eat your veggies

Love my Veggies 2It’s the old Hide-The-Vegetables-In-The-Meal trick. You add blended cauliflower to cheese sauce, or beets in your chocolate brownies. But hiding vegetables can have unfavorable consequences. While your child is getting nutrients, they won’t know a vegetable when they see one and will likely continue avoiding them. For really young kiddies it’s best to serve produce in it’s true form, meaning raw, diced tomatoes or roasted cauliflower pieces. Anything that actually looks like what it is.

For older kids that run away like maniacs with their hair caught on fire when you even mention the word “Vegetable”, let alone serve it at the table, a bit of hiding in combination with slow introduction may be necessary. What this means is that while you can continue mixing in baby food carrot puree into your pasta sauce, you also want to serve a dinner that your child has accepted in the past with the addition of a visible vegetable and encourage the “try everything rule”. Try everything means just one bite. If they don’t want anymore then remain neutral and just say something like “maybe you’ll want more next time”.

Another option is to add discernible vegetables to a dish that is already on the approved list. Like make the usual pizza, but add a few pieces of steamed broccoli under the shredded cheese. If your little one starts to pick it off, remind them of the “try one bite” rule, and if they want to pick off the rest then fine, “maybe next time you’ll appreciate this big-girl pizza topping”. When kids realize that vegetables are cool and that big people eat them, they might feel more inclined to try them.

By the way, if you run away screaming when you see Swiss chard, chances are little Johnny will not go near it with a ten foot pole.

Other tips:

– Serve veggies first. If kids aren’t snacking around the clock, then they should be quite hungry by dinner time and are less likely to be finicky. Put a platter of fresh cut-up vegetables on the table while you finish the last few touches on the rest of the meal.

– Children like whole foods. They’re more fun to eat. Like a whole bell pepper, a whole mini cucumber or a whole tomato. Just wash and give it to them whole (I don’t need to warn you people about choking hazards, do I?)

– When cooking veggies, steaming or roasting will retain nutrients better than boiling.

– Include children in the veggie-choosing process. Kids like being in charge so take them shopping and let them choose which vegetables will be eaten for dinner.

– Grow your own vegetable garden and let the kids pick and eat what they want (check out what we’ve got in our garden).

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