You want your child to eat more vegetables. You beg and you plead, but her diet consists of grilled cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets and other stereotypical kid fare.
You have good reason to want your children to eat veggies. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, vegetables offer nutrients such as folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. These nutrients are vital for the body's maintenance and health.
Don't give yourself a guilt trip if your kids fear the celery stick. It is possible for your little ones to learn to love veggies. Doubtful? Follow these tips and your kids will soon learn that a broccoli floret can be just as tasty as a goldfish cracker. We promise!
Blend them. The blender isn't just for making fruit smoothies. Use your blender or food processer to whip up a yummy veggie beverage. This recipe from Eating Well will get your kids to even try kale. (If the kale taste is too strong for your little one, try adding a tablespoon of peanut butter to the mix.) You can also take advantage of the blender to create a veggie dip, such as this one from Glamour that boasts zucchini.
Make them exciting. Just like you make Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes for breakfast, vegetables can be transformed into something fun. Let the kids help you create vegetable kabobs like this one from Food.com and throw them on the grill. Another idea is to host a theme night and integrate veggies into the menu. For example, on Taco Tuesday, kids can assemble their own soft or hard tacos and load them up with lettuce, tomatoes and more.
Hide them. Take your kids' favorite foods and sneak in some veggies. This Rainbow Pepper Pizza is brimming with various peppers and red onions, boasting vitamins A and C and fiber. Puree vegetables into macaroni and cheese, as is done with this Carrot and Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.
Create dips. It's hard to deny that dips make foods taste yummier. Offer your kids hummus, salsa, ranch or another kind of dip. Let them hold a taste test to declare their favorite. Try this Easy Hummus or Tofu Ranch Dressing, both from HealthyWomen.
Experiment with produce. The same vegetables can get boring. Mix up the basics and everyone will want to try them. For example, mashed potatoes can be swapped for mashed cauliflower. Zucchini fries are a tasty alternative to potato ones. Even a new cooking style can be enticing. You can try roasting vegetables to change up their flavor, such as trying this recipe for roasted butternut squash.
Involve your kids. Get your kids to participate in prepping or choosing meals. That way they'll be more interested to eat what they've cooked. Bring them to the grocery store to select the vegetable(s) you'll have with dinner. Help them cut up the vegetables for the salad or the side dish. They might even ask for seconds of their creation!
Try, try, try again. Kids' tastes change as they grow and develop, so keep encouraging your kids to taste the veggies, even if they think they don't like them. And try variations on how you prepare the veggies. If Brussels sprouts don't appeal, try roasting them with red grape halves, olive oil, salt and pepper. The grapes sweeten the taste, and even kids may develop a liking. Don't make food a battle, but make it a house rule that every member of the family tastes what it prepared (including you—see next tip).
Do as you say. That means being a role model and eating vegetables yourself. If your kids see that you eat them, they'll be more likely to do so. And be positive when you talk about vegetables. Don't say: "You probably won't like this squash, but try just a little bit." Instead: "This spaghetti squash is really fun to eat, and the sauce and cheese make it taste just like your favorite food—spaghetti!"