Eating vegetables on a regular basis is part of a healthy and well-balanced diet. Stating this fact, however, does little to encourage your kids to eat their vegetables. Engage their appetite and put a smile on the face of even the fussiest eater with the following 12 tips!
If the only vegetable that your child enjoys comes in the form of tomato sauce on pizza, take advantage of this knowledge! Using a hand mixer, secretly blend cooked vegetables into your sauces and soups. Carrots, green beans, peas, mushrooms and even broccoli, zucchini and cauliflower can be cooked, mashed or pureed, and then blended in with traditional tomato sauces to help disguise their appearance and taste.
Use Dips and Spreads to Make Fresh Vegetables More Appealing
One of the healthiest ways to consume vegetables is when they are fresh and raw. Consider offering fresh slices of vegetables and pairing them with healthy spreads and dips. Good veggie choices include slices of cucumber, green peppers, carrot and celery sticks, and mini-tomatoes – use Ziploc bags for quick and easy snack bags. Delicious dips include yogurt mixed with honey, hummus, applesauce, sour cream, and even peanut butter or hazelnut spread if your child isn’t allergic to the nuts.
Dress them Up with Fun Shapes and Smiley Faces
Another way to get your kids to enjoy eating their greens is to dress them up! Cut the vegetables into stars or other fun shapes. You can even use different vegetables to dress up dishes such as omelets or pancakes and use the vegetables to draw a “face” on the plate – or even spell their name!
Sweeten the Deal
Sauces are not the only way to disguise your children’s vegetables. You can mash and puree most vegetables and add them to traditional recipes for pancakes, muffins, cakes, and cookies!
Juice some carrots, spinach, and beet tops along with some watermelon or strawberries for a slightly sweet and all natural drink!
Pick Up Sticks
Add chunks of fresh fruits and vegetables to stick kabobs. Your little one will be excited to eat them simply because of the novelty of the stick! For older children, make a kabob “station” with several vegetables and allow them to pick out and skewer their favorites
Let Your Children Help You Cook
Get your child interested in trying more greens, and encourage their independence and motor skills, by letting them help you! Be certain to compliment your child’s effort in the kitchen as you allow them to assist you with simple tasks such as mashing cooked vegetables or mixing them into batters, soups, sauces, and fillings.
Tell Your Children the New Vegetable Dish is Special and For Grown Ups Only
It’s human nature to want what we can’t have; so, don’t put the “special” new vegetable dish on your child’s plate. Put some on your plate, and say it is only for grown-ups. Then dig in while they watch. After they ask, tell them they can have a small taste. Of course, you are going to relent when they try it and like it and ask for more, but don’t tell them that beforehand!
Get Your Children Interested in Vegetables by Growing Some
Growing your vegetables is a perfect activity if you have a backyard, but even if you are an apartment dweller, consider getting a few containers and a trellis so that you can grow some patio tomatoes and other small vegetables. Your child will be excited to taste what they have helped to grow!
Give Your Child a Choice
The next time that you go to the grocery store take your child with you. Let them choose which vegetables they would like to try; bonus points to you if you let them help you prepare them!
Read your child stories that feature the antics of vegetables in the plot, or make up your own, and then offer up a serving of the hero or villain!
Sing a Song
Similar to story time, make up short rhymes, songs or even dance moves that feature the benefits of vegetables. For example, you might make up a song and dance called The Carrot Cantata that talks about how a superhero developed great vision from eating her carrots. The possibilities are limitless!
Regardless of which strategy you choose, getting your child to eat more greens is not just healthier for them – it can be a lot of fun for everyone in your family!