Dice, Chop. Sautee. Grill. Raw. Dip. Steam. Boil. Bake. There are so many ways to prepare vegetables for your family and yet many kids, like mine, will put up a fight to eat all (or any) of their vegetables. Give a child a piece of chocolate or something sugary and they will have no problem eating more than their fill.
As parents it's our job to ensure that our kids are eating nutritious meals and are being exposed to a variety of foods. I remember when Calvin was first exploring foods he would eat anything I put inside of scrambled eggs. It didn't matter what color, texture, or temperature the food was, he would simply eat it. Now that he's a toddler who thinks he knows better than his parents, eating vegetables is more of a challenge. It's almost Mission Impossible.
Here's how we try to get Calvin to eat his veggies:
1. I love it when Calvin helps me prepare dinner or lunch. (Although this is not always possible to pull off.) Often he'll help me put our groceries in the cart at the grocery store or watch me cook dinner so he can see from start to finish what he will be eating.
2. He has to try TWO bites of the vegetable. The reason why I choose two is because it takes more than one bite to realize you actually like something. The first bite is usually an unfamiliar and disgusting look. We always tell him that he does not have to like it, but he always has to try it. More often then not he actually ends up liking it. Parents for the win!
3. If he is not pleased with the vegetable, we ask him what he doesn't like about it. The color, texture, how it looks etc. This helps me decide if it is taste or some superficial reason.
4. I try to prepare all our vegetables the same way, taste-wise. All of our veggies have Olive Oil, salt, pepper, and/or garlic powder. The boys love lots of other flavors on their other foods, but keeping their veggies consistent ensures they are not shocked or overwhelmed by the seasoning.
5. Consistency. If Calvin does not like a certain vegetable I do not throw it to the back burner but will make it again soon. Sometimes familiarity helps the case to make sure he eats more vegetables.
6. We like to remind them that vegetables are so good for our bodies. Almost every time after Calvin eats his veggies he asks us to measure him on the wall on our make shift growth chart (pencil markings on the wall). He also will tell us he will try his vegetables so he can grow as tall as a friend at church or my mom, or his daddy. The truth is vegetables do help kids grow so if it helps him eat more of them, so be it.
7. We also keep our veggies separate on their plates rather than sneaking them into their meals. This may sound contradictory to what you have read (it was for me), but Calvin likes to see what he is eating. He trusts us when we tell him something so by not hiding the fact he is eating a veggie and simply having it out for him to see keeps that trust alive. When he asks us if he will like it I am always honest with him. (For example, "Yes, you do like this salad, it has olives in it which are your favorite and it tastes vinegary, which you do like.")
Now don't get me wrong here: there are plenty of days when Calvin doesn't get a vegetable and that is due to my laziness. Nick and I will always eat a veggie (or two or three), but there are days where my patience is running low and I'd simply rather sit and eat in peace with the family rather than explain why vegetables are so important. Those days where I don't give him a veggie I make sure he is loaded up on berries and other nutritious foods.
Also, you may notice I only mentioned Calvin here. Max is the world's best eater. He literally will not say no to food, ever. The only thing Max does not like is milk, which is totally fine since he gets plenty of calcium elsewhere. But Max would easily down a plate of green beans or peas before eating anything else on his plate.
Calvin's favorite veggies:
- KALE CHIPS,
- roasted broccoli
- roasted asparagus
Max's favorite veggies:
- green beans
- and any other vegetable (Minus broccoli. He isn't in love with the tops of them but will eat the stems...weird, I know.)
Gina's favorite vegetable:
- STUFFED ARTICHOKES
And to close...
I also wanted to give a shout out to my mom on here. My sisters and I have always LOVED eating vegetables. As kids we would pile our veggies on our plates and I can't remember a time when we didn't love to eat them. She gives me the motivation I need to make my kids well-rounded eaters. Props to you mom, and thank you for always introducing us to so many delicious flavors and foods.
What are your tips to getting your kids to eat their vegetables? How do you prepare them? Did your child love vegetables as a baby but is pickier as a toddler? What is your favorite veggie?