Cucumbers are technically a type of fruit but because they are more savory than sweet they tend to be referred to as vegetables. They are definitely the most popular ‘vegetable’ around here – almost all the past/present children love them. Even the really picky eaters will usually eat cucumbers. Salad haters will often eat the bits of cucumber from a salad and leave the rest. Cucumbers are soft compared to other raw ‘veggies’ so toddlers find them easier to eat.
Zucchini – also technically a fruit – has proved to be a difficult ‘veggie’ to get the children to eat raw. Personally I much prefer raw zucchini over cucumbers mostly because they have a very mild flavour. I’ve wondered if that is why the children don’t like zucchini. When served both zucchini and cucumber slices I’ve noticed that they eat all the cucumber but all the zucchini slices are discarded after just one bite. Were they disappointed by the (lack of) flavour? Did they think it was a ‘bad’ cucumber?
Of course all the children love it when I bake zucchini in a loaf, muffin or brownie yet cucumber cookies failed miserably. I wonder if the cucumber’s stronger flavour makes it less appealing in baked recipes than mild zucchini. Some children will eat zucchini in a casserole or stir fry but many do not like any cooked veggies. Raw is usually preferred and ‘from our own garden’ is the best 🙂
In the past we have grown both cucumbers and zucchini in our garden but they use a lot of space. Luckily we get plenty of both in our CSA share from Wild Earth Farms. A few weeks ago when we were having a picnic lunch I included both zucchini and cucumber slices in the raw vegetable assortment that accompanied our turkey sandwiches. The children raved about how great the ‘yellow’ vegetable was. I told them it was zucchini – a yellow zucchini – and watched as they devoured it all and asked for more.
I wondered if I finally had a group of children that liked zucchini or if it was just the thrill of having lunch outside that made it more appealing. I have given them zucchini several times since then and they still love the yellow ones. The green ones remain on the ‘dislike’ list – sometimes they get eaten reluctantly but most of the time they get discarded after the first nibble to determine if it is a cucumber or zucchini. Apparently colour makes a difference when feeding zucchini to preschoolers.