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Old 03-29-2009, 06:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Introducing Unpopular Foods to Children

I was eating a delicious fajita this evening, when the taste of the orange bell pepper sparked a nostalgic recollection of the first time I ever enjoyed bell pepper.

I was maybe 11 or 12, and my family went out to a Denny's clone for brunch. I don't think it was any special occasion, just "family time". Anyway, Ch'i got the waffles, and mom ordered a Denver omelet. I love omelets, and without looking at the menu, I ordered the same. It was divine. I'm sure I'd had bell peppers before, but never featured so prominently in a dish. The omelet had to be 3 parts egg, 1 part onion and 2 parts green and red bell pepper. It was rich and flavorful, but not overpowering. The bell pepper presented a new kind of sweetness to my palate. Since then, I've probably had a hundred Denver omelets, and I've loved every single one of them. I probably eat 4 bell peppers a month.

It occurs to me now that had the bell pepper been presented to me via some other medium, say in a salad or hummus, I probably wouldn't have liked it. The omelet was the perfect vehicle for the bell pepper and it shaped my love for the bell pepper.

Once this occurred to me, I started thinking about other foods that I learned to love because of the way they were prepared. I love asparagus because my first asparagus shoot was basically saturated with garlic (Stockton asparagus festival). I love leeks because I had delicious leek soup from the Wine and Roses restaurant and Inn in Lodi. I adore cardamom because of baagh-lava. The list goes on and on.

Then something else occurred to me: this might be a great way to introduce traditionally unpopular foods to children! So, to that end, this thread is here to list foods and spices that you love because of the dish they were first introduced to you as a part of. Did you learn to love eggs because of french toast? Did you learn to love cranberries because of granola? Did you learn to love lamb at an Indian restaurant? By some miracle, do you love brussels sprouts?
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've never been a picky eater, so it's hard for me to reply to this thread. Generally, I like all food. I've always been an adventurous eater, so I've typically gone out of my way to try new and interesting foods.

I did learn to love goat because of the fabulous curried goat at the Indian restaurant here. I recommend everyone try goat. It's delicious.
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowy View Post
I've never been a picky eater, so it's hard for me to reply to this thread.
Nonsense! This is perfect:
Quote:
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I did learn to love goat because of the fabulous curried goat at the Indian restaurant here. I recommend everyone try goat. It's delicious.
That's exactly what I mean. And yes, goat meat is out of this world, especially when cooked in the style of the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, and southern Asia.
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I developed a fear of Durian as a kid before I ever had a taste of it. The unfamiliar smell (definitely unappetizing for an American 8 year old) kept me away from even thinking about trying it. But I wanted to be like my dad and uncles, so I trained my palate. Having ice cream and candy versions introduced me to the funkyness, then having the real thing my first time in Malaysia won me over. Durian is one of those foods that I love to eat because of the flavors and textures, but also because it grosses other people out.

Recently I've begun to appreciate (or tolerate) bitter melon. When my parents would cook it, it was usually in a quick stir fry with fish or chicken, and the bitterness just overwhelmed everything. I like it in dishes where there's stronger flavors going on, like curries or something with lots of spice and peppers. If someone has a recommended bitter melon dish, I'd love to try it!

Got used to lamb and goat from my dad's curries. Buche, Lengua, Cabeza, Tripas, all from a late night run to a taco truck. Blood from a rice porridge dish at dim sum. Raw Uni, oysters and fish liver at a local sushi place. I love these foods now because of the experiences associated with them. Now that I've been proven wrong so many times about my food prejudices, I really will eat anything now. It helps having parents who are very open minded about food and love to cook.

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Old 03-30-2009, 04:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Goddamit, Will! I was sitting with my boys last night thinking about starting this exact topic! And you stole it out from under me!

In all seriousness, this is a constant topic of conversation in my house since we have one boy (Drew - 14 1/2 mo at writing) who will eat anything except cauliflower and another (Max - 3 at writing) who won't touch a vegetable unless it forced in one way or the other. Max isn't a big problem since he'll eat any fruit out there, so he does get enough vitamins.

There are certain foods that I expect to be a problem - onions, garlic, really anything with a strong taste. But we couldn't get Max to eat any vegetables until my wife had the stroke of genius around his third birthday of giving him 3 pieces of whatever veggie Drew was having (seriously, that kid eats broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, plus whatever else is put in front of him) and telling him that he has to eat it because he's "three now and a big boy" (if only that worked for pooping in the potty....).

