Friday, September 03, 2010

Zucchini hummus, part 2

Wednesday as I cut fresh broccoli and cauliflower into florets for the vegetable tray, one young resident approached me in the kitchen. "Mr. Steve, why do you hate us so?" said the resident as I arranged broccoli and cauliflower on the platter.

She was joking, of course. I've learned that you have to take resident pronouncements with a grain of salt. This resident was really saying, "If you really like us, you’d serve sweets for snack!"

At any point, about half the residents express a dislike for anything vegetable. Press individual residents and you'll learn that one likes broccoli, but eschews spinach in any form. Another will turn her at the sight of anything green, but will eat potatoes in any form -- fried, mashed, scalloped -- it doesn't matter. ("Get real, Mr. Steve. Potatoes aren't vegetables!")

I can only count Wednesday's vegetable tray with zucchini hummus as a partial success. While many clients loved the hummus, most devoured the dip with the accompanying tortilla chips. About half of the broccoli and cauliflower florets and the carrot sticks came back into the kitchen.

It seems that success came at a cost. They loved the healthy hummus with its bright, garlicky flavor and full-bodied goodness. Even though many ignored the fresh vegetables, they did eat a few tablespoons of pureed garbanzo beans and fresh zucchini.

According to the article in Relish that accompanied the recipe for zucchini hummus, I succeeded. "Raising an Adventurous Eater" (page 16, September 2010 issue) cites The Gastrokid Cookbook by authors Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans.

Rule no. 6 for "Reclaiming the Family Dinner Table" is best applied here:
When in doubt, add salt, fat and acid. A tiny pinch of salt turns on the flavors of food. A tiny bit of butter adds sweetness and richness. The slightest spritz of lemon juice balances food and gives it another bit of contrast.
Garvey and Yeomans describe a practice that I follow each day at work. Make the food taste good, especially vegetables that are so often ignored by the residents, and they'll eat it. The addition of judicious amounts of salt, fat and acid adds life to foods that are otherwise bland.

As I posted the other day, the residents polished off the zucchini dip in about 20 minutes. Two full bowls of the dip satisfied their mid-afternoon hunger pains without loading them up on excess fat and sugar. A quick nutritional analysis in MasterCook shows the zucchini hummus is balanced nutritionally, with approximately 35 percent of its calories from fat.

Since I'm always looking for idea in my quest to instill an appreciation for vegetables (and other foods), I purchased the book yesterday. What works for children should translate into a drug and alcohol treatment facility. I'll report back when I receive my copy of the book. I'm sure that I'll have more to say about the issue as we move along.

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