Are Southern moms ruining their veggies’ nutrition?

One of my mom friends posted her menu from the other night and while it sounded utterly fantastic, she had fried or battered every vegetable on the plate.

She made sweet potato biscuits, zucchini crisps and fried green tomatoes.

I’m impressed with three vegetables in one meal, but are Southern moms negating the nutritional value of their veggies with these traditional preparations?

(Michael is throwing in his two cents that anything made from sweet potatoes is still giving you nutritional value.)

Loads of friends are posting photos of all their gardening achievement, but I am wondering how they are serving them?

Sort of related, I took the two oldest kids in for their well visit on Monday. It was interesting that the doctor could tell from their pee we had reduced carbs this summer. I have been grilling lean meats out a lot and then serving grilled corn on the cob, green salad, tomato salads or fruit salads all summer. They could tell from a chemical in their urine that I hadn’t been serving very many carbs. (They said that was OK, they just wanted to make sure there was a reason.)

What are your favorite ways to cook veggies for your kids? Do you treat your garden veggies differently than the ones you buy at the store? Tell us your favorite traditional Southern recipes and if you have any secrets to make them healthier?

Do you think Southern moms ruin the nutrition of their veggies with their traditional preparations?

83 comments Add your comment

DB

August 4th, 2010
1:25 am

Oh, lordy — I grew up with Southern grandmothers who never served a vegetable until it had been cooked until dead — and then another two hours, just to make sure! Green beans with fatback, creamed corn, green bean casseroles, candied carrots . . . you name it, they creamed it or sugared it! I tend to steam most veggies — my dad hates my green beans, because they aren’t “cooked” — i.e., they are steamed until they are cooked, but they are not wilted, dark green and limp, loaded with salt. :-)

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motherjanegoose

August 4th, 2010
5:37 am

Love fresh veggies and fruit. No batter dipped in my kitchen. We are eating our cherry tomatoes
( from our backyard) like candy. I do love fried okra and will order it out. I am guilty of brown sugar on carrots sometimes though. I do not like creamed corn.

I grew up near Chicago and we obviously did not eat southern style anything. We did not eat a variety of veggies either: usually corn, green beans, carrots or peas. We rarely ate a fresh salad. When I moved south, I learned to eat so many new things. We even ate fresh rhubarb and gooseberry pie. We never ate any squash growing up ( in the north) or okra or collard greens. I remember the first time I ever ate a Kiwi ( when we lived in Texas).

We are really lucky in metro Atlanta, as we have access to locally grown produce for quite a long season and it is not too expensive to have it shipped in from say Florida or even Texas, when it is not something we grow volumes of here. I always admire the produce in our local grocery stores. I have stopped in stores, in other parts of the country and their selection is often paltry. I suppose it has to do with what people are used to eating and if it does not sell, they have to throw it out…wasteful.

My favorite summer fruits are any berries and fresh peaches…yum! I could eat a leaf salad every day and try to serve one as often as I can.

I did grow up eating canned beets. I never serve then here. My daughter just recently has decided she likes them, as she took some from a salad bar. I love it when my kids try new things, without my coaxing. Several schools are now introducing new fruits and veggies as a choice item ( that does not count towards your numbered items). What a great way for kids to learn about new things.

One funny thing, to me, my husband will not eat watermelon,,,,he simply does not like it. I do not get it!

motherjanegoose

August 4th, 2010
5:52 am

@ T…good job in serving your kids healthy choices. My son was not much of a veggie eater when he was younger. I served it but never forced them. He was a meat and potatoes kid. I did ask them to try everything. Now, he almost always has fresh spinach in his fridge and makes himself an omelet with veggies for breakfast several times a week. He usually does not eat much lunch, as there is not time My daughter loves all veggies and it great about pitching in to fix them around here!

Greg Williams

August 4th, 2010
6:34 am

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ is a good blog about eating “real food”. Most of the food is locally grown or raised, except for seafood. The mom writing it has had to come up with many ways to cook veggies. Check it out for ideas.

