1. Start early
If you have an infant at home and are beginning to incorporate solids, PLEASE include vegetables at every meal. Yes, your baby will likely not love every thing you give her but don’t get discouraged. The tartness of some vegetables just takes some time getting used to. And while it’s fine to mix fruit into the vegetables to cut the tartness on occasion, don’t always do that. Your baby needs to learn to expect and enjoy a variety of taste sensations, not just sweet.
2. Showcase veggies in appealing ways
This is an especially important point if you have older children who have become picky eaters. The goal here is to bring lots of vegetables into dishes kids already love. Think homemade pizza with fresh vegetable toppings, fruit smoothies that include spinach or kale (I swear, you won’t know it’s there), homemade vegetable soup with cool pasta shapes, spaghetti sauce with ribbons of veggies mixed in, macaroni and cheese with pureed butternut squash mixed into the sauce…the possibilities are endless. Now, you do want to make sure, at some point late in the dinner when they are nearly finished, that you let the kids in on your secret vegetable ingredients. You want them to get to a point where veggies aren’t scary, and where trying new things can be a rewarding experience. But you have to get them to that point somehow, and creative recipes are a great way to do that.
3. Offer raw veggies as the snack between lunch and dinner, nothing else.
Two ideas are at work here. First, kids often seem to like vegetables raw (at least at first) more than they do cooked. Carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper strips, celery, tomatoes, lettuce bites, etc. are great dipped in a bit of ranch or hummus and very kid friendly (and don’t forget edamame – most kids love it). Next, the time between lunch and dinner is typically the time kids are most hungry and therefore willing to eat just about anything. What better time to offer up vegetables! Hang tough, as the first few days you transition from orange crackers to vegetables aren’t going to be well received. DON’T BEND. They’ll soon be eating those veggies and, better yet, realizing just how satisfying they can be.
How do YOU get your kids to eat their vegetables?