Blanching Vegetables

Steamed vegetables are a nutritious and great choice for snacks. The best way to cook vegetables is a method called blanching. This simple technique maintains a vegetable’s nutrients and flavor while keeping its crunchiness. Blanching is especially good for green vegetables.

Steamed Florida Vegetables

Ingredients

  • Assorted Florida vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini and squash.

Preparation

  • Fill a saucepan halfway with water and place on medium-high heat. Cover with a lid and bring water to a rapid boil.
  • Add cut vegetables to boiling water. Vegetables will cook quickly so check them every other minute to see if they are cooked. Vegetables should be slightly crisp but tender at the same time. See below for suggested cooking times.
  • When the vegetables are cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer them from the pan to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let the vegetables cool completely.
  • Remove vegetables from the bowl and dry with a paper towel.
  • Repeat the process for each type of vegetable. You can use the same boiling water and ice bath.

Tips: Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces or sticks for easy toddler handling.
Store in an airtight plastic container or bag for later use. The blanched vegetables should last at least 3 days in the refrigerator.

Estimated Cooking Times for Selected Vegetables

Note: Cooking times vary based on which vegetables are used and how large they are cut; therefore, cook one vegetable type at a time.

  • Broccoli, chopped or stalks – 3 minutes
  • Carrots – diced/strips – 2 minutes; whole baby carrots – 5 minutes
  • Cauliflower – 3 minutes
  • Eggplant – 4 minutes
  • Greens (spinach, collards) – 2 to 3 minutes
  • Okra – 3 minutes
  • Bell pepper, strips – 2 minutes
  • Snap Beans – 3 minutes
  • Zucchini, slices or chunks – 3 minutes
  • Squash, slices or chunks  – 3 minutes

Creating Healthy Habits

Lifelong taste preferences and eating habits are established in the first several years of life. One of the first ways babies learn is through food. Babies are born with a strong preference for sweetness and a dislike for sour and bitter tastes. As they get older, these preferences change and children learn to like and dislike certain foods. You can teach your child healthy habits by feeding and offering a variety of nutritious foods, eating well yourself, and maintaining a healthy environment.

Here are some simple tips to create healthy habits:

  • Developing good habits takes time. It requires patience and effort to establish a daily routine and commitment.
  • Studies show that the earlier children are introduced to fruit and vegetables, the more likely they are to eat them later.
  • Be conscious of serving sizes and do not serve too much. A good rule of thumb for portion size is one tablespoon for every year of age.
  • Offer and eat a variety of nutritious foods. Stock the house and pantry with low calorie, nutritious foods. Save treats for something special, don’t keep them in plain sight or don’t buy them at all.
  • Limit snacks. Eating sporadically can eliminate the ability to sense hunger and lead to over eating. Teach yourself and your children to eat when hungry not out of boredom or emotional reasons.
  • Do not use food as a reward or to promote good behavior.
  • Do not encourage eating during other activities such as watching television or riding in the car which can lead to overeating.
  • Eat at regular mealtimes with three meals and two snacks daily.
  • Eat as a family and make mealtime enjoyable. Family meals not only encourage better diets they also reinforces family relationships.