Jeff

August 4th, 2010
6:46 am

There’s a certain segment of the population that fries most everything, but they most likely will no matter how much “information” you give them. I’m with MJG on the veggie thing. Just wish they could change the texture of colliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. I also just realized I may have spelled every one of them wrong.

lakerat

August 4th, 2010
6:46 am

I am southern (Atlanta born) through and through, and I cannot stand watermelon, canteloupe, honey dew melons, or cucumbers – just not my style of “good eats”.

jan

August 4th, 2010
7:04 am

Healthy cooking was definately not passed from Southern generation to Southern generation. However, I do believe that we have learned and eating more fresh veggie’s and salads. I know we are at my house anyway. Grilling almost every night in the summer with grilled veggies. Love summer cooking and foods. WTG on the kids eating this summer – great job

AtlGirl

August 4th, 2010
7:17 am

My son and I battle daily over veggies. He will eat corn on the cob, but that’s about it. I grew up in Atlanta but my mother wasn’t raised in the south. My dad had to teach her about fatback. Ew! I never liked that stuff, but I have many memories of having fried everything at Grandma’s.

Last week my teenager spent a couple of days at her friends house. She told me that her mother fried everything! That’s why she was begging to come home, said she couldn’t eat it anymore because it was making her feel sick. This explains why the mom is obese and the daughter is already a size 12.

Andrea

August 4th, 2010
7:32 am

@DB: That really took me back. I used to comment that my grandmother literally cooked the life out of her veggies. Growing up in rural GA, a lot of our veggies were home grown. I love greens, but my grandmother would cook those things into oblivion! I get the same comments from my mom that another poster commented: My food isn’t cooked enough. I did switch to smoked turkey for seasoning greens. It works fine for me. I have even skipped the meat all together by using a spice blend (garlic, onion, dash pepper, etc.). I can’t even tell you the last time I fried a chicken, which is an absolute staple in southern cuisine.

Many will argue that our grandparents lived much longer than many of our peers, and that is true in some cases. But we all can remember someone in our neighborhood that made the best cakes, the best creamed corn, the best fried corn, etc. and she was a big as a house. My kids have to eat vegetables.

Yes, I do agree that the preparation is killing the nutritional value of the fresh fruits and veggies. There are enough cook books, cooking shows, and people in general that you can still have good southern cuisine without all the salt pork, fatback, hamhocks, fried snickers, etc. Patti LaBelle’s cookbook (while aimed at diabetics) is absolutely wonderful. Chef G. Garvin is another one that put healthy back in southern soul food.

Photius

August 4th, 2010
7:58 am

Sweet potato biscuits, zucchini crisps and fried green tomatoes – oh I wish this lady was my nieghbor! What a delightful treat every now and then – YUM!

motherjanegoose

August 4th, 2010
8:23 am

@ lakerat…LOL…my husband mostly grew up in Kansas. He also mostly ate fruit cocktail, in the industrial sized can…as far as fruit went. He does not like any of those other things you mentioned either! He did not eat much fresh, as far as fruit and veggies, go growing up and has learned to like just a few things in our house. He is a “eat corn every day” type of person. He does not like berries or even peaches but he will eat bananas. Most anything yellow or beige, he will eat. I try to tell him that the more intense the color, the more nutrients. But he is an adult and he can make his own choices.

@ jeff…lol about the spelling…I spelled a word for teachers the other day, as I could tell that some did not know how to spell it and were perhaps embarrassed to ask. It reminded me of a professor, who once mentioned that most folks do not know how to spell cauliflower, as it is not a word we write nor spell often…those we use, we typically know how to spell. I omitted the “s” on brussels sprouts on this blog once and was quickly corrected. I have learned that they protect against colon cancer.

I have been lucky, in my travels, to learn to eat lots of new things…even fried pickles…not my favorite but they were a new adventure for me!

We grill most of our meats and my own mother did not even know how to work the grill. She was a great cook but everything went into the over. She never fried chicken, did not know how.

motherjanegoose

August 4th, 2010
8:24 am

comment gone…T, this is getting old

Left wing management

August 4th, 2010
8:41 am

“my dad hates my green beans, because they aren’t “cooked”"

As far as I know, that phrase “al dente” is unknown here in traditional Southern cooking — too Italian

Hey, left wing...

August 4th, 2010
8:46 am

…who eats green beans uncooked (or even unheated,, except my dog) even if they are “al dente”?

