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Carrots cooked with herbs in olive oil will please even the pickiest youngsters

Teaching kids to grow their own food is a valuable life skill that also helps them learn about healthful eating and their connection to the environment.
Teaching kids to grow their own food is a valuable life skill that also helps them learn about healthful eating and their connection to the environment.
Janice Masters

With Easter approaching, it seems fitting to pay tribute to the vegetable bunnies like best. Yes, the humble but delicious and super nutritious carrot is not only loaded with Vitamin A as well as antioxidants helpful in preventing cancers, it may also help defend against cardiovascular disease. And have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses? I daresay not. Be that as it may, getting your kids to eat carrots is not always easy. Sure, they’re crunchy and colorful (the carrots, that is), but they are after all GOOD FOR YOU, which is enough in itself for many younger folks not to like them. That being the case, parents and grandparents must sometimes use sneaky tricks to entice kids into trying foods with so much to offer.

Sneaky trick number 1: find a spot in the ground or a deep terra cotta pot where you can help your small people plant some! It’s so much more fun to eat something you’ve grown yourself. If you’re skeptical, just ask my husband about the silly grin on my face each time I bring in veggies, fruits, and herbs from our backyard—YIPEEEEE! Kids of all ages will enjoy planting, caring for, and finally plucking from the soil their very own carrots to enjoy either raw or cooked. Teaching kids to grow their own produce not only gives them a great life skill and lays the groundwork for healthier eating habits, it also helps them understand their connection to our food supply—most Americans are far too removed from the sources of their daily meals with respect to health and sustainability.

Sneaky trick number 2: find a recipe for cooked carrots with a proven track record of getting kids who previously wouldn’t touch the little orange darlings to not only eat them but to ask for them on a regular basis! The simple recipe below lured two of my nieces into finally trying—and then really liking—cooked carrots. You can use any size carrots as long as you slice them to have sufficient surface area for soaking in the seasonings and allowing some caramelization. This recipe is simple enough for a weeknight, delicious and fancy enough for Easter dinner—in which case, you’ll want to make a little extra for that generous, egg-bearing bunny.

Herbed Carrots in Olive Oil

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. carrots
  • Half of a medium onion
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves (you can substitute fresh or dried dill if you prefer)
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Putting it all together

If you have large carrots, rinse them well, peel them, then slice in half lengthwise and cut into 1” to 2” pieces. If using baby carrots, simply slice them in half lengthwise. Peel the onion half, slice it into half moons and cut those in half. They will naturally break into strips once you begin stirring. You can cut them into smaller pieces if you like (or think the kids won't), but the longer, ribbon-like sections are quite appealing to the eye and the tongue.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then add the carrots and onion. Break each of the bay leaves in half and add to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir gently, but frequently while cooking over medium heat. Cook until the carrots are tender and slightly caramelized along with the onion. Season with salt and pepper, then remove the bay leaves and serve.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side