This is a guest post by Jennifer Brown.
We all know that a child’s diet should be high in vegetables and fairly low in sugary foods and fat. Unfortunately, getting a child to eat what is superb for them can be a hard nut to crack. No matter how many times you tell them to eat their vegetables, it will be relatively hard for them to do it if the vegetables don’t just taste good to them. Some will say they don’t like the texture of veggies while some will say the odor or the taste turns them off. So how do you get your little one to eat vegetables easily and willingly? Here are simple tricks and tips to ensure these antioxidant and nutrient packed foods hold their own in your child’s diet.
Roasting makes the vegetables flavorful
Roasting is one of the best ways to prepare vegetables especially carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. The dry heat that comes with roasting caramelizes the sugars in the vegetables which brings about an appealing aroma and flavor. And it is very easy. Just cut cauliflower or broccoli into florets, cut peeled carrots in half and slice Brussels sprouts in half and then into 2-inch pieces.
Switch on the oven and toss in the vegetables with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for about 20 to 30 minutes until they are brown and tender. You can also try this trick with other vegetables like green beans, asparagus or beets, and your kids will definitely find them irresistible!
Use the right seasonings
Addition of the right spices, onions, vinegar, citrus juices or herbs can also add amazing flavors to the vegetables. There are no fast and hard rules here, so just feel free to experiment with what your child will love. But some great pairings are ginger with carrots, tomato with basil and leafy greens with garlic. A little sweet flavor can also take away the bitter taste. You can dress kale salad with some vinaigrette, diced mango, dried cranberries or a few golden raisins to make it more appealing.
Involve your kids
Research shows that most children are more willing to try new vegetables if they get to choose them themselves. Just go to a store or a farmer’s market with your kids and let them pick what they want. This way they will find it easy to eat the veggies than when you buy them yourself.
What type of veggies can you spiralize? Well, any type of vegetable goes. But the more common examples include carrots, squash, and zucchini. You can also try eggplant, sweet potatoes, beets, and parsnip. When spiralized these vegetables can complement a tasty pasta serving, can be added to a salad to spice things up or can be an alternative to a pasta meal.
Use the “one bite rule”
Studies show that children who have initially rejected a particular food, usually start to accept the food if they are exposed to it at least 8 to 10 times. Many guardians and parents have had success with this rule. It requires you to encourage your child to try at least one bite of the rejected food whenever you serve it. After multiple exposures the rejected vegetable will become more familiar to the kid and he or she will start liking it.
Use butter, garlic, and bacon
There is absolutely nothing wrong with adding garlic, bacon or butter to vegetables to make them appealing to your child. For picky children, the most crucial thing is to make sure that he or she gets familiar and comfortable with the rejected vegetable. If it means serving the veggie with something else that he or she will love like bacon or cheese that is okay. However, it is highly recommended that you only use foods that are close to real food, but kids can tolerate a few extra calories if it helps them eat spinach or other vegetables.
Puree the Veg
If your child is super stubborn and won’t buy any of the tricks above, try pureeing a wide range of vegetables and then freezing them in small chunks. Defrost the small chunks as required and then stir the puree via recipes such as meatballs, slow cooker chili, spaghetti, one- pot lamb and chicken or leek pie .Some veggies that freeze well include carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, peas, and broccoli.
Juicing provides one of the best ways for children to enjoy fresh produces of vegetables easily. Green juice is a quick and nice snack that can contribute to your child’s daily veggie intake, but just make sure you don’t make it his or her main source of nutrition. Some nutritious and delicious easy veggies that you can juice include; kale, romaine, spinach, romaine cucumber, celery, collard greens, and dandelion. If your child doesn’t like green vegetables red cabbage, carrots, beets and sweet potatoes can also do the magic. Combine veggies of different flavors and colors to help meet or even surpass your kid’s vegetable needs. Note that you will need some the best juicers on the market to execute this tip.
Sauce it up
Just find a good sauce that your child enjoys and use it. Be it peanut sauce, hummus or ranch just dip and mix it in and your kid will be eating vegetables that you never even dreamt of.
Learn Your Child’s Vegetable Values
Many children are under the illusion that they are immortal, so trying to encourage them to eat veggies by telling them how it will help them grow healthy won’t get you anywhere. Instead tempt them with stories like veggies will help them grow stronger and bigger. Appealing to their desire to overcome such limitations is much more appealing than just telling them about health.
Bottom Line: Keep at it
Keep in mind that some kids will be more difficult than others to convince and it will require some patience and effort to get them to eat vegetables. Nonetheless it is important to note that behaviors that kids develop at a tender age usually remain with them into adulthood. So for their own good, it is very essential to solve their picky eating habits as soon as possible. Just create positive and fun experiences around food, implement the one bite rule, let them choose and keep exposing them to the vegetables that they reject in a pleasant way. Your efforts will payoff soon!
Jennifer is a certified cook enthusiast and a legit photographer from Ohio, USA. She is a food lover and thus makes blogs about it at Imaddictedtocooking, which include her own photos for the demonstration of how the recipes are made. Contact her at @jenniferimaddi1