Green Food. It’s a term that can strike terror into the hearts of parents everywhere; a color which, when on the plates of small children, appears to inspire loathing like no other color in the rainbow. Green food doesn’t tend to be sweet food, like red berries or yellow bananas. It doesn’t tend to be starchy food, like chewy breadsticks or soft, easy to eat rice. It tends to be, well, green. And kids learn very early on, almost as if programmed, that “green” is a flavor profile to be dreaded.
I know there are exceptions to the rule out there; as a matter of fact, just this morning, one of the boys’ teachers was telling us about a friend of hers whose son would ONLY eat green foods, when he was in preschool. (Reaction of all parents present: “Ohhh LUCKY!” But of course, I’m sure at the time that mother was driven as crazy by her kid’s rejection of other colors as we are by our kids’ summary dismissal of green.) However, my boys both went through the green-avoidance phase — P.’s still in it — despite the fact that I did all the things you’re “supposed” to do, like introducing lots of green foods early on and continuing to offer them even after the rejection phase sets in.
Naturally I do my best to get around it, roll with the punches, and just let them outgrow their natural avoidance of green veggies and the like. And I must say, L. has outgrown it quite nicely; he’s even developed a taste for raw spinach, pesto sauce, green beans, and broccoli. P., on the other hand, is pondering at the moment exactly HOW much he’s going to resist the greens, but I’m heartened by the fact that he will at least LICK salad if I put it on his plate (yes, he often behaves more like a puppy than a child at the dinner table), and he does still eat broccoli if it’s in something else. I chop it up and throw it into quesadillas, on top of pizza, and make it into veggie nuggets, then close my eyes and keep my fingers crossed that he’ll actually get a few bites down. Most of the time, he doesn’t disappoint me.
I have to confess that the green-phobia doesn’t bother me too greatly, largely because it hasn’t been tragically difficult to get around (and because, when you have a kid like P. who eats things like berries by the truckload, you don’t have to worry terribly that he isn’t getting any nutrients at all). However, I’m somewhat mystified by the fact that with all this aversion to naturally green foods, my kids happily tucked into a recent experiment of mine that turned out a very unpleasant shade of green: Pistachio Pudding.
I should have known it would turn green, and I think I WAS expecting it in the back of my mind; what I wasn’t expecting was the extremely off-putting hue. I’ve been vacillating about sharing this recipe with you, because when I tried to photograph it, it just looked so…well…TERRIBLE that I couldn’t bring myself to post the photos. I’ve been thinking that if I couldn’t show you a picture of it, then you’d make it and be shocked by its appearance, and maybe the whole thing would be a disappointment.
But here’s the thing. As horrible as it looked, my kids LOVED it. I mean, LOVED it. And although L. had a moment of pause before deciding to try it, P. simply dove into it headlong as if he’s been eating sort of olivey-drab pudding his entire life. They ate it for breakfast, for snacks, and for dessert with enthusiasm. I couldn’t blame them, because when I got up my nerve to try it, it was truly delicious.
Yet I STILL wasn’t going to share the recipe with you. I couldn’t get up the nerve to explain about the mealy-avocado sort of shade you’d be in for if you wanted to actually try to make it. And then I made split pea soup in my slow cooker this week, with wonderful results, which both took me back to my childhood (my grandmother made quite a lot of split pea soup when I was a kid)… and reminded me that split pea soup is also a relatively unattractive, sloppy-looking green food.
A-ha! I could share TWO ugly green recipes with you. What’s better than that?
Please don’t say that I didn’t warn you. I’m telling you, unequivocally, that these are not beautiful recipes, and you should definitely not plan to serve them the next time you want to impress somebody, like a date; a new boss; or prospective in-laws. However, they’re tasty, easy, and relatively inexpensive to prepare, all of which win out in my opinion over pretty food. Oh, sure, I know we’re supposed to eat with our eyes first, but every once in a while the homeliest dishes can have surprising results. So just shut your eyes and have a taste. I promise, green or not, neither of these will hurt you. And if you’re lucky, they might just look ugly enough that your kids will think they’re really cool.