food eight to fifteen times before they’ll accept it. Introduce one new veggie per meal and serve it several days in a row.  Take a day off and then repeat.

4) Don’t give up! Many parents give up too easily. Sure, it takes time and effort to fix the little darlings vegetables they “don’t like,” but they’re relying on you to provide them with the essential nutrients their bodies need. Slow and steady wins the race. Eventually, they’ll come around and know you mean business, but not if you let them “win” by throwing in the towel too soon.

5) Pro-choice. Before you do your weekly shopping, let your children have a say in the “Vegetable of the Night.” Dedicate a wall calendar to meal times, and hang the calendar on the refrigerator. Each week before you shop, sit down with your child or children and have them make a list of veggies to pick up at the grocery store, and encourage them to try one new veggie a week. They get to cross off the veggie when they’ve either cleaned their plates or at least tasted the Veggie of the Night. Award a Gold Star for each victory. Reward them with a movie night or a new storybook on weeks they achieve five Gold Stars!

Maple Roasted Asparagus

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Asparagus is one of the easiest dinner veggies to prepare and it is super simple to sneak into kid friendly meals.

Yield: serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 cloves of slivered garlic
  • 1 TB of olive oil
  • 1 TB of pure Canadian maple syrup
  • 1 TB of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TB of thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Wash one bunch of asparagus and remove woody stems (about the last one to one and a half inches of the asparagus spear).

Place asparagus spears on a large cookie sheet.

Add one Tablespoon olive oil, one Tablespoon pure Canadian maple syrup and one Tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Optional: Add two cloves slivered garlic.

Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.

Roast 12-15 minutes, turning once at the halfway point. Remove from oven.

Sprinkle with one loosely packed Tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves.

Taste and adjust seasonings with pure Canadian maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper as needed.

Serve immediately.

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