When I was a kid, I was a parent's dream.
Well, when it came to food that is. Other than that, I was your typical terror on legs.
Food and I became fast friends from a young age. More often than not, I tried everything that was put in front of me only to eat just about everything as well.
When I was in fourth grade, my best girl cousin moved to the area. I was pretty excited because not only were we the same age, we were in the same school and in the same class. Best of all, she was the pickiest eater I had ever met. She disliked all the foods I loved, which often meant more for me.
Our school program provided a weekly hot lunch. Every day, there was a ‘healthy’ vegetable option on the menu. One day it would be green beans; another day would be peas and carrots. And every day, these vegetables were sadly left neglected by my classmates without another thought. My favourite days were when they served 'vegetable sticks'. Not vegetable sticks as in crudités, but a batter consisting of a mixed vegetables and something else that was then breaded and deep fried - so much for healthy, right? Cringe all you like, but I absolutely loved these greasy sticks. My cousin, however, would emphatically disagree. She found anything that wasn't chicken fingers, fries, or grilled cheese sandwiches deplorable and her portion always found a loving home in the depths of my stomach.
For the most part, many of my classmates ate these vegetable sticks until someone found out they had Brussels sprouts and lima bean puree in them. Suddenly, I went from three sticks to twenty-four on my compartmentalized cafeteria tray. I certainly did not eat all of them, but definitely had my fair share and loved them even more because they had said ingredients in them.
I told you. A. Parent’s. Dream.
Fast forward a hundred years later and I marry a man who hates Brussels sprouts more than my fourth grade classmates. It took no time for my very impressionable daughter to enjoy them and I'm still trying to convince my four-year-old they're amazing, but like every good parent, I continue to put them on his plate along with a small chocolate
But my husband? I can't exactly bribe him with an ice cream cone or chocolate bar, so I had to come up a dish that would be pleasing for him while being good food role models for our littles.
It took some time, it took a few recipe attempts, but I did it, friends. I had finally created a Brussels sprout dish he actually enjoys. With the addition of mushrooms, bacon, and maple syrup to sweeten the deal, it became a winning combination.
So if you have those picky eaters, I implore you try this delicious dish. If it made a believer out of my family, I'll bet you twenty-four vegetable sticks it'll make a believer out of yours.
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms and Bacon
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut lengthwise (about 5 cups)
1½ cup white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
6-8 slices bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped*
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
*For a vegetarian option, omit bacon and replace bacon fat with olive oil to sweat vegetables.
In a large frying pan, cook bacon until crispy. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain off excess fat. Reserve bacon fat.
Sweat sliced mushrooms in reserved bacon fat. Once mushrooms are tender, remove those from pan and set aside. Add chopped onion into the bacon fat and cook until transparent. Add in garlic.
Toss in shredded Brussels sprouts and cook for about five to seven minutes until tender.
Once tender, add mushrooms and chopped bacon back into the pan. Pour in maple syrup and mix together to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Top with fresh cracked black pepper.
Serve while dish is still hot.
This dish is delicious with baked chicken legs, meatloaf, or even a fried egg.
I personally love the combination of Brussels sprouts and mushrooms, but this is one dish I'll be able to serve at home now too! A big thanks to Jenny for making dinner time just a little bit simpler for all of us!!
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