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Eat Your Vegetables Part 3: Peanut Sauce

2014 February 20
by Rachel Turiel


Experiments #15 and #16.

What’s happening right now is Rose is wondering if, “cats have a good rememory.” Col is adding data to the scientific record. Dan is painting a lot of gorgeous watercolor landscapes, which I’ve been put on notice NOT to grandstand in front of unsuspecting guests. I am playing Free To Be You and Me for the kids, wondering why we traded the notion of living in a land where the children are free for living in a land where children are over-scheduled and over-evaluated. (Beam me back to the 70’s, Marlo.)


Col’s new home away from home, or the tree fort he built behind our house. 


Rose’s tree house, with all the necessities of living.

Also, I’m trying to populate our meals with vegetables. (I’m not the only one; Mark Bittman must be reading my blog again.) And it’s not that Col and Rose are veggie adverse; it’s just that I keep infiltrating our dinners with the same toothy chard  bursting forth in our greenhouse, which is like insisting that if you live in Vegas you must see every Bee Gees reunion show.

I’ve tried to breed gustatory preference out of the children, parading my own austere and frugal banner at the dinner table, titled: if you’re hungry enough you’ll eat it. Meanwhile, the kids have become experts at mining their plates for goodies, leaving the tailings of kale and bok choi behind. So, I’m tuning in. Rose likes veggies crisp, raw and prettily sliced. Col likes homely cooked veggies mingling in a mosh-pit of elk-based stew. This can lead to slight variations on a dinner theme (Rose has a salad with her elk burger, Col has steamed broccoli), which really, is the least of my parenting problems.


Reference materials for parents.

There is still some downright vegetable prejudice in the house, which, like any other, is born of misconception, fear, and just a bit of inexplicable crazy-making. (Like when my friend Joy reports Rose didn’t eat the lunch I sent her with because she devoured three bowls of Joy’s chard soup. “But she never wants my chard soup,” I lament like some 50’s housewife).

Some of this is simply a branding issue; I remember my friend Caraway’s 3-year old son Noah referring earnestly to the kale on his plate as “wishing leaves,” before gobbling them down. Last night I served a five layer casserole (spaghetti squash, mashed cauliflower, elk sausage, cheese, tomato sauce) while deflecting my mom’s repeated question, “What’s in this?” The kids needed to successfully ford the cauliflower river before all was revealed. They loved it. (Hint: mash steamed cauliflower with ample butter).


Don’t fear the cauliflower. When this blog goes viral I’m hiring an in-house food stylist.  

Chard will still make appearances, but I’m totally cool with artichoke leaves becoming the springboard for a dive into a butter pool; or serving frozen peas because the kids will forklift them into their mouths. I’m buying Cali-grown cucumbers and red peppers in February because Rose greets them like BFFs. I’m giving up a little of my inborn frugality, austerity and staunch locavorism, because indoctrinating the kids’ gut biomes with a diverse nation of microorganisms seems the least I can do to prepare them for adulthood.

Also, peanut sauce even makes chard taste good. It’s creamy and rich with deep flavors of cilantro, ginger and garlic.

Peanut Sauce

Makes 2 cups


diy pb

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 inches ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves

3/4 cup peanut butter (almond butter OK)

1/2 cup whole coconut milk

3 TBSP rice vinegar

1/4 cup (or more, taste for saltiness) tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos

juice of 1 lime

1 TBSP hot chile oil/powder (optional)


Blend everything in food processor or blender. You’re done! Now that was easy.

diy pb2

This peanut sauce can be used as a dip for raw or steamed veggies, a drizzle over a stir-fry, mixed into rice noodles and veggies, or as a salad dressing. Or…what else?

diy pb3

Eat Your Vegetables, Part 1 – roasting veggies

Eat Your Vegetables, Part 2 – Avocado-Mayo Dip




22 Responses leave one →
  1. February 21, 2014

    I used to get my kids to eat the veggies they labeled undesirable with a little splash of REAL Maple Syrup, silvered almonds and a tad of melted REAL butter.

  2. Mollie permalink
    February 21, 2014

    The “All the Vegetables I like” lists?

