Picky Eaters at the Holiday Table?

So, Santa’s already arrived, the stockings long plundered and all bets are off for getting the sugarplums to eat well at the Christmas dinner table? Meanwhile, you’re already feeling a bit like the Grinch just trying to get one holiday meal cooked, much less a special meal for the picky crew.

It’s time for some holiday magic. Or, at least an easy few recipes that both the adults and kids alike will enjoy. This elf is not above using the holidays to get kids to eat red and green vegetables, either.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a peaceful holiday meal!

Red, Gold, and Orange Salad
This recipe pairs a kid-favorite of in-season, sweet winter citrus and cheese with vegetables for a colorful, tasty introduction to beets. If your kids have already rejected red beets, switch it up to golden beets for a milder flavor. The red and gold colors with green herb accents in this dish make it a stunning and festive seasonal salad the adults will love too.

2 large red beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large golden beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 small fresh fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and cut into eighths

2 shallots, quartered

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can mandarin orange sections, drained (or 4 clementines, peeled and sectioned)

1{1/2} cups coarsely crumbled feta cheese

{1/4} cup chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place the beets, fennel, and shallots in the prepared dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and toss to coat. Roast until tender, about 1{1/2} hours. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Toss the roasted vegetables with the orange sections. Sprinkle the feta over the mixture, and garnish with mint, if desired.

Serves 4 to 6
Recipes courtesy of
The Cleaner Plate Club, Storey Publishing

Carrot-Orange Soufflé
We all wish for peace on earth this season, but this dish may at least bring some peace at the holiday table by eliminating the battle for bites of vegetable. The sweet, light almost mousse-like vegetable dish is an easy one for kids to like and an elegant classic side for the bigger kids-at-heart.

2{1/2} pounds carrots, about 12 medium, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

{2/3} cup sugar

{1/4} cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt

3 eggs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon baking powder

{1/2} teaspoon salt

{1/4} teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg

{1/2} teaspoon vanilla extract

{1/2} teaspoon orange extract

1. Steam the carrots until very soft, about 30 minutes. You can do this in an electric steamer. Alternatively, fill a large pot with a couple inches of water, set a steaming basket in it, and bring to a boil. Set the carrots in the basket, cover, and let steam. Let cool completely.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Place the carrots in a food processor or blender, and pulse until puréed. Add the other ingredients separately in order, from the sugar through the extracts, pulsing as you go. Run the food processor until all the ingredients are well mixed.

4. Spray a soufflé dish with cooking spray. Pour in the soufflé batter. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the sides are puffed up and just golden on the edges and the center is set.

Serves 8 to 10.
Recipes courtesy of
The Cleaner Plate Club, Storey Publishing

Ham, Tomato and Broccoli Mac and Cheese
If you are tasked with extra picky eaters joining the holiday table this year, try this trick: Use the holiday colors to sell a bit of vegetable in a kid-favorite like Mac and Cheese. You may even call it Santa’s Mac and Cheese if that will help!

1 medium head broccoli, florets only (save the stems to use in broccoli soup or for crunch in salads)

1 cup roasted tomatoes, recipe below

1 {1/2} tablespoons butter

3 scallions, sliced, whites and 1 inch of the greens parts

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup low-fat milk

{1/2} cup vegetable broth

1 {1/2} cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

{1/2} pound small pasta

1 pound of ham, diced small (in {1/4}-inch cubes)

{1/2} cup panko bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs)

1. Steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes, until crisp and bright green, but no longer raw. You can do this in an electric steamer. Alternatively, fill a large pot with a couple inches of water, set a steaming basket in it, and bring to a boil. Set the broccoli in the basket, cover, and let steam. Let cool. Chop fine.

2. Make the cheese sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions and sauté for a couple minutes. Add the flour and whisk. Cook this roux for a bit, until it smells nutty and is golden. Add the milk and the broth and heat for about 5 minutes, whisking as you add. Add the cheese and nutmeg and continue whisking until the cheese melts and the sauce is thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the ham is going in and it is salty.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

5. Toss the pasta, sauce, chopped broccoli and ham in a large bowl. Layer {1/2} of this mixture in a 2-quart casserole dish (oven safe). Spread the roasted tomatoes for a middle layer of “filling” and top with the rest of the pasta mixture. Melt the remaining {1/2} tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in the microwave, about 20 seconds, and toss with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Serves 8.
Recipes courtesy of
The Cleaner Plate Club, Storey Publishing

Roasted Tomatoes
The recipe makes three cups so you can use the remaining portion for an easy, quick (red and white) bruschetta appetizer with goat cheese for the big people! Which is a nice bonus when you can make two dishes at once on a busy holiday!

1{1/2} pounds cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups), halved

{1/4} cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1{1/4} teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram, or 1 {1/2} teaspoons dried

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Toss the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, and marjoram in a large bowl. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Roast until the tomatoes are blistered, about 35 minutes. Top with the chopped basil.

Makes about 3 cups.

Recipes courtesy of The Cleaner Plate Club, Storey Publishing

This entry was posted in By Beth, Cleaner Plate Book Club, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

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