Photo credit: elana's pantry

The other night at dinner my kids polished off all the asparagus. And I couldn’t be more disappointed. I really like asparagus, especially roasted, which is how I prepared it with just a little bit of olive oil and sea salt. I started off with 6 asparagus stalks on my plate at the beginning of dinner and after eating just 2, my 9 year-old was asking for more. She’d finished off what was left on the pan and was circling the table asking for anyone’s extras–I gave her mine.

So how did I lose all my asparagus? I’d like to say I started out the meal planning to have my kids asparagus-lovers by the end, but that was not my intent at all.

See, I’d visited one of my favorite grocery stores, Sirna’s, earlier in the day. They stock local produce (the best Empire apples) and Amish meats in all their varieties–ham, bacon, pork loin. I picked up fingerling potatoes and then spied the asparagus. The stalks were thinner and more pliable then the asparagus I usually find–I figured they’d be perfect for roasting (I also thought my husband and I would be the only ones eating them). It’s not that I don’t want my kids eating veggies, it’s that I thought asparagus was one of those foods you have to try a little bit so many times before you decide you like it. That’s how I discovered I was an asparagus fan.

As with any new-to-my kids or ‘they’ve-rejected-it-before foods,’ I put only a small portion on each of my kids’ plates. Two stalks a piece. I only give them a little bit of new foods so that when I say, “Ah, just give it a try,” it isn’t too overwhelming. That also meant there was more asparagus leftover for, uh, me.

My 9 year-old liked eating the asparagus right off–”It’s like eating a tree, mom.” But my youngest wasn’t interested at all. That’s when my husband prodded, “Your sister is going to eat more.” Cue my 9 year-old picking up each asparagus, aiming it into her mouth starting from the end and then chomping away until she reached the tip, then grabbing another to do the same. It was like watching one of those old cartoons when Bugs Bunny inhales carrots. My youngest immediately took to the challenge. Her two stalks disappeared, my 9 year-old had already cleaned off the pan and then of course they turned to me. I was torn between my excitement that they were eating–and enjoying asparagus–and really wanting to finish off my veggies myself. I caved. My asparagus went for the greater good–creating veggie lovers.

I have no idea whether our little asparagus contest would work again. And certainly, I wouldn’t encourage veggie eating contests as a regular habit, but at least this week, it got my kids eating more green. Next time, though, I’m buying more asparagus!

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