Left wing management

August 4th, 2010
8:52 am

” Who eats green beans uncooked? ”

Ah, but al dente isn’t uncooked. Just slightly resistant to the bite. :)

Becky

August 4th, 2010
8:56 am

I’m with Photius on this..YUM-every once in a while..I’m a born and raised GA. girl and my Mom fried some stuff..We grew up eating all kinds of veggies, just as my two do now..Like MJG, they have to try things once..In fact, the boy ate sardines (yuk) over the weekend just because he wanted to try them..They both love baby cabbages and will eat them with every meal if I would let them..

I cook veggies pretty much like my Mom did, I have just cut out frying everything..I love fried pork chops, but haven’t had them in years..Now I just eat mostly grilled..

@Jeff..The only way that I can eat cauliflower is fried..Not to healthy that way huh? And don’t ever let anyone talk you into trying it mashed..There isn’t enough salt and butter in GA. (imo) to make it taste good..

Andrea

August 4th, 2010
8:59 am

@MJG: My comment never showed up either……….

Re: Cauliflower...

August 4th, 2010
9:00 am

…try it with tons of cheese sauce – makes it quite tolerable…

Lori

August 4th, 2010
9:09 am

OMG, you mean there are kids out there who eat vegetables! My son won’t eat anything except corn and potatoes. I can force green beans down his throat but not without a lot of whining. Does anyone have any good ideas about how to get kids (and husbands) for that matter to eat veggies in a healthy way?

JJ

August 4th, 2010
9:12 am

I don’t fry ANYTHING, except maybe chicken, but I can’t do that very well. It’s just one thing I never really learned to do. My mom NEVER fried chicken. However, me and my neighbor made some Fried Green tomatoes (from her mother’s garden) about two months ago and they were delicious. I’ve never had one before. We did our “test kitchen” and experimented with different batters. We wrote it all down. We do that a lot, our “test kitchen” and now we are doing “test grill”. We grill out with the neighbors every weekend, and normally cook enough for leftovers for two nights during the week. Everyone pitches in, and everyone takes plates of food home. Every monday, all the neighbors come over and collect their dishes. LOL

I love, love, love veggies. Roasted asparagus with olive oil, sea salt & lime. Roast at 350 for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.

Roasted new potatos. Same method, but longer in the oven.

Salads are big in my home too. I’m a salad junkie from WAY back. My daughter loves salads. I buy most of my veggies from the local farmer’s markets, and just a few at the grocery store. I experimented with planting tomatos, jalepeno peppers, and basil. I snip the basil daily and put it in the salads, or on the main course. I’ve only gotten one tomato so far, but there are still 4 on the vine. I only did one plant to see what would happen. However, I have about 30 jalepeno peppers on the plants right now. I bought them at the Farmer’s market for $1.

We also do a LOT of grilling. We are starting to grill veggies. I got a fancy grill basket for my birthday, and we are experimenting with all kinds of stuff. I’m dying to try stone-fruit on the grill.

A typical dinner in my house, consists of a salad, a meat, and two veggies. Canned veggies are not allowed in my home, fresh or frozen, mostly fresh. I have a fruit bowl constantly filled with bananas, grapes and peaches on the dining room table. The peaches at Kroger right now are AWESOME!!!! My roommate bought 10 for $10 the other day, and we have eaten every single one. I slice two up as an “appetizer” while I’m making the salad.

My daughter and her friends are constantly in and out of my home. They love coming over and eating healthy! Just last night I re-heated a couple of burgers and a pork chop from grilling Sunday for them. My kitchen is always open!!!! I just LOVE to cook!!!!

JJ

August 4th, 2010
9:16 am

Take a box of frozen brussel sprouts with butter. Fry up a couple of pieces of bacon in a skillet. DO NOT DRAIN ALL THE GREASE, leave a little to cover the bottom of the skillet. Add the brussel sprouts, and sautee until the butter starts to bubble. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer (as low as possible) for about 20 minutes. Best damn brussel sprouts you will ever have. My roommate hates brussel sprouts, but will eat these. So will my daughter. She actually asked for them the other night.

