Flavor // Eat your vegetables

A Q&A with Linden Hills author Tricia Cornell

We know we should do it, but the hard part is committing. Local writer Tricia Cornell is out with a new book packed with recipes that will inspire you to get more veggies in your diet. “Eat More Vegetables: Making the Most of Seasonal Produce” is a great resource for people looking to make the most of their CSA shares, parents working on getting their children to embrace their greens and anyone looking for fresh ways to prepare vegetables. Cornell, former editor of “Minnesota Parent” (a magazine published by the Journal’s parent company Minnesota Premier Publications), recently spoke with the SWJ about her new book and shared one of her favorite recipes. 

SWJ: What prompted you to write the book?

Like a lot of people, we had our first kid and decided we had to start acting like responsible adults. And that meant eating like responsible adults. And that meant eating our vegetables. So we signed up for a CSA with Hog’s Back Farm so the vegetables would come to us and we’d have to eat them. 

But those first couple of years were tough. I’d find myself staring into a crisper full of rotting vegetables on Wednesday nights and dreading picking up the new CSA box on Thursday.

But, nine years on, we’ve learned so much from picking up a box of vegetables every summer Thursday. It really changed the way we cook. I’m not saying we never find an errant beet lurking in the back of the crisper, but it happens a lot less often. 

This book is really the story of how a CSA changed the way our family eats. 

Why do you think it’s so hard 

for people to get more veggies in their diet?

Frankly, veggies do take a little bit of work. If you’re making pasta or rice, all you do is boil water. But vegetables need to be washed or peeled or chopped. That can be a hurdle for some people. They also don’t activate those instant pleasure centers in the brain like carbohydrates do. 

So eating more vegetables means building some new habits in the kitchen and it means appreciating different kinds of flavors. But it doesn’t have to be all asceticism and self-flagellation! Lots of vegetables taste good deep-fried. Like cauliflower. This definitely isn’t a health food cookbook!

What tips do you have for people considering buying a share?

First, be honest with yourself: A CSA share might not fit your lifestyle if you travel a lot during the summer, if you eat out a lot, or if you really like to shop at the farmers market. That’s OK!

If you decide you do want to try a share, look for half-share options to start. Then look for a convenient pick-up spot, an experienced farmer and a good variety of crops.

Any favorite recipes in the book you’d like to highlight?

My kids love all kinds of pesto, so there are several pesto recipes. My daughter loves the veggie fritters and my son devours the pan-fried green beans. Of course, we all love the chocolate beet cake.

Any advice for parents trying 

to get their kids to eat 

more veggies? 

Your kids aren’t going to eat vegetables if you don’t! Most important is to put them on the table, and to eat them yourself. Don’t work too hard catering to individual tastes, but do keep in mind that most kids like really simple flavors and simple preparations.

People tend to eat their veggies later in the day. Any tips for getting more veggies in your breakfast routine?

I love veggies for breakfast! Most days I have last night’s leftover vegetables in an omelet, as a matter of fact. On weekends, we might make a vegetable hash or pancakes with carrot or pumpkin. Roasted vegetables make an excellent filling for crepes. 

Finally, what do you hope people get out of this recipe book? 

I hope people find some joy in vegetables, whether they get them through a CSA, at a farmers market or any old grocery store. I truly don’t want to make anyone feel guiltier than they probably already do about what they put in their bodies. Enough guilt, let’s just eat good food — including tasty veggies.