I recently made it out to Midtown Crossing. This was actually the first chance I had to see it since it’s completion, and I was quite impressed with the family-friendly atmosphere, the Jazz on the Green’s outdoor festivities, the whole layout, the convenient free parking, and the wide array of stores and restaurants.
As a LiveWell Nebraska blogger, I also enjoyed the opportunity to spend time at the Omaha World Herald’s booth and meet those of you who chose to stop by and say hello. As is often the case, I was asked what I thought the secret was to getting people – parents and children alike – to change their ways and live healthier, safer lives. While this is clearly a subject I spend a lot of time thinking about, I don’t presume to have the one right answer. In fact, I don’t believe that there is one, single cure-all answer to the question of how to get people to change their behaviors. But for the sake of today’s blog, I’m going to go with kohlrabi.
That’s right, kohlrabi (pronounced “cole – rah – bee”)
For those of you who have never heard of kohlrabi, much less know what it means or how to pronounce it, you have to admit that the word itself has a way of catching your attention. Try teaching your preschooler the word, or better yet – reading aloud the ever-popular Eating the Alphabet book – and you’re sure to find that children are easily intrigued with an impressively wide range of fruits and vegetables.
Okay, so reading about (and hopefully popularizing) kohlrabi, along with other fruits and vegetables, is a big step in the right direction towards better health. But better yet is when you’re able to translate linguistic & literary intrigue into dietary practice.
This noble goal brings me back to the subject of kohlrabi. Prior to three years ago, I knew nothing about it beyond the fact that it had helped round out the “K” page of Lois Ehlert’s bestselling book. Until my 8-year-old son and I came across kohlrabi at the Village Pointe farmer’s market, it had never occurred to me to actually buy or try kohlrabi (or jicama or boysenberries, for that matter).
Before deciding to buy one, we first had to ask what one was supposed to do with a kohlrabi. Not unlike an artichoke, kohlrabi can admittedly be somewhat intimidating if one doesn’t know what to do with it. Fortunately, all it takes is simply cutting off the outer “rind” and cutting up the white, crunchy interior.
Billed by wikipedia as “a low, stout cultivar of the cabbage that will grow almost anywhere,” the taste and texture are said to be “similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter.” My kids and I think it’s better described as more like the cross between a radish and a cucumber – with the crunch of a radish, but a more mild taste. Cut it up like a carrot stick and it can be dipped in ranch dressing or hummus. Dice it up and you can sprinkle it on a salad. Google it and you’ll find that you can also season, sauté, bake, or puree it.
So back to my initial conclusion that part of the answer to getting people to live healthier lives involves kohlrabi. No, your family’s discovery of the existence of kohlrabi won’t rival Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin. But I am convinced that if we all committed to applying some basic “kohlrabi principles” like those I’ve listed below to how we feed our children (and ourselves), we might all be a bit healthier for it.
- Read all about it. It’s no secret that I’m an outspoken advocate for early literacy and reading books to kids (and babies). And there’s certainly no shortage of books with positive, healthy messages. Eating the Alphabet will get you off to a good start, but there are many, many more that stand to get your children interested in a much broader range of fruits and vegetables. Check out How Are You Peeling?, for example, and you’ll see what I mean.
- Paint a positive picture. Books can paint a positive picture, but so can you. Rather than taking a “you have to eat your vegetables” approach, remember to put a more positive spin on it. You’ve got plenty of shapes, sizes and colors to choose from and work with as you expand your family’s palette.
- Reach for the unknown. Given that people don’t tend to buy what they don’t know, I like to think of this as taking the kohlrabi challenge. Whether you go to a local farmer’s market or take a closer look at what the produce department in your grocery store has to offer, challenge yourself and your children to find a fruit or vegetable you’ve never had or heard of before… and then buy it.
- Challenge yourself in the kitchen. Like I said before, I am not a kohlrabi expert. I simply asked a few questions of a friendly kohlrabi farmer and made good use of Google. Fast forward three years and our refrigerator is frequently stocked with cut-up kohlrabi, which now plays a role in helping my family meet the latest MyPlate recommendations (which include the challenge of consistently filling half the plate with fruits and vegetables).
Originally posted on Omaha World Herald’s Live Well Nebraska