I have more veggie recipes and will post more later….My neighbor and I want to make a cookbook.

abc

August 4th, 2010
9:24 am

My 7 year old son won’t eat any meat. He loves almost every vegetable, but refuses to eat meat. When he was 3 and learning about dinosaurs, he decided the “meat eaters” were the bad guys and so he is basically a vegetarian, although he doesn’t know that word. We steam most vegetables. I like many raw as does he. We give him lots of peanut butter and beans to make sure he gets protein. He also eats eggs.

Anyway, I grew up eating fried everything, but over the years I lost my taste for that stuff and now prefer raw or lightly steamed veggies.

Peachy

August 4th, 2010
9:35 am

That dinner sounds delicious for like a once a month treat. I love to make squash fritters every now and then too! But for the most part I try to stick with grilled or steamed. I do think eating fried veggie is still better than processed food, at least there is some nutritional goodness there instead of a bunch of stuff I can’t pronounce!

Dad of Two

August 4th, 2010
9:37 am

We grill most of our veggies. Just add a little olive oil and sea salt and most things like zuchini, asparagus, or etc are great on the grill and much healthier than frying.

Get It Right

August 4th, 2010
10:10 am

Southern Moms are the best cooks in the world. Roasted, grilled, fried, braised, baked, steamed, boiled, etc. Nothing is better thatn a good Southern Mom in the kitchen. If they made it, it’s good!

Leigh

August 4th, 2010
10:18 am

I grew up in Atlanta and now live in New Orleans. My mom always encouraged my brother and I to eat our vegetables. Growing up, we ate lots of grilled and steamed veggies, salads, and every now and then fried green tomatoes, squash casserole, fried zucchini and cauliflower, and best of all…fried pickle chips. There is nothing wrong with splurging once in awhile. My brother and I are both in our 20s now and we both buy locally and organic if possible. We remain huge healthfully prepared and southern veggie fans! I cherish my southern food memories :)

Ted Striker

August 4th, 2010
10:18 am

I loved fried foods, however it’s in my best interested to have things steamed, grilled, or even raw. I still enjoy them that way and I feel better the next day. Not to say I’ll never have something fried, it’s just no longer my first choice.

Warrior Woman

August 4th, 2010
10:21 am

@TWG – your focus on “southern moms” with this blurb is insulting on multiple levels. It assumes that dads don’t cook and that the South is the only area that has unhealthy eating habits.

@JJ, for a variation on your brussell sprouts recipe, use pepperoni instead of bacon. My kids love it when I fry a few slices of pepperoni (especially the mini ones), drain nearly all of the grease, and then throw the brussels sprouts in and quickly saute until lightly wilted. I usually “peel” the sprouts to separate them into individual leaves for this recipe. They also like wilted lettuce and wilted spinach cooked with bacon.

Of course, none of these recipes are for every day. We usually eat our veggies grilled or raw in the summer and steamed in the winter. There is room in a healthy diet for the occasional fried green tomato,wilted brussel sprout, or squash casserole.

JATL

August 4th, 2010
10:23 am

As in all things in life -it’s about balance. We’ll be eating lean pork loin cooked in the crock pot with crowder peas (cooked in chicken stock -not fat back), fresh sliced home-grown tomatoes and FRIED okra. I actually don’t bread mine to death; I toss it in cornmeal and a tiny bit of flour and pepper. It has a loose coating on it. Yes, it’s still fried, but it’s not the end of the world and the rest of the meal is healthy. One thing people forget -our grandparents and some of our parents ate biscuit-filled, fried and cooked in lard meals with no problems for years because they worked hard physically on farms all day or in manufacturing. If you’re riding a desk like I do, you need to seriously watch the fried intake! Balance it out and you’ll still get great nutritional value. We love almost everything grilled -and that’s wonderful for you! Sautee the fresh squash and tomotoes in olive oil. And every once in awhile -FRY the green ones!

JJ

August 4th, 2010
10:39 am

My neighbor takes a head of cabbage, quarters it, puts it in foil, added butter, bacon, salt & pepper. He wraps it up in the foil, and puts it on the grill. DELICIOUS!!!!

boy it didn't take long......

August 4th, 2010
10:42 am

for the bashing of Theresa did it? Could Theresa have posted it this way because we are in the SOUTH? And because HER blog is called Momania? Have a nice freaking day..

