We all know how important it is for children to eat their vegetables daily, but at a certain point most kids rebel - and many refuse to eat their veggies. What’s a parent to do? Before you resort to threats and their sequential tears, try these 10 simple steps to help your kids want to eat veggies. With a bit of ingenuity, meal time will be fun time once again.
And remember: studies show that it takes about 10 times of eating a new food for a child to accept it.
1. If you grow it, they will eat it.
Studies show that children who plant seeds to grow their own fruits and vegetables are more inclined to eat them. The studies further report that young kids are much more open to tasting the veggies they grow. So set aside a small space for a mini-vegetable garden in your back yard or even on your window sill. Get the kids involved by starting with planting seeds, watering them, and caring for their blooming buddies. They will soon be asking to taste their home grown veggies.
2. Make it fun. Decorate it!
Who doesn’t love a good art project? Arrange Garden Lites chocolate muffins on a plate, set up cups of sprinkles, fresh whipped cream or frosting and get to decorating. Don’t forget some fun edible shapes. Let your children be creative and design all kinds of edible art.
When it’s over, not only will they be licking their fingers, but they’ll be gobbling up muffins made of zucchini and carrots as the first ingredients!
3. Have a competition
They say you have to pick your battles - but have the kids win the veggie war.
Set up a chart for the entire family, including mom and dad that include columns labeled for Fruit and Veggies. After dinner, check off boxes to show how many fruits and veggies each family member has eaten. At the end of the week, crown a Veggie King or Veggie Queen with a reward. Depending upon the age of the children you can offer rewards like a trip to the movies, or set aside time for their favorite hobby or activity.
4. Brown Bag it
When it’s finally lunchtime at school, kids are STARVING, and what is in their lunch box is what they’ll eat. Pack Chocolate Garden Lites muffins as a delicious way to get extra veggies into your child’s diet. While you’re at it, wrap up your children’s favorite deli meat and cheese, adding in fresh lettuce, and shredded carrot into “green” spinach tortillas! Yum.
5. Breakfast Pancakes Gone Veggie.
This is a trick that always works: prepare your favorite pancake batter and add a handful of grated carrots or zucchini to the batter. Your kids will love it! After a month or so, show the children how you grate the veggies, and explain that the naturally sweet taste in their pancakes is from fresh carrots and zucchini!
6. Blend it
Invite the whole family to take part in design-it-yourself smoothies and shakes. Combine frozen spinach, pineapple or berries, a touch of yogurt, water (or juice) and blend. Our favorite combos include both fruit and vegetables into one refreshing and filling drink.
7. Chips rule! Veggie Chips that is.
Set your oven to 300 degrees and grab some Kale for a crispy, healthy & savory treat!
Spray olive oil onto a baking sheet. Next spread the kale out on the oiled sheet, and add a pinch of Kosher salt if desired. Bake for twenty minutes, and voila! Healthy chips.
8. Paint a rainbow – with veggies.
Playing fun games is yet another way to engage your children and entice them to eat vegetables. For younger children, have them draw a picture of a rainbow. Then serve a plate filled with green, red, yellow, orange and purple vegetables to them. Have your child pick out each vegetable and tell you the color of the rainbow that it matches in the drawing. You can explain how important it is to eat a variety of vegetables, in many colors, just like a rainbow.
9. From Farmer’s Market to Table.
Take a trip to your local farmer’s market, and have the kids choose 4 vegetables they have never tried before. Then have them cook the veggies with you at home. Help them lightly toss the veggies in a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and cook them lightly for the kids. Add a small bit of salt, or even shredded cheese, and sit at the table with them to enjoy your farm-fresh bounty.
10. Pizza-fy it!
Kids love pizza! A way to get the whole family to have fun in the kitchen is to make homemade pizzas together. Make pizza baking kid-friendly by having bowls of cut veggies and shredded cheese ready for a hands-on effort. Bowl ingredients like fresh sliced tomatoes, basil leaves, mushrooms, chopped spinach and slivers of zucchini. As they’re designing the pizza with you, encourage them to use as many colors (aka veggies) as possible.
By always offering colorful veggies to your children and making them a part of the preparation process, it won’t be long before they’re enjoying more fruits and vegetables (hopefully) everyday! Just be patient, creative, and most of all, have fun with discovering the many possibilities of creating delicious foods brimming with healthy veggies!
How do YOU help your family eat more veggies?