So I'm highly motivated to see this thread fill up with good advice. Please, coming the guy that has to threaten to get the stick out to force the food down his throat, help Max figure out how to learn to like more vegetables!
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Hide the veggies in some kind of carbohydrate and cover it with cheese. Making mashed potatoes? Mix in some mashed cauliflower, cooked cabbage, cooked kale, or smashed peas. Similarly, you can sneak butternut squash into macaroni and cheese. Quiche is also a dish that hides vegetables well, and most kids seem to like "eggy pie."

Actually, Rachael Ray has some good suggestions on how to get kids to eat their veggies.
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I'll have to look into those ideas. "Eggy pie?" My daughter is almost 4 and has a horrifyingly narrow palate. I know I hated just about everything healthy when I was a kid, and now can't get enough steamed veggies.
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowy View Post
Hide the veggies in some kind of carbohydrate and cover it with cheese. Making mashed potatoes? Mix in some mashed cauliflower, cooked cabbage, cooked kale, or smashed peas. Similarly, you can sneak butternut squash into macaroni and cheese. Quiche is also a dish that hides vegetables well, and most kids seem to like "eggy pie."

Actually, Rachael Ray has some good suggestions on how to get kids to eat their veggies.
Mashed potatoes were an unmitigated failure last night. Max didn't like them - even though they were the cheesy kind (the kid is mental for cheese). Drew.... well, let's say that there is still probably the remains of dinner crusted somewhere that the bath missed. I know that I spent 15 minutes cleaning them up. He had way too much fun with them. I'd post pictures if I could because they're pretty funny.

Eggs are not a problem, assuming that whatever is cut finely. Max will eat a spinach omlette.
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:46 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Snowy's right, you'll probably need some fats and oils with the veggies in the beginning. When I had a little one in my life, I found that adding mild cheddar, jack, mozzarella, provolone, or other more common cheeses to veggies made them a great deal more palatable to a feisty 2 to 3-year old. Try making a light cheese sauce (meaning a sauce made from light or low fat cheese) with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and such to dunk. Kids love to dunk things. And there's always the classic way to introduce celery: peanut butter. Stir fry is also a great way to introduce veggies; you can throw in bell peppers, onions, asparagus, broccoli, beans, snow peas, mushrooms and more, so long as there's meat and it's in a good sauce, they're likely to eat it.

Quiche is a very clever option. I hadn't thought of that. Who doesn't love quiche?
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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One of my co-workers always complains about how her children only eat a couple of foods--chicken nuggets and French fries, mostly. This sparked memories of my own childhood. I grew up in a household where if you didn't like what was for dinner, you didn't eat. My parents didn't force food upon me, and I never went hungry, but I never thought it was an option to not eat what was put in front of me. I'm not saying that this what right or wrong...I just can't really draw upon my own experience so much.

I learned to like a lot of foreign cuisines by starting small. I didn't start eating sushi by diving right into nigiri. Instead, I started with vegetable rolls and the like. With Chinese, i started with lo mein, fried rice and other Americanized dishes. I think this is a good way to get children interested in other cuisines. Start small and make it fun.
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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One thing I learned in Infant and Child Development today that I thought I'd pass on to you all: It can take up to 15 times of introduction to a new food before a child will be interested in it, so stick with it! Eventually the kid will try it!

Getting kids involved in the growing, choosing, and making of food is a great way to get them to try new things. I love brussels sprouts because they were the first vegetable I was able to grow myself. My mom always did a great job of getting us involved in meal planning, and I've been cooking on my own since I was six. Obviously, this advice doesn't work well with really young kids, but kids in early childhood will certainly be interested in the idea that they get some input with the food. I think if you get the kid invested in the food, they're going to want to eat it, because they picked it or cooked it.
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I LOVE brussels sprouts. Call them faerie cabbages and kids love them, too. Just make sure you butter them up after you steam them.
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:15 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I LOVE brussels sprouts. Call them faerie cabbages and kids love them, too. Just make sure you butter them up after you steam them.
Ha! My mom played the same trick on me, renaming a food. Until I was 18, I thought lima beans were "butter beans", and didn't know what lima beans were. It's not technically cheating, as lima beans are often called butter beans in the American South, but they made the food sound a lot more appetizing. And I still eat them today.
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Old 03-30-2009, 03:39 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Who doesn't love quiche?
I don't like quiche. I don't care for anything with my eggs except black pepper.

