How to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables in 8 Fun Ways
Wondering how to get your kids to eat vegetables? A better question to ask yourself is, how did your kids come to hate their veggies? Trust me when I say, I have asked myself this question often. May times when parents have their first visit with Pinnacle Nutrition Consultants, that is the very first thing they mention. They would say something like, ‘Oh, my child will not eat vegetables at all.’ I believe we have all had a picky eater in the house before. However, what makes a child continue to be a picky eater well into adulthood? Most importantly, how can we as parents and professionals break the habit? Well, we have the answers for you, just keep reading and keep an open mind.
How to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables?
As parents, we all struggle at one time or another getting our kids to eat their veggies? I know I have experienced the exact same thing. My son was great about trying new vegetables and eating just about anything. That was until he turned 2 ½ years old. Now it is pretty much impossible to get him to eat anything other than corn when it comes to eating vegetables. As a result, I was forced to come up with fun and sometimes sneaky ways to add veggies to his dishes throughout the day. Below are a few of my personal favorites.
Tip #1: Add Some Personalization to Their Food
My first personal favorite is to make a big pot of vegetable soup and then add some fun-shaped noodles to distract him from noticing the veggies. Try using alphabet noodles or search for fun novelty shapes that your child is currently interested in. You may be able to find cartoon characters, toys, and sports shapes as well. Amazon is a great place to search for possible fun noodle shapes. I have also seen pumpkin and Christmas tree-shaped noodles, which are always super fun for kids. With a little luck, your child will be too busy spelling words or identifying the shapes of the noodles before noticing all of the veggies they are eating in the soup.
Tip #2: Make Them a Drink
If you cannot get your child to eat the vegetables, let them drink them. Try pouring vegetable juice over ice, add a swirly straw, cocktail umbrella, or a stick of celery (only for those who like celery) and watch them drink up! Your child may not get as much fiber as eating the entire vegetable but getting them to drink their vegetables is better than not getting any vegetable into their systems. Also, try adding a few sweet fruits to the juice and turning it into a delicious green or purple smoothie!
Tip #3: Give It to Them Raw
Have you ever tried offering your child raw vegetables with a side of ranch dressing for dipping? I have found that many children who do not care much for cooked vegetables will eat them raw. Well, only if they can dip them in ranch dressing or whatever their favorite dipping sauce maybe. Just grab a bag of baby carrots, sliced red and yellow peppers, and cucumber. Arrange them on a plate with a small cup of ranch dressing in the center. They will enjoy their veggies this way.
Tip #4: Bring Out the Art Board
My fourth tip of how to get your kids to eat vegetables, it to take it a step further than the previous three. Allow your child to create artwork out of their vegetables. How does this work? You will offer raw vegetables in different colors and shapes. Next, you will encourage them to make a vegetable collage on their plate. For example, you can easily make a face using slices of cucumber as eyes, baby carrot as the nose, and a slice of red pepper as the mouth. You can also use watercress, shredded carrots, or shredded cheese as hair. Before you know it, you will find them sampling their “vegetable masterpiece.”
Tip #5: “Build-A-Bar”, not a Bear
All children enjoy the feeling of being independent. Have you ever tried adding a little salad bar at the time during dinnertime? Put out some fresh lettuce, sliced or chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber, shredded carrot, slices of red and yellow peppers, small, chopped broccoli florets, and anything else you can think of. Wait…don’t forget the cheese! I would also suggest you give them more than one option when it comes to the selection of salad dressing. A few favorites in our household include Ranch, Italian, Catalina, and French dressings. To top it off sit out some croutons and dried cranberries.
Tip #6: Cold Is Delicious
Gather the kids together and create a cold vegetable pizza. Hey, don’t judge me yet, you must hear me out. Start out with a can of crescent rolls, preferably the full sheet without the seams. But if you cannot find the full sheet crescent rolls, the original will be just as good. However, do not pull the triangle shapes apart, but rather push the seams together and bake on a baking sheet according to the instructions on the package. Now here is the best part. Allow the sheet of dough to cool completely, then spread the top of the dough with cream cheese, my family enjoys the vegetable or herb-flavored. Next, you will allow them to top with thinly sliced raw veggies. Cut them into squares and enjoy. This will be a great snack for movie night or a sleepover with friends.
Tip #7: Meet Your New Sous Chef
Getting children involved in the kitchen is a very exciting experience for both the parent and the children. Especially when it concerns assisting with cooking. Show them how to wash the vegetables or pick through the bag of dried beans. If they are old enough, allow them to assist with cutting the vegetables, but only under your supervision of course. Also, allow them to help stir or do anything else you can think of that would be age-appropriate. You will be amazed as to how proud they will be of their finished product. Believe me, when I say, they’ll try just about anything if they had a hand in making it.
Tip #8: Hide-and-Eat
If all other tips I’ve shared fails, just simple hid the vegetable inside of other food. My mom always made my sibling and me special orange mashed potatoes. We always thought they were very fancy, but all she did was add carrots into the pot of potatoes, boil them and mash them together. You may also cover broccoli with tomato sauce or cheese, whichever your child may prefer. Think of a dish they really enjoy and sneak a tad bit of vegetable in it. Use YouTube as a resource to help you come up with a few sneaky ideas.
How to get your kids to eat vegetables really isn’t as hard as you think. Give a few of these ideas a try and see which one works best for your children. Keep at it and soon they will begin to develop a taste for vegetables.
Check out the fun recipe below that you can make as a family to incorporate more vegetables.
“Made It Myself Pizza” Recipe:
• Pizza ingredients
• Paper plates
• Measuring cups and spoons
• Oven, toaster oven, or microwave
• Oven safe pan (if baking in the oven)
Chop vegetables into small pieces. Store in the refrigerator. This may also be done in the classroom with children.
Build the Pizza
(makes 1 sample portion size)
½ Whole Wheat English Muffin*
2 Tbsp of your favorite pasta sauce
2 Tbsp of low-fat or vegan mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp of chopped vegetables*
Layout all the ingredients and allow the children to take a paper plate and move through the assembly line as follows:
- Take ½ Whole Wheat English Muffin.
- Spread 2 Tbsp of pasta sauce on top.
- Add 2 Tbsp of low-fat or vegan mozzarella cheese.
- Sprinkle 2 Tbsp chopped vegetables on top
- Bake om the oven or toaster over at 425 degrees, or in a microwave on high until the cheese melts.
- Sit and enjoy!
*Suggestions: Try using red or green bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, red onions, diced tomatoes, and black olives. You may also use whole wheat pizza dough instead of an English muffin.