Once upon a time, my kids really liked vegetables. All vegetables - they'd gobble them up with gusto. I offered them veggies at every meal, knowing that they'd eat them all as I watched proudly from my ivory tower of motherly superiority. At one time - true story - Colin would actually cry for more spinach.

But that was when they were really little. At some point, somewhere along the line, their tastes changed and they became "those" kids. The ones you see on those nutritional awareness posters that say stuff like, "For 70% of toddlers, french fries are the most frequently eaten vegetable." The veggies I once heaped on their plates went largely untouched. So, like any paranoid freak concerned mother, I consulted every source of reliable information I could. Keep offering them, urged every-single-frickin' advice column I read. Cover them with cheese sauce, my mom helpfully volunteered. Let them use ranch dressing as a dip, said my parenting magazines.

But as lovely as those tips were in theory, none of them have worked for me. Cheese sauce or ranch dressing be damned: my boys turn their noses up at veggies as if I'd dipped them in poo fondue before serving. And now I'm in perpetual Mommy-guilt mode and wondering, more often that not, if ketchup really can count as a vegetable. I mean, it's made of tomatoes, right? And tomatoes ... are ...

... fruits. Crap.

Well, anyway. Last night, desperate for a successful way to get some veggies down my kids' gullets, I tried out a new recipe: broccoli pancakes. I found it in one of my cookbooks: The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil, M.D. and Rosie Daley (Oprah's onetime personal chef, y'all). I know, I know ... they sound pretty nasty (which is why I very vaguely renamed them "Green Pancakes" when serving them to the dudes). And the ingredients don't sound like they'd go very well together. But to my complete surprise, these things are actually awesome. And the best part, my little anklebiters scarfed 'em down and asked for more. So because I know that some of you are also in that "is-ketchup-a-veggie" stage (please tell me it isn't just me!), I thought I would share the recipe. (I made a few minor tweaks; those are in italics.)


1 large head broccoli
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 small hot chili pepper or 1 tsp chili paste (I didn't have this, plus my kids aren't all that into spicy, so I used about a teaspoon of chili powder)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup whole wheat flour (I used regular white flour)
1/8 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 pinch salt (I like my stuff on the salty side, so I probably overdid the "pinch")
1 large egg or 2 egg whites
1/4 cup milk

Cut the florets off the head of the broccoli and separate them by cutting the large ones in half so they are all more or less the same size; you should have about 3 cups. Discard the stalks. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a medium pan, then drop in the broccoli florets, cover, and let steam as they cook (about three minutes). Drain in a colander.

Put the steamed broccoli, onions, chili, and garlic in a food processor and pulse on and off to chop. (It says don't puree the vegetables but if your kids are like mine - and you don't want to hear, "Ewww, what's this chunk?" - you might want to at least chop them pretty fine).

Transfer the chopped ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir in the oil, flour, dill, and salt. Add the egg and milk and mix thoroughly.

Smear the bottom of a large, nonstick skillet with 1/4 teaspoon of butter and set it over medium heat for about one minute. Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter into the hot skillet, placing them far enough apart so that the pancakes don't touch, and cook over low to medium heat for about one minute. (I flipped them a couple of times, like regular pancakes.)

In the cookbook, they suggest serving these with "mock sour cream." Here's the recipe for that:

1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
Sprinkling chopped fresh dill

Sounds like a great compliment. But I just served 'em with regular old sour cream and they were delicious.

Colin had practically inhaled three of the pancakes in quick succession, raving about them the whole time, when I told him that the "green" in the pancakes was actually broccoli - at which point he looked absolutely horrified. I was fully prepared for him to spit out his half-chewed mouthful and go on broccoli-strike, because he's dramatic like that. But then when I pointed out that he loved them despite the fact that they were made of broccoli, he thought about it for a second and then agreed and kept chewing.

And then tried to steal his brother's portion.



  1. That sounds delicious to me. And I can just picture the horror when Colin realized he'd eaten "that stuff". Too funny!

    Here's another recipe to try. No kid I've ever served this to has ever realized there were veggies in it - and I only ever tell their moms.

  2. I am the veggie lover in our household. Cooking, which I love and do the most, can get frustrating because no one sucks it up and eats what I like. I have to eat what everyone else likes.

    Believe it or not, I enjoy eating healthy (most of the time).

  3. Awesome! I love food finds like this.

  4. I'm a regular lurker because you make me laugh and feel like someone else knows what it's like to have multiple children in the baby/toddler/preschooler stage. but I'm also a child nutritionist and want to assure you the veggie disdaining is normal, and if your children are eating whole grains and fruits, they are likely to be getting all the nutrition from plant foods they NEED to survive. And if you keep offering them, they WILL eat them again, it just might be months/years. And serving veggies cooked a bit with fats (ranch, cheese, olive oil, dips, etc.) really does help the whole veggie eating.

  5. Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote a cook book on "disguising" veggies. Check it out, you might be more successful!
    Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food

  6. This reminds me of a favorite childhood story - green eggs and ham. Lol. What a neat recipe!

  7. I was about to say the same thing as Aleta. Now you have to learn how to make green eggs. And find a recipe for green ham.

  8. sounds pretty good. Although it is doubtful I can get my son to eat even these (he's my picky eater - my daughter will at least try things). unless I can figure out a way to disguise them as peanut butter and jelly. I might try them anyway though. thanks for the recipe!

  9. I'm a big fan of broccoli, so this sounds delish to me! I'm totally trying it!
    Glad the boys liked it, too. The novelty of green pancakes is probably what got their attention at first.
    You might try "building" something with their food, too. I just saw a recipe on TV for a yummy-looking salad of stacked, sliced tomato, cheese slices, cucumber and hard-boiled eggs with a little olvie oil & lemon juice dressing on top. You could name is something catchy, like "tomato towers" or something!

  10. Thats what I do with my tortilla soup. I obliterate the veggies until it just looks like juice. Haha kids... who's the smart one now?!

  11. Nice work there stealth. I should actually give this a try. But then, that would mean I had to actually buy and cook broccoli, and or care that my kids are not getting their veggies. Yeah, I better get on that.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. And for the record, you had me laughing out loud with the poo fondue. You crack me up!

  12. I know all about non-veggie eating children! I'm not sure abt the broccoli pancakes, but may have to give it a try! It has to go over better than the tofu I fixed a few weeks ago.


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