I'm lucky - my son is pretty good about eating veggies and there are very few he won't eat. When we have something new, all he really needs is assurance that it will be good (and I tell him it will be even if it's something I don't like) and he's much more open to trying it and liking it. Putting cheese on it usually works, too.
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Old 03-30-2009, 03:43 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm starting to wonder if the conclusion of this thread will simply be "put cheese on it". If only the other difficulties in parenting were so easily overcome.
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:55 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I'm starting to wonder if the conclusion of this thread will simply be "put cheese on it". If only the other difficulties in parenting were so easily overcome.
"My son has been fighting with other kids at preschool. What can I do?"
"Put cheese on him."
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Old 03-31-2009, 11:01 AM   #17 (permalink)
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"My son has been fighting with other kids at preschool. What can I do?"
"Put cheese on him."
Redlemon's just figured out parenting.

Go, spread the good news!
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:58 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Little late but heres a solution to kids an veggies, try letting them have the veggies raw instead of cooked. Won't work for every vegetable. Dips work too, cheese or sour cream with ranch sauce.
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Old 04-14-2009, 09:51 AM   #19 (permalink)
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What I do when I think something will but "weird" for my son is have a back up dish for him that I know he likes. Takes the presher off he eating it for him and me. Many times he has started the meal saying he dose not like something then eaten some of the chicken nuggets or what ever I have made for him then come back to the lamb stew. This way he can slowly get used to new flavors with out making him eat.
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Old 04-14-2009, 04:52 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I am with Snowy on the make them try it multiple times. We have a standing rule that our daughter must take at least a bite of something, chew it and swallow it before she can take a pass. There are a number of things that she has looked at and said "eewww" only to have it hit her palate and enjoy it. Other times, it has just be a factor of a different sort of preparation -- apparently green beans in garlic and lemon are the best while plain steamed green beans are the suck.

Fortunately, my son has an adventurous appetite. A few weeks ago while we were in Hong Kong he went toe to toe with me eating whatever we could find (naturally we ditched the ladies before heading out).
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:18 AM   #21 (permalink)
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A friend of my wife swears by "putting puff pastry on top of anything" to get her kids to eat it.

Stews are a good way to hide vegies as a lot of things will completely fall apart if cooked long enough (e.g. pumpkin).

The other option to get kids to eat it is get them to help you grow it - our kids love to be able to pick and eat stuff.

Grating - get your grater out and grate zucchini or carrot and these can easily be hidden in other things

Potato cakes - grate a couple of potatoes, some grated cheese, carrot, zucchini, a tin of creamed corn, an egg and a little bit of self raising flour - drop spoonfuls in a hot pan and serve with tomato or sweet chilli sauce - yum!!
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:11 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Vinegar always worked for me with green veggies. I loved spinach, broccoli, cabbage... There's also a really tasty green beens and new potatoes in milk, butter, and pepper recipe that kids generally go crazy for. They don't really eat that much of the milk or butter.

It's also easier to introduce the veggies if they are frozen or canned. They're softer that way, which appeals to developing mouths. Canned peas work better than frozen.
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Old 04-24-2009, 06:55 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Canned peas work better than frozen.
Please tell me you're joking.

Canned peas are the grossest thing ever. EVER. They're mushy and they don't taste like real peas. They are the one form of vegetable I won't eat. Therefore, it's really unlikely that I'll introduce them to my future children, at the risk of getting shit from my dad (who loves canned peas).

GROSS.

If there were a throwing-up smiley, I'd put it here.

Frozen peas are actually a really great thing to introduce early, once a child is able to chew no matter how tiny the food is, because it allows them to practice their pincer grasp. The pincer grasp is an early fine motor skill that serves as a foundation for other skills, like handwriting.
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Last edited by snowy; 04-24-2009 at 06:58 AM..
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Old 04-24-2009, 06:58 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Canned peas are the grossest thing ever. EVER. They're mushy and they don't taste like real peas.
As opposed to the mush they would have been eating the previous year or two, it's a step up.
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:02 AM   #25 (permalink)
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If there were a throwing-up smiley, I'd put it here.


