7 Tried-And-True Tricks That Inspire Kids To Eat More Vegetables

Do your kids balk at broccoli? Cringe over cauliflower? Gag on green beans? Worry not. These 7 simple tricks will help inspire your little sprouts to willingly eat more vegetables.

How to encourage children to eat vegetables

In honor of National Vegetable Month, it’s time to celebrate the colorful, nourishing world of vegetables. Getting your children to eat more of them is the tricky part. With the following 7 tips, your tots will not only consume plenty of nutrient-rich veggies, they may very well begin asking for them!

 

  1. Disguise them

Sometimes it’s just easier not to call attention to the fact that your child is eating a vegetable. Or two. Or even three. Instead, integrate veggies into their favorite foods. My mother, for example, always loved mashed potatoes when she was a kid. But she didn’t love other vegetables. So what did my grandmother do? She mashed veggies into the potatoes! One day my grandmother served green potatoes (mashed potatoes with peas). Another day the potatoes just happened to be orange (with added carrots). Both times my mother ate the potatoes because they mostly tasted like potatoes, and that was fine with her. 

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to create foods that disguise vegetables. From cauliflower crusted-pizzas to pasta made with spiralized zucchini pasta, there are myriad ways to serve veggies without overtly announcing their presence. 

 

2. Add vegetables to their favorite dishes

Begin with foods your child enjoys and sprinkle in some vegetables. Add a handful of diced broccoli or fresh peas into macaroni and cheese or some diced zucchini and sautéed mushrooms into red sauce. Scooch some spinach beneath the layer of cheese on their pizza or layer fresh lettuce on their sandwich or at the base of their taco. Try to cut the veggies into small pieces rather than large chunks so their presence is subtle. The harder to manually pick out the better!

 

3. Make them crispy

The day I served roasted broccoli to my boys was a revelation. My younger son, who didn’t particularly enjoy the smell or texture of steamed broccoli LOVED it when was crisped it in the oven. After that I realized I could serve a range of veggies — including cauliflower, sweet potatoes and even brussels sprouts — and they’d been instantly devoured, as long as I roasted them. While baking, the natural sugars of vegetables help caramelize them, making them less bitter, more browned, and delightfully crunchy. Simply toss your vegetable of choice with a drizzle of olive oil, add your preferred seasonings and bake at 425°F until browned. Remember to turn them intermittently so they’re evenly cooked.

 

4. Transform veggies into playful designs

Playing with food is encouraged when it comes to serving your child vegetables. Make a face with cucumber and edamame eyes, red bell pepper eyebrows, a green pea smile and even corn niblet teeth! Or create a flower with edible petals, stem and center. Your child will soon associate veggies with fun, laughter and smiles. Encourage them to make the face disappear, and offer small bowls of chopped and sliced vegetables so they, too, can create their own edible designs.

 

5. Add delicious dips

Raw vegetables like peppers, cucumbers, carrots and celery pair well with a range of healthy dips, which add lively flavor, nutrients and fun. Offer several options for dipping, from creamy hummus to guacamole, salsa, ranch dressing made with Greek yogurt and peanut butter. With an array of colorful vegetables and a round of dips, your kids will get to pick and choose and experiment, making the process of eating raw vegetables far more enjoyable.

 

6. Cook together

Kids are more excited to taste food they’ve cooked themselves. After all, the process of chopping, mixing, tasting and serving is empowering. Plus, it motivates them to eat the meal they’ve created. If your child is too young to use sharp implements or stand by the stove, have them help in other ways. As we know, there’s always plenty to do!

 

7. Grow them!

Planting, tending and growing vegetables at home is truly magical for children, especially as they watch the transformation from seed to fruit. From windowsill planters to dedicated backyard plots, kids learn where vegetables and herbs come from, how they grow, why they need water and nutrients, and what they taste like when freshly picked. You’ll be amazed at what your kids are willing to try when they’ve grown vegetables in their own backyard.

 

 

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