JJ

August 4th, 2010
10:52 am

Lori – have him cook with you in the kitchen. Have him watch you, or have him do it himself. Once my daughter started helping me, she was receptive to a lot more different foods. IF they see what goes into it, they might actually try it.

Funny story. I made turkey and artichoke fettucini not too long ago. My daughter stood there and watched me cut up the artichokes, and said, “Don’t put any of those into mine”. I said ok. She left the kitchen, and came back when dinner was ready. She sat down and ate the fettucini. She went back for seconds, and after finishing that bowl, she found an artichoke. She looked at me and said “What is this?” I told her, and she said I told you not to put any in mine. I said “You just ate two bowls full and it all had artichokes in it.” She was amazed. Now she loves artichokes.

JOD

August 4th, 2010
10:54 am

Nicely said, JATL! I grew up in metro Atlanta, and my mom served at least one veggie at every meal. Very rarely was anything fried. Like others, I confess that I’m not even good at pan-frying, so I don’t do it much. My DD loves veggies and fruits, so I encourage that and try to ignore that she has my sweet tooth. I have a casserole weakness (much more so than fried food), which can be made healthy, but aren’t really every day cooking! Give me squash casserole any time!

Becky

August 4th, 2010
10:55 am

@JJ..I do that with onions on the grill..My two little ones love steamed cabbage, so we have it 2-3 times pers month..

Most of the time (IMO) if you start them off eating veggies, they will keep eating them..Our two never ate much baby food after a certain age, we just fed them what we ate..

@JATL..The boy loves pork loin and will eat that with nothing else and be happy..I just put a couple of small holes in it, put garlic cloves in it and bake it for him..

Lori

August 4th, 2010
11:21 am

Good idea, JJ. I’ll have to try that. My son wouldn’t have been fooled by the artichokes. He isn’t that trusting. When I make dinner and leave things out of his, he still checks the food first! He’ll actually open up a burrito to make sure I didn’t put any beans in his!!

Lori, you need to teach...

August 4th, 2010
11:40 am

…him the “beans, beans, good for the heart” mantra – then he will love them…

motherjanegoose

August 4th, 2010
11:51 am

Becky…not sure if this will come up but here is what I do with a pork loin:

mix up some red wine vinegar, dijon ( sp) mustard and about 1/2 c of brown sugar…to taste.
It should be about the consistency of BBQ sauce. Pour that over a pork loin, season and wrap in foil….you can grill or bake. We also did this with a salmon filet and put in orange marmalade instead of the brown sugar, then add some fresh basil…YUM!

My husband is not a veggie eater and it was/is tough when he wrinkles his nose up at most healthy things. He will eat fresh asparagus and zucchini…this is a HUGE change for someone who grew up in Kansas and ate corn all the time.

I never went with only fixing what my husband liked, as they would have tremendously limited our palates. I was the cook, so I got to choose what we ate. If he wanted to cook, he could choose too!

@ Warrior…sorry you were offended…cooking veggies here, by Dad, would be dumping a can of corn into a container and popping it in the microwave. He can also heat up some pork and beans ;0.

Midwestern Moms put veggies in a casserole with soup or cheese on them LOL. They do like corn too~

It is all good, I have eaten some interesting and yummy foods from Maine to Alaska!

Jesse's Girl

August 4th, 2010
12:27 pm

I don’t do fast food with the kiddos very often…maybe once a month or so. And even then…its CFA. We try very hard to eat as little from a box as possible. So if I can get my chirrens to eat veggies…fried or otherwise….I’m all for it. I just took them to a sushi bar for the first time a couple days ago…..told them the Cali rolls were egg rolls. They bought it and LOVED them! Then I slapped them in the face with the raw fish truth. I thought my oldest was going to spill it right there. But the other two were cool. After #1 got over the fact that she just ate fish that the Gorten’s Fisherman didn’t procure….she was willing to entertain the notion that new foods may not be all THAT bad. Its all about variety and exposing our kids to foodie adventures!

LM

August 4th, 2010
12:56 pm

As a child we did a no thank you taste for all food. My husband was the cook and he did a wonderful job preparing meals I would have never have come up with. Both of us were born in Chicago, but I don’t enjoy cooking other than breakfast foods and cakes.

