WHEN IT COMES TO FEEDING KIDS, Sarah Matheny wrote the book. Literally. And she did it twice! Her new book, “More Peas, Thank You” has just come out and it’s so full of fun ideas for vegetarian meals we had to ask her a bit more about how she does it.
1. Are there any foods that you’ve ever had trouble getting your kids to eat, and what (if anything) did you do to win them over?
Of course! I have a five year-old who has a phobia of green. I feel pretty prideful that she now eats broccoli on a pretty much daily basis. The key to the broccoli was to keep offering it to her, even despite her protests, and to keep serving it in new ways. We’ve tried it with salt, with teriyaki sauce, with organic butter and even, I regret to say, with yellow mustard. After all that, she prefers it steamed and plain. I’ll take it!
2. What’s your best come-back for critics who say you’re depriving your kids with a vegetarian diet?
We’ve given the girls a lot of freedom with their food choices when they are outside of the home, and don’t try to put them in a box with labels or rules. If they choose, they pretty much can have what is offered to them at school functions, birthday parties, friend’s houses, etc. I feel this has worked for us to strike a good balance between the nutritious food I serve at home and the occasional treats that come with being a kid.
3. What are your kids’ favorite recipes in this book?
My girls love the smoothies in the book, especially the Sunrise Smoothies. Our latest trick is to make them in popsicle molds and freeze them for an after-school snack. They also love the Green Bean Fries, the Roasted Chickpea Tacos and the Chickpeas and Dumplings. And the whole dessert chapter.
4. Your homemade thin mints look heavenly. Do your kids ever miss the neat and tidy packaging, or do you have clever ways to serve them? And what other store-bought snacks will you tackle next?
Marketing and packaging are such crafty tools in getting kids to clamor for processed foods when they walk through the grocery store aisles. I do try to present foods to my kids in a way that is equally appealing, I cut their whole-grain sandwiches into shapes, I use cute cupcake papers to serve snacks in, and one of our favorite fun snacks is to cut up fresh fruit, spoon some nut butter into colorful bowls and pass out the fondue forks. You can’t get that in a box with a cartoon character on it!
I’m always looking to recreate store-bought favorites. We’ve done toaster pastries, fish-shaped crackers and cake pops, already. I’m not sure what’s up next…maybe a certain famous chocolate sandwich cookie?
5. I love the idea of going more vegetarian but not sure my husband, would feel satisfied. (He’s a meat-and-potatoes man who politely tries millet and all the other concoctions I experiment with.) In the book, you mention that your husband “likes a ‘manly’ meal as much as the next guy”. What’s his favorite here?
I think the key is to not announce to your husband, or anyone for that matter, that a meal (and you certainly don’t want to announce that your entire diet) is now meatless. If you serve up hearty, delicious foods, no man (or woman) is going to say, “Hey, wait a minute, where’s the meat?” My husband loves the filling comfort foods in the book, namely the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas topped with a big scoop of Almost Chipotle Guacamole. And he doesn’t turn down S’mores Bread Pudding for dessert. Now who would be satisfied with that?