My parents had a pretty simple way to introduce foods and get me to eat them. "Want dessert? Then eat that."
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:22 AM   #26 (permalink)
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My parents had a pretty simple way to introduce foods and get me to eat them. "Want dessert? Then eat that."
One of the households I worked for followed a similar rule--if you ate your dinner, you got dessert; if you didn't finish, you got a piece of fruit instead.

To me, that's better than some of the bargaining I see between parents and children at dinnertime.

I recently heard of an activity in my Infant and Child Development class that I'll be using with my own children. In a daycare, they put out bowls of different foods on the kids' table, and they said the kids could only get up from the table after trying everything. They didn't have to eat a lot; they just had to try everything once. Every kid but one did the activity successfully without additional prompting; the final child tried everything but the grapes until my teacher sat with her and convinced her to try the grapes. The child had never had a grape before and was a bit scared of them, apparently. But the child found that she loved grapes! I thought it was a great way to expand a child's horizons.

One of the activities I've done with children is a "smell tour." We took out various things in the fridge, even some of the more exotic things that only Mom and Dad ate, and we smelled them. The little girl I cared for was inspired to try a kalamata olive after smelling it, and she asked her dad when he came home if he could make them some curry, because it smelled tasty.

I have to say, I love this thread because it combines two things that interest me--food and child development!
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:52 AM   #27 (permalink)
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I need to try some of this on my wife. She won't eat any vegetable that isn't corn. I've finally gotten her to eat some salads with a very strong vinaigrette dressing.
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:55 PM   #28 (permalink)
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apparently green beans in garlic and lemon are the best while plain steamed green beans are the suck.
I introduced my son to asparagus in a similar way...sauteed with some garlic and a pinch of salt, and he ate his entire helping before starting on the main course. Asparagus has since become a favorite in our household.
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Old 04-25-2009, 02:31 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Its funny, but I used to hate hate hate spinach and mushrooms till about the age 15. One night I was super hungry, I don't think I had eaten all day and my mom made wilted spinach salad, I swear it was the best thing I ever tasted. Since then I love mushrooms and I will eat spinach and enjoy it in more dishes.

Garlic is a definite help on enjoying foods.
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Old 04-25-2009, 04:53 AM   #30 (permalink)
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when your lebanese mum is a great cook of lebanese cuisine, it makes it really really easy to eat everything she puts down on the table. ive never not liked anything she made. besides that, when i was growing up, i was so active that it didnt really matter what she made, because i was always craving for food.

the only thing i do not eat is beetroot because i think the taste is so strong and unnatural that it shouldnt taste that way. i had beetroot in a hamburger as a kid, and it was the last time i had it. it took away from the taste of everything else in the burger and all i could taste was beetroot...

if you want to introduce unpopular foods to kids, introduce them to a lebanese family
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Old 04-25-2009, 06:38 AM   #31 (permalink)
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the only thing i do not eat is beetroot because i think the taste is so strong and unnatural that it shouldnt taste that way. i had beetroot in a hamburger as a kid, and it was the last time i had it. it took away from the taste of everything else in the burger and all i could taste was beetroot...
I like burgers and I like beets, but I'm not sure that they go together.
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Old 04-25-2009, 07:35 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Things to do in my lifetime:
1) design a delicious beet hamburger
2) produce a child to feed said beet hamburger
3) meet a lebanese family to introduce that child to so the child can eat something more delicious than beet hamburgers.

I like the idea of introducing the kids to the scents of foods. I'll have to try it with my sister's kids sometime.
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Old 04-25-2009, 08:03 AM   #33 (permalink)
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1) design a delicious beet hamburger
I'd be willing to bet you could make something like that by adapting this recipe.

You may want to get sirloin/New York strip combo hamburger meat, seasoned with salt and pepper.

8 oz. chuck, cut into cubes
8 oz. New York strip, cut into cubes
1/4 cup feta cheese
4 Tbs white-wine vinegar
3/4 tsp dry mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp minced parsley
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
olive oil (and olive oil spray on pam)
1 small head radicchio
1 15-ounce can baby beets, drained
6 medium potato buns

Spray the barbeque grill lightly with olive oil. If you're using charcoal, you may want to start it up now.

