Kids and vegetables… the two just don’t seem to go together. Whether it’s the texture, the color, or bad PR from a kindergarten classmate, there seems to be a very deep-seated prejudice in the kid-world regarding eating plants. As a result, getting little ones to eat and enjoy vegetables can seem like a very daunting task. But! Not impossible. Certainly not impossible. Here are 5 simple ways to get kids to eat more vegetables.
Involve kids in the shopping (and/or growing) process
When a mystery vegetable shows up on your plate out of nowhere, it’s right to feel a little suspicious. But if parents take the time to introduce kids to food in its original form at the grocery store, it can spark an interest in where that food comes from, how it’s grown, what makes it different or similar to other options, etc. Even better is to take kids to local farmers’ markets or even farms if you have that option. Because what kid does not dream of being a farmer at some point in their childhood?! Cue Old McDonald…
And speaking of Old McDonald, we invented the EcoGarden so that city-dwellers would have the ability to grow food from the convenience of their homes year-round. We can’t think of a more engaging way to get kids interested in their food than being responsible for growing it in the EcoGarden!
Regardless of how you do it, getting kids exposed to and interested in all stages of the vegetable’s life cycle helps them to be curious, and maybe more likely to try new veggies when they’re served to them. And even better if they are the ones to pick out the vegetable at the grocery store – kids love to be in charge! Finally, if you’re thinking that taking your kids to the grocery store sounds like the last thing you’d want to do, here are some helpful tips from FeedingLittles.com.
Allow kids to help with simple preparations
The more involvement that kids have, the more interested they become and therefore are more likely to try the foods they had a hand in preparing. Many people think that kids in kitchens equals bad parenting, but there are so many tasks that small children can help with. From washing veggies to stirring mixtures and setting the table, there is so much more to cooking than sharp knives and hot surfaces! Not only does allowing kids to help in the kitchen make them more curious about the food being served, but asking them to help fosters many positive attitudes such as being useful and self-sufficient. You can read more about the positive benefits of asking kids to do chores in this article.
P.s. If you’re growing food with the EcoGarden, a great chore can be to harvest fresh herbs from the plant!
Try cooking veggies in new ways
Many of us grew up eating very boring, tasteless veggies. Boiled, canned and steamed veggies don’t exactly convey a taste that you dream about recreating every night for dinner. But when done correctly, vegetables can be the tastiest thing on the plate. Roasted veggies in particular are a pretty much no-fail solution for turning most vegetables into a delicious side-dish. A good rule of thumb is that vegetables taste best with some fat and some salt. Use unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt for a better-tasting and more mineral-rich salt, and whatever fat you like – olive oil, butter and ghee are some of our favorites to roast with. If you want a recipe to follow, here’s the ultimate roasted vegetable recipe from Queen Martha. With a little fat and salt, and a dash of hope and good luck, your kids will be cleaning their plates before you know it.
Mix vegetables into smoothies and desserts
This one is a little bit sneaky but if all else fails, there’s always the camouflage tactic! This isn’t a long-term strategy because kids need to develop their taste palette beyond just sweet treats, but in the short-term it’s an easy win to get extra nutrition in! Smoothies are an easy way to stuff vegetables into tasty beverages flavored like fruit or chocolate. Keep in mind, it’s always a good idea to balance smoothies with some protein (nut butters, some protein powders) and/or fat (avocados, coconut oil, yogurt, milk) so that it’s not just a carb drink. Here’s a versatile recipe for a green smoothie that’s not actually green, and one that’s flavored like chocolate.
And if smoothies aren’t your thing, there are many desserts and muffins that can be made with vegetables. For instance, Chocolate Zucchini Muffins or Pumpkin Brownies, anyone??! Even more veggie dessert inspo can be found here: 20 delicious cake recipes made with vegetables.
At the end of the day, kids are gonna eat what they want to eat! But if we know anything, it’s that kids’ palettes do change over time. And the more that you continue to try, eventually it will take (or they’ll move out and go to college and it won’t be your problem anymore). Experts say that it can take kids up to 20 times of trying a new food to actually eat it. While forcing them to eat something they don’t want to is never a good idea, continuing to expose them to new foods while maintaining a calm and encouraging attitude will help this process move along. And don’t worry, like most other things with kids, picky eating is a phase. Recent research has shown that picky kids grow up to be just as healthy as their peers.
So there you have it, our five tips for getting kids to eat their vegetables! We would love to know if any of our readers have tried any of these methods, and how they’ve worked? Or if there are any strategies that we forgot? We’d love to hear! Thanks for reading!