Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hummus, plus 3 tips for getting kids to eat healthy

If you're a mother to picky eaters, you develop your own set of rules about healthy eating. White potatoes don't count as a vegetable; sweet potatoes do. Pickles are junk food but olives are healthy. Canned vegetables are off limits, unless, of course the vegetable drawer is bare because Mommy didn't have time to shop, in which case they are a-okay. Celery and baby carrots, regardless of what they are dipped in (don't ask) are great. And, even if you smother it in parmesan cheese and alphabet noodles, vegetable soup is still a super food.

Here are three strategies I've developed for getting my kids to eat healthy. What are yours? Please share them in the comments section below!

  1. Hummus. See recipe below. My kids love vegetables cut up pretty dipped in hummus. 
  2. Soups. My kids will eat pretty much any vegetable if it's pureed in a soup. My current favorites: Parsnip Soup, Roast Vegetable Soup, and Butternut Squash Soup.  
  3. Get 'em while they're hungry. When my kids get home from school, they'll eat just about anything. If I welcome them home with a platter of cut up fruit, they'll devour it in minutes. It's an amazing thing that warms any mommy's heart. 

Hummus from scratch
I prefer to make my own tahini rather than buying the store bought paste. I hate how the store bought stuff settles and needs to be remixed. The homemade tahini is  just SO much fresher, and really no extra effort once you're pulling out (and washing) the food processor anyway. This recipe calls for 1 cup of sesame seeds even though you only need about half that amount. Less than a cup just doesn't puree well in my food processor. So I make a cup and put away half for another use.  It lasts for about a week in the fridge. 

1 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup olive or canola oil
3 cans chickpeas, drained, but reserve 1 cup of the liquid
1/2 teaspoon salt
Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Combine the sesame seeds and olive oil in the food processor. Process for a good 5 minutes, scraping down the sides from time to time, until all the seeds are smooth.

Remove about half the tahini paste from the machine and put it away for another use. (I just add lemon juice, a bit of water, and spices for a wonderful homemade tahini that's great on salads.) Add the chickpeas, salt, pepper, lemon juice and cumin to the food processor. Add the reserved chickpea liquid a bit of a time, till the hummus reaches the desired consistency.

Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Linking this post up to Weekend Bloggy ReadingKOAB Recipe Exchange and Ultimate Recipe Swap 


  1. Love your healthy eating rules - mine are similar.

    My kids like big vegetable platters with a colorful array and dip in the center, which I make almost every Shabbos. They also like romaine lettuce with Italian dressing and most of them will eat tossed salad if I serve it.

    When I make sandwiches for dinner (hamburgers, subs, tuna) I slice up a variety of vegetables and the kids choose from the 'bar'.

    On Shabbos, everyone has to drink fruit juice or water before drinking soda.

    I keep my afternoon babysitter supplied with more-or-less healthy afternoon snacks (whole wheat pretzels are healthy, 100% juice boxes are healthy-ish but high in sugar, single-serve fruit cocktail cups are pretend healthy).

    Your blogs have helped me introduce more healthy foods - we've enjoyed baked acorn squash, baked apples, vegetable soup, etc. Your idea of serving plain yogurt with coconut, honey, and nuts was a hit. So trying new things works well.

    Soup works. My kids have been slurping copious quantities of mushroom barley soup (portobellos, barley, vegetables, meat).

    I also find that all I have to do is cut myself a slice of melon and a swarm of kids will miraculously appear. It's like a piranha feeding frenzy. In general, if I cut up fruit (apple slices with cinnamon), they'll eat it. Ditto for leaving containers of dried fruit on the counter. And pistachios can keep them entertained for a long time.

    I also add fruit to pancakes, which I serve for supper every now and then, and smoothies, which go well with the pancakes. In the summer fruit juice ices or smoothies frozen in an ice cube tray with popsicle sticks are good.

  2. I made the hummus today, and it was so easy, and heavenly. I may never buy hummus again. I actually used ready-made tahini instead of making it from scratch. Thanks for the recipe!
    Oh, and how to get your kids to eat healthy food? You make sure that you're eating healthy food yourself. it's a bit nasty to preach the gospel of carrot and celery when you're munching on a donut.

  3. My 3 year old is slowly getting picky and I've been wondering what to do. Thanks for your simple tips, will try them on my son.
    Hummus looks yummy..
    Thanks for dropping by my space. You have a wonderful blog with tons of delicious recipes. Will come back for more.

  4. Nechama, Sima and Pavani - thanks for stopping by and for your tips.

  5. I looooove hummus. Yum! My kids are weird and won't eat soup, but they are the only ones I know who ask for the fruit cup at Chick-fil-a. ;)

    Thanks so much for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. :)

  6. Love these tips - thank you! My kids are big veggie eaters and their favorite is a platter of celery, carrots, cucumbers and broccoli to dip in ranch dressing. They will eat that all day long. (but you are so right - just as long as there is something to "dip" it into!

  7. Hi Rivki, just found you, I can't remember, but I'm glad I did! My 3-year-old is not so much a picky eater as a super-light eater, so every bite counts with him. I use a lot of your tricks myself (a dipped thing is a yummy thing in preschooler land, apparently). I also have learned that he can get overwhelmed if I serve lots of choices. Instead, I will serve him two things (like soup and a cut-up tomato, or slices of cheese and an apple) and he seems to eat better and more in that situation.

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  9. I never knew how easy it is to make your own tahini! I will definitely try it soon. Thanks!

  10. Hi, Rivki. I just made this for lunch - smash hit with my kids. My 7-year-old announced that she'd rather have this hummus than ice cream (hard to believe but true), and even my picky 3-year-old is enjoying it.

  11. Nechama, thanks for letting me know. I don't know how you do it - I make such a variety of healthy foods and I certainly model healthy eating, but my kids are nowhere near as enthusiastic as yours are about healthy eating. I'm so glad you made this and that it was a hit!

  12. I have to agree with you that white potatoes don't count as a vegetable; sweet potatoes do. It is important for us parents to understand and get informed about this kinds of things to keep our kids healthy.

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  13. Creating an environment where your kids can make healthy nutritional choices is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health of your child. By fostering a supportive environment, you and your family can develop a positive relationship with healthy food. You can lead them by your example. Thanks for sharing these tips by the way.


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