Place cheese in a medium bowl and mash it with the back of a spoon until creamy. Add vinegar, dry mustard, shallot, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; whisk to combine. Continue whisking and slowly drizzle in 1 tablespoon oil until blended. Set aside.

Cut each radicchio head in half, core and quarter each half. Thread radicchio chunks and beets onto skewers. Drizzle the skewered vegetables with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil. Rub steaks with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil. Season the steaks and skewered vegetables with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Mince the beets and add olive oil.

In separate batches, pulse the chuck and the NY strip in a food processor 10 times. Combine the chuck, loin, pepper, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Form the meat into 5-ounce patties.

Toss the patties on the barbeque for about 3 minutes per side, flipping only once. Put the hamburgers on the buns, cover with a some minced beets, a leaf of radicchio and pour on the sauce.

Last edited by Willravel; 04-25-2009 at 08:05 AM..
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:44 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by genuinegirly View Post
Things to do in my lifetime:
1) design a delicious beet hamburger
2) produce a child to feed said beet hamburger
3) meet a lebanese family to introduce that child to so the child can eat something more delicious than beet hamburgers.

I like the idea of introducing the kids to the scents of foods. I'll have to try it with my sister's kids sometime.
is that an invite? so when do we come over??

mum makes one mean vine leaves dish..its just sooo dlish!

we'll make beet burgers later

edit - just noticed..your location is Arabidopsis-ville? you're almost there! must be plenty of lebanese families around!
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Old 04-25-2009, 12:36 PM   #35 (permalink)
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My nephew started to realize that he doesn't get scolded at school as much if he eats protein at the start of the day. He didn't like eggs until he learned they have protein. Now he only wants eggs for breakfast. Sometimes kids make connections we don't expect.

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Lebanese families studying plants? hmmmmm. I must be missing something. I'm really in Ohio.
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:30 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlish View Post
i had beetroot in a hamburger as a kid, and it was the last time i had it. it took away from the taste of everything else in the burger and all i could taste was beetroot...
That's it - hand in your Aussie passport. Not liking beetroot on your burgers is a crime that requires you to be banished!!

Now on topic - beetroot you cook yourself tastes heaps different to what comes out of can, which is usually far to sweet and vinegary. Buy some at the shops and roast it or (if you have a juicer, make some apple and beetroot juice - great colour and most kids will at least give it a go...
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Old 05-06-2009, 09:51 PM   #37 (permalink)
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"Junior, this is broccoli. Broccoli is a friend. Broccoli can be trusted, not like sauerkraut. Remember what we said about sauerkraut? If sauerkraut tries to talk to you, you go and tell a friend right away, like broccoli."
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:25 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spindles View Post
That's it - hand in your Aussie passport. Not liking beetroot on your burgers is a crime that requires you to be banished!!

Now on topic - beetroot you cook yourself tastes heaps different to what comes out of can, which is usually far to sweet and vinegary. Buy some at the shops and roast it or (if you have a juicer, make some apple and beetroot juice - great colour and most kids will at least give it a go...

spindles - ive been banished half way across the otehr side of the world - is that not punishment enough?

now that i think about it, i dont recall seeing fresh beetroot here at all for the last 2 years

how would you make apple and betroot juice just out of curiosity? is the beet not very hard? could you chuck it in a blender? im very beet-ignorant because ive neglected it for so many years
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:27 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlish View Post
spindles - ive been banished half way across the otehr side of the world - is that not punishment enough?

now that i think about it, i dont recall seeing fresh beetroot here at all for the last 2 years

how would you make apple and betroot juice just out of curiosity? is the beet not very hard? could you chuck it in a blender? im very beet-ignorant because ive neglected it for so many years
You aren't banished at the moment, you're only suspended

Beetroot is a root vegetable - similar texture to a potato. We have a juicer - you basically just throw what you want juiced in the top, and juice comes out the bottom. Something like this:

http://www.productreview.com.au/uplo...lus_bje500.jpg
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:16 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Add another success under the "put cheese on it" method. Got my gf to eat some lengua tacos after a thorough dolloping of sour cream and queso. If only I could get her off the fast food and to eat some vegetables once in a while. (She's 21, still stuck in the yummy phase).
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