  3. February 21, 2014

    My mom used to allow each of us (7 children) to have one vegetable that we didn’t have to eat, no questions asked. When she would serve that one, we had to fill that half of our plate with whatever other vegetable was in the fridge that we’d eat (usually baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or a pile of greens). Mine was squash. Now I love squash. Go figure.

  4. February 21, 2014

    I love Col’s tree fort, it’s magnificent! I must admit I would probably carry my hairbrush in mine, like Rose ;o)

    And I wish I could have a look at Dan’s watercolours…


    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 21, 2014

      I wish I could show you…in time, perhaps.

  5. Becky permalink
    February 21, 2014

    I love the veggie list they like. And the forts are pretty awesome. That casserole looks interesting. And last but not least – I’d like to see the pictures Dan painted. I think you all have a pretty interesting life – much different than ours in North Carolina

  6. Andrea permalink
    February 21, 2014

    ah, vegetables.
    why oh why is it so hard to get enough.

    there are studies on this with children. something to do with primal protection, and a child’s built in aversion to not eat anything that might become poisonous to their bodies.

  7. Britta permalink
    February 21, 2014

    So many beautiful phrases in this post. Delicious to the mind!

  8. Crazy Tomato Lady permalink
    February 21, 2014

    Love this post! But, no tomatoes on Col’s list? (I know they are technically a fruit, but they seem like a veggie!) Are the veggies listed in order of preference? I would like to see your list! I make a peanut sauce almost exactly like this from the Moosewood Cookbook, which uses water instead of coconut milk… Plus, you heat these. I always use chunky peanut butter and chop the cilantro by hand because I like the texture. I will try it with coconut milk next time. I love it too for raw veggies, on soba noodles, or with cucumbers. If no one is watching, I will drink the leftover sauce out of the jar in the fridge all by itself.

  9. Crazy Tomato Lady permalink
    February 21, 2014

    Ok, so obviously the veggies are listed in order of preference… How could I miss Col’s stars?

  10. Melissa permalink
    February 21, 2014

    We are big fans of free to be you and me–Leeor plays “it’s okay to cry” a lot, because, well, there are often big feelings expressed by various family members.

    I love the veg list and plan to elicit the same from the two big kids (big relative to the baby who I can picture eating any and all veggies–dream big, right?).

    And while there are lots of people who shake heads at preparing slightly different meals for the kids (including some of my family members, sigh), I agree that there are worse problems. I am all for them eating the healthy stuff they like and honestly don’t mind a bit of a buffet at the family table.

    PS. I actually launched into the “there are starving children with no food choices” thing at the table the other night and Leeor was all, “really honey? is that what we do now?” and it was sort of funny but dude, i was desperate!

    Can’t wait for the blog to go viral, but for what it’s worth, no food stylist needed! xo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 21, 2014

      “I actually launched into the “there are starving children with no food choices” thing at the table the other night and Leeor was all, “really honey? is that what we do now?”
      That cracked me up.
      I once said to the kids: stop monkeying around at the table! And then had to laugh at my own language.

  11. nan permalink
    February 23, 2014

    Made the peanut sauce to use as a dip for raw vegetables , “loved it”. Thank you for the recipe.

  12. nan permalink
    February 23, 2014

    My husband wants to thank you for the kimchi recipe, he loves it , and its one of the few things he makes himself.

    • Elaine permalink
      March 4, 2014

      Speaking of kimchi, and chard, you should try making kimchi chard ribs! Sooooo good.

  13. Melissa permalink
    February 23, 2014

    I really dig Col’s star rating system! Love your kid’s creative minds… and it is so encouraging to know as a pre-kid, 20-something year old that it IS possible to raise kids in a slightly alternate way (I mean that in a fabulous way, not in a weirdo way) and stay true to who you are. So many people like to tell me it can’t be done.

    Can’t wait to try the peanut sauce – lately I’m trying to get my very fussy boyfriend to eat more veggies – sometimes it feels like I already have one big, hairy kid!

    Love your work. LOVE IT! x

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 24, 2014

      Yes, it IS possible even if you have to put your horse blinders on when the rest of the world rushes in with their conventional ways.
      ps: Thanks for your words.

  14. February 24, 2014

    is that experiment #17 hiding in amongst the peanut sauce ingredients, or is that chili oil? xo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 24, 2014

      Ha! A little silica gel and candy cane sauce elixer?

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