Do your children eat their veggies? I know it’s something many parents struggle with on a daily basis. I also know the chicken nugget industry is thriving!
Sarah Matheny, author of “Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love,” has the following tips to help your little one learn to love their veggies:
- Take your kids shopping. Familiarize your kiddos with the produce section and let them choose a veggie themselves based solely on what they think looks fun, but only if they promise to eat some. You may be surprised when they load asparagus or parsnips in the cart, but knowing that they got to pick it will make them excited to have some on their plate.
- Warm ‘em up or cool ‘em down. While your children may not like raw broccoli, they may enjoy it lightly steamed. Roasted carrots may be too squishy, but they may love crunching into a raw baby carrot. Try new ways of preparation before writing off a veggie completely.
- Keep their favorites on the side. At our house, we keep the fruit and yogurt off the table until we’ve eaten a fair amount of our veggies. This way they have a little incentive to graduate to their next course without feeling like we are bribing them with dessert.
- Let them Build-Their-Own. We find a way to get the kids involved in making almost every meal, and give them a variety of veggies to add to their creation. I arrange small bowls of veggies all over the counter so the kids can make their own salad bowls, pasta bowls, rice bowls and wraps. It’s amazing what they’ll try when they get to add it themselves!
- Get them sauced. Find a healthy sauce you approve of and that your kids enjoy and let them use it liberally. Dip, drizzle and mix it in and your kids will be eating veggies you never dreamed of.
I know one way to help make veggies a part of everyone’s healthy lifestyle is to set a good example. It’s hard to say, “eat your veggies” when you’re not eating your own. Children learn by the example you set, so eat your veggies, too, mom!
Although I don’t believe in making vegetables something evil to be avoided, there are plenty of ways that you can serve veggies that might appeal more to your child. Do a search for hidden vegetable recipes and you will find all sorts of fun things like brownies made with carrots. I wouldn’t hide the fact that the carrots are there, just consider it a way to get them into your child’s diet.
You can drink your veggies, too. There are lots of healthy vegetable and fruit and vegetable juice drinks out there that your child might like. You keep most of the vitamins, just remember in juice form you do usually lose some of the fiber.
Is it a texture issue? Even as an adult there are some foods I don’t like because of their texture. Will blending, chopping or steaming help? I don’t like cauliflower, but I love mashed cauliflower. So try a different texture to see if that makes the difference.
Choose your battles. I know there are just some things that I don’t like to eat as an adult. I think that children should have the right to refuse, too. If they don’t like something keep offereing but don’t fight it. Your kids won’t go hungry, don’t worry.
Avoid the easy meal traps. So many things that aren’t the healthiest are the easiest to make. (Or pick up through a drive in window.) Take the time to make a healthy meals for yourself and the entire family and you will all reap the benefits!
Make meal times fun! Dinner should be a time for everyone to sit at the table and talk about the day. Serve a healthy meal full of good things and your children will be enticed to stay at the table, talk-and perhaps try something new!
What tips and tricks do you use to help make sure your children are eating a healthy diet full of veggies?
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Peas and Thank You blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.