I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve lucked out when it comes to my kids’ eating habits. All my kids are pretty adventurous eaters, and they’re all willing to try just about anything. That doesn’t mean that they like everything that they try, but they will try. One of the things I’ve learned by having six kids, is that all kids are different (even when they’re raised in the same house), and there are lots of different ways to help them love veggies.We all want to provide our kids with healthy food and the correct nutrients, but that can be a difficult mission. Once they have tasted chocolate and chips, why would they want to have broccoli?
Here is a list of simple tricks to entice them to try more vegetables and hopefully learn to love them.
Being Clever with Taste
The most important thing is to focus on taste. There are so many delicious recipes that incorporate vegetables, you just need to find the ones that your family will enjoy the most. This list of recipes is a great place to start… and who knows, you might even end up liking vegetables a little more yourself!
- Chickpea burgers from Martha Stewart
- Vegetarian lasagne from Jamie Oliver
- Baked sweet potato fries – this recipe from the Food Network is delicious
- Italian spinach pie from Reader’s Digest
- Tomato and bread soup recipe from Serious Eats – not only does this look great, but it’s packed full of veggies too!
Try to perfect your recipes before you give them to the children. The taste factor has to be amped up to keep excitement high. In one fell swoop you can change the way your little ones feel about peas for life!
Get Them Involved
Cooking with children can seem a little daunting, from a safety / mess perspective and for your stress level! Fear not, there are so many simple ways you can get them involved, even if it’s just to wash the veggies or to help with setting the dinner table. Preparing food keeps little ones engaged and excited about what they will be eating. If kids are invested, they are more likely to try their food. When I have my kids pick out recipes it makes them feel like they have more ownership over the process.
Here are some recipes with easy to follow step-by-step instructions on how to cook with children.
- Mumtastic shares this recipe for DIY pizzas! These can be topped with vegetables, as well as other favorites like ham and chicken, not forgetting cheese. Have little bowls filled with a selection of toppings (mostly brightly colored veggies) and watch as they get creative with their pizza designs.
- Fajitas are an excellent dish for cramming lots of vegetables while keeping the flavor levels high. BBC Good Food shows how to cook these with the children, indicating the sections of the recipe that are best for them and which are best for you.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Although trying new foods can be tricky, keeping a positive attitude and a persistence to keep re-introducing them is a must. With vegetables, it can be easy to find the two or three that you know your children will eat and then stay there. However, buying a variety, perhaps following the seasons of vegetables for excellent taste, will keep things interesting and expose your little ones to so many different flavors.
This could be a great opportunity for you to try some vegetables that you’ve not experienced before! Another way to introduce new vegetables is to try growing some. Start small, but my kids love planting seeds.
The road to veggie heaven is a long one, so take it slowly. The positive changes you are trying to make to your family meals might not be accepted if you try to rush it. It’s not about being sneaky with it, but slowly introducing ingredients will work out better for you.
Another thing to note is portion sizes. If your child is used to having a very small portion of veggies or none at all, then you must be realistic with what they will eat. Portion sizes are not usually an issue, but this guide from the British NHS is great for keeping tabs on mealtime volume size.
It’s All About Presentation
As well as the flavors and the portion sizes, there’s also the last step: presentation.
We’ve all had meals where the vegetables have been boiled within an inch of their lives, leaving them all the same dull color, merely a shadow of their former selves. A great tip is to use cream of tartar in the water so that you keep the beautiful, bright colors of your vegetables.
Cream of tartar is called cream but it’s actually a powder; a by-product of the wine-making process. A small amount will not affect the flavor of the veggies but will make them pop with color.
As well as making the veggies look as lovely as possible, you can also swap them into dishes such as zucchini fries instead of regular fries, sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, and in smoothies. If you keep the color appealing and the sweetness there, you can sneak in some spinach, broccoli and even kale! Smoothies are one of my kids favorite treats.
Dessert is also a place to get the veggies in. Simple swaps such as beetroot and zucchini instead of oil or butter can up the healthiness while keeping all of the yumminess!
None of these ideas are rocket science, but sometimes it’s good to have them all in one place. Remember, the important thing is to keep trying.