My new husband is a very picky eater. Not just what he will eat but how it is garnished. By the time he has his hot dogs dresses, we are done and cleaning up. He also is not big on veggies, but my daughter and I love them. There are only a few veggies I won’t eat, but will prepare them if requested. I am tying to get my husband to have a more open mind with food. He is only happy if it is covered in red sauce and cheese. I am needing a healthier lifestyle since stress and diet has wrecked havoc on my body.

Any suggestions on how to get a 50 year old man to try new things?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 4th, 2010
1:03 pm

hey guys — coincidentally food writer John Kessler wrote about fried nibbles today — such as fried chickpeas. I actually have made these before mostly for myself — I added paprika and salt to them. I’ve done them fried and baked. I think I like them raw with a little salt better.

http://blogs.ajc.com/food-and-more/2010/08/04/trend-spotting-fried-nibbles/

JJ

August 4th, 2010
1:26 pm

LM – watch FoodNetwork together. I am a HUGE fan of Paula Dean (6:00) & Rachael Ray (6:30). Rachael uses a LOT of ingredients. Paula uses a “stick of butta” as the first ingredient of most of her recipes. Plus she is so entertaining!!!!

Maybe if hubby watches it all come together he would be more willing to try new things….Good luck to ya!!!

motherjanegoose

August 4th, 2010
1:31 pm

LM…good luck on that one! My husband consumed 5 or so Cokes each day. I reminded him of the empty calories. He really ignored me until I added the actual calories up for him. Now, he drinks diet and has lost 10 pounds in 6 weeks…no other changes I know of.

motherjanegoose

August 4th, 2010
1:33 pm

JJ..we all watch Food Network here…that has not helped much at all, for hubby trying new foods but we do love watching it! :) My daughter and I are always up for something new!

JJ

August 4th, 2010
1:52 pm

MJG – I watch from 6 – 7 every night. Sometimes I print recipes off the site. I have a three ring binder with a TON of Foodnetwork recipes. Once a week I flip it open, and wherever it lands, I do that recipe.

FCM

August 4th, 2010
2:04 pm

Like DB I grew up on GOOD (really good) southern cooking. At least the stuff my paternal grandmother made or taught my mom to make. fatback greenbeans, buttered limas, pickled cukes and onions, candied carrots etc. Broccoli was steamed the doused in hollendaise. Along with Corn Bread. Same grandmother swore you get boobs by eating fried okra, corn bread, and turnip greens (also cooked with fat). I figure that is why I never had boobs…while all those things were served often in the right season Corn Bread was the only one I liked and since I wasn’t allowed to put sweetner on it (honey) I didn’t like that much as the bacon fat and baking powder used to “cure” the pan made the bread bitter. Oh and we had grilled chicken, pork, or beef at each dinner too.

These days I steam the veggies. Except the greenbeans…those I still cook with bacon fat. There is just no other way to do those that gives you that clean the pot feeling! (I only do sweetpotato for Thanksgiving and then it is cassarole all the way with the cornflakes and brown sugar top–not a marshmellow insight!)

If your friend served that daily yeah it would be a problem. One meal, wouldn’t worry.

Shoot really bad is one of my childhood memories: ham, mac & cheese (real not craft), and limas. Hello 2 starches and a meat. Probably had bread on the side.

Life is soooo short, just enjoy if the kids are out running all day (real not Wii) then they won’t die from those veggies.

JD

August 4th, 2010
2:08 pm

I learned to cook growing up in Tn with my grandmother and all my aunts so needless to say, I can fry anything you put in front of me. Last night was fried pork chops, mashed taters, black eyed peas (cooked 4 hours), sliced maters & cornbread. That’s a typical meal for us and quite honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I cook that way, my mom cooked that way, grandma cooked that way and now my son cooks that way. My daughters love to eat all of it but I doubt either of them will ever learn to cook haha. To say the way we cook ruins our food just kinda stings “insult” to true southern cooks in my opinion.

JD

August 4th, 2010
2:13 pm

FCM – I’m with you on the grean beans, I cook mine with ham hocks for about 4-5 hours and there’s never a bean left in the pot. We just got back from a visit with family and I brought 4 jars of green beans and 2 jars of soup starter back and can’t wait to cook them. The soup starter is incredible…you just add your meat and it’s magic!!