Gardening with Kids: July 2018 edition

We are officially into the peek of summer and exploring our garden almost daily for what we can find, explore, or feast on! I hope you will find the ideas shared below on how we are learning to like vegetables and enjoying zucchini in particular (as part of this month's Veggie Buds Club) both fun and helpful!

Areas of Growth in the Garden

Garden Yields Update

Total seasonal yield to date: 
56 baby tomatoes
3 cucumbers
6 bell peppers
25 beans
7 yellow squash
3 zucchini

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New Feeding Wins or Progress via Food Play

I admit, sometimes I go out to the garden and am underwhelmed. A few beans, a squash or two, with a couple handfuls of baby tomatoes. It isn't this grand, magnificent yield that will earn me a spot at the local Farmer's Market. But is that really the goal?

Most definitely not!

What hit me this month was the significance that comes in these SMALL numbers. My four year old isn't counting to 100 yet nor is my youngest able to carry much more than a couple of this or that without them tumbling out of her arms on the way from the backyard garden to our kitchen counter. This makes our little backyard garden and the SMALL yields it offers our family perfect for helping me achieve my actual goal:

Getting my girls engaged and excited about fresh vegetables from the moment the seed hits the soil through the time they are offered at the table.

There is something about gardening that is both disconnected from the table and yet beautifully tees up to a meal time. I love that even for foods my girls are learning to like, they get to LEARN to like them in completely experiential ways without "eating" ever even being mentioned. These small amounts make it less intimidating and more manageable as well by beckoning the girls to come out and pick what few items they can find each day.

This past month, we made a chart where we could keep track of how many of each vegetable we grow. I have intended to do this each season, but now is as good of a time as any to get started! Especially since my oldest is more than able to now help count the crops, make hash marks, and add them up in sets of five so we can see our running totals. One afternoon (after we had been away and not picked in a few days), she collected 26 cherry tomatoes. It still didn't necessarily look like a lot (in my gluttonous gardener eyes), but it was A LOT to her little hands and for her little mind to count and keep track of on our chart. Better yet, this was a simple way of doing nutrition education at home that integrated so many age-appropriate activities without ever speaking to the actual "nutrition" of the foods at hand.

That's key with little kids.

They don't need to hear the word lycopene nor about its health implications before they enter kindergarten. They don't need to know how much protein are in the beans we are growing nor stress about if they're getting enough at a given meal. They don't need to be convinced to eat fresh grown cucumbers over cheddar crackers at snack time.

Nope. What they need is to touch, experience, engage, count, and play with the very foods we want them to find joy in so that ultimately, later in life, they will appreciate them to be "healthy," "everyday," and "good for them" choices. My goal is to continue to offer them the experiences that allow them to do this through our garden without really ever saying a word about "health" or "nutrition." This is the kind of pressure-free exposure and true nutrition education we are having fun with from this spring and summer. I hope your family can enjoy the same through SMALL yields and yet BIG wins.

Veggie of the Month: Zucchini

I am honored to be a monthly contributor to Veggie Buds Club. Intended for children ages 3-6, Veggie Buds Club offers activities that empower kids to Learn + Cook + Play + Create + Grow with a monthly vegetable. Through fun, pressure-free ideas, Veggie Buds Club helps expose your child to a variety of vegetables in age-appropriate and engaging ways.

If you are interested in checking out Veggie Buds Club for your family (or to gift a friend!), I encourage you to hop on over today! Monthly registration closes at midnight on the first of the month, so be sure to sign up so you get this month's box - complete with a tip sheet featuring the advice I share below!

Images from past month's Veggie Buds Club.

Tips shared in this month’s Veggie Buds Club:

Parents are constantly asking about how to get kids to eat more vegetables, especially in safe forms for sharing between older and younger siblings (who may still be learning to crunch raw veggies). This is a hard question for me to answer not so much because I am without ideas, but rather because the root of HOW to get our kids to eat more vegetables rarely rests in simply needing more ideas.

Instead, we as parents and families as a whole need to continue to shift our mindset from "HOW to GET our kids to eat vegetables" to exposing them to veggies in as many ways as we can in hopes that they find a few they genuinely WANT to eat (on their own).

Do you see the mindset shift there between "getting them to eat" and "finding ways they want to eat" vegetables?

That's why this month I want us to get out of our common rut of offering only raw versus roasted vegetables and instead share how many options there are for exposing our kids to even a single vegetable like zucchini!

Zucchini is by far one of the most versatile veggies out there! With it, we can find a variety of ways to expose and safely offer to even the youngest of eaters. Here are several ways to help your kids learn to like zucchini in the coming month!

  • As a topping on pizza
  • In lasagna (in addition to or in place of noodles)
  • As hummus (like the one from Heather in this month's Veggie Buds Club)
  • To make zucchini boats (stuffed with meat and other veggies)
  • For zucchini roll ups (just use a vegetable peeler to create a long strip)
  • As zoodles (mixed with regular noodles or in place of)
  • Tossed in with eggs or an omelet
  • Added to pasta dishes or stir fries
  • As breaded spears (with a side of marinara for dipping!)
  • Baked in circles as "chips" with Parmesan
  • Grilled on a kabob with a lean protein and/or other summer veggie
  • For dessert in cookies or brownies (like those from the recipe Heather shares in this month's Veggie Buds Club)
  • Shredded into muffins or quick breads

Even just making this list compels me to go check the garden to see if we have any zucchini ready to make something with! There are so many options, i.e. reasons we don't need to be in rut with how to offer this seasonal veggie!

Remember to check out Veggie Buds Club before 12/midnight on the first of every month if you aren't already a subscriber. Then you can still order this month's box and veggie in time to participate!

Want More Actionable Ideas on How to Turn Your Veggie Averse Kid Into A Gardener?

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