May 31, 2015

A Quick Guide to Minute-Veggies

Let's do something a little different this week. I'm going to let you in on one of our family's house rules. Are you ready? Here it is:

Serve at least one vegetable and/or fruit with every meal and every snack.

Here's why we do it:

  • It adds fiber and vitamins.
  • It normalizes the appearance of produce on kids' plates.
  • It gives kids many opportunities to eat produce throughout the day
  • It makes plates colorful and fun.

Vegetables can take time. They're worth the time. But sometimes, I get it, you're dashing out the door, or tossing your kid a snack so you can answer the phone, or cleaning up spilled bubble stuff, or dashing in the door with your arms full of groceries and babies, and food has to happen NOW or else someone, maybe you, is going to cry. In these instances, fresh food is still doable, and can even be as quick as gnashing open a granola bar with your frustrated teeth.

To prove it, I've compiled a list of veggies and fruits to serve if you have just one, five, or ten minutes to spare. The list assumes you are starting from scratch, having done no preparation whatsoever, because those are the times when veggies are most likely to fall by the wayside.

I made a true effort to accurately gauge these prep/cook-times. When in doubt, I timed myself, which led to the--heartbreaking!--elimination of steamed sweet potato and steamed carrots from the list. Next time you're feeling all slow foodsy, invest the fourteen minutes it takes to get those yummy orange veggies on the table.

On the upside, I got a bunch of kale from the fridge to our plates in eight minutes. You can do this! Here you go.

If you have only ONE MINUTE, you can still serve:
  • frozen peas or sweet corn (still frozen!)
  • baby carrots or a whole peeled carrot
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cucumber slices
  • raw sugar snap peas
  • half an avocado
  • red bell pepper slices
  • frozen edamame pods (packed to-go; they'll defrost)
  • any fresh fruit (berries, apples, pears, bananas, clementines, grapes, etc.)
  • raisins or other no-sugar-added dried fruit

If you have only FIVE MINUTES, you also have time to serve:
  • smoothies made from frozen fruit and leafy greens
  • salad greens or slaw mix with vinaigrette
  • celery and nut butter or cream cheese
  • steamed green beans
  • steamed snow peas
  • steamed zucchini and/or yellow squash
  • sauteed fresh or frozen spinach
  • steamed or sauteed asparagus spears
  • steamed (frozen, pre-cooked) edamame pods

If you have only TEN MINUTES, you can serve all of the above, plus:
  • whole microwaved sweet potato
  • sauteed kale, collards, chard, or other hardy greens
  • steamed broccoli or cauliflower
  • stir-fried bell peppers

That's our list! Happy minute-munching, friends. And tell me: what did I miss?


  1. I love this! Do you ever use frozen veggies? If so, what are your favorites and favorite ways to prepare them?

    1. Thanks Jessica! Yes, we use frozen veggies, but I'm a little particular about them. I like the starchier veggies like frozen peas and corn and edamame and sometimes green beans... many others I find frustratingly watery and bland. I mostly steam briefly or use them in soups.

  2. I've just found your site and it's really what I needed right now! I have a very picky two year old who does not enjoy eating. Thanks so much for the inspiration. By the way, what brand are the metal tray/plates you use. Thanks again Bex

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bex! I have many different kinds of stainless steel dishware for kids. The ones pictured in this post are made by LunchBots (the bento-style container) and EcoLunchbox (the section tray)