While cauliflower and brussels sprouts might not be at the top of most little ones' yum lists, carrots are a much easier sell. Aside from being naturally sweet, carrots are a gold mine of nutrition and a great source of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, making it essential for good vision (your mom was right on that one). To truly have your kids embrace this veggie, go beyond the ho-hum raw or steamed preparations. Even the pickiest of eaters are more open-minded when carrots take the form of a crunchy chip, are grated into a sweet muffin, or are coated on long strands of pasta. It's funny how simply changing the composition of a vegetable can make kids more eager to try it, but trust me, it works!
Carrot Chips Preheat oven to 250°F. Using a mandoline or knife, thinly slice 4 carrots into rounds. Place carrot chips on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt to taste, and bake for 45 minutes, or until crisp. You can also sprinkle chips with cinnamon or another favorite spice before baking.
Carrot Ginger Sauce Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and sauté until soft, about 30 seconds. Add 1 Tbsp minced ginger and 4 medium peeled, chopped carrots. Cover and cook until carrots are soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and add 2 Tbsp miso, 1 Tbsp tahini, and 2 Tbsp water; puree until smooth. Serve tossed with pasta, soba, or udon noodles, or with rice. Sauce stays fresh in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Carrot Apple Coconut Muffins Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 1/2 tsp baking soda; 1/2 tsp salt; 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes; 2 peeled, grated carrots (about 1 cup); and 1 peeled, grated apple (about 1/2 cup; Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, and Red Delicious are good choices) in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/3 cup milk, 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, and 1/2 cup honey (for kids over age 1). Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine. Place 1 Tbsp of batter into greased mini-muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 30 mini muffins.