27 July 2011

10 tips and tricks to get your kids to eat more vegetables

As I've said many times before on this blog, mealtime can be one of the most stressful times of the day for families with small, and even not so small, children. Setting strict rules and limits can be the trick to getting family dinner to run more smoothly. When it comes to getting your children to eat more vegetables, there are many tricks you, as a parent or grandparent, can employ.

1- Take you children shopping with you at the grocery store with the best looking produce in the area. Better yet, take them to a farmer's market. Let them touch, smell and express their innate curiosity. Doing so will most certainly lead to them asking you to buy new vegetables.

2- Give in to their requests to buy even the oddest choices of vegetables. Maybe they think they don't like cauliflower, but when they see a purple cauliflower they might be tempted and the purple variety is packed with antioxidants, so chop it up and serve it with dip, or steam it and serve it with soy sauce. Do whatever it takes. The point is, they might expect you to say "no" to their requests for unusual items, but when you "give in" and make the purchases, they will be more likely to taste and enjoy the healthy foods.

3- Serve cut up veggies with dip. The old stand-by, ranch, is usually a hit, but try hummus, or cream cheese or even ketchup. My boys will devour an entire 2 pound bag of baby carrots if they can sit at the table and dip the carrots in ranch dip or ketchup. It sounds crazy, but it's true.

4- Dress them up- the veggies, that is. This will only work with the younger set, but do not underestimate the power of a smiley face to lure kids into trying new things. Use the vegetables to make artwork on a pita or tortilla. Make a smiley faces with olives, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce, like this:
A kid can't help but be tempted to taste the different parts of the face.

5-  Hide the veggies.  Wrap a cucumber in a slice of vegetarian bologna (the veggie bologna will add vegetable protein and they won't even notice). Slice a tomato into thin slices and roll one with a slice of cheese.  Put thin pepper slices onto a tortilla, spread on some shredded cheese, roll it up... delicious!

6- Bake zucchini bread.  This is a great recipe, and you can call it cake bread or breakfast bread or blueberry bread and the kids will be none the wiser!

7- Bake brownies.  Try a recipe like this from Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious, and the kids will have no idea the vegetables are hidden inside a sweet dessert.

8-  Make a lasagna and put a package of drained, frozen chopped spinach into it.  If you mix the spinach into the sauce, the kids won't even see the dreaded GREEN specks and will eat it up, getting their daily fill of folic acid, which is great for moms too!

9- Puree a vegetable like peas and add them to your ground beef mixture with spices to make a delicious, nutrient filled, hamburger.  You can even count the pickle relish as cucumbers in the end of the day vegetable tally, if you want.

10- My favorite recent discovery is kale.  My boys- all four of them- love roasted kale!  We call them kale chips.  I pull the leafy parts from the ribs/stalks and lay them out on a baking sheet.  The kale does not have to be in a single layer because the leaves shrink as they bake.  I spray the leaves with olive oil, shake on some salt or garlic salt, bake for 10-15 minutes at 375 and it's done!  It really is delicious.  You can use this same "recipe" with broccoli, cauliflower and several other vegetables.  Use your imagination.

The point is, there are many ways to get our kids to eat more vegetables and other healthy foods.  These ten tips and tricks can help, but we can start by eating vegetables ourselves- without making scrunched up faces!  You can't expect your kids to be excited about dipping a carrot stick into ketchup when you are dipping your french fries into it.  Set an example and eventually the kids will follow your lead.  In the meantime, the tricks will get them started on the path toward a healthy lifestyle.

“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.”

1 comment:

  1. FANTASTIC!!! Definitely worth trying several or all of these.