In our house, mealtimes can be a battle. Some nights, we’re trying to get a vegetable into our preschooler or kindergartner but it feels like an uphill battle. Sure, I’d love it if they loved vegetables like my husband and I do. The truth is, they actually eat vegetables if they’re disguised as food they love. And that’s why there are some rules to follow with getting your little ones to eat their veggies.
Try sweet vegetables.
If you want to get your kid to eat more fruits and vegetables, it’s important to make them taste good.
While many people think of broccoli as the best vegetable to get kids to eat (and it’s certainly a good choice), there are plenty of other options out there with less bitterness and more sweetness, such as carrots or sweet peppers. If your child has been eating these foods since infancy, they may be more likely to accept them later on when they start getting picky about food textures and flavors.
Another trick is to disguise the vegetable by making it into a puree or by adding spices like garlic or onion powder. You can also try steaming vegetables instead of boiling them, which will help reduce their bitterness.
Get kids involved in the kitchen.
Getting kids involved in meal preparation gives them an opportunity to develop skills and confidence. It also helps them understand where food comes from and how it’s grown.
When kids participate in meal preparation, they’re more likely to try new recipes and ingredients because they were involved in creating the meal. They may even want to try new foods themselves.
Top your child’s favorite foods with veggies.
Top your child’s favorite foods with veggies. For example, add grated carrots or zucchini to macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes and mix in peas or corn with meatloaf.
Add vegetables to casseroles, soups and stews. This is also a great way to sneak in more variety of vegetables at once — like adding spinach and tomatoes together into one dish.
Make vegetable soup using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth (or use half vegetable broth, half water). Then add chopped broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and green beans — any combination of veggies will work well here. If your child likes chicken noodle soup, try substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth when making it at home instead; this will make the soup more nutritious without changing its flavor profile too much for kids who have grown up eating it that way!
Bake vegetables into muffins or other baked goods. Try baking carrots into muffins or even cookies — just cut them into thin slices first so they get used to the flavor and texture.
Just because your child is a picky eater doesn’t mean that you can’t introduce them to new foods. By following the strategies outlined here, you can help increase the chances of your child eating their vegetables without any fuss(and without needing a cheat day).