Getting Kids to Eat their Veggies!
If your house is anything like ours, getting kids to eat veggies is like pulling teeth. Some nights, it’s not so bad, but if we cook anything beyond the most common veggies, they roll their eyes and throw a fit.
1. Don’t let kids think green stuff is bad. That’s right. If everyone in your family eats broccoli and doesn’t make a big deal out of it, your child won’t realize that anything is amiss. This includes both parents. If one parent happens to really hate that poor innocent broccoli, maybe that parent needs to re-visit the yumminess for themselves. Kids notice everything, and if the veggie in question never appears on someone’s plate, they will know.
2. Have a “Try It” rule. All vegetables, new and old, must be tried at least once (or twice, depending on your rule) every time it appears on their plate. The standard excuse of “I tried it last time and didn’t like it” will not work. In fact, studies show that repeat exposure to new tastes and flavors is often necessary before kids will like a new food item. In other words, the more often they try it, the greater the chances that they will like it until, one day.
3. Have a grocery store adventure where each person has to pick out a new vegetable to try. Make it a game. Research the vegetable online when you get home. Look for printables to color, the history of the vegetable, its origin and cultural traditions or even the tastiest way to cook and eat it. Involving kids increases your chances that their curiosity will be piqued. Jicama is a great veggie to test out this way. It is unattractive and resembles a potato. In actuality, you peel it like an apple, slice it and dip it in low-fat ranch dressing.
4. Think of creative ways to cook each veggie. If you have only ever served zucchini raw, try it sautéed in butter or olive oil. You can even make zucchini bread for a healthy snack. Cauliflower is good steamed and sprinkled with a little parmesan cheese and Italian breadcrumbs.
5. For younger children, host a family “color” night. Plan ahead and serve only foods in that color. Purple cauliflower or yellow squash might slide right by when the little one is having fun. The point is to make a game of it and not let anyone have the chance to think about it and complain.
6. Brave a messy kitchen and let them cook. Most kids learn by doing and this is no exception. For younger children you can start by mashing cauliflower instead of potatoes or even adding vegetables as ingredients to other dishes for older children.