I hear so many parents complain about how their kids refuse to eat healthy food, and who knows maybe I will be there in a few years as well. For now, however, I am so very happy they crave and enjoy fruits and vegetables. My kids love veggies. My 4-year-old asks for asparagus, broccoli and green beans at the grocery store when I ask her to pick out a treat! But how did I get to be so lucky?
First and foremost I don’t serve junk. It’s not allowed or it’s a limited treat. They get vegetables at every meal and have to try at least 1 bite. I make sure I season them well with olive oil or butter, salt and pepper or spices. However, they will gladly munch on them plain and simple. Here are some other tips:
1. Don’t overcook the veggies, leave a crunch. No one wants overcooked, boiled vegetables. So don’t go there. Roasting and steaming I find to be the most popular methods.
2. Always have cut up veggies while you are making dinner and don’t make a big deal about it – just put it out. I find they munch.
3. Explain to kids about eating the rainbow and what veggies do to the body, (i.e. carrots/radishes look like an eyeball and help you see better, broccoli looks like a tree and makes you strong). My kids always ask me now what certain vegetables do for the body.
4. Parents MUST model eating their veggies too! Don’t forget they are watching you. Mom and Dad you have to eat your portions too!
5. Variety! But also always put 1 veggie you KNOW they will love on the plate.
6. Smoothies. My kids gladly consume kale in a smoothie. Our fav: kale, pineapple, ginger, coconut water, banana.
7. Don’t force them to eat, but they must try. And let them try it again later on if they didn’t like it. My daughter hates potatoes, but I make sure she tries it every few months. I use Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” for encouragement. “Don’t be a Sam I AM!”
8. Wraps, egg rolls, pizza pockets, etc. are great ways to intro new veggies. They can’t see them if you cut them small enough. These are also great for dipping in sauces.
9. Size matters. Cut up veggies small in soups and pastas so they can’t pick them out or identify.
10. Vehicle/shape matters. What I mean by this is how it is served. My 3-year-old won’t eat many raw veggies cut up, but she will gladly eat an entire whole cucumber, pear or apple. I think it’s a control thing!
Whichever methods you choose, be proud of yourself and them for trying new things. Let me know what works for your family!