Parents should eat more fruits and veggies too! Try preparing them in new and fun ways. Involve your children in every stage, from growing (if possible), to selecting, to preparing and serving. Make dessert about discovering new fruits: stewed vanilla pears, whole grain tropical fruit pudding, fruit fondue with dark chocolate or skewers with yogurt “dippers”, etc. Have a homemade pizza night every week and let everyone “decorate” their own mini-pizzas with different veggies. Make homemade dressings and dips and serve them as snacks with seasonal veggie crudités.
Try these practical strategies for getting your kids to eat more veggies:
- Positive peer pressure If kids see their friends eating something, they’re much more likely to eat it, too! Seeing even one friend eating his salad can help your child give hers a try.
- Bridge with the familiar Try offering a new veggie served in exactly the same way you offer one they already like, such as homemade sweet potato fries cut like fast food fries.
- Serve water instead of sweet drinks Giving your kids soda, juice, or even too much milk between meals throughout the day can keep their hunger signal turned off and their “sweet tooth” powered up. Switch to water to “turn on” their natural appetite and make them hungry for more variety. Hunger makes the best sauce!
- Finger food, dips and sprinkles Offer veggies “kid-size”, like individual mini broccoli “trees” or baby carrots. Dressing up plain veggies with dips and shakers (try parmesan cheese or ground sesame seeds) turns something simple into something special.
- Shred and bake Grated soft vegetables can be easily tucked into almost any baked goods. Try things like zucchini, carrots, and sweet potatoes in muffins, cakes, and even cookies.
- Roast ‘em (especially roots and greens) Roasted root veggies (carrots, beets, winter squash, etc) taste like nature’s candy. Try roasting greens, too (such as asparagus, kale, Brussels sprouts) for a crispy/soft texture.
- Invisible veggies: purees If your child won’t touch a veggie with a ten foot pole, start by making them “invisible”. Puree and mix them into meatloaf, sauce, or even Mac & Cheese. Be sure to match the colors!
- Kids in the kitchen Encourage your kids to help out in the kitchen. Ask them to wash and sort the veggies, or arrange them in a pretty way on the platter.
- Make your own (pizza, salad, etc) Set up “bars” and let kids decorate their own pizzas, salads, or even soup with a veggie assortment. If they make it, they’ll eat it.
- Grow your own Don’t live on a farm? No problem! Everyone can grow a batch of sprouts (see www.sproutpeople.com for great how-to tips and supplies). For kids, helping veggies grow makes them taste best!