How to Get Your Kids To Eat Vegetables

vegetable palm tree kid healthy snack

 

Are you struggling to get your kids to eat vegetables? Join the club! First off, always encourage healthy food choices in a positive tone, and try to avoid negative comments. For kids that are old enough to understand, talk to them about ingredients and food, teaching them over time that real, whole foods are what their body needs in order to function as opposed to something processed. Living food for a living body. Compare labels with them in the store, choosing the one with the fewest ingredients that you recognize.

Compare the body to a plant or a flower…it cannot grow if it does not get proper food, water, and sunlight. Your kids want to feel good and grow healthy and strong. They want to be able to stay focused and feel alert in school and also be able to keep up with the other kids on the playing field or court. Talk to them about that. Tell them how strong the connection is between what they eat and how they feel, act, and what they are capable of.

If explaining does not help, and they are refusing most vegetables, ask them what ideas they have that will make the food taste better. Encourage them to join you in the kitchen and allow them to experiment a little with a few different toppings (of your choosing so it does not go to waste) or ways of seasoning so that they have some degree of control over what they eat. They need to be aware of how important it is to eat healthy, and why. Once they understand this, it allows for the conversation to move forward to a place where they can be a part of the solution instead of the problem.

 

HOW TO GET YOUR KIDS TO EAT THEIR VEGETABLES

 

1.  LET THEM PLAY WITH THEIR FOOD!  Chop up a variety of different vegetables and ask them to create a design or picture on a plate. The only rule I would give, is that they have to eat, or at least taste what they use. This could easily turn into wasted food (which is unacceptable to me), so this could be done ahead of any meal preparation, offering them chopped vegetables that you plan to use in your meal that day, ensuring that if it does not get eaten by them, it will get used in the meal you prepare later.

palm tree kid healthy snack ingredients vegetables

 

mickey mouse vegetables kid healthy snack

2.  GET THEM INVOLVED!  If they are old enough, put some of the responsibility on them. Make a list of vegetables that they do like and ask them to pick a few more that they are willing to try, perhaps trying one new vegetable a week. Put the decision making on them, and they will have less to fight against. At the grocery store, take your time in the produce section and have them choose a few things. Maybe even make a game of it, “I will try anything here that you choose, if you try anything in here that I choose.” That could get interesting!

3.  ALWAYS OFFER THE SAME FOODS YOU ARE EATING.  Even if they have turned these same foods down in the past, keep offering and never assume it is a done deal. It often takes many, many tries before they give it a go.

4.  URGE THEM TO TASTE.  Make it clear they do not have to eat the food, but they do have to taste it.

5.  LET THEM HELP PLAN THE MEAL.  Better yet, let them help you prepare the food. This is not always possible when we are short on time (and patience), but do this as often as you can. Over time, it gets them excited to try the food they helped prepare. It gives them a sense of control.

6.  SNEAK THE VEGETABLES IN.  Prepare the food in such a way, that the vegetables are “hidden” in the food. This usually involves cooking the vegetable and grating or pureeing it, then masking the flavor using cheese or other sauces or toppings. Pureed squash or grated cauliflower would hide beautifully in a yellow cheddar macaroni and cheese. Pureed vegetables can easily hide out in a tomato sauce. Many different kinds of beans (cooked until mushy and soft) are almost flavorless and would go unnoticed. Cauliflower that is softened enough to grate or puree can hide in many light sauces without changing flavor too much. Pizza topped with a basil, spinach and cheese pesto. The key is not to add too much too soon. Try adding a little at first so they will not notice, and over time, add a little more so that they gradually become accustomed to the flavor and do not catch on to your tactics.

7.  SMOOTHIES.  A fabulous way to get a lot vegetables into these precious little ones. I think a smoothie is the absolute best way to accomplish “hidden veggies” because it is so easy to make them taste good. To be honest, I do not always feel up to chopping, preparing, and eating my veggies either, so this has gotten me through many a day without feeling guilty. It is almost a sure thing that your child will gulp it down and there are several ways to prepare and easily mask the flavor of vegetables. See my recipe page for a few ideas in making mouth-watering smoothies without added juices and sugar. Spinach literally melts away if blended long enough. Add a banana, a cup of frozen spinach and some ice (and any other frozen fruits or veggies you like), and blend really well. Shakeology is a supplement that I take every day. It is the best meal replacement shake I have ever seen, non-gmo, has all the super foods and nutrient dense supplements I used to buy separately all in one scoop. I make one giant blender with spinach, banana, ice, and a full scoop of Shakeology and split that between my whole family of four. I do not have to buy any other vitamins or supplements….it has it all. Learn more or buy it now if interested.

Berries, Banana, Pear, & Kale Smoothie

8.  POPSICLES If the smoothie idea does not work, take that exact same smoothie and freeze it into popsicles. I have yet to meet a child that refuses a popsicle. To freeze smoothies into popsicles try these silicone ice pop makers (not shown in photo below). They are made of BPA free silicone which meets all FDA standards, making them completely safe for you and your family. They are environmentally friendly, non-toxic. It is almost a given that they will love them.

strawberry kale smoothie popsicle ice pop

9.  SEASON YOUR VEGGIES.  If roasting, use real butter, healthy oils like coconut oil or olive oil, and a healthy salt (like Pink Himalayan), a dash of pepper and garlic powder. This basic method on any vegetable will bring out its best flavor.

10.  DIPS!  A platter of fresh veggies with a lot of variety and color paired with a healthy dip that you know they like is hard for anyone to resist.

11.  ALLOW THEM TO GET HUNGRY.  It is ok to feel hunger to a point and everything simply tastes better when we are hungry. Avoid snacking too close to dinner time, and the odds of them liking the way something tastes goes way up.

12.  START THE MEAL WITH THE VEGETABLE ONLY.  Keep everything else out of sight and off the table. If you place a plate of pasta, broccoli and chicken in front of them, you can be assured they will eat the pasta first, feeling less hungry when they get to the broccoli making it less appetizing.

13.  CHEESE.  Just cover it with cheese and call it a day! Cheesy meals in general are an easy way to “hide” hidden vegetables.

14.  MAKE IT FUN & CREATIVE!  These chia seed and celery “Ants On A Log” can be filled  with peanut butter, almond butter, or Sun Butter (peanut free).

chia seed ants on a log peanut butter celery

 15.  DON’T FORGET THE HERBS.  They are jam-packed with nutrition, also adding a ton of flavor to an otherwise boring dish. Think rosemary, parsley, chives, and thyme. All are great additions to most dishes. Basil tastes wonderful if you add a few sprigs to a smoothie, and of course, any dish that uses tomato sauce, or butter. Start an herb garden (indoors in pots if needed) and again, let them help you. Let them smell and taste the various herbs and ask them which ones would taste good in they favorite dishes.

*BONUS TIP.  Start a simple container garden. Let them help you choose which plants to grow. They will LOVE the experience and will be excited to taste the harvest!

 

Eating habits are hard to break, but they are usually the root of many, if not all of our ailments. If you and your kids eat a lot of highly processed food, then you are likely not feeling so great much of the time. The best thing you can do for your body is to eat as many whole foods as possible. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy oils like coconut, flax, avocado. See my Ingredients 101 Grocery Guide to see which foods to avoid and which ones to choose.

It does not mean you cannot eat a Snickers, Doritos, or have a Coke now and then. I enjoy my junk food on occasion, but I have cut it out enough to feel a reaction within my body EVERY SINGLE time I eat those things. Sometimes it is worth it, sometimes it is not. Be aware, know what you are eating, and find a balance that works for you. You and your precious kiddos deserve to